Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma Ruth! Praise be to God in his Sovereignity that he preordained that you be born on this day, 89 years ago


Tonight we went to celebrate Walker's grandma's birthday. Grandmama Ruth is 89 years old and sharp as a tack. She is the most stubborn Arminian in a family of predominant Calvinists and she will work herself into such a frenzy trying to convince us we are all blasphemers, I think that is the secret to her longevity - she gets a serious cardio workout every Sunday around the dinner table.

And don't get Grandmother started on politics. Well, as if you couldn't. Last year November Walker told her he was voting Democrat, and I told him that he better quit teasing her or he would feel really bad when she had a heart attack right there over her chicken a l'orange.

So tonight we celebrated the matriarch of the family. Walker's uncle Dan made an amazing gumbo and I decided that gumbo was the perfect excuse to make bread pudding.

Because nothing screams out for hot heavy dessert like a blustery 103 degree day.

Regardless of the season, this recipe was given to me by a sweet church lady named Sally from my First Methodist days, and you know sweet church ladies can cook. Especially Arminian ones, what with all those potlucks. Yesterday when I could not find the recipe I almost had a conniption so let me put it here so I will never lose it. Because it is The. Best. Bread. Pudding. In. The whole wide. World.

Trust me on this. It will change your life.

If you like crème brûlée - and who doesn't like crème brûlée?? - this will complete you.

Sally's Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

12 slices French bread
1/2 stick butter
5 whole eggs + 4 egg yolks
1.5 cups sugar
pinch salt
5 cups half and half
2 t. vanilla
2 T. Grand Marnier or Orange Cointreau
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 cup golden raisins
powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Melt the butter in a roasting pan in the oven. Pull bread apart into crouton size pieces. Toss bread in the melted butter and toast in oven until lightly browned. Meanwhile, heat the half and half in a saucepan until just scalding. In another pot, start boiling some water, about 8 cups or so.

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and yolks, sugar, nutmeg, liqueur, vanilla, salt and raisins until thoroughly combined. Stir in hot half and half.

*** Warning - Do NOT taste the mixture at this point. I repeat - do NOT taste it. If you do, you will be tempted to just pour a big glass of it and sit down and drink it. Do NOT taste the mixture! And quit eating the croutons. ***

3. Add toasted bread to the mixture you just tasted even though I said not to. Oh my word, was that not what heaven tastes like? That is what angels drink when they can't sleep. Sweet mercy.

4. Go ahead, try it all mixed together. Exciting, isn't it? It gets better.

5. Pour it all in a 2 or 3 quart souffle or glass casserole dish. Now here is the weird part. Put that glass dish inside a roasting pan or a 9x12, and pour the boiling water in the pan around the souffle dish. Be careful! It's hot! This is called a bain-marie - I learned that on Top Chef. Here's a visual in case you haven't had any coffee yet (before I poured in the water)


Now say a little prayer that you don't slosh boiling water on yourself and put the pan in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

6. Remove the souffle from the water pan. Turn the broiler on high. Sprinkle the pudding with a ton of powdered sugar and then broil it until it gets that good brown/black caramelized crispy glory on top. Don't take your eyes off it tho - broiling burns quickly, in case you have not already learned that the hard way.

Serve with Bourbon Sauce....

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Bourbon
1/2 t. nutmeg

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, salt and water. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually pour mixture into beaten egg, beating constantly. This requires a little coordination, so don't be nippin' at the rest of that Bourbon. Slowly stir in the Bourbon. Serve warm drizzled over the bread pudding.

And if you just want to die and go to heaven right now, serve it with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Amen.

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