Mushroom and goat cheese bread pudding

Dark Days, first week of February. The days are starting to get noticeably longer now.

If you’re on a low-cal diet, just skip this post.

I stumbled across a bread pudding recipe last week that I was itching to try, so that’s what was for dinner yesterday. I know some people don’t like the consistency of bread pudding, but I rather enjoy it, and don’ t get to eat it very often. For this one, I made a loaf of French bread, and used shiitake mushrooms from Killbuck Valley, milk from Hartzler’s, cream from Snowville Creamery, and fresh chevre from Mackenzie Creamery. As always, everything is local unless denoted (minus the salt and pepper).

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding (adapted from cleveland.com, see above)

1 loaf of bread (loaf isn’t a very technical measurement; I ended up with about 8 or 9 cups)
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
4 ounces goat cheese, cut into chunks
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup mushrooms, cut and sauteed
Parsley
Salt and pepper

Cube the bread and set aside in a large bowl. In a medium or large sauce pan, combine the cream, milk, and eggs (the original recipe called for 2 quarts of cream; I changed it to half milk, half cream, and cut back a little, based on the amount of bread I had). Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture simmers, then remove from heat. Pour the mixture over the bread, then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently to combine, then cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight for best results. It’s not necessary to let it sit for that long, but it allows the bread to really soak up the liquid.

The original version calls for shaping the pudding into logs and simmering in a water bath. While it sounded slightly daunting, I was ready to try it. Unfortunately, the mixture was a little too soupy, and would not have held its shape well enough, so if you want to try that, either add some more bread, or cut back the milk and cream a little further.

After sitting overnight, pour the pudding into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, and bake at 350 F for one hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

This was a pretty rich dish (though cutting out some of the cream probably prevented it from being even richer), and had a nice combination of textures, with the slight crunchiness of the top, the custardy-ness of the bottom, and the meatiness of the mushrooms. The tang of the chevre was a pleasant foil for the rest of the dish. Some people (S included) aren’t huge on goat cheese, but I thought it was nicely balanced here.

If I were to make it again, I’d probably add more bread and reduce the liquid a little more – it was a bit more custard-like than I’d expect; almost more of a souffle than what I’d consider a bread pudding. Of course, it was still delicious, and that’s not going to stop me from eating it again. And again – it made a lot, so we’ll be having that for dinner for at least one more night.

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