50 Women Game-Changers – #36 Edna Lewis- Biscuits

“I married her for her beaten biscuits.”

Edna Lewis’ Best Biscuits


  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons single-acting baking powder or double-acting baking powder (see Note)
  3. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  6. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted  


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingers, work in the lard just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Roll out or pat the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet. Pat the dough scraps together, reroll and cut out the remaining biscuits; do not overwork the dough.
  3. Pierce the top of each biscuit 3 times with a fork and brush with the butter. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, or until risen and golden. Serve at once.

Make AheadThe unbaked biscuits can be frozen in a single layer, then kept frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw before baking. NotesTo make your own single-acting baking powder, combine 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. The mix will keep in a tightly sealed jar for up to 1 month.
                                                                         (Courtesy Food and Wine.)

if you want love, learn how to make biscuits

Back in college, Dave and I had a professor of music named Ann Collins.  Now Ann was a fine pianist, a good teacher, and she wrote interesting books (I still have two of them) about teaching preschoolers to play the piano.  While I never agreed with teaching preschoolers to play the piano (I liked them playing in the sandbox myself), I did admire Ann.  Ann wasn’t my teacher particularly, but she was Dave’s.  And somehow, as life went in those days, we ended up for dinner at Ann’s house one night.  If memory serves, she was celebrating a new grand piano.  While I remember little else, I do remember Ann’s biscuits.  Not only that, I remember her husband making big over them.  In fact, Ann’s husband (Gary?) said, “I married her because she could make beaten biscuits in her sleep.”  To a newly married 20-year old this sounded callous and weird.  I don’t know what I wanted to be married for, but it wasn’t my biscuits.
Of course, later on, I learned to make biscuits.  And I made them a lot.  When you have four kids to feed, biscuits really stretch a meal.  I don’t think I could have made them in my sleep, but it was damned sure close to that.  It takes making them often.  It takes a light touch so that the fat isn’t over-worked in the dough.  It takes knowing your oven so that you either always make them in a glass pie plate, as did I, or on a cookie sheet as did one friend.  It takes understanding if you need big, thick or little, crispy biscuits.  Were they for ham or were they for gravy?  For butter and jam or for strawberries and cream?  For sour cream and honey, if you were my Dad.
I’m guessing Edna Lewis, creator of the above recipe, could have made biscuits in her sleep.  And while she surely earned the title of chef, she might have been quite happy with the fame that came from her biscuits, as was Ann. There’s just something about biscuits that makes people happy.

edna lewis, the first lady of southern cooking died in 2006 at the age of 89 at the end of a long, industrious culinary career.  She was special by any standards, but as the granddaughter of a former slave raised on the family farm in Virginia, the roadblocks to writing cookbooks were a few more then than they would be now.  Combining a southern upbringing with a New York City restaurant career, she didn’t have time to write anything at all until she had to sit still after breaking her leg.  If she couldn’t cook, she would then write a cookbook and write she did.  Three other books followed, along with other restaurants, awards, and a strong dedication to keeping the south’s cooking tradition alive and well. (Scroll down for a video interview with Miss Lewis.)

From the NYT obituary by Eric Asimov and Kim Severson:

Ms. (Judith) Jones, who edited three books by Miss Lewis, recalled her yesterday as a lover of Jack Daniel’s, Bessie Smith and understated conversation. “She had a tremendous sense of dignity in the face of often difficult treatment,” Ms. Jones said. Her husband had died as she completed “The Taste of Country Cooking,” she said.
After that cookbook raised her profile, Miss Lewis returned to restaurants, most notably to Gage & Tollner in Brooklyn. In the mid-90s she retired from the restaurant and with some friends, she founded the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food, dedicated in part to seeing that people did not forget how to cook with lard.

Butter?  Honey?   Jam?  Sausage gravy?  Ham?

 And, Edna, I’m sorry; I can’t make biscuits with lard or shortening; butter’s my thing.  I do try to have a light hand though.

