Monday, November 19, 2007

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a favorite comfort dessert. I can remember as a child stationing myself at the kitchen table every time mom started mixing up the custard mixture she would be soaking the bread in. I was happy to come across a bread pudding recipe that is perfect for fall, using cranberries in a new & unexpected way. The recipe is very simple and the end result is sooo good - the tartness of the cranberries explode in your mouth. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, it's the perfect dessert dish. It would also be a great addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch.

Cranberry Bread Pudding
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 pound Italian or sturdy white bread, 1" cubes
1 cup cranberries

Butter a 3-quart baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly with whisk. Add milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and ginger. Fold in bread and cranberries. Pour into baking dish - cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350. Bake pudding uncovered until golden and puffy (start checking after one hour). Don't overbake - center will be custardy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Did You Know...
Bread pudding was born in the 13th century. Known as 'poor man's pudding' it was created as a means of salvaging stale bread. The bread was soaked in milk or water, then sugar, butter, fruit, and/or spices were added, and then it was baked. Sometimes the mixture was housed in a 'sop', a hollowed out loaf of bread.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holiday Stuffing

To me, the best part of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing. Everyone has their favorite - some prefer the stuffing remembered from holidays past & the memories it invokes, while some prefer a new & trendy stuffing recipe. I use a recipe that comes from my mother-in-law, which results in a delicious traditional turkey stuffing. The recipe makes plenty so you can enjoy leftovers all weekend.

Holiday Stuffing
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
5 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
14 cups dried white bread, cubed & toasted
Chicken or Turkey Stock

Place toasted bread cubes in a very large bowl. In a large frying pan, melt butter over a medium heat. Saute onions and celery together with salt and pepper, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add about 1 cup of stock. Continue cooking over medium low heat until stock evaporates.

Add celery & onion mixture to bowl containing toasted bread; add sage & stock, mix well. Add more stock until stuffing is at desired consistency (mine is very moist).

Place in buttered casserole dish - bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until heated through & slightly browned on top.

***Note*** I usually separate the stuffing into two casserole dishes as some of our family likes their stuffing a bit crunchier on top.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My sister & I have such wonderful memories built around this day & truly have so much to be thankful for. This year I'm anticipating the day even more. It's our first time hosting a holiday in our new home & we're expecting 12 guests. I'll be preparing the turkey using my tried & true recipe from Martha Stewart. The aroma that fills the house while the turkey is roasting is wonderful & the taste is absolutely amazing. I'm definitely thankful for this recipe.

***Note*** If you decide to use this recipe, be sure to purchase your cheesecloth in advance; you don't want to have to run to K-Mart on Wednesday evening or Thanksgiving morning. And $5.99 Chardonnay works just fine - I promise.

Perfect Roast Turkey
Serves 12 to 14
1 whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, giblets and neck reserved for gravy
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dry white wine - Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
1 package cheesecloth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium bowl. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway down sides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flap under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over with softened butter; season with salt and pepper.
Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into bowl. Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2 1/2 hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly. If making gravy, add giblets and neck to pan 1 1/2 hours after reducing temperature; roast 30 minutes, and reserve.
Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan. Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees and stuffing reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter. Set pan with drippings aside for gravy. Let turkey stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

Coming tomorrow - more Thanksgiving recipes...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm a Finalist - Vote Now

I was pretty surprised to find out I am a finalist in the green tomato contest hosted by Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen. If you want to vote for me, click here. Voting ends on Monday at 5:00pm EST. See my recipe in this post.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Eggs Benedict with Green Tomatoes

Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen is hosting a Green Tomato Contest & I wanted to join in. I absolutely love fried green tomatoes, but hadn't really used green tomatoes any other way. I knew I wanted to create a breakfast dish, but wasn't sure what. Then I remembered an episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways in which she had been served Eggs Benedict with avacado & that's where the inspiration for this dish came from. I sauteed the tomatoes in a bit of butter & EVOO with a little salt & pepper & just a small pinch of sugar. The end result was pretty tasty; I really liked the slightly sweet tartness of the tomatoes. The next time I fix this dish though, I will use over easy eggs instead of poached. No matter how many times I try them, I just do not like the texture of poached eggs.

Eggs Benedict with Green Tomatoes

1 English Muffin, split
2 slices Canadian Bacon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 slices green tomato, 1/2" thick
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch sugar

Preheat oven on broiler setting. To Poach Eggs: Fill a large saucepan with 3 inches of water. Bring water to a gentle simmer, then add vinegar. Carefully break eggs into simmering water, and allow to cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Yolks should still be soft in center. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and set on a warm plate
While eggs are poaching, brown the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast the English muffins on a baking sheet under the broiler. Remove bacon from skillet, add 1 teaspoon butter & olive oil. Sprinkle tomato slices with salt, pepper & a pinch of sugar. Let brown 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Spread toasted muffins with softened butter, and top each one with a slice of bacon, a tomato slice & one poached egg. Serve with hollandaise sauce if desired (I don't like hollandaise sauce so I didn't prepare any). Serve immediately.