Holiday Worthy Brioche Bread Pudding with Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce !

Ahhhh, bourbon and brioche. Two of my favorite things! 

You’ll Need:

1/4 cup bourbon 

1/2 cup currants  

1-1/2 pound loaf of Brioche, torn into 1-2 inch chunks, or cut into cubes – allowed to stale overnight  

1 1/2 cups whole milk or substitute 

1/2 cup heavy cream or substitute

4 large eggs or substitute 

1 cup pure organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar

1 Tablespoon good quality pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans 

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce, see recipe below 

Here’s How

Heat bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until warm. Pour the warmed bourbon over currants in a small bowl. Allow currants to reconstitute and plump. Minimum 1 hour, or overnight. 

Cut brioche into large 1-2 inch chunks and let sit out overnight uncovered to stale– or if you didn’t have time –slightly toast in a warm 375’F oven on a cookie sheet until dry.

Begin by Preheat oven to 350’F degrees. With the butter, generously prepare an 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass casserole dish by rubbing it into the pan using your hands — set aside. 

Add stale brioche pieces to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In an additional medium sized bowl, combine cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and allspice. With a wire whisk– beat well to combine. 

Pour into bread mixture. Add reconstituted currents and any remaining soaking liquid. Add the nuts. Combine well and mix into the bread well without compromising  the shape of the cubes. 

Place the bread and egg mixture into the buttered baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. 

Allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator for best results –or a minimum of an hour on the counter. 

Bring to room temperature and bake until bread is browned around edges and custard is cooked, about 35 -40 minutes. 

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream and warm bourbon butterscotch sauce.

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce 

You’ll Need:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup organic corn syrup 

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, cut open and scraped of seeds

2 Tablespoons good quality bourbon 

pinch of salt 

Here’s How:

In a very small saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla bean and the pod. Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool. Set aside.

In a large, high sided, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt together and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  

Let the mixture simmer for about 5-8 minutes, or until it’s reached a maple syrup type consistency. Remove from heat, whisk in the heavy cream into the sugar mixture discarding vanilla bean pod. 

Add bourbon and stir until smooth. ( the mixture will bubble up after adding the cream take special precaution not to let it bubble over) 

Note: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Allow to cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.  

Reheat before serving.

Chef Gigi’s Kabocha Spiced Rum Cake ! 

Looking for that perfect dessert this Winter? Kobocha is the Japanese word for squash. This  squash has a nutty, earthy flavor with a touch of sweetness. So delicious and versatile ! Kobocha squash can be used in sweet and savory applications.

This Spiced Rum Cake will be the perfect addition to your holiday! 

Kabocha Spiced Rum Cake

You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups mashed kabocha squash

8 large medjool dates, pitted

3 Tablespoons quality dark rum

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup cane sugar or coconut sugar

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tablespoons orange zest

2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon quality vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pecan Caramel Glaze or Powered Sugar topping ( recipes below)

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350°F Degrees. Prepare a high sided baking sheet prepared with organic olive oil.

Carefully cut the squash in half with a sharp serrated knife, careful not to cut yourself. De-seed. Save the seeds for roasting.

Spritz the top halves of the cut squash with a quick spitz of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place squash cut-side down onto the stainless steel baking sheet. Place in center rack of preheated warm oven and bake until golden brown and a knife runs easily through the flesh, depending on the size of your squash anyhwre from 30- 45 minutes. Remove from the oven set aside to cool.

While the kobocha squash is in the oven, prepare an 10 inch bundt cake pan generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside on top of a lined cookie sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the pitted dates with 1 tablespoon of the rum. Fill with boiling water and soak the dates to reconstitute, about 15 minutes. Strain the water solution, discard and place dates in your food processor or blender. Process to a smooth paste.

While the dates are processing, whisk together in a small bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices including salt and the pepper. Set aside.

Remove cooled kobocha from its skin by scooping out the cooked flesh with a large spoon. Add the flesh straight to your food processor or blender with the dates and pulse process until completely smooth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer–add the butter and sugar.Beat on high speed until butter is creamed and pale in color and sugar crystals begin to dissolve about 2-3 minutes.

Add purée and mix an additional minute. Add 1 egg at a time beating in between addition until smooth. Add buttermilk and orange juice, vanilla and the remaining rum. Beat well.

Add dry mixture working in two additions, beating until just combine with every addition. Scrape bowl. Stir in the orange zest.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smack on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles and level out batter.

Place on the center rack of a preheated 350’F degree oven and bake 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick is placed in the center and comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, make the pecan glaze or combine the powered sugar topping. Allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour before applying glaze.

Dust with a 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar spiked with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Or, pour on the pecan glaze. When pouring glaze make sure it has substantially cooled to a thick but pourable viscosity.

If the glaze is too warm it will run all the way off the cake.

Pecan Caramel Glaze

You’ll Need:

1 cup palm, or your favorote granulated sugar

½ cup whole cream, or your favorite nut milk

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Here’s How:

In a high-sided pan over medium heat melt the sugar.When the sugar melts and begins to turn golden around the edges, reduce the heat to low and begin to stir until all the sugar has completely melted.

Add the butter and cream carefully – the cream will bubble up fast and could boil over. Continue to cook,stirring on low heat until you have a smooth caramel sauce- this may take up to 10 minutes.

Once the glaze is completely sauce like and thick– add the pecans.

Remove from heat. Cool to a thick but pourable consistency.Pour over the top of the bundt cake.

Serves approximately 12 slices. Delicious warm with vanilla bean ice cream!

Be Happy ! 

Grilled Pizza! Get Your Pie Out-of-the-Oven and onto the Grill!

The trick to a perfect grilled pizza is all the preparations. Roast, sauté, cook, slice, and grate whatever toppings you like before you begin your grilled pizza journey. Adding those pre-cooked toppings to the pizza as it is grilling is the trick.

The dough will only require a 3-5 minutes cook time per side.

Making the Dough

Keep in mind, yeast is a living organism, so don’t kill it by burning it with hot water or salt. I add sugar to my recipe to feed the yeast. Why? Honestly – I’m in a hurry. Shhhh.

The yeast will reconstitute in the water, wake up and be really hungry. The yeast eats- then it quickly begins to digest its food and yes, creats gas. Yes, I know it’s funny, and trust me when I say the kids will LOVE this Science lesson on C02 and so will you ! This step actually helps accelerate the dough’s rise faster! Definitely a win-win.

The important part about the end of the day, is also being with your family so– It’s also okay to use uncooked-prepared store bought pizza dough if you are short on time. Many grocers carry great organic uncooked pizza doughs today without tons of preservatives. The pizza police wont come for you, I promise!

You’ll Need

6 cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping dough
1 teaspoon active dry yeast ( rapid rise yeast if you are in a big hurry )
1/4 teaspoon sugar or honey
1-2 cups room temp water, as needed
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt


Here’s How

Whisk sugar or honey with the yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of the water. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes until foaming with bubbles. Make sure the water temperature is not above 105’F degrees or you will kill the yeast.

In a large gallon sized food storage bag or bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook attached, add the flour and the salt. Combine to distribute the salt throughout the flour. Make a well in the center of the flour if using the bag method.


Add the water with the yeast mixture, 1/2 of the remaining cup of water, and all of the olive oil. Close food storage bag by removing air and sealing all but a 1/2 inch up at the zip. Massage from the bottom of the bag up and incorporate well. Mix dough gently to form a nice dough ball. Add more of the 1/2 cup remaining water if water if needed. or, start the mixer on medium speed and mix until dough hook forms and ball.

If using a stand mixer continue to knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. About 5 minutes. Remove into a lightly oiled bowl.

If using the food storage bag method – knead well until it all comes together and forms a ball. Open the food storage bag, and transfer the dough ball to a large clean lightly floured surface.

Hand knead about 10 minutes until dough seems smooth. Resting in-between if it becomes unmanageable. This is actually the gluten forming which is rubber-band like. Just let it relax and return after a minute or two once dough seems smooth- place in a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature (about 72° F degrees) in a draft-free area until surface until dough has doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. Use rapid rise yeast instead of regular dried yeast if you are in a hurry- the rise will happen faster.

When dough has risen, transfer on to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide and cut into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour and set it aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, an additional hour.

Planning Ahead

The dough can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in a gallon sized plastic food storage bag with rolled in a little bit of flour and chill in fridge until ready to use. When ready to use, unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap for about 15-20 minutes before shaping.

To Make The Pizza
During the last hour of dough’s resting, heat your sauce, sauté your vegetables and grate the cheeses.

With one dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with floured hands stretch the dough into a rectangle or triangular form the best you can. Free form is the way to go with grilled pizzas.

