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how far we’ve come

February 21 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 27 comments

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

My mom and I made this breakfast bread pudding, laced with wilted arugula and bits of Nueske‘s bacon and held together by a gruyère custard, last Saturday morning.  As I’ve already mentioned, we were up in Northern Minnesota, visiting my grandparents for the weekend.  There were people all around the house, which we’d rented for the weekend, some still in their beds (here’s looking at you, Ali), some catching the sports highlights, some staring out at Lake Superior, which happened to be glittering fiercely under the big winter sun that morning.  But my mom and I were the only ones in the kitchen.

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread PuddingArugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

The kitchen is a good place for us—my mom and me, but that hasn’t always been the case.  It’s a place we spent a lot of time together when I was growing up, my mom cooking, me watching from my perch on a kitchen stool, my chin cupped in one hand,  my elbow resting on the counter.  In college and, especially, in the years immediately following, I began to learn to cook and wanted, more and more, to be on the other side of the counter, but it wasn’t the smoothest of transitions.  I could cook in my own college kitchen in Evanston or, later, in my first apartments in D.C., but things were a little rocky when I ended up in the kitchen I grew up in.   We’re both pretty willful, used to running the show.  I’m not proud to say I was touchy, defensive, up-tight when we started cooking together—not that much fun.

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

In truth, I’m not all that good at sharing the kitchen.  It sounds so lovely in theory.  I love the kitchen; I love to cook; I love to talk;  I love to hang out.  Why can’t this all happen at the same time?  For some people, I know, it does.  It doesn’t for me, though, and it’s too bad.

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread PuddingArugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

This past Saturday with my mom was different, though.  As we made breakfast, we slipped into what felt like a well-practiced dance—one in which neither of us had to lead, neither of us had to follow.  In part, it’s a sign of how far we’ve come.  We talk by phone almost everyday and what we’re making for dinner is nearly always a topic of the conversation.  And, thanks largely to my mom’s patience, we’ve learned to cook together pretty well these days, too, both in her kitchen and in mine.

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

On Saturday, we were also making a new recipe, in a new kitchen, with new-to-us equipment stored in the last places we’d look, and I wonder if all of this had something to do with it, too.  Neither of us knew what we were doing, had no expectations.  And so, together, we made a beautiful breakfast, as everyone slowly drifted to the breakfast table.

Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyère Bread Pudding

Whatever the reason, it felt really good—very right—to be in the kitchen together.

Arugula, Bacon & Gruyere Bread Pudding

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 large eggs
6 bacon slices
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
7 ounces baby arugula or baby spinach (6 1/2 cups)
6 cups cubed (1-inch) country-style bread (1 pound)
5 1/2 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter a 2-qt shallow baking dish.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain, then coarsely crumble.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Increase heat to medium-high and cook shallot and garlic, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Gradually add arugula and cook, stirring, until it wilts.

Stir arugula mixture, bacon, bread, and cheese into custard. Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until golden in spots, about 10 minutes more.

27 comments so far. »
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  1. Allison says on February 21 2010 at 8:46 am:

    That bread pudding looks so savory and delish! It sounds like you had an amazing weekend and I can only imagine how enchanting the view was of Lake Superior.

  2. Jennifer says on February 21 2010 at 8:57 am:

    What a lovely story!!! And wonderful recipe to try anew together!! It looks fabulous!

  3. Half Assed Kitchen says on February 21 2010 at 9:57 am:

    A gorgeous story. And a gorgeous looking breakfast. I’m the same way in the kitchen.

  4. arugulove says on February 21 2010 at 11:54 am:

    This looks amazing! I have made the spinach strata that popped up on Smitten Kitchen a while back, but I’m quite intrigued by this combo. I might be tempted to use a bit of goat cheese in mine though.

  5. Laura says on February 21 2010 at 12:00 pm:

    that is a lovely story. i’m not good at sharing the kitchen, must come from living alone for such a long time, but when i do cook at my mum’s we seem to get along alright. it’s when the rest of the family seems to feel the need to stand in the small space and get all in the way that i lose my temper. :)
    ps: that dish sounds and looks delicious!

  6. Margaret Barry says on February 21 2010 at 12:27 pm:

    Not only am I not good at sharing my kitchen, but last night I was at a friend’s and had to be practically restrained from taking over her kitchen. Your story is lovely and that strata looks amazing. Well done.

  7. Lisa (AuthenticSuburbanGourmet) says on February 21 2010 at 1:53 pm:

    Nothing like cooking with your Mom – terrific story. Savory bread puddings are just the best – yours looks brilliant!

  8. diane says on February 21 2010 at 3:23 pm:

    The bread pudding was both absolutely delicious and beautiful. You are also so accurate with your description of the morning.Cooking with you is so much to look forward to and thank you for keeping me motivated to search for new and exciting recipes. The best part is sharing them with you! Love, MOM

  9. Jacqui says on February 21 2010 at 4:12 pm:

    lovely story and what a perfect breakfast! i’m the same way in the kitchen, as murdo will point out whenever he tries to help. i’m working on it, though!

  10. Shannalee says on February 21 2010 at 5:21 pm:

    Loved this story. I definitely relate, in terms of cooking with my own mom (thus far, we do sometimes on holidays) and how finding your own in the kitchen can make it hard to cook with someone like your mom, who’s been cooking forever. It’s this crazy transition in growing up. Also love that you guys talk on the phone every day. That’s so sweet.

