Bread Pudding Recipe

If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, you can almost follow your nose to the front door by the aroma of bread pudding which wafts across the neighborhood. I always picture a looney tunes character, closing their eyes, nose to the air, flapping their hands and floating along the scent trail to the source. I always think of that when I make this recipe and my kitchen smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Bread Pudding is a combination of two things that I hold dear, great cooking spawned from frugality, and comfort food. What is more comforting than a plate of warm bread pudding covered in spiked and sweet Whiskey sauce?

I based this recipe loosely on the Commander’s Palace recipe from one of my absolute favorite books Commander’s Kitchen by Jamie Shannon and Ti Adelaide Martin, by one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I will also be featuring the Commander’s style Bread Pudding Souffle in the next few days, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best desserts around. Anywhere.

The recipe:

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce Recipe

For the Bread Pudding:

1 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups French Bread, cut inot 1 inch cubes (be sure it’s a light bread, meaning not too dense)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Butter a square cake pan with the butter.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large Mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the bread cubes being sure to not break them up too much. The trick to this recipe is to make sure all of the bread soaks up the custard, and that you don’t overcook it.

Place the prepared mixture into the cake pan, cover with foil and place the cake pan into a larger pan, sufficient enough to allow for a water bath which will cover the smaller pan by half way.

Place the pans into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 300 degrees for 1 hour more or until the top of the pudding is golden brown.

The finished pudding should be slightly firm, while moist, but not runny.

Serve warm with Whiskey sauce, recipe below.

Makes 4 servings.

Whiskey Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
a few drop of Vanilla extract
1/3 Cup Bourbon
1/3 Cup Sugar

Mix together the water and cornstarch. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. While boiling slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, when the sauce is thickened remove from the heat and add the vanilla, bourbon and sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Be sure to visit my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It provides a link to all recipes featured on Nola Cuisine.

Lobster Thermidor Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

This is a very old school dish, I know, but my oh, my does it ever taste great. In my book, rich and bubbly, cheesy Thermidor sauce with chunks of lobster is the stuff dreams are made of, old school or not. There is a lot of debate over this dish regarding not only it’s namesake but also it’s ingredients, country and restaurant of origin, who’s version is the best, blah, blah, blah. I say, Make lobster not war, it’s only dinner after all, just make sure it tastes good. :-)

Here is my version:

From Nola Cuisine

Lobster Thermidor Recipe

For the Lobsters:

2 1-1/4 lb Lobsters
Whole lemons
4 Bay Leaves
4 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
2 Tbsp Black peppercorns
1 Bunch Thyme, tied together
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
Water, enough to cover 2 lobsters

Combine all of the ingredients except the Lobsters, bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 15 mintes. While still boiling drop the lobsters into the pot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, remove immediately to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. I like to under cook the lobsters so they will finish cooking in the sauce.

When the lobsters are cold, remove both claws from the body. Cut the body in half lengthwise. Extract all of the tail meat, and all of the meat from the claws and knuckles. Cut the meat into nice sized chunks. Totally clean out the shells and place face down on a baking sheet. Place in a 300 degree oven to dry them out, when dry, remove and set aside on a clean baking sheet.

For the Sauce:

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
4 Tbsp Shallots, finely minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, finely minced
4 Tbsp Flour
1/4 Cup Sherry
1/2 Cup Whole milk
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of Cayenne
1/4 Cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 Cup shredded Parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh Tarragon, minced
2 Tbsp Italian Parsley, minced
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook to make a blond roux, whisk in the Sherry. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, then move on to the cream. Add the dijon, cayenne and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring constantly, to prevent scorching. Cook just until the raw flour taste is gone, remove from the heat. While still hot whisk in 3/4 of each cheese, stir until incorporated. Stir in the Tarragon and parsley. Season to taste with Kosher salt & white pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the reserved lobster meat with some of the sauce (you may not need all of the sauce). The result should be very plentiful with lobster meat. Fill the reserved shells with the prepared sauce. Top with the remaining Gruyere and Parmesan. If you have a little sauce sauce with lobster leftover, bake it off in a small casserole or ramekin.

Bake until the cheese and sauce are nicely golden brown, serve on top of something green, I used Chicory.

I like to serve this with toast points.

Serves 2.

Be sure to visit my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It provides a link to all recipes featured on Nola Cuisine. Also check out my other website American Gourmand for more great recipes!

Fried Okra Recipe

From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

Fried Okra is sometimes called Southern popcorn, because when you start eating it, you just can’t stop. Try making some as an appetizer at your next gathering to see why. I served mine with a Green Onion Aioli, recipe is below. Enjoy!

