Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wartime Wednesdays Versus Cookbook Casting Call

I'm a day behind in my Cookbook Casting Call: Week One Menu and considering tonight's meal, maybe that is OK.

Last night I got home from work so late that all I wanted to do was go to bed but I hadn't eaten anything all day either so I quickly re-heated some of the split pea soup from Sunday night. What they say about soup getting better as the days go by is so true, especially with soups like split pea that are flavored by ham. I almost want to pull out the frozen package because I think I could live on this soup the rest of the winter. If tonight's dish from Kitchen Sense is any indication of how the rest of the week is going to go, I might have to.

Since I'm a day behind, I made the seafood pasta

Cookbook Audition 1: Seafood Pasta

and considering the time it took to make the dish and the mess it made in my kitchen, I'm pretty sure I won't be repeating this dish anytime soon. The recipe says it should take only about 30 minutes from start to finish but it took me more like 5o minutes. The sauce is pretty tasty being flavored with pancetta, capers, white wine, lemon juice, garlic and onions. The recipe calls for anchovies but I didn't have any and with the Pantry Plan also in full swing, I had to leave them out. I don't think excluding them detracted from the finished dish.

Also, the directions have you putting the seafood in a bit early, in my opinion, because by the time I got through the rest of the directions after that part: add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water to the pan and the drain the pasta and transfer to pan and toss with sauce to simmer until sauce thickens and clings to pasta, the seafood was overdone.

I used some bay scallops and shrimp I had in the freezer for my seafood portion. I think if I ever make this dish again, I will definitely not put the seafood in until I add the cooked pasta. All in all, I did like the flavor of the sauce but the fuss, muss and overdone seafood just didn't make this dish a home run like the split pea soup.

What did hit is out the park for me tonight was the dessert I prepared for this week's Wartime Wednesday, Spiced Pudding! When I was putting the menu for this week together I knew that midweek I would have a hunk of the Couronne I made on Sunday left over. So, I turned to the dessert section of The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book and looked for a bread pudding that would suit my fancy.

This bread pudding is your basic bread pudding of bread crumbs, raisins, sugar, milk, and eggs but adds four spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. That combination of spices is perfect for cold weather and makes this pudding warming not only to the tummy but to the rest of the senses. While it was cooking, my whole house smelled fantastic.

I made two adjustments to the recipe. I didn't have any raisins on hand, only currants that I'm saving to make tea cakes later this month. So, I used 1 cup of orange flavored dried cranberries. I also had to toss a dash of vanilla into the egg mixture because what is bread pudding without the flavor of vanilla I ask you?

It was all I could do when this came out of the oven not to make the Spice Pudding my dinner. The recipe says you can serve this with any sauce and I'm guessing a good rum sauce would be fantastic with this but I'm a simple girl when it comes to my bread puddings. I pour a little cream over the still warm pudding and call it good.

This pudding takes about 45 minutes in the oven and if you put it together before starting dinner, it will be ready to come out and be served just as the last of the plates come back to the kitchen making it the perfect winter dessert for even the busiest of folks.

Note: This is so good I'm submitting for this week's Yeastspotting over at Wild Yeast!

Wartime Wednesday: Spice Pudding

Spice Pudding
From the Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries or cherries would work too)
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 1/2 cup fresh bread-crumbs (I used closer to 2 cups but I like my bread pudding a bit chunky)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp melted butter
1/8 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place bread crumbs and raisins in a large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg and whisk in milk and vanilla if using. Stir in spices and mix well until spices are completely combined with milk mixture. Stir in melted butter and pour over bread crumbs and raisins. Allow bread crumbs to soak in mixture for about 5 minutes to completely soften crumbs.

Pour bread mixture into prepared 2 quart casserole and place casserole into pan of water.

Bake for 40 - 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean and a slight crust is formed on top of pudding.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot or cold with any desired sauce or creme fraiche, whip cream, or a splash of cream or milk.