Wednesday, July 15, 2009

puddin' head

a recent conversation with my uncle made me realize that i really need to up my game when it comes to desserts. you can bet that any well-rounded cook has a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to sweets - myself included, but you'd never know it. i seldom strive to satiate my own sweet-tooth, so the only time i find myself partaking in the fairer forms of the culinary arts is when i am entertaining. i recently took liberties with a delicious mango/pistachio bread pudding w/ garam masala creme anglaise. it sounds fancy, i know -- but it's not; it's peasant food. bread pudding is a great way to make use of stale bread, slightly over-ripe fruit and rouge nuts; amongst other things.

bread pudding can be either a sweet or savory application - here's my take on the sweet:

Bread Pudding
yields: 9x13 casserole

1 cup pistachios, rough chopped
2 cups mango, medium dice
8 cups light-textured bread, medium dice*
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 quarts (6 to 8 cups) custard mixture -- recipe follows
non-stick cooking spray, as needed

--grease a 9x13 oven-safe casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
--pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

1. in a large bowl, toss bread cubes with custard mixture. cover and allow to chill for at least 5 hours; up to 24. mix-in mango and pistachio after the mixture has rested for several hours; just prior to baking.

2. pour pudding mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole or gratin dish. bake in a pan of water* for ~45-60 minutes, or until custard has set and bread is beginning to brown slightly. you can test for doneness by inserting a knife into the center, if it come out clean you are good -- if not, try again in another 5-10 minutes.

*why bake bread pudding in a hot water bath?
-custard won't curdle. -cooks evenly, in less time. -stays moist and delicious.

the water should be HOT and come half way up the bread pudding's vessle.

Cardamon Custard Mixture
yields ~1 1/2 quarts.

1 quart half and half
8 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cardamon
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 inch french ginger, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. heat the half-and-half and sugar together in a medium sauce pan, stirring often until sugar dissolves. kill the heat and allow to steap for 10 minutes. strain and reserve.

2. whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until a smooth liquid. temper the hot liquid and the eggs by slowly whisking the hot half-and-half into the beaten eggs in small amounts. DO NOT ADD ALL OF THE LIQUID AT ONCE, IT WILL COOK THE EGGS!!!

3. strain into a clean bowl and skim the foam from the surface. stir in vanilla extract and allow to cool.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

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