New Orleans has been on my mind a lot recently. I had a very brief visit home a few weeks back and am hoping to go again this month for a special event — a professional event so don't jump to any conclusions people. But, I think about it everyday as I write my book (I don't think I've mentioned my book before, so hey I'm writing a book based on my research!) and decide what I want (or wish I had) for dinner.
It seems an appropriate time to blog about a nostalgic New Orleans recipe, bread pudding. And, this bread pudding recipe is special because it is a combined version from both sides of my family tree. My mom's Western part of the state roots and my dad's old New Orleans upbringing. My mom finally combined the two and sent a unified, authentic Louisiana recipe.
New Orleans Bread Pudding
from my family to yours
5 cups of 1” cubes of French bread (about half loaf)
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted and just warm
1 tablespoon butter to grease baking pan
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, optional
¼ teaspoon cardamom, optional
½ cup pureed black or golden raisins
¼ whole raisins plus 1 tablespoon brandy
2 tablespoons pure Vanilla extract (and I threw in 2 teaspoons of Arrak in addition to the Vanilla)
4 tablespoons brandy
½ cup chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease with butter: 9” deep dish pie pan. Soak whole raisins in one tablespoon brandy.
Arrange cubes of bread in tight layers in greased pie pan. For crisper pudding crust, arrange bread crust facing up on top layer. Drop whole raisins over top of bread crumbs. Drop raisin puree over top of bread crumbs, too: it will be sticky. Whisk together: eggs, melted butter, dry spices and sugar. Blend in brandy and flavor extracts. Whisk until well mixed. Pour over bread cubes. Let the egg mixture soak into the cubes. Sprinkle top with chopped pecans. Lower the oven temperature the minute the pie pan is in the oven. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Hard Sauce (my version is thin)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cream (can substitute milk, but sauce will be thinner)
¼ cup bourbon or rum and ¼ cup brandy, or ½ cup all brandy, or ½ cup all whisky
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan on low heat. When sugar dissolves, increase to medium heat. Keep stirring while sauce comes to a boil. Simmer about 5 minutes. Keep warm until serving over pudding.