leek & fennel bread pudding

leek and fennel title pageSavory bread puddings can render a few funny looks, but this Leek and Fennel Bread Pudding couldn’t be a more appropriate addition to a family style dinner (I made it both for Thanksgiving and Christmas).  The first time I made it, I followed Thomas Keller’s recipe to the very last sage leaf.  And trust me, it did the trick.  I let the leeks steam under a parchment lid, carefully toasted my brioche (Whole Foods makes an excellent one if you don’t have an extra day to make this recipe), and used his exact measurements.  But we did notice a couple of improvements to be made- namely that there could have been more leeks.  So the second time I made this recipe, I doubled the leeks.  And why not?  Leeks are a delicious little savory treat, perfect with the gruyere and cream.  And as an added level of substance in an otherwise decadent cream-filled bread pudding, I threw in a bulb of sliced fennel.  I also tried using a challah as an alternative to the brioche.  Both are sweet and eggy and somehow dense and light at the same time, so both worked for this bread pudding.  The following recipe is a combination of my two attempts.

You’ll need:

12 cups brioche or challah, sliced into one inch cubes

4 large leeks

1 bulb fennel

4 tbs butter

3 eggs

3 cups milk

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Salt, to season

Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice your brioche or challah into one inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Pop into the oven and let toast for 20 minutes.


While the bread is toasting, slice your leeks and fennel.  You only want to use the white part of the leeks and the bulb of the fennel.  Slice into 1/3 inch thick slices.  Place the leeks and fennel into a large bowl and cover with water.  Let them soak for a couple minutes to allow the sediment to fall out into the bottom of the bowl (they are, after all, root veggies).


Lift the vegetables out of the water and place them into a large pan over medium heat.  The water will release from the leeks and allow them to start steaming.  After 5 minutes, add the butter and stir.


Create a parchment lid (the second time around, I didn’t have parchment so I just used a lid- the world didn’t end) and set on top of the mixture.  Reduce heat to medium low, add a bit of salt, and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes more.

parchment lid

While the leeks are simmering, whisk eggs, milk, and cream in a large bowl to create the custard.

custard YUM

When the custard is made and the brioche is toasted and the leeks are soft, it’s time to combine them all.  Toss the leek mixture into the bread cubes and add ½ cup of shredded gruyere cheese.  Pour out into a 9×13 baking dish and pour 2/3 of the custard over the mixture.  Press down to be sure that the bread soaks up the custard, then let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour the remaining mixture over the bread and add the rest of the gruyere.  Sprinkle with salt and pop into the oven for 80-90 minutes. 


silky moroccan eggplant soup

title page

I found this recipe at the back of the most recent issue of Food & Wine and it looked too spectacular not to try myself.  I love the idea that it’s a spin on a traditional mezze, incorporating eggplant, lemon, radish & green peas.  Between steeping your garlic in half & half and roasting your eggplant, the soup is going to take a little over an hour to make properly, but it’s definitely worth it.

You’ll need:

2 large eggplants
2 cups half & half
6 cloves of garlic
1 rind of parmesan (although I just used a handful of parmesan)
1 lemon
1 cup sliced radish
1 cup green peas

Start by preheating your oven to 450.  In a small saucepan, combine the half & half, garlic, and parmesan and bring to a simmer.  Turn the stove off and let the mixture sit, off the heat, for 1 hour.


Oh, you have an hour to kill while the garlic steeps in the cream?  I have the perfect suggestion to help pass the time- roast an eggplant or two!

Slice your eggplant (hotdog style) and brush each cut side with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Place the eggplant cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the inside is tender.

eggplant roast

While the steeping and the roasting is happening, slice up your radish and thaw your green peas.  Store them in cute measuring bowls like the ones pictured below until you need them for garnish- if you don’t have cute measuring bowls, then you probably need to get a boyfriend who has sweet grandparents who will give some to you for Hanukkah.  But that could take a while, so just put it on the backburner.


