Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet staff of life

If bread is the staff of life, Bread Pudding has to be the comfort food crown. There are as many recipes for this classic as there are grandmothers and mothers. And a big thank-you to them all.

Especially Mama Kay, the grandmother of Justin Pfeilsticker, executive chef at Trader Vic's at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

As Chef Justin writes, "My grandmother Mama Kay was the Southern chef in the family. She grew up in Jackson, Miss., before moving to Arizona. I remember her making a bread pudding with like a praline on top of it."

Sad but familiar tale, he loved the bread pudding but never got the recipe because she cooked from her heart and never wrote them down (oh, for a recipe for my Nanny's gumdrop cake). When he opened his first restaurant, Cafe 181, in Chandler, Chef was determined to recreate her bread pudding.

"I now believe I came up with a close replica ... but of course it's never the same as Grandma's."

Put your heart in it and this version maybe come one of your family's favorite flavor memories.

Justin's Bread Pudding

2 cups sugar
5 beaten eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups cubed Italian bread
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/4 lb softened butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Prehat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13" x 9" by 2" deep pan.
Mix together sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, milk and cream in a bowl then pour mixture over bread in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, butter and pecans.
Spread bread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the top and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Pour sauce over a piece and top with vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup rum
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter, cubed
In a small sauce pot simmer rum and reduce by half. Add brown sugar and salt and cook until sugar dissolves. Add butter slowly until incorporated but don't let it boil.

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