Panettone Bread Pudding

Anyone who’s been around this blog for a while knows I’m a huge fan of bread pudding. It might’ve even been my first dessert-love, especially the way my grandma made it — just a touch sweet, with meringue on top, served with evaporated milk poured over the top. (Because you cannot separate a Cajun from their Pet Milk. Preach.)

But over the years, I’ve fooled around with the basic recipe a lot, and come up with different variations — everything from a blueberry-heavy pudding to a bananas foster bread pudding that I wouldn’t kick out of bed. But this version with Panettone is maybe the simplest one, and certainly has a great holiday spin. And if you must top it with something other than Pet Milk, it does not suck with the warm spiced rum sauce I found at Bon Appetit. Good gawd! Outrageous doesn’t even begin to cover it.

See what Darcie had to say about this over at Gourmet Creative, and enjoy!

Panettone Bread Pudding

Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert
Panettone Bread Pudding makes an everyday dessert extra-special for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 1 Panettone bread loaf
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 12oz evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons butter (chilled, cut into small dice)

Optional

  • 1 splash bourbon

Note

Since Panettone is such a moist bread, you’ll need to dry it out before proceeding with the recipe. If possible, a day before you make this, cut the bread into large cubes (about 1 1/2”) and let them rest on a baking sheet on the counter until you’re ready to prepare the bread pudding. Alternately, toast the bread cubes in a 200°F oven until they’re dried out a bit. Check for doneness every 10 minutes. Ideally, the bread cubes should be as dry as stale bread, but less dry than toast.

Delicious topped with Spiced Rum Sauce from Bon Appetit.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for bread. Add bread, tossing and pressing down so it absorbs the egg mixture evenly. Let soak for a 30 minutes, then spoon into prepared baking dish. If any of the bread cubes are still dry at this point, add a splash of milk and let it soak in a for a few minutes. Sprinkle butter cubes evenly over the surface of the bread pudding.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, or pudding is evenly browned and puffy. Bread pudding will shrink as it cools.

Grilled Catfish Tacos with Avocado Remoulade

When you come from a town that celebrates catfish with its own annual festival, you develop a particular love for it that can be a little hard to explain to someone who just thinks of catfish as a bottom-feeder (and maybe has only eaten the imported stuff). The best fillets IMHO are small and fried, served with tartar sauce and maybe some fried oysters as well. You’re already eating a fully fried meal, after all — throw caution to the wind!

Whenever I visit my parents, they send me back with bags of frozen catfish fillets and shrimp — all local and all delicious. The only problem is that I hate frying; it’s funks up the house and then you have to worry about what to do with the oil, so the catfish tend to sit in my freezer for a while before I do anything with them. But earlier this week, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I was craving fish tacos and thought I’d give catfish a whirl.

To avoid the issue of frying and having a fishy smell permeating our house, I took indoor cooking out of the equation altogether and fired up R2Eat2, our new gas grill. (Thanks to my sister-in-law’s mother for the fantastic name suggestion!) I marinated a pound of fish fillets in the juice of one lime, with a hefty four-fingered pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. After 15 minutes, I spread them out on a sheet of heavy-duty foil and sprinkled the tops with paprika for a little color and grilled them on the foil with the grill lid down till the fish flaked easily, around 10-12 minutes.

I like to keep accompaniments simple for fish tacos, so I sliced some Napa cabbage thinly and tossed it with baby arugula and more lime juice and salt. But the real star here was the remoulade I made instead of salsa.

Cajun Remoulade with Avocado | Minimally Invasive

Remoulade recipes vary a lot based on location; the original French versions are typically mayonnaise-based with lots of herbs while Cajun and Creole remoulades are shot through with heaps of minced vegetables and are more piquant, as you’d expect. They’re usually either mayonnaise- or oil-based, but wanting neither one, I thought that avocado might be a delicious and healthier alternative.

