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White Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe

 

I’m not sure what restaurant I “borrowed” this recipe from, but it has become a favorite of clients, friends and my family. It really is very simple and possibly the most addictive sweet thing I cook. I am not a baker by any stretch, and I almost never use a proper recipe. Baking and pastry is more a science, though, so these are the tried and true measurements that make this work. By the way, if you by chance have any left over, it makes a great accompaniment to coffee for breakfast!

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

  • 8 large croissants
  • 4 large eggs + 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 oz. butter


For caramel sauce:

Place unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in large pot. Cover with water and boil for three hours.

For bread pudding:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter sides of loaf pan. In a large bowl, break up croissants and sprinkle in white chocolate chips. Set aside. This can be done the day before and will actually produce a better texture. In a medium sauce pan, place heavy cream and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar and cinnamon and whisk until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow in color.

While whisking the egg mixture, very slowly add scalded heavy cream. Make sure to add cream very slowly to avoid creating sweet scrambled eggs. When all the cream is combined, add custard to croissant and white chocolate mixture. Gently stir to completely soak the croissants.

Let mixture stand for 10-15 minutes stirring once or twice. Place in buttered loaf pan. Place in a water bath about 1/3 up side of the loaf pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and allow to cook for approximately 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from water bath and allow to set up and cool. When cool, cut into 6-8 portions.

When you are ready to serve, reheat bread pudding in microwave or in a hot oven until warm through, place small smear of caramel sauce on the plate. Garnish with whipped cream, berries or chopped nuts. 

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Christmas Treats Cochon-Style

December is drawing to a close and as a caterer and private chef, I have a love-hate relationship with the month. I love all the parties and how many new people we can touch with our food. I hate it because I don't get much time to be with friends and family.

So when I get a chance to cook for family and friends, I try to make the most of it! So I wanted to do something a little extravagant and do a bit of a play on the Italian tradition of "the feast of seven fishes" a Christmas eve tradition.

Speck and spinach wrapped lobster tail

serves 4 people as an appetizer

2 5oz lobster tails

3/4 # fresh baby spinach

6 thin slices of speck (smoked prosciutto)

4 1/2 in. slices of store bought polenta

2 cups low sodium creamy tomato soup

1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic

1/4 # butter

Olive oil as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Ice bath

- In medium-sized sauce pan that will fit both lobster tails, place 2 quarts of water and bring to a simmer.

-In a small sauté pan over medium high heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and quickly sauté. When garlic is fragrant, add spinach and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste and place on a plate in the fridge to chill.

-Place soup in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

-Place lobster tails in simmering water for approximately 4 minutes or until the shells turn bright red and the flesh bright white. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE TAILS!

-Remove tails from simmering water and place into ice bath.  When the tails are cool to the touch remove the shells and return them to the simmering water. Clean tails of "mud vein." Place in fridge to keep cool.

-Add 1 cup of lobster stock to tomato soup. Adjust soup seasoning with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

-On clean cutting board, lay out speck side by side. Layer thin layers of cooled spinach on speck then lay lobster on top of spinach. Wrap completely with speck and repeat with second tail.

-Place 2 medium saute pans over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter to each pan. When butter is frothy, add polenta to one pan and lobster rolls to the other.

-Baste the lobster rolls with butter/oil combination until speck is lightly crispy. Cook 7-9 minutes until lobster is hot through but not overcooked.

-Allow polenta to get crispy on one side then turn over.

-Remove lobster from pan and let rest on paper towel.

-In warm bowls, place one slice of polenta, spoon sauce around polenta and top with 2 slices of lobster roll and serve hot.

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Pumpkin ricotta gnocchi

Well Thanksgiving is over and the idea of having more pumpkin has probably past for most people, pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin latte, etc. Most people won't or don't think of pumpkin as anything more than a fall/ winter holiday dessert, oh maybe pumpkin beer during football season.

I recently made some pumpkin/ ricotta gnocchi for the holiday meal and I think they are a nice addition to any fall meal as a side dish or a vegetarian entree.

