Category: Raisins

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

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,
Alyce

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

   

Travel creates opportunities for brief blogs, my friends.   So here are the pics/recipe for the Czech Easter bread, which was huge, crusty,  and tender with a bit of a lemon feel.  Studded with golden and black raisins, as well as apricots (my additions-no citron to be found), it was only a tish sweet.  Fine with Easter dinner.  Also lovely for any holiday at all.  Sorry it didn’t get posted until AFTER Easter, but here it is in its glory.

Czech Easter Bread

Makes 1 large loaf Czech Easter Cake or Velikonoční Bochánek

Mixing in the fruit
Before the addition of the last 2 cups of flour

 

Get all the flour in

Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 1 hour Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 large room-temperature eggs, beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup golden or dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped citron (I subbed 2t grated Meyer lemon rind and 1/3 c chopped dried apricots)
  • Topping:
  • 1 large room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Add butter, sugar and salt to scalded milk. Stir to combine and let cool to lukewarm.
  • Place yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 2 eggs and combine.
  • Add 3 cups flour and beat with the paddle until smooth. Add the raisins, almonds, citron, and remaining flour and mix, 3 to 5 minutes until smooth. Dough will be sticky.
  • Place dough in greased bowl. Turn over and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 1 hour. See this Quick Tip for faster rising.
  • Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board. Knead a few minutes and shape into a large round loaf. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Use bread flour
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush bread with 1 beaten egg. Cut a cross in top of loaf with scissors and sprinkle entire surface with almonds. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 30-45 minutes or until instant-read temperature registers 190 degrees. Let cool completely before slicing. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting, if desired.

Recipe courtesy About.com

 

 

 

 

 

Two-Dog or Two-Cardinal Kitchen

Ok, we’re out of the kitchen.  For now.

 

How long are you going to bake bread, Mom?

 

My kissin’ Cardinals feeding one another outside the kitchen window.

 

 

 

Front yard.  Ah, Spring!