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Individual Bread Puddings - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Bread pudding is the perfect way to use up leftovers, whether it’s vegetables from last night’s dinner, bacon from yesterday’s breakfast (who has leftover bacon?!), or bits of cheese after that party. The important thing is to have some flavorings like onions, garlic, and herbs along with cheese and eggs to soak into day old bread and bake up into a lovely custardy breakfast. I like to make them in single servings or in cupcake pans so that I can take them with me on busy mornings. They also freeze well and you can heat straight from the freezer in single servings.

Individual Bread Puddings

5 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups day old bread, cubed (small if making individual servings, they have to fit in the muffin cups)

1/2 cup grated cheddar

1/2 cup grated asiago

1/2 onion, minced (or leftover)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup spinach, chopped (or leftover)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced (or leftover)

1 cup white wine

2 tablespoons sage, minced

Parmesan cheese for grating

Saute the onion, garlic,sage,  and mushrooms in a couple tablespoons olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper, and add in the cheddar and asiago. Add in the bread along with the vegetable mixture. Make sure the bread soaks up a lot of the liquid before cooking. Pour into lined muffin pans, individual ramekins, or a large baking dish. Top with grated parmesan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes if using muffin pans and up to 45 minutes if using a baking dish. Make sure they have started to brown and puff up, to know they are done.

Individual Bread Puddings - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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We survived the hurricane without any damage beyond getting a little stir-crazy, so I have to feel pretty grateful. We didn’t lose power or have any terrible flooding, but all we could do for days was watch the damage on TV. Of course, one of my first plans of action was to get to work on hurricane food.

Naturally, my first inclination was for mac & cheese, which was so delicious that it was gone before I could take pictures. For those curious, my mac & cheese is basically my tuna noodle casserole without the tuna. Next up, tomato soup and grilled cheese. I had some cherry tomatoes that were ready to be roasted, and combined them with some canned tomatoes to round out the soup. Perfect cold, rainy weather food. And it’s always a good time for a grilled cheese.

Roasted Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

1 pint cherry tomatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil

12 sprigs thyme

1/2 can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed or pureed

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 slices whole grain bread

3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

thin slices apple, a tablespoon apricot or fig jam, etc (optional)

Roast the cherry tomatoes with half the olive oil and half the thyme at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in the remaining olive oil for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the tomato paste and allow to rust for another minute or two. Add the roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, sugar, and wine. Allow to cook together for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the grilled cheese. You may choose to puree the soup with a stick blender, but we wanted it chunky this time.

Toast the bread in a pan with olive oil or in a toaster until light brown. Add the cheese and any toppings you may like. Cook in a saute pan with a little olive oil or butter until the cheese melts and the bread is toasted. Make sure to flip halfway through and a lid can sometimes help the cheese to melt. Use medium heat so that the bread does not burn before the cheese has finish melting. Allow to cool a few minutes before cutting, so that the cheese does not run out.

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While we are in the midst of trying to sell the apartment, I’ve been falling back on old favorites. Last night, I made a version of this Puglian specialty, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage and every time I make it, it brings me back to a night in southern Puglia. The meatiness of the sausage is comforting and warm on a cold fall night.

Fall always means lasagna time for me…I love making it for company too, because I can put it in the oven when they come over and spend time with people, rather than in the kitchen. My favorites for fall are mushroom and roasted carrot and butternut squash.

My favorite fall fruits are definitely pears, and I love to make crostatas with pears and gorgonzola this time of year. I make big batches of dough and freeze them for later, so I can just defrost and put together the filling when I’m running low on time.

Cold weather makes me really crave a good Sunday breakfast, and there’s no better breakfast than egg and pancetta sandwiches on homemade sage biscuits. I still have a couple of these tucked away in the freezer, and I can’t wait to have one this Sunday.

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It’s time for another recipe upgrade. I love making stuffed mushrooms, and they’re so quick on a weeknight. I wrote this recipe a while back, but it needed better pictures.

For the nights when I don’t want meat, these fill their place easily. I sometimes change up the ingredients in the stuffing depending on what I have lying around. If you wanted to add some meat, you could add some rendered sausage or bacon, or even just sliced prosciutto.

Stuffed Mushrooms

2 portobello mushrooms

1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms, chop them up and reserve for the stuffing. Brush the mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they start to give up some of their liquid.