I based the remoulade on Emeril’s recipe, substituting an equal amount of avocado for the oil, and doubling the cayenne pepper because I like it spicy. I thought of adding some capers at the end, but decided against it because the remoulade was perfect just as it was. You can knock Emeril all you want, but I’ve never been disappointed with any of his recipes. I made the full amount of remoulade and we were left with a lot, but it goes well with all sorts of dishes, not just seafood. I grilled hamburgers the next day and topped them with a good slather of remoulade and it was a marriage made in heaven.

So even if you’re not in a fish taco mood, give this remoulade a try — you’ll love it.  I gar-on-tee.

As you can tell, I’m not always so active on this blog, but I am a fool for Instagram. Follow along with our daily exploits here.

 

A Crêpesplosion in My Kitchen

When Gil and I visited Quebec City last July, I toured the city on foot during the day while he was working. My very first stop was the year-round farmers’ market down along the water. It was July, so produce was abundant and I ate my fill of flavorful wild blueberries and local cheeses, but once I tried Marche ou Crêpe, my breakfast for the week was decided. No tourist trap, this; it was out of the way enough that I never ran across huge crowds, plus I enjoyed a delicious crêpe each morning that sustained me through a day of climbing the hilly, winding streets.

Since then, I’ve tried my hand at making crêpes from time to time without much success — my sad little pancakes tear or fold over on themselves, inevitably imperfect thanks to my substandard technique — so when Kasha suggested a cooking/shooting play date around the theme of crêpes, I jumped at it. If you don’t know Kasha, she’s the brilliant mind behind The FarmGirl Cooks, one of the faces of Bialas Farms at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market and, as it turns out, a crêpe-maker extraordinaire. So we got together last Thursday and I think I’m still stuffed from the occasion. I contributed some Cajun and Creole fillings, while Kasha made ALL THE CRÊPES along with a savory and a sweet filling. Here’s how it went down.

Mushrooms — I sautéed shallots in butter until they were soft, then caramelized thinly sliced mushrooms in the pan, added a little thyme, salt & pepper, and a touch of cream to finish it off. Once we assembled the crêpe, it seemed a shame not to drizzle it with truffle oil, which was a good call.

Ham & Cheese — Kasha made a scrumptious bechamel loaded with jarlsberg, which went perfectly with a slice of ham. Folded into a little pocket and baked until everything was warm and gooey, this was easily my favorite of the bunch. (Gil’s, too, once he sampled everything Thursday evening.)

Cajun Shrimp — This was a play on shrimp & grits, minus the grits. I essentially used this Emeril recipe, though I didn’t really measure ingredients, and swapped out the red bell pepper for celery. I used much less broth than called for, too, just because such a loose filling would’ve made it impossible to eat. Over the weekend, I combined this leftover filling with the crab filling to make a stuffing for trout, which was excellent. Do try it sometime. (And I highly recommend Emeril’s recipe for Cajun seasoning included at the bottom of the shrimp & grits page. I make it without salt so I can season my dishes as much as I want — which is generally a lot — without turning them overly salty.)

Crab — My dad makes an awesome crab filling for stuffed peppers which I thought would be excellent here. Unfortunately, the lump crab meat I bought wasn’t nearly as good as the stuff he gets back home, but it was still quite tasty and very simple to make. Just sauté minced shallot in butter until soft, add a little flour to make a blond roux, then pour in heavy cream or half-and-half and cook until thickened slightly. Add crab and simmer until warmed through and the flavors mingle, then season with salt & pepper or Cajun seasoning to taste. I topped the crêpe with a sprinkling of paprika to fancy it up for the camera.

Grapefruit Curd — Kasha’s inspired creation. Instead of the more typical lemon curd, she played around with grapefruit, and accented it with tequila whipped cream and lime zest. Like I said, INSPIRED.

