Asiago, corn bread pudding

Fresh Corn and Asiago Bread Pudding - The Inspiration!

Southern Living

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup whipping cream

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (12-oz.) French bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

4 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add bread, tossing to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Stir corn and cheese into bread mixture; spoon into a well-buttered 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until set and golden brown.

As soon as we turn the clocks back, somewhere between the last desperate hoopla of summer fun and the impending hysteria of Christmas, thoughts turn to comfort food.  There is something about the first hard frost that miraculously converts those late summer, let's face it neglected, flowerbeds into slime, something that turns our thoughts to slow bubbling pot roasts, homemade mac and cheese with a golden bread crumby crust, pie. 

We do not need to hibernate. And yet we seem to. 

An exchange student from Italy one deep December day, asked me where all the Canadians were.  (Apparently in Italy, folks live on the streets, in the square, in each other's pockets, on their balconies...). When the Canadians all popped out of their houses in the spring, she said, "Oh!  Now I understand!  Canadians are like bears!  They hibernate!"  I actually wondered how she knew about bears. 

Of course, we are all quite active in the winter. Just getting in and out of our coats, boots, scarves and gloves could qualify as activity!  Shoveling our walks, scraping our windshields, skittering down the road to squat our dogs.  Nothing is easy in the winter. Everything requires that little bit of extra effort. Popping out to the store is an excursion rather than a simple pop.  

Oh sure. We can ignore seasons these days in the grocery stores. Asparagus and strawberries and fresh tomatoes are available year round for a price. But somehow that seems like cheating.  Winter is a time for the slow roast, the sturdy vegetable, the stewed prune.  It is, in fact, time to face the freezer. 

Elves, seriously elves, sneak into our freezers all summer while we sleep, stuffing them with packages of mystery. There comes a time when these mysterious invaders must be confronted, thawed and dealt with firmly.  That time is winter.  

This task can be confronted in two ways. The first, efficient and wasteful, is to simply pitch anything without a label and a date stamp.  The second is to accept the challenge of creating magic out of odds and ends. This is the historical basis of "comfort food".  

First pass: What does it look like?  Is it a meat product? A vegetable product?  Soup? A carb?

Next pass:  what does it feel like?  Heavy? Meat.  Light?  Bread. 

At last:  The thaw. Committed. 

Not too bad. Half a loaf of Focaccia. We can work with this. Riffle through the freezer in search of a bit of meat. Is there any cooked chicken? Ham?  Ham!

Now walk the dog and hope for inspiration. 

Eggs. Milk. Cheese bits drying in secluded corners of the fridge. A bit of bruschetta. We can work with this.

Thaw the bread and cut into bits.  Chop up the chunk of ham. Grate every stray bit of cheese. Mix sufficient milk and three eggs. Maybe four. Four. 

Baking dish. Mix all and leave to soak, cover with foil.  Good.

Locate he ever-present frozen peas. Done.

Bake the makeshift savoury bread pudding. 

Guests:  "Something smells good!"

Fingers crossed. Remove foil to brown the top.  Smells good indeed!

And all's well that ends well.  

Objective: Make something out of not much. 

Result: Comfort food. 

I'd pass along the recipe, but the thing about comfort food is that the recipe makes itself.  

The challenge: Have a look around the freezer.  See what you find. Walk the dog. Figure it out. Can it turn into a soup?  A pudding? An omelet? A croquette?  A panini?  

The fun of winter cooking is creating something yummy out of something found without having to pull on the boots, get the dang zipper on the parka to work, wrap the scarf, pull on the hat, match the gloves, scrape the car, clear the driveway, and get to the store.  Definitely best just to enjoy hibernation!