Cleaning Out the Fridge and Finding Coconut Bread Pudding

Sometimes the best dishes emerge from the random assortment of ingredients found in the forgotten reaches of your fridge. Limiting yourself to the items you have on hand has a surprisingly positive effect on creativity. Instead of wasting energy deciding among a limitless array of ingredients, you’re focused on what’s in front of you. This was how my coconut bread pudding was born – from the ashes of stale bread and leftover coconut cream. 

I was in rare form and cleaning out the fridge when I came across some bread that was so hard it could cut your gums. I also unearthed half a can of coconut cream I’d given up on. My impulse was to throw both in the trash; after all this was refrigerator-purge day. Instead I harnessed my inner thrifty grandma and went to work salvaging the food. 

Like any sensible cook, I decided bread pudding was the best course of action. I had a few eggs and some milk to contribute to the custard. And instead of adding white sugar to sweeten the pudding, I opted for the crystalized honey I’d neglected for months. I whipped up my wet ingredients and tossed in my hard bread for a long needed soak. 

After a 45 minute stint in the oven, I sampled my improvised creation and was a bit let down. It was okay but wasn’t as sweet and moist as I had hoped. Quickly the feeling of self-doubt and failure began to set in, but before it took over I had an idea. I’d make a caramel sauce with the remaining coconut cream; and since caramel is just sugar and fat it theoretically should work…right? Miraculously, a beautiful mahogany sauce formed in my pan and my confidence was restored. I poured every bit of the caramel over the pudding and left it to soak. 

The result was everything I’d hoped – sticky, ultra rich, and unapologetically coconut-y. I alone devoured the pan’s contents in 3 days flat. Not only was this dessert tasty, but it felt good to know that I didn’t let perfectly good food to go to waste. I have a theory that many of our most beloved dishes were created in this fashion, from carbonara to gazpacho. For centuries, humble cooks have made meals from what they could and over time those dishes have became tradition. 

Coconut Bread Pudding with Coconut Caramel

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (shredded)
  •  4 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups stale bread cubed
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Coconut Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons coconut cream
  • Pinch of salt

 Directions:

In a medium bowl beat eggs. Add coconut cream, milk, ½ cup shredded coconut, honey, and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Stir in the bread cubes and make sure there are submerged in the custard mixture. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour (up to 4 hours depending on how hard your bread is).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a baking dish (I used a loaf pan). Pour in your bread pudding mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of shredded coconut and bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.

In a medium sauce pan heat sugar over medium heat. Mix the sugar until all the crystals have melted and is caramel color. Add 6 tablespoons of coconut cream. Cook for 1 minute longer. Add a pinch of salt and remove from heat.

Pour the coconut caramel over the bread pudding. You can serve immediately or let the caramel soak into the pudding. Either way its delicious. 

Textured Ceramic White Plate from Shady Grove Pottery *

Pancake Art with RVA Pancake Love

The quickest way to a person’s heart is their stomach; in fact, my man reeled me in with his kitchen savvy. Food is a universal expression of love, and it’s impossible not to melt when someone makes you a golden stack of pancakes, capped with fresh butter and real maple syrup. And if those pancakes are heart shaped, the descent into love accelerates.

That’s the premise of this year’s Valentine's Day brunch fundraiser: pancakes, love, and community. RVA Pancake Love is an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with 100% of the profits going to FeedMore, Central Virginia's leading food bank.

Not only will you delight in the pancakes, but you’ll also get a hefty dose of performance art. A prominent lineup of Richmonders has volunteered to be pancake artists, and will be cooking up unique flapjacks with a variety of themes: dinosaur, unicorn, Star Wars, and whatever else they dream up.  

So start your Valentine’s Day off on the right foot with a plate of edible art—a fun, delicious, and wonderful time for all. See you there!


What: Artistic Pancake Breakfast

Why: To benefit Feedmore, Central Virginia’s Food Bank (100% of proceeds will be donated)

When: Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14th, 2015) from 9:30am - Noon

Where: The Broadberry (2729 West Broad Street)

Cost: $15 for all-you-can-eat pancakes & $5 for kids 12 and under

How: Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventjoy.com/e/rvapancakelove

Korean Chicken and Waffle Sandwich {and Giveaway - CLOSED}

(This post is sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions are my own)

The words “Asian Fusion” used to make me cringe. It conjured images of pale green wasabi mash potatoes and bland sesame crusted tuna. But fusion food has come a long way in the past 5 years. Asian is no longer synonymous with Chinese, and our understanding of Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Korean food has grown exponentially. This has paid off in the kitchen, where chefs not longer just add soy, ginger, and garlic to give a dish an Asian flare.    

As a half-Korean, I’m the human version of Asian fusion. And as such, one would assume I would be well versed in Korean cooking. However I’ve largely avoided it, always assuming it was something only a Korean grandmother could teach.

But with the New Year came a new resolve to learn, so I came up with the Korean Chicken and Waffle Sandwich. If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken, you’re in for a treat. It’s double fried with a cornstarch-based batter that gives it an exceptional crunch. The crust holds up beautifully to the sweet and spicy sauce, and the waffle “bun” makes the whole mess easy to eat. I was pleased with the results and felt it was a fitting fusion of my Korean and southern roots. 

