Spectacular Swirly Bread Pudding

Thanks to Molly, a co-worker of Dylan's at Children's Hospital, for introducing us to the wonderful bread pudding that forms the foundation of this recipe. We've made only a few minor changes to give it a little less sugar and a cinnamon swirl.

8 Eggs
2 Cups Milk (we use 2% Organic)
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Amaretto (yes, that's liquor in your pudding folks - go Molly!)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Loaf Semifreddies Cinnamon Swirl Bread (if you don't have this or something similar in your area you can substitute 1 loaf of Challah bread but you won't get the swirl)
Cocoa powder

You will need a 9x13 glass pan. Prep the pan by spreading a little canola oil over it and dusting it with sifted cocoa powder.
In a large sized bowl, rip the bread into pieces.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, amaretto and vanilla thoroughly.

Pour this mixture over the bread and let sit for 30 minutes.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 40-50 minutes. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled, whatever you prefer. Enjoy!


Easter ramblings

What do vegetarian's eat for Easter dinner? I have no idea. Fortunately, Dylan and I will be working (this is what happens when you work at a hospital, they tend to be open 24/7) so I won't have to figure out what to cook. Growing up it was always HAM on Easter. The kind that had pineapple rings on it and cloves stuck between the criss cross slices, oh and a maraschino cherry in the middle of each pineapple ring. Mmmmm.

And anyway, how on earth did Easter get here so quickly? We just celebrated St. Patty's day! And vegetarian or not I tried Tamara's corned beef and cabbage which was slow cooked in Guiness beer. Tender and quite good. And this was served with Mushy Peas, not Irish but rather British, and not as bad as they sound.

We had my son over to dye eggs, a tradition. That translates to deviled eggs, egg salad and potato salad this coming week. This year there were rubber bands used to wrap around the eggs before they were dipped into the dye, markers, ink bunny stamps, the ever popular clear wax crayon and even scotch tape. Also new for us was using some brown eggs which created a more intense color than the white eggs.

Oh and I found my chef coat and pants for culinary school. I thought this would be fun but it was really quite stressful. The men's pants were baggy beyond belief and the coats were also too big. The women's selection was quite small compared to the mens but I was able to find a pair of black pants (will have to be hemmed) and a white chef's coat with knotted buttons. I am so glad I didn't try to order online, it would have never worked.

I will be seeing my brother for a couple of days when he visits San Diego in April. He is a chef and owns the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Winter Park, Colorado. He has been cooking for what seems like forever and it always makes my mouth water when he rambles off his latest creation. Don't ask him for a recipe though, he just composes things like a musician writes a song and has yet to give me an exact recipe. I hope to help out with some of his catering events when I am done with school.

Culinary school starts April 1, be sure to follow along as the adventure unfolds!


What to bring to the Potluck Orzo Salad

You know the problem. There's a potluck at work or a baby shower or something of the sort and you're supposed to bring a dish. Someone beat you and signed up for "chips and salsa" first. Someone else signed up for your back up plan of "plates and napkins." Okay, you're going to have to cook. These potlucks often have an abundance of sweets but not enough "real food." Not to worry, we have the ideal recipe for you. You don't have to heat it up, it's "real food" that everyone will love and you will be praised for months to come going down into the history of pot lucks as "Remember when Jill brought that fabulous Orzo Salad?" Yeah baby, that's you!

This is Dylan's recipe which was inspired by a rice salad in The Silver Palate Cookbook which both of us love.

Orzo Salad

3 cups of dried orzo
1 sweet red pepper, chopped into small pieces
6 scallions, cleaned and finely sliced, white and light green parts
1 cup dried currants
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
2 cups frozen peas
1 medium sized carrot, chopped into fine dice
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Organic Feta
Pine Nuts, toasted

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Cook the orzo in boiling water until just tender and firm to the bite. Drain and run under cool water for a minute to stop the cooking. Set aside in strainer.

Blanch the frozen peas in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, drain again. Set aside.

In a good sized bowl add the red pepper, the scallions, the currants, the shallot, the olives, the carrot and the parsley. Mix. Now put in your peas, mix gently. Add the orzo and mix again. Set aside and make the vinaigrette.

2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (add up to 1/2 tsp as desired)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil

Measure mustard into bowl. Whisk in vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and parsley. Whisk in olive oil and adjust seasoning to taste.

Now, let's finish the salad that's going to make you famous. Add about 1/2 of the vinaigrette to the salad and toss. It should be moist, not wet. Add your feta and toss again. Transfer to a nice serving dish and cover. Sprinkle pine nuts on top before serving and bring extra dressing with you. This salad is best served at room temperature so the flavors explode in your mouth. Remember to let us know how it turns out and don't forget the little people when you're famous.


Who Stole the Vegetable Tian?

Admit it, you steal recipes from magazines you find in waiting rooms. I know I'm not the only one because I've seen the half torn pages in the food section while I'm passing time in the doctor's office, the dentist's office, waiting for my car to be serviced... I feel a little guilty when I do it but something comes over me and I just HAVE to have this recipe AND the picture that goes with it. I try to be subtle, to make sure no one is looking directly at me, to crease the page well before tearing it and then quickly shoving it into my pocket. What I really find annoying is that after I've been waiting in the lobby for 30 minutes and finally decided that YES I DO want, no need, that recipe and just as I am about to make my move the nurse calls out my name. Rats! Or when the recipe begins on page 51 and is continued on page 123 so I have to tear out multiple pages. This can only be done by experienced recipe bandits.

So here then is a recipe, yes shamefully taken from a magazine. And sin upon sin it's Martha Stewart.

This is a recipe for Vegetable tian and it's one we make we make again and again finding
something comforting in the flavors. We serve it with a rice pilaf and a glass of chardonnay. It's soft but not mushy. The use of a food processor (or mandolin I suppose) makes the vegie prep quick. Allow an hour for baking.

Vegetable Tian
original recipe martha's, adaptations by drake and dylan

Makes one 9 inch tian, serves 4

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leaks, white and pale green parts only, halved, fanned and rinsed well and cut into thin slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, unpeeled, very thinly sliced
1 medium or 2 small yellow squash, unpeeled, very thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, very thinly sliced
1 small Italian eggplant, unpeeled, very thinly sliced
6-8 crimini mushrooms, cleaned, thinly sliced (can substitute shitake or use a mixture)
1/4 cup dry white wine (I use a nice Chardonnay, you know, some for me, some for the recipe)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (can substitute 1/2 tbsp organic dried oregano)

Grated Parmesan, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat 3 tbsp oil in large skillet over med heat. Add leek and garlic, season with some salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Spread in a 9 inch gratin or round baking dish (a glass pie pan works nicely).

2. Arrange vegies on top of leek mixture in slightly overlapping circles, alternating them as you go.

3. Top with wine, 1 tbsp of oil, oregano, s and p. Bake 30 minutes. Drizzle with remaining oil. Bake until vegies are tender, 30 minutes more. Serve with Parmesan.