- About 1 ½ oz sun-dried tomatoes (about 10-12 pieces)
- 4 or 5 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms (not totally necessary, but really nice)
- One yellow onion
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
- One bunch of thoroughly-washed spinach, stems trimmed
- Two portobello mushrooms
- 1 cup and a half of stock (mushroom, veggie, or chicken)
- 2 eggs
- 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
- Approx 2-3 cups of shredded gouda and/or cheddar
- Moscatel vinegar
- 2 natural leaven country baguettes
In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with warm water and set aside.
Melt about 1/4 of a stick of butter in a deep-rimmed pan, with a small glug of olive oil too. Peel and slice, then half-chop the onion. Scrape them into the pan and cover with a lid so itsweats.
Warm up, make, use bouillon—whatever you needto do to get your stock ready. Once ready, Warm it on a back burner.
Chop the garlic, lift off the lid of the onions and stir the garlic in while the onions are especially moist. Lower the heat and continue to cook until they are at the partially-browned, not-quite-caramelized state. When they get there, turn off the heat and let them hang out in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Remove the porcinis from the water and replace with sun dried tomatoes.
Heat a cast iron pan, then add the trimmed/washed/spun spinach. Using tongs, lift the spinach leaves over and over onto themselves until they go bright green and have all just barely wilted. Set a fine mesh sieve over a metal bowl and move the spinach there. Squeeze with your hand or a spatula to encourage the excess liquid out. Leave to drip and repeat as needed.
In that same, still-warm pan, melt a pat of butter in a glug of olive oil. With the portobello mushrooms, remove the stem and slice it, then slice the top into 1/4 thick pieces. Take those pieces, stack them,and cut them in half, making slightly thinner strips. Lay these pieces in the butter and oil, toss to coat, turn up the heat and cook until the bottom sides of the mushrooms turn chestnut brown. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms and cook to the same brown on the other side. Each mushroom will fill about one pan, so remove the first batch with tongs, add more butter and oil if the pan has gone dry, and repeat.
While the mushrooms are cooking, slice the baguettes into a little less than 1/2 inch rounds. Chop them in half, then tear about half of those in half again. Pile all of them into a large mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the pint of cream over medium heat. Break the 2 eggs into a small cup and beat with a fork. When the cream is warm but not bubbling, pour some of it off into the egg mixture and continue beating. Turn the heat down to low, then add the egg/cream mixture. Stir slowly until the mixture thickens and sticks to the back of the spoon. At this stage, grate your cheese. Take a big handful of it and add it to the custard, stir to melt it in and turn off the heat.
Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the soaking bowl and pour the tomato/porcini water into the stock pan. Chop the tomatoes and porcinis. By now the mushrooms should be finished, with a little fat left in the pan. Bring the tomatoes and porcinis over and place them briefly in the pan to absorb the fat, then move them into the pan with the onions and garlic. Squeeze out the spinach one more time, then chop it and add it to the same pan with the others. Drizzle with some some moscatel vinegar, and stir.
Pour the stock into the big mixing bowl with the prepared bread and toss so the bread soaks it up. Add the mushrooms, toss. Add the custard, toss. Crack in loads of black pepper. Toss in some flaky salt. Add the spinach, onions, garlic, tomatoes and porcinis. Add another few dribbles of moscatel vinegar. Toss. Add another big handful of cheese, toss.
Rub the end of a stick of butter around the base and edges of your circular baking dishes, then evenly distribute the bread pudding into the pans, , compacting with a spatula. Cover with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 50-55 minutes, until the cheese has gone golden on top. Serve about 20 minutes after removing from the oven.
Recipe courtesy of Andrew Barton, photo by Peter Schweitzer