Monday, June 05, 2006

My Russian Super Started a Fire in My Building: The Bread Pudding I


There's a story here, so have a seat. My Russian super started a fire in my building a few weeks ago. Of course, it's not the official cause, but I'm pretty certain. He's the only person who walks around my building with a lit cigarette.

Anyway, the fire started in the hallway leading to my apartment. It was confined to the hallway, thanks to the heroes of the local NYFD, but I suspect out of guilt the guy has been giving me free Russian black bread since it happened. He's got friends at a Russian bakery and he gets tons of the shit.

This stuff is big, crusty and dense. I've been rather poor lately so I figured I'd try to live off the stuff, but it's tough to swallow, so I looked up a savory bread pudding recipe.

This uses wild mushrooms. I adapted it slightly to make it a little less decadent than the original recipe. I've got to think of my health, right?


3 yellow onions, chopped
2 tsp salt
cayenne pepper
ground black pepper
1/2 pound (about 3 cups) of wild mushrooms (whatever you can find), chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 eggs (or the equivalent of fake eggs)
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (1 pint)
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
RUSSIAN BLACK BREAD!!!, cubed, about 4 cups
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


In a large pan, melt about 2 tblspoons of butter. Add chopped onions, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, and about "12 turns" of black pepper. Sauté for about 4 minutes.

Add chopped mushrooms to the pan, sauté for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Remove from heat and cool.

In a very large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add half-and-half, 1 tsp salt, a few shakes of cayenne pepper, tabasco, worcestershire. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Stir in the cooled mushroom mixture. Add bread cubes and incorporate well.

I had a LOT of bread cubes and ended up having to mix it using TWO big bowls, to get everything evenly distributed. After I'd mixed it, I packed the whole thing into one of the bowls, covered with plastic wrap and popped it into the refrigerator overnight so it could all thoroughly soak through. I recommend letting it sit like this.

When you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a really large casserole dish or two medium casserole dishes. Scoop your mixture evenly into your dish(es), sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

I made enough to feed me for a fucking while. It's essentially stuffing. You could heat it up by sautéing in a pan with a little olive oil. The stuff lasts a long time and is one of those things that seems to get better as it goes. (But when you're starving, anything tastes like prime rib...)

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