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.

Leftovers? Make Mash Potato Bombs!  

Baked or fried these are a fun way to use up any left-over mash potatoes… or, a good excuse to make more!

You’ll Need:

Filling:

3 cups chilled mashed potatoes

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

½ cup bacon, chopped small dice

1 bunch chives, chopped

Pepper to taste

Breading Station:

1 cup flour or GF flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or GF breadcrumbs

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated fine

Xtra virgin coconut oil, Ghee or Organic Canola Oil for pan frying

Here’s How: 

Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees, unless pan frying.

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the leftover mashed potatoes with the eggs, cheese, chives and bacon bits. Mix to combine, cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Prepare 3 breading stations. One bowl of flour, one bowl of beaten eggs and one bowl of panko bread crumbs mixed with the Parmesan cheese.

Dust your hands with flour and use an 1/2 ounce portion control scoop to measure the balls. Or a Tablespoon.

Pat them gently to form them into balls and roll them in the palm of your hands to get them perfectly round.

Immediately dust them with flour again and set aside. Repeat until you have 24 flour-dusted balls.

Drop a ball into the egg mixture and use a spoon to turn the potato ball over until fully coated.

Lift the potato ball out of the egg mixture with a fork. Drain off any excess. Immediately drop the potato ball into the panko and cheese mixture and use another spoon to dredge it fully.

Pat in any excess bread crumbs that might be falling off the ball.

Set aside on a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat with remaining balls.

Fry in batches in hot oil over medium high heat until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Or, bake at 400’F degrees for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with my homemade ketchup! 

 

 

Yum! Makes approximately 2 dozen potato bombs!

Make-Ahead Feast Worthy Cranberry Pear Compote! 


This recipe has been in my culinary repertoire for over two decades. It’s my absolute favorite! Loose the canned cranberry sauce- trust me on this one.

Just like everything Thanksgiving– it’s better the next day; especially smothered all over your leftover turkey sammy! There is quite a bit of sugar in the recipe because the natural flavor of cranberry is very, very tart so it’s ok to substitute with honey or your favorite sweetener.

Oh, sure to call your order in using discount code : “Chef Gigi” when ordering the wine from RiverStar Vineyards and secure 20% off you entire holiday purchase!

You’ll Need:

2 pounds fresh or frozen whole cranberries 

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, or your choice of alternitive

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

3 Bosch pears, peeled, cored and chopped in large one inch chunks 

2 wide strips of lemon zest

1 lemon juiced, seeds removed

1 orange zested and juiced

1 bottle RiverStar Vineyards Sauvagnon Blanc

1-2 small cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 large sprig fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 

Fresh red forest cranberries

Here’s How:

In a medium high-sided saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, wine and spices including salt and pepper. 

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook until you begin to hear the cranberries begin to pop open. Add the pears cook an additional 8-10 minutes until the pears are soft but still holding shape. Once the cranberries pop the sauce will begin to thicken. Continue to cook until a knife will gently slide through the pears. Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Remove from heat, cool and store air tight in glass jars. Can be made up to a week in advance. 

Makes a great hostess gift when packed in a fancy glass container with a fresh sprig of thyme and orange peel! 


Yields approximately 20 -25 servings 

Green Beans with Brown Buttered Walnuts and Caramelized Shallots

I love to cook green beans, especially Haricots Verts, pronounced { herəkō ˈver } they are delicious and so tender. They are the French variety typically slimmer and longer than the common green bean we see here in America. You can use any fresh green bean for this recipe. 

You’ll Need:

1- 2 pounds fresh haricots verts, root ends trimmed

4-6 ounces unsalted butter or 3-4 teaspoons good quality olive oil

4-6 gloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

6-8  large shallots, cleaned and sliced thin

1/4-1/2 cup good quality chicken, vegetable stock, or white wine 

Salt and fresh ground pepper 

2 springs fresh thyme

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice 

1 cup browned buttered walnuts, see recipe below 

1 orange zested 

Here’s How

Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath. Drain. Pat dry.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are browning and nicely caramelized about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook an additional minute. 

Add the haricots verts and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until just heated through and crisp-tender.

Deglaze the pan very quickly with the chicken stock, add the fresh thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice toss. Add toasted walnuts and toss.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper one last time, top with orange zest. Serve warm.

Approximately 4-6 serving


Variations: Add cooked bacon bits, panchetta, lemon zest, almonds or a splash of cream 

 

Browned Butter Walnuts


You’ll Need

1 – pound halved fresh walnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a large sauté over medium heat melt the butter. Add the sliced almonds and sauté storing constantly until golden and fragrant. About 3- 5 minutes toss in the sugar lst minute toss till melted and remove from heat to a sigle layered sheet pan to cool. 

The walnuts will brown fast in the butter so be sure to remove them from the hot pan and cool quickly, or you will risk over browning.

Dust with salt and pepper while warm. 

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.

Cranberry Pear Compote

Kick the can! Once you get a taste of my fresh homemade cranberry sauce- you will never eat that over processed gel again. Trust me on this one! So simple to make – every year someone asks for this recipe!

