Yesterday was the Survivor finale… Allan and I had been looking forward to this for a long time. In celebration, I thought it would be a good idea to make a nice dinner to eat while watching the show. (Don’t even get me started on how the Survivor finale turned out. I’m still upset this morning.)
I had been planning to make bread pudding since I tried it for the first time in Kicking Horse. And I thought I’d try to modify my normal risotto recipe but with some new ingredients… since it had been a while since I made risotto (one of my very favourite foods). I will say this in advance: I made a critical error with my selection of saffron. If you try this recipe at home, please read the note about saffron carefully.
A couple people asked for the recipes on Facebook and Twitter, so I’ve made sure to include them inline this time. Apologies for not putting up the recipes on the five-course meal yet. This weekend turned out a little crazier than expected! I’ll try my best to get them up soon.
I am very, very picky about my risotto and spices so I’ve ordered some special risotto and saffron that will arrive this week. I am very much looking forward to posting about it, so I am going to have a more detailed “beginner’s guide” on how to make perfect risotto then. The instructions below are brief.
TOMATO BASIL SAFFRON RISOTTO RECIPE (makes enough for 4 servings… perfect for two people with some leftovers)
1 3/4 cups Carnaroli risotto rice (good quality)
One full box of cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed with a knife or ground
2 large shallots
4 cups chicken stock
4 Tablespoons of salted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon good quality saffron. Unfortunately I accidentally bought American saffron, which is not actually saffron. Don’t make the mistake I did… read the label carefully and make sure you are buying REAL saffron stigmas from Spain or Italy. Unfortunately the cheap saffron does not have very strong taste or colour.
1/5 cup of dry Italian white wine (we like Masi)
4-5 large Basil leaves, chopped
Grated parmesan (approx 2-4 Tablespoons depending on your preference)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse off the tomatoes and flash boil them in a pot for 30 seconds to loosen the skins. Then skin, seed and slice the tomatoes in half. Mix the fennel in with the tomatoes in a bowl.
2. Heat the chicken stock on the stove until it is hot to the touch but not boiling. Meanwhile, dice the shallots.
3. Melt the olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the risotto rice to the pan and sauté about 2-3 minutes. Add the saffron, stir, and then add the wine and cook till absorbed.
5. Keep adding the stock in small amounts until completely absorbed. Use up the rest of the broth and then add the tomatoes.
6. When all the stock is gone and the risotto is creamy, add the parmesan, rest of the butter and the basil just before serving.
STICKY TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD PUDDING RECIPE
The trick, is to start out with a really nice caramel sauce since it forms a lot of the base for the flavour of the bread pudding, plus you use it to drizzle all over at the end as well. Start out by making the caramel sauce as it will thicken while you are making the bread pudding later.
Vanilla-Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
2 cups sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup purified water
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 stick of butter (unsalted)
1 whole vanilla bean (we like the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of high quality Bourbon (we like Woodford Reserve)
1. Heat sugar and water in a pot on high heat.
2. Split the vanilla bean in half (long way) and gently scrape out the beans into the sugar water. I also like to add the rest of the bean halves into the water as well for flavour. Bring the mixture to a boil and make sure to keep whisking to keep it from sticking to the sides.
3. You’ll see the mixture start to brown and turn a dark caramel colour…remove from heat when it is dark, but be careful not to burn the mixture. Quickly whisk in the whipping cream, butter and the salt and make sure you get all the lumps out with the whisk.
4. Put the pot back on the burner and cook for 10 more minutes or so on low to medium heat until the mixture gets creamy. Turn off the burner and whisk in the bourbon. Let the mixture sit while you make the bread pudding and whisk every once in a while. The mixture should get nice and thick! Enjoy the delicious smell of the vanilla bourbon caramel
Sticky English Toffee Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding Recipe:
1 loaf of regular brioche or brioche with raisins
1 1/2 cups of English toffee broken into chunks (Skor Bars work well in a pinch, but real English toffee is better)
About 12 oz of good bittersweet dark chocolate (70% or so)… Valhrona is nice but other good quality chocolate is great too
2 1/2 cups of whipping cream
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sugar (granulated)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup of the caramel sauce above
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut the brioche into cubes, making sure to remove the crust. Set aside with the toffee pieces mixed in.
3. Chop the bittersweet chocolate a bit and then put into a large bowl. Set aside.
4. Bring 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream to a boil and pour over the bowl of bittersweet chocolate to form your chocolate ganache. Whisk until the chocolate sauce is nice and creamy and smooth. Set aside.
5. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together. Set aside.
6. Combine milk, sugar and the rest of the cream in a saucepan and bring it just to a boil. Carefully whisky into the egg mixture until smooth… make sure to constantly whisk while you are adding them together otherwise the eggs will cook.
7. Use a fine strainer and strain the egg mixture into the chocolate sauce, whisking constantly. When it is completely blended, pour over the brioche and the toffee pieces. Add the caramel sauce and mix very gently, careful to not squash the bread pieces. Set aside for an hour… the mixture will soak into the bread!
8. Butter a baking pan and place into the fridge. After 1 hour, pour the mixture into the pan and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until done.
9. Cut into pieces and serve with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle the caramel sauce generously!