Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Started Yesterday - RETORTE's Onion Bread Pudding

OK, it's not pretty, but it sure does taste GREAT. But first...

Don't you just love when you do the right thing and Karma rewards you??? Yesterday, Karma spoke to me through one of my (and most other folks') favorite bloggers, Wandering Coyote, RETORTE.

Here's the setup story, followed by an amazing recipe...

Here's a picture of my grill. god's country (Kansas) was blessed with a white Christmas. 8 inches worth of it, and according to the weather forecast, we are going to enjoy the scenery for awhile. Jackie and I had lots of time together... Unless I "manned up" and started shoveling, we were not going anywhere.

Instead of man upping, we talked... We talked of many things...
"Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
(around my backyard, they do).

We also talked of New year's Resolutions.

Among the resolutions I kicked around was to become a better steward of the earth's resources. Fancy sounding words (a cross between old hippy and catholic guilt speak), but all they mean is to stop wasting food. Your mama was right the first time she took you to a buffet, "take what you want, but want what you take". A while back I did a review of a very important movie, FOOD, INC. While you are ordering Netflix movies, or renting at Blockbuster, add one more to your que and take a look at this movie. It will change the way you look at food. But I digress...

For Christmas day, I bought a fancy loaf of bread from a bakery. I know I should have made my own, but I didn't. I did buy a fancy loaf of bread from a bakery. Real fresh "home made" bread. Christmas was just Jackie and me, so we barely made a dent in the entire loaf. 4 days later, without the benefits of chemicals (preservatives) to increase the shelf life, the bread was almost brick hard.

Not 5 minutes after Jackie and I had the resolution's talk, I was checking my fellow blogger's sites to see what they were up to and fast as you can say, "Bob's your uncle", I was captivated by RETORTE's post of... Caramelized Onion & Brie Bread Pudding. Click HERE to get to her interpretation of the recipe, which originally appeared in Canadian Living's November 2005 issue.

Here's what she did...
Caramelized Onion & Brie Bread Pudding 2 tbsp butter 3 onions, thinly sliced (I did so in a food processor) 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or wine vinegar 1 tbsp liquid honey 1 tsp dried thyme 5 cups cubed day old baguette 1 cup diced Brie cheese 6 eggs 1 cup each 10% cream and milk 1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Fry onions, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Stir in vinegar, honey, and thyme.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together bread, cheese, and onion mixture. Spoon into shallow, greased 8-cup gratin dish.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, nutmeg, salt & pepper; pour over bread mixture and press. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Bake at 350F until crisp, browned, and knife inserted in centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
When I saw the recipe, I realized I had all the ingredients on hand (wasn't going to the store in the snow). I also realized that stale bread makes the best bread pudding... A stale piece of bread absorbs the liquid, while a fresh piece of bread already has moisture, so it does not absorb the flavors of the liquid as well.

With this recipe, I could start my resolution early. No need to toss (waste) the bounty that my local bakery had provided. No need to slap Mother Nature in the face when I fail to use the resources she provides. I could give a brand new recipe a try, honor a respected blogger's opinion (Coyote raved about this dish) and use the bread I had bought. It was not the bread's fault for going stale, that's what it does. It went stale, and was almost thrown away because I was a poor steward to the Earth.

It did take a lot of effort to cut the bread. It was REALLY stale.

My eyes were watering, but this smelled great as the onions caramelized...

I had a little provolone cheese left, and wanted to be sure to use that up before it grew a science project, so I grated that and added to the top.

I will admit that it is not the prettiest of dishes, but OMG!

god, Karma and Retorte rewarded me with a permanent addition to my "make again" file. I have made savory bread pudding before, and love it. But, by far this was the best savory bread pudding I have ever eaten. The cream and the onions made this an amazingly sweet dish. I am in awe of the taste. Do not hesitate to give this recipe a try. If you check RETORTE's blog page on the dish, you will see that she chose this recipe to serve to her family for a winter solstice meal (There's a little "Old Hippy" in her "Thirty-something closeted head-banger" soul if she celebrates the winter solstice... But I digress.). This is a special event worthy tasting recipe.

