• Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

    Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

    This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

    Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
    ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
    TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
    THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
    FOURStaying in for a movie night.
    FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

    Serves: 8 to 10 people
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Bread Pudding Ingredients
    adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

    1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
    3 whole eggs
    8 egg yolks
    4 cups half-and-half
    1 cup whole milk
    1¼ cups white sugar
    2 tsp bourbon
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
    Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

    TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

    THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

    FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

    FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


    Crème Anglaise Ingredients

    1 cup milk
    ¾ cup heavy cream
    1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
    2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    4 egg yolks
    1/3 cup white sugar

    Crème Anglaise Steps

    ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

    TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

    FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

    YAY!! xoxoxoxo

  • Pear Clafoutis

    In honor of Queen Ina Garten’s new cookbook Cook Like A Pro, this weekend I pulled out a recipe from another classic, Barefoot In Paris, as it also makes a second appearance in this new cookbook. I’ve made a clafoutis before here, but fall temperatures call for cozy fall flavors, and a custardy, cinnamon-y, pear dessert seemed like the right move. For those who weren’t around last time, a clafoutis is a baked french dish that’s a bit like a cross between a dutch baby and a custard, traditionally made with dark cherries but so delicious with other sturdy fruits as well. It’s incredibly easy to make, requires one bowl and 15 minutes of prep, and can be done within the hour, so really there’s no excuse NOT to make it.

    Now let’s talk a little bit about cookbooks. Anyone who knows me knows that I have the most excessive collection of cookbooks. If I see one I like, I can’t stop myself, and suddenly I’m at the checkout counter handing over my card and leaving with another book under my arm. The thing is though, I would probably be nothing without them. I look over my collection of books from some of the people I look up to most and realize how much they’ve taught me, and how much they’ve inspired me to do better, be brave, and trust my instincts. It was countless episodes of Barefoot Contessa that I watched in high school that made me start to see cooking as something other than a chore. It was Ina Garten, who, back when all I was baking were Toll House chocolate chip cookies and some apple pie, taught me about flavors and to never settle for less than the best. Good vanilla is a lifestyle people!!! I love my cookbook collection and here’s to many more years of adding to the pile. But, for now, here are some of my favorites:

    1. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
    2. Molly on the Range, by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh
    3. The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell
    4. Foolproof, by Ina Garten
    5. Cooking For Jeffrey, by Ina Garten
    6. Genius Recipes, by Kristen Miglore of Food52
    7. Florentine, by Emiko Davies

     

    See? I wasn’t kidding. Now if only I could get to the books at the bottom…

     

    Go forth and start cooking, but before you do, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Halloween themed TV episodes.

    TWO. 
    Dinners that you start preparing in the morning and that cook all day, surrounding you and your house with comforting smells.

    THREE. 
    Crisp walks through the changing leaves.

    FOUR. Kraft mac and cheese.

    FIVE. Walking through a greenhouse when it’s cold out and feeling warm and refreshed.

    Makes: 8 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes

    Ingredients
    adapted from 
    Barefoot In Paris

    1 tablespoon butter, softened
    1/3 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar, separated
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    3 eggs, room temperature
    6 tbsp all purpose flour
    1½ cups heavy cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp lemon zest
    ¼ tsp kosher salt
    2 to 3 ripe but fragrant Bartlett pears
    Confectioners’ sugar

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together the 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon. Using the tablespoon of softened butter, grease a 10 inch round baking dish entirely, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar so that it coats the bottom and sides completely, tapping out the excess.

    TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and remaining granulated sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then, with the mixer on low, add the flour, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix until combined, then turn the mixer off and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the pears.

    THREE. Peel, halve, core, and slice your pears into thin slices, then fan them out in the bottom of your prepared dish as desired. Pour the batter on top of the pears and place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills and make it easier to transfer into the oven.

    FOUR. Bake the clafoutis for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden. This dish can be served warm or room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Happy Tuesday!!! xoxoxoxD

  • Classic Focaccia

    If you’re even slightly a food person like myself, you’ve probably seen or heard about the new Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. I admit that since its premiere, I have watched it through at least 3 times, crying, laughing, and planning food for the future. The premise behind the show comes from a cookbook of the same name, written by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, the four elements of good cooking. Master the balance of these, master good cooking. The special is broken into 4, each in a different location and each tackling a different element. Unsurprisingly, the episode that I felt myself watching over and over again centered around Italy. Titled “Fat”, it tackled just what makes Italian food so good, from the olive oil, to the pork fat, to the cows milk cheese.

    The recipe that caught my eye for sure was this focaccia, and even though I have a deep-seated fear of bread making, nothing was going to stop me from this. It is SO good, so crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside, rich and salty and perfect for dipping in coffee (the Ligurian way) or eating straight from the oven. It reminds me so much of the Schiacchiata bread that makes the best sandwiches in Florence, which I’d get on my way home from school and finish eating before even getting to the steps of my apartment. I would give literally anything to be back there right now, but until then, this is pretty close to perfect. By the way, the original recipe can be found here, but I tried to keep this as close to the original as possible!

    Before you go become your best bread-making self, here are 5 things to be happy about today:

    ONE. Puffy winter coats.
    TWO. Keeping your room cold so that you can sleep with two cozy blankets.
    THREE. “Flannel Fridays”.
    FOUR. Apple cider cocktails.
    FIVE. Impromptu photoshoots.

    Makes: About 24 pieces of focaccia
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Inactive Time: 12-14 hours
    Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

    Ingredients

    2½ cups warm water
    ½ tsp active dry yeast
    2½ tsp honey
    5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
    2 Tbsp large crystal kosher salt
    ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    Salt, for sprinkling
    1½ tsp kosher salt (for brine)
    1/3 cup warm water (for brine)

    Steps

    ONE. In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey and stir until dissolved. In another large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast mixture and the olive oil and stir until everything is just combined. At this point, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight or for at least 12-14 hours.

    TWO. When the dough has finished fermenting and is more than doubled in size, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil on an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet) so that the whole sheet is covered. Gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, and carefully add to the baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil and gently stretch the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the sheet evenly. Because the dough will shrink at first, over the course of 30 minutes gently push the dough back to the corners until it stays.

    THREE. Press your index, middle and ring fingers into the dough at an angle to make the signature focaccia dimples. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the warm water and salt until the salt has been totally dissolved. Pour this brine over the whole sheet evenly, and then proof for a final 45 minutes.

    FOUR. About 30 minutes into this final proof, position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. To bake, either place a baking stone on the oven rack with the baking sheet on top of it, or flip another baking sheet upside down and place the baking sheet with the dough on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.

    FIVE. To finish, generously drizzle olive oil over the top (it will sink into the bread), and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve thick slices warm and try not to eat the entire sheet yourself, but if you do, I won’t judge.

    YUM!! xoxoxoxox