Seasons by the Sea: Recipes 06:13:13

New Books to Cook By

Savory Bread Pudding
    This recipe is from “What’s a Hostess To Do?” This is good for a big brunch crowd and can be assembled the night before, brought to room temperature and baked the morning of.
        Serves 10 to 12.
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 bunch leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch moons, rinsed and patted dry
5 cups packed baby spinach
8 large eggs
4 cups milk
1 loaf brioche or challah, cut in half-inch slices
6 oz. thinly sliced ham
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, about 8 oz.
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole. Heat two tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl.
    Melt one tablespoon butter in same pan. Add baby spinach and cook until just wilted, about three minutes. Transfer to bowl with leeks.
    In a large bowl, whisk eggs together with milk and salt and pepper to taