September 13, 2017

french toast bread pudding with berry maple syrup

French toast bread pudding is comfort from your head to your toes. This recipe is all of the things we love about french toast - creamy, sweet, rich, cinnamon-y, and warm warm warm - but it's soaked and stirred and baked in casserole form! Bread pudding is a go-to for me so often when I have a house full of family or company because it serves as breakfast or dessert! It can be served fresh out of the oven or easily reheated. And it just scratches all of my comfort food itches! This french toast bread pudding is ladled with a rich berry maple syrup that can be made ahead and reheated. You’ll want to make this for your people when the temperatures drop and you need to feel warmth from the inside out!

Serves 8 or more

1 (14-16 ounce) loaf of French bread
8 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
Unsalted butter for the pan

-for the berry maple syrup-
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen blackberries or blueberries, thawed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch cinnamon
1 ½ cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the ends of the bread off and discard. Slice the bread into 1” slices, then cut each slice into quarters. Put the cubed bread pieces into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Whisk in the sugar until combined. Then whisk in the milks, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour the cream mixture over the bread cubes, stirring and folding them gently to soak well. Allow the bread mixture to soak for 10 minutes, then stir and soak another 10 minutes. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 casserole dish or or deep oval baker. Pour the mixture into the dish, carefully distributing it evenly in the pan. Set the pan inside a larger pan filled with enough warm water to come up about halfway. Loosely cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, increase oven to 375F, and bake another 10-15  minutes or until the french toast casserole is golden brown and puffed up. The center should be moist and custardy but not sloshing wet. Carefully remove from the oven, remove the pan from the water.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

In a medium saucepan, combine blackberries, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring gently on occasion until the juices begin to thicken a little bit. Remove from the heat. Stir in pinch of cinnamon and maple syrup. May make syrup a few days ahead, stored airtight in the refrigerator.

September 04, 2017

blackened fish street tacos

We love food trucks and carts! We find ourselves hypnotized by the wafts of good food in the air! Wherever we go – NYC, Seaside, or even locally in downtown Fayetteville – we find a food truck. These blackened fish street tacos with pickled cucumbers and onions are hand-held, sloppy, little numbers that make us think of beach vacations and summertime visits to our favorite cities! The fish is tender and spicy, but the sweet vinegar-y cucumbers cool down each bite. Roll up your sleeves because you’re sure have sauce drip down to your elbows!

with pickled cucumbers and onions
Makes 8-10 little tacos

-for the cucumbers and onions-
1 english cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt

-for the tangy cream sauce-
2 tablespoons of reserved pickling liquid
6 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Juice of one lime
Pinch of salt
Several dashes of hot sauce

-for the fish tacos-
4 tilapia filets
4 tablespoons blackening seasoning
Vegetable oil for sauteeing
20 street taco-sized corn tortillas
Shredded monterey jack cheese, sliced avocado, lime juice wedges, and cilantro for garnishing

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil; stir in the sliced cucumbers and onions. Continue to boil for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the mashed garlic. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid, and refrigerate the cucumbers and onions for at least an hour until chilled.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the creamy taco sauce. Taste and adjust. It should be creamy, tangy, with a little heat from the hot sauce.

For the fish tacos, season all sides of the tilapia filets with blackening seasoning. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat swirled with oil, sear tilapia for 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a cutting board and use two forks to pull fish apart into big, rustic bites.

Stack two corn tortillas and fill with fish, pickled cucumbers and onions, a drizzle of tangy cream sauce, shredded cheese, avocado slices, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.