Bananas Foster — Because you can’t have savory Louisiana-inspired dishes and not finish with this. Again, I didn’t really follow a recipe, but melted brown sugar and plenty of butter in a skillet, then added bananas cut into quarters (halved lengthwise, then halved again crosswise). I flipped them a few times until they were softened, then added some spiced dark rum to the pan and let it cook down a bit. It would’ve been criminal to waste the leftover whipped cream from the grapefruit curd crêpes, so we repurposed it as a topping here instead of ice cream. You could always use the traditional banana liqueur in the recipe if you have it, then add rum and flambé the whole thing, but I have a distinct fear of flambé and a pantry lacking banana liqueur, so we went the easier route.

Naturally, I paid the price for eating so much gluten, but it was worth it to me. I’ll work on a good gluten-free crepe sometime (not just buckwheat) and will post it here once my technique catches up with my imagination. It could be a while, though. Just saying.

Be sure to check out Kasha’s take on the day at The FarmGirl Cooks. And bookmark her site. You’ll learn something new everyday, I promise.

a few outtakes after the jump

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Day 23, Pralines

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 23

You didn’t think I’d let Christmas go by without pralines, did you? I’m not capable of such cruelty.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 23

I always tweak the original recipe ever so slightly. This year, I toasted the pecans before adding them to the sugar mixture. That simple step yielded tons of pecan flavor and has earned it a permanent spot in the praline repertoire.

recipe after the jump

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Day 2, Smoked Turkey Gumbo

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 2

When a gumbo craving strikes, even the flimsiest of pretexts will serve to start a roux. One tossed around with abandon in this house is “gumbo weather” — any temperature dip below 65 degrees, at which point this hothouse orchid laments the long winter ahead and dons long sleeves, if not layers. A slight shiver may also manifest, which can be reliably removed by a large bowl, as anyone who’s had the gumbo sweats after eating too close to bedtime will tell you. (Guilty!) Other acceptable excuses for indulging include:

  • The game is coming on (choose your team/bowl),
  • I have all this chicken/sausage/andouille/game/seafood in the fridge,
  • The rice situation is getting out of control,
  • It’s Saturday.

While no rhyme or reason is necessary for gumbo, holidays demand it in some form, whether a hearty chicken and andouille version for Thanksgiving or a more celebratory seafood version for Christmas dinner. My parrain made The Best seafood gumbo, and one of my fondest annual Christmas memories is of hanging out with him in the kitchen while the gumbo was warming, catching up, and sharing a few off-color jokes.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 2

How gorgeous is that bird? The stars aligned for me this year when Lawrence at The Wood Pit planted the idea to order a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. His brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings are nothing short of amazing, so putting our dinner in his hands seemed a wise choice. And it was. While I knew that one turkey, no matter how small, would yield far too much food for three people, my ulterior motive was gumbo, so leftovers were welcome.

Once the remainders of the meal were packed away and our dear friend Mark was heading back to the city, I stripped the carcass of skin and much of its meat, broke it apart at the joints and started the stock. I’ve used Michael Ruhlman’s oven method of making stock for the past few years and it’s a complete joy, especially after two long days of cooking. I just put the bones in a large pot, covered them with an inch or two of water, then placed it in a low oven (180 degrees F is ideal, though my oven’s minimum 200 degrees F seems to work for me) for about 14 hours. I continued with the recipe the following morning to add a little flavor to the stock, then refrigerated it for a couple of days until I had time to complete my plans.

I based the gumbo itself on Donald Link’s recipe from Real Cajun and altered it for my purposes. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour for a gluten-free dark roux, but this blend doesn’t behave the way a roux with regular white wheat flour does. It darkens much faster (a wonderful thing, in my opinion), but doesn’t lose any of its thickening power as it does. I forgot this salient fact and used the full amount of roux which rendered a gumbo nearly thick enough to be a stew, but still delicious. I haven’t tried any of the other gluten-free flours for roux, but if you have, please leave a comment to let me know how you liked it.

