Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. One of the privileges of being part of the blogosphere is benefiting from the vast friendships beyond my little corner of the world. Not only is it a creative outlet for expressing my love of food, it also challenges me to stretch my palate and try new things. Today’s recipe comes from Corrie, a Brit, who thrives on a vegetarian diet. She has a fabulous blog entitled http://corriesrabbitfood.com where food looks so amazing it makes you forget about being a meat-lover. To clear up any confusion, “bread pudding” is more commonly known as a dessert. But “bread and butter pudding” is made by buttering the bread before adding any liquid. Now you see the difference, which is why this makes a fabulous breakfast dish. Are you ready to eat more? Then let’s get started.

VEGETARIAN BREAD ‘N BUTTER PUDDING

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf baguette bread, sliced

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup red onion, sliced

3 gloves garlic, sliced

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/3 cup gruyère cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 5”x7” baking dish with softened butter. Set aside. Lightly butter both sides of a baguette slice, then place in the baking dish. Repeat until all pieces of baguette are buttered. When placing them in the baking dish, arrange in a zigzag pattern. This leaves room for the spaces to be filled in with ingredients. Next evenly divide the red onion slices and garlic pieces between the bread. Generously sprinkle the entire loaf with shredded parmesan, gruyère, and 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese, with attention given to lightly packing the cheese in areas where spaces exist. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, skim milk, seasoned salt, basil, marjoram, and oregano. Slowly pour over the pudding, soaking each slice of bread. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30, or until set Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm.

No Yeast Beer Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: No Yeast Beer Bread! Never in my wildest dream did I ever realize there would be a shortage of all-purpose flour and yeast. Yet, the grocery store shelves were bare. I don’t know if it had anything to do with panic-buying during the coronavirus quarantine or if people were baking up a storm in isolation. Homemade bread is a comfort food, after all. Kneading dough can be a distraction from stay-at-home kids and social media rants. Plus the incredible aroma of bakery bread is soothing and rewarding. So, the obvious answer was to go to the fridge and open a can of beer. Beer acts as a leavening agent, as long as baking powder is included in the recipe. For those who wonder, the alcohol does burn out and evaporate. Now the results are a more dense and heavy bread with a thicker crust, just so you know. Personally, I like the crunchiness of toast better that way. Then again, it could be the result of “bathing” it in butter before baking. Let’s jam with beer bread!

NO YEAST BEER BREAD

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

12-ounces beer, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and sea salt. Stir until mixed. Add the beer, stirring until the dough forms. Set aside. Warm the butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Brush the parchment paper on bottom and sides of the loaf pan. Spoon the dough into the buttered loaf pan. The dough will have a rustic appearance. Brush the remaining butter evenly over the top of the dough. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. The bread will be a golden brown. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert pan to remove the beer bread. Slice and serve.

Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)! Let’s spread the news: rules are meant to be broken. I put off making hummus because I had no tahini, sesame seed paste, in my kitchen. The last time I needed it I became frustrated because I couldn’t find it in the grocery stores. So I made it myself. The trouble is homemade tahini can be pricey as well as wasteful if you don’t use it all before it becomes bitter. Not cool. Now you have an alternative. Lose the tahini without sacrificing the taste. By adding sesame oil and spices, you still end up with a smooth, creamy paste to smear onto pita bread. And isn’t that the point?

HUMMUS IN HINDSIGHT (without tahini)

Ingredients:

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Drizzle of sesame oil, for topping

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Red pepper bits, for garnish

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until coarse. With the machine running, add the olive oil, sesame oil, and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Fold in the ground cumin, Himalayan pink salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish. Drizzle hummus with sesame oil. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with red pepper bits and sliced chives. Serve with celery sticks, red pepper strips, and pita bread.

Macadamia Nut Pineapple French Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Macadamia Nut Pineapple French Toast! Forget the maple syrup. Indulge instead in a tropical fruit explosion of flavor. Some compare this breakfast specialty to caramelized pineapple bliss. I suppose the taste could remind you of a tropical Pina Colada cocktail. It’s that good. For your next “Staycation”, why not treat yourself to paradise on a plate.

MACADAMIA NUT PINEAPPLE FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients for Sauce:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut syrup

1 teaspoon almond extract

8-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 smidgen nutmeg

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

Instructions:

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar. Stir. Gradually bring to a boil. Add cream, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting. Add maple syrup, coconut syrup, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Add pineapple chunks, cinnamon, nutmeg, and shredded coconut. Cook until tender.

Ingredients for French Toast:

4 slices Hawaiian sweet bread, sliced thick

3 whole eggs, beaten

1/2 cup light cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons butter

Macadamia nuts, chopped

Fresh strawberries

Instructions:

Whisk together eggs, light cream, and vanilla extract. In a shallow dish, place 4 slices of Hawaiian bread, single layer. Pour custard egg mixture over bread; turn to coat both sides completely. Let moistened bread rest to soak up liquid. In an iron skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter on medium-low heat. Transfer the soaked bread to the skillet. Cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Add butter as needed. If cooking in batches, transfer browned French toast to a wire rack on a baking sheet and kept warm in a 200° oven. To serve, place one piece of French toast on a plate. Cover with pineapple sauce. Top with second slice of French toast. Add more pineapple sauce. Garnish with sliced strawberries and macadamia nut pieces. Dust with powdered sugar.