Fried Okra Recipe

1 lb Fresh Okra, both ends trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

For the Eggwash:

3 Egg Yolks
3/4 Cup Buttermilk or whole milk
2 Tbsp Hot sauce
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Cayenne

For the breading:

1/2 Cup White Corn Meal
1/2 Cup Corn Flour
2 Tbsp Kosher salt 1 tsp Cayenne
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

Oil for frying

Heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, hot sauce, salt, and Cayenne. Place the cut Okra into the eggwash, mixing it up a bit to cover. Let stand 15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the cornmeal, corn flour, and seasonings in a brown paper bag, shake well. Take the okra out of the eggwash and place into the paper bag, shake well. Do this in 3 stages for even coating. Fry the okra in batches until golden brown, I did mine in 3 batches to prevent overcrowding the pan, and making the fried okra greasy. Drain and remove the okra to a paper towel lined plate. Season with Kosher salt immediately after removal. Serve with Green Onion Aioli (recipe below).

Green Onion Aioli Recipe

4 Tbsp Sliced Green Onions
1 Tbsp minced Garlic
1 egg
2 tsp Lemon juice
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 pinch Cayenne
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

Combine the green onions, garlic, egg, lemon juice, and salt in the workbowl of a food processor. Puree well until the mixture is green. With the motor running on low speed slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is thick.

More Okra Recipe at Nola Cuisine:

Creole Okra & Tomatoes
Okra Gumbo

Red Bean Soup

This soup has all of the wonderful flavors of Red Beans and Rice, but in soup form. I like to puree a third of this soup to give it that velvety texture while still retaining some of the chunky goodness of the cooked beans and vegetables. I added some diced, cooked Andouille to the soup after the pureeing step. Here is the recipe:

Red Bean Soup Recipe

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Cup Onion, chopped
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Chopped
1 1/2 Cups Small Red Kidney Beans (soaked overnight or for at least a few hours)
1 Cup Ham, diced
1 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, Minced
1 bunch of Thyme, tied tightly with butcher’s twine
8 Cups Chicken Stock (You could certainly use water)
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Andouille Sausage, cubed
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced on the bias
Hot Sauce to taste
Worcestershire Sauce to taste

Mix together the Holy Trinity (Onions, Celery, Bell Pepper). Drain the beans.
Melt the butter over medium heat.
Add 3/4 of the Holy Trinity, Ham, 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning, turn the heat to medium high. Cook this for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to get some color.
Add the beans and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid from the vegetables is absorbed.
Add the Chicken Stock, Garlic, Bay Leaves, Thyme, the remaining Trinity, and Creole Seasoning. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let this simmer for 2- 2 1/2 Hours.
After the beans have cooked for two hours, add the Tomato Sauce, Parsley, Hot Sauce, Worcestershire, and 1/2 of the Green Onions. Cook the beans for another half hour. Puree 1/3 of the soup, being sure to avoid the bay leaves and Thyme.

Saute the cubed Andouille with 1 Tbsp Unsalted butter until browned, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the soup. Simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

As is the case with most soups, if you make this a day ahead, the flavors will be immensely better. Add additional stock or water if necessary, it should not be too thick.

To Serve:
Remove the Bay Leaves and Thyme. Serve with good crusty French Bread, and your favorite ice cold beer.

Okra Gumbo

It was cold as hell here in Michigan with a high of 6 degrees F today, Gumbo was definately in order. Here is how I made it today. I make it different every time because in my opinion, Gumbo is an evolution that improves as the cook ages and gains experience.

Okra Gumbo with Chicken & Andouille Sausage

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
4 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Cup Onions, diced
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
1 1/2 Cups Andouille Sausage, diced
3 Tbsp Garlic, chopped
1 Cup Okra, trimmed and sliced
6 Cups cold Chicken Stock
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
4 Chicken Thighs, deboned, cut into 1 inch cubes and seasoned liberally with Creole Seasoning
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce to taste
Kosher Salt to taste, if necessary
2 Tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions
Creole Boiled Rice
Fresh French Bread

Mix your onion, celery, and bell pepper together: The Holy Trinity.
Heat the oil in a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a milk chocolate Roux (making a Roux). Add the Andouille, 1 Tbsp of Seasoning, and 3/4 of the Holy Trinity, cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the cold stock, remaining seasoning, okra, remaining trinity, and Garlic. Bring to a Boil. Bring this down to a simmer, add the thigh meat and let it go for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, remove the Chicken from the bone and add the meat back to the pot. Add the Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, and 1/2 of the Green Onions. Serve with Creole Boiled Rice, crusty French Bread, and a good cold beer (I like Dixie or Abita Amber).
Garnish with green onions, and the parsley.

* I prefer Chicken Thighs for my soups and Gumbos. It’s the misunderstood portion of the bird, which is fine by me because it keeps the price down. I get them bone in, then Cartel wrap the bones and stick them in the freezer for stock. I’m like a Vulture when it comes to bones for stocks, my freezer looks like the Catacombs (animals only of course).

This makes about 3-4 Main Course Servings

More Gumbo Recipes:

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo
File Gumbo
Turkey Bone Gumbo