Spinach and Artichoke Bread Pudding (Stuffing Muffins)

This is a great change from the usual stuffing – goes really well with any roast – beef, turkey, chicken or lamb. We’ve had it with all! Now a family favourite. Even better is that leftovers make a fantastic snack or breakfast.

Spinach Artichoke Bread Pudding

Trust me - this will be your new favourite savory stuffing or bread pudding!

Trust me – this will be your new favourite savory stuffing or bread pudding!

Preheat oven to 350

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 tbsp roughly chopped garlic

Saute until onions, celery and garlic are soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl combine:
12-14 cups cubed stale bread (I like calabrese or french)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Italian seasonings
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tin artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (tough outer leaves removed)
1/4 cup minced parsley

Toss gently to combine

Mix together:
4 large eggs
3 cups cream
2 cups milk

Add the onion mixture and the egg/milk/cream mixture to the large bowl with bread and vegetables.

If the bread does not absorb all the liquid right away – set aside until it does.

Put all the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with more freshly grated parmesan and a dusting of salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour.

Our family really likes the crunchy bits of stuffing or bread pudding, so I baked this earlier in the day in muffin tins so there were lots of edges, then turned it into a clay baker and warmed it all up for dinner.

If you really want to take this over the top …. crumble a bit of brie cheese into the dry mixture before adding the onion and milk mixtures.

Sweet Basil Pesto

I think one of my favorite herbs is basil – always makes me think of summer and freshness – drinking Holy Basil Tea right now in fact!!

Basil Pesto

3 cloves garlic

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup finely grated best quality parmesan cheese

2 tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

drop garlic cloves into food processor while it is running, continuing with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and salt.  Pulse after it is finely chopped, and with motor still running slowly add oil – scrape down the side of the bowl a few times. Do another couple pulses just to make sure it is all finely blended.

This keeps easily in the fridge for up to a week, and will store well in freezer also.  Either freeze in small containers, or in ice cube trays.  Once they have frozen in the trays, pop them out and store in a ziplock bag.

This makes an amazing pasta dish – toss it with freshly cooked pasta, adding either a bit of the pasta cooking water or heavy cream, whichever is your preference that night!  

Other suggestions:

Pizza topping, with prawns and carmelized red onions – sprinkle with fresh spinach

Blend with butter and spread on french bread for an alternative to garlic bread

Top a grilled steak with a tbsp of pesto

blend 1 tbsp with 2 tbsp red wine vinegar & 5 tbsp olive oil for a salad dressing

Classic Caesar Salad

As listed, this salad is a creamy, delicious dressing that will please everybody – don’t even think of leaving out the anchovy paste, it just adds too much flavour to the salad.  (just don’t tell anyone it is in there!)  If you love garlic, go ahead and add an extra clove or two, and if you love spicy salad add more hot pepper sauce.

DRESSING

1/4 cup good mayonnaise

juice of 1 lemon

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovies

pinch of sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp hot pepper sauce

1/2 – 3/4 cup oil (I prefer a combo of vegetable and olive oils)

Put everything except the oil in a blender and combine well.  (Or use an immersion blender)  Add oil in a steady stream, slowly.  Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting as necessary

SALAD

1 large head of romaine lettuce, cleaned and broken into bite size pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup croutons

8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and broken up

Making your own croutons is very easy, and taste so much fresher than any package ones.  Cube day old bread, and toss it in a bag or bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic.  Toast on a cookie sheet, tossing occasionally, at 350 degrees until golden brown and crispy.

ASSEMBLY

Toss dressing with pieces of romaine until coated well.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.  Give salad a squeeze of lemon, and drizzle a bit more dressing over top – serve!

Grilled Vegetables

One of the best ways to enjoy fresh seasonal vegetables is to grill them – often just right on the grilling surface and don’t mess around with them too much!

 Let the fresh flavour speak for itself.

Zucchini likes to be brushed with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper – while tomatoes like just a little olive oil and save the seasoning for after they come off the grill.

Cauliflower can get a little tough on the grill so I like to steam it a bit first, until almost cooked.  Toss with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice to keep that bright whiteness, and season with  bit of salt and pepper.

Asparagus is happier if you just grill it right on the cooking surface naked … then dress it up with a drizzle of your best olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, season with salt and pepper.  Added flavour punch comes from occasionally treating it to a bit of freshly grated Parmesan and/or toasted nuts.