Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Dinner: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

3 Jan

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I found a yummy looking recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Smitten Kitchen from back in 2007!  Their recipe was adapted from Gourmet magazine and you can find their original post here.  I used more bread than I should have so to make the dessert creamier and less dry, I added creme anglaise sauce on top.  Both recipes are listed below.  The bread pudding calls for almost the exact same ingredients as a traditional pumpkin pie so this recipe is great if you are looking for that pumpkin pie flavor but a different texture dish.  Creme anglaise is a great recipe because it is so versatile – it can be served warm, cold or room temperature.  In addition to serving on top of bread pudding, I also like to eat it with berries in the morning for breakfast.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2007 Issue

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tbsp. bourbon (optional)
5 cups cubed (1″) day-old baguette or crusty bread (I used half a ciabatta loaf and a baguette.)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 with rack in middle.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves).
3. Slowly add eggs, milk, pumpkin and bourbon until well mixed.
4. Toss bread cubes with melted butter in another bowl and add to 8″x8″ baking pan.  Pour pumpkin mixture on top.  (Note: Only use as much bread as I did if you like thicker bread pudding.  When I make this again, I will probably do at least a cup less bread and cut the pieces smaller, so that you can see the “soupy” pumpkin mixture in the baking pan.)
5. Bake until pudding is set, which should take about 25-30 minutes.

Creme Anglaise
From the Joy of Cooking
Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp rum, Cognac or other liqueur (I used light rum)

Directions
1. Whisk egg yolks in 2-quart saucepan, adding the sugar by fairly rapid spoonfuls – if it goes in all at once, the yolks can turn grainy.
2. Continue beating 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.  By dribbles, stir in the hot milk – stirring, not beating, because you do not want the sauce to foam.
3. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan.  The sauce should gradually come near – but not to – a simmer.  You must be careful not to over heat it as this will scramble the yolks.  Indications that it is almost ready are that the surface bubbles begin to subside, and almost at once you may see a whiff of steam rising.
4. The sauce is done when it coats the wooden spoon with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon.
5. Next beat in the vanilla, butter and run.  Spoon on top of bread pudding.  Sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for several days.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Christmas Dinner: Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

1 Jan Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Before I get into today’s recipe, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!!  I hope 2012 is a great year for you all!  My resolution is to snack healthier so I should have some recipes up in the next couple of weeks to this goal.  What are your resolutions?

I don’t remember when I first started making this recipe, but it’s an easy side dish to prepare and looks very elegant on the dining table.  This would also be a great dish to serve at a cocktail party.

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 bunch asparagus
4-6 pieces of bacon
Salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Clean and prepare asparagus by placing all of the stalks so the tips are all lined up.  This will help keep all stalks the same length.  Cut away the white hard ends of the asparagus and discard.
3. Divide the asparagus into 4-6 bunches of 4-6 pieces of asparagus each.  They should be small bunches; the thicker the bunches are, the harder it is to cook evenly.
4. Wrap each bundle together in the middle using one piece of bacon.
5. Season each bundle with salt and pepper.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil so they won’t burn during the roasting.
6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until bacon is cooked and asparagus is roasted.  They should be cooked through but still crunchy.

Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon

Christmas Dinner: Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup

30 Dec

Cream of Chestnut Soup

Since I can remember, my dad has been making cream of chestnut soup for Christmas (and sometimes Thanksgiving!) dinner.  This recipe comes from the Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook, which was written by Elise Masterson who used to own the Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont with her family.  Unfortunately, the Blueberry Hill cookbooks are out of print, but you can buy them used on Amazon here.  This recipe calls for fresh chestnuts.  However, shelling and preparing fresh chestnuts is a huge undertaking so if you are short on time, you can easily substitute bottled chestnuts instead.  My dad has made the recipe both ways and you seriously can’t taste the difference.  I will admit that this soup isn’t the prettiest of to bunch, but it is SO delicious that its taste makes up for its appearance in spades.

Dad’s Chestnut Soup
Adapted from Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook

Ingredients
2 pounds chestnuts (or 1 large 1 lb. jar of bottled chestnuts – we use Minerve Whole Roasted French Chestnuts)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large carrots, diced
1 quart chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup pale dry sherry
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
1.  If you are using fresh chestnuts: Slit each chestnut with a sharp knife – two slits each, crossed.  Cover them with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.  They will NOT be completely tender when you pull them out and that’s OK.  Remove them one at a time from the water (this is the trick here – they must stay in hot water, each one, until you’re ready for it) and let cold water run on each chestnut in turn.  The skins will come off very quickly, and the membrane as well.  Set aside.  Repeat until you have removed the skins/membrane for each chestnut.
2. In a heavy 3- or 4-quart saucepan, saute onion and butter until the onions are lightly browned.  Add the whole peeled chestnuts, carrots and chicken broth to the saucepan.
3. Simmer until the chestnuts are quite soft, about 15 more minutes, then pour liquid through a colander into a pot.  Put the chestnuts, onions and carrots that didn’t drain through the colander in a food processor of Foley food mill to blend.  Blend to desired consistency – I prefer to blend until just small pieces and no lumps remain.  If you blend to a puree, you will lose the extra “oomph” of color that the carrot pieces provide and be left with a light brown soup.
4.  Return chestnut mixture to broth and bring it all back to a boil.  Then remove it from heat, add cream, sugar, sherry, salt and pepper.
5. Serve without boiling again.  If you cool it and reheat it, don’t boil it when warming up.  (Note: We always prepare this the day before serving since it does so well reheated.)