Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring at the Farmhouse: Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

Finally... some recipes from my super yummy first ever holiday dinner party. While planning my Easter dinner menu I wanted to make some Spring classics while also including some dishes that represented my cooking style. One of the best dishes I've made and posted here was this past fall with my savory butternut squash bread pudding. It was a super yummy dish, I got great feedback from those who tried making it, and I was even linked to on a very cool blog that gives lots of tutorials on all kinds of different things called So, I decided that another, more Springy, bread pudding would make for a perfect side dish to pair with the classic Roasted Spring Leg of Lamb that I planned to make for my main dish.

One of the things I find so exciting about food these days are all the fun twists and turns chefs make. Obviously, bread pudding was a classic sweet dish generally served for dessert. Nowadays though, do a little google search for bread pudding and all kinds of sweet and savory recipes pop up. I found this dish on and with my love of mushrooms (and my moms) I couldn't help but add this to our Easter menu. It was a yummy alternative to plain old dinner rolls and it's a hearty dish so it would make for a really great dinner with a little mixed greens on the side.... whether it be a leftover from a big holiday dinner or made for a low key romantical dinner at home with you and the one you love.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

4 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably challah or brioche)
1 1/2 lb fresh mixed wild mushrooms such as criminis, oyster, chantrelles
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups half and half
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parm

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rach in middle of oven. Bake bread cubes in a single layer in a large shallow baking pan until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Tear or cut mushrooms into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Cook shallot in butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet, such as a cast iron skillet. Stir occasionally until shallots begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook until liquid that mushrooms release has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add parsley and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together half and half, eggs, cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Add mushrooms and bread cubes and stir to combine until bread is well coated. Let stand 10 minutes for bread to absorb egg mixture.

Butter bottom and sides of a baking dish or casserole. Spoon mixture into baking dish and bake until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

A couple tips:
1. The bread is important! I used challah because that is what my local Whole Foods Market had on hand. Most importantly, you want a soft bread and not a crusty one such as a french bread or baguette.
2. The recipe says to cut mushrooms into 1/4" thick pieces but I really wanted to taste the mushrooms so I made mine a little larger, about 1/2".
3. There are lots of ways you can change up this recipe. Try different bread like whole wheat or a different type of cheese, fontina maybe? Also read reviews that made it a little healthier with substituting olive oil for some of the butter and lowfat milk for some of the half and half. Lots of things to try for the next many times I plan to make this dish!

Recipe adapted from epicurious

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Little Lovin For My Mama!

Don't you just hate it when life gets so busy that you have no time to stop and take a moment to appreciate all that you have? You know, a moment to stop and smell the flowers!? Well, I think that's basically what has happened to me this past month but luckily today I finally had my moment! While spending a little time at home, working in my flower gardens while the hubs smoked brisket in his new smoker I had some time to literally and figuratively stop and smell the flowers.

The last few weeks have been really great but really busy at the same time. The most important lady in my life, my mama, was here visiting for a little over two weeks. Now that she is gone, I'd give anything to have her back! Our time went way too fast and there is so much that we didn't get to do. There is just something truly special about every moment that I get to spend with my mama. We've always had a special relationship and I can honestly say, my mom has been my best friend my entire life. I've always thought of her that way and I know I always will.

One of the things I've enjoyed most with her the past few times she's visited is spending time in the kitchen together. The hubs and I hosted our first holiday dinner party this past Easter and frankly, I couldn't have done it without my mama. She was my sous chef the entire day. I barked commands to her and she gladly obliged, just as any well trained sous chef would. She put up with me while I was totally stressing out in the morning and not necessarily acting like the sweet lil' girl she raised. We managed to pull off the dinner without a hitch and I think everyone who attended will agree that it was a huge success.

Lucky for you I have a couple of yummy recipes to post.... a savory wild mushroom bread pudding, roasted leg of lamb, and maybe I'll even get the hubs to share his super yummy grilled calamari stuffed with feta cheese recipe which I think was totally devoured within a matter of minutes from us sitting down to eat. Ya, have I mentioned that the hubs is a ridiculously good cook! But for now I figured I'd just share some pics of the day and let this be a little lovin for my mama since today is meant for mamas! So mama, thank you so much for all of your help on Easter day but more importantly, thank you for being my best friend and the most amazing woman I've ever known! I love you!