Saturday, March 3, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras!

Hello my darling readers!
As people learn in conversation with me, I lived in New Orleans for several years. After getting over the initial culture shock, I grew to deeply love the city, its people, its food, and its celebrations. And by love the food, I mean became a gumbo snob. Moving away broke my heart and devastated my taste buds.
My husband (then boyfriend) and I took a road trip to New Orleans in May 2010, partly as a graduation present to me and partly because he had never been and really wanted to go. It didn't take long before he fell in love with the city (although the history buff in him loved different things than I did).

Me at a French Quarter cafe

Hubby learning how to eat crawfish from my Nanny Holly

We got engaged a month later and after a few months of tumultuous planning, decided we wanted to up and move the whole thing down to New Orleans. Not only was our wedding a blast, people got a really fun vacation out of it.

My second-line dance at the beautiful Edgar Degas House
(photo by Matthew Weissman)

So, honestly, it goes without saying how much fun I think Mardi Gras is. It's absolutely crazy, you act like a complete fool for some plastic beads, drunk people surround you, and it's a complete blast. Each Mardi Gras, hubby and I get a little sad that we're not down in NOLA celebrating. It's a sad replacement, but we watch the pictures our family posts and make the next best Cajun food we can (lemme tell you, boxed Zatarin's is a poor replacement for the real stuff). This year, I decided to spruce it up with some homemade bread pudding, a local dessert. I love it because all of the ingredients are right in my pantry. Hubby says it's the best thing I make- I'll let y'all decide :)

Bread Pudding
prep time: less than 10 minutes
cook time: 40-45 minutes
total time: less than 1 hour

3 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup brown sugar
4 slices of bread (white or wheat sandwich bread works just fine).
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract (if you are allergic to nuts, it's totally okay to leave this out)
2 tbsp. butter
about 1-2 handfuls of chocolate chips (totally optional)

Whisk the eggs until combined in a bowl. Add the milk, brown sugar, extracts, and chocolate chips and stir well. Tear up the bread into large chunks and spread in a 1 qt. baking dish. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure the chocolate chips get spread around well. Cut up the butter into small pieces and plop into the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned (40 minutes works just fine for me- not under-cooked, not over-cooked). Let cool for about five minutes, serve warm.
I've served four people comfortably with this (meaning, people had seconds and there were leftovers). So, I would guess this serves 4-6 people generously.
If you don't finish it all at once, you can store it in the fridge, and as my hubby will tell you, this dessert tastes really good reheated.

Hubby wanted a picture of it plated.

I've had several people try this recipe and everyone has loved it. It's a great party dessert and wonderful to make when you need a dessert quick (seriously- start it before you start dinner and it'll be ready just as you're sitting down to eat, cooled just enough by dessert time).

I would love to hear how y'all have modified the recipe!

I got my inspiration for this recipe from,1940,155168-242204,00.html

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