Ham and Cheese Brioche Pudding was the selection for Week 4. It was decided upon as a nice contrast to the sweet selections from the previous weeks. Unlike the previous 3 selections which we loved, this one will not go on my favorites list. My Husband and I both love Bread Pudding, but as a sweet dish; it turns out that the savory version is not so palatable for us. I am not a fan of Ham but my Husband likes it, and eats Ham and Cheese Sandwiches at least once a week, if not more often, so I decided to stick with the Ham and Cheese Version. The Bread portion of the Pudding is Brioche. I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche. The Pudding itself was beautiful – it raised up and was a beautiful golden brown and had a great texture but would have been more to our liking if it had apples, raisins and some brown sugar in it.
I served the Brioche Pudding for Breakfast along with Maple Syrup and Watermelon on the side.
To make the Pudding you cut up 12 ounces of Brioche or other similar bread (I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche) and place in a buttered baking dish (12” x 12” or even 10” x 10” will do). I made half a recipe and used an 8” x 8” dish which was perfect.
Combine the Eggs, Milk or Cream or Half and Half along with the seasonings which are Salt, Pepper, Cayenne and Nutmeg.
Pour the Custard mixture over the bread cubes and top with Julienned Ham and Shredded Cheese.
In the photos above you may see that the Bread and Custard Cubes are in a different dish than the product with the Ham and Cheese. I mistakenly thought that the half recipe would fit in my ceramic loaf dish but not to be – had to transfer the mixture to my 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
Press everything down so that the bread absorbs the custard and the Ham and Cheese are incorporated into the whole. Slivered Green Onions (which I omitted) are sprinkled on top.
The complete recipe can be found at Cooking – New York Times
Normally Bread Pudding is assembled and then refrigerated overnight so that all the custard is absorbed into the bread. This recipe did not call for that but since we were going to eat it for breakfast, I did do that. I made it in a glass baking dish, so I had to let it warm up for about an hour before baking it. The baking took 45 minutes, exactly what was called for in the recipe. The Pudding should be served immediately or it can be baked and cooled and then cut up into squares as suggested in the recipe or you can just reheat any leftovers that you may have.
Even though I only made a half recipe we still had leftovers which I sent home with my Grandson who loves Ham. I have yet to hear if he has eaten it and if he likes it. Will notate that here when I find out.
I am sure that many people will like this version of Bread Pudding, especially if you are a fan of Quiche. I do like Quiche but never make it with Ham. I usually use Spinach or Mushrooms. I am a Vegie Fan, but not a Vegetarian or Vegan. I am thinking though of becoming a Pescatarian. I do not get stuffed when I eat fish and/or vegetables like I do when I eat meat.
There are variations among the members of our group – some did use Spinach, another used Bacon, etc. And a couple of the members made the Brioche Loaf from the recipe that was given. I did make my bread but it was Challah and since I had it on hand decided to use that instead since it is very similar, both in ingredients used and the end result.
MEMBERS PHOTOS IN THE ORDER THEY WERE POSTED
Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used. Here is another great Comfort Food that really warms you inside – Vegetable Soup – it can be served as a complete meal with the addition of some protein and delicious fresh bread. It can also be served as a first course and the leftovers are great for lunch.
I love to make Vegetable and it is one of my favorite ways of cleaning out the Vegetable in my refrigerator. If you have ever wondered what you are going to do with all those vegetables that you just can’t seem to getting around to use or even if like I do, you have little bits and little bits of that, Vegetable Soup is the perfect vehicle for using up those items. So when I taught school, I taught my students how to make ‘Clean Out the Refrigerator’ Vegetable Soup.
What you will need is a large pot and some Olive Oil and whatever you can forage from your refrigerator. If you don’t have items in your refrigerator that you can use, you can always visit your local Farmer’s Market or Grocery Store to pick up whatever you wish to put in your soup. For the last batch I made, I used Onions, (a must), Celery, Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, Frozen Peas and Corn. For the batch before this one I used a Sweet Potato and Spinach. Visit vegetable-soup for the complete recipe.
