Urban Farming

Choco-Coffee Bread Pudding


breakfast anyoneGreetings Neighbor Northers,

How’s about some Choco-Coffee Bread Pudding? It’s a treat the Urban Farmer has been dreaming about recently.  It puts her in mind of the treat featured in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: white bread doused with milk, then fancified with a sprinkling of sugar.  Choco-coffee bread pudding is way worthier and fancier and tons of upgrades higher than the dessert featured in Tree, but it’s still rather old schoolsy and penny pinching.  It will keep your wallet fat.  The Urban Farmer reckons you can treat yourself to a whole casserole’s worth of it for the same amount of dough you’d spend on one brownie at a coffee shop.  If you chop the CCBP pieces small enough, you’ll be snacking on this stuff for days.  Also, you don’t need to tell anyone you serve it to how cheap it was to make.  That can be your secret.

What else the Urban Farmer likes about CCBP is how totally easy it is.  For not much effort, you get a whopping big reward.  Plus, because it’s “bread,” you can eat it at breakfast.  Yeah, sure, the Urban Farmer knows you can eat brownies for breakfast.  She’s done it.  But can you do it without guilt? Without a backward glance? With CCBP, you sit back, smug and relaxed, and cut yourself another delicious square.

If you’re like the Urban Farmer, you’ll have most of the ingredients on hand, right down to the packet of instant coffee and butter for greasing the pan.  The only ingredient the Urban Farmer trekked to the store for was the ½ pint of whipping cream.

Choco-Coffee Bread Pudding

Cube up 5-6 cups white bread.  (The Urban Farmer used a French bread like loaf.  The loaf was hefty and she used about ½.  The original recipe pushed Brioche, but the Urban Farmer was having none of that.  Too fancy.  Get out of here.  Who are they kidding? The Urban Farmer’s staying true to bread pudding’s basic necessity roots.  Plain, densely crumbed white, with thousands of tiny air pockets to soak up the sauce, is absolutely fine.)

humble white bread builds the foundationDump the bread cubes into a buttered casserole type dish (the Urban Farmer has made it with a glass oblong dish with steep sides, 10 inches x 8 x 3 inches high, but also with the 12 x 10 inch pumpkin-colored dish depicted here).  Set the dish aside while you make the sauce.

Sauce: Heat up ½ cup milk (the Urban Farmer uses soy, but you can use cow or whatever kind floats your boat).

Stir in 1 T instant coffee powder.  The Urban Farmer used 1 packet Via.  Be vigorous in your stirring.  You want the powder to completely dissolve into the milk.

Infusing Via in with the heated milkIn a good-sized mixing bowl, mix together the following:

1 cup milk

½ pint (1 cup) heavy whipping cream

4 eggs (whipped)

2/3 cup sugar

1 ½ t vanilla extract

¼ t salt

3 T cocoa powder (The Urban Farmer suggests you sift this to break up any pesky, hard-to-incorporate lumps.)

After you’ve mixed all this together, mix in the coffee-infused milk.

enriching the sauce with whipping creamthe velvety sauceNow for the fun part.  Pour the choco-mocha sauce over the bread cubes.  The idea is for the cubes to become submerged.  If necessary, gently press the bread cubes down below the milky liquid with the back of a spoon.

chocolate coffee bread puddingFrom here, you have two ways to proceed, rushed or leisurely.

The rushed method: Let pudding sit for 10-15 minutes, then bake at 350 until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean (maybe 35-40 minutes).

The leisurely method: Cover baking dish with saran wrap and set in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, fire up your oven to 350, pop in the pudding, and bake as explained above.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy!

choco coffee squares


Urban Farming

Mock Bavarian Beer Beef Stew

Dear Neighbors Northers,

Before one can write or do the other things that need to be done, one must eat.  If one is fortunate to have one’s own kitchen, nothing beats making food to one’s own liking and specifications.


