That's because up until tonight, the man-who-can-cook-anything over at StephenCooks has been the-man-who-cooks-everything.
Impressed with Stephen's kitchen panache, awhile back I made a casual e-mail inquiry about his ideas for a tomato bread pudding, something I've been working on - entirely unsuccessfully - for a couple of summers, including here in A Veggie Venture back on Day 69.
I thought Stephen might write back with an equally casual idea or two. Instead:
- The next -- NEXT! -- morning, he posted Tomato Bread Pudding.
- And the next day he posted a Tomato Flan.
- And then he posted Roasted Tomato Bread Pudding.
- Oh: isn't Stephen's behind-the-camera artistry inspiring?
Tonight, finally, it was time for me to push Stephen back into his living room out there in Maine to elbow my way into the kitchen here in Missouri.
I used his Roasted Tomato Bread Pudding as tonight's starting point. But naturally, I made it my own, both from necessity and from creativity. (Hmm. Is creativity a necessity of its own? Ponder that.)
And ... THIS IS DELICIOUS. The tomato flavor is delicate, balancing with a slight sweetness and a bit of basil brightness. The exposed crust is rusk-like crunchy in nice contrast to the soft, creamy custard-soaked bread in the center.
That said, as good as it is, it is not what I've been dreaming about. Maybe in the end, it has no bread, just tomato and custard? Oh no! Whatever Stephen's got, it's catching! I'm already envisioning Tomato Bread Pudding V.
TOMATO BREAD PUDDING IV
Hands-on time: Didn't watch the clock but do-able, maybe a half hour?
Time to table: 36 hours, counting the slow-roasted tomatoes, maybe 2 hours otherwise
A day ahead, make a batch of Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (or follow the inspiration from Stephen's own recipe)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Saute the butter, onion and garlic until soft but not browning.
1/2 loaf of firm, white bread (I used the Great Harvest white which is somewhat dense with a touch of sweetness, sliced thin by their bread cutter which I think was important to reduce the breadiness factor)
While the onion cooks, generously butter a deep dish pie plate. (I used a clear glass French pie plate with sloping sides that holds more than a standard deep-dish pie. I also considered using a Corning dish and a spring-form pan.)
Slice the crusts off the bread. Arrange whole slices along the sides, starting at the top edge and keeping it somewhat even. Cut other bread pieces to fill in the empty areas on the sides and bottom in a single layer. Trim the top edge so that it's neat. (At this point, I tore two additional pieces of bread for the middle section. Another time I'd try to leave out this last bread.)
1/4 pound brie, rind removed (my addition)
1 1/2 cups half&half (Stephen uses cream, I like the texture of H&H custard better)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 large leaves of fresh basil (from the garden)
1 tablespoon sugar (my addition, an important one, I think, but might use 1/2 a tablespoon)
Add the brie and a small portion of the H&H to a food processor and blend til smooth. Keep adding the H&H in small amounts until the brie is soft enough to no longer require slow incorporation. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Stir in (don't process) the Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and the sauteed onions. Pour carefully onto bread so not to disturb the arrangement. The filling should come to about a half inch from the top edge. Place the pan in a larger pan (here, the bottom of the broiler pan worked great). Let the pudding rest for about 30 minutes, so the bread soaks up all the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bring a kettle to boil and pour into the larger pan until about halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.
Some things just aren't meant to be known.