 

Pumpkin and ricotta gnocchi with candied walnuts

1~ 15 oz can pumpkin puree

1~ 15 oz whole milk ricotta- drained well

3~large eggs

3~cups ap flour

1/2 teaspoon~ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon~ground nutmeg

1 gallon~good vegetable stock

1~large finger of ginger- peeled and bruised

4oz~butter

2 oz~ brown sugar

1 cup~chopped candied walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Place vegetable stock and ginger in large stock pot and bring to a simmer.

While stock is heating up place pumpkin puree, drained ricotta, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix until everything is completely incorporated. Add eggs and continue to mix. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. When mixture starts to become stiff turn out pasta onto a clean surface and work with your hands adding four slowly until it is only slightly tacky.

Divide pasta into quarters and roll each portion into long "snakes/tubes" about the diameter of a penny. Cut the "snake" every 1/2 inch, take small disks of pasta and roll them across the back of a dinner fork or us a gnocchi comb to form the signature grooves.


Drop each gnocchi into the simmering stock, 10-15 pieces at a time and cook until they float. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on an oiled sheet tray. Repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked. Once they are cooled they can be stored in a plastic bag in the freezer or fridge until you are ready to finish the dish.

To finish:

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat place portion of butter relative to the gnocchi. When butter is melted and frothy, add the gnocchi and saute quickly tossing to coat with butter. Add a relative portion of brown sugar and candied walnuts. Continue to saute until a light caramel has formed and gnocchi are hot through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve in warm bowl.

 

 

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Summer Recipe: Crab and Corn Pasta

Summer is winding down but there are still some delicious local products out there! Check out your local farmer's markets and see what looks good to you. Ask questions and taste as much as you can, the seasons will be changing soon and new ingredients will be coming. Get what's good now.

Recently some friends came to the house to meet our new son. Dave and Natalie came over with their kids and Dave's parents for a cookout. They brought us some fresh Dungeness crabs that had been swimming just hours before they brought them to the house. I grilled some fresh corn on the cob and burgers, a little potato salad and all the fixins. Our visitors were so gracious to leave us with a couple of crabs! THANK YOU!

We had some leftover grilled corn on the cob, so I figured why not use it with a little of the crab to make a great dinner? The strozzapretti, a pasta from Romagna that is a 1-1/2 inch long rolled pasta with a seam down one side, is said to resemble a rolled towel.

Pasta with Dungeness crab and grilled corn with herbed buerre blanc

1# pasta

1# picked crab

3 ears of grilled corn with corn and milk scraped off

1 cup white wine

4 oz cubed butter

1 lemon zested and juiced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced shallots

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped curly parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions on the bag. In another sauce pan add wine, shallots, garlic and lemon juice. Reduce to about 1/3 cup. Reduce heat to a very low flame.  Add corn, crab and herbs. Toss with wine reduction, add butter and toss to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest. Place in a warm bowl and serve. 

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Summer sausage fest 2013

So it's summer and just about everyone is grilling something! Burgers, brats, hot dogs, salmon, steaks and ribs, oh my! We all love to grill! I have a love for sausages, all sorts, from garlicy brats to a spicy merguez and honestly everything in between.

In Seattle we have a growing list of good butchers and chefs making some really good sausages we can toss on the grill. Now this list is by no means complete but these are a few of my personal favorites:

  • Piggyback Deli - they are up in Lynnwood in a gas station but well worth the drive.
  • Dot's Delicatessen - in Fremont and they serve a nice little lunch, too.
  • Rain Shadow Meats - on Capitol Hill and a new space in Pioneer Square.
  • Don & Joe's Meats - a full service butcher counter in the Pike Place Market, they can get you anything that walked or flew!
  • Uli's Famous Sausage - also in the Pike Place Market, they make about 15 different kinds of sausage and have a little dining room attached where you can eat so you don't have to wait for your grill to heat up.

We had some friends to the house for dinner, sort of a pre-wedding present, and I decided to get a variety of sausages and put out the spread. A good spicy mustard, handmade sriacha, harrisa, caramelized onions, tarragon Dijon mayo and a spicy BBQ sauce. Along with some crusty bread, good wine and friends, it was a feast. Go out and get something new from your butcher, fire up the grill and experiment. Cheers!

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