A Lotta Leeks
While I was preparing for my bake-off, I was also thinking about how I can’t just do a cookie or a cake or a cupcake. It was done, it will be done and I needed to break from the mold. So I decided to turn to my source of culinary inspiration…my green grocer.
I had been eyeing their pile of leeks for weeks. I like leeks braised, grilled and in vichysoisse. I used to make this lovely soup so often that I was asked to stop. Literally, every week there’d be a pot of it bubbling away. The rationale was that if they were growing in my backyard, I should use them!
Since I no longer have leeks growing in my backyard, I fall back on eyeing them at my green grocers. And when the opportunity came to use them in a savory recipe, I jumped at the chance. And I also jumped onto the internet to find a recipe. Luckily, I knew that I could turn to smittenkitchen.com instead of just trolling the internet, and I found a lovely Leek Bread Pudding recipe. While I liked the version that was on the site, I decided to change it a little.
Leek Bread Pudding (modified from the SmittenKitchen recipe)
2 cup leeks in 1/2-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed*
Kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1-inch-cubed brioche loaf (I like to leave the crusts on)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup of heavy cream
2 cups of milk (I used my 2%, but you can use what you have)
Freshly grated nutmeg (or in a container if you have that)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the leeks are cooking, spread the brioche cubes on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl. Keep the oven at 350 degs.
Add leeks, chives and oregano to the bowl of bread; toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk and cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste and a generous pinch of nutmeg.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons shredded cheese in bottom of the buttered loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.
Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold…both temperatures are equally delicious. Enjoy!