Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheesy Leek Bread Pudding

My husband loves bread pudding, and although soft bread often poses a challenge for my lap-band, I can usually manage a few bites of this yummy stuff. Bread pudding is a good choice for brunch because you can make the pudding the day before, refrigerate it, and bake it the next day.

1 cups of 1/2"-thick slices of white & light green parts of clean leeks (rinse well to get rid of the
dirt that gets trapped inbetween the leaves)
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups 1" cubes of bread (I like to use cheese bread from Wal-Mart)
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup egg beaters
1-1/2 cups milk (I use skim milk)
1-1/2 cups half & half (I use fat free)
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional if you don't like nutmeg, but the finished dish won't taste of nutmeg - it just heightens the flavor of the other ingredients)
1 cup shredded cheese (I use 2% cheddar, but Swiss cheese is also good)

Put the drained but damp leeks in a medium skillet over medium-high heat,sprinkle with salt, and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. While the leeks are cooking, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, 15-20 min., stirring the cubes halfway through. Transfer the cubes to a large bowl. Leave the oven on if you're going to bake the pudding today.

Add leeks, scallions and thyme to the bowl of bread, toss well.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, half & half, sprinkles of salt and pepper, and the nutmeg.

Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of the casserole. Spread half of the bread mixture on top, then sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Spread the rest of the bread in the dish, sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in just enough of the milk mixture to cover the bread and gently press on the bread so that the milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the milk mixture (it's OK if the top of the bread shows through). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the pudding is set and the top is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

6 servings

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