Sunday, September 27, 2009

Better late than never: Bread Pudding With Fresh Corn

So I've been crazy sick, tired and generally blah, and I've been out of town; all of which are hardly good or exciting excuses. But know that I have been feeling guilty for not getting this post up sooner. So here goes.

Going out of town reminded me of how much I adore my farmer's market, garden and kitchen. There is nothing better than fresh food from the earth and the ability to cook and craft it into deliciousness. Don't get me wrong. I love eating out, but it gets old fast. I noticed that after just a day I didn't feel quite right. I wasn't eating lots of produce and whole grains I was eating what I have come to see as "special occasion food." The Carnegie Deli is New York is fun and iconic, but who in their right mind makes a pastrami sandwich with a 3/4 lb. of meat? The matzo ball soup I had was excellent and just a bit of my husband's sandwich was all I needed. Now multiply that experience over two days plus and you know that I was so happy to see my vegetable bin again.

This week's fun doesn't end there. I have had my fantastic in-laws in town as well and been cooking for them during their stay. And during their trip I was at a real conundrum: do I cook what I know they like to eat or do I cook what I cook for my family? How do I balance the two and should I just shelve my convictions and cook the way I did a few years back? With the go ahead from my husband I decided not to change a thing I cooked meatless meals at home and when we went out there were other options. I think things went well. I can't say that they want to eat meatless as often as we do, but I don't think they were too sad about the dinner plans while they were here. In fact, I would think that some of the options were pretty dang good.

Here is one that I made for them that won my husband's ardent praise from the first time I made it for him in addition to some great feedback from my in-laws too. Did I mention I like it so much I ate the leftovers for breakfast? I had been dreaming about them all night long.

Bread Pudding with Corn
Adapted from Deborah Madison

1 T. butter
1 bunch of scallions, including half of the greens, sliced into thin rounds
4 cups of fresh corn cut from the cob (scrape the cobs as you cut, and use any variety) or if you must frozen white super-sweet or roasted corn
1/2 t. smoked paprika, plus enough to sprinkle the top
sea salt
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley or cilantro
1 T. chopped dill or basil (halve if using dried)
4 eggs
2 cups milk
5 cups cubed bread (remove crusts if a really crusty loaf)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (I go for white cheddar here)
1/2 cup half and half, milk or cream

Preheat the oven to 375*. Butter a 3 quart gratin dish or casserole

Heat the butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, corn and paprika and cook until the scallions have softend and the corn is heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with 1/2 t. sea salt and stir in the herbs.

Whisk the eggs and milk with 2/3 teaspoon salt and pour it over the bread in a bowl. Mix in the corn mixture and cheese and transfer the mixture to the prepared dish. Pour over the half and half. Bake until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Add a dash of paprika to the top and serve.

This dish can be assembled ahead of time and then baked just before serving.

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