I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

November 9, 2009

Kick ass in the kitchen

Every once and a while I go just a little bit insane and start cooking. And I keep cooking. And then I find something else to cook. And eventually my feet scream at me (because I am barefoot on tile), by upper back seizes on me and I realize 4 hours have gone by in a blink. Then I look around and realize that I have made caramelized pear bread pudding, vanilla pastry cream, homemade caramel sauce, Anaheim chile & tomatillo sauce, I have picked apart a pile of shredded chicken breasts, chopped cilantro & green onion, (these are waiting for the sauce and tortillas for enchiladas sometime this week), made broth from the chicken bones, meringue cookies and somehow managed to whip up a quesadilla for a quick carb boost lunch.

Sometimes it stems from boredom, sometimes because I have had one of my shopping trips to the market where I find something that begs to be made, sometimes I am trying desperately to use up the leftovers in the fridge before they go to waste (hate waste!).

Yesterday was a little of each. I started out with the intention of making the bread pudding to take to friends house for a Sunday night dinner. It started out very simple....I was testing out a new recipe (who better to experiment on than friends???) of Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding....

Caramelized anything = good

Decided to make my homemade caramel sauce to accompany it...then decided it needed pastry cream as well....Forgot to take a picture of the cream, but you get the idea.....

Looked at the leftover egg whites from the pastry cream and had a flash of inspiration from above, I HAD to make Nina's Shaum Torte cookies (also known as meringue cookies to anyone outside my family)....

While cooling the bread pudding, noticed some leftover chicken breasts from a roast chicken that would go perfectly with the chiles, green onions & cilantro that I just happened to pick up at the farmers market on Saturday to make awesome green salsa enchiladas. (recipe to follow another day!)

Then the bones, some carrots, onion, celery went in to a pot for broth to stick in the freezer for the next time I need it...once again, to distracted for picture taking!
You dizzy yet? I certainly was after I came up for air.

Bear in mind that if I was in a commercial kitchen I could have doubled my production, but I live in a condo with a fairly small kitchen (but very nicely renovated). So space is at a minimum both on the counter, the cupboards and the fridge. If you come cook with me, be prepared to dance a little!

Previously I have gone to town on things like duck confit, beef wellington (made the puff pastry from scratch, oh yeah!), vats of tomato sauce soup and stew, salsa, cookies, biscotti....whatever it may be, it generally ends up on friends tables, packed in containers for my Grandpa's dinner or it gets brought to the kitchen counter at work so the ladies in my office can enjoy at their leisure.

I have to say, that when I get in these moods, I do resemble an insane person, but I do kick ass in the kitchen.

Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding

8 Cups Challah Bread cut in 3/4" cubes
6 Eggs
4 Cups Whole Milk
2 oz melted butter
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 T Ground Cardamom
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

4 Pears (Bartlet, Bosc, D'Anjou) peeled, cored and sliced 1/8" thick x 1" wide
4 T Butter
1/4 Cup Sugar

Blend eggs, milk, melted butter, sugars & spices together in a bowl, blend very well. Pour over bread and let it soak, stirring gently to thoroughly distribute liquid.
Melt butter and add sugar, stir for a few minutes until the sugar melts. Add pears and stir....there may be some hardened sugar chucks that form, but they will melt again as the pears cook. Stir over medium heat until all liquid is evaporated and the pears are caramelized.
Butter a 13x9 pan and put 1/2 of the bread mixture in the bottom. Dot the center with the pears, distributing evenly and top with remaining bread mixture. Pour any leftover liquid in the pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set.

Serve with caramel sauce and pastry cream (or whipped cream....or ice cream!)


Angel Cake Delights said...

I want some bread budding now and I know from previous taste tests your bread pudding ROCKS!!! The carmel sauce reminds me of when you owned the resturat and we burned the carmel sauce cause we went out for a smoke... Ahh the good old days....

Jensen said...

Dude, it was soooo good! And I do remember burning the stupid caramel sauce....I was a little hesitant making it on Sunday remembering how horrible the smell is when you eff it up, I watched over it like a hawk!!!