Breadless Pudding Recipe

Any civilization that enjoys bread has some sort of bread pudding. If you have bread, it stands to reason there will be left over bread. Until very recent times, nothing was wasted, and as most families kept chickens and either goats or cows for milk, there was also surplus milk, cream and eggs to be used up.

Today, with the reliance upon supermarkets, and the ability to freeze bread until it is needed, along with the ready availability of milk and eggs in almost any quantity, we do not have as much left over bread, milk and eggs. That does not mean we can no longer enjoy bread pudding.

But if you don’t have any left over bread, there is no reason to go out and buy bread to make a dessert. If you look in the back of the cupboard, you will probably find a collection of cookies, dessert cakes, and maybe even breakfast breads that seemed like a good idea at the time, but that the kids wouldn’t eat. The food was too expensive or you just thought it too wasteful to chuck it, but no one will eat it. So what do you do?

Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

1. one pound of assorted cheap cookies, donuts, quick breads. Any one of them, or an assortment to make a pound
2. One quart (4 cups) milk

Directions:

1. Break the cookies, breads, whatever you are using into pieces and fill up casserole dish.
2. Pour the milk over the top.
3. Use a spoon and lift the cookies a bit to allow the milk to soak in and to settle around the spaces.
4. Place the casserole in the over and set for 350° F for about 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and allow the pudding to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

If you like, you can make a sauce to spoon over the top. A traditional sauce for bread pudding is rum or bourbon sauce. Since you will probably be serving this to your kids, maybe that is not such a good idea.

Sauce:

What about some lemon sauce? To make a nice warm lemon sauce, you will need:
1. ½ cup fresh lemon juice
2. ½ cup water
3. ½ cup sugar (you can add more to taste)
4. one egg yolk

Directions:

1. Using a wire whisk, whip the water and egg yolk together. Whisk in the lemon juice and sugar.

2. In a small pot, put a few inches of water and bring to a low boil. Place the bowl with the lemon-egg mixture over, not in the water, and whisk it constantly until the sauce begins to thicken.

3. Be careful not to allow the egg to cook. Otherwise you will wind up with scrambled lemon juice. Not good.

Tips:

  • You can vary the sauce by using orange instead of lemon juice, or half lime and half lemon juice.
  • If you want some extra lemon flavor, put a little lemon zest over the top of the pudding one you spoon the sauce over the top.
  • Best of all, you can serve this with a scoop of ice cream, and a squirt of chocolate syrup in the event lemon isn’t your thing.

Fruit Soup Recipe

In Scandinavian and Slavic countries, they make lovely creamy concoctions from fresh fruits. They make an excellent dessert, as they are both cold and sweet, but traditionally they were a first course, as a way to awakening the taste buds and giving the diners a preview of things to come.

Fruit soups are served in soup “plates”: shallow bowls that hold just about a cup, and generally have a wide flat edge.
This recipe goes back to Poland. It is made here with fresh peaches, but you can substitute tinned, if necessary. Fresh is definitely better.

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photo courtesy of ulterior epicure

Peach Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1. 2 pounds of fresh peaches or nectarines
2. 2 cups water
3. ¼ cup sugar
4. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
5. the zest of one lemon
6. 1 teaspoon corn starch
7. 1 tablespoon cold water for garnish
8. sliced artisan bread with sunflower seeds
9. butter (to make croutons)
10. sour cream

Directions:

1. Peel, halve and pit the peaches. Reserve the pits (they give a lovely almond flavor. But do not eat them alone. They can be poisonous). Tie the pits in a piece of cheese cloth. They will be picked out later.

2. Put the peaches and the larger amount of water in a pot. Cook, partially covered, on a low boil for 20 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth with the pits and discard.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree the fruit, then add the sugar, lemon and zest. Return the the heat on medium to low, being careful not to allow it to scorch.

4. Mix the corn starch with a small amount of water. Add it gradually to the soup as it comes up to the boil. Once it is clear and thick, remove from the heat and cool. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Just before serving, remove the crusts from two slices of artisan bread with sunflower seeds. Butter the bread liberally on both sides. Place the bread in a heavy skillet and fry on both sides, until it becomes crispy and golden. Cut the bread into small cubes.

6. Ladle into soup plates. In the center of each plate, put a large tablespoon full of sour cream. Use a toothpick to draw the sour cream out into pretty patterns. Place several of the croutons around the main dollop.

