Eva’s totally excellent layered bread pudding
- Left-over bread, preferably including some Italian garlic bread, for the baked-in goodness; you will need about 8 cups of torn-apart bread. Whatever formerly soft white or light bread you have available will do, and the staler the better. You can mix in some whole-grain bread, but the bread total has to be at least half white bread
- 15-20 THIN slices of same bread (you need enough for two thin layers to cover the size of your baking dish)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (whichever ones you like, or what’s in season—morels come out in May, and are my favorites!!!), sliced
- 3/4 cups finely chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Chopped fresh herbs, to taste (whatever is in season; I like a combination of parsley, thyme, and chives)
- 8 oz. Liuzzi Cheese’s marscapone cheese
- 4 oz. of your favorite feta cheese, crumbled
- 8 oz. of Hood cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- Crumbled sweet Italian sausage, lightly sautéed
- 3 1/2 cups The Farmer’s Cow brand half-and-half; or, go to your favorite neighbor who milks Jersey cows, and get some raw Jersey milk, which works just as well
- 8 large Pete & Gerry’s eggs, or, if you have a neighbor with ducks that are laying, 6 duck eggs for extra rich goodness
- Salt, to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup grated Cabot cheddar cheese (I like the Seriously Sharp or Hunter’s Cheddar, but use the one you like)
· Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Slice off the 15-20 thin slices of bread, and put aside. Rip apart bread into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups loosely packed). Place cubes in very large bowl. Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss to coat. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the thin slices of bread on another baking sheet, and put both in the oven. Bake the torn-apart bread until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Leave the bread slices in for another 10 minutes.
· Melt butter in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs, and sauté until soft and the mushrooms’ juices have condensed, about 10 minutes. Add to the torn-apart bread and the mushrooms together into the very large bowl, and toss to coat.
· Mix together the marscapone, feta, and cottage cheeses, egg, and sausage; put aside
· Whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt, and ground pepper in large bowl. Mix custard into bread and mushrooms. Pour half into the prepared 9 x 13 dish. Cover this with half of the toasted bread slices. Spread the cheese mix over the bread slices evenly, then cover this with the rest of the bread slices, making the center layer. Pour the rest of the pudding over bread slice layer.
· Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pudding uncovered until almost set and the top is starting to become golden brown, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top, and bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for 15 minutes before serving, and try not to pick at it.