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Posts Tagged ‘Martha Stewart’

This past weekend, I attended a food photography workshop run by House of Brinson. If you haven’t checked out their blog yet, you really should. It’s brimming with beautiful photography and recipes. Naturally, when they announced their workshop, I signed up immediately.

This was, hands down, the most helpful and informative food photography class I’ve taken yet. There being only three of us in the class, the small student-teacher ratio really allowed us to get in all our questions, and get as much information and assistance out of the class as we could.

We each set up a total of three shots. William, the photographer was on hand to give us advice on topics such as lighting, exposure and white balance, while Susan the art director would supply styling tips – as well as cooking up a storm (for both eating and photography purposes).

Here are the photos I took, with some notes scribbled in for helpful hints.

My first shot was of a bunch of golden beets (pictured above). I kept the styling simple so I could concentrate on the veggies. That being said, we did get to pull from the Brinson’s vast supply of cool vintage props. Like the soap stone that the beets are seated on.

You may remember from my previous food photography post that white and black cards can be used to reflect light and create shadow. I used two black cards in this shot to make the beets a little more moody. Who doesn’t like moody beets?

In fact, roasting beets is a great way to make them both moody and tasty. Here’s how to make Roasted Golden Beets:

What You Need:
1 bunch golden beets (about 4), rinsed with the stems cut off
tin foil to wrap them each individually
sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

What To Do:
Heat up your oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap each beet loosely in tin foil.

Place in the oven, wrapped and on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife and soft on the inside.

Remove them from the oven and peel off the skin (be careful – they will be HOT).

Slice them up into chunks and place in a bowl.

Season with sea salt and the olive oil. Rosemary is nice too if you have some fresh on hand. Serve alone as a side, or throw them in a salad.

My second shot was of a Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella and Zucchini Savory Pie that Susan baked from Martha Stewart’s Pies Cookbook (we also ate a duplicate of this guy for lunch).

A filling of zucchini, tomatoes, and cheese was enveloped in a buttery crust like an enormous pocket. Check out Martha’s book for the recipe.

Two challenges faced me when photographing this pie:

1. It was a little lopsided – too much crust on the lower right hand side.

2. It smelled really good. Even after eating it for lunch, I wanted another piece.

I cropped out the lopsided portion of the crust (you really don’t need to see the whole pie anyway), and tried my best to ignore the smell of the cooked veggies and cheese. As an added trick, we used gray cards for white balance/color temperature control.

My final shot was of four leek and puff pastry squares fresh out of Susan’s oven. They looked so nice on their parchment paper that I scooped them up in the pan and started clicking away. Eventually, we decided that the pan wasn’t working in the shot, so we removed it, keeping the parchment paper.

We didn’t use any artificial lighting – all of it was natural light coming in through the windows. It happened to be a VERY cloudy day this past Saturday. If you were in the NYC area that day you might recall it being downright unpleasant: horizontal rain and whatnot. However, we were still able to achieve nice lighting by slowing the shutter speed waaaaay down.

And speaking of puff pastry, it’s something that’s ridiculously easy to make. I even recommend getting the store bought variety and then topping it with any number of things. Take for example this recipe from Bon Appetit for a Honey Roasted Onion Puff Pastry Tart. You could also use many of our suggested pizza toppings, like the Fig Prosciutto and Ricotta topping.

Hopefully, in the coming weeks I will have much improved food photography for you. Although, I will still be inserting many a wonky iPhone shot just to balance things out.

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This week on the blog is dedicated to parties. We will be featuring all sorts of festive food inspiration for your holiday party needs. First up: a review of my holiday party in two parts (Part The Second to be featured later this week).

I never used to have parties. It seemed like a lot of stress to have to feed and water people at my place. And be in charge of them having a good time?? Yikes, waaaaay too much for me. And then one day I changed my mind. It happened last year at this time when I hosted my first holiday party. And it was GREAT fun. A dance party erupted in the kitchen (why do people ALWAYS congregate in that room above all others?) and lasted until 4:30 in the morning.

Based on this previous success, I decided to go for a repeat and this past Saturday was my second annual holiday party. My apartment is still recovering (as are my neighbors, most likely….sorry ’bout that…). I thought I would give you a run down – complete with recipes – of some of the edible highlights of the evening.

Since I was cooking for the occasion, all my guests were kind enough to bring the drinkables. We had some wonderful ones – not a dry glass in the place! Here a few highlights:

Hendricks Gin: My favorite. I really like gin. And this is the gin I like the bestest (many thanks to Dave for bringing this gem).

Hirsch 2008 Gruner Veltliner: I bought this one. Mostly because of the reindeer on the label. It was really light, crisp and clean.

