Ina Garten’s Vanilla Bean Brioche Bread Pudding

Our Father’s Day celebration involved grilling and baked goods. We started the day with a mini-bundt cake version of Alton Brown’s Strawberry Muffins. There may have been some leftover Strawberry Crumb Cake on the side too. My husband loves strawberry season. 🙂

Because he has been excited about experimenting with his meat grinder, my husband wanted to make his own burger blend for dinner. (This time, he used a combination of beef brisket and chuck steak. It was a success!) I made curly fries, corn on the cob, and a green salad with ice box buttermilk dressing to serve on the side. I think that he really wanted me to have time to focus on this incredible dessert!

This bread pudding recipe was adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks- a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The “pro tip” in this recipe was to use melted vanilla bean ice cream as a shortcut crème anglaise to drizzle over the top. It was rich, indulgent, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 8 to 9 ounces brioche (I used 6 slices of Trader Joe’s brioche)
  • 1 1/2 extra-large whole eggs (I divide an egg in half by weight)
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 7 ounces (1/2 pint) vanilla bean ice cream, melted, for serving (I used Häagen-Dazs)
  1. Place the ice cream in a pitcher in the refrigerator to melt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
  3. Cut six 3/4-inch slices of brioche. (Trader Joe’s brioche is pre-sliced.) Keep 3 1/2 slices whole. Trim the crusts from the remaining 2 1/2 slices; cut into 1-inch dice.
  4. In a single layer, spread the whole slices and cut pieces of brioche on a rimmed sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, to lightly toast the bread.
  5. Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside.
  6. Line a 2-inch deep baking dish with the whole slices of brioche, cutting them to fit in a single layer. (I used a 9 1/2-inch round, ceramic baking dish. An 8×8-inch square dish, or equivalent, could be substituted.)
  7. Distribute the diced brioche on top.
  8. Pour the custard over the top of the bread and press down lightly so that the bread is soaked with custard. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  9. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough to allow the baking dish to sit flat. (I used a large roasting pan with handles. I also placed a silicone mat underneath the baking dish to prevent it from moving within the pan.)
  10. Pour about 1 inch of the hottest tap water into the roasting pan, being sure not to get any water into the custard.
  11. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting the foil to make sure that it doesn’t touch the custard. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes.
  13. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and set. Test by inserting a knife in the center- it should come out clean.
  14. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with melted ice cream.

Turkey Corn Chowder with Bacon

This chowder was the best use of leftover turkey I’ve found so far. It was so wonderful, it may have to become the traditional recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey in my house. It was loaded with flavor and topped with bacon. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Rhoda Boone. It would also be wonderful with shredded rotisserie chicken.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 slices bacon (4 ounces)
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds (halved lengthwise if large)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 medium jalapeño, finely chopped, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Two 4-ounce cans mild diced green chiles, drained
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cups shredded turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half, plus more to taste
  • sliced scallions, for serving
  • chopped parsley, for serving
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain on a paper towel and crumble into small pieces and set aside, reserving the fat in the pot. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat, and save for another use.
  3. Return the pot to medium heat, and add onion, carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes more.
  5. Add jalapeño and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.
  6. Add stock, sweet potato, chiles, oregano, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook until sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the turkey or chicken and corn and cook until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and half-and-half. Continue to cook until just warmed through.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning, thinning the chowder with another 1/4 cup half-and-half, if desired.
  10. Serve chowder topped with crumbled bacon, scallions, and parsley.

One-Pot Baked Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

So, this dish uses broccoli rabe instead of broccoli- but I’m still including it in my “series.” 🙂 This is a skillet version of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes. It was delightfully cheesy too.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used large garlic cloves and decreased the broiling time to 2 minutes. We ate it with a large green salad. Absolutely delicious!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • coarse salt
  • 12 ounces Fontina and/or aged cheddar cheese (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large sprigs sage
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound ridged medium pasta shells, or large tube pasta, such as lumaconi or rigatoni
  1. Place racks in center and upper third of oven; preheat to 325, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, for the pasta. Salt generously.
  3. Grate the Fontina cheese on the large holds of a box grater (you should have about 4½ cups).
  4. Smash the garlic cloves, peel, and coarsely chop.
  5. Pick all sage leaves from stems and set aside about 10. Finely chop remaining leaves (you should have about 1 tablespoon).
  6. Trim tough dried ends from the broccoli rabe, then cut stems into 2″ pieces. Leave leafy ends long.
  7. Heat a deep, large, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add ¼ cup oil and swirl to coat.
  8. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet. Break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir a couple of times and continue to cook, undisturbed again, until sausage is fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  9. Add garlic, chopped sage, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Gradually add about two-thirds of cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly and letting cheese melt completely before adding more, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt and remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water 2 minutes shy of package instructions (8–10 minutes depending on type).
  13. During the last 2 minutes, add all of broccoli rabe to pot with pasta. Drain in a colander and shake several times to remove excess water. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to empty pasta pot.
  14. Add cheesy sausage mixture from skillet to pot with pasta. Stir until pasta and broccoli rabe are coated in sauce, then transfer everything back to skillet.
  15. Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake on center rack until pasta is tender and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat broiler.
  16. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese.
  17. Toss sage leaves with remaining 1 T oil in a small bowl and arrange over pasta.
  18. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling in spots, about 2 to 5 minutes (depending on strength of broiler).
  19. Let pasta cool a minute or two before serving.
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Turkey à la King

Is it okay to make a comfort food dish using leftovers from a comfort food meal? Hope so! 😉

This dish reminds me of a chicken dish that I used to make –long ago– for my husband served over waffles. No wonder he loved this upgraded version! It was a wonderful way to use the rest of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It would also be fabulous with rotisserie chicken meat.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I doubled the recipe to accommodate all of my leftover turkey. We ate this creamy concoction with my favorite Sweet Potato Biscuits, but it would also be amazing served over waffles, as a crepe filling, or with noodles. My son ate some over toast. Great.

