==B Shellye's Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (serves 6)==
4 cups French bread cubes
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp raisins
2 tsp vanilla
¾ cup sugar
½ rounded teaspoons cornstarch
Dash ground cinnamon or nutmeg
¼ cup whipping cream
½ Tbsp bourbon whiskey
1. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer in a 2-qt square baking dish. Beat the 2/3 cup sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs; beat until fluffy. Stir in the 1 cup whipping cream, raisins, and vanilla. Pour over bread cubes.
2. Place baking dish in a larger baking pan on the oven rack. Pour boiling water into larger pan around dish to a depth of 1" and bake in a 325F oven 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove dish from hot water. Cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan combine the ¾ cup sugar, the cornstarch, and cinnamon. Stir in the ¼ cup whipping cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 min. more. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon.
4. Serve warm bread pudding with the whiskey sauce. Store any remaining sauce in a covered container in refrigerator. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, but do not let it boil.
==B Venice, Day 6: A Day of Leisure, A Night of Opera!==
We enjoyed a hearty lunch of lasagna, salad and garlic bread today, knowing that we had a full evening of fun. With the worker strike over, and via a romantic gondola ride, we were able to use our opera tickets to attend a performance of La Traviata at the Teatro de la Finise (The Phoenix Theater). The original opera house burned down and was rebuilt in all the grandeur that you'd expect of a Venetian stage. The orchestra and singers were magnificent, turning the opera into a memorable performance. Returning to the apartment, we satisfied our late-night appetites with bellinis and leftovers. And you know how much better pasta can taste the day after it's made and re-heated!
==B GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THE MATTER==
Root vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes are in the peaK of their harvest so now's the time to enjoy their wonderful Fall flavors. Here are 2 recipes to rake advantage of them.
==B Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries (serves 4-6)==
1 1½ lb sweet potatoes ¼ cup olive oil ½ tsp kosher salt ½ tsp paprika ¼ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into strips that are about ½" wide on each side.
Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag. Add oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon. Seal the bag and shake well to thoroughly coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
Cook for 30 min., turning every 10 min., until slightly browned. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate and serve warm.
==B Autumn Squash Soup with Puff Pastry (serves 6)== ½ acorn squash (about ¾ lb.), seeded 1 large orange-fleshed sweet potato, about ¾ lb. 2 Tbsp unsalted butter 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced 1/3 cup brandy ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed ¼ cup heavy cream ½ lb. frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold Egg wash (1 whole egg beaten with 1 Tbsp milk) Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Place the squash half, cut side down, in a pie tin or small baking dish with ½" of water. Bake uncovered until the flesh can be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, ~40 min., adding a little more water if necessary. When the squash is cool, scoop the flesh out of the skin. You should have about 1 cup squash.
2. Pierce the sweet potato in several spots with a fork. Place it in a pie tin or on a baking sheet and bake it alongside the squash until tender when pierced (~1 hour). When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin. You should have about 1 cup sweet potato.
3. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion and saute until soft; ~5 min. Add the brandy and simmer for 1-2 min. to burn away the alcohol.
Add the squash, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon, and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for ~5 min. to combine flavors.
4. In a blender or food processor, puree the contents of the pot until smooth. Pour into a clean pot. Whisk in the cream. Thin with additional stock if needed to achieve a pleasing soup consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Preheat oven to 425°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a flat sheet about 1/8" thick. Cut six rounds, each 2" larger in diameter than the top of each soup bowl. To guide yourself, invert a bowl onto the flattened pastry and cut around it. You can gather and reroll the scraps only once. Put the rounds on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 min.
6. Divide the soup among six ovenproof bowls. Brush the rim of each bowl with egg wash. Cover each bowl with a pastry round and press the pastry firmly over the sides so the top is taut, like a drum. Make sure there are no cracks in the pastry. Brush the tops lightly with egg wash. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, ~25 min. Serve immediately.
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