 Read Edna Lewis’ obituary in the New York Times here.   Video:  Scroll down.
Click and read the other bloggers who are part of the 50 Women Game-Changers Group:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living  Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades

Jambalaya– A Repeat Post or There’s No Crying in Lent

Originally posted February, 2010

In my world, and for some of you, this is the day when traditionally we clean out the beautiful, fattening rich things like butter and dairy.  Adding flour (and whatever else), we come up with stacks of pancakes and, oh, ok, bacon or sausage…Drooling maple syrup (only the real kind) and maybe a few bananas or even leftover frozen and grated cranberries with toasted pecans and a tish orange peel, my personal favorite.  ( pancake photo: Salahan.com; jambalaya photo: Alyce Morgan)

2-21-12:  The church I work at has a Pancake Supper tonight:  6pm @ Prospect Park United Methodist in Minneapolis; come to Fat Tuesday!

Christians are getting ready to begin Lent…and, it’s not a time to sit around and think about how bad we are. That’s old school.  Now, it’s an opportunity to review who we are and why….how we stand right now…and even to think about wiping our own personal slate clean so that we can be drawn new. To maybe see a few goals for our spiritual existence or personal life.  It’s a fine time to commit to prayer, to renewed study and to see what comes of it.  We are assured that, as we model ourselves on our God and savior, we too can begin again, live again, fall into depths doubting and shouting… and rise once more. Ever hopeful, ever-changing.  40 days of saying to oneself sometime during each day’s prayer-life, “I want to change this one thing; I’m committed to it.”  In other words, Lent is a positive, proactive experience.  Make me new.  Help me take the time to think about what I am, who I am and what I would like to change, who I would like to be…  There’s no crying in Lent (or baseball.)

But, instead of the ubiquitous pancakes, why not whip up a Mardi Gras special before Lent starts tomorrow?  Even if you don’t know Lent from “Rent,” it’s a great time for this dish.  With a little New Orleans background of my own, I was born with what they call the trinity (onions, green peppers and celery) in my mouth.  I’m talking Jambalaya, an easy one. The orignial recipe here is from honored Cajun food writer Maude Ancelet, but comes to us through Andrew Scrivani’s sweet blog makingsundaysauce.com.  Mark Bittman (NYT) mentioned it a little over a week ago and I’ve made and tweaked it, clarifying a few things and changing it up a teense.

In the food world, my recipe will be called “a riff on it.” I will also say I’m in the process of tweaking it even more. I’d like to try it as an oven dish because to find a dutch oven or covered skillet large enough for all of these ingredients (and for them not to be stacked 6 inches high in the pan) is difficult.  I covered my 14″ frittata pan with an assortment of cookie sheet, foil, etc. to getter done.  A bit cumbersome.  Never-the-less.  You may have different pans!  Your dutch oven may be larger or, in any case, you can brown the chicken in batches if you need to. Just make it; it’s delish.  Phew.  Great for … Shrove Tuesday.  Here’s my version:                                                                      (Oh, and it’s time to rent “Chocolat.”)

serves 4-6 easily

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1# sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2″ pieces
2T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, ditto
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dry oregano
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
1 # rice
1/2 t kosher salt-or to taste
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper-or to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 c each sliced green onions (use tops) and chopped parsley*

In dutch oven, or large skillet (will need a lid), brown chicken and sausage in oil over medium heat, turning to cook evenly on all sides.  Remove meats to paper-towel lined platter when nicely browned, but not done.  Add the onions, pepper, celery, garlic, oregano and bay leaf to pan.  Saute well for 10 minutes or so until softened.  Add water, rice, salt  and pepper.  Return the meats to the pot  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.  Keep covered and let steep a little while, serving “piping hot.”  In a small bowl, mix the green onions and parsley and let folks help themselves to these for a garnish.
*option:  top with some shrimp grilled with a little bit of Old Bay seasoning

WINE:  California zinfandel.  You also might like a  Beaujolais, often known as a “fun” wine.
DESSERTSomething “sinful” like a hot fudge sundae or 2 pieces of apple pie and ice cream.

Happy Mardi Gras, Happy Shrove Tuesday…..
May your Lent be all you need it to be…………..

Sing a new song (definitely for the next 40 days),


50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #35 – Delia Smith

Would you cook with this woman?  Meet Delia Smith.

