Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bread Pudding

Leftover bread. A conundrum. The freezer is already stocked with fresh bread crumbs, and the pantry well supplied with dry ones. I could have made croutons, but a good old-fashioned dessert was calling my name instead. Bread pudding....and I've never eaten it before. The procedure sounded somewhat familiar to me, though bread pudding just wasn't part of the repertoire I grew up with.

I used some leftover bread I had made last week (a yummy multi-grain based on a traditional Icelandic recipe) that worked better than I had thought; most of the recipes I'd read utilized leftover sourdough, baguettes, or other white bread.

Here's the dish:
4 c cubed multi-grain bread (crusts are ok)
1-1/2 c milk (I used 2%)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c raw sugar
1/2 c raisins (if they're really dry, soak them in water a few minutes to plump them up)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Pecan topping:
3 T butter, slightly softened
1/4 c raw sugar
4 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c chopped pecans

Place cubed bread in a baking dish. Mix milk, eggs, sugar, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon together and pour over. Toss the mixture a little to make sure all the bread is covered. This should sit for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make the topping: just combine the ingreadients together until you have a crumble concoction.

Sprinkle the topping on the bread mixture, and place into a 350 degree oven. Bake 30-40 minutes, until browned and done.

While I'm happy with the way this dish turned out, my next experiment will be to make a fine sauce to spoon over!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Popcorn in a Paper Bag

What goes best with a big screen tv? Popcorn! I blame the dark winter months and our new high def television for the amounts of popcorn we're suddenly consuming. Is popcorn nutritious? Yes--high in fiber, it's an all natural whole grain food.

Ever since I'd heard about popcorn lung brought on by microwaveable packets, I wanted to figure out away to make it at home--without investing in an air popper. My mom and grandma both had air poppers... and I remember them being difficult to clean.

Enter the glorious paper bag method. Here's how I did it, yielding enough corn for two of us:

1/2 c popcorn kernels
2 T butter (if you want more, go for it)
dash of salt
1 small lunchbag sized paper bag (our grocery store uses small-ish paper bags when they pack breakables like wine or olive oil that we've purchased; they work perfectly for this, and can be used a few times!)
other seasonings (cheese, chili powder, whatever)
1 microwave

1. Melt the butter. Set aside.
2. Put popcorn kernels in small bag, and fold the top over so that the bag is sealed up.
3. Place this bag in the microwave, flap down.
4. Put the microwave on 4 minutes and do NOT leave the room. You'll need to keep an eye on this so it doesn't burn. Depending on your appliance, the corn will probably start to pop about a minute and a half into the process.
5. IMPORTANT: once the popping slows down to a single pop every three seconds, you're done. No, don't try to get that last kernel popped. It's DONE. Just take it out.
6. Put it all into a big bowl, dump in the butter/salt/seasonings and use or hands or a big spoon to get it all coated.

Be ready to make more--it doens't last very long!