Thyme Fries

Spinach and Shiitake Bread Pudding

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This was a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving spread. The leeks and shallots hold sway in this dish but their flavor remains subtle, not enough to overpower the shiitake mushrooms and gruyere cheese. The set custard and baked bread give it a solid consistency (I also twice baked the bread crumbs for added crispness), but the custard retains its creaminess and provides a delicate texture. Overall, a perfect complement to the turkey.

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It’s also a fun dish to prepare. There’s a beautiful visual contrast between the green and white leeks and the purplish minced shallots laying side by side on the cutting board and then in the pan as the first touch of heat lets the aromas take over. From there it’s a layering of complementary, savory flavors.  The shiitakes are added to the onions (once sufficiently softened and translucent) and seasoned with salt and pepper. That savory mixture is moved to a bowl and replaced by spinach sauteed in butter. Meanwhile the cubed crusty bread gets 10 minutes in the oven and soon the spinach, toasted bread and a fresh grating of Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses are tossed together with the onions and mushrooms.

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Next comes the custard. Heavy cream and milk are brought to a simmer and then gradually whisked into the beaten eggs. Once thoroughly mixed, the custard is added to the bread mixture and allowed to fully absorb for at least 15 minutes.

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I originally found this recipe in Food & Wine and was pretty faithful aside from swapping Gruyere cheese for the prescribed Swiss. Enjoy!

Spinach and Shiitake Bread Pudding
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 leek, cut into 2-inch julienne strips
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb of sourdough bread, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Cook shallots and leaks in 2 tbs butter over medium heat until soft. Add mushrooms with a dash of salt and pepper on moderately high heat until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add another tbs butter and cook spinach until wilted. Add spinach to bowl with mushrooms and onions, bread, Gruyere and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  3. Beat eggs in a small bowl. Simmer milk and cream and then whisk into the eggs slowly.
  4. Pour over bread mixture and allow to absorb for at least 15 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease ramekins or muffin tin and spoon pudding. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned.
  6. Allow to cool. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top and place under broiler for 30 seconds or until golden.

 

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