In North America, we might argue over who taught us to cook.  While Julia really was on tv, I’m sure I learned to cook from a. my mother, b. James Beard, and c. SILVER PALATE.  (We all teach ourselves right in our kitchen, don’t we?)  But in the UK, there’s no question about who taught you to cook; Delia Smith, #35 in Gourmet’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food, did.  (photo courtesy BBC)

Way back in the ’70s (was it that far away?), you only had to tune in to the telly to learn how to make pastry (or lots else) with Delia in London or Edinburgh. For grins, scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on the video and see what the buzz was about.  Could you bake a blind tart shell after watching that television program? I admit I missed Julia a bit as I watched!

After a couple of false starts as a hairstylist and travel agent, and without much education, Delia began reading cookbooks in the reading room at the British Museum.  Not long after, she was cooking and writing for the Daily Mirror starting in 1969, where she met her husband, Michael Wynn Jones.

Many television episodes, newspaper articles,  books (21 million sold), a website, and even a soccer club later, Delia continues to deliver basic, commonsense, always-trusted cooking advice, recipes, and technique.  She’s so successful at delivering the goods that, within the world marketplace, there’s now something called “The Delia Effect.”  Which means it’ll sell like the proverbial hotcakes, as her stamp on anything makes product fly off the shelves in the UK. Reportedly, egg sales in England rose by 10% after her book How to Cook was published.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook can be ordered through amazon.com, as can other volumes, though some appear to be more available overseas than here in the States.   Time for a few days in London, I’d say.

 Reading through recipes and trying to decide which to try for this blog, I found no shortage of tasty and wonderful-sounding things to cook.  Oven-Baked Smoked Pancetta and Leek Risotto caught my eye, as did Grilled Venison Steaks with Red Onion, Grape, and Raisin Confit, a selection from Delia’s website under the banner, “What Should You be Cooking This Month?”  There’s also a tab for ingredients and the available recipes to use them.  Special diets, Under 30 minutes, Freezing, and Cooking for One are just a few of the sections you might want to peruse on the site.   I especially enjoyed “Recipe of the Day” and “Competitions.”  At the very bottom are links to lists of recipes like, “French,” “Pasta,” and so on.  While it might not be true, the website has every indication of containing a good portion of her thirty-plus years’ recipes and information, which makes it a treasure trove, to say nothing of a great value.

You could make “Italian Baked Fish” (and who doesn’t want more baked fish recipes) as did I, and give Delia a whirl:

First:  Make a little marinara with mushrooms.

 italian baked fish  serves 4  (recipe courtesy deliaonline.com)

4 thick pieces of cod or other white fish (MN cooks:  try our Lake Superior white fish here.)
2T olive oil (no need for extra virgin oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1# ripe tomatoes or 400g tin of Italian tomatoes
4 oz (110 g) sliced mushrooms
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T capers, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
12 black olives (I opted for kalamata.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Start by making a good, thick tomato sauce:  heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.  Now add the garlic and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmering point and cook gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next add the sliced mushrooms, making sure they are well stirred in.  Simmer for a further few minutes until it looks like a thick sauce.  Lastly, stir in the fresh basil and chopped capers.

Next, season the fish with lemon, salt, and pepper

 Now place the fish in a shallow baking dish or tin, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a little lemon juice on each piece.  Next spoon an equal quantity of the sauce on to each piece of fish and arrange a few olives on top.   Cover the dish with foil and bake on a high shelf (in upper 1/3 of oven) for about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Serve with new potatoes or brown rice and a tossed green salad.  

Last, top with marinara, and bake.

 I sometimes cook fish right down in a chunky tomato-onion-garlic-etc bath either on top of the stove or in the oven; you might try that idea if it appeals to you.  Here’s my fast snapper in tomato sauce.  Get your vegetables, honey.

Next week, join us when we’ll feature #36, Edna Lewis. “The granddaughter of an emancipated slave, Lewis, another Judith Jones protégée, brought sophisticated Southern dishes into the spotlight.” 

If you’d like to cook a few other gorgeous Delia Smith (or other) meals, click on the blogs of the food bloggers featuring Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food this (or another) week:
Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living  Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
What’s on Alyce’s blog about cooking for one, Dinner Place?