Tips:

  • You can do this same soup with apricots or cherries. It is not necessary to peel either of these fruits, but if you are using cherries, you may want to put the fruit through a food mill to remove the tougher skins.  Berries of most any variety may also be used.
  • You can also mix the  fruits up, like mango and peaches, or use different types of melons. Experiment, have fun with it.
  • If you do not have sufficient fresh fruit available, you can use canned fruit. Reserve the juice and use in place of the water and sugar. If using canned fruit in syrup, double the amount of lemon juice.
  • Just for fun, you can serve them in Margarita or martini glasses, and garnish with some fresh fruit.

Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches

Summertime means strawberries. Red, juicy, sweet with just a tiny bit of tartness, they are the queen of the May garden. We go to strawberry festivals, buy baskets of them at roadside stands, and even labor in the fields of the “pick your own” stands.

But once you have them, what do you do with them other than eat them with sugar, or pile them on a biscuit with whipped topping for strawberry shortcake? Sure, there are strawberry preserves to be made. Few of us do that any more. And there are chocolate covered strawberries. Those tend not to keep in the summer. What good are chocolate covered fruit when the chocolate runs off in the heat.

One thing you can do is Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches. Not exactly a sandwich, really, but they look like one, and they are easy to make.

Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches Recipe

To start, you have the option of buying a pound cake ready made, or you can make one, either from scratch or a mix. You can also make your own chocolate butter cream frosting, or buy it in a can. Buying is easier. Once you have that hurdle decided, you may proceed. Allow one “sandwich” for each serving.

photo courtesy of Dave Allen

Ingredients
You will need:

– Thinly sliced pound cake
– Strawberries, sliced
– Chocolate frosting
– Butter

Directions:
1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Put some butter in the pan.
2. Once it is melted, place the slices of cake in the butter, moving the slices around so they soak up any excess.
3. Watch the cake carefully, as the sugar content will make them burn easily. Once they are golden and crispy on the bottom, turn them onto plates.
4. Allow the cake to cool so you can handle them without burning your fingers. Cut each slice in half diagonally.
5. Spread chocolate frosting on each half. Arrange some sliced strawberries on top of the chocolate, piling them several layers thick.
6. Using two spoons, cut quenelles of chocolate frosting, and place one on top of each half. You may also place a quenelle of sour cream beside each half.

Serving options:
1. These can be served using ice cream in place of the frosting, or whipped topping can be spread on the bread, then topped with the berries, and chocolate syrup drizzled over them. Or you can make them, as above, and put a scoop of ice cream in between the two halves.

2. You can also serve these with ice cream and blackberries or raspberries. Chocolate doesn’t fare well with these two berries, but white chocolate does. Spread the grilled cake with ice cream, cover with berries, and drizzle it with white chocolate sauce.

No decent berries in season? No problem. Use tinned, drained peach slices. Peaches and chocolate go well together.

Use your imagination. Use what you have on hand. Use a spoon so you don’t miss any of the good stuff.

How to Make Your Own Baking Mix

You see about four or five different brands of baking mix in the stores. More if you count the pancake and waffle mixes. They are all pretty much the same: flour, leavening, shortening. Imagine if you could have this on hand all the time, and never have to think about going to the store to buy it? Imagine, too, if you could have it for about a quarter of the cost!

You will need one very large bowl to do this, and clean hands. No other tools are required other than some jars or bags for storage.

5 pounds of all purpose flour
– 2/3 cup baking powder
– 2 cups powdered (dry) milk
– 2 tbsp salt
– 2 pounds shortening. DO NOT USE BUTTER OR MARGERINE. Butter flavored shortening would work though.


Directions:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients.

2. Add the shortening, and begin to mix and squeeze with your hands until it is well mixed and the shortening pieces are no larger than peas. Do not over mix though, or it will turn into a giant wad.

3. Store in airtight jars or bags until needed. So long as it is kept at room temperature or below, it will pretty much keep forever. However, if you do not have air conditioning, it may be advisable to keep it in the refrigerator in summer.

This mix is good for almost everything! Here are some quick and easy recipes:

Biscuits

Ingredients

– 2 cups of your own baking mix (see above)
– 2/3 of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice
– 2 cups of Master Mix.

Directions: Knead lightly and cut out. Bake at 400°F / 205°C for about 20 minutes.

Cookies

For chocolate chip, use the following ingredients:

– 2 cups baking mix
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 1 egg.

Directions:

1. Mix it up together and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° / 176°C for 10 to 15 minutes.

The same standard goes for any other cookies. For sugar cookies, use granulated sugar. You can add half a cup of peanut butter, or use one cup Master Mix and one cup rolled oats for oatmeal cookies. Have fun with it.

Because this mix already contains milk, there is no need to add extra. You can make waffles, pancakes or dumplings by adding water and an egg.

