Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

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I realize tapioca pudding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always loved it. We didn’t get a lot of sweets growing up, but my mom used to make tapioca pudding on occasion, so I associate it with a childhood treat the way that most people probably think of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn’t thought about it years, though, until I saw this recipe pop up on my favorite blog a few weeks ago. Coconut and mango are two weaknesses of mine,  and while I’d prefer to eat them (or drink them) on a beach in Hawaii, this is the perfect consolation prize while we’re stuck in the freezing cold continental U.S.

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Tapioca pudding is easy to make, but it does require a bit of advance planning, as the tapioca needs to soak for 30 minutes before cooking and then the pudding needs to be chilled for at least a few hours. The actual cooking time, though, is only about 20 minutes.  I included an extra step (based on Deb’s suggestion and the directions on the bag of tapioca) and added egg whites – the recipe calls for one egg yolk, but you can save the white, whip it with a tiny bit of sugar, and then add it back into the pudding at the end in order to make the pudding a little lighter.  Just make sure to temper the egg white by spooning a bit of the hot pudding into the egg and mixing it up before adding the egg white mixture to the pudding.  Cook pudding for two minutes longer once the egg white is added. I loved the way the pudding turned out with the egg whites, but you could skip this step and just have a firmer, more jello-esque pudding.

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I love the mango topping here, but you could use strawberry purée too (it would be good with lime juice or lemon, or just plain), or any fruit you like, really. It would also be just fine on its own. Toast your coconut, whip your cream, and you have a delicious tropical dessert that will make you feel like you’re in the islands (and it’s dairy-free!).

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Coconut, previously: granola, cupcakes, cookies, soup

Mango, previously: salsa

Pudding, previously: chocolate

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, from Smitten Kitchen 

Serves Six (I doubled the recipe)

for the pudding: 
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (and white, optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the mango purée: 

1  ripe mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
juice of one lime

optional garnishes:
whipped coconut cream
toasted coconut flakes
lime zest

make pudding: in a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to low so that the pudding is barely bubbling.  Cook until pudding thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

make mango purée: purée mango with lime juice in a blender or food processor; add a little sugar to taste (optional, my mango was pretty sweet and I didn’t need any).  I did this step the night before and the purée was in good shape 24 hours later.

toast coconut: on a parchment-lined baking sheet or jelly roll pan for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Stir halfway through so that the coconut browns evenly; watch closely so that it doesn’t burn.

whip coconut cream: put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge the night before you plan to make the cream.  Deb brilliantly suggests turning it upside down, so that when you then open the can from the top you can pour the water right out (the cream will rise to the “top” when chilled).  Beat the coconut cream as you would whipping cream, in a chilled metal bowl and with chilled beaters; add small amount of granulated sugar to taste.  (Note: I used light coconut milk and still got a good amount of cream after chilling it overnight; I’m sure full fat would be even more delicious but mine turned out pretty yummy).

to serve: top pudding with mango; garnish with coconut cream, toasted coconut, and/or lime zest.

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My All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

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I was introduced to these cookies years ago, when our new neighbors brought them over as a “hello” gift (technically we should have been bringing cookies to them, but I guess we hadn’t gotten around to it yet). I’m not really a huge chocolate person, and thus not a huge chocolate chip cookie person. These cookies, however, also involve oatmeal, which I love – given the choice, as I often am at Starbucks, I would always opt for an oatmeal cookie over chocolate chip. They involve coconut, which is an unexpected surprise and adds a hint of tropical deliciousness (unless you don’t like coconut, in which case, what’s wrong with you? Also I think these cookies might change your mind). And lastly, they involve so much brown sugar that they taste almost caramel-y, which I think is really the best part. I can only make them as gifts, as to make them just to have them around the house would be to eat an entire batch of cookies in an embarrassingly short amount of time. But every time I make them, the recipient(s) inevitably ask me for the recipe, so I thought I’d share it now with all of you. They’re the perfect treat to bring to the hospital when your friend has a baby, as I did last week. They make a great addition to school lunches and care packages, so now is a good time to make them for new kindergarteners, anyone off to college, or anyone in between. And of course, if you need an excuse to meet your new neighbors – in the case of the original neighbor who brought us these, our families are friends to this day.

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One tip I learned awhile ago: always cream the butter and sugar(s) together for longer than you think you need to – 3 to 5 minutes seems like a long time, but it really does make a difference.

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Oatmeal + coconut + chocolate chips, yummmmmmm.

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I like to use an ice cream scoop to make (sort of) uniformly sized cookies.

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Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I usually use between half and three quarters of a package – you can use more or less depending upon how chip-heavy you like your cookies).
1 cup coconut (more or less, to taste)
1/2 cup oats (more or less, to taste)

Cream butter and sugars together for 3-5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.  Add egg.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and blend until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and oats.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes (you may find your cookies need up to 18 minutes, depending on cookie size and/or your oven – that’s about how long mine usually take, but technically the recipe says 10-15). The cookies will keep cooking even after you take them out of the oven, so if you don’t want a super-crispy cookie, you can take them out when they still look slightly underdone.

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