Oil both sides lightly with a good quality cooking oil. Set on a clean baking sheet.

Prepare the grill by oiling. Once the grate is well oiled, place your raw dough on hot cooking grates and resist the urge to move it.

Grill the dough for about 3-5 minutes. Flip the dough when it releases from the grates when given a nudge. Look for deep colored grill marks and some crispy edges before tuning over. Repeat on each side.

When both side are cooked, move pizza crust to indirect heat choose a side of the grill where the heat element is turned off below, or to a side of the grill where there are no burning coals.

Top the rustic pizza dough with warmed pesto or pizza sauce if desired — then add your choice of pre-cooked toppings. Top with cheese, melt by closing lid or covering with a foil tent. Finish with flavored oil ( see my recipe here ) and serve. So delicious!

Variations : Add fresh chopped herbs to your dough or fresh chopped garlic for an additional favor layer.

Toasted Banana Bread Sammie

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup cold butter cut into chunks

2 cups sugar

2 cups ripe mashed bananas (about 6 bananas)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 8 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pans. Set aside.

Stir together the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, until pale in color and creamy- about 3-4 minutes.  Add the bananas, eggs, vanilla – mix just till combine. the batter will look like it is broken.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until the batter is thoroughly blended. Do not over beat. Add walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake on doubled sheet pans for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs.

Cover with foil the last fifteen minutes of baking if the tops begins to get to brown. This recipe will produce and inherently dark loaf.

Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then turn them out on a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

Chill before cutting and use a serrated knife for the cleanest cuts.

Optional : Dust the top with powdered sugar before slicing and serving  or,  make toasted banana sammies. Makes 2 8 x 4-inch loaves.

Toasted Banana Sammie

Ingredients:

2 ½-inch thick slices of banana bread

2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese

1/2 fresh banana, sliced

1 teaspoon honey

Method:

Toast the slices of banana bread to your desired darkness and remove from the toaster.

Cool slightly. Spread whipped cream cheese on one slice, top the cream cheese with banana slices and drizzle the banana slices with honey.

Top with the remaining slice of Banana Bread.

Slice diagonally and serve.

Makes 1 sandwich.

Soft HomeMade Pretzels

 

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Ingredients: 

1 cup warm water (105°F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Vegetable oil
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus Maldon or Large grain salt for garnish
8 -10 cups water
1/8 cup baking soda

 

Method: 

With the vegetable oil, lightly grease a large bowl and two baking sheets- set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water and sprinkle in the yeast and add sugar. Mix to combine. Set aside and allow to sit undisturbed for about 5-10 minutes until bubbles and froth begin to form.

Place the flour, and  1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and whisk to break up any lumps.

Once the yeast mixture is bubbly, add the flour mixture, and fit your mixer with a dough hook. Mix on the lowest setting until the dough  comes together, about 1 minute.

Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is elastic and smooth, about 8 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place it in the oiled mixing bowl, and turn to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with a warm towel allow the dough to rest in a warm place until it doubles in size– about 35-45 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it until it’s smooth and springs back when poked, about 1 minute.

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter top surface, and cut dough into 12 equal pieces and place onto a lined cookie sheet. Keep covered with a light towel, or plastic wrap.

Working with 1 piece at a time, roll a 12-14 inch-long ropes and set them at your 12 o’clock to rest. Roll them all into ropes then shape.

Fold into an unfinished figure 8 then lifting the open ends twist twice and lay going back to the circle end opening. Shape into a pretzel.

Press the ends down to form a pretzel shape the best you can. Press  center of the twist to adhere to the rest of the pretzel. Gently lift and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces, fitting 6 pretzels per baking sheet.

Allow the shaped pretzels to rise again in a warm place until almost doubled in volume. About 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F degrees.

In a large deep sauce pan, bring the 6-8 cups of water to a boil over high heat.When the pretzels are billowy, remove the plastic wrap.

Reduce to a simmer. Stir the baking soda carefully, not to overspill. The water will foam up with baking soda is added.

Place  a few  uncooked pretzels, bottom side down, in the water. Boil for 1 minute, gently flip using a slotted spoon and continue to boil an additional minute.

Remove with the slotted spoon and place on a cookie cooling rack over paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining uncooked pretzels until they have all been boiled.

