This year, find creative ways to elevate your holiday hosting with a time-smart approach that’s no less gourmet. Look for versatile recipes that can be made ahead, reheated in minutes and served straight from the oven to make holiday entertaining stress-free.
Creative combinations of fresh, seasonal ingredients transform typical casserole dishes from mundane to gourmet fare fit for any holiday occasion. But delicious time-smart cooking actually starts with the right cookware, Exceptionally crafted cookware, bakeware, cutlery and gadgets are offered in a wide selection to satisfy each home cook’s unique style.
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Start your holiday menu with a versatile and savory bread pudding, created by Irvin Lin, author of the blog, Eat the Love (see page 17 for recipe). This winter dish is ideal for a crowd and offers the flexibility of serving smaller portions as a side item or larger portions for a main course.
“This bread pudding is perfect for a holiday brunch, easy lunch or casual holiday dinner,” Lin said. “It can be made ahead of time for convenience and served at room temperature or warmed up.”
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Savory Mushroom, Bacon and Gruyere Bread Pudding
1⁄2 pound bacon
1⁄2 pound (about 1⁄2 loaf) crusty sourdough bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
11⁄2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cloves garlic, minced
11⁄2 cups chopped onions
1⁄2 cup chopped celery
1⁄2 cup chopped red pepper
1⁄2 pound sliced button mushrooms
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
• Place bacon in freezer to chill. This will help make it easier to chop. Heat oven to 375 F.
• Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes and place in large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over bread and sprinkle with thyme, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and garlic powder. Toss with spatula to coat evenly, then spread bread evenly in one layer onto rimmed baking sheet. No need to clean bowl yet.
• Bake bread for 20 minutes or until bread starts to turn golden. Remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 350 F.
• Remove bacon from freezer and finely chop it. In 31⁄2-quart oven-proof stovetop casserole pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Use slotted spoon to move bacon pieces to bowl lined with paper towel. Pour bacon grease out, but don’t wipe out pan.
• Add garlic to pan and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds or until it starts to smell fragrant. Add onions, celery and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and cook until all vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes. Season with remaining salt and pepper.
• Pour toasted bread into original large bowl and add vegetables and cooked bacon.
• Add parsley leaves and dried oregano, and mix together with large spatula. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and cream.
• Pour over bread and vegetables, add 1⁄2 the shredded Gruyere cheese and mix with spatula. Pour entire contents back into casserole pan.
• Sprinkle top of pudding with remaining cheese.
• Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until top of bread pudding has turned golden brown and cheese is melted.
• Serve warm.
Eat the Love blog author Irvin Lin offers these variations and tips for a winning dish your guests will love:
• Make the bread pudding vegetarian by omitting the bacon, using 1 tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the vegetables and adding 1/2 cup of smoked Gouda cheese to the filling.
• If you can’t find Gruyere cheese, feel free to substitute Jarlsberg or Swiss.
• To reheat the pudding if you prepare ahead of time, bake for 15 minutes in the oven at 350 F.