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in the kitchen with: jen altman (part 2)

by Grace Bonney

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Jen Altman‘s submission for chocolate and walnut mandelbrot has been one of our absolute favorite recipes here, not just for its simplicity, but also its beauty and its story. This week, we expected she would submit another recipe of similar exceptional caliber, but she managed to one up herself! (I didn’t think it was possible to improve on her work). Just in time for summer, she has submitted a Strawberry Basil Bread Pudding that will allow you to have an sweet indulgence with minimal effort but maximum flavor and originality!

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About Jen Altman: Jen is a photographer who wants to grow up to be a story teller. Meanwhile, she waxes poetic on her blog, nectar & light. She has recently completed work for chronicle books, artful blogging and SMALL magazine. See more of her work on her blog, her portfolio or her etsy shop.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe!

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strawberry basil bread pudding

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. 1/2 & 1/2

1/2 c. skim milk

2 pints strawberries {hulled and sliced}

1 T. fresh basil {chopped}

zest from 1 lemon

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. salt

1 1/4 c. sugar

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 large loaf of challah {egg bread}

pre heat your oven to 325 F. start by combining 1 pint of hulled and sliced strawberries, a 1/2 cup of sugar, lemon zest and basil in bowl. toss well so that the strawberries are covered in the sugar, zest and basil. cover and place in the refrigerator. in another bowl, add the other pint of hulled and sliced strawberries and 1/4 cup of sugar – toss well, cover and refrigerate.

tear the challah into chunks and place pieces in another large bowl. set aside.

in a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2 and skim milk. slowly bring to a bowl – whisking often to avoid burning the cream. meanwhile – in yet another bowl – whisk together the eggs, yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon juice. remove the cream from the heat just as it comes to a rolling boil. very slowly whisk the cream into the egg mixture – very slowly – as you do not want to end up cooking the eggs. when the two are thoroughly combined – pour it over the challah pieces. ensure that the challah is completely covered. let this stand for 20 minutes so that the challah can soak up as much of the liquid as possible before it bakes.

after 20 minutes, add the strawberry, zest and basil mix to the soaking bread – stir in – then pour into a prepared baking dish. place in oven, uncovered, and bake for one hour. let set for at least 15 minutes before cutting into – serve by topping with the other portion of sugared strawberries and a basil leaf or two.

Why Jen chose this recipe: i have a major crush on bread pudding. traditionally, i bake a chocolate challah bread pudding in the fall and winter as it is a rather heavy dessert. but a craving, a pot overflowing with fresh basil and the unexplainable need to do something – anything – with strawberries resulted in this new recipe. the basil, lemon and strawberries combine to create a truly fresh and unique taste.

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