May 6, 2013

Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding

I spent my junior year of college abroad in Paris, France. For the first time, I was in charge of my own meals, cooking dinner around 5 nights a week. Much to my surprise, I started coming up with some wonderful creations and, wanting to remember the recipes, I started blogging. My blog was the now-defunct Noshes, Thoughts & Reves.

When the vegetarian and I started this blog, it was for several reasons. One was to bring us closer together, to create a way in which we could become excited about food together. It was also a way for me to share my own triumphs and tribulations of cooking mostly vegetarian with a wider audience. In the back of my mind, I think I imagined myself eventually becoming an occasional meat-eater myself, with virtually all my cooking becoming sustainable and vegetarian.

When I adopted the Body Ecology Diet, my food needs changed again and I adapted our diets to become gluten-free and sugar-free. At first, I made a point of making meat or fish several times a week but I slowly got tired of putting so much effort into a meal that only the two of us were eating and, mixed with all the reading I do about why vegetarianism is better, our kitchen produced more and more vegetarian meals.

Sadly, a year after starting the Body Ecology Diet I still have a compromised immune system and tire easily. Last month, I took the inevitable next step and consulted a holistic doctor. He explained that I'm suffering from adrenal fatigue, so I've been focusing more on being good to my body and resting. I'm also taking homeopathic supplements. I am continuing to avoid sugar and gluten, although I can now have sprouted grains. I can't have dairy, potatoes, peppers or eggplantAnd I have to eat animal protein at every meal.

So what has this meant for our home? I've started cooking fish and meat again. Not all kinds -- I'm avoiding pork, beef and processed meats -- but it's definitely been a change. We add veggie burgers for the vegetarian to many meals and share a vegetable dish. And I've been eating a lot of eggs. It's taken adjustments but so far it's fun. It means I have to plan meals farther in advance than I was wont to do. And I really miss cheese.

I made this bread pudding for our last dinner party. I adapted it from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof and I think it's a keeper. We served it with Accidental Turkey and Ratatouille with Penne. Bon appetit!

Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding
inspired by Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread bread cubes out on a baking pan and bake 15 minutes. It's ok if they get a little browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, heat oils in a large skillet. Add leeks and cook 8 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, basil, Cocobiotic, spice blend and pepper. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk and chicken stock. Add bread cubes and mushrooms, stirring everything together. Push bread cubes down into liquid so they're as submerged as possible. Set aside for 30 minutes so bread can absorb the liquid. Pour into a 13 x 9 baking dish and bake 45 minutes until custard is set. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.