As a child I remember my mother taking us grocery shopping with her, almost everyday we would end up at Pathmark, Waldbaums or the Big Banana procuring provisions for the household that never saw a cupboard go bare. As a matter of fact, we had a spare pantry in the garage that could have served as a neighborhood mini-market. My mom was a coupon shopper, so we were usually on the hunt for advertised and unadvertised bargains. I think she should have been a very successful professional shopper.
As for me, I did not fall far from the tree. Like my mom, I tend to shop everyday going to specific stores, markets, and shops for a particular item. I obnoxiously know the prices of items from store to store, and while I am not a coupon user I will go the mile to get the better price. When I find myself in a new farmer’s market the first thing I do is a walk-thru – sizing up seasonal offerings and who has the competitive price.
Unlike my mom I rarely stop at the “deli guy.” My appetite for sliced bologna with French’s mustard has disappeared and I am more apt to head to a favorite Spanish grocery for waft thin slices of Serrano ham. The one purchase I made from a traditional deli, when I was in my twenties, was rice pudding. I always begged my mom to buy some rice or bread pudding from the shiny refrigerated case decorated with frills of purple kale. I was always told no, followed up with a justification for the negative response, “our people don’t eat it.” Our people!? I never quite got it though I assumed it was not kosher, however, we did not keep a kosher household and a matter of fact she made a fabulous pineapple/clove baked ham which I was sure was not kosher. Years lately my mom confessed that she were not a fan of either dessert, and that is why she won’t buy it. Guess, this apple has rolled out of the orchard.
Much to my mom’s amusement I have become a great fan of the these simple, humble indulgences and have produce quite a few over the years for family gatherings – though she never warmed up to them.
White Chocolate Bread Pudding – yields 13x7x2
1-loaf good quality white bread or brioche (approximately 1-pound)
1-cup chopped white chocolate
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
½-cup dried cherries, apricots or blueberries
½-cup sliced almonds
Pre-heat the oven to 325-degrees.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, and hold to the side.
In a 2-quart saucepan add the cream and white chocolate. Over a low flame warm the cream to melt the chocolate – don not let it come to a boil.
In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy. Once, the cream has warmed, and the chocolate is melted slowly whisk it into the egg yolks – taking car not to curdle the eggs. Then whisk in the vanilla.
Spread the bread cubes and dried cherries into the baking pan. Pour over the egg/cream mixture. Gently press down on the bread in order to make sure it is soaked in the egg/cream mixture. Sprinkle the almonds then remaining ¼-cup of sugar over the top.
Place in to the oven n for 45 minutes, or until the center, when gently pressed, is set. Serve warm or cold.
Caramel Sauce – yields approx.1-1/2-cups
¼-cup orange flavored liquor (such as Grand Marnier)
2-teaspoons unsalted butter
In a 1-quart saucepan bring the sugar and water to a boil. Don’t stir the mixture just let the sugar fully dissolve – this will lessen the chance that the sugar will re-crystalize creating a look like rock candy. Once the sugar has completely dissolved add the Grand Marnier. Continue to boil the mixture until it takes on a dark amber hue. It is a slippery slope between prefect caramel and burnt.
Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the butter, and then the cream. Allow the mixture to cool before using. This sauce can be held at room temperature.