Paint the pretzels evenly with my recipe for egg wash, and sprinkle with Maldon or Kosher salt. Bake, rotating halfway through until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer immediately to a rack to cool. Serve with  your favorite yummy mustard.

 

Variations:

After baking, dip in melted butter sprinkle on salt and serve.

After baking dip in butter butter and sprinkle on a 50/50 mixture of cinnamon and sugar

Before baking glaze with egg wash and salt before baking for a shiny pretzel

 

 Makes 10-12 Medium Sized Soft Pretzels

Make Ahead- Chocolate Espresso Pot De Crème!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
6 ounces good quality 60-70 % chocolate,finely chopped
6 ounces good quality 80% chocolate 80%,finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish
2 tablespoons sugar
1- 4 inch cinnamon stick
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1 teaspoon good quality instant espresso powder
Unsweetened whipped cream,for serving

 
Method:

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce heat add the vanilla, espresso and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1/2 – 1 cup of the hot milk, into egg yolks while whisking vigorously; do-not to curdle the eggs. Bring the egg yolks close to the same temperature as the milk. This stage is called: Tempering. Once the cream is tempered into the egg yolks, transfer the tepid egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining flavored cream. Begin cooking to form a custard.

Over moderate heat, whisk constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Immediately add the finely chopped chocolate and remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl to help you poor into smaller serving vessels.

Pour the chocolate mixture into desired serving vessels and refrigerate until the pots de crème are chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Serve the pots de crème with unsweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings and an optional dusting of cocoa. Or simply… a candied coffee bean.

Makes approximately 8-10 servings depending on the size of your serving vessel.

Note: If eggs begin to curdle in tempering stage, cool cream before any further additions and immediately run the mixture through a sieve before proceeding to the next step.

Homemade Bacon-Maple Butter

Delicious on just about anything including a good grilled steak. Love this on my recipe for homemade pumpkin spiced flap-jacks, or extra toasty waffles. The best part about making this homemade bacon-maple butter, is that your entire house will smell like holiday ( Insert big, happy sigh.)

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces and frozen

4 strips of bacon, cooked crispy. (1 Tablespoon of fat reserved)

1 Tablespoon bacon fat ( optional )

1-1/2 cups grade A medium maple syrup

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Method: 

In a medium sized, 3-4 quart heavy bottomed,stainless-steel saucepan,rub the inside rim with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. (This will help prevent the maple syrup from boiling over.) Add the Maple syrup to the sauce pan and cook without stirring on medium high heat until the syrup reaches 235”F Degrees on a candy thermometer. About 8 to 10 minutes. When the syrup begins to boil gently tilt the pan so the syrup covers the thermometer bulb to get an accurate reading.

Once syrup comes to temperature, remove from heat and add the frozen butter 1-2 pieces at a time. Make sure to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until each addition of butter has melted before incorporating more. Repeat until all the butter has been added.

Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the salt and the bacon fat.Stir to combine.

Pour the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, or use and electric hand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until cooled and lighter in color and about 10-15 minutes. Gently crumble, and fold in bacon bits until just combine or add before pressing for a smoother bacon texture.

Pour the bacon maple butter into clean mason jars, recycled food safe jars, or BPF free plastic containers. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal air-tight and refrigerate. Can be stored up to, two weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

 

Makes approximately 1 pint.

Variation : Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and for a spicy finish– add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or both! You decide.

 

 

#HolidayBaking. Chef Gigi’s Recipe for Those Delicate, Flakey, Round Cookies all Covered with Powered Sugar. You know the ones! 

So delicious you can’t eat just one! Yeah… those! 



Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups walnuts 

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°.Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and cool. Chop walnuts fine, set aside. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 325’F Degrees.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the vanilla bean seeds at high speed until pale, about 2 minutes. 

Add 1 cup of the powered sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 additional minutes minutes- (making sure to scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through the process.) Reduce to low speed, add the salt and gradually add the flour and the finely chopped walnuts. Mix only until the cookie dough comes together. Again,  scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 

With a small potion scoop, or a tablespoon- portion the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll and arrange them on the prepared cookie sheets. 

Bake the cookies for about 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly browned on the bottom rotating the sheet pans in the oven; half-way through the process.

Remove and cool about 5 minutes. This will allow the delicate cookies to firm up on the baking sheet. 

Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cookies while still warm in the powered sugar to coat, and allow to completely cool on a cookie rack. Once cool re-roll in the sugar.