Enter to win a Hamilton Beach deep fryer AND waffle maker (below) so you can make this sandwich at home!!

And you can find the recipe over on the Hamilton Beach blog.


Enter to Win a Hamilton Beach Deep Fryer and Waffle Maker

(U.S and Canadian residents only. Winner will be selected at random.  The winner will be contacted on Wednesday, February 11th and will have 72 hours to respond.  If there is no response, another entry will be chosen).

A Few Delicious Days in Las Vegas

One of the perks of my new job is that I get to travel. But I quickly learned that traveling for work is entirely different than traveling for pleasure. Nonetheless, my boss has a work-hard-play-hard mentality. So between the long meetings, we get to eat some world-class food and have fun new experiences. 

My very first trip to Vegas was nine months ago, and since then I've been back twice. During my first two trips, I was completely overwhelmed by the bigness of the city and didn't do a lot of exploring. But this most recent trip was lengthier, and the hypnotic draw of the Strip’s neon lights weren’t as strong.

Once I made it off the strip, I realized Las Vegas has tons of phenomenal Asian food. Our first stop was the restaurant Pho Lan where I ordered bun cha, a pork belly dish with noodles and herbs. It rocked my world and is hands down my new favorite Vietnamese food. For dinner, we followed the recommendation of a friend “in the know” and headed to the Chinese seafood restaurant, Harbor Palace, where we feasted on lobster, whole steamed fish, fried squid, and array of other dishes. The restaurant wasn't fancy, but the food was delicious, authentic, and plentiful. 

In addition to our trips off the strip, we had the classic Vegas experience of dining in a celebrity-chef outpost. Although these restaurants often lack the soul of the chef's flagship, Mario Batali’s steakhouse, Carnevino, was exceptional. We ordered the chef’s tasting menu, which included the most incredible parade of meat I've ever seen. A half dozen waiters wheeled out carts of dry-aged porterhouse, bone-in ribeye, lamb and veal chops, not to mention grilled octopus, scallops, calamari, and prosciutto di parma ‘riserva.’ Every detail of the meal was elegant and thoughtful, from the spreadable lardo that came with the bread to the ticket I was given to collect the leftovers from the hostess. Mario Batali has always been my favorite, and this experience served to cement that status.

I was told that no trip to Vegas would be complete without a visit to In-N-Out Burger. I followed the suggestion of a legion of Yelpers and ordered my burger "animal style." This is the off-the-menu version where the patty is cooked with mustard and topped with grilled onions and special sauce. The food was decent but it was the nostalgia of the place that made it so endearing.

On the last day of the trip we headed out to Dream Racing where I had the unforgettable experience of driving a Ferrari 458 Italia. I didn't understand the appeal of fast cars until I was going 140 miles per hour behind the wheel of a 570 horsepower car. Needless to say, I can now relate to all those gearheads that salivate over this beautiful masterpiece of automotive design. 

By the time I got on the plane back to Richmond, I was completely spent. But as I looked down at the Vegas lights from the sky, I was already planning my next trip. I've realized I've only just scratched the surface of what this over-the-top city has to offer. 

David Chang's Ramlet

David Chang, the modern day prince of ramen, has yet again made a splash with his newest creation, the ramlet. Last week, Lucky Peach posted a video of Chef Chang making a classic rolled omelette seasoned with a not-so-classic packet of ramen powder. He proceeded to slice the omelette down the middle and fill it with soft scrambled eggs, also seasoned with a hefty dose of ramen powder. It was such a simple idea that I was pissed I didn’t think of it myself. 

All this time I was so focused on the noodles that I totally overlooked the potential of the sodium-dense-MSG-laden seasoning that brings it all together. Although I loved the idea, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be as enamored with the final product. 

So I tore into the pack of Shin ramen I ALWAYS have in my pantry, and after a quick 10 minutes of cooking the verdict was in – delicious! Both my boyfriend and I were surprised at how much we loved it. The creamy scrambled eggs were a great textural contrast to the firmer omelette. As for the seasoning… well it just tasted like Shin ramen. But this is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  

I’ve eaten both omelettes and ramen about a bagillion times. But when the two were thrown together it got my synapses firing. Although my brain knew what it was going to taste like, it was still surprising to eat. It simultaneously tasted delicate and assertive, familiar and strange. From the ashes of ramen powder and egg rose the ramlet – a tasty mash-up of my two favorite foods.

In short, it was well worth the minimal effort to make, and I’ll certainly be testing new ramlet flavors in the near future. 

David Chang’s Ramlet

(NOTE: This is NOT David Chang’s official recipe, which can be found HERE. I altered the proportions according to my taste)

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  1 ½ teaspoons Shin ramen seasoning (this is less than one packet)
  • Chives for garnish

Instructions:

Whisk 3 eggs and ½ teaspoon ramen seasoning in a bowl. Over medium heat, melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet (7-10 inches). Pour egg mixture into the skillet and stir constantly until small curds form (about 1-2 minutes). Let the omelette set around the edges (an additional 1-2 minutes) and gently roll the omelette onto a plate.

Whisk the remaining 2 eggs with 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter. Add the eggs and stir constantly until the eggs are soft cooked.

Slice the omelette length-wise down the center and fill with the scrambled eggs. Garnish with chive.