Saute your Vegetables (starting with the Onion and Mushrooms) in Olive Oil. I always salt the Mushrooms as they do need and it helps to leech out some of the water in their pores. Once they have cooked and started caramelizing add the remaining fresh Vegetables and dried herbs. For the liquid I use either de-fatted Turkey, Chicken or Beef Broth, depending on what is in my freezer. Vegetable Soup does not need to cook for a long time – you do not want really mush vegetables. It is much better to have some texture left to bite into. About 10 minutes before serving bring the soup up to boiling and add about 1 cup uncooked Pasta. Once the Pasta is ‘al dente’ add fresh Herbs (in this case two kinds of Basil), and frozen Peas and/or Corn if you are going to use them. A couple of minutes is all you need for these frozen Vegetables.
To make a complete meal out of your Vegetable Soup, add some Protein such as Tofu (for Vegans), Chicken, Sliced Hot Dogs or Sausage or Turkey. Any one of the above make a great addition to your soup which is also delicious without it. Just serve it with some Hot Fresh Bread.
i love growing Tomatoes and contrary to the rule of thumb that you only need one plant per person in the household, I like to have many more. First of all, I like variety and second of all, not all plants will produce as they should. This year I planted 6 Tomato Plants and have two left over from last year. Unfortunately, the ones from last year are not producing too well. Probably because they are not in full sun – we only have so much garden space that will get sun.
Even though my larger Beefsteak type Tomatoes produce more and larger fruit, my favorites this year are the Green Zebra and the Lucky Tiger. I don’t think my Lucky Tigers are growing to the size that they should but they are fun – they are shaped like the Romas, but thinner and are green with orange/red stripes that are supposed to be dark purple according to the tag that was on the plant when I bought it. In spite of that, I still love the tomatoes. They are fun to grow and delicious to eat. They have a slightly tangy taste to them in contrast to the red tomatoes which are very sweet.
All this being said, what do you do with Tomatoes when you have an abundance of them? You can only make some many salads and eat so much salsa. In past years I have made Chili Sauce and will probably do that again this year if the plants keep producing like they have. For this batch though, I decided to make a Tomato Basil Soup. This is a tasty soup that can be eaten hot, warm or cold so it is perfect for summer or any time of year. The recipe actually calls for Roma Tomatoes, but not having Roma Tomatoes, I just used what I have growing and that is mostly red round tomatoes. Even though I put the tags that came with the plants in front of the plants, they somehow get lost or covered up so except for a couple of the plants, I’m not really sure what kind they are. Just round, red, sweet and delicious!
The Soup can be served as a first course or as a Vegetable Dish along with a meal – that is what I did last night. We had Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes and the Tomato Basil Soup which I actually served first, but we had seconds along with the meal. I serve this soup in small bowls but it can be served in larger ones. Another way I like to serve it is in demitasse as a ‘stand-up appetizer’ for company meals.
The recipe calls for 2 lbs. of Tomatoes, 1/2 cup of diced Onion, Chicken Stock (I had Beet Water leftover from cooking Beets so I used that instead thereby making the soup good for the Vegan or Vegetarian Crowd. Of course you also need Basil which I also have growing in the yard. I used the Italian Sweet Basil for the Soup and Purple Basil for the Garnish along with the Lucky Tiger Tomatoes.
After the Tomatoes are washed and cored, chop, quarter or dice them. (It doesn’t really matter too much as they are going to be pureed after cooking)
Saute the diced Onions in 2 Tbsps. of Olive Oil until they are soft – from the photo below, you will notice that mine are slightly caramelized. This add additional flavor as long as you don’t let them burn. If they do burn, discard and start over – the burn taste will ruin the soup.
Once the Onions are sufficiently cooked, add the prepared Tomatoes and Basil and cook until the Tomatoes release their water. Mix as they cook. When the tomatoes are sufficiently cooked, transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or a food mill.
Run the processor or blender until the Tomatoes are completely pureed and then return to the pot. Add the remaining seasonings -taste and add additional salt or Vinegar, if so desired.
