I had an anxiety attack last night while standing in front of the cookbooks at Barnes and Noble, and I came to realize just how many recipes there are for the same stuff. Also, how much I really don't know. There are so many techniques that I want to use and learn, and equipment that I want to buy. When I was at Concetta in Modesto, CA. Paul allowed me to do whatever I wanted, just keep the costs down and the customers coming...so far it has been the best cooking job I have had. I made up my own stuff for a year, rotating the menu weekly and putting stuff on that people really liked and would come in for. Things people wouldn't eat regularly. I don't know how many times I have heard "I hate Brussels sprouts!!" Then after the Concetta special Sauteed Brussels Sprouts (with cranberries, bacon, manchego cheese) that would be their only way to enjoy them. Of course EVERYTHING is better with a little bacon!
Being a chef is a lot different that people think. It is way different that what I imagined ever, too! I am sure there are a lot of us who just long for the days of crazy Friday nights when the tags are hanging, the printer screaming along with the expiditer about "where the hell is the t-bone that goes with the duck breast"...I know I do. The organized chaos of the kitchen. After working in boutique and large hotels, fine dining and steakhouses, I like the "quiet" of being a consultant. Assisting people who have never done something this risky, to take the risk. To give them tools to make their place successful. Then again, what if they don't listen? I have had them a lot too. They...fail.
So, what am I to do now? Carve my own niche out utilizing the ideas of others? The answer is yes...everyone else has. One of TV's biggest chefs, Emeril LaGasse, said everything has been done, it's just how YOU do it that makes it yours. With that said, I am going to include my Verry Berry Bread Budding with Blueberry Rum Sauce. I made this the other night utilizing a bunch of leftover hotdog and burger buns..."cross utilization". Blueberries are cheap(ish) right now so they have been in everything: on pork chops, in hamburgers with chipotle..etc. I also had a bag of frozen mixed berries...I am trying to clean out the freezer. Anyhow, here's the recipe:
Verry Berry Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350F
1 1/2 loaves day old bread, cut into 1/2inch cubes, set aside
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar (or 1 1/2 c. sugar sub)
8 oz frozen berries (1/2 bag)
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I use cherries, apples, golden raisins)
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp pumpkin or apple pie spice
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 TB vanilla
1 TB lemon zest (optional)
1 TB butter, melted
1 13x 9 inch baking pan
Cut the bread and place in large bowl. Mix the all the other ingredients. Pour over bread and allow to soak up mixture, squish mixture through your fingers to mix throughly and to break up any larger bread chunks. Place butter in baking pan and make sure the butter coats the inside of pan evenly. Pour bread pudding into pan, pressing evenly into the corners. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Place in center of oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until edges begin to brown and start to pull away from sides. Remove and rest before cutting.
Blueberry Rum Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark rum (I recommend Myers or Capt Morgan's Spiced)
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
Place all ingredients into saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce by 1/4 or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Taste for alcohol, keep stirring and reducing if if still too "rummy" (technical term).
Warm hunk of bread pudding and just a tablesppon of sauce...good with whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream too! (or store bought!)