After an hour of steeping, put the half & half mixture through a sieve, tossing out any solids. seive

When your eggplants are ready, scoop the insides into a food processor or blender (discarding the skin) and puree until smooth.  Food & Wine says to pass this mixture through a sieve, but I quite like the texture of a few eggplant seeds so I omitted.

eggplant puree

Stir the eggplant mixture into the half & half, add juice of lemon, and bring to a simmer, until the soup is heated.  Season with salt and serve with radishes & green peas.

basics: homemade applesauce

applesauce title page

Happy Hanukkah,  everyone!

I’m sure all of my fellow shiksahs in the kitchen can agree that the holidays can be a doozy.  As much as you love to cook, you’ll never shine a light to the recipe that has been passed down by tough critics.   I’ve made my fair share of high-holiday-hiccups (starting with a milchigs fork mix-up and ending with bringing a butter-laden bread pudding to Thanksgiving) but this applesauce is not one of them.  It’s the perfect way to preserve your apples and requires only two added ingredients.  And during Hanukkah, you won’t find a better topping for your potato latkes.

You’ll need: (for 2 cups applesauce)
4 apples, mixed
1 tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup water


We used Red Macintosh and Pink Lady apples for this recipe.  You can use whichever are in season (the farmer’s market usually has enough apple samples out to give you a tummy ache), but I recommend a mix of apples to elevate the depth of flavors.  Start by peeling your apples roughly (a little apple skin never hurt anyone) and chopping them into cubes.  Add them to a saucepan with the water over medium heat, until they’re just simmering.

apples in pot 1

Add the cinnamon and honey and stir.  In the past, I’ve used white sugar for the sweetness in my applesauce, but switched to honey because, well, apples and honey taste great together.

Let the whole mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.  Then, using a hand potato masher (or a food processor if you’re looking for a really smooth sauce), mash the apples until they look like applesauce.

apples in pot 2

Serve over freshly-fried latkes and or just enjoy as a sweet snack.

applesauce final


the hungry texans

miso soup

Title pageOk this was an exciting night in the Hungry Texans kitchen- our foray into dashi!  The classic Japanese seafood stock is the base of so many dishes, including one notorious cure for an annoying cold… miso soup.  I’m not going to lie, I thought of dashi as the japanese equivalent of chicken stock, but it’s quite different.  It’s smoky and earthy and tastes (and smells) like the sea.

It’s also quite easy to make, if you have a bit of time.  The miso soup, from start to finish, took about 1 hour to make.  So pop open a bottle of sake and get cookin’!

for the dashi, you’ll need: 

3 quarts cold water

3 kombu stalks

1 handful bonito flakes

for the miso soup, you’ll need:

2 quarts dashi

1 quart water

1/4 cup white miso paste

1/2 cup scallions

1 cup shitake mushrooms

1 block tofu

2 cups kale

Start your dashi by filling a large pan with cold water.  Add your kombu stalks and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes of simmering, add your bonito flakes.  Stir and bring to a boil.  When the whole mixture reaches a boil, turn the stove off.

kombu and bonito flakes

Drain the dashi through a colander. Alright, you’re ready for Top Chef!


To start your miso soup, add your dashi to a soup pot.  Add your miso paste and stir until it has dissolved.  Throw in sliced shitake mushrooms & scallions, sliced thin.  De-stalk your lovely kale and chop it into small-ish pieces.  You can add the kale directly or blanch it quickly first.

mix ins

If you are making dashi with the hopes of turning it into miso soup, then slice your tofu and let it drain onto paper towels while your making the dashi.  Then, slice into small cubes and add it to the miso pot.

Ok, now are you ready?  This is the hardest part.  Stir it once and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Then, you’re done.



the hungry texans

kale potato mash

kale potato mash title

There are few better dinners than a roasted chicken with a hearty side.  Last night, we made a really special miso butter roasted chicken, and these mashed red potatoes were the perfect side.  On a last-moment whim, I threw in a couple handfuls of blanched kale and a bulb of roasted garlic.  The texture from the kale and the mix of of potatoes was a perfect side for a Friday night chicken.

