This past week, Boston has been experiencing a weird mix of stormy, then warm [for winter] weather. We had snow showers, followed by sporadic rain pours, paired with a blow-your-umbrella-irrevocably-inside-out wind. Aside from the obvious general disdain of yucky weather, there are other downsides. For instance, what do I wear since I can't exactly use an umbrella that wind out there? Do I even bother doing my hair? Do I use a sick day to avoid having to walk to work? Is it really worth the $8.00 Uber to get to work? Do I go to the grocery store, or just order in for dinner? As you can see, I have had serious "moral" and food related dilemmas this week.
I have to say I did take some solace in looking at some posts going up from my hometown of Half Moon Bay in California. They had a hailstorm so freaky it looked like serious snow on the ground (see photo to the left). In a situation like that, the age-old, and not particularly funny, joke that Californians don't know how to drive (or walk, or function) in the rain is actually legitimate. I did not look at traffic reports from the day, but I can only imagine the horror of congestion and accidents that weather may have caused. I did see some news reel of people trying to walk on the icy sidewalks and had some "you're a bad person for laughing" chuckles to myself.
The only thing cold, wet weather is good for is snuggling up at home, watching some junk TV (RHOBH, anyone?), and eating some warm comfort food. That brings me to today's recipe, Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding. It is a savory, creamy play on the sweet classic. There is zero sugar or cinnamon added to this custard, but does have loads of other warm flavors like onions, garlic, and earthy mushrooms perfect for a cold day. I saved some of the Parker House Buns in the freezer from January's first post to serve as the base of this dish. They are the perfect consistency to sop up the custard, but maintain a toasty crispness at the top. A good helping of cheese adds to the comfort of this dish. Perfect for a last minute dinner dish, or even better as a brunch dish for a big group. I don't think this one will disappoint! Don't be afraid to get creative with this guy... some good italian sausage, chunks of pancetta, or even a couple handfuls of spinach up the ante.
Stay Toasty People! Happy Eating!
The Recipe: Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
~yields 8-10 servings
The Bits and Bobs:
1/2 lbs Parker House Buns or other brioche bread, left out overnight
1 lbs mushrooms, mix of shitake, oyster, crimini, button, etc., coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2-4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme (optional)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded (or any combo of cheese you like)
2 cups whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350*F and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Cut the stale bread into one-inch cubes and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions. Let cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and let cook for just a minute. Add the mushrooms and dried thyme if using, and cook until softened and slightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a big bowl combine the cooked mushroom mixture, bread cubes, and cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Pour over the bread and mushrooms, then scoop into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top then allow to sit for 5-10 minutes so the bread can sop up some of the custard.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the custard is set and the tops of the bread are toasted. Allow to cool out of the oven for just a minute or two then serve warm.