Southern recipe for fruit dumplings

It is sort of like a cobbler, but made on top of the stove. This is a great dessert to make when Blackberries come in.

Ingredients:

– One quart of blackberries or strawberries; you can use fresh or canned fruit, depending on what you have at hand.
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– 1 egg

Directions:

1. Put the berries and 1 cup of sugar in a large pot with a tight fitting lid place; alternatively, you can substitute a large can of sliced peaches in syrup for the berries and sugar.

2. Let set for about half an hour, or until the berries begin to make juice.

3. Turn the heat on low and allow them to cook. If there is insufficient juice to fully cover the fruit, add a little water. Once you are certain that they won’t burn, increase the heat no higher than medium and let it come barely to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, mix together:

– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– ½ cup sugar
– 1 egg

5. Once the fruit is boiling, drop the dumpling batter by spoonfuls over the top.

6. When all the dough is in the pot, put on the lid. Reduce the heat to medium low. Set the timer for 20 minutes and walk away.

7. After 20 minutes have elapsed, remove from the heat. Remove the lid and sprinkle a little sugar over the tops of the dumplings and put the lid back on.

8. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

Frappe This!

Barristas are setting up their blenders and drink machines in preparation for the summer frozen coffee season. But for a bit of coffee, milk and ice, we are paying what it costs for a pound of coffee at the grocery store. Why buy, when you can make them at home?

This is a good way to control not only your costs, but your calories. Where a cup of coffee shop frappe can up upwards of 700 calories for an extra large, by using artificial sweetener, the only calories here are in the milk.

You’ll need to make a pot of strong coffee. Not espresso, but add an extra scoop or two of coffee to the pot.

Once it is brewed, sweeten the coffee to taste, then let it cool completely.

Pour out about 8 ounces of coffee into a container from which you can pour easily. Add an equal amount of milk of choice: whole, skim, soy. Pour this mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. When they are frozen (at least 48 hours to make sure they are frozen hard) put into a sealed bag or container. It prevents them from being dissipated by the fan in a frost free refrigerator freezer. Store the rest of the coffee in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your frappe. Or heat it back up and have a cup.

To make a Coffee Frappé, you will need:

  1. 4 to 8 coffee and milk cubes
  2. ½ cup to one cup cold coffee
  3. a blender (an immersion or “stick” blender works well)

Place about 1/3 of a cup of coffee and coffee cubes in the blender. Pulse it several times. Add more coffee gradually until is a nice, slushy consistency.

If you like flavored coffees, you can add flavoring syrup to the blender. If you are really feeling adventurous, you can add a little taste of something alcoholic. How cool would that be, to have frozen Irish Coffee for St. Patrick’s Day?

Easy Pastry Recipes

The word ‘dessert’ has its roots in Seventeenth Century France. In the middle to late 1600s, it became popular to serve fruit and cheese after a meal, hence the name ‘dessevir’, literally ‘to clear the table’. It was the last course, meant to ‘close the stomach’. Soon, with the advent of ovens built into kitchens rather than outside, and with the coming of Antonin Caréme, the first ‘Celebrity Chef’, spectacular fancy pastries began to appear.

Mille-Feuille, what Americans know as Napoleons, are layers of puff pastry and custard and chocolate, all in a crispy, gooey melange that makes the tummy happy. Tarte Tatin, a pie without a bottom crust, was rumored to have been first made by an overworked innkeeper who forgot to put a bottom crust in a pie tin, is filled with caramel and apples, topped with puff pastry, then turned out crust down on a plate. One thing these desserts have in common is only the fillings are sweet, and even then not overly sweet. The crusts would work equally well with savory filings.

Puff Pastry Raspberry Stack
Puff Pastry Raspberry Stack. Photo courtesy of susiedepingu

Puff Pastry sheets can be purchased frozen. Different brands recommend different cooking times and temperatures. It is not difficult to work with, so long as it is allowed to come to room temperature and isn’t allowed to dry out. But it can still be intimidating, not to mention expensive.

After some experimentation, I figured out that refrigerated dough, particularly crescent rolls, work really well for all sorts of things. Like these

Chocolate Croissants

You will need:

– one tin of regular [not Grand] crescent rolls. Separate the dough into eight triangles.

– One large candy bar ( you can use most anything, including Caramels, Milky Way, just some chocolate chips, or for those brave souls, some chocolate with chili and sea salt.) Cut the candy bar into 8 pieces.

