Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pardon my French

Is there really anything more glorious than a croissant? I mean, really. What the French lack in warmth, they more than make up for in warm pastries, no?

But take a croissant, soak it in vanilla-infused cream and egg yolks, and well...God bless America.

My esteemed colleague (read: person at work I'd absolutely DIE without), Megan, and her wonderful bf Matt had Ross and myself over for a travelling Fearless brunch this past Sunday. We brought the break-feast, they made the Bloody Marys. (Waking up to liquor? Again, God bless this country.) It was hovering somewhere in the single digits temperature-wise, so a Bloody spiced with plenty of Frank's hot sauce paired with a creamy baked breakfast casserole was just what the weatherman ordered.

Want to see what it takes to go grocery shopping in near-zero temperatures? Behold:

Despite having to don our winter finery just to survive, picking up food for the brunch date was really fun. We stopped into an Austrian bakery close to our apartment to get the croissants, then headed next door to the amazing Sultan's Market for some delicious pitas and fresh hummus (not for brunch, but just to have on hand).

Read on to see how everything came together.



4 stale croissants
3 c. half and half
5 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 an orange
1 tsp. vanilla extract
handful golden raisins

2 nectarines
2 oranges
2 peaches
zest of one lemon
2-3 T. sugar
a few dashes balsamic vinegar

8 slices bacon


The night before (or a few hours before) you want to serve the fruit salad, cut the nectarines and peaches into cubes (leave the skin on). Put them in a bowl with a lid, and add the sugar, vinegar, and zest. Let them macerate for awhile, then taste it before you serve it and add a little more sugar if it's too tart. Add the orange pieces just before serving.


Cut croissants into large chunks. Place in a deep baking dish. In a large bowl, combine eggs and egg yolks, half and half, zest, and vanilla. Whisk until slightly thickened. Pour over the croissant pieces, smushing the bread down to soak in the custard mixture. Sprinkle the raisins on top, poking them down into the bread crevices so that they don't burn in the oven.


Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the bread pudding for 30-40 minutes, until set. Cut into six pieces.


Cook the bacon. Serve with the bread pudding and fruit salad. (When serving the fruit salad, scoop it out with a slotted spoon to let the juices drain.)

Big ups, WhizBang!

A note on the Bloody Marys: Matt stopped into Pastoral, an amazing wine/cheese/deli/market specializing in fresh-from-the-farm products, to get some accoutrements: goat-cheese stuffed sweet peppers, olives, etc. (the peppers, I might add, were one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth). The add-ons are waht really make a Bloody Mary great - that, and the tomato base. Matt and Megan used Zing-Zang, and it was really good. We even gilded the lily with some homemade pickles Megan had on hand.


Here's what Megan had to say: "Fabulous fruit salad - fresh, not mushy like they usually are. Also, no melon of any type which is great, melon always ruins fruit salad. Egg thing - delicious. Even tasted great the next day. Bacon - perfection. Appreciate Ross' tip about draining fat/oil halfway through the cooking.
Bloody Marys - God bless Pastoral."

I completely agree with Megan about melons ruining fruit salad! You'll never find a melon of any kind in a fruit salad I make.

MY VOTE ON MY DISH: 7 stars. I think the croissant bread pudding (inspired by a Barefoot Contessa show I saw awhile back) was really good, although next time I'd probably add cinnamon or some other spicy element. The fruit salad was a nice, acidic complement to the richness of the bread pudding, but next time I would try to find riper fruit. The bacon, as always, was great (I put Ross in charge of all things bacon a few months ago, and it's been great ever since).

It was a great early afternoon with friends. Thanks to Megan and Matt for hosting, and for making such delicious drinks! Thanks for reading. More soon.

"Sunday, Bloody Sunday!"
-- Megan

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