Laird’s Applejack Rum: This was brought by Tim (hi, Tim– thanks!). This is the stuff that Van Leeuwen puts in their eggnog ice cream to give it a little punch.

New Castle Brown Ale Mini Keg: Everyone seemed to like this very much, but I have no idea what to do with the empty mini keg now. Do you throw that in recycling? Right now it’s on my kitchen floor, just hanging out.

Now onto the recipes! We begin with the Caramel Coated Brie:

What You Need:
1 wheel of Brie
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a few pecans to make everything look pretty

What To Do:
Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling until sugar dissolves.

Cook, continuing to stir, until the mixture turns a dark amber color. Immediately dip the bottom of the pan in the ice-water bath to stop the cooking.

Place your Brie on a serving plate and pour the caramel sauce over the top. Place pecans decoratively around the edge. The caramel coating will get hard, like a candy shell.

Notes and Tips: When you are cooking the sugar and water, the mixture will get foamy. This completely freaked me out. Just keep stirring and acting like everything is normal, it will turn dark soon enough. Also, getting the pot clean after torturing it in this manner is quite an adventure. I added more water to the pot and heated it until the remains were all dissolved. Then I poured it out and immediately washed the pot.

* Recipe from Martha Stewart.

I think everyone’s favorite hors d’ oeuvre that I made was “Le Cake,” a recipe that I got from the book A Table in the Tarn, a French cookbook written by two British expats that live in the French countryside and run a boutique hotel. It’s a savory cake that I stuffed with Kalamata and green olives and Havarti cheese. I modified their version a bit, but it’s essentially the same. Here is how you make Le Cake (thereby becoming best friends with every one of your guests):

What You Need:
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cubed Havarti cheese (or other semi-soft cheese)
2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs (I used thyme)
1 cup milk (Note: I actually ended up using a bit more because my dough was a bit dry)
3 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1 large egg
3/4 cup créme fraîche (try not to eat it all before you mix it into your dough)

What To Do:
Grease a baking pan (or several smaller baking pans) and sprinkle with half the grated Parm. Whisk the flour, baking powder and seasonings in a large bowl (this is easier than sifting). Mix in the cheese, herbs, and olives.

In a small bowl, whisk the melted (and cooled) butter, egg, milk, and créme fraîche. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just mixed – the dough will be thick and sticky – stop mixing when it is just combined.

Turn the mixture into your prepared baking pans and sprinkle with the rest of the grated Parm. Bake for 30 minutes (for small pans) and 45-50 minutes for large pans at 350 degrees until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Keep in mind, if you hit cheese when you skewer-test your cake, it will be sticky.

Blammo: amazingness! Added bonus: your apartment will smell so good, guests won’t know what to do with themselves.

Continuing on with olives, I would like to mention something I did NOT make (GASP!) but was brought over by my friends Stacey and Tony: Blue Cheese Stuffed Green Olives. I think I ate the whole bowl by myself. Just get some green olives, some blue cheese, and stuff the cavity of the olive with the cheese. Put them in a pretty bowl with some toothpicks on the side and watch them disappear. Most likely by me, if I’m at your party.

You can also throw these little guys in a Bloody Mary as a garnish. And as my friend Meg says, “Who doesn’t like a drink that comes with food?” I just don’t know.

Also featured were Avocado Bruschetta (recipe here) and Bacon Wrapped Prunes. If you like bacon (YES!) and you also like that salty-sweet food combination, you’ll love this. And it’s ridiculously easy. Here’s how it goes:

What You Need:
Some dried, pitted prunes (get some plump juicy ones)
Bacon – one slice per prune, please!
Toothpicks – to hold the whole delicious device together

What To Do:
Fry up the bacon. When you have achieved your desired level of bacon crispiness, wrap the the strip of  bacon around the prune and spear it on a toothpick so it doesn’t all fall apart.

I will continue the rest of the recipes later in the week, but I am leaving you with two images from the evening to gear up your holiday party excitement. First, is our friend Drew. Drew wanted to be on the blog. And since he won the award for “Most Festive Pants,” I really felt like he deserved to be on it.

Now, I don’t give out the Most Festive Pants Award to just anybody. But look at those – kudos to you, Drew!

Finally, here is my Christmas tree. For those of you that are crazy enough to follow us on Twitter, you may know that my Christmas tree and I have been fighting. It was threatening to fall over the other day, so there is currently a mini pumpkin and an old, empty tin of pepper shoved into the tree stand to help it remain upright. Why don’t they try that with the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

* The graphic at the very top is a postcard I designed back in my old stationery-designing days. © Rosebud Design Studio.

