Thomas Keller's fabulous Ad Hoc at Home is one of my two coffee table books. (The other one is the French Laundry cookbook. Yeah, in case you couldn't tell, I have sort of a thing for Thomas Keller.) Keeping it in the living room, rather than banishing it to Cookbook Alley in the kitchen, serves two purposes: distracting many of my guests (since this cookbook is like foodie crack) and insuring that I flip through it often enough to keep the recipes in the front of my mind.
Looking through it this morning, I noticed a leek bread pudding that would make excellent use of the single leek in my CSA share, as well as the half loaf of white bread leftover from last week's meatloaf dinner and the cup of heavy cream leftover from last night's ice cream sundae craving. (Come on, if you're making a chocolate sundae, you might as well do it right and whip your own cream. Am I right?) Anyway, I didn't have a ton of bread - or a desire to be eating leek bread pudding all week - so I reduced the recipe by about half, and added some caramelized onions and sage to make it nice and Thanksgiving-y. (You could totally get away with serving this instead of stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn't get away with that, though, since my mom's corn stuffing makes folks drive across the country just for a single spoonful. It's spectacular, for real.) I also swapped out the Comte cheese for Parmesan, since that's what I had.
Leek Bread Pudding
(adapted from Ad Hoc at Home)
8 slices of white bread, sliced into cubes
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
salt and pepper
half of an onion
2 T butter
2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 large sage leaves
small bunch of chives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice leek into 1/2 inch rounds. Slice onion lengthwise into strips. Melt butter in a small saucepan, then add onion and leek and cook over medium-low heat until caramelized.
Put the cubed bread into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Add 1/3 c. cheese and the chopped herbs. When onion and leek mixture is done, add it into the dish and mix slightly.
Combine the cream, milk and eggs with salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and let everything soak for about ten minutes. Then add the other 1/3 c. cheese. Pop it into the oven and cook for about an hour. The pudding is done when puffy and golden-brown.
We got the cutest little baby carrots from the CSA this week, which I peeled and cooked with brown sugar, butter and a bit of water until the carrots were tender and glazed. Alongside the leek bread pudding, they made an awesome little early-fall Saturday brunch.
A few weeks ago, we picked up a real bounty of husk cherries from the CSA. I love these little things - they look like miniature tomatillos in their husks, but they taste intriguingly like vanilla and pineapple. I ate tons of them out of hand, but I knew I had more than I could just take down on my couch, so I preserved them in a medium syrup and stuck them in the fridge. They taste super delicious on vanilla ice cream; something about the vanilla and the creaminess really brings out the flavor of the husk cherries. And aren't they pretty?
And finally, a really simple salad: roasted beets, diced apples and crispy bacon in a mustard and herb vinaigrette. Bacon makes everything better. So do beets. And so do these crunchy, tart Greenmarket apples. Apparently we've been having a fabulous year for apple growing - every local apple I've had in the last month has been really uncommonly great.
Sometimes the simplest stuff really is the best.