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
A Very Berry Torte was the selection for Week Three of our Sunday Baking Project. The recipe was selected from the book – Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The Torte consisted of a Cookie Crust which differs from the traditional Graham Cracker Crust in that you actually make it from a Sugar Cookie Dough. Jam goes on the bottom and the Cheese Cake Filling goes over the top. It is made in a Spring Form pan which allows you to remove the cake without destroying it – this is especially good when the crust is quite fragile due to the ingredients it is made with. A Spring Form Pan has sides that lock on to the bottom and by use of a spring lock can be removed once the baked product is finished. If you don’t have a Springform Pan you can purchase one at your local Culinary Store or on line at Amazon.com.
The Filling was also a little different than the traditional Cheesecake in that in addition to Cream Cheese it also had Cottage Cheese in the Filling. The Cottage Cheese helped to give the filling a little more texture than normal which turned out quite well.
The preparation of the Torte begins with the Crust which is pretty similar to a traditional Sugar Cookie Dough and it certainly behaves like one in that it is not super easy to work with. To roll the Dough out with as little trouble as possible it is best to refrigerate it first. I did this by flattening the dough into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper. When you do roll it out it is best to roll it between the sheets of waxed paper so it doesn’t break up. You can also press the dough into the Springform pan although I don’t think you can get as even a crust as you would like with this method.
After the Dough is rolled out it is then refrigerated for 30 minutes before baking. To bake the Crust it is best to use a ‘Blind Filling’- a sheet of buttered Aluminum Foil placed on the Dough with Pie Weights. The Weights can be purchased or you can use dried beans. The beans can be stored in an airtight container and used again many times as of course the weights can. The Weights come in various forms – some are metal, others are ceramic. They all work in pretty much the same way and whatever you buy would be up to you.
The recipe said to bake the crust for 30 minutes before removing the weights, but I found that to be a little too long. Try it yourself with different times – every oven is a little different so what I tell you may not work in your oven. I would start out with the suggested time and then adjust it from there if you plan to make the torte again.
After the foil and Weights are removed the crust is returned to the oven for about 5 more minutes to brown the surface. I personally thought the crust was over-done and would definitely try it with less time or maybe not pre-bake at all. If I do bake the Torte without prebaking the Crust I will come back here and post the results.
The Jam is spread over the baked crust – to my taste, 1/3 cup of Jam was not enough to cover the bottom of the crust – next time I would use at least half cup or maybe even more. It is supposed a Berry Tart and you do want to be able to taste it.
1/3 cup thick Berry Jam
To make the Filling the the Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are first blended together. Then the Sugar, Salt and Spices are blended and then the Eggs are beaten in. This can all be done in the Food Processor or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk. I think the Food Processor (if you have one) is the preferred method. Much faster and the ingredients will be beaten more thoroughly than if you do it by hand.
9 oz. Brick Cream Cheese
9 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
Pinch freshly Ground Nutmeg
The Torte should bake for about 60 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when the pan is moved. Additional cooking will take place after the heat is shut off and the pan is taken out of the oven. In the older methods of making Cheesecake the instructions say to leave it in the oven (after it has been turned off). I haven’t checked my old recipes but I think the actual baking time would be less. i have the bad habit of over-baking my cheesecakes so if I looked up the old method it would probably be better for me to do it that way.
In the Baked Torte photo you can see the clasp that holds the circular sides onto the bottom of the pan. When the Torte is baked and cooled the clasp is opened and should slide right off. Oftentimes you may have to use a straight-edge spatula to completely separate the cake from the pan.
All in all, this Berry Torte Cheesecake was very good – it tasted delicious even if my version didn’t come out looking beautiful. We had it for Breakfast – after all it does contain Eggs, Cheese and Fruit – items that we often incorporate into our Breakfasts. Of course we didn’t eat the whole thing at once, so it was also eaten for Dessert at another meal.
In the photos below are the plated cake and a slice topped with Whipped Cream.