We ate like kings for nearly a full week from this one pot, which seems to make it ideal for an open house this time of year, if you do that sort of thing. If not, you know gumbo weather is the perfect excuse to indulge.

recipe after the jump

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Holiday Treats, Part II

…and a side of insulin.

I’ll continue to post about pralines every year because they really are one of my favorite things of the season. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have my first bite. After my 20th bite, it just feels like I need a nap.

Creamy Pralines

After making several batches of these in one weekend, I have a few tips to ensure success. First, spray the waxed paper very well; these are sticky suckers that need the lubrication. Second, don’t bother with the candy thermometer until about 5 minutes after you’ve added the pecans; it really just gets in the way and the mixture won’t come up to temperature before that. Third, after you’ve added the vanilla extract, beat the praline batter vigorously until it really begins to thicken and your arm is getting tired. If you spoon them out too soon, they’ll spread too much, which leads to thin pralines that take up far too much counter space.

2 cups white sugar
1 stick butter
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
finishing salt

Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F. (I always go to 240 degrees. The end result is much better at the higher end of the range.) Remove from burner. Add vanilla and beat until mixture thickens. Drop by tablespoon or two onto greased waxed paper. While still hot, sprinkle with finishing salt.

Yield: 48 small pralines or 15 large.

You say, “Chayote,” I say, “Mirliton”

Mirliton’s kind of sneaky. Your odds of finding it by that name outside of Louisiana are about as good as a collection agency making a successful phone call: “You’re looking for Mirliton? Yeah, sorry, he just stepped out. … Who, me? I’m, uuuhhh, Chayote. Oh, and Mango Squash is around, too, if you’d like to talk to her.” If you can’t tell, it goes by any number of aliases, so finding them in your neck of the woods shouldn’t be especially difficult.

Like a summer squash, it’s not exactly assertive on the flavor front, but does a great job absorbing seasonings from its dish-mates. My grandma used to make a wonderful mirliton bread (similar to zucchini bread) and a mirliton casserole with fresh shrimp and crabmeat that would be pretty familiar to most people of the Cajun persuasion. I may have to recreate that casserole soon, but first I had to attempt the pickles my cousin Darrin made last Christmas. Slightly sweet, spicy and just crispy enough to provide some resistance… well, I just had an envie, cher.

Luckily, chayotes were abundant at my grocery, so I picked up what felt like 10 pounds to my pipe cleaner arms for the recipe I’d chosen from Chef John Folse’s site. I knew these pickles would really cure any homesickness I was feeling thanks to the Zatarain’s bath and copious amounts of garlic that were featured.

Before getting started, I recalled my previous encounters with mirliton and pulled out the most important items for dealing with it in its raw state:

Seriously, these things are paradoxically slippery and sticky once you cut into them, so you’ll dearly regret it if you don’t invest in a cheap pair of gloves. They’re not especially hard to slice or to peel, but I’m a big proponent of sharp knives and it made for a better picture.


They really resemble mutant, juicy apples, at least in cross-section.

I didn’t bother canning them proper-like because I was sure that: 1) Refrigeration, plus the vinegar in the brine would keep them from spoiling, and 2) They wouldn’t be around for very long, anyway.

And I’m very happy to report that success was achieved. No picture of the finished product because they’re pickles, ya know? But they really set off a spicy Bloody Mary, and anyone I’ve shared them with has raved. Could be mere politeness, but I prefer to think Chef Folse hit another one out of the park.


You know, they also resemble shriveled centenarian mouths.

recipe after the jump

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Deeeeep breaths…

The Saints game is about to start. As such, I have no time nor the presence of mind to write a real post, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures and a promise to do better next weekend. I’ve been creatively moribund since the holidays, but hope it’ll pass soon.


Got my gris-gris going first thing this morning with shrimp & grits. I hope the spirits aren’t too upset that my coffee lacked chicory.


And since it’s old home day, why not have a little old-fashioned banana pudding with Nilla Wafers? (I’ve been playing with the recipe I got from my mom, who got it at her wedding shower, but it’s not quiiiiite there yet. Will post it once it is.)


