If you think that bread pudding is just a dessert, I’m about to change your mind in a delicious and surprising way. Imagine a savory soufflé-like bread pudding with a good quality ham (smoked is delightful), the sweet and slightly salty flavor of Gruyère cheese, fresh sautéed spinach and roasted red peppers all baked to perfection. This dish is so appetizing and versatile it can be enjoyed as a main meal or sliced in wedges for the perfect holiday party appetizer. Where did I find this sumptuous selection? In the Sing For Your Supper Cookbook compiled by the Sounds of the Southwest Singers. This 85-plus member non-profit volunteer choir has been singing in the Valley since 2010, performing a variety of music in concerts throughout the year. Members have sung at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, and by the recipes in this cookbook, it’s apparent that this group can cook as well as they can sing! Make this dish and you’ll be singing for your supper too!
Looking back, I feel so guilty. It was the late 60’s. I was in my teens–the years my Mom referred to as “my little hippy daughter’s crazy time.” For some reason I became obsessed with making homemade bread and culturing my own yogurt for the family. I made a loaf of fresh bread every single day and drove my family absolutely nuts in the process. I was convinced that if someone shut a door too forcefully or raised their voice too loudly while the bread was still in the oven, it could cause the bread to fall. That poor family. For one hour every single day, they had to tip-toe around and whisper until my loaf came out safe and sound. For some reason, they put up with it, and I don’t think the bread was even that good. That was just bread. Can you imagine what a mess I would have been had I obsessed over soufflé instead? Ah, soufflé. Whether savory or sweet, it’s one of those things that people tend to fret over. Will it puff up? Will it fall? Where did I go wrong? So when I came across a very old soufflé recipe in a school fundraising cookbook, I almost passed on it. But that would have been a huge mistake. This recipe for Broccoli Soufflé is about as delicious and fool-proof as it gets, and is now one of my very favorite veggie dishes. Interestingly, the recipe calls for heating the milk and adding chicken bouillon to it, which I had never heard of before. It added so much flavor to the dish that I wish I would have known about that technique years ago! Somebody knew what they were doing with this Broccoli Soufflé and I’ll bet they didn’t even drive their family crazy in the process.
Picnics, parties, salads and sides. If you’re looking for a new dish that fits in all of those categories, this Chilled Southwestern Veggie Medley is the answer! This tasty, colorful plate of veggies is loaded with Southwest flavors and lots of crunch. It’s perfect for a make-ahead dish, it transports beautifully and couldn’t be easier to make. What makes the flavor? Fresh ears of corn that are grilled in a skillet or on the BBQ, then sliced into niblets of charred goodness. Charring the red peppers before dicing them also adds a great taste. Also, I’ve always cooked with shallots, but these days I’m realizing how much they bring to a dish. (They may be one of the most misunderstood vegetables out there—do they replace onions? Garlic? Can they be used with onions and garlic?) While some folks replace onions with shallots, a shallot has its own flavor profile, and can add so much to a dish! (Try slicing them very thin and frying them to a deep golden brown, then sprinkle them over a salad or potato dish. Wow!! Over the top goodness!) The flavors of the Southwest permeate this salad with the addition of black beans, jicama, avocados and cilantro. The dressing is lively, with the perfect combination of lime juice and zest, Dijon Mustard and a little sweetness to cut the tang. Over all, it’s a great main meal salad for the vegetarian, a tasty side for your grilled burger lover or just spooned into little tortilla cups for a terrific appetizer! Tortilla cups are simple. Just cut 2-3 inch circles out of flour tortillas, tuck them into a greased cupcake tin and bake for about 15 minutes. Done! I love recipes that give you all the flavor and nutrition you need and are pretty darn effortless to create! Here’s to another hat tip to our wonderful flavors of the Southwest!
Looking for a “go-to” dessert recipe? You can’t go wrong with this delicious combination of apple pastry, candied walnuts, a drizzle of homemade balsamic reduction served with vanilla ice cream. It’s a scrumptious culinary puzzle that fits perfectly together! Make it once, and you’ll go to it time and time again, guaranteed!
I hardly expected such a gourmet French dessert to come from a small, tattered booklet called “Grandma’s Cooking.” Cherry Pie, Blueberry Cobbler or Apple Brown Betty, perhaps. But not something called Clafoutis. (Pronounced “Claw-foo-TEE”). Never did I expect a few simple ingredients would produce such a rich, delicate baked dessert that is now one of my very favorite go-to recipes. (To think that I found Grandma’s Cooking at a thrift store for a buck!) Yes, it’s hot outside, and we don’t want anything heavy for dessert. Clafoutis is the answer! This simple treat begins with fresh fruit topped with a very basic combination of eggs, cream and sugar with a slight amount of flour and lemon juice. It’s a bit of a cross between cake, pudding and flan, and it’s remarkably delicious and light! Clafoutis, a local favorite dessert from the Limousin region of France, is traditionally made with black cherries. But most fruits in season, like plums, pears, apples and berries work just as well. This week blackberries were large and sweet, so that’s what I used. What I love about Clafoutis is that it is pretty much foolproof. Spread the fresh fruit on the bottom of an oven proof dish, pour the egg and cream mixture over the top and bake. That’s it. When done, Clafoutis get sprinkled with a light mist of powdered sugar and served warm, room temperature of cooled with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream! Wow! What a winner. So here you go. From the area of France that gave us the world-renowned Limoges porcelain, I give you another regional treasure, Clafoutis!