The Family Cookbook
by Doug Anderson
The cupboard is bare, gentle readers, and so it is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that this week's installment will be the last Family Cookbook entry. The response was overwhelming and I want to thank every one who contributed in making this feature a success for as long as it was.
I had so much fun doing last week's compare/contrast experiment, that today I want to do something similar. This week's entry will be a collaboration of sorts, between myself and Grandma Cleo.
Upon studying my notes for new ideas I came upon some recipes of Grandma Cleo's that Auntie Elaine had sent me. One of them was for bread pudding, and this piqued my interest because bread pudding is part of our signature dessert at The Chanticleer, the restaurant where I work. We serve chocolate bread pudding with Crème Anglaise (English cream) and fresh fruit coulis.
I thought it would be a nice way to cap off my column by combining Grandma Cleo's bread pudding with my Crème Anglaise and fresh fruit coulis to make a simple, elegant dessert that we all could enjoy.
Grandma Cleo's Bread Pudding
In a large bowl combine:
6 beaten eggs
6 cups milk
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of raisins
Blend in 10-12 cups of broken bread.
Bake in 9"x13" pan for 45 minutes, or until spongy and not mushy.
Auntie Elaine suggests a teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon.
For our purposes, I want to suggest an addition to Grandma Cleo's fine bread pudding recipe:
A cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips melted in a cup and a half of whole cream.
Use low heat and bring the whole cream to a simmer and add the chocolate chips.
Stir until you have a well-blended brown liquid.
Add to above recipe and combine well.
It is best to bake chocolate bread pudding in a "water bath," that is, a larger pan with a half inch of water in it, and the bread pudding in a smaller pan inside of that. The bread pudding must be covered with plastic wrap and then foil, respectively, and stirred vigorously at least once during baking, preferably at the halfway point.
"Chanticleer-style" Crème Anglaise
Bring 1 quart of whole cream and 3 drops of vanilla extract to near-boil.
Combine 6 beaten egg yolks and a half cup of sugar.
Slowly blend the egg yolk and sugar into the near-boiling cream.
Cook at medium heat, stirring constantly for 20-25 minutes, or until it is visibly thickened.
Let cool at room temperature. for half hour, stirring occasionally.
Fresh Raspberry Coulis
Heat 2 quarts fresh raspberries in two cups of water and half cup white wine (optional).
Puree well, using food mill or good old-fashioned elbow grease!
Return to boil.
Add one and a half cup of powdered sugar, slowly, stirring constantly.
Strain well, preferably with China cap strainer.
Cool for at least an hour, funnel into plastic squeeze bottle.
Any fresh fruit may be substituted in the coulis recipe; I chose raspberry because it is the classic flavor to combine with chocolate.
To present, ladle about and ounce and a half (about a half of most standard large soup ladles) of Crème Anglaise onto a large, white plate. It is important that you don't use too much, or else your dessert will "swim" in itself. Best to practice one before turning it on your guests! Let it cover the entire inside of the plate, but not the outer rim.
Scoop chocolate bread pudding into center of the plate.
"Paint" the Crème Anglaise with your plastic bottle of coulis, streaking and drizzling in any design you wish. Add to this ordinary chocolate syrup, also "painted" in streaks, lines, circles, whatever you wish. You can also intersect these lines and designs using a toothpick, adding some artistic flair, if you are feeling particularly creative.
Top with a little powdered sugar on the bread pudding, maybe some crushed nuts around the rim of the plate, and Voilà, a dessert that will stun the most skeptical of guests!
I would like to thank the two most prolific contributors to the cookbook, Auntie Elaine and my sister Donna, for all their inspiration and support. Bon Appetit!