What you’ll need:

5 red potatoes

5 yukon gold potatoes

1 bulb garlic

1 cup white cheddar cheese

2 cups chopped kale

1/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice off the top of your garlic bulb and top with olive oil and a pinch of salt, then wrap in foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cloves are soft.  Boil a large pot of salted water and add your kale.  Let the kale boil for ~4 minutes, then drain.


Peel your potatoes (I liked a mixture of red and yukon gold because it gives the mash a good blend of textures).

sam handsAnd boil for about 10 minutes, until they’re ready to be mashed.  Then, add the kale and the roasted garlic.

potatoes and kaleGive everything a good mash, using a hand masher.  Once combined, add the heavy cream and salt & pepper and give everything a good stir.

mixingAll done!


The Hungry Texans

favorite things: thanksgiving edition

1. While one Hungry Texan made the pilgrimage back to Houston this Thanksgiving, the other ventured to the Big Apple, where MakerBot is revolutionizing the way we think about…all of the things.  The 3-D printer made this bracelet before our eyes and is currently producing a 3-D bust of my face!  Best Christmas presents ever?

2. Best Fried Pickles + Belly Laughs = The Perfect Friday night.  We hopped over to our neighborhood Wonderland Ballroom on Friday for Don’t Block the Box, a hilarious stand up show.  This one took us back to those Boy in the Bubble days in College- it’s a must see!

3. I ate a Tal Bagel every morning for 5 days in NYC.  Don’t judge me.  They are that good.

4. This is the real-life herb section at Central Market, the H-E-B owned grocery store that has taken over Texas and will forever be these Hungry Texans’ model for grocery excellence.  Can we get one in DC, pretty please?

5. Only in Texas can a Santa-Suit wearing, pirate pants donning, booted cowgirl steal the show at The Nutcracker.

6. What’s better than a can of Texas-brewed Lone Star?  A camouflaged tall boy, of course.

Only 365 days until Thanksgiving.  But who’s counting?


Hungry Texans

basics: homemade nutella


Admission: This Hungry Texan is not so hungry.  After an incredible, veggie-rich thanksgiving dinner at Boston Boy’s family in New York (the Lone Star State was a tad far for me to travel for just a couple days), plus leftovers, PLUS some amazing bagels, I’m totally stuffed.  But that doesn’t make this recipe for homemade Nutella any less appealing.  I whipped this up with sister Emily, here forth known as Lemur Lady- she spent the last few months in Madagascar with a cast of lemurs and the girl knows a thing or two about baking.

I get it- people are crazy for nutella.  There are probably entire religions devoted to Nutella.  And when you can get a vat of it at Costco, it may seem silly to make your own.  But trust me, this homemade version is an incredible rendition- sweet from the dark chocolate but with no sugar added, nutty and rich from the toasted hazelnuts.  Plus, this comes out silky instead of becoming congealed  like the jarred stuff- double win!

Also, it takes 5 minutes to make.  So you have no excuses.  To the recipe!

You’ll need:

10 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate (if you want something sweeter, use a milk chocolate or your favorite)
1 cup hazelnuts
1 tbs oil
1 tsp salt

First, you’ll need to make your fancy double boiler.  Fill a medium saucepan 1/4 the way with water and heat to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and fit an appropriately sized stainless steel bowl over the saucepan.  Add your chocolate to the bowl and stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  

Take the chocolate off of the heat and toast your hazelnuts with 1 tbs of oil in a large pan for about 4 minutes.

Add your hazelnuts to a blender or food processor and pulse 5-10 times, until the hazelnuts are ground.  Add your chocolate to the blender and blend until smooth.