Serve Hot with tiny Meatballs or at Room Temperature or Cold as an Appetizer. Garnish with additional Basil and diced Tomatoes, if desired. I used the Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes which only need to be sliced vertically down the middle. For additional zest add a splash of your favorite style ‘Old Boney Mountain Hot Sauce’.
May 10th is ‘National Shrimp Day’. Shrimp are absolutely one of my favorite seafood in any form or style. Below are a few recipes for you to try – one or all. Enjoy preparing them and then enjoy eating them.
Grilled Shrimp – marinated in Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. These shrimp are delicious as an appetizer, main dish or in a salad. Good for any time, not just National Shrimp Day.
Coconut Fried Shrimp – great for a Backyard Luau or any Summer/Spring Meal. Served with an Orange-Lime Sauce.
Shrimp Fritters – a delicious and different way to eat Shrimp. For those of us who love Shrimp and who Fritters, this is the perfect dish. Shrimp Fritters can be served as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce or as a main dish with a salad and or vegetable.
Saturday Morning Farmer’s Markets abound in Southern California. Within the distance of approximately 33 miles, extending from the city of Ventura to Calabassas (at the far Western end of the San Fernando Valley) there are 4 markets that I know of: Ventura, Camarillo Old Town, Newbury Park and Calabassas. You can go further South and find quite a few more but of course, it would be difficult to attend all of them in one day. On my foray to Calabassas I also went to Newbury Park and could have hit Camarillo if I had so desired. The market is across the street from the most prominent and probably well-known business in Camarillo and that would be the Sage Brush Cantina. The Cantina opened years ago in a one store front location and soon took over the properties next to it, so that now the whole block (where there used to be a bakery and other businesses) is now all Sage Brush Cantina and their parking lot. It has become a gathering for locals and out of towners as well.
The Calabassas Market is probably the most diverse and exciting of the one that I previously mentioned. The time slot is from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. You can buy produce, flowers, artisan bread products and foods ready-made to eat on the spot.
The first thing when you walk into the market is a sign for Valet Parking and an attendant to manage it. The fee is only $3.00 which is the same that the parking lot across the street charges. There is very little street parking in Calabassas and since the Market is well-attended the lot or Valet Parking is well worth it. An alternative is to park in the shopping center on Valley Circle – it is about a one block walk but if you are carrying market produce it can be a little tireing.
There are many flower vendors and they are the ones that are most prominent in the front of the market. This is not to say there are no produce vendors there – there are plenty but the flowers are so colorful and beautiful that they do stand out. If you are planning on purchasing flowers as well as produce wait until you are finished and almost ready to leave – that way your flowers will have stayed fresh in water until you pick them and take them home. If you carry them around the market there is a strong possibility that they will start to wilt, especially if it is a hot day.
There are many produce vendors but one of my favorite has produce similar to Underwoods in Camarillo in that they have those beautiful heads of Purple and Gold Cauliflower along with Romesco which is shaped like a castle with little turrets.
One of the ways in which I like to use the Cauliflower is to prepare it with a Cheese Sauce – the simplest Cheese Sauce that you will ever make. Simply shred as much Medium or Sharp Cheddar Cheese and combine it with enough Mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture. Place the washed Cauliflower in a microwavable dish and spread the Mayo/Cheese mixture all over it. Microwave for approximately five minutes or until the Cauliflower is fork tender.
I love Mushrooms and one of the Vendors has a great variety of Mushrooms and they are locally (in the Conejo Valley just West of Calabassas) raised. Mushrooms grow best in the dark and not exactly knowing I asked the Vendor where he grew them – in a Greenhouse? The answer was no – he actually grows most of them in a warehouse building – probably in raised beds or flats. You could purchase one type of mushroom or a variety pack of different sizes and different prices. I couldn’t resist and did buy a $15 pack which did last me for several meals.
Also at the market were Citrus Vendors, Vegetable Vendors, Egg Vendors, Hot Sauce Vendors and many more. I am pictured below at the booth of a vendor from Central California – at this point in the day (about 1 hours before closing) his products were marked down to 3 for $5.00. An excellent and everything I purchase from his was of excellent quality.