  11. my little expat kitchen says on February 22 2010 at 3:49 am:

    Your story reminds me of my own mom. We have the same relationship as yours in the kitchen and I always believed that there can only be one “kitchen-boss”. I live in a different country from my mom and we too always talk on the phone about food. Your post made me miss her even more!!
    Lovely dish!

  12. Andrea [bella eats] says on February 22 2010 at 6:49 am:

    Oh. My. The breakfast casserole I made a few weeks ago is so lame compared to this beauty, which looks absolutely divine. Thanks for sharing!

    I also love the story of you and my mom, as my mother and I have a similar one. :)

  13. kate says on February 22 2010 at 7:07 am:

    What a divine recipe, and experience. Those types of mornings, where the pace is slow and peace seems to hover over the rooms, those are wonderful days. It makes me yearn to open our lake home so we can get back to big family mornings. This recipe might have to be made there one day. It looks so delicious.

  14. laura k says on February 22 2010 at 8:35 am:

    The bread pudding looks spectacular! And I can certainly relate to your story. I think sharing the kitchen with family is even harder than sharing with others, perhaps because our polite facades can be down so much more with family. My brothers and I are learning, but it’s been a slow process.

  15. Dawn (KitchenTravels) says on February 22 2010 at 11:49 am:

    You could have been writing this post about me. I am not very good at sharing a kitchen with most people, although I wish I was. It sounds so fun to cook together with family and friends… in theory. ;)

    I still miss Gourmet. Don’t think I’ll ever get over its demise.

  16. Barbara says on February 22 2010 at 12:21 pm:

    I never interfered with my mother in the kitchen and neither did my sister. We served, we cleaned up, but never cooked. She loved it so much and frankly, probably did it better than either of us anyway.
    One day she announced: I can’t cook anymore. I keep forgetting ingredients and the dishes are ruined. It was so sad. And, other than simple things for she and my dad, she didn’t cook for a group again. I did it. Or my sister did. Or we did it together. Although I still don’t interfere with my sister much in the kitchen either!
    Your bread pudding is a killer recipe! Every single thing in it is delish!

  17. The Rowdy Chowgirl says on February 22 2010 at 2:44 pm:

    As soon as I saw Nueske’s bacon I was sold. I’ve spent what is probably a ridiculous amount of time tracking down the best bacon–in fact, I wrote a post about it a while ago: http://rowdychowgirl.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/sizzle/ I read a lot of rave reviews about Nueske’s. My current favorite is Niman Ranch Peppercorn Bacon. I wonder if this breakfast bread pudding could be made the night before?

  18. ShelleyBakes says on February 22 2010 at 7:47 pm:

    I love this story. :) It reminds me so much of my mom and I. We love each other fiercely, but we’re fiercely protective of our respective kitchens. And we get that about each other – even when no one else does.

  19. my spatula says on February 22 2010 at 8:46 pm:

    mmmm…bacon. in bread pudding, no less. yes, please.

  20. Hannah says on February 22 2010 at 9:18 pm:

    Ooh this looks like such a lovely dish and the perfect opportunity to make it. I’m all for lazy family breakfasts but they don’t seem to happen enough!

  21. C says on February 23 2010 at 9:16 am:

    That looks so lush and delicious. That bacon photo makes my mouth water.

  22. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on February 23 2010 at 12:00 pm:

    Thanks, everyone. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my struggle to share the kitchen.

    arugulove: I’d be interested to hear how the goat cheese works out. Let us know!

    mom: Thanks. Miss you.

    kate: Now you’ve got me yearning for a summer morning at a lake house!

    Dawn: Me too. My mom brought this recipe with her for the weekend, ripped from the pages of Gourmet.

    Barbara: That is sad. I’m glad to hear, though, that you’re sister and you are carrying on the cooking.

    Rowdy Chowgirl: I’m sure you could make it (entirely — baking it and all) the night before and reheat, but I think the best option would be to prep the night before (cube the bread, grate the cheese, etc) and then assemble and bake in the morning. I would not assemble the night before, in hopes of baking in the morning, as I think the bread would break down too much and the result would be soggy.

  23. molly says on February 24 2010 at 10:27 pm:

    oh, my. this looks outrageously good. got to get me some nueske’s… and an occasion.

  24. EngineerMom says on February 25 2010 at 8:42 pm:

    You inspired a post: http://dreamriver.livejournal.com/57996.html

    I love the kitchen dance. :-)

  25. cindy says on March 02 2010 at 8:47 pm:

    the food looks scrumplicious! its 4am and such an inappropriate time to be hungry for this!

  26. cindi says on March 10 2010 at 11:26 am:

    this my favorite bread pudding recipe! it’s so decadent and delicious but relatively easy to make! your pictures look so beautiful!

  27. Bacon, Arugula, and Gruyere Bread Pudding Recipe says on May 12 2010 at 5:25 am:

    [...] Cheesy.. savory bread pudding.. exactly what I need right now. On Saturday, we were also making a new recipe, in a new kitchen, with new-to-us equipment stored in the last places we’d look, and I wonder if all of this had something to do with it, too.  Neither of us knew what we were doing, had no expectations.  And so, together, we made a beautiful breakfast, as everyone slowly drifted to the breakfast table. via thekitchensinkrecipes.com [...]

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