Toasted Bread And Butter Pudding

Toasted Bread and Butter Pudding

It's a gloomy day here in The South. And though I went for my daily anger run on the treadmill and was bullied (with love), by my dear friend Fitness Instructor to attend her morning class, I still found myself unhinging for a fundraising hot dog for lunch.

Hours later I again found myself needing a feeding. So before I slipped into a shame spiral of Netflix viewing for the evening I continued my quest to use only what I have on hand. Have you figured out how lazy I am when it comes to grocery shopping? And to think I used to do it for a living. 

The end result was bread pudding. Folks down this way love their bread pudding. And on more than one occasion I have heard the harsh whisper of "it's good, but it's not my momma's". And since my momma didn't make bread pudding growing up I went to one of my books of worship and asked one of our chosen people for inspiration. 

Ruth came through (not Biblical Ruth - though I image she has a good kugel recipe or two up her robe). 

Toasted Bread And Butter Pudding

Recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl

***notes on recipe: I used a cubed brioche in place of challah. Topped with mixed berry compote.

Pondering, Pork and (Walking Dead) Porn

Okay the food pictures are not mine (see or but I am sure mine looked just like that - ask the roommate. And I threw in some Walking Dead Porn (you can reach me here Norman)

Lets just say what everyone is thinking...this holiday season was not like the others. Thanksgiving became Black Thursday and Christmas became That Holiday Target Gave Away My PIN. 

At one point as I sat in my traditional corner of the living room to watch the offspring of more mature family members scamper around the tree I said to my cousin, “this doesn’t feel like Christmas”.  As she watched her own young children rip open the underwear that Santa had left, her response was to the point and oddly chilling, “it hasn’t felt like Christmas since we were their age”.

This was my first Christmas as a non-Christian, my first Hanukkah as a Jew, and my ONLY Thanksgivukkah: Jew Giving Edition. And because Sister is off saving lives with her new crew at the fire department we’ve moved some holidays around to better suit our needs. In the end it’s worked out much better for me. I would rather have the family Christmas closer to the weekend. There is nothing worse on Christmas Day than having to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda. Saturday morning cartoons are better.

And due to screwy holiday schedules at hospitals around the nation, my roommate and his family did not celebrate Christmas along with the rest of the world.  So to have some sense of Christmas Spirit in the form of dinner my roommate had his own parents over for some nosh the week before Christmas. I offered to cook instead of awkwardly sitting in my room watching The Walking Dead Christmas Special: Zombie Jesus. 

I sent my roommate out with an explicit list of what was needed.  And after he left the torture chamber he calls The Gym he returned with my goods. 

The evening’s menu was as follows:

French Onion Bites

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce (non-kosher meat with a nice kosher-ish sauce)

Frisee Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

Glazed Carrots with Orange and Ginger

Dark Chocolate Cake with Frangelico Buttercream Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache

A few notes on the ingredients - 

1. Please do not be afraid of talking to your butcher. He handles a lot of meat and loves to talk about it. Trust me. There is nothing better than having a large slab of meat wrapped up in a nice tight package being thrust at you with a passion. 

2. Like wine and underwear you should buy the middle of the road bacon. This past year I have experimented and bought the “sale” bacon (too thin and fatty), the “fancy” bacon (too expensive and not enough to go around), and the “middle of the road” bacon (I recommend a nice Black Label). 

3. Belgian Endive and just regular old non country exclusive Endive look completely different. Make sure you bring Google to the grocery with you. Be adventurous and by the Belgian. It's more fun.  



Serves 8
Active time:1 hr
Start to finish: 3 1/2 hr


For stuffing
¼ lb California dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¼ lb pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ruby Port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For roast
1(6-lb) bone-in pork loin roast (10 ribs), frenched, at room temperature 1 hour
9 or 10 bacon slices

For port sauce
½ cup ruby Port (I maaaaaybe used Blackberry Manshewitz)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 ½ cups water, divided
2 teaspoons arrowroot


Make stuffing:

Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.

Stuff and roast pork:

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.

Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.

Season roast with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and put in a large flameproof roasting pan. Wrap with bacon, between rib bones, tucking ends under roast. 

Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast (do not touch bone or stuffing) registers 155°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours total.

Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160°F; meat will be slightly pink.)

Make sauce:

Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp fat. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. 

Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. 

Whisk together arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.

Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carve roast into chops by cutting between ribs, then serve with sauce.

Cooks’ notes:

Stuffing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
Uncooked roast improves in flavor if stuffed, seasoned, and wrapped with bacon 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before roasting.


