Today I was back in the SELMA kitchen, this time cooking with Nick Roumel. Nick and I collaborated on two specials: (his) a riff on eggs benedict with a sweet potato croquette standing in for the more traditional English muffin and (mine) a savory bread pudding (see recipe below). The first time I met Nick at the SELMA café, we talked of food writing and aspirations. On the spot he offered to share his food column at Current Magazine with me. Without much hesitation, I gratefully accepted. In turn, when Nick mentioned his desire to cook at SELMA, I gladly volunteered to help as a sous chef. I find it fitting that today was not only the day I cooked with Nick; it also marks the official publication of my first article for Current. You can read a digital copy of the article here or (if you are in the area) look for the print addition at local businesses around Ann Arbor. For the foreseeable future, I'll be splitting the column with Nick, contributing local-food-related stories every other month or so. Feel free to send along ideas for stories. I see this as an amazing opportunity to dip my toes deeper into food writing and look forward to wherever this adventure takes me!
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Kale Bread PuddingAdapted from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 pints mixed mushrooms such as oyster & king trumpet (available at Michigan Mushroom, LLC), roughly sliced
4 TBS olive oil
2 TBS unsalted butter (from Calder Dairy)
4 cloves garlic, small dice
-- thyme leaves or rosemary, fresh or dried
-- Kosher salt
-- Freshly ground black pepper
1 crown of curly kale, rinsed, stripped from center vein and torn into bite-sized peices (from Tantré Farm)
1 large day-old loaf shoku pan (Japanese pain de mie) (my favorite is from Café Japon) or challah or brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large eggs (from Our Family Farm, LLC)
3 cups whole milk (from Calder Dairy)
3 cups whipping cream (from Calder Dairy)
-- Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler cheese (we used Gouda from Grassfields Cheese)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat about 2 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook gently, stirring minimally for about 45-60 minutes. Allow onions to caramelize to a deep golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat 2 TBS olive oil and 1TBS butter in another large sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and season generously with salt, pepper and herbs. Cook, flipping often, until mushrooms are soft and deeply golden (about 25 minutes). Turn off heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, spread bread on a baking sheet and toast in oven for about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave oven on.
Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg and herbs. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, kale and bread in the pan and sprinkle with another ¼ cup cheese. Scatter remaining onions, mushrooms, kale and croutons over and top with another ¼ cup cheese. Pour in enough custard mixture to cover bread and press gently so it soaks in the milk. Soak for about 15 minutes.
Add remaining custard, allowing some soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for about 1½ hours, until pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling. Serve warm.