Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stale Bread? Scrumptious Meal!

I always keep homemade bread around, and usually it gets gobbled all the way up, but every once in a while we don’t quite get to the end of it before it starts to dry out. That’s when I cut it into cubes and throw it into the freezer. Perfect for making croutons, bread crumbs, or bread pudding. Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts—rich and not too sweet, the perfect end to a light supper. But for a while now I’ve been coming across recipes for savory bread pudding, and drooling. This comes from whatever I’ve stored up from reading those, and the idea that bread pudding has pretty much the same base a quiche
This has a bunch of steps, but they can be done…in steps. Prepare the bread, sautee the veggies, mix it all together, and finally bake it in order all at once, each totally separate in whatever pockets of time you have over a day or two, in clusters…

Savory Bread Pudding
Serves 6-8 as a main dish; 10-12 as a side

1 lb dried bread cubes
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup plus 1 T olive oil
1 lg onion, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ cup of your favorite dried mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 bag spinach
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
2 strips bacon
6 eggs
3 cups milk
6 oz grated cheese (any combination of your favorite kinds – I prefer either all cheddar, a blend of gruyere and romano, or all fresh goat cheese)
1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350

Lay bacon on a pan in oven and back 15-20 minutes, until just crispy. Save grease. Once bacon is cool, chop into small bits.

At the same time or later, toss the bread, oregano, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, and ¼ cup olive oil, and bacon grease if you did the bacon earlier in a bowl. Lay out in a glass baking pan and bake 10 minutes. Toss in bacon (with its grease if you cooked it at the same time as the bread). Remove and let cool. You can set this aside in the fridge for up to 2 days now.

Rehydrate dried mushrooms by soaking in 2 cups hot water for about 20 minutes.

Saute onion in 1 T olive oil for 5-10 minutes, until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add celery and mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they have rendered their liquid, about 15 minutes. Slice rehydrated mushrooms and stir in at last minute. If you’re not ready to assemble yet, you can store this in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Steam spinach and chop finely (or, use frozen chopped spinach)

Using a wire whisk, mix eggs, then add in milk, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.

Stir in bread, grated cheese, chives, and veggies. Let sit for 20 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake 45-60min, until the center is firm and you can insert a stick and it comes out clean.

Like quiche, this basic recipe works with all sorts of substitutions: leave out the bacon or put in more, switch it for cubed ham or prosciutto; switch out the spinach for steamed asparagus; switch out the onions for leeks; swap the oregano for your other favorite herbs; play with different kinds of mushrooms…