When I was growing up, my mom had an official day every week when we ate “sobritas” (Spanish word for leftovers). My mom would take the food from the week – a little bit of rice from Monday, some beans from Wednesday, some chicken from Thursday – and add some veggies and creativity, and tada! Dinner was ready!
I loved that day’s meal, I felt it was like a surprise on a plate, we never knew what we were going to eat, and we knew that the probability of eating that specific mix again was very low. Moms and home-cooks all around the world are often known for their abilities to create food with what they have on hand. In our case, “sobritas day” was a fun day of unknown served on our plates.
Now, as an adult and a cook myself, I admire my mom’s efforts to feed us with creative new dishes while she and dad worked full-time jobs and had a busy life. I also appreciate, now, that somehow “sobritas day” taught my brothers and me, that there are seasons of life where you mix all the different experiences, events, abilities, times, and whatever else can be considered “left over,” and make something unique and creative happen! There is always something good that can be made from our leftovers!
One of my favorites leftover dishes that my mom made is something Louisianans know plenty about - bread pudding.
She would walk into the kitchen and take out the bag full of old bread, the pieces left from different meals throughout the weeks, put it in a tray with a milk mix, throw it into the oven and create a delicious dessert that made our home smell so good for the rest of the evening.
Now my mom makes bread pudding with her grandkids. My nieces and nephew enjoy it so much, and they are learning the lesson of making something new from left overs and enjoying the creative process!
My mom’s bread pudding has cinnamon, raisins, fresh vanilla and sometimes nuts. It’s not overly sweet, it is just perfect! Especially during the cold days of winter, with a cup of a hot coffee or just milk.
Today I want to share my bread pudding recipe with all of you, knowing that this Christmas season is bringing a little cold weather to West Baton Rouge. This dessert is super easy to make, delicious and, the best part is that by making it, you don’t waste your leftover bread!
Also, I know that so many of you have delicious bread pudding recipes that have been passed down for generations… I’d love to hear about some of the differences between my recipe and yours! Write in to JohasTable@gmail.com and let me know!
Joha's bread pudding
5 cups (approx.) bread pieces
3 cups (approx.) milk
1/3 cup (approx.) sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
A splash of vanilla
1/2 cup raisins or blueberries (optional)
1/2 cup nuts or seeds of your choice (optional)
A pinch of salt
2 oz (a shot) rum
* I usually make the pudding with old bread that is already stale. You can use a baguette loaf because it has different textures. Maybe one is enough, but calculate.
1. If you add raisins: Soak in the rum in a glass and set a side.
2. In a bowl, mix the milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
3. Butter a baking pan.
4. Break bread into pieces (They don't have to be perfect).
5. Fill buttered pan with bread pieces.
6. Mix in all seeds, rum and raisins, and spread.
7. Pour wet mixture into the tray, covering all the bread well. Let it rest for about 40 minutes so that the bread absorbs all the mixture.
8. Over time, the bread should look very wet, not dry. Turn the oven to 350°F, and bake for about 35-40 minutes (or when inserting a knife comes out clean).
9. Remove from oven and voila! Let it cool down a bit, and serve topped with sprinkled powdered sugar on top for added sweetness and aesthetics, or with sweetened condensed milk if you like it super sweet.