Savory Sourdough Bread Pudding

My friend Charlotte gifted me with a loaf a sourdough bread her husband had made. My folks and I had some lovely sandwiches with it and decided the reminder would be perfect to form the base of my overnight casserole.

This is a great timesaver on Christmas morning, as you build it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The bonus is it is also one of those dishes where you can empty your fridge of leftovers – we had some sausage patties from a previous breakfast and some mushrooms we had sautéed for pizza but are using here instead to go with bread that was starting to go stale.

I like using smoked Gouda but Cheddar or any other good melting cheese would be delicious. We used sourdough bread but use what you have, knowing that thicker slices is best.

The bread softened beautifully and the casserole was so nice and creamy and smokey. Such a very good way to start a holiday or for brunch anytime of the year.

Sourdough Breakfast Casserole

1 pound sourdough bread, about thick 5 slices
½ pound breakfast sausage, about 4 to 5 patties
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half (or cream)
8 ounces smoked Gouda, grated (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Toast the bread until golden brown. I run it through 3 light toast cycles to get it well dried out. Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.

Brown the breakfast sausage. Remove from heat to a large bowl. In same pan, sauté the mushrooms until they’ve released their juices. Remove from heat.

Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, toss together bread, sausage and mushrooms. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half and half, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.

Lightly butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn bread and sausage mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing bread pieces down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Advertisement

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I wanted to make a pound cake this week and, serendipitously, my parent’s next door neighbor offered to let me pick all the remaining lemons from his tree (Did you know lemon trees have thorns? I do now). Lemon pound cake it is.

Before I left New Orleans, I went to Dorignac’s Food Center to pick up some Creole Cream Cheese. This is a soft farmer’s cheese similar in texture to a mix of cottage cheese and sour cream that is both sweet and tart. Poppy Tooker has a recipe  (as does Edible New Orleans) to make your own batch. If you’re not in the area or not in the mood to make cheese, you can substitute softened cream cheese or sour cream in the recipe.

Lovely lemon flavor and scent, light texture and crumb and just the right amount of  tart to sweet. Perfect for holiday snacking with one to keep and one to give away!

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 cups cake flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 ounces Creole cream cheese (or use sour cream or softened cream cheese)
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice and zest from 3 lemons (about ½ cup fresh lemon juice), divided

1 ½ cups powdered, confectioners sugar

Butter and flour two loaf pans (three, if they’re small). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder. Use a mixer to cream sugar, butter and Creole cream cheese until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add eggs to creamed sugar and mix. Stir in vanilla and half of the lemon zest. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for an hour, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool about 10 minutes. Poke 10-15 holes evenly throughout cakes with a cake tester or toothpick. Pour ¼ cup lemon juice over the top of the cakes (works out to about 2 tablespoons per loaf pan). Let cool completely.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the glaze by stirring together the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Stir in the rest of the zest.

Remove cakes from pans once cool. Pour the lemon zest glaze over cakes, letting it fall down the sides. Let icing set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Also good lightly toasted the next morning.

Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and then in a zip top bag to freeze.

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

I’m beset with a surplus of sourdough sponge in my efforts to create a sourdough panettone. As a bonus, I get to play with lots of different baked goods. Today is a bread sourdough loaf with caraway seeds.

To fully hydrate the sourdough sponge, feed your starter with water and flour and let sit on the counter overnight. Stir and take out a cup of the sponge to begin the dough.

There is a lovely nutty flavor to the loaf with a nice crust and chew.

I have some pastrami so I’m thinking this will make a nice sandwich bread – I lightly toasted a couple of slices, placed hot pastrami on one slice topped with some provolone cheese and broiled it for a couple of minutes. Even without sauerkraut or 1000 Island dressing, it was very good!

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

1 cup fully hydrated sourdough sponge
½ cup warm water
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, crushed

Mix together the sponge, ½ cup water and 1 ½ cups bread flour. Stir well and place in the bread machine. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add to the sponge mixture the baking soda, remaining 1 ½ cups bread flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and caraway seeds, in that order. Set the machine for basic cycle, medium crust.

Shrimp Étouffée

A very good friend of mine just got out from a week in the hospital after getting a heart bypass, so I decided to make him something delicious and comforting. Shrimp Étouffée fits the bill perfectly – I mean, c’mon smothered is IN the name. This classic dish was my gateway to Cajun/Creole cooking. It is much easier than gumbo as you only need to cook the roux to blonde plus it is ready in under an hour.

While this is already a full flavor/lower fat dish, I did want it to be a little more heart healthy for him so I made up a batch of my Creole Seasoning with no salt (original recipe here), used low sodium chicken stock and no salt added tomato sauce, and am serving it with brown rice.

To up the shrimp flavor, make your own shrimp stock. Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until shells start to turn pink, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add 6 cups of water, a celery stalk broken in half, a carrot similarly broken and a bay leaf and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain to remove solids. Use 1 cup in the recipe and freeze the rest in 1 cup measures for later uses.

It tastes like you spent all day over a hot stove – the natural heat from the Ro-tel plus the Creole seasoning gently warms you from the tongue to your tummy making this a lovely meal on a cold night. For those who want less heat, double the tomato sauce and eat more rice with each bite. For those who need more, add a dash or two of hot sauce at the table.

Shrimp Étouffée

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 small green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can RoTel tomatoes and green chilies
1 -5 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until the onions have turned golden, at least 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Stir in butter and flour and cook until the roux is golden brown, up to 10 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly and don’t let it darken too much.

Reduce heat to low; add RoTel, tomato sauce and stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or so until thickened. Toss shrimp with Creole seasonings and put into the saucepan. Simmer until shrimp are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and taste for seasonings.

Serve over rice. Have hot sauce on the table for those who need more heat.