All’s well that ends well…

17 Nov

More often than not, I remind myself why I decided on the moniker “The Novice Nosher”. I’ve learnt so much about cooking just within the past year, but I am always learning, and many times those lessons are ones I had actually forgotten. Case in point: the night I made this savory bread pudding. That was another one of those nights where cooking ended up being more of an endeavor than I expected.

I wanted to try two recipes: Deviled Chicken Thighs and Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding. I did end up making both, but in hindsight, I really was taking on too much, wanting to do two recipes in one night that both require the oven.

So lesson #1: Unless it’s the weekend or you don’t have a 10:30ish bedtime like me, don’t cook two oven-centric dishes in one night! I thought I could broil the chicken and prep the bread pudding and then bake that once the chicken was done. But the Deviled Chicken recipe does not allow you to pop it in and forget it; you have to monitor your broiler and take the chicken out every 5 minutes to coat and turn. So I ended up finishing the chicken first and eating it while prepping the bread pudding (I was seriously starving by that time and didn’t care to take any photos of it).

Then there’s lesson #2: Before you start any prep, make sure you have all the ingredients, tools and bakeware necessary to execute your dish. Big fail on my part. I had already finished chopping the vegetables when I discovered that 1) my baking dish was missing (I had forgotten it was at The Bf’s), 2) I didn’t have pre-shredded Parmesan, I only had a block, and 3) my basil had turned brown in the fridge. And I discovered these things in a slow succession through prep. I had decided to shred the cheese myself, which did result in a larger right bicep for the rest of the night. But I had discovered my baking dish was AWOL after that, so I then hauled butt to Safeway to buy a new dish and some basil (and I could’ve bought shredded Parm, but not after all the work I already went through). AND THEN, after cooking the vegetables and adding them to the bread, I discovered that I had only 4 eggs instead of the necessary 6. But by that time it was 9:30 and I was already exhausted. So I ignored the custard recipe and just went with 4 eggs. I probably should have also cut the amount of milk I used to balance with the lower amount of eggs, but I also didn’t think of that until after I had mixed everything.

Somehow, though, the bread pudding turned out well. Not as thick and fluffy as Giada’s, and it looked more like a giant frittata, but whatever. It tasted great! It’s thick and filling. The shallots and tomatoes were a lovely, sweet combination but the basil gave it a peppery bite. The egg in the custard balanced out the large amount of carbs with a bit of protein. The whole thing tasted like pasta, but in a deconstructed way. And for added bonus, which continues this month’s theme: it’s healthy (especially if you use skim instead of whole milk).

It works great to feed a few people, but I enjoyed eating the leftovers over the weekend. And if you like savory foods for breakfast, this works really well for your morning meal or brunch. So despite a less than stellar experience in making this bread pudding, I will definitely cook it again.

Giada de Laurentiis’ Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding


  • Butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 1/2 (8 ounces) multi-grain loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmesan


  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature (If only have 4 like I did, or 5, that’ll work, but having 6 or making a trip to the supermarket is better.)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I went with skim, but you could use whatever milk of your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the filling, place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9x13x2inch glass baking dish, or spray it with Pam. Add the bread cubes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese over the bread cubes and combine well.

For the custard, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until slightly puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pudding from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy!

* I decided not to include the deviled chicken thighs recipe here for space and time sake, so if you’re curious, check it out here: Mark Bittman’s Deviled Chicken Thighs


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