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching! Because of this, we are making some last-ditch efforts to cram you full of recipes like a turkey stuffed for the big day. And speaking of turkey, this is a good one. It’s another Martha recipe. I have to admit to relying on the vast arsenal of MS recipes for Thanksgiving in particular.

It really isn’t the case that I favor one source for recipes over another. I will tell you that it takes A LOT for me to save a recipe. And I have made the ones I am suggesting to you over and over again (I put them in a binder with clear sleeves because I am a messy cook and paper will not survive my kitchen). They have not failed me.

Here is one for what I call The Candy Apple Turkey. It’s real name is Maple Roast Turkey with Riesling Gravy. The skin of the turkey gets thin, sweet and crispy. So much so that you might not eat the rest of it, but just peel off the skin and feast on that alone. Also, I will support anything that involves Riesling. Seriously.

Following this recipe we have a very special treat for you – The Hartmann Family Fried Turkey Instructional. This is not to be missed, and I will explain more below. But first:

Candy Apple Turkey with The Wine I Love Most on the Planet:

What You Need:

1 fourteen-pound fresh turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cornbread Sourdough Stuffing
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Riesling wine
2 cups Homemade Turkey Stock, or low-sodium canned chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2/3 cup seedless red and green grapes, each cut in half

What You Do:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.with rack in lowest third of oven. Wash turkey inside and out with cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under body. Generously season neck, body cavities, and underside with salt and pepper.

Loosely fill the neck cavity with the stuffing. Using wooden skewers or toothpicks, secure the flap. Holding the turkey upright, loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Pull the legs together, and tie them with kitchen twine. Heap on additional stuffing so that it is bulging out of the cavity. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the bird, and set it on a rack in a roasting pan.

Cut a double layer of cheesecloth to fit over the entire turkey. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Place cheesecloth in the butter, completely soaking cloth. Drape cheesecloth over the bird.

Place turkey in the oven, and roast 30 minutes. Baste with butter that has accumulated in the pan. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. and loosely cover bird with a large piece of aluminum foil; roast 30 minutes more. Baste again. Continue roasting, basting once an hour, until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees.in the leg and 170 degrees.in the breast, about 3 hours.

During the last half hour of roasting, place grated ginger in a small, double layer of cheesecloth; squeeze juice into a small saucepan. Add maple syrup and 1 tablespoon butter. Heat the mixture until the butter has melted and is bubbling. Remove the maple-syrup glaze from heat.

Remove foil tent and cheesecloth from bird, and discard. Brush glaze over bird several times during last half hour. Remove turkey from the oven, and transfer to a carving board. Let rest 30 minutes before carving.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with flour, and mix together until smooth; set aside. Pour pan drippings into a fat separator or glass measuring cup, and let stand 10 minutes. If using a fat separator, carefully return juices to pan; discard fat. If using a measuring cup, use a spoon to skim fat from top, and return juices to pan.

Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Pour wine into the pan, and, using a wooden spoon, stir up any brown bits on bottom. Cook liquid until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add turkey stock, and cook until reduced again by half, about 7 minutes.

Pass the gravy through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and pour into a small saucepan. Whisk in the reserved butter-flour mixture until the butter has melted. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let gravy simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Add red and green grapes to the gravy; serve gravy with turkey.

* Note: I never use cheesecloth. I probably should, but I feel like it needlessly complicates my life, and I’m about simplicity, people. So there.

** Also, a SIEVE? Come on, really? If you guys think I do this, you’re wrong. But I encourage you to do it, and tell me about it.

*** Original Martha recipe, here.

And now for The Hartman Family Fried Turkey Instructional. Who is this Hartmann Family, you may ask. Well, I will tell you. The Hartmanns are our neighbors on Long Beach Island. My family has had a summer house on LBI since before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye (which, as John will remind you is WAY before HE was a twinkle).

Anyway, the Hartmanns have always been our neighbors, and better ones you really couldn’t find. Always friendly, always helpful (the amount of times Mr. Hartmann has fixed random stuff around our house while we are away for the winter is probably too numerous to count), and always having a good time.

And if you’re talking about having a good time, frying turkeys for Thanksgiving is something you should consider. You should also consider safety goggles. And a shield.

So, I went straight to the source of fun and frying for this recipe, Mr. Hartmann himself. This is it, in his own words. Thank you for the recipe, and thank you for being such great people and neighbors!

The Hartmann Family Fried Turkey Instructional

To fry a turkey you need a turkey fryer which is a large stockpot with a basket or lifting apparatus, a burner (you’ll be doing this OUTSIDE) a thermometer and a large amount of oil, like 3 to 5 gallons. The fryer is available at Home Depot or Lowes and sometimes Costco.  The oil is usually in a large box. Sometimes peanut oil is recommended, but regular vegetable oil works well.