Meanwhile, combine the chopped stems with the shallot, garlic, thyme, breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to season. Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture and drizzle the remaining olive oil on their tops. Roast for another 10-15 minutes, until they start to brown on top. You can also use the broiler to get a nice brown on top if necessary.

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This is another recipe that I thought needed some new pictures. Crepes aren’t much more effort than pancakes, but I like them so much more. You can fill them with whatever you like; my favorite is nutella and strawberries.

I thought we needed something special for breakfast over the weekend, and crepes immediately came to mind. I’ve never made them before, but I’ve definitely made a lot of pancakes. I pulled out my copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and I took Julia’s basic dessert crepe recipe.

Crepes inspired from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons Triple Sec or Grand Marnier

1 1/2 cups flour

5 tablespoons butter, melted

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until combined making sure to scrape down the sides as needed. Let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours if possible, up to a day.

Using a little butter or vegetable oil, just enough to very lightly coat the pan, pour a 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and swirl it into one even layer. This must be done quickly before the batter sets, and you need to have the heat down pretty low. I pick the pan up off the heat when I do it so that I can tilt to swirl. Once it starts to bubble up and become slightly browned on the bottom, it’s ready for a flip. 1 minute on the other side and it’s done. Fill with anything, we used nutella, peanut butter, nutella with strawberries and bananas, and lemon curd. And we even tried 2 with cheddar and pecorino and they were fantastic!

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Mozzarella in carrozza is basically an Italian grilled cheese, or the Italian version of a croque monsieur without the ham. There are different variations on it, and it doesn’t usually have tomatoes but I like a little freshness in my sandwich. The cheese makes gooey, delicious strings as you bite into it, and the marinara dipping sauce gives the right zesty topping.

Mozzarella in Carrozza

2 slices of your favorite bread (traditionally, it’s plain white bread with the crust sliced off)

2 slices of fresh mozzarella 1/2 inch thick

3 cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup marinara sauce (homemade or your favorite bottled kind)

2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers (bottled, or roast a red pepper until soft and then peel off the skin)

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Layer the mozzarella and tomatoes on the bread and cover with the other slice. Carefully flour both sides of the sandwich and then dip in the egg mixture. Fry in a little butter or olive oil, making sure the side that’s down gets nicely browned and crisp before flipping. Once the outside is crispy and browned and the mozzarella has gotten weepy, it’s ready.

Meanwhile, combine the marinara, peppers, and red pepper flakes over low heat to warm through. Pour into dipping container and serve with the sandwich.

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There’s nothing I like more than a grilled cheese. I like every kind, from the traditional diner cheddar on white bread to the fanciest, wild mushroom truffled grilled cheese. When I saw a recipe for bacon jam, I immediately thought that would make a great grilled cheese– everything’s better with bacon and this jam has a nice sweetness from the caramelized onions. You can use it as a condiment for many things, I’m already thinking about eggs and of course, egg sandwiches. I planned to make this with sliced peaches when they are in season, but for now I’m using apples.

Grilled Cheese with Peaches (Apples) and Bacon Jam
2 1/2-3/4 inch slices (extra thick) of good pullman loaf or brioche
2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
2 half inch thick pieces of Taleggio or other semi-soft cheese
4 quarter-inch thick slices fresh peach (or apple out of peach season)
Handful of spinach or arugula leaves
2 tablespoons bacon jam (below)
Butter both sides of each slice of bread and lightly toast on a grill or griddle for 2-3 minutes until it just starts to develop color. Spread the bacon jam on one slice and layer the peach or apple slices and the cheese slices on top. Top with the other slice.
Grill for 5 minutes on each side (depending on grill heat) until the cheese starts to melt and the peaches are warmed through. Add the spinach or arugula after you remove from the heat.

Bacon Jam

1/2 pound thick cut appplewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, minced
3 garlic gloves, minced
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons coffee, freshly brewed
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup water, as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Render the bacon until most of the fat has been rendered and can be drained off. Remove to a paper towel, leaving a tablespoon of bacon fat. Saute the onions in the bacon fat until they have caramelized, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic and stir through. (Garlic is added later so that it doesn’t burn) Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low heat for about an hour, adding water as necessary.

 

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