October 21, 2008
This dish, as simple as it sounds, was a big hit and I completely loved it! Packed with flavours, it’s a warm and hearty dish that’s perfect for these fall days. It can be fantastic side dish, and can even be a main dish.
The garlic is not too strong, but is definitely a prime component to the overall flavour. I loved the idea of steeping it all in boiling milk; it made the garlic stand out, but not become overwhelming. Slightly crisp asparagus mixed with a variety of mushrooms, surrounded by creamy bread and topped with melted cheese – can you say delicious? I will be making this over and over.
I found many recipes for this floating around, and ended up using a combo of several. The original seems to stem from Deborah Madison, but Washington Times also put out a recipe for it as well (adapted from Madison’s). My version comes from the two…I’m writing it out as I made it, but feel free to make your own combo. It seems quite versatile.
I halved the recipes that I found, as only three people were eating – however, there still wasn’t enough to go around (it was that tasty!).
Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding
adapted from Deborah Madison
(this recipe is for three people – double these amounts for a 6-serving dish)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk
3 -4 sandwich loaves, cut into thick slices (preferably stale) (mine were fresh and I toasted them)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces and soaked in cold water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 spring onions, finely diced (2 to 3 tablespoons)
1 pound mushroom mix – I used fresh shitake, oyster and button, cleaned and coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a round gratin dish.
2. Combine the garlic and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and set aside to steep (5 to 8 minutes).
3. If the bread is not stale, lay it on a large baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until crisp (but not hard, or the pudding will be mushy). Break the bread into chunks and put it in a large dish.
4. Pour the milk through a strainer over the bread (discarding the garlic) and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables, turning the bread occasionally so that it soaks up as much of the liquid as possible.
5. Fill a large skillet 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lightly salt the water and add the asparagus pieces; cook about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
6. Melt half the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and cook for several minutes, stirring, until the mushrooms brown in places and exude their liquid. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the parsley, oregano, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add the soaked bread and any liquid left in the dish, the asparagus-mushroom mixture and its juices and 2/3 of the cheese, mixing well.
8. Pour into the prepared baking or gratin dish and use a spatula to even it out. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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