I think there is a new electric fryer out now supposedly safer but we like living dangerously.

Preparing the turkey: dry rub with mixture of your choosing under breast skin and all over the outside.  Refrigerate overnight, covered.

On Thanksgiving day, heat the oil in a stockpot outside and away from the house.  It’s a good idea to put a large piece of plywood underneath the burner stand to contain any oil overflow.  When the temperature reaches the recommended degrees, VERY SLOWLY lower the turkey into the oil.  There will be much bubbling up as the hot oil and cold water (in the turkey) do their thing (sear).

The recommended frying time is usually 3 to 5 minutes per pound.  Carefully remove turkey when done and disengage the lifting apparatus. Allow to rest. If you haven’t started drinking before this, catch up. The critical danger is over!  Enjoy!!

Oh yes, there is the matter of the left over oil. It can be used again (maybe twice more) to fry turkeys and then it starts to break down.  Store it in a cool, dark place where it will be forgotten.

Some more photos from the shore….

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We had a request from one of our readers about Chestnut Stuffing. Look at that – people asking us for advice! I nearly fell off my chair. Anyway, I felt I couldn’t turn down such an honest request. In additional to inquiring about our Chestnut Stuffing recipe, the reader wanted to know the best way to roast chestnuts, having had some bad experiences in that arena.

Well, let me tell you this: I can relate to that last part. One word that describes my chestnut roasting experiences: ouch. However, fear not, dear reader! I have done some research. Asked around and what not, and then performed my own experiments here in the Laboratorio Semi Moderno.

By the way, the Laboratorio is looking somewhat worse for wear, so if any of you would like to come over and clean it for me….just sayin’…

OK, back to chestnuts! Before you put them in anything, they need to be roasted.

Here is how you do that:

Take the chestnuts (however many you want to use) and cut a long “x” or  slit in their shells with a very sharp knife. The longer the cut, the better because even after they are roasted and the shells peel back around the incision, they are dang hard to remove. I would show you the cuts on my right thumb, but no one wants to see that. Take a look at the above photo on the far left. Notice how long the incision in the shell is. Aim for something like this.

Fire up your oven to 400 degrees and place the chestnuts (cut side up) in a large skillet or roasting pan. Something with sides because you’re going to put some water in the bottom, just a little so that the chestnuts don’t burn.

Put this entire arrangement in the oven (the nuts, water and pan) and let it roast for about 25 minutes. You will notice the shells start to peel away from the nut inside.

Take them out of the oven and (PLEASE) let them cool before you start to peel off the skins. If they come out of their shells in pieces, that’s OK because you’re just going to chop them up to put in the stuffing anyway.

And now for that stuffing. I use Martha Stewart’s recipe. But I have to admit that I really like to add BACON to it. So, that’s my addition to this recipe. Here it is:

What You Need:

This recipe serves 10-12

2 loaves good-quality white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 20 cups)
Roasted chestnuts, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
4 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 bunch celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
8 pieces cooked bacon
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
5 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

What To Do:

Spread bread cubes in single layers on baking sheets. Let dry at room temperature, uncovered, overnight. You could also use pre-dried bread cubes. Look for those in the Thanksgiving section of your supermarket.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sage; cook 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup stock; cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl. Add remaining 4 1/2 cups stock, the chestnuts, bread, salt, parsley and cooked bacon; season with pepper. Toss to combine. If not stuffing turkey, transfer to a buttered 17-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover; bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake until hot and golden brown, 30 minutes more.

* Many thanks to Martha Stewart Living for the recipe. You can check out the original recipe here. I also used their photo (upper right), and give them full credit for that lovely photo. The other two are mine.

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There aren’t many TV shows that have captured my attention. I was a pretty serious LOST fan for the duration of that program, and I’ve enjoyed a few others, but no show has intrigued me as much as the X-Files. I think this show is magic. I like the mystery, the creepiness, the bizarre plot lines, and the sarcastic, random humor. Mostly, I love the characters.

Therefore, if I were to make my favorite dessert (also a Thanksgiving dessert) for anyone – real or fictional – it would be Agent Mulder.

Neither Mulder nor Scully spends a lot of time eating on the show. They are too busy doing other things – no time for snacks! Mulder, particularly, is rarely seen eating. I always imagined this was because he was so obsessed with finding just where out there the truth really was, that food became an afterthought. Aside from occasional munching on sunflower seeds, Mulder is fueled by pure obsession with mysteries just outside of his grasp, not carbohydrates and protein.