This next vendor sells Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Beans at both the Calabassas Market and the Market in Thousand Oaks on Thursday afternoon. When I visit these markets her stand is always one that I stop at. The Cucumbers are of the Japanese variety and do not need to be peeled. They are always sweet and crisp and delicious.
One of the Vendors at the Calabassas Market was not selling produce but instead he had Pasta and Olives – the booth was called Zona de Italy. Lots of interesting pasta and delicious Olives of various varieties.
So take a trip out to Calabassas and check out their produce, flowers, pasta, etc.
July is ‘National Hot Dog Month’ and nothing is probably more American than a Hot Dog except for perhaps a Hamburger. These two popular foods though made thoroughly American have their roots in Europe and mainly Germany. It’s just that we have so thoroughly Americanized these products that if this were a hundred years or so ago, they wouldn’t even be recognized in Europe. Thanks to vastly improved communication, Hot Dogs and Burgers are seen not only in Europe but all over the world.
We all have our favorite Hot Dogs and will probably remember at least one Hot Dog Stand as ideal. Since as a child I never had Hot Dogs outside of our home (except once) I cannot remember one single Hot Dog Stand. However, my sons have a whole repertoire that they can recite to you – many of which are of course my adult favorites too. The most recent addition to our locale is Dayne’s Chicago Dogs. Dayne’s is located on Thousand Oaks Blvd. in the city of Thousand Oaks and their specialty is the Chicago Dog. What makes a Chicago Dog different from other dogs? The points are listed below.
1. A Chicago Dog has to be in a natural casing – it just isn’t a Chicago Dog unless it has that crunch to it.
2. It also must come with Tomatoes, Green Relish and Peperoncini in the bun along with the Dog. And of course don’t forget the mustard.
Also pictured with Dayne’s Dog is Garlic French Fries. If you are a Garlic Lover these are ‘Heavenly’.
One of the oldest Hot Dog Stands in the city of Los Angeles is Pink’s which is on La Brea and ironically is practically right next door to where I went to school. Oddly enough, I never heard of Pink’s until maybe a dozen years ago. However, I’m sure I did have a Pink’s Dog unknowingly which was given to me by the Aunt of a girl who I was playing with at the time. This was the first time I had ever had a Chili Dog and quite honestly at 9 years old, I did not like it. More recently though, I did a class that featured the most popular Hot Dogs in and around the Los Angeles area. While I do not like Hoffy Dogs (which Pink’s uses) the toppings at Pinks were outstanding but oddly enough the item I liked best at Pink’s was their Coconut Cake.
Probably my favorite San Fernando Valley Hot Dog was Cupid’s. I first noticed the Cupid’s stand when I was about 11 years old and we had just moved to the Valley. By the time I got around to eating at Cupid’s their main stand was at Victory and Tyrone and it is still there today. The other stand that they have that I have frequented is across the street from Cal State Northridge. For years, Cupid’s only sold their Dogs one way and that was in a bun with mustard and Chili and Onions. As I recall the last time I was there they have added a few things to their dogs such as cheese.
My favorite Dog to cook at home has to be a Kosher Dog with a crunchy skin. I usually buy Vienna as they fit the bill. Boar’s head is second best for at home purchase. Today for lunch I had a Coleslaw Dog made with Boar’s Head Hot Dogs, Homemade Coleslaw and home-grown Yellow Roma tomatoes.
Last year when we were on Kauai, I had a Pineapple Dog – certainly something you would expect to get in Hawaii if nowhere else. It was delicious – just the right amount of sweet/tangy compliment to the Hot Dog.
If you have a favorite dog and pictures of such please feel free to comment and share your photos.
On an ending note, Hot Dogs can be boiled, grilled, barbecued, baked with beans broiled and/or wrapped in pastry. Take advantage of ‘National Hot Dog Month’ and frequent your favorite local Hot Dog Stand.
