Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bananas Foster-Croissant Bread Pudding

I must say, in spite of the plethora wonderful p√Ętisseries and desserts I gorge myself on in this fair City of Lights, I do often miss the comfort and satisfaction of baking my own goodies. However, with the lack of proper baking equipment-pans, mixers and beaters-I just have not tried my hand at it here. Until now. This past weekend, I had friends over for dinner for the first time here, and of course, I just had to serve an over-the-top dessert. But what? I ransacked my brains trying to figure out what I could make with my very limited equipment, that was bound to turn out perfectly? Cakes were out of the question, as I have neither mixers nor cake pans. And as my oven has a gas mark, it is difficult to determine the exact temperature. Thus, I tried to think of a recipe which would be somewhat flexible with respect to baking temperature, pan size, and the like, and I realized-what better than bread pudding? One certainly doesn't need exact measurements, and the temperature doesn't need to be exact to the degree. I thought of several possible variations to spruce up the dessert-chocolate, tropical fruit, etc., but then I came across this insanely good sounding recipe for Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at Brown Eyed Baker. I saw the photo, and it was love at first sight! :) Instantly, my search had ended, and I trotted out to multiple locales to secure all the ingredients. I made several changes to the original recipe, however. First of all, I mainly used the bananas foster sauce recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. For the actual pudding, I adapted Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Bread Pudding recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I changed the recipe by using half oat milk and half full-fat cream, and dairy butter instead of nondairy, but more than that, the change that really elevated this already gem of a dessert from simply delicious to a truly decadent gourmandise: I used croissants instead of bread! Yes, with such high quality croissants available in Paris, these flaky, buttery delights were just what was needed to set this dessert apart. Need I say how moist and sinfully scrumptious this delight, coupled with the warm bananas foster sauce, turned out? Just use fresh, ripe bananas, real butter and the best quality croissants you can find, and I guarantee you nothing but sheer delight!


Croissant Bread Pudding(adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking and Brown Eyed Baker):
6 croissants, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 ripe banana
1 cup oat milk(more if needed-I added about 1/3 cup extra)
1 cup full-fat cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C or gas mark 4. Add to a 9 inch square baking pan. Drizzle
melted butter.
Mash the banana. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Beat until well
mixed. Pour over torn croissants and push down lightly over the croissants with fork until they are covered and soaking up the mixture. Bake for 45 minutes.

Bananas Foster Sauce(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker):
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 bananas, sliced
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat a large skillet on low heat. Add butter and brown sugar, and cook while continuously stirring until the sugar begins to melt into the butter. Add the banana slices, and cook for 1 minute, moving the skillet back and forth. Add vanilla extract and cream, and whisk to fully incorporate them. Spoon warm over warm bread pudding.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Paneer Bhurji

This past weekend, my friends R. and K. decided all of a sudden that they wanted to whip up and relish some fresh Indian delights for dinner. Of course, they thought, who better to call upon than yours truly? :) I ransacked my brains trying to decide what would be the best dish to prepare-a sure-shot palate pleaser that would be simple enough to prepare, given our limited equipment and cooking space. Of course, I realized, paneer is always a winner with both Indians and non-Indians alike, and paneer bhurji(essentially scrambled paneer) is the simplest of all! No kneading, pressing and cutting involved, only draining the curds. So after making clear that non-sterilized milk was a must(the vast majority of milk in France is sterilized and sits on shelves for months on end-gross, right?) and after trotting home to collect all the necessary spices and prepare the dough for the crisp, flaky parathas I would be making to accompany the paneer bhurji, we proceeded to chop ingredients for, cook and enfin, eat the simply delectable, creamy and spicy paneer bhurji with parathas hot off the stove :) I can't wait to cook with everyone again! Au revoir!
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 heaping tsp. cumin seeds
1 heaping tsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. coriander powder
2 large fresh red chilli peppers, chopped
2 tsp. garam masala
3/4 tsp. red chilli powder
1 cup chopped juicy tomatoes
1.5 tbsp. butter
paneer made from 1 gallon of milk
salt to taste

Heat oil in a large pan. Add cumin seeds, and when they begin to brown and give off a strong aroma, add the fennel seeds. Five seconds later, lower the heat to medium and add the chopped onion. Cook until the onions are tender and transluscent, but not brown. Add garlic and ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until garlic is no longer raw, but not brown. Add chopped red chilli peppers and coriander powder. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add the chopped tomatoes. Let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes are completely cooked, but still somewhat juicy. Add paneer, garam masala, red chilli powder and salt, mix thoroughly, and let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Mix in the butter, and serve warm with parathas, rotis or naan.


 

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