So, when he does sit down to eat, you can imagine whatever he is eating must be pretty darn good. This is highlighted in one Season 3 episode of the X-Files: Jose Chung’s Aliens from Outer Space in which Mulder sits down at a diner bar and orders piece after piece of sweet potato pie from the surly looking chef until he has eaten the whole thing.

I would like to reinvent/rewrite this scene minus the sweet potato pie and surly looking chef, adding instead my Pumpkin Bread Pudding and myself (hopefully looking less surly). I imagine it would play out something like this:

Mulder enters the bar and identifies himself.

Orders piece after piece of Pumpkin Bread Pudding, all the while questioning me about my thoughts on extra-terrestrial life.

He eats the whole bread pudding that way.

As a final question, he points at me and asks if I’ve “checked everywhere” for alien implants, pays the check and leaves.

Now you might be asking yourself (among other questions about how intact my sanity is) can this pumpkin bread pudding really be that good? Good enough to make Agent Mulder pause in middle of his quest for knowledge and eat an entire serving dish full?

Yes. Yes, it is. I discovered this recipe via the Martha Stewart website. I was looking for something slightly different to serve at Thanksgiving dinner. This hits the nail on the head: it satisfies my need for something pumpkin flavored, but with a completely different texture and spin. And there are a couple of fun variations on the pudding that I do that really give it a kick (read: baking with alcohol).

Here’s how it all happens:

First, you actually make the pumpkin challah bread that goes into the pudding (not difficult). As I mentioned, this recipe is from Martha Stewart, and I have not changed a thing about it except that I make 4 small loaves of bread instead of 2 larger ones. I usually only end up using two of the four loaves, and I freeze the other two to eat later or give them away as gifts.

What You Need:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, (1 1/2 packages)
  • 1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
  • 3/4 cup egg yolks, (11 to 12 large eggs), plus 1 large egg yolk for glaze
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for bowl
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • What To Do:

  • Proof the yeast: Place 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl, and sprinkle yeast over it. Stir to combine, and let sit until mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup warm water. In a medium bowl, combine salt, canola oil, honey, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Replace paddle attachment with dough-hook attachment, and add the pumpkin mixture to the mixer bowl; combine. Add the yeast mixture, stirring until combined.
  • Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time, until all the flour is incorporated into dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough, and then form it into two 8-inch loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350º. Mix remaining egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the loaves with the egg glaze, and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve.
  • And now for the pudding part. I have made a few notes in italics where I have made changes to the recipe.
    What You Need:
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for dish
  • 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
  • 5 to 6 cups day-old Pumpkin Challah, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, or more to taste
  • What To Do:
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place raisins in a small bowl, and cover with hot water (I soak the raisins in RUM. Whisky works too). Let soak until plump. Drain, and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together 4 whole eggs, sugar, and salt. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. (I add in a little rum or whisky to this mixture – about 3 Tablespoons).
  • Butter a 9-inch, 1 1/2-quart ceramic baking dish with sides that are at least 1 1/2 inches high. Sprinkle bottom of dish with brown sugar; arrange half the challah cubes in a layer on top. Sprinkle with half the reserved raisins. Repeat with remaining challah and raisins.
  • Pour the milk-and-egg mixture over the bread, making sure to soak every piece. Transfer baking dish to the oven, and bake until the custard sets and the bread pudding becomes a rich, golden color, 50 to 60 minutes. If bread becomes too brown before filling is set, loosely cover top of pudding with aluminum foil. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • (I actually do not always make the rum sauce, as I spike the actual pudding with rum. Sometimes, I just dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with ice cream).

  • Meanwhile, prepare the rum sauce: Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, the heavy cream, and confectioners’ sugar in a saucepan; place over medium heat, and heat just until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat.
  • Prepare an ice-water bath, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining teaspoon vanilla. Slowly beat 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into yolks, then slowly whisk yolk mixture back into saucepan with remaining milk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.
  • Strain the mixture into a bowl set in the ice-water bath. Stir in rum and remaining 2 tablespoons butter; stir until combined. Let stand until mixture is chilled. Serve bread pudding warm or at room temperature, with the rum sauce on the side.
  • Finito! I really must thank Martha for this recipe. It’s a serious winner. Elana recommended, Agent Mulder approved.
    * If anyone wants me to completely geek out and tell the story about the time I met Chris Carter (creator of the X-Files), just let me know. I am more than happy to do so…
    ** All images are property of 20th Century Fox, and I don’t mean to suggest that they are mine by including them in this post. It’s just funny.
    *** If you’d like to check out the original Martha Stewart recipes, you can click here and here.

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