Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Post: Leek and Bacon Challah Bread Pudding

I don't talk much about my non-food stuff in this forum, but for the next few days I am attending a yoga teacher-training workshop in Western I'm not doing much cooking! 

I couldn't leave you guys hanging without any delicious recipes or pictures for a whole week, so I set you up with a great guest blogger to keep you all happy and well fed. 

So without (much) further ado I present Kathy, of Kathy Can Cook. I think you'll like her recipe! I'm in yoga mode so I am subsisting entirely on fruits, veggies, and brown rice - this recipe would be a welcome change from all this rabbit food! YUM!

When Alicia sent out the Twitter call looking for a guest blogger, I jumped at the opportunity. Why not, right?  That I think her blog is adorable (and super informative and delicious) helps too. (no, I didn't pay her to write that - Thanks Kathy!)

What is it about bread pudding? No matter how much you photograph it, it is just not yummy looking.  And I tried.  I swear.  I made this bread pudding to accompany some squash-apple soup and it did a marvelous job of filling it out to be a whole meal.

Also, can we talk about leeks for just a minute here?  Leeks are like a super vegetable, there are different varieties of leek for each season - which is totally awesome and means that those of you stuck in the holding pattern of never-ending-northeast-winter can even get your leeks locally!  Wahoo!  Overwintering leeks for the win!

Anyway this was born of a half pound of bacon that needed eating, two beautiful green leeks and a lovely round of Challah bread (Am I the only one who finds irony in a Challah bread pudding with Leeks and Bacon?).

Leek and Bacon Challah Bread Pudding
Adapted ever-so-slightly from the New York Times
Note: This was my first attempt at savory bread pudding and I loved it, but next time I would cut the recipe in half and cook it in a loaf pan for just two people.  So.Much.Bread.Pudding.

2 cups leeks, 1/2 inch slices rinsed and cleaned white and light green bits only (the dark is super chewy; use it in stock!)
6-8 strips of bacon, chopped (I like Sunday Bacon, a delicious nitrate-free brand if you can't find locally made bacon)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 large loaf of Challah bread (about 10 cups), cut into 1" cubes (day-old bread that's a little stale is best )
1-2 tsp fresh chives chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme (I like a little less)
3 large eggs
3 cups heavy cream
a pinch of fresh nutmeg (1/8 tsp of less)
1 cup shredded emmenthaler or comte cheese (or equivilent, I used bagged grated Swiss and it was delicious)

Place a large saute pan over medium high heat and add the bacon bits and leeks.  Cook them gently for 2-3 minutes, until the leeks have softened.  Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, some salt and pepper, and cover the pan. Allow the leeks and bacon to carmelize together over the heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The leeks will be very wilted and the bacon will be soft, but cooked through. 

Meanwhile, if your bread is not a day-old, slightly stale loaf, now is a good time to toast the bread and dry it out - put it in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes and it'll be crispy, as though stale.  Leave the oven on.  When the leeks are cooked through and the bread is dried out nicely put them aside.  Find the biggest bowl you have, add the bread cubes to that bowl, add the leeks/bacon saute mix, thyme, and chives to the bread cubes.  Toss well (I recommend using your hands - that's a lot of bread to get evenly mixed together with thyme/leeks/bacon/chives).  

In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, eggs, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper.  Line a 13"x9" baking pan with some parchment paper, or at least grease it lightly.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese into the bottom of the pan evenly.  Spread 1/2 the bread mixture over the cheese, spread another 1/4 cup of cheese on this, then the other 1/2 of bread and another 1/4 cup of cheese.  See below for a cross section visual.

---1/4 cup Cheese---
1/2 Bread/Leeks/Bacon Mix
---1/4 cup Cheese---
1/2 Bread/Leeks/Bacon Mix
---1/4 cup Cheese---

Add enough of the milk/egg mixture to cover or nearly cover the bread. Press on this gently with your hands and let it sit for 15-20 mins (play two levels of Angry Birds; I'm totally obsessed with that game right now).  Pour the rest of the milk/egg mix over the bread, sprinkle it with some salt and the rest of the cheese.  Cook at 350 degrees farenheit for 1 1/2 hours, until the top is a deep golden brown and bubbly. 

 Let the pudding sit for 10 minutes before eating.   Eat it while it's still warm.  Fantastic.  I like it cold too, BF just loves it period.

Yum! Thanks Kathy!! This looks delicious!

Have you ever made a bread pudding? sweet or savory?

What is your favorite recipe using Leeks?


  1. Thanks for the guest post, Kath!
    And I would love to hear about your weekend when you return!! I may want to do something like that someday!

  2. I love both sweet and savory bread puddings! I made a spinach and cheddar wheat strata last week. It is not quite a bread pudding but close!

  3. That is definitely yummy looking for me! Great guest post :)

    I only made bread pudding once, and it was chocolate brioche.

    Alicia - that is awesome about the yoga teacher training!!

  4. kathy this looks delicious!! I have never made bread pudding, but I enjoy both sweet and savory versions. and I love leeks!

  5. Thanks for letting me guest post! I bet you'll be a fantastic Yoga Teacher! Now you totally NEED those yoga stance cookie cutters!

  6. I'm always looking for new ways to use leeks and I LOVE this idea! It looks so awesome :)


  7. Ummm - leeks? bacon? bread? I'm so all-in on this one! :-)

  8. I just made challah on Sunday for some french toast today. But I also made some bread pudding last weekend too! This stuff looks great.