Category Archives: Emeril Lagasse

Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach, Artichoke, and Brie

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With the holidays coming and going my focus, of course, has been on creating and preparing dishes that could be part of a holiday meal. I mean, yes you really could use anything you want for a holiday meal but, I tried to stay along the lines of traditional with a new twist. This dish is one that I made for Thanksgiving 5 years ago from a recipe I found on Food Network. We loved it so I put it in the “recipe bank” for future use, but for whatever reason I associated it with a holiday meal only and never thought to pull it out for another night.

This year I went back through old recipes to get some ideas and came across this one again. I knew immediately  I wanted to make it. I knew Miss Picky Pants wasn’t going to eat it because it has artichoke hearts in it (if I had gotten rid of them should would have because she loves brie) but I figured everyone else would be game for it.

I also thought it would go well with the meal because I was making standing rib roast with a garlic, rosemary crust so it fit into the slight Italian theme I had going. You know, cooking is like getting dressed, you want everything to match and compliment each other. It sounds good at least right?

The meal was a bit hectic because I hadn’t planned the times as well as I had for Thanksgiving, plus the roast took up the whole oven so I couldn’t sneak things under or along the side. But this dish really comes together well. A few steps, but well worth it, trust me!! I can guarantee I wont be saving this for the holidays anymore. Special occasions maybe, but it is too good to only pull out once in a while!

Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach, Artichoke, and Brie 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds spinach, washed (3 cups cooked and roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 (8 1/2-ounce) cans quartered artichoke hearts, tough outer leaves removed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 12 to 14 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old French bread (about 1 loaf)
  • 1 pound Brie, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, optional
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Once cool, squeeze as much water from spinach as possible then roughly chop and reserve.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Combine the eggs, cream, milk, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the bread, spinach, artichoke mixture, brie, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and parsley and stir to combine. If bread does not absorb all of liquid immediately then let rest until this happens, about 20 minutes.
Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

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Food Star Friday – Creamy Potato and Leek Soup

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Happy Food Star Friday my fine foodie friends! I was really excited about this recipe because, well, as of late I am obsessed with soups and this one sounded sooooo good. Potato soup is a true comfort food to me. Mind you the potato soup I ate as a child was Campbell’s soup, but my Mom made it for me, so in my childhood memories it was a comfort food.

When I grew up, I lived in a tiny little trailer in a small town just outside of Reno, NV. It is one of those places that has weather extremes. Over 100 degrees in the summer at times, and snow in the winter. So when winter hit Mom would crank the heater and break out the Campbell’s soups. Cream of Potato, Cream of Mushroom, and Creamy Tomato all bring back vivid memories of my childhood and are true comfort foods for me. Poor Kevin just doesn’t understand my fondness for soups. He just keeps wondering why I seem to be determined to make a vegetarian out of him! That is why I chose this Emeril Lagasse recipe.

Now I will warn you, since it is Food Star Friday I did not change the recipe from the original. I mean that is the idea, do the star’s recipes and then review them right? OK, this recipe is great and the soup tastes amazing. However, if I had been making it just for my family I would have changed a few things to try and “healthify” it a bit.

I would substitute a tablespoon of olive oil for the two tablespoons of butter and use half and half instead of heavy cream. Doesn’t change it too much but I feel it makes it a bit better. Plus, as a person that has had gastric bypass, very heavily creamed food can make me feel a bit sick and this one, although it tasted AMAZING, made me feel a bit woozy. I know those minor changes would have made all of the difference.

I love my Goodwill finds, no more boring white bowl
Folding 2 leek leaves around the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and peppercorns for a bouquet garni
wilt the sliced leeks 
add the wine, stock, potatoes, salt, white pepper, and bouquet garni
it all fit into my blender in one batch and came out so nice and smooth and creamy
Creamy Potato and Leek Soup
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives

Trim the green portions of the leek and, using 2 of the largest and longest leaves, make a bouquet garni by folding the 2 leaves around the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Tie into a package-shaped 

bundle with kitchen twine and set aside. (Alternately, tie 2 leek leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme together in a piece of cheesecloth.)
Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the reserved bouquet garni,chicken stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful.
Remove the bouquet garni and, working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Alternately, if you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.) Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately, with some of the snipped chives sprinkled over the top of each bowl of soup.
Serves 4

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