Pork Tenderloin Salad with Berries and Oranges and a Sherry Vinaigrette

 Thanks for stopping by.

just for fun, here’s the early video of Delia teaching pastry-making  in the late ’70s.  courtesy BBC                              Bake a new tart, Alyce

No Reservations (Valentine’s Day at Home)

Alyce’s Tuna with Marinara and Spinach with Onions*

To get you in the mood, kick off with Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”  
Or, if you’d rather, “Someone Like You.”
          Note: If you right click on the song title, you can open youtube in another window and keep the music playing…………………………………
If you’d rather just order pizza (I know you!) and watch a movie, stop here and look at the best movies of 2011 and call for delivery.   Wow, that was a short blog!   But…if you’re in the mood for food at home, read on.

Since everyone and their mother is now a food or wine writer, it’s a bit crazy to see just how many articles there are about cooking for Valentine’s Day or drinking for Valentine’s Day.   “I Wine You to Wine Me,” is out from Wine Spectator.  Phew.   The desserts, the bubblies…  It’s all somewhat odd, eh?  Because the word has always been that one goes OUT for Valentine’s Day–something I’ve seldom done.  Why?  Too crowded, too expensive, and rushed food.  Enough reasons?  I will admit, however, that if you have children of any age in the house, going out looks better and better.  Who wants to be searing a great piece of salmon while your loved one lights the candles only to be confronted with a dirty diaper, a bloody nose, a soccer practice, or a boyfriend crisis?

The only kids now at home sleep under the table!

 Because I’m a faithful person and because my (adult) children know I love them madly, I’ll admit I’ve been thrilled to cook at home on Valentine’s Day in the years since they left.  THANK YOU, GOD! And, truthfully, we were broke for a lot of years before that, so I cooked for a bunch of those, too.  Not only that, I  have always made Dave one of his favorite desserts for his Valentine’s Day present.   (What do you get a guy for Valentine’s Day??)  For us, it’s a bit simple. While embarrassing to admit, I cook better food than most restaurants serve (as do many people) and I can afford the wine in my cellar (or on my counter) because I bought it myself and it’s paid for.  So, the food and wine are both better…   I’ve saved a heap of money (even the loveliest filet at the butcher is $15 per in St. Paul), I can hear everything Dave says, and dinner can–and occasionally does–take all evening.   No one is standing at the entrance to the room eyeing our plates to see when we’ll be done.  No server is bringing dessert before I’ve finished my dinner.  If there’s any clanking in the kitchen, Dave and I are doing it.  And, in St. Paul, no doors are opening letting in the Arctic Circle.

I often plan a meal complete with music (you can get “Sarah Vaughn for Lovers,”  “Ella Fitzgerald for Lovers” or just put on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and be done) and it may start in one room–maybe the kitchen– with a tiny appetizer and a sparkler, later moving into dining room for soup, main course, and salad–and end in the living room with cheese and dessert.  A spot of port.  While that’s possible in a restaurant, it’s not probable.   You don’t have to do all those things, of course; but they’re fun!

So if you can pawn off the kids elsewhere or pay them to stay upstairs… or if you have no kids… dream up something scrumptious and cook at home.  Leave the dishes rinsed in the sink for the next morning.

First,  you’ll have to decide about the gift dessert— I don’t know what I’m making Dave this year, but here are some of my favorites on More Time:

Hazelnut-Chocolate Cake

Apple pie...a great gift for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies (good anytime)

 Lemon Scented Pear-Almond Crostata – Yes!

There are directions for making this crostata with apples, too, if you like.

One of my all-time favorite desserts is Brandied Fig Vanilla Pudding from Epicurious.  Almost done before you begin, this silky pudding is simple, subtle, supple, and topped with a bit of fig preserves mixed with a spoonful of brandy.  Sometimes I offer a tish of hot fudge and berries in placeof the figs, depending on the season.   Made on the stove in a few minutes, it can be done ahead or at the last minute.  It’s great warm if you’re running late!  One note:  Brandied Fig Vanilla Pudding is gorgeous in nice, heavy crystal on-the-rocks tumblers; you can see the pudding and the shining golden fig layer at top through the sparkling glass.

 Thing is, I think you can often cook as well as the folks in the restaurants, too.  You can cook to your own tastes and take your time.  You can make the dessert today and just serve a salad and steak tomorrow.   I mean, most of us work on Valentine’s Day, right?

Needn’t be a complex salad to be good.  In fact, the opposite is true.

