Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Bread Pudding with Bourbon SauceBourbon Legend
My life for the past week has been bourbon-infused. During a random Sunday search of TV listings to veg out on, I came across a program devoted to Kentucky Bourbon. I have always been a fan of good bourbon and after watching 30 seconds of the show, I was hooked. By the end of it, I was way more educated and informed. And also, rather thirsty.

Though I do have a thing for bourbon, it is not something I drink often. This is mostly because to really enjoy a good bourbon, you need to take your time and savor it. It’s rare that I have the time to do it right. And, this week is no different. But still, I haven’t been able to get bourbon off my mind.

On top of that, Mardi Gras is this coming Tuesday. So, I have been thinking of a way to combine the two. What should I make? Is the classic Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce, a New Orleans staple, too obvious a choice? And, there are plenty of bourbon BBQ recipes to choose from. But, that doesn’t scream Bourbon street to me…

Ultimately, I couldn’t find anything better to celebrate both Mardi Gras and bourbon than the bread pudding. Not that it is exactly a hardship to eat it. Bread pudding is one of life’s greatest indulgences.

A traditional recipe for Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is feature below. And, if you’re feeling a little rebellious, you can try this recipe for Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Carmel Sauce from our archives.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Yields 8 servings Read more…

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry FillingBig Gestures
Valentine’s Day is Friday. And, this year things are a little bit different. This year Valentine’s Day will not only contain chocolate and conversation hearts but also a prom-posal.

About a week or so ago my son brought up the fact that his girlfriend who is a junior (he’s a sophomore) definitely wants to go to prom. They have already discussed this, but she would kinda like to actually be asked. She doesn’t want anything big—no flash mobs or skywriting. She just wants something that requires minimal effort but still shows he understands that, to her, it’s a big deal. I am all for this. I feel my son needs to learn to be better at showing his appreciation. I also know that I will be involved with this caper because, sigh, he’s a fifteen-year-old dude.

To be fair, he came up with the whole plan on his own but needs my help executing it. She loves cake so he wants to make her a heart-shaped cake that he can decorate with little heart signs on sticks asking her to the prom. Totally cute. The issue is that while he can make a mean quesadilla, his baking skills are lacking. So, that’s where I come in.

After a lengthy discussion, we decided on a chocolate cake with a raspberry filling topped with a shiny chocolate glaze. It might sound complicated, but it’s not. The cake we are making is my go-to for whenever I am craving chocolaty cakeyness. It has all of the moistness of a box cake mix but with much better flavor. The trick is to use good quality cocoa. Do not go for the Hersheys. Splurge on some Valhrona or Scharffen Berger cocoa for this one.

Although I will be using heart-shaped pans this time around, normally I make this cake in a bundt pan for easy slicing and consumption. Sprinkled with some powdered sugar or topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream it’s the perfect dessert for any dinner. Isn’t too bad for breakfast either…

Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is filled big gestures of affection and, hopefully, some cake…

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling
Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Yields 2 8-inch cakes Read more…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese

Baked Lobster Mac and CheeseOscar The Grouch
The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday…and I am not sure if I am excited about it or not. My plan to see all of the nominated movies fizzled. I’ve only seen one, though I might try to sneak one or two more in during the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes!

I just have this overall feeling of indifference. Maybe it’s political fatigue. Maybe it’s the hangover from the Super Bowl loss. Or maybe I just need my blanket and a nap.

In my opinion there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hype for the Oscars this year. So, it’s possible I’m not the only one feeling this way. It might be that our attention is elsewhere (considering everything that’s been going on here and abroad). It makes a night of big dresses, big diamonds, and big winners seem somewhat trivial even if, for some, it’s the biggest night of their careers. Or perhaps a night of silliness, heavy satin, and escape is just what the doctor ordered.

So what does one eat for a night of escapism? Good question. You could follow the lead of the Hollywood Foreign press as well as the Academy and go all plant-based. Or you could take one for the team of attendees who didn’t eat anything so they could fit in their dress and go the cheeseburger route. It’s always one of my favorite plays.

After last weekend, I’m burned out on finger foods. I’m thinking the best thing to do is combine everything I am feeling into one satisfying dish. So here goes…

Lobster Mac and Cheese is the perfect solution! It has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to. Plus it goes well with some lovely champagne and bubbles will always lift your spirits…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban Pork

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban PorkAre You Ready For Some Football?
I am a football fan. I just love the game. I am generally more interested in college football than the Pros—mainly because the underdog has more of a chance in college football. I tell you this only as a warning that I will be sitting on my sofa on Sunday watching the 49ers in the Super Bowl and nobody better disturb me.

I am one of those people who wants to watch the game and doesn’t want to chit chat. I actually like the game more than the commercials or the halftime show. I will admit that the past few Super Bowl games have not held my interest, mainly because of who was playing in them. This year is, as they say, a whole new ball game. This year I have a vested interest in the outcome because the team I grew up watching in the 80s is back and it feels great, baby!

I am still working on what I am going to feed the fans that will be joining me, silently, on said couch. I do like to go with a theme. And, since the game is in Miami, I will most likely be making some nosh with a Cuban flavor as a nod to the host city. I might go for a tasty platter of Cuban sandwiches but the recipe below could work just as well. And, it’s easy to pull together because you use the InstantPot…which leaves you more time to scream at the refs about that holding call.

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban Pork
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Serves 8 to 10 Read more…

News From the Fancy Food Show & Tahini Noodles Recipe

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and CarrotsPlant Food
In what has become an annual tradition, I spent my Martin Luther King holiday walking the aisles at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco looking for and tasting the latest and greatest that the culinary world has to offer. As per usual there was plenty of gorgeous chocolate and cheese from around the world—including a guacamole cheese that was divine despite being a dark green not usually associated with cheese in a positive way.

There were teas, there were coffees and there was an extraordinary number of waffles, both of the regular and of the Stroop variety. I like waffles as much as the next gal. But, do we really need that many? And there was bottled pickle juice…because, of course, there would be bottled pickle juice. (I brought one home for my kids to try. My pickle loving son tried it and said it was too intense yet he keeps going back for another sip. Kind of like a bad accident. You can’t help but look.)

There was no missing the one big take away from this show: The future of food is plant-based.

From beverages to snacks, to frozen foods, each and every grocery category had multiple vendors showing their plant-based products. There were plant-based frozen desserts being offered down every aisle either by the pint or as bars. Plant-based meat alternatives have grown way beyond the Impossible Burger. The snack category was huge including puffs made out of avocado that were a big hit at my home, as were the butternut squash pretzels. While I expected to see more plant-based noodles than I did, they were still well represented as were the Asian cuisines they support.

Staunch carnivores should not fret too much, though, as there were still plenty of offerings for them. Duck Sausage anyone? Small family-owned ranches held their own amongst the plant-based surge by offering natural, humanely-raised alternatives to beef like venison, bison, elk, and even wild boar. And while the jerky revolution has died down some, there were still plenty of meat and salami sticks to be sampled.

While plant-based foods comprised a large percentage of the products being shown this year, it was very obvious that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to plant-based innovation. This is not a food trend that will just fizzle out. The possibilities are endless and the masterminds are just getting started…

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and Carrots 
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…