Now that I had a batch of fresh homemade Ricotta Cheese the next step was to make something with it. I decided to make a batch of Cheese Blintz to serve for Sunday Brunch with fresh Strawberries. The crepes for the Blintz are easiest to work with if the Batter is made at least 1 hour ahead of time and then allowed to rest in the refrigerator. If you try to make the Crepes right after making the Batter there will be too much air in the batter for the pancakes to form properly. Now as far as I am concerned, the thinner the crepes the better, but of course you do need to have them thick enough to hold the filling without tearing. You can use the Sweet Crepe Batter Recipe under the Recipe/Dessert Section of this Blog. deserts/sweet-crepe-shells/ Just reduce the Sugar in the recipe from 1 Tbsp. to 1 tsp.
I made the Crepe Batter with the residual Whey from the production of the Ricotta. This reduces the waste that normally would result from making the Cheese. To make the Crepes, the Filling and the topping just follow the procedure below.
#1 – Make the Batter and refrigerate for at least one hour.
#2 – Rinse, dry, slice and sugar the Berries. If using Blackberries, Boysenberries or Raspberries eliminate the slicing procedure. Place the Berries in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lime (for every pint of berries) over the Berries and then toss with 1/4 cup of Superfine Sugar. Taste and add more Lime Juice and/or Sugar as desired.
#3 – Make the Cheese Filling for the Blintz. /deserts/cheese-filling/
4. Make the Crepes –
Heat the crepe pan until a drop of water splashed on it sizzles; melt the Butter and stir into the Batter.
- Use approximately ¼ cup of Batter (the exact amount depends on the size of the pan)
- While you are pouring in the Batter, tilt the pan with your other hand to cover the bottom of the pan.
- When the edges begin to dry and bubbles appear on the crepe surface, turn it over with a heat-proof spatula and cook a few seconds more on the turned side. (Cook one side to a light brown and the other just enough to set the batter. This side should still be almost white when you remove it from the pan.)
- You will be browning the Blintz in Butter before serving them so you do not want the second side to be cooked too long.
5. Filling the Blintz –
- Lay the Crepe Shells on a flat plate or work surface
- Place a scoop of the Cheese Filling in the middle
- Fold in the sides and then fold over the top and bottom. You should have a square package.
6. To Serve –
- Melt enough Butter to make a thin sizzling layer in the bottom of a medium to large frying pan. When the Butter starts to sizzle add the Blintz, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2″ between each one.
- When the bottoms brown gently turn and cook the other side.
- Serve while hot with the sliced Strawberries and Sour Cream or Whipped Cream as a Garnish.
The Hawaiian Islands are one of our favorite vacation spots; Maui is one of those spots in the world where you feel different as soon as you step off the plane. The warm flower scented breezes caress you skin and make you feel relaxed and dreamy. What better place in the world than to enjoy the food that has been created in the Hawaiian Islands. While locally caught fish is the protein mainstay of the Islands other meats are delicious as well. Pork is one of those proteins that are done beautifully in the Hawaiian Islands. Today’s Hawaiian Cuisine is a blend of the tropical with Asian flavors, two of my favorite flavor profiles.
One of the restaurants in Kihei is ‘Café O’Lei’, a restaurant which specializes in locally caught fish and however incongruently, steak. That being said, when we ate there on Friday Night neither one of us had fish or steak. My choice was the Asian style Shortribs and Ev had the Macadamia Nut roasted Pork which of course is an Hawaiian favorite. Both dishes were served with Rice and Vegetables along with a delicious first course salad. For dessert we shared the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. When we go back to Maui I would like to go back to this restaurant and try the raw fish or Sashimi Stacks that are one of their signature dishes.
One of the Items I purchased at the Tropical Plantation that we went to on Monday was a package of Gourmet Pancake Mix made in Hawaii. Since there was a waffle iron in the Condo, I decided to make Waffles for Breakfast on Saturday Morning. Even though the mix had dried Eggs and Buttermilk in it, I added fresh Eggs and Milk along with melted Butter to the mix to make a richer waffle. We had Coconut Syrup (made in Hawaii) on the Waffles and Bacon and Coffee on the side.
