Dinner with Diane

November 20, 2012
Filed under Arts & Life

Written by: Diane Ferritto

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of attending Goodwill’s Taste of Vintage event. The annual event features a fashion show of all of the vintage attire that has been donated to Goodwill, along with a silent and live auction to raise money for Goodwill Industries of Akron. The event also incorporated over 10 different restaurants and catering companies. Each restaurant had a station set up where guests could sample a dish or two off the location’s menu. This was a foodie’s dream.

Immediately upon entering Quaker Station, it was evident which food tables were offering the most delectable cuisine. My friend Alwynn and I made our way around the room, taking in all of the options. At first, we took a sample from each table. We quickly realized that consuming copious amounts of rich and extremely varied flavors would result in a bellyache, so we settled on a new strategy of sharing a plate from each purveyor.

Based on the offerings, it was evident that there was a theme to this season’s cooking: traditional with a twist. Bread puddings, beef, and simple flavors paired in new ways were showcased across the tables. The flavor and quality of nearly every dish was exceptional. Just the right amount of seasoning was added to each plate; nothing overwhelmed the taste buds or required a hefty gulp of water to wash away any residual, unpleasant aftertastes.

Cabot Cheese and the Great Harvest Bread Co. provided a copious assortment of cheddar and bread to get everyone started, and the Pearl Coffee Company, a seven-year participant, brought warmth in a cup with their Salted Carmel Coffee.

My favorites included a pecan bread pudding with cognac sauce from West Point Market; a deconstructed cannoli from Robert J. Events & Catering; a spicy chicken dish from the Saffron Patch of Akron; gingerbread with lemon sauce courtesy of the West Side Bakery; and, finally, Thai beef and mushroom soup and a delectable pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce from Schumacher’s Restaurant in Quaker Square. Because two of my favorites were bread puddings, and because I’d never made one before, I decided — for the sake of you, my readers — that I would attempt to make one and report back with a recipe you can use this Thanksgiving!

Below, you’ll find a recipe combining three that I discovered online: cane syrup-pecan bread pudding with espresso creme anglaise (a recipe of Emeril Lagasse’s, via foodnetwork.com); Chef Point Café bread pudding (via chefpointcafe.org); and, finally, The Best Bread Pudding (a recipe of Paula Deen’s, via foodnetwork.com). I took a little bit from each recipe to give you my own. Either whip this up or order one from Schumacher’s or West Point Market, and enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups 1/2-inch cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons minced orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy
1/8 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs and cream in a bowl; add vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:

Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

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