Gourmet Magazine, December 2008


Serves 36 hors d'oeuvres
Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 1hr

  • 36 thin (1/4-inch) slices of baguette (from 1 baguette)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded Gruyere (using a microplane, about 3 oz)


Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle
Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until butter is melted, then cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Uncover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Add wine and cook until entirely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic clove, bay leaf, and thyme. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, covered.
Preheat broiler.

Arrange toasts on a large baking sheet, then top each with a rounded teaspoon of caramelized onions and sprinkle generously with shredded Gruyere. Broil 3- to 4-inches from heat until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully).


Gourmet Live, 22 December 2010


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 head endive, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large head frisee, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped


In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.  Add endive, frisee, cranberries, and pistachios. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.


Everyday Food, November 2010


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower 
  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick 
  • 1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced orange zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.

Add broth, orange zest, fresh orange juice, and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).

Remove skillet from heat; add butter, and swirl skillet until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.


Everyday Food, November 2008

Supermarket Sweep, Semi Nudes and Bananas

My job has afforded me some extra time in the home kitchen as of late. Coupled with my discovery of more frozen remains (of the food variety, not Hannibal Lecter variety) deep within my side by side freezer I have been venturing down the path of quick breads. In the last few weeks I've consumed whole loaves of Spicy Zucchini Bread on multiple occasions (damn Ms. Stewart and her test kitchen minions).  

Late last night I ventured into my freezer with dirty thoughts of frozen cookie dough running through my mind knowing full well that I had baked off the final four (pretty sure that is a basketball reference about something that is interrupting my Big Bang viewing on TBS this week - Boyfriend take note I integrated sports and food). While basking in the glow of my Frigidaire freezer light I saw lounging about on the second shelf some frozen bananas that Boyfriend and I bought in a Supermarket Sweep-like shopping experience at Super Target a few weeks back. We've come to learn that Target reads our minds and sends us coupons catered to our future needs. Target knew we needed to make banana bread before we did.  

So this morning I was up baking banana bread while the half naked woman who lives across the courtyard and refuses to close the blinds of her bathroom and bedroom directly across from my kitchen got ready for work. Good choice on the black blouse Semi-Nude Neighbor.  

Coconut and Macadamia Nut Banana Bread


Makes two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaves

Now I sprinkled a little brown sugar on top in honor of my best friend from high school that got caught eating brown sugar out of the bag with a spoon when she was a kid. I do that myself now when I need a me moment.  

Finally, loosely wrap one loaf on the counter so you can easily grab a bite giving you the energy to get from the kitchen to any other room in the house. Tightly wrap the other loaf in plastic wrap and place back in the side by side so Boyfriend has something to eat next week.  

Birthday Cake, Booze and Doritos

Not So German Chocolate Cake

Not So German Chocolate Cake

Today, January 13th, 2012, would have been my father's 59th birthday ("Just J" as he was known to my friends - his name was just the letter J. It stood for nothing other than the letter "J").  

When I sat down to think about food and my family I initially thought we really don't have any food traditions. However, throughout the day I realized that we do hold some food traditions very close to heart. When we gather en masse there is Monahan Dip (a concoction of cream cheese, chili sauce, some spices, onions and Old Dutch RIP-L Triple Pack of chips), Christmas gets Italian (though we are not), Just Joni makes a fudge that only she knows the recipe, Just J made a great soup he simply called Dumps. It involves canned bean soup and homemade dumplings and is probably the best thing to be found in a stock pot on a cold winter's night. And Aunt Sharon makes a ham/pickle sandwich that involves a meat grinder that gets people in by the droves for some reason that I cannot explain.  

When my generation of cousins was small and we found ourselves at Papa's for a family dinner we binged on Doritos, York Peppermint Patties, Kraft American Singles and New York Vanilla ice cream topped with Leroux Creme De Menthe (that's right, booze on ice cream for kids. It was the 80's and we were scared of the Russians). In the end, there was a very long list of "traditional" foods that we have eaten and will eat as a family.  

But back to the cake above.  

I have no memory of celebrating my father's birthdays.  My mother's birthday is just two days before (HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUST JONI!) so there were combined parties I am sure.  I do, for some reason, have stored in the recesses of my mind that my father's favorite cake was German Chocolate. Which after researching today I discovered is not so much German as it was created by a man with the name German. So today I set out to make my own version of this chocolate, coconut, pecan cake that in my mind was my father's favorite. As I am not a fan of the texture of shredded coconut or nuts in chocolate I took some serious liberties with this project.   

Chocolate Sour Cream Layer Cake


Foolproof Chocolate Frosting


Dulce De Leche Filling

Available, canned, in your grocer's baking aisle.

Coconut Garnish

Simply store bought raw coconut browned in a saute pan.  

Enjoy and Happy Birthday Just J.