Mystery Lovers' Kitchen welcomes Ellen Byron, whose first novel, PLANTATION SHUDDERS: A Cajun Country Mystery, will be published August 11 by Crooked Lane Books.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of PLANTATION SHUDDERS!
WWMD? WHAT WOULD MARTHA DO?
BOURBON PECAN BREAD PUDDING
One of my first jobs out of college was working as a cater-waiter for an up-and-coming Connecticut food maven named Martha Stewart. I’ll never forget the first time I met her. I took the train from Manhattan to Westport, cabbed to a house that looked straight out of the 18th century, and stepped into a living room filled with early American antiques. A woman was using a crème brulee blowtorch to assemble a three-foot-high gingerbread townhouse that sat on a table in the middle of the room. “Hi, I’m Martha,” she said without losing focus on her task. “Welcome. The kitchen’s on the left.”
Thus began a two-year relationship that earned me a few photos in a book called “Entertaining,” and wonderful memories of an extraordinary woman.
As I wrote my first book, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, it became clear that I couldn’t set a series in an area so famous for its cuisine without including a few recipes. I decided to make up my own, which proved really hard. I was ready to give up. But then I thought, WWMD? What would Martha Do? She’d power through until she was satisfied with the results. I watched her do it at event after event. So that’s what I did. My favorite of the three I created is Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding. It’s very boozy and very New Orleans. Thanks for inspiring me, Martha! I hope I get to share the recipe with you someday.
BOURBON PECAN BREAD PUDDING
5-6 cups croissants, torn into pieces
½ cup unsalted, toasted, chopped pecans
3 large eggs
¾ cups sugar, white or turbinado – your choice
1 cup milk – any percentage is fine
1/3 cup Bourbon, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Dry bread uncovered at room temperature for 12 hours. (You can also dry the bread in a 250 degree oven for one hour.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 8” x 8” baking dish
Arrange the bread in the dish. Sprinkle the pecans over the bread, making sure they’re evenly dispersed.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, 1/3 cup bourbon, cream, vanilla, and salt.
Pour it slowly and evenly over the bread.
Cream the butter with the brown sugar and teaspoon of bourbon, then dot the pudding with the mixture.
(Note: you can chill the pudding, covered, for anywhere from an hour to a day before baking, but this is optional.)
Bake the pudding in the middle of the oven until it’s slightly puffed and golden, and the middle has set – approximately 40 minutes.
You can top with a dollop of whipped cream, ice cream, or hard sauce, but I like it straight up!
Leave a comment below by midnight, Mon, Aug 10, for a chance to win Ellen's PLANTATION SHUDDERS prize package, including a signed copy of the book, an alligator cookie cutter, and beads for your next Mardi Gras party!
For more about Ellen and PLANTATION SHUDDERS, visit her website -- http://www.ellenbyron.com/ -- and sign up for her newsletter!