So this must be how my mother feels when she makes something on the fly and people ask her for the recipe.
It took me 39 years to make this one dish. I kid you not. I was not born with the ability to throw stuff together and have it taste good. I always marveled at my mother when she would open the refrigerator doors and within moments (it seemed) she would announce that she knew what we’d be having for dinner. Or more accurately, what she’d be making. I always wanted to have that ability, and whether through osmosis, or from watching years of that magic happen before my eyes, I seem to have aquired it.
So you may have figured out, there is no recipe, but here is what I did…more or less.
15 – 3″×3″ vol au vent puff pastry squares that my work was going to throw away (roughly equivalent to a little less than 4 – 11″×15″ sheets) these were baked and frozen for a good many weeks, although that is obviously not a necessary step. Use any old bread, croissant, doughnut…get creative! You won’t know if it sucks til you try it.
4 cups milk (give or take)
1 and 3/4 sticks butter, melted
12 sliced sauteed mushroom
1 sliced sauteed vidalia onion
1 bag baby spinach sauteed with 4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 raw red pepper
2 – 3 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Salt to taste (yes you have to taste it!)
I whisked the eggs together to break the yolks then added the milk. I did not actually measure the milk. I just added some and thought it looked alright. You could reduce the eggs if you want it less eggy, but I liked walking the line between quiche and bread pudding. Then I melted the butter and added some of the milk/egg mixture to it to temper it. If you add hot melted butter to cold milk, it will still bake up fine, but it looks all lumpy and the butter forms little globules that don’t seem to get as well distributed. But in the end it will still taste good. Just those things are a basic bread pudding; old bread, eggs, milk, and butter. From there you could literally go in a million directions as far as flavor. Go crazy! See what happens!
I didn’t use a spoon or a whisk or a spatula. I smushed the bread, which I had been allowing to soak in the egg/milk/butter mixture, with my hands until it was all incorporated. At this time I added the veggies above. The mushrooms and onions I had sauteed the day before…in bacon fat. The spinach I did just before I started making the milk mixture. I mixed most of the cheese into it, but I saved some for the top. Sprinkled on before I baked it. I did taste the bread (and raw egg and yes I’m still alive apparently) for salt, and added some until I thought it was enough. Then I tasted again, and continued to add more in this way until it was actually enough.
This recipe (if you want to call it that) yielded 3 – 8″×4″ loaf molds.
I baked them at 350º for 30 min and then checked them every 10 minutes thereafter until the top was just turning golden brown colors. You should also be able to touch the center and have it feel a little springy.
If you want to cut some cholesterol (and deliciousness!) reduce the eggs and butter by half and you should still have a nice bread pudding just nowhere near as excellent as mine. In this case, spray the mold with Pam to prevent sticking. The added butter in the recipe acts as a natural releasing agent.
Obviously, this base mixture could be made sweet as well. Stay tuned for my vague outline on how to make a guava and cream cheese bread pudding. It will be a first!