I served this with a turkey calzone dish I made from leftover turkey. YUM!

Here's just a little advice for anyone planning a New year's resolution. I do make them every year, many are doomed to fail... Some become habits...
  • A personal desire to change. It can't come from a nagging spouse or guilt from your mother. I am at a fortunate point in my life where there is not a financial hit to my pocket book if I throw out a half a loaf of bread every week. I want to change because it is the right thing to do.
  • Have the ability to change. Before I started blogging, and reading other bloggers, I would not have had the resources (recipes) to use a stale loaf of bread. I will continue to read blogs, and file great recipes away, waiting for that day when I need to use up an ingredient.
  • Maintain a supportive environment. My long suffering wife will be asked to eat more leftovers this year than in the past. She supported my Ribs 101 experiment where rib meat was used in 7 leftover dishes. She is the one with the inconvenient day job. part of my duties as head cook is to make meals that she enjoys. She understands and supports my desire to be a better steward.
  • Have the confidence that you can do it! Sounds silly to make resolutions that we know we can not or will not do. Losing weight is easy... eat less, move more. stopping smoking is easy... just stop. But, I know from experience, saying and believing is not the same. I still want to lose weight, I am 10 pounds lighter than I was when I started blogging... But I know in my heart of hearts that I am not ready to make the true commitment to alter my lifestyle to lose weight. But, I am ready to look into better ways to be a steward of the earth.
  • Look for ways to encourage yourself through instant gratification. Well, a blog sure makes that easy, but also tell your family and friends that you had a choice of scraping a little mold from some old cheese and creating cheese straws or tossing the cheese in the trash. A little encouragement from your friends will help you keep the eye on the ball.
  • Good habits take time. I will fail. But, If this week I concentrate on using entire loafs of bread before the need to toss, and next week I concentrate on my cheese drawer, and the next on milk... little by little, bit by bit I am developing habits. And when I fail, I will take just a few seconds, as I am tossing that half gallon of milk in the trash to consider what I can do different next week so that I do not toss the milk then.
  • Be public. If you want to stop smoking, share that with SUPPORTIVE people (not the office bitch that will belittle you, but your best friend). If I want to make better use of the earth's resources, share that on my blog and let my wife know what I have planned. Let my friends and neighbors that I entertain regularly know that I am serving a dish from leftovers (and why). Put it out there for the world to see.
  • Milestones and rewards. I know that I have tossed some bread at least once a month over the last year. If I do not throw any bread away in January, I am going to buy me a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread (Hardcover). I have wanted this book for six months. If I make bread conservation a priority, In a year I know that it would have cost me the price of the book in wasted resources (any bloggers have a used copy they want to sell, let me know).

Stay tuned for bread posts starting in early February (allow a few days for shipping).

OK, off my soap box for awhile. Hopefully you will notice a few more leftover recipes from me. Anyone want to make their resolutions public???


  1. Will we soon see bagels, pitas, english muffins, rolls, bagettes, etc coming out of your blog? You are going to have to tatoo that master baker logo on your chest before long! Wonderful resolution.

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed Anik See's book and didn't know you were a bookseller in a previous incarnation. Wonderful!

    Since my hubby can't eat wheat anymore, baking is much more of a challenge, but I do resolve to try to spend more time making bread and rolls, since he misses them so and since the gluten-free versions one can buy in the supermarket are so anemic and overpriced.

    I think more breadbaking is a great New Year's resolution. I know you will earn your bread book!

  3. I love your post Dave! I too have made some 'resolutions' for the kitchen, but they cannot begin until I get an update at work. Long story and if/when it does go through, I will post on my blog.