And on the topic of comfort foods, all I wanted last weekend was graham crackers and milk.


OK, that’s not entirely true. These Szechuan noodles with shrimp really hit the spot.


How could they not?

Time for a beer, maybe some wings. Geaux Saints! No matter what happens tonight, nothing will ever beat this fan video or the run that inspired it:

Sittin’ here in La-La…

And we’re back, after spending almost a full week with family in Louisiana; catching up with everyone was lots of fun and the purpose of the trip, of course, but the balmy weather was what really put smiles on our faces after our 15-degree week here in the northeast. “But what about the food?” you say. Glad you asked…

Our first meal of the trip came shortly after we landed in Kenner. Gil and I had been up since 3:30am (early flights — what can you do?), so we weren’t exactly in the mood for a big production. Good thing there’s Spahr’s, just across the bayou in Lafourche Parish.


Neither Spahr’s nor the bayou, but a shack on scenic Dufrene Ponds behind the restaurant. Kind of takes what little romance there was out of it, huh?

At Spahr’s, seafood’s always on the menu and it’s usually deep-fried, though when crabs or crawfish are in season, boiled is also an option. What I’m saying is, you don’t come here for heart-healthy food. Gil and I split a seafood platter and left very happy and on the verge of passing out. No pics of the food, because a big plate of fried seafood is really only interesting if you’re sitting before it about to dig in.

When we left, my nephew Mason looked for the alligator that sometimes hangs around the restaurant.

Sadly, it was not to be found. Mason was inconsolable, and offered his head to the Catfish God.

The food we eat when we visit my family has turned into a strange mix of traditional Cajun dishes supplemented with Sandra Lee-ish recipes. Yes, friends, we had Velveeta and all manner of processed foods in abundance. But there also were platters of boudin, gallons of gumbo, and more jambalaya than our gathering of 40 or so could handle. Still, the sheer amount of sodium and fat we ate last week really took its toll and we’re on . . . well, not a diet, but a whole foods sort of eating plan again.

On our last day with the folks we went to Smitty’s, another hole-in-the-wall seafood joint that’s known for its oysters. Doused with Tabasco (or Smitty’s surprisingly delicious cocktail sauce), the plump, juicy oysters could be a meal in themselves.

We spent the last night of our trip at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter — a necessary indulgence, because we had a late dinner reservation at Restaurant August with my cousin Wade and his wife Robin and didn’t want to drive the hour back to my parents’ house. I ate at August shortly after it opened; it had a very limited menu then, so I was curious to see how things had changed. I knew it was well-regarded, and John Besh has become a bit of an It Boy in food circles, so I expected great things. And what can I say? It was a terrific meal — no real surprises on the menu, but everything was perfectly done. I had the foie gras three-ways appetizer (I’m helpless in the face of foie), followed by a turtle soup that wasn’t swimming in an ocean of sherry (yay, for the light hand!), and grilled sablefish. The only dish of Gil’s I tried was a smoked (I think) pumpkin soup, which filled me with an insane jealousy the likes of which I only experience when he wins the ordering war in restaurants.

We rolled out of there three hours later, stuffed to the gills, ready for bed, and happy to have only a short waddle back to the hotel.

The next morning, we weren’t hungry in the least, but when you’re staying in the Quarter, you suck it up and have the world’s most perfect breakfast, anyway.

Beignet and café au lait at Café du Monde, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure.

’08 Advent Calendar, Day 19

Though 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast isn’t exactly what we meant by “gumbo weather” in Louisiana, I can’t imagine more perfect conditions for it. This was a meated-up version of the traditional Lenten creole dish, gumbo z’herbes. It’s a little out of season, but I figure that since Easter naturally follows Christmas, I should get cut some slack on the gumbo front.

Mmm…c’est bon!

For the 2007 Advent Calendar, click here.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “’08 Advent Calendar, Day 19”