Ingenious Bakery Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ingenious Bakery Bread! Some days are just made for shortcuts. The fact is, everyone needs a timesaving tip now and then. For starters, buying frozen bread dinner roll dough takes the guesswork out of measuring ingredients, which is why I keep a bag on hand. The other day I made homemade chicken noodle soup and wanted freshly-baked bread instead of saltine crackers. While the aromatic flavors of the soup were blending in the slow-cooker, the bread was rising to perfection. Together they pulled off a meal like a pro.

INGENIOUS BAKERY BREAD

Ingredients:

8 pieces frozen yeast dinner roll dough

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Place the 8 frozen rolls into the pan in a single layer with edges touching. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Cover entire pan with a tea towel. Place pan in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, between 2 and 4 hours. Remove tea towel and plastic wrap. The raised dough will resemble a single loaf. Brush top of dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with dill weed and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Immediately remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Brush with melted sea salt butter. Serve warm.

Yorkshire Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Yorkshire Pudding! Remember Sunday afternoons at grandma’s house for a traditional pot roast dinner and lively conversation? The rich beef gravy practically dribbled down your chin overflowing from the saturated yeast rolls or Yorkshire pudding. Recently, I was swept back in time when I ordered this savory dish at a charming little pub in the Canadian Rockies. It was at that moment I knew I had to bring a bit of nostalgia back home. As you can see, my version included shredded beef drippings, rich brown gravy, and assorted mixed vegetables for a pocket full of perfection.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons flour

3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup bacon drippings

Instructions:

Combine eggs, flour, milk, water, and salt. Refrigerate batter overnight in an airtight container. The next day, remove batter to allow it to rest at room temperature while the oven is being preheated. Adjust oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 450°. Place one teaspoon of bacon drippings into each well of the bouchon pan. Place pan in the oven while it is preheating, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Fill each well 3/4 full. Do not overfill. Return pan to oven. Bake 25 minutes until Yorkshire puddings quadruple in volume. Serve immediately with meat, vegetables, and gravy.

Rosemary Parmesan Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Rosemary Parmesan Popovers! For a light and airy alternative to reaching for the bread basket, try an herb and cheese popover instead. Rosemary provides a nice earthy pine taste which compliments the saltiness of Parmesan cheese. It’s a match made in heaven, like bread and butter. No pun intended.

ROSEMARY PARMESAN POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped plus more for garnish

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cups flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, sea salt, sugar, rosemary, cheese, and flour. Blend until no large lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Sprinkle tops with rosemary leaves. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, remove and transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of French butter.

Italian Bread Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Italian Bread Salad! Panzanella. Travel with me to Tuscany for a delightful dinner on a gardened terrace. Indulge in a bountiful salad of artisan bread, juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, and green bell peppers. Appreciate the herbs de Provence perfectly blended with garlic wine vinegar whisked in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s enough to make you swoon. The ingredients are very forgiving. Tomatoes a little soft? Has the bread gone stale? No worries. This classic Italian meal was originally meant to be eaten that way. It’s truly amazing!

ITALIAN BREAD SALAD

Ingredients:

1-pound loaf artisan bread

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, crushed

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine garlic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300°. Slice and cube the bread in bite-size pieces, leaving crusts on. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Form a single layer of bread cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Bake 10 minutes; flip over and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine garlic vinegar, and sea salt. In a large salad bowl, combine bread with tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Stir occasionally to blend flavors. Just before serving, gently toss with fresh basil. Add cracked black pepper to taste.

* Serving suggestion: Italian Bread Salad is best eaten the day it is made.

French Baguettes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: French Baguettes! Ever wonder why the daily baguette, le baguette quotidien, in France tastes so much better than in the US? For one, it is meant to be baked and eaten the same day. After that, don’t be surprised if it goes stale. No preservatives. Well, I can attest that as soon as the aromas filled the kitchen and drifted throughout the house, I had to ask myself, “Why would anyone want to wait?” The crunch of crispy crust, the melted sea salt French butter, and the hint of honey sweetness were enough to be convincing. Plus, I let the bread machine do half the work. Another bonus, the perforated French bread pan “simplifies baking baguettes worthy of a Parisian boulangerie.”* I agree.

FRENCH BAGUETTES

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, combine water, bread flour, sugar, sea salt, and yeast. Select Dough cycle and press Start. When the cycle is completed, transfer dough to a greased bowl. Coat all sides of dough with grease. Cover; Place bowl in a warm area for 30 minutes. Dough will rise to double its size. Punch down dough. Place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 12″x16″ rectangle. Cut dough in half to equal two 12″x8″ rectangles. Beginning at the 12” side, roll dough tightly, pounding out air bubbles. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Transfer loaves to a divided and perforated French bread pan. Make diagonal slashes across each loaf every 3 inches. Cover and let dough rise in a warm area for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375°. Mix egg yolk and water. Brush over tops of loaves. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

* I receive no recompense for mentioning the Williams-Sonoma Perforated French Bread Pan.