The only thing keeping me from eating a whole delicious serving of this savory bread pudding is that tomorrow morning I get weighed and measured by my trainer, as I creep towards my fitness goal. Nothing too indulgent can pass through my lips today and this bread pudding, with sourdough bread soaked in a rich egg custard, interspersed with a sautéed leek-spinach-mushroom mixture, and tossed with two different kinds of cheese, definitely qualifies as indulgent. The few bites I tasted today had me wanting more and tempted me to not care about my training progress, until I remembered that breakfast is after weigh-in. Guess what I’m having for breakfast? As Scarlett O’Hara once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”
Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding
Recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
2 medium shallots, minced
1 leek, white and tender green, cut into 2-inch julienne strips
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
One 5-ounce bag baby spinach
One 1-pound round loaf of sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into-1-inch cubes
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1½ cups milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1. In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots and leek and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 7 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
2. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Add the spinach and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute. Add the spinach to the mushrooms with the bread, Swiss cheese and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and toss.
3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. In a saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil, then gradually whisk into the eggs. Stir the custard into the bread and let stand, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, about 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and butter eight 3/4-cup ramekins and set them on a baking sheet. Spoon the pudding into the ramekins and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. Let cool for 15 minutes.
1. Note that both the Parmesan cheese and butter have divided use.
2. It’s always easier to cut bread with a serrated knife. I cut the bread into 1-inch slices first and then removed the crust from each slice. Don’t throw away the bread crusts – throw them in the food processor and make bread crumbs!
3. Be sure to whisk in a tiny amount of the hot milk-cream mixture into the eggs to temper the eggs. If you don’t add small amounts of the hot liquid at a time, you run the chance of cooking the eggs – too much heat all at once. As the eggs gradually adjust to the temperature, you can add larger amounts of the hot liquid.
4. Although this is meant to be a side dish, for those who want to make it heartier and serve it as a brunch item, a little diced ham could be added.