Lunch at Spiro's

Eating Out: another alternative to the home-cooked meal, especially during a heat wave.

Mock Bavarian Beer Beef Stew

The Urban Farmer is trying not to panic about the high temps this weekend, but… she kinda sorta is.  Yesterday she geared up.  She spent the entire day cooking.  She wanted to have lots of meals ready so she wouldn’t need to cook during the heat wave.  She cooked up chili, ratatouille, sourdough bread (which lately she is having extreme luck with—does she finally have the process down? Fingers crossed praising the loaf won’t lead to loaf failure), rhubarb crisp, soup stock, a double batch of marinara which she then used to make a double batch of lasagna.  Lastly she prepped beef stew meat for a batch of Bavarian Beer Beef stew, which morphed into Bavarian beef stew or maybe Belgian beef stew or maybe just stew?

The veering started in the beer aisle of the grocery store.  She didn’t want to pay 5 bucks for a bottle of Bav beer, which as it turns out the recipe didn’t call for anyway. The recipe called for Belgian Ale.  The Urban Farmer’s sis, who alerted the UF of Bavarian Beer Beef stew’s epic taste, told her the name of the beer she should get on the sisters’ urban walk the day before, Thurs.  Actually the Urban Farmer’s sis had two stellar Belg beers to recommend.  Way back in the Bush 1 era, she had been quite fond of them.

The next a.m., Friday, the Urban Farmer was standing in the beer aisle, on system overload, swamped by all the beer offerings.  Darn if she couldn’t remember what beer her sis had recommended.

For the Urban Farmer, the answer in such brain-tazing situations, is to square one things.  She skipped the beer entirely.  She would use what’s at hand.  (It’s her favorite kitchen technique.)

The Urban Farmer pedaled home with her onions, parsnips, and 2 and ¼ pounds beef.  She had plenty of things she could use for a marinade.

She splashed a good dose of sherry into the pot, then thought wait a minute gosh darn.  Why wasn’t she using the liquid leftover from making sauerbraten? One slap to the forehead later, she was digging the leftover sauerbraten liq. out of the freezer.  While that was nuking, she threw in a couple tablespoons kim chi liquid.  Lastly she poured in the leftover half cup of ginger-turmeric elixir.  The elixir had been sitting in the large Adams Peanut Butter glass jar for over a week.  The liquid level in the jar hadn’t budged.  It was getting on the Urban Farmer’s efficiency and fridge organizational nerves.

So, that was the marinade for the beef:

roughly 2 c leftover sauerbraten liq. thawed out in microwaver, plus about 1/4 c each of the following liquids: kim chi, sherry, ginger-turmeric elixir.

The Urban Farmer dutifully added parsnips and carrots—which her sister had raved made the beef stew so good.  She also sneaked in red cabbage because you can’t really make mock sauerbraten or mock Bav/Belgian stew or even unmock those things without throwing in some cab.

This morning the plan was to pressure cook the whole shebang in the InstaPot but the Urban Farmer got cold feet.  InstaPot works excellently for ratatouille, soups, and the cooking of legumes, but she’s had poor luck InstaPotting meat chunks.  Back in March there was the Corned Beef and Cabbage disaster.  All day she looked forward to C B and C with Co-hab and the sister.  But when the time came to pop the lid on the InstaPot, the meat, let alone the cab, wasn’t even close to done.  Who knows what went wrong.  Operator error? No matter, she threw the whole shebang into the old school slowcooker crock pot and voila, the next day she had succulent, yumalicious C B and C.  But, it was a day late.  On the 18th, not the customary 17th of March.

Anyway, now the Bav Beer Beef Stew that really isn’t, but more like some kind of hybrid, foods-of-the-world stew, is slowcooking.  And not in the house, but outside, just off the back door where a convenient extra outlet is located.  Fingers crossed the liquid is quietly burbling away, slowing morphing something ‘licious.

OK, enough on food.  Now, back to T to Pal.