Serve immediately or in a jar in the refrigerator (who are we kidding).  We ate it over fruit, but decided that the silky delight would be perfect drizzled over popcorn, spread on toast, or over pecan pie (ok, i did that).


the hungry texans

chinese shrimp toast

Oh shrimp toast, you perfect specimen of asian appetizers.  You prince of perfect party pass-arounds.  Crunchy and fried on the outside, but slightly gooey in the middle, you beckon to me on every chinese menu.  But I only rarely indulge, so why not try my hand at them?  Now, this isn’t one of those “Tastes-like-the-real-thing Amazingly Baked-Not-Fried Shrimp Toast” recipes.  This is a “Quarter-cup of Oil, but Blot on Paper Towels if You’re Trying to Lose Weight” recipe.

You’ll need: (for 24 shrimp toasts)
3/4 lb shrimp
2 tbs ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
1/8 cup water chesnuts
1 egg
1/4 cup cilantro (I used 1 tbs dried)
12 slices white bread
1 handful scallions
1 handful scallions, to garnish
2 tbs sesame seeds, to garnish

Sesame-Chile Dipping Sauce:
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs sweet chile sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce

Start by cutting the crust off of your bread and then halving each slice (I like triangles, but you can default to your preferred shape).  Set these aside.  In a blender or food processor, add your ginger and garlic and pulse ~5 times.  Then add the rest of your ingredients- egg, sesame oil, shrimp, scallions, water chestnuts, cilantro.  Pulse ~10 times, until the whole mixture has come together but is still reminiscent of shrimp.

In a wok or frying pan (I used a small frying pan to reduce the amount of oil I was using), heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil over medium-low heat.  When the oil is ready for frying (drop a small piece of bread in the oil and if it is golden in 30 seconds, then you’re golden), place shrimp toasts shrimp side down and fry for ~3 minutes until brown.  Then pop them over to the bread side and fry for about 1 minute.

Scoop out your toasts and drain on paper towels over a cooling rack before munching.  Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions, and serve with your sesame chile dipping sauce.

xiang shou!

the hungry texans


a hungry texans guide to thanksgiving!

we all do it- that weekend before thanksgiving when friends gather, drink too much spiced cider, and potluck our faces off for that pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving celebration.  call it Friendsgiving or Fakesgiving, we just call it delicious.

and this year was no different.  the man chefs brought their extremely tasty green beans and a rendition of thomas keller’s stuffing that blew us meat eaters’ socks off (vegetarians beware: this stuffing starts with 1 lb of rendered bacon fat).

use these recipes for your own thanksgiving feast or just as side dishes for a wonderful meal.  click through for recipes!

honey butter chicken biscuits

roasted root vegetables with charred scallion goat cheese & garlic confit

middle eastern spiced roasted cauliflower

jalapeno honey butter & sage roasted garlic butter

cranberry-orange relish


happy thanksgiving!


the hungry texans

middle eastern roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower is such a versatile and easy ingredient.  Mashed into potatoes or pureed into a soup, these hearty stalks are usually just happy to be eaten.  I rarely enjoy them in their whole form, but this recipe is so easy and tasty, it would be a shame not to.  These Middle-Eastern Roasted cauliflower are roasted to bring out their nutty goodness, then dressed with tahini and date syrup.  The result?  One of the most incredible veggie sides I’ve had to date (thanks to BB’s uncle in LA!).  Try this for a non-traditional Turkey-Day side or with a quick chicken curry.

You’ll need:

2 heads of cauliflower (I used one white and one mix of purple, green & yellow cauliflower)
3 tbs olive oil
4 tbs date syrup
4 tbs tahini

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Roughly chop your cauliflower into 2-inch pieces and spread them out in a baking dish.  Toss in olive oil and salt & pepper, then roast for 45 minutes, until they’re golden and crispy.

When they’re out of the oven, cover the roasted florets in tahini and date syrup.  Don’t have date syrup on hand?  Click through for this recipe!  Pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes to let all of the flavors come together.  Serve warm!