When I travel I like to pick up cookbooks from the region or restaurants that I go to. This cookbook from the Hali'imaile General Store on Maui has become a favorite. The recipes do not disappoint. Beverly Gannon's first cookbook shown here is just as fabulous.
I love bread puddings; whether they be sweet or savory. This one knocked my socks off. My eyes rolled back in my head when I first tasted it right out of the oven. The best description that the cookbook author offers of this dish is 'mushroom soup, except you eat it with a fork'.
We start with mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms. Shiitake's are the choice here.
All of the mushrooms are de-stemmed (is that a word?) and half of the caps are sliced into thirds. The other half of the caps and all of the stems are roughly chopped then placed in the food processor to be finely minced.
The minced caps and stems are sauteéd in butter and olive oil
Half-and-half is added and becomes infused with the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms. At this point I believe I could sit in a corner with a spoon and eat as is; all by myself, warding off anyone who tried to take it from me. The half-and-half is strained into a bowl and the mushroom solids are discarded. You now have the most wonderful infused dairy product on the face of this earth.
The remainder of the mushrooms that you sliced up are sautéed in butter and olive oil with minced shallots. These sliced mushrooms are sautéed in 2 stages then all are added back to the pan at which time the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and basil are then added to the mixture and set aside.
Cube the bread into 1-inch pieces. The original recipe calls for a sourdough. I had a loaf of Italian so I used that. Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.
Eggs are whisked together with the mushroom infused half-and-half then Parmigiano-Reggiano and fontina cheeses are added along with salt and pepper.
Bread cubes are added to the mushroom infused half-and-half/ egg mixture and are allowed to sit for about 15 to 20 minutes; allowing the bread cubes to become little sponges that soak up all of the flavors in the liquid.
The sautéed mushroom mixture in stirred into the egg-bread mixture and combined well. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 3 quart casserole.
This recipe halves well.
Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding
Adapted from Beverly Gannon's Family-Style Meals at the Hali'imaile General Store
2 pounds fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp butter, divided
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp minced shallots
6 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 Tbsp chiffonade of fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
6 cups crustless 1-inch cubes Italian bread
1 Tbsp chopped chives, for garnish
Mise en Place:
- lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish
- remove stems from the mushrooms, set stems aside
- slice half the mushroom caps into thirds and set aside
- roughly chop the remaining mushroom caps and stems & set aside
- measure out butter and olive oil each into three 1 Tbsp portions
- mince shallot and set aside
- finely chop the garlic, ginger, & lemongrass and set aside
- chiffonade the basil and add to the garlic/ginger/lemongrass mixture
- crack 6 eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk; set aside
- grate cheeses and set aside; divide Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup & 1 Tbsp)
- cube bread
- chop chives and set aside
Place the stems and the roughly chopped mushroom caps in a food processor with the metal blade. Process until finely chopped.
In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt 1 Tbsp of butter with 1 Tbsp of oil. Add the finely chopped mushrooms and shallots and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Strain the liquid into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the mushrooms to extract all the liquid. Cool the liquid and set aside. Discard the mushrooms.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of the butter and 1 Tbsp of oil. Add half of the sliced mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and repeat with the remaining butter, oil, and mushrooms. Return all the mushrooms to the sauté pan and add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and basil and cook for 1 minute, stirring to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Drain any liquid in the pan into a small cup. Set mushroom mixture aside to cool.
In the large bowl with the whisked eggs, add the cooled mushroom infused half-and-half. Add 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and fontina cheeses, 1/4 tsp salt, and white pepper. Add the bread cubes and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes allowing the bread to soak up the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir in the mushroom mixture into the egg-bread mixture, and mix well. Pour into the baking dish. Bake until lightly browned and puffy, approximately 1 hour. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining Tbsp of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the chives.