Just for fun, I’ve looked around at a few available menus to see what exactly IS a romantic menu?  I’m not sure I know; so here are a couple I’ve seen around the net lately:

This one, off the Epicurious site, is called:

                                        ROMANTIC DINNER

  • Peach Royale
  • Smoked Salmon with Crispy Shallots and Dilled Cream
  • Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce
  • Penne with Hazelnut Gremolata and Roasted Broccolini
  • Sliced Strawberries with Grand Marnier Zabaglione
OR…you might like…
  • Flatbread with Fingerling Potatoes, Shitake Mushrooms, and Truffle Oil
  • Spice-Coated Rack of Lamb for Two with Arugula, Avocado, and Blood Orange Salad
  • Almond Cakes with Chocolate Passion-Fruit Sauce 

Other options are:


LAMB CHOPS AND ROASTED VEGETABLES FOR TWO  right here from More Time.  (pictured at top)
                           If you do make the lamb chops, you are wide open for both wine and dessert.  While a typical pairing for lamb is Cabernet Sauvignon, I like Syrah or Pinot Noir (California and Oregon, respectively, though I love CRISTOM Syrah, which is Oregon) with this meal to meet up and ring with with the sweet tones in the root vegetables.  In the post, there’s a simple bread pudding, but you might remember I just blogged another bread pudding that’s to die for.  Don’t want to make dessert?  Pick up two kinds of gelato or sorbet (I like Pistachio gelato with Raspberry sorbet) and some tiny Scots shortbread cookies or feast on a bit of the chocolate you bought.  Don’t skimp on the coffee; make sure it’s lovely.  It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s all in the details (and the laughter.)



While I’m just realizing this, one of my favorite meals to serve Dave or company, isn’t on the blog; the marinara, however, is on my other blog, Dinner Place, as is tuna with spinach and onions.
I think you can figure out how to put it all together from the photo; don’t forget Parmesan at the table. 

Whatever you do, enjoy. 

two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Last Friday Night’s Table

The other lovers.

On my kitchen window

Tucker–thinks he’s hiding.

Sing a new song on Valentine’s Day….

Women Game-Changers in Food – #34 Ella Brennan – Creole Bread Pudding

  Conventional wisdom says, “If there’s bread pudding on the menu, order it.”  Now that I’ve made Brennan’s Creole Bread Pudding, I know why.  I won’t say who it is, but someone in my house is saying, “Please let me stay out of the frig as long as that bread pudding is in there.”

Creole Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

For number 34 on Gourmet Live’s List of Women Game-Changers in Food, there’s the infamous and famous Ella Brennan, New Orleans restauranteur extraordinaire.   Hailed as the most influential person in the American restaurant business ever,

  Ella Brennan, at center, seated with family.  (courtesy Commander’s Palace)
… Brennan has made her mark with a series of fresh and innovative concepts: She pioneered the notion of nouvelle Creole cuisine. She elevated the profile of Louisiana cooking throughout the world. She forged a level of service that was the match of any anywhere. And she used her kitchen at Commander’s Palace as a kind of de facto New Orleans culinary academy, turning out dozens of the city’s finest chefs and thereby enlivening the local food scene beyond measure. (courtesy Elizabeth Mullener, Times-Picayune.)
 Part of a large restaurant family,  Ella Brennan began as a teen in the business with her brother Owen at Brennan’s, home of the famous “breakfast at Brennan’s.”   She went on to travel the world to learn about great food and better service, returning home to put the knowledge to work building one successful restaurant after another.  Not only that, she brought the tourists home with her, putting New Orleans on the map as a center for food and some say the most beautiful restaurant experience available in the United States.  After the family bought The Commander’s Palace in 1969, Brennan proceeded to hire and train chefs who went on to be famous in their own right, among them Paul Prodhomme and Emeril Lagasse.  Business woman and lover of perfect meals, she was an expert in the world of food though she never cooked at all.  “I never took to the kitchen,” she says.   My thought is she never needed to “take to the kitchen,” with the kind of talent she hired.                                           
Order a copy of The Commander’s Palace New Orleans Cookbook here.

