Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Neglectful blogger returns! Sorry for the nearly two months of silence. The holiday travel-and-gift-making/buying season hit me like a hurricane and I fell back on easy favorite recipes in an effort to spare my own sanity. Now that normal life has finally resumed, I've got two new holiday recipes to share with you (both of which were big hits), plus a tasty new soup, not to mention the fact that I've still got to pick my favorite recipes from last year (a tough job with so many good candidates). But first, here's a tasty recipe (from Bon Appetit via Ezra Pound Cake) I tried way back in November. It's presented as a vegetarian Thanksgiving dish, but I think it's pretty great for January too: substantial, comforting, and savory (the sharp cheddar made me feel like I was eating mac and cheese, and the subtle dab of Dijon adds a nice zip), but also bright, veggie-laden, and not too heavy or indulgent-feeling. I divided the recipe in half to make it into a manageable everyday (or, considering it's a bit time-consuming, at least Sunday) main dish. Give it a shot, especially if your New Year's resolutions involve eating more vegetables or discovering the magic of kale. And rest assured that my New Year's resolutions involve posting on my food blog more regularly.

1 pound peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3–4 large eggs (because I needed an egg white anyway later in the week, I used 3 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, which seemed to work perfectly)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons half-and-half
3 tablespoons dry white wine (or hard cider)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1½ teaspoons dried)
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage (or ¾ teaspoons dried)
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ loaf day-old baguette (do not remove crust), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
½ cup chopped shallots (about 2 large)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale (about ½ pound), ribs removed, kale coarsely chopped
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Set aside.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Continue whisking as you add half and half, wine, thyme, sage, mustard, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add baguette cubes to the egg mixture, and gently fold them into the mixture to coat each side. Let the baguette pieces soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, and sauté until soft and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (the kale will still be a little crunchy).

5. Generously butter an 8-by-8 or 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to the dish, spreading evenly. Spoon half of kale over the bread layer. Spoon half of squash over the kale layer, and sprinkle it with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread pudding.

6. Cover bread pudding with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until custard is set, about 20 minutes longer.

7. Preheat broiler; broil pudding until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Serves: 4
Time: 90 minutes to 2 hours

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