    I know I'm way too guilty of not using up leftovers. I try to ease the guilt by saying "the birds need to bread in the winter since there is no food out there for them", of course we have 4 feeders full of food........

    PS- I saw that recipe over at Retorte and thought Oh Yum!

  4. Great use of leftovers! I'm making a leftover dish myself tonight. Heh.

  5. I like your reward system! I am a firm believer in self-rewarding. Also, right before my bread reaches that difficult to cut stage (or sooner if I know I'm not going to be using it up), I cube it and toss it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. That way I can have croutons or bread pudding any time I want them!

  6. Kristen, is there anything more satisfying than taking a bit of flour, adding water and creating bread??? Yeah, somewhere there will be more bread recipes from me. i am shocked, but I love baking now!

    Tami, i do think that feeding the birds is a fine use for leftovers... just not down the garbage disposal or garbage pail

    AND PAM!!! I must remember that. Croutons would make a great use for just a few slices!

  7. Wow Dave, your enthusiasm has left me speechless! I am so glad this worked out for you and I love the addition of the grated Provolone on the top! Great job!

  8. Excellent post Dave! The recipe looks wonderful and I love all your ideas here. I am the queen of no waste when it comes to food. You've given me a great idea - since I'm back as the Simple Saturday host at Our Krazy Kitchen maybe I can put some emphasis on dishes made using leftovers for 2010!

  9. Here are a couple links to posts I've done using stale bread for some additional ideas...

  10. This dish looks excellent and worthy of a try in our house. I truly enjoyed watching Food, Inc. and hope more people will make an effort to view it.

  11. I've seen the documentary too- VERY disturbing!
    I've always been one to do well with leftovers- I hate wasting food- or anything else for that matter.

    Stale bread makes good croutons too!

  12. Oh my goodness, this bread pudding is calling to me! It sounds delicious, Dave!
    I need to start baking bread again-it is so rewarding and yummy.

  13. I have never eaten a savory bread pudding, but after your effusive review I most certainly will not hesitate. Can't tell you how often we have bread that is just not as fresh as we would like, usually sub-type, or hard rolls that I especially for sandwiches and we are left with too many. This would be a perfect use for them.

    New Year's resolutions...well I was going to wait to post closer to New Years (in case I change my mind, grins) but food wise I'm hoping to post more savory recipes, as well as being more nutritious recipes (hence the recent post of carrot soup...). "More" is an indeterminate number, so I don't know what "more" will mean. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

  14. what a fabulous post!! That bread pudding does lookout of this world...drool. And great things to start working on in the new year...can't wait to see your baking skillz ;)

  15. I am a product of Depression parents. I was taught early not to waste...and I don't. Great post.

  16. Fantastic post and recipe! Looks sinfully delicious! Might just make this for my New Year's brunch! Merci, cher!

  17. You're lucky with only 8" of snow we got 17" of snow on Dec 26th and are still buried.

    The Caramelized Onion & Brie Bread Pudding sound fabulous and definitely a recipe I'd like to try.

    I bake most of our bread too and use leftover bread for croutons and breadcrumbs.

  18. Hey Dave!

    You have me chuckling ONCE AGAIN. This is a great blog post. The onion bread pudding looks and sound incredible. This is a "must try" for me! Happy 2010!


  19. I LOVE your resolution. I think it is so awesome. Also, your guide to making resolutions is totally spot on. Change has to come from within and its only until you are completely dedicated to it that it will happen. That's why so many people have such a hard time losing weight or quitting smoking. It requires total lifestyle change and until you're willing to do that, there will always be an excuse to cheat or quit.

    LOVE the bread pudding. You've got all of my favorite ingredients in there. Brie is one of my total weaknesses in life.

  20. Heck no, because then I'm accountable for them:)

    Just kidding. I just did my first draft of them this past weekend and finalizing them on Friday.

  21. I love the idea of a savory onion bread pudding! Very inspirational resolution too, I'm still thinking about mine.