Famed  food (editor, writer and) restaurant critic Ruth Reichl commented that her first visit to Commander’s Palace combined “upscale fun” with “the most extraordinary service [she]’d ever had in an American restaurant,” service which she credited to Brennan’s exacting standards. (courtesy Encyclopedia of Louisiana)

Read all about The Commander’s Palace or make a reservation.  25 cent Martinis if you go!
More info:  read a short biography of Ella Brennan here

Want to try one of the most famous recipes?   Since Ella herself didn’t cook much I thought I’d make one of the cornerstones of the Brennan empire– bread pudding  Here it is:  (Note: Have salad for supper; this is Decadent with a Capital D and worth every calorie.)

Invite friends.  What fun!   This makes a  huge pan of bread pudding.

Creole Bread Pudding
“Much as we all love Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé, sometimes plain
Creole Bread Pudding is the most soul-satisfying taste of all. But do it right.
One day, while my mother [Ella Brennan] and I were nibbling on some bread
pudding, I watched her eyebrow go up as she discovered a morsel of dry bread.
I hadn’t soaked thoroughly, a cardinal sin. When pastry chef Tom Robey
walked by, Mom pointed to the dry morsel. She didn’t have to say a word.
Tom shook his head and went off to explain to a protégé how we don’t
rush things at Commander’s. Originally created as a way to utilize day-
old bread, this dessert, along with
pecan pie and crème caramel, is a must
for any New Orleans restaurant.”

Cook’s Note:  Make Whiskey Sauce (recipe below) while pudding bakes; it must cool.   Fyi: The Bread Pudding Soufflé is served in ramekins with  meringue and hard sauce.
1 tablespoon butter
12 medium eggs, beaten
3 cups heavy cream (I used half and half  since my arteries were yelling, HELLO?)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (use
a high-quality extract, not an imitation)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
*4 ounces day-old French bread, sliced 1 inch thick (I used a lot more bread; see note.)
1 cup raisins

–Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
–Butter a large (11 x 8 1/2 x 3 inches) casserole dish and set aside. (Once in the oven, the casserole will sit inside a large pan. A roasting pan would be good.) Mix the eggs, cream and vanilla in a large bowl, and combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl. This helps to evenly dis- tribute the spices. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture, and combine thoroughly.
–Place the raisins in the bottom of the buttered casserole, and add the bread slices in a single layer. Gently pour the custard over the bread, making certain that all the bread thoroughly soaks up the custard. [We let ours stand for a while before baking.] (Turn the bread over in the custard to make sure each piece is well-coated.)

–Cover the casserole with foil, place in a large dish (the roasting pan, if that’s what you decided to use) partly filled with hot water, and bake for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, and increase the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour more, or until the pudding is golden brown and slightly firm. Use a spoon to make sure the custard is fully cooked; it should be moist but no longer runny. If you’re unsure whether it’s done, remove it from the oven and let it cool while it remains sitting in the water bath; the carryover effect will keep it cooking.
–Serve slightly warm with whiskey sauce, recipe below (made ahead.)

Whiskey Sauce 
  • 1 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon(s) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon(s) waterhttp://a19.g.akamai.net/7/19/7125/1450/Ocellus.coupons.com/_images/showlist_icon.gif
  • 3 tablespoon(s) sugar
  • 1/4 cup(s) bourbon
·           For the whiskey sauce: Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and water together, and add to cream while whisking. Bring to a boil. Whisk and let simmer for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat.
Stir in the sugar and bourbon. Taste to make sure the sauce has a thick consistency, a sufficiently sweet taste, and a good bourbon flavor. Cool to room temperature.
*4oz of French bread is a bit less than 1/4 of  the baguette I got from Whole Foods, which seemed like way too little bread to me; it didn’t cover half of the bottom of the casserole.  Typo in the recipe?   Wrong kind of bread??   I increased the amount to approximately 12 ounces; my baguette was 15 oz. total.   I don’t make bread pudding from a recipe usually; I just combine milk, eggs, and nutmeg and sweeten it to taste–which isn’t nearly as much sugar as this recipe calls for.  I did leave the amount of sugar the same in order to try and get a true test of the recipe. It was the right thing to do!
Other bloggers writing about Ella Brennan this week are:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen
Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades

Scroll on over!

If you liked this, you might like:

Sing a new song and make some bread pudding–Two-Dog Kitchen returns next post,

Meatball Subs


My very last post was the story of two great ladies of food, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, of Canal House fame.  While I often blog original recipes, it’s been fun so far being part of the food blogger group that’s cooking a 50 Women Game-Changers recipe each week.  So I kind of hate to throw in something pedestrian like a meat ball sub.  Except for one thing:  these are great meatball subs.