– optional: you can put a bit of cream cheese inside with the chocolate if you like

– about a ¼ cup of raw sugar for dipping. Raw sugar gives them a lovely, satisfying ‘crunch’ when you bite into them.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5)

2. Lightly grease a baking sheet

3. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of a triangle and fold the dough over it, making sure to seal all the edges. If there are any holes, the insides will escape, make a big mess and will leave the dough hollow.

4. Once sealed, press the top of the dough into the sugar. Place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown

6. Let them cool slightly before serving. They are delicious warm or cold.

The same technique can be use with puff pastry sheets in place of the prepared dough. Everything else is the same, but the baking time and temperature should be that shown on the manufacturer’s packaging.

Another alternative is to use the full sheet of ‘recipe’ crescent roll dough.

Lattice Pastry

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5).

2. Well  grease a baking sheet.

3. Unroll the dough , stretching slightly, then place it in a well greased pan. On one third of the dough, spread about 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and one cup of chocolate chips.

4. Fold the rest of the dough over the top, and turn the edges on the end and the side to seal well. With a sharp knife, cut some slashes in the top. Sprinkle some raw sugar onto the top.

5. Bake  until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Fudge-it

Fudge it!

Fudge. That very word has struck fear in my heart. Usually spoken late on a cold night, when the kids had been off from school because of snow, one of them would invariably ask for a ‘pot of fudge’.

Fudge at our house was rather involved. 3 cups of sugar, half a cup of cocoa, a tablespoon of white corn syrup and a cup of milk, cooked to soft ball stage, then beaten until I thought my arm would fall off [for some reason known only to my maternal grandmother, this step was only to be completed by hand, never with a mixer]. Then the whole mess was spread out on buttered wax paper, scored and you prayed to the Fudge Goddess that it didn’t set up grainy.

Now, there are all sorts of kits on the market for ‘home made fudge’. They’re not anywhere near like the real thing. I know. I’ve tried them.

There is hope, ladies and gentlemen. Chocolates will out, there is a new day dawning in the annals of fudgedom. And it is

drumroll please

GENIUS FUDGE

This is sort of complicated. So I’ll type slow:

1. In a large microwave safe dish, put 12 ounces of chocolate chips

2. Heat on high for one minute. Stir. Continue until all the chips are melted.

3. Into the melted chocolate, stir one can of prepared creamy style [not whipped] frosting of whatever flavor. Stir well

4. At this point, you can make any additions: a cup of peanut butter, some chopped nuts, dried fruit. Most anything.

5. Spread it out onto a buttered surface [don’t try the non-stick aluminum foil. It works for cakes, not candy] and score the top lightly with a knife before it sets up.

There. That’s it. Five minutes and you have a perfect batch of fudge.

I usually make two batches. One I use milk chocolate chips and caramel/coconut/pecan frosting, and the other dark or bittersweet chips, dark chocolate frosting and add a cup of soy-nut butter because I’m allergic to peanuts. It’s also excellent using butterscotch chips and vanilla frosting, with chopped cashews or crushed pretzels.

This is a recipe to have fun with, something you send to your kid’s school, but only you know how easy it was to make.

The Best Things in Life Are…Chocolate!

Show of hands: Who here likes Brownies? That many, huh?
Okay. Who likes the Brownies with all the extra goodies in them, like coconut and nuts and with gooey frosting on top?

And who likes to pay those huge bakery prices for a pan of special ‘gourmet’ brownies? Mm-hm, I thought not.

A friend sent me a recipe for an ‘upside down German Chocolate Cake’. It was okay. But I like brownies better, and I didn’t care for the pecans she used. I made some changes, adjustments and this is the result.

Let’s make us some Inside Out Brownies!

You’ll need a 9X13 cake pan. I like to use disposable aluminum pans, basically because I hate cleaning them afterwards. Spray well with Pam or other baking spray and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 ° F

Prepare a brownie mix according to the package direction. Pour into the prepared pan and set aside.
In a microwave safe dish, place

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • one stick of butter or margarine

Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave another 30 seconds. Stir. When well blended, mix in

    • One pound powdered sugar
    • 8 ounces shredded sweetened coconut

  • one cup [or more] of chopped, salted, roasted cashews

Drop by spoonfuls onto the top of the brownie mix. Don’t stir it in, just arrange dollops all over the top.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until done. I test for doneness when the sides start to pull away, and when the top is on the verge of cracking.

As much as you will be tempted, please let it cool fully, to room temperature, before turning it out or cutting a slice. The filling can be downright dangerous right out of the oven.

Turn out on a rack, cut into chunks, and be prepared to beat the diners away from it, because you’ll want to take it home with you. Or better yet, make two: one for home and one to take to the party.