Monday, June 14, 2010

Leek bread pudding

Winter is not the best time to go on a diet. Although, as far as I’m concerned, there is no best time to go on a diet. It’s not that I disagree with the basic principals of dieting, per se — the concept of sticking to a particular combination of foods in order to lose weight — it’s just that the concept is so far outside my understanding that, in my head, it’s filed under the same category as ‘Islam sex shop’ and ‘silly string’ — i.e. utterly perplexing.

I don’t think people who diet are weird or silly — quite the opposite. I’m in awe of anyone who can exert even the smallest iota of willpower when it comes to food. That’s the part I can’t relate to. My resolve turns to (smooth, buttery) mashed potato whenever I encounter, er, temptation.

Fortunately I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (you’ll probably never find any dessert recipes in this blog), and I adore greens, fruit and the like. But I don’t go easy on the butter. I’m at my most depraved when in the grips of a butter binge.

Butter on toast. On veg. In Pastry. Things fried in butter. Roux. Pasta with butter (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). Bread and butter pudding — but not the sweet kind.

In fact, this leek bread pudding has hardly any butter in it, but don’t let that put you off (assuming you’re an addict like me). It’s creamy, saucy and cheesy — perfect comfort food on a chilly evening. It goes well with grilled fish and chicken, or add some fried bacon or prosciutto for a main in itself and serve with a salad.

A word of warning, though: forget about the diet.

Leek bread pudding
(from Epicurious)
Serves 12 as a side dish, 6 to 8 as a main course

2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf (I just used whole slices of sourdough)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon thyme leaves (used parsley)
3 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler (I used cheddar and Parmesan)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
2. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
3. Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.
4. Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.
5. Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.
6. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
7. Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.
8. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

PS: Check out my guest blog post on The Moomie Blog: Chickpeas and spinach with poached egg.

PPS: A Knead store has opened in Newlands, a few blocks from where I live, in Dean Street. I am excited about this in a way that makes sweat break out on the Guinea Pig's brow...

PPPS: Have any of you seen the new Fair Lady How to Cook magazine? What do you think?


  1. looks delish! next month when I am off my bread "fast" I will deffinately try.

    I am liking htis guest blog idea. Will you do one for me too?

  2. Yum! I'm a fan of savoury versions of sweet dishes, but not quite as much as the sweet stuff themselves. I'll remember this one.

  3. That sounds really good! Leek is so versatile.



  4. Beautiful recipe. Even on a diet, such a comfort and hearty food is key to success on healthy diet :)

  5. this is so wrong on so many levels...but mostly because i must have it immediately. i will never be thin if i carry on reading your blog grrrr..and yet i cant help myself

  6. I love the savory bread pudding! Capetown (at least V&A Waterfront) had some cool nights when we visited last summer, does it get quite cold in winter (trying to time our return visit)? Also, is a knead store a bakery? My Afrikaans is limited to curse words I learned from my Professor.

  7. i love this recipe and love the picture!
    have a sweet day,

  8. I love the idea of the leeks in a bread pudding. Very unique and so delicious. I would break any diet for this.

  9. Leek bread pudding? Sounds interesting! Never had savory bread pudding before.

  10. I have a huge problem with watching what I eat, I diet for about 6 hours a day (no counting sleeping) - but temptation is always too hard. The only saving grace I have is that I work-out a lot, so I burn all the chocolates, butter and cream I love.
    This is a winner recipe.
    BTW, I love the new Fair Lady How to Cook magazine, can't wait for the next one.

  11. Islam sex shop? *giggle* But man, this is the stuff! I was wondering what to make for supper on this cold evening, but I need not search any further - this looks perfect. Mmmmmmm cheesy goodness.

    PS: Love love love Fairlady's new cooking mag. Especially love the step by step pics - if I knew fish stock was that easy to make, I wouldn't have chickened out a few months back when making a fishy risotto. (I used chicken stock instead - sigh)

  12. I have absolutely no will power to diet! I have to run in the heat to burn as many calories as I can. Your bread pudding looks great. I love savory bread puddings!

  13. What a deliciously looking dish!! So apart & special too!

    Looks so appetizing too!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,..a tasty savory bread pudding!

    A real twist!

  14. What a brilliant idea, savoury bread&butter pudding! Will definitely try it. Looks delicious. Also totally sharing your butter-point-of-view :)

  15. You are a miracle worker. I made this for lunch yesterday (told you I couldn't wait to try it out) and it was outstandingly good! I added a punnet of mushrooms to mine and subbed one of the creams with sour cream and used lowfat for the other (yes I was trying to soothe my conscience) and it was devine.

    Have never even had sweet bread pudding (I have issues with soggy things...) but after reading your post and tasting the savoury version, I think I'm ready to have the sweet version too!

  16. Wow - that's great Marisa! I love the idea of adding mushrooms. This recipe lends itself to adding just about whatever you like...

  17. Robyn, I'm glad you like my food blog! Yes, we're in the midst of summer and you're heading into winter. No zucchini flowers BUT you can have an amazing winter veggie garden! Easier by far as watering is less of an issue.
    I have South Africa on my mind.....following soccer twice a day!
    I love the Leek Bread Pudding idea. It'd probably be great with some other veggies as well.
    I run a cooking group and one of the participants is a delightful South African woman. She shared a delicious recipe with us: Milk Tart. Do you make that as well?

  18. I'm making my first savory bread pudding this weekend for father's day. Seeing as it is spring here, it stars asparagus but also a leek. And 4 cups of half and half! And 8 eggs! Eeek! I'm sure it will be delicious though - yours looks great. I LOVE leeks.

  19. A lovely, savory casserole. Would make a fine meal any time of day, and especially nice with a glass of white & a simple salad. Love the idea of brioche: butter on butter. : )

  20. The concept ot a savoury bread and butter pudding appeals to me and makes more sense than its sweet couterpoarts which I dislike. This recipe has all the kind of flavours I like.

  21. Mmm, I love savoury bread pudding - I posted a caprese one last year and it was HEAVEN I'm definitely bookmarking this recipe :)

    Love the plate in the top pic!