You’ll Need

2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh or frozen whole cranberries

1 cups sugar or coconut sugar, or maple syrup

3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed

3 Bosch pears, peeled, cored and chopped in one large 2 inch chunks

2 wide strips of lemon zest and juice of 1/2 the lemon

3 cups good quality white wine

1 small cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Here’s How

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugars, lemon zest, wine and spices including salt and pepper. Stir.

Bring to a boil over medium-high and add pears. Reduce to a simmer and cook until you begin to hear the cranberries pop open.

About 20 to 25 minutes. Once the cranberries pop the sauce will begin to thicken. Continue to cook until a knife will gently slide through the pears. Careful not to over stir and break down the pears. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional spices to suit your personal taste preference.

Remove from heat, cool and store airtight. Can be made up to a week in advance. Serve chilled.

Makes a great hostess gift when packed in a fancy glass container. Slather on left over turkey sammies.

Yields approximately 2 dozen servings.

Photo by Cookie and Kate

Empanadas- Savory Hand Pies

So many cultures have a recipe for meat wrapped in pastry. – I just love bold flavored, slow cooked juicy meats and veggies wrapped up in flakey pie crust served piping hot. Mmmmmm. Comfort food. 

I also love pasta sauce and Italian sausage or yellow curry and potatoes, but that’s a whole nother set of recipes. 

IngredientsFor the dough.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 oz unsalted organic butter (1 ½ sticks) 

1 egg

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water or nut or cows milk, adjust as needed to obtain a soft and smooth dough.

Method: For the dough. 

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.

Add the butter and pulse until peasize pieces form- but also careful not to over work the dough. 

Add the egg and the water or milk (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms.

Turn out onto a clean floured work surface.  

(To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.)

Split the dough into 2 large ball, flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max). I like to refrigerate any dough covered for at least 30 minutes before rolling. And it gives me time to clean up before moving to the next big step in this recipe. 

After both you and the dough have rested- roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out 6-8 inch round disc shapes for empanadas (use large round cookie cutters  for small appetizer sized or draw your own template on clean cardboard. Wrap it in plastic and cut around the pastry with the tip to a sharp knife. Or use a plate. 

You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn’t need to be perfectly round) – if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls like that too.

Assembling and Baking the Empanadas:

Make a good egg wash. 1 egg, a dash of cream milk or water and a pinch of salt. Beat with a fork like a scrambled egg. Set aside. 
To assemble the empanadas or handpies, place a heaping spoonful of the goodness filling on the middle of each pastry disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes. It’s all in the repetition. 

To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg wash- it will act as a glue for the empanadas. Many times I just egg wash the insides of all the discs then fill and fold. It sorta speeds up the process. 

You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges. 

To seal authentic use the repulgue or churito method- ( the curl type seal) , use your fingers to twist the curl the edges of the dough. 

For best results, with the dough ( as most doughs) refrigerating for at least 30 minutes before using and chill the the empanadas before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
Form and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Egg wash tops and sides. Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated hot oven at 375’F -400’F. The baking time also varies (again based on the oven and size of the empanadas) but in the range of 10-20 minutes or until the empanadas are golden brown.

Fillings

You can use any type of filling you want, sweet or savory. I love to use my Ropas recipe and add that for filling. Even vegetarian veggie only fillings are delicious. Breakfast fillings work too! 

I especially love vegan potatoes curry in my empanadas- but then, it’s not quite an empanadas anymore and we are into a whole new recipe. I hear a Samosas recipe in my future! 

Using your family stew recipe is a good start. Add chilies and boom you’re on your way. 

Here is a a simple recipe made with ground beef and pork.

Ingredients

1 pound ground pork, grass fed is best 

1 pound ground beef, grass fed is best 

2 medium yellow onions, cleaned diced small

2-3 Tablespoon good quality olive oil 

4-5 Yukon potatoes, washed- not peeled and diced small, the size of a US currency dime.

1 large carrot, peeled and small dice.  

3-4 Serrano chiles, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder 

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic salt 

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 

1/2 teaspoon ground Adobo chili ( optional) 

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) organic tomatoes, diced ( drained before adding) 

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) 

1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Method

In a large high sided 12-14 inch skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. 

Add potatoes, sauté until slightly golden about 3-5 minutes. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. 

Add carrots and onions. Sauté until the onions are translucent about 2 to 3 minutes – add the garlic and sauté in additional 1 minute. 

Add the meat season with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up into small pieces, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Add the jalapeños, all the spices, add the parsley and return the potatoes to the pan. Stir in tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until mixture has thickened and flavors are cooked through about 12 to 15 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper to desired taste. Fold in cilantro. Let cool. Form empanadas. 

Notes
Freeze unbaked individually then store in air tight container. Or bake immediately and enjoy.
To bake previously frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through, about 30 to 40 minutes. 

You can also egg wash before individually freezing.
Enjoy!