MEMBERS PROJECT RESULTS
Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
This time I decided to make a batch of Ricotta using Rennet Tablets. It was my understanding that a quarter of a Rennet Tablet would be sufficient to curdle two quarts of milk. Unfortunately, this did not happen. When I used the Lemon Juice the heated Milk curdled within about 2 minutes. With the Rennet, I cooked and stirred with the Rennet added (after the milk came to a boil) for about 10 minutes. Getting frustrated I added Lemon Juice and it still did not look curdled so I added the rest of the Rennet Tablet. It finally curdled but did not yield as much Cheese as the Lemon Juice alone did and it was much looser and did not hold its shape. Fortunately I used the Cheese in Sweet Cheese Turnovers so the thickness did not matter as much. To add body to the Cheese I also used about half a carton of Mascarpone (thick Italian Cream Cheese). Next time I will go back to the Lemon Juice.
To make the Turnovers I placed the drained Ricotta in a medium-sized mixing bowl and added half a carton of Mascarpone, (about 4 oz.) along with 1 Egg, 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar (this should be to your taste) and some Vanilla. A pinch or two of ground Cinnamon may also be added if desired. Combine the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Turnovers I used commercial Puff Pastry but you can use Pie Crust or any other type of Dough that you prefer.
Have a small bowl of cool water at hand to help seal the pastry edges along with a fork to crimp them.
Lay out the Pastry on a cutting board and cut into 6″ squares. If needed you can use a clean ruler to measure. I usually just eye-ball it. Use a long knife or Pizza Wheel. Keep your eye on the end point and you will end up cutting a straight line. If you try to guide the knife or wheel, it is likely that your pieces will end up crooked. (I learned this little trick from my Mother who used to make all our clothes – when she cut out fabric she always said, keep your eye on the place where you want to end – this will guide your hand and keep it straight) It works every time!
Arrange the squares so that they are facing you as a diamond. Place a scoop of the filling on each square. (I used a #30 food scoop – about 1 1/2 Tbsps.) The filling should be placed just below the mid-point which will give you enough room to fold over the pastry and seal the edges without the filling oozing out the sides.
Using your clean finger or a pastry brush lightly coat the edges of two adjacent sides with the water; fold over into a triangle and then crimp with the fork.
If you plan on baking the Turnovers right away preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the Turnovers on the lined baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each turnovers on all sides. Even though there is no leavening agent as such in Puff Pastry, the layers formed by the Butter will puff up tremendously. Once the baking pan is full brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR UNTIL THE 20 MINUTES ARE UP). The Turnovers should be a golden brown when completely baked – if after 20 minutes they are still too pale then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. The Baked Turnovers are the Feature Photo above.
If you plan on freezing all or part of the Turnovers before baking them you can place them as close together on the sheet that you can as long as they don’t touch each other. Once they are frozen wrap them in plastic wrap or the parchment and place in a freezer bag. You can remove and bake as many or as few at a time as you need.
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.
One of my sons who lives in a country where Cheese is not a commonly found product has experimented with making his own. His adventures have inspired me to try my hand at Cheese Making even though Cheese is readily available where we live. So the first Cheese that I tried making is Ricotta. Ricotta or Cottage Cheese is probably the simplest of all Cheese to make. It took about an hour and a quarter and that includes draining time.
The products you need are readily available at your local grocer and you probably have the cooking vessels and containers that you need at home. Listed below are the groceries that you need and the equipment you should have.
Let’s start with the Equipment so that when you go out to buy the groceries, if you don’t have all the equipment, you can purchase it at the same time you purchase your groceries.
5-6 Quart Cooking Vessel
Large Colander or Sieve (Strainer)
5-6 Quart Bowl
The Groceries that you will need are:
1/2 Gallon of Milk (preferably from a local dairy and is not over-pastureized
1 cup of Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsps. Lemon Juice
Start by combining the Milk, Cream and Salt in your large cooking vessel. Place it over high heat and bring to a rapid boil, stirring continuously to prevent burning.
Once the mixture comes to a rapid boil, stir in the Lemon Juice, lower the heat and cook (again stirring continuously until the mixture curdles completely. (About 2 minutes)
Remove from the heat and pour into the Cheese Cloth lined colander. Allow to drain for one hour.
Wrap in the Cheese Cloth and plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. This Cheese will keep for only 2 days, so plan on using it as quickly as you can.
