Yield: 4 (7½-ounce) main-course portions or 6 (5-ounce) side portions • Preparation time: 45 minutes plus baking time • Shelf life: 3 days
This rustic, robust bread pudding will satisfy a wide range of customers, including vegetarians. Ingredients can be substituted with a variety of items that may be on hand: different cheeses, varieties of stale bread and a mixture of mushrooms.
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
¾ cup vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups (4½ ounces) stale, firm, white country bread cut into ¾-inch
cubes (lightly toasted if soft)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 ounces finely chopped onions
12 ounces mushrooms, such as crimini, shiitake or chanterelle,
wiped and sliced
¼ cup medium-dry Madeira
5 ounces Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
1. Brush an 8 x 8–inch glass dish with olive oil. In enough hot water to cover, soak the porcini for 20 minutes; drain, clean and coarsely chop. Reserve the liquid. In a microwave container or small saucepan, reduce the liquid to 1 tablespoon. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the stock, cream, eggs, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the bread, turning to cover well, and soak until the liquid is absorbed, about 20minutes.
3. Heat the oven to 350 F.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining oil and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are wilted, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the Madeira and reserved porciniand liquid and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid evaporates, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
5. Let the mushroom mixture cool briefly, and then scrape into the bread mixture, stirring to blend. Add the cheese and turn gentlyto mix.
6. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Bake until golden brown and set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cut into four squares and serve.
NUTRITIONAL DATA (per 5-ounce serving): Calories: 340; Cholesterol: 110 mg; Sodium: 930 mg; Fat: 22 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g