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Women Game-Changers in Food- #33-Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer-Meatballs with Mint and Parsley

What if you wanted beautifully written recipes, tastefully conceived, and perfectly photographed–all from home cooks–for home cooks? What if you wanted those cooks to have worked professionally (catering, restaurants, magazines) and to have traveled the world so they could bring the best dishes back to you?

Order book here

Enter Canal House Cooking, La Dolce Vita,  #7  in a series of self-published  volumes from a multi-talented duo who have worked at food, cooking, and food writing/photography most of their lives.  After leaving behind the corporate publishing/food world in order to spend more time at or near their homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Melissa Hamilton (above, right) and Christopher Hirsheimer (above, left; she’s a she) began cooking together daily in a warehouse and keeping a record of it.   Out of that commitment comes this lovely, popular series of books that is their gift to those of us in the home-cooking “business.”   An article from WSJ tells the story more thoroughly here.

To really get to know these women a little more, watch an enchanting tiny video about them and their food in Italy (basis for the most recent book)….Here.

And, when you’re done reading and watching, it’s time to cook with Melissa, Christopher, and me….
So that you can spend more time at the table (who are you inviting?),  we’re making:

meatballs with mint and parsley    makes 24

  (Often served with broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes)
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
¼ pound prosciutto,  finely chopped
1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta (in the book or David Lebovitz’ version)
1 cup grated pecorino*
2 eggs
¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
 ½ whole nutmeg, grated
 ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
 ½ cup white wine
¾ cup heavy cream,
 optional salt
   1. Mix together the pork, veal, prosciutto, ricotta, pecorino, eggs, mint, parsley, nutmeg, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
   2.  Use a large soup spoon and scoop up about 2 ounces of the meat into your hand and roll into a ball.   
   3.  Make all the meatballs the same size so they will cook evenly. As you make them, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. You can do this a few hours ahead, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
   4.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs in batches, about 15 minutes per batch, using two forks to delicately turn them over so that they brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Transfer cooked meatballs to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
   5,  Increase the heat to high and deglaze the skillet with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the cream, if using, and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.
*Pecorino Romano is, most likely, the pecorino (hard, often gratable sheep’s cheese) available in most American grocery stores.  Milder and less expensive than Parmesan, it’s a happy addition to pasta or salads.

Cook’s Note: I made one meatball first and cooked it to test the seasoning; I had gone easy on the black pepper and had not added any salt at all.  My thought was to maintain the freshness/lightness of the meatball so that the herbs weren’t overwhelmed.  On tasting, I did add a bit more pepper and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  The rest of the batch was perfect.  You could do anything you typically do with meatballs with these, but I do think they’re special and complete all on their own.  I served them with broccolini sautéed in olive oil with crushed red peppers and slices of garlic thrown in the last 2-3 minutes.  We started with a little very simple green salad.

Here’s a bit of the easy journey in photographs:

                       More info if you’re interested……………

Just for fun, here’s a sample from the Canal House #7 book and their “on location work:”

We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany — a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month.

Back in the states, Melissa and Christopher are eating lunch together every day as they take a break from cooking, working, and writing.  Read their blog that chronicles those noon-time meals. 

Listen to their interview on edible radio.

Want to cook more food from Canal House?  You can do it if you…. 
Check out our team of great bloggers writing about 50 Women Game-Changers in Food

Sue – The View from Great Island   
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan –
The Spice Garden              
Heather – girlichef
Miranda of
Mangoes and Chutney 
 Mary – One Perfect Bite
Barbara –
Movable Feasts              
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda –
Ciao Chow Linda              
Linda A – There and Back Again
Martha –
Lines from Linderhof       
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica –
My Catholic Kitchen     
Annie Lovely Things
Nancy –
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook

Val – More Than Burnt Toast       
Joanne –
Eats Well With Others

If you liked this, you might like my Bacon-Caprese Salad with Fresh Cheese.

Make your own cheese!

or my subsequent post on Meatball Subs:

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood return soon…Woof from Gab and Tuck.

Sing  new song; dream a new dream,

Food photos:  copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012.  Recipe, book and author photos courtesy Canal House.