You can see that the drained Cheese has taken on the shape of the colander and is formed into a perfectly round parcel. This is not so important with Ricotta Cheese as it usually gets mixed with other ingredients to form a filling for Ravioli, Lasagna or Blilntz, but if you are making semi-hard or hard cheeses this is a bonus.
After the Ricotta had completely drained I had about a quart of the residual whey (the portion of milk that does not form the curd) Some people feed this to their chickens ( if you have them), their cats or dogs (again if you have them). I no longer have pets but I did find uses for the Whey. I made a loaf of Wheat Bread with some of it and used another portion to make Crepe Shells for Blintz which I will show in my next blog.
This was the best Ricotta Cheese I have ever eaten and I usually buy an expensive brand that is made from whole milk and is very good. This at least matched it, but I think it was better. It costs no less to make it at home than it does to buy, but it is good and it is fun.
Check my next blog to see what I did with this Ricotta.
Oh my gosh! It has been at least three weeks since we have had Pizza! The last time we had it was the first week we were on Maui and we have been almost two weeks now. So, what did I make for dinner tonight! Pizza, of course! If I do say so myself (and everyone else says so too) I do make the very best Pizza and my husband doesn’t like anything like he loves Pizza! I made the dough this afternoon around two o’clock, put in a greased plastic bag and stuck it in the refrigerator. Then I went out and did some errands. Around 4:30 I took out the bag of Dough to allow it to warm up and the prepared the toppings for the pizza. Then I shaped the Dough and dressed it.
Pizza Dough shaped to fit the Peel
Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
Dried Oregano & freshly ground Pepper
Bulk Sweet Italian Sausage Meat – cooked with diced Onions.
Shredded Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced Crimini Mushrooms & Sliced Black Olives
Dinner is served.
To make the Pizza follow the recipe at /dinner/cheese-pizza/
Then just add any toppings you wish.
Last Night’s Dinner was Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with sautéed Spinach with Mushrooms and Onions. I had been busy most of the afternoon baking Gingerbread House Parts so my husband Ev, went to the store for me to pick up the Pork Tenderloin and a Vegetable. I had asked him to get whatever Leafy Vegetable he preferred and it could be fresh or frozen. He picked out frozen chopped Spinach. Now, I love Spinach, but chopped is another story. Anyways, I sautéed it with diced Onions and sliced Mushrooms. It came out pretty good, but the whole leaf would have been better. Anyways, I always cook too much for two people and there was a good size portion of the Spinach leftover. When we discussed what we would like to have for Dinner tonight, Ev wanted Pasta. I said okay but didn’t tell him what kind of Pasta we were going to have. Here is where the Makeover comes in. Listed below are the leftovers that I incorporated into the meal along with the additional ingredients that I had to purchase:
ON HAND PURCHASED
Lasagna Noodles Ricotta Cheese
Mushroom/Spinach Sauté Canned Diced Tomatoes
Egg & Cream Ground Veal (optional)
Fresh Basil & Garlic
Dried Oregano & Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper
This was probably one of the easiest meals I have prepared in a long time. Below is the order in which I prepared this dish:
I – Making the Tomato Sauce
- Sautéing the Veal in a small amount of Olive Oil
- Crushing the Garlic and adding it to the Veal
- Add the Crushed Tomatoes along with the Dried Oregano & Bay Leaf
- Add half can (3 oz.) Tomato Paste along with Salt and Pepper to taste
- Allow to simmer until the Sauce is of the desired consistency
- At the end, add about 1/4 cup minced Basil
II – Spinach/Ricotta Mixture
- In small bowl I mixed 1 cup of Ricotta with 1 beaten Egg and then added about 1/4 cup of Cream.
- Stir in the Mushroom/Spinach Mixture
III – Assembly
- Place a very small amount of Olive Oil at the bottom of the baking dish and spread it with a paper towel to cover the entire bottom surface.
- Arrange a layer of Noodles on the bottom
- Add a layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Add a layer of shredded Mozzarella
- Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on this layer
- Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Add Mozzarella Cheese
- Half hour before serving bake at 350 degrees until the Cheese is melted and slightly browned and the dish is hot all the way through – (about half hour)
IV – Serving
- Let the Lasagna rest for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving it.
- Serve with the Veal/Tomato Sauce and additional Parmesan Cheese as desired