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock, low-sodium if store-bought
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms, ideally wild (I used cremini mushrooms)
  • 3 cups shredded cooked turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half & half
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 tablespoons dry sherry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Make a roux. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. When it begins to foam, sprinkle the flour over it, and whisk to combine, then continue whisking until it begins to turn the color of straw, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  2. Slowly add 1 cup of the stock to this mixture, and stir to combine. Add more stock to thin the sauce. Keep warm.
  3. Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.
  4. Add the mushrooms, and cook, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and begun to get glossy and soft, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  5. Add the turkey (or chicken), then the warm sauce and cream, and stir to combine.
  6. Add the peas, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and has thickened slightly, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the sherry, adjust seasonings and serve over biscuits or toast, rice or buttered noodles, or as a crepe filling or waffle topping, garnished with the parsley.

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Creamy Corn Chowder

Wow. This was delicious. A real celebration of summer farmstand corn. My local farmstand happens to have absolutely wonderful bi-color corn which I used for this special chowder.

A fresh corn broth is made for the base of this soup. It incorporates the corn cobs, shiitake mushroom stems, herbs, as well as parmesan rinds. I think it really makes the finished dish extraordinary.

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I lightened the recipe by using half and half instead of heavy cream. I also used home-grown jalapeños instead of Fresno chiles and parsley instead of marjoram. I doubled the garlic too, of course. 😉 Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 2 Parmesan rinds (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • coarse salt
  • 5 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces (I used 3 thick slices)
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces (I used 1 1/2 large potatoes)
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 Fresno chiles or jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 T chopped marjoram or parsley, plus more for serving
  • oyster crackers, for serving, optional
  1. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl. Reserve cobs.
  2. Place cobs in a medium pot and add Parmesan rinds, if using, mushroom stems, thyme, bay leaf, 2 tsp. salt, and 8 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth is fragrant and reduced by half, 40–50 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids and set broth aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 4 T butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high.
  5. Add corn kernels, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and juices have evaporated and browned on the bottom of the pot, 12–15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup corn for serving; transfer remaining corn to a medium bowl.
  6. Add wine to pot and cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Scrape into bowl with remaining corn.
  7. Heat remaining 1 T butter in same pot over medium and cook bacon until golden brown and fat has rendered, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes, shallots, leek, garlic, and chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but haven’t taken on any color, 12–15 minutes.
  9. Add chiles and cook until fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in flour and cook until nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  11. Add reserved broth, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork-tender, 10–15 minutes.
  12. Add half and half (or cream) and corn mixture and cook, stirring, until chowder has thickened, 5–10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parley. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
  13. Divide chowder among bowls. Top with additional parsley, oyster crackers, and reserved ½ cup corn; season with pepper.

Note: To make this vegetarian, omit the bacon and replace with more shiitake mushrooms; sauté them until they’re golden brown.

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Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

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Corn chowder made with fresh corn is heavenly. I make a Barefoot Contessa version in the late-summer/early-fall EVERY year. This chowder recipe is from one of my favorite blogs- I have a LONG long LONG list of her recipes bookmarked to try- this one was wonderful and I am sure it’s no exception. I adapted the recipe slightly by increasing the corn, potatoes, and garlic, using half & half in lieu of heavy cream, and by adding optional sour cream and cheese to offset the spiciness. So spicy!! So delicious!! This recipe was adapted from The Novice Gardener.

Servings: 6-8

  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 large Yukon-gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed into bite-size pieces
  • kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Fresh herbs (thyme, cilantro, and/or chives), chopped (I used a generous 1/2 cup of cilantro)
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ricotta salata, for sprinkling, optional
  • sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Roast poblanos either under the broiler or over direct flame on gas stove, until charred and blistered, about 5 minutes per side. Immediately place in a bag and seal or place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Peel the skins and remove seeds and membranes. Rinse chiles and then roughly chop.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Broil until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side. Cube into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat oil; add onion, garlic, and celery. Sauté until vegetables are cooked. Add cumin, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add stock, potatoes, roasted poblanos, corn, and chicken. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add half & half. Lower heat to a simmer.
  6. Add fresh herbs. Serve with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

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Creamy Mushroom Pappardelle

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I fell in love with this dish when I read about it on What Jessica Baked Next. What initially enticed me about the dish was her beautiful fresh pasta… ironically, I served a loose adaptation of her sauce over store-bought pappardelle. I really wanted to make fresh pasta but ran short on time!! It was sooooo delicious anyway. 🙂 The use of dried pasta made this a dinner-party-worthy quick weeknight meal. (The BEST combination!) I will make this sauce again and serve it with fresh pasta! Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 16 oz pappardelle noodles
  • 2 T avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and sliced
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz creme fraiche
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 T potato starch
  • 1 T fresh chives, sliced into small pieces to sprinkle over the finished dish, if desired
  • freshly grated parmesan, for serving, if desired
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt.
  2. While the water is heating, heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook gently on a medium heat for about 5 more minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the parsley.
  3. Add the creme fraiche and half & half. Add the potato starch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 10 minutes or until it has thickened and reduced somewhat. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Cook the pasta in the salted boiling water according to package directions, then drain fully. Combine with mushroom sauce. Serve immediately garnished with freshly chopped parsley and/or chives and freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.

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