After Breakfast we drove to Kaanapali to go to the 25th Annual Maui Onion Festival. Many Chefs from around the Island were participating in a recipe contest. We were able to view the demonstration by Chef Chris Coulis in which he made an Hawaiian Onion Gnocchi with a Onion/Tomato Confit. It was quite delicious as we did get to taste it. The participating chefs had their wares displayed on tables set up near the stage. And of course right near the stage and in full visibility were 50 lb. bags of Maui Onions. Maui Onions are just like the Yellow Onions found here in California except that the soil that they grow makes a difference in the taste. The Volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands somehow yields a sweeter, less pungent onion than California and other States produce. They are so sweet that you can just about eat them out of hand! Of course you can’t to an Onion Festival and not have Onion Rings. These were being cooked right on the spot by about 12 different people to keep up with the demand. And they were very good! You had your choice of Caramelized Onion Ketchup or a spicier type dip. We opted for the Caramelized Onion Ketchup. What else would you eat your Maui Onion Rings with?
In addition to tasting the Gnocchi I purchased some Shortbread Cookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company. They have many different varieties and when you go into the shop you can sample as many types as you wish. Since Ev likes Chocolate and I like everything else, I bought a pack (my choices) of both Chocolate and Macadamia Nut/Pineapple Cookies. Needless to say, they did not last us very long. They were quite delicious.
For dinner this night we went to Rita’s Steak House where Ev had the Sirloin Burger and I had the Mussells Molokini which were just stamed Mussels in a White Wine Butter Sauce, but were very tasty. Along with this I had a Salad and Rolls and Butter.
The next day was Sunday and for dinner we went back to Coconuts Fish House. Ev again had the Fish and Chips and I had a Seafood Salad. Usually when you go to a restaurant and order a Seafood Salad there will be small pieces of Fish or small Shrimp in it. Not so the case here. There were two or three large pieces of fish including Mahi and Ahi along with 2 large Shrimp.
Needless to say Fish in the Hawaiian Islands is outstanding – fresh and delicious.
Tuesday we lunch at a Storefront Restaurant called Coconuts Fish Cafe. Even though it was storefront restaurant, the food quality was excellent and the décor was very attractive. In the photo above, the car is reflected in the door’s windows. (Not great photography, but the only photo I have) The tables and benches were all made in the shape of Surfboards as were the recipe boards. The fish was all very fresh and prepared quite well. Ev wanted Fish and Chips; these were not your ordinary Fish & Chips that one would get Stateside. The meal consisted of Ahi and Mahi and the Fries were skinny and crispy. I ordered their signature dish which was Fish Tacos. Again these were no ordinary Fish Tacos – the Fish was not breaded, just grilled and good and was again Hawaiian Fish. Diced Mango, Lettuce and Tomato were also on the Tacos. The order consisted of two Tacos and each was served on a separate plate. This meal was so good that we visited this Restaurant again before we left for home.
Tuesday night, since lunch was sufficient to call dinner we decided just to stay in and cook a simple meal for ourselves. Dinner or Supper consisted of Bacon and Eggs, Grilled Pineapple and strips of Baby Jicama. If you have never had Baby Jicama do try it during the summer when the Farmer’s Markets Vendors are bound to have. It is tender and sweet and the skin is much thinner than in the more mature varieties.
The next day was Wednesday and we spent most of the morning at Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park. The object of course, was to look for Native Birds and we did see the birds we set out to see – the I`iwi, `Apapane, `Amakihi and Maui Creeper as well as the Red–billed Leiothrix. On our way back from the Mountain we stopped and picked up lunch of Roast Beef Sandwiches and Potato/Mac Salad. The Potato/Mac Salad is an Hawaiian traditional side dish. Potato/Mac Salad is as it sounds: Potato Salad with cooked Elbow Macaroni in it – in this way you get two salads at once – Potato and Macaroni.
After exerting a lot of energy on the Mountain we went back to the Condo and spent the afternoon resting. I tried out the Hot Tub at the poolside and treated myself to a Shave Ice – another favorite specialty in the Hawaiian Islands. For dinner we went to a Restaurant called Pizza Madness and had a Pepperoni/Vegie Pizza. Even though it was only a medium it was so large that we had enough to take home for lunch the next day.