Ah, another bread pudding to satisfy my other half’s culinary cravings. A reminder that there’s a chunk of stale bread in the drawer… what can you make of it? Sometimes just crumbs but this week a savory bread pudding, eggy and creamy in texture and chock full of the season’s fresh local alliums, members of the onion family. I had long slender leeks, a long stalk of green garlic, garlic scapes and chives. Green garlic is the leek-like shoot, which in this case was harvested before the bulb began to form, thinning out the patch. Scapes are the stalks that carry the flower and once they start to bud and loop around, they’re typically snipped so that the plant directs its energy to producing the bulb that we associate with garlic. Here I sautéed the leeks, green garlic and scapes in a little butter and added the raw chives. I could instead have added the scapes raw, minced like scallions. Served with a green salad from our garden, this made a simple, homey meatless dinner.
Bread pudding is pretty flexible. I adjust the egg and mil mixture depending on the volume of bread and the wetness of the ingredients. Here I wanted more custard than in other similar recipes, so I increased the liquid and eggs. I could also have added cheese but I wanted the delicate flavor of the allliums to shine through. Note that bread pudding can be made the day before you’re serving it, and then popped in the oven for a little extra time since it will start out cold.
Bread Pudding with a Mixture of Alliums
4 c cubed stale bread in ¾-inch pieces
1 stalk green garlic
2-3 garlic scapes
2 tsp butter
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp chopped chives
1-2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
3 extra large or 4 large eggs
2 c milk
Optional: ¼ c heavy cream
If your bread is soft and not thoroughly stale, place it in a 250-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Place the bread in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow ovenproof dish (I use a 6×8 inch shallow glass pan) and find a wide shallow pan (such as a sheet cake pan) that can accommodate the dish.
Thoroughly clean the leeks and green garlic, slice them in half lengthwise and then crosswise into small pieces. Cut the garlic scapes into ½-inch lengths. Saute the allium mix in a little butter over medium-low heat for a minute or two, add the water and cover the pan, allowing the vegetables to braise without browning. Add a little salt and set aside to cool.
Combine the allium mixture with the bread cubes, add the thyme and chives, and place in the baking dish.
Lightly beat the eggs and add the milk and cream, if using, and pour over the bread mixture, pressing down on the bread to help it absorb the liquid. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil.
Place the baking dish in the larger pan and pour boiling water around it to come up the sides about an inch. Bake for 45 minutes or until the custard is set. Remove the baking dish from the water and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.