Right before Easter when people start planning their Easter brunches or making reservations conversations seem to be very food related like Thanksgiving. Easter is one of the great eating holidays. I think one of the reasons is that it corresponds with the beginning of spring. This recipe by Lynne Char Bennett was in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday April 1st. Can you hum "a few of my favorite things"? Ham, asparagus, cheese, eggs! Here's the link http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/30/FD521NQD1N.DTL&ao=all.
I had ham in my freezer from Christmas and I bought a rustic loaf of bread from my neighborhood bakery, Ponsford Place http://www.ponsfordsplace.com/Ponsfords_Place/Ponsfords_Place.html. An amazing gem close to home that makes me happy that I live in such an area.
Asparagus & Ham Bread Pudding
rustic whole wheat bread, crust on and several days old to dry out, cut into chunks
vegetable spray, as needed
large bunch of asparagus, trimmed and chopped
about 2 handfuls of ham, diced
5 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
~4 ounces Asiago, grated
Spray a ~9" baking dish and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Whisk eggs in a bowl, then add half-and-half and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
Place one layer of bread on the bottom of the baking dish tightly and press down gently. Top with half of the asparagus, ham, green onion and tarragon; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with the remaining bread. Place the remaining asparagus, ham, green onion and tarragon on top and pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and filling.
Place a piece of parchment paper on top; gently push top layer of bread down into the custard a few times. Allow to sit until bread absorbs as much of the egg mixture as it can, about 15-20 minutes.
Place a piece of parchment on top of the bread pudding, then cover tightly with foil.
Place dish in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and parchment; sprinkle with cheese over all. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, until a skewer comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes more.
This was pretty amazing. We had it for dinner but it would be a great brunch meal with fruit salad and Mimosas. Of course I love the fact that it has everything in one dish, protein-check, green veggie-checks, whole grains-check. Mike was happy, I was happy-score! Leftovers were great heated up. Enjoy!