my child is a hobbit

By Thursday, May 20, 2010 , , , , ,

Pickle eating a raw crimini mushroom!?

I don't know if all two-year-olds are like Pickle, but man, does this kid eat a lot. He will have his 'first' breakfast shortly after he wakes (right now it is flax-seed oatmeal with rhubarb-raspberry compote on top). Chris and I will then have breakfast a little later – cereal, oatmeal, wholegrain toast with almond butter and jam, you get the picture. Well, Pickle will want to sit on our laps and proceed to eat half of whatever we're eating (and I usually have to fight to eat the other half!), hence his 'second breakfast.' Then, maybe a half-hour later he's onto his 'third breakfast' where he might have a banana, or some dry cereal in a cup, or a half-slice of banana bread.

Now, you might be thinking, "Why don't you feed him that stuff all at once?" Well, honestly, I don't think he would sit through that 3- to 4-course meal in one go, being two and all. And I would be hungry too, if I did as much physical activity as he does in the morning. Seriously, the kid has boundless energy!

Anyway, I am struggling to get out of this carbo-overloaded morning, but I also don't want to be frying up eggs every morning. Here's my solution: bread pudding. Take some leftover bread, egg, milk, some sautéed veg and maybe some meat (leftover shredded pork or chicken, ham, prosciutto, etc.) and you have a one-dish meal that can be easily reheated in portion sizes all week long in the toaster or regular oven.

Master recipe for savory bread pudding
Serves 5-6 hungry bambinos

half of a loaf of day-old* hearty, crusty bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
½-pound of your pick of vegetables: thinly sliced mushrooms, asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces, cherry/grape tomatoes (halved), spinach, arugula, broccoli florets, peas, etc.
1 large garlic clove, minced
¾ cup finely chopped onion – about one medium onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs – thyme, parsley and basil are my go-to picks

1 cup grated or crumbled cheese
½ cup pre-cooked meat, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces (optional)

In a large sauté pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add your choice of vegetable and cook until crisp-tender (or wilted in case of greens). Do NOT overcook. Set aside to cool.

Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper and herbs in large bowl. Mix cheese and optional meat in medium bowl. Place half of bread in a large, rectangle ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle with half of sautéed vegetable, then half of cheese mixture. Pour half of egg mixture over. Repeat with remaining bread, vegetables, cheese mixture, and egg mixture.

While your oven preheats to 375-degrees, let stand 20 minutes, pressing with a spatula to submerge bread pieces. Bake bread pudding until brown and puffed, about 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

You can eat this right away or save it for breakfasts throughout the week. Once cooled to room temperature, cut into roughly 3x2-inch rectangles, wrap in waxed paper and place into large Ziploc bags. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Reheat in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven until warmed through.

Some delicious combinations to try throughout the summer:
Mushrooms, parsley, cooked and crumbled Italian sausage, parmigiano
Grape, cherry or Juliette tomato, basil, prosciutto (optional), Parmigiano or goat cheese
Zucchini/summer squash, thyme, aged Gouda
Peas, thyme, bacon, goat cheese
Broccoli, thyme, roasted chicken and gruyere
sweet bell peppers, basil, dry salami, pecorino romano
Eggplant, thyme and feta

*if your bread is not stale, place the cubed bread on a large baking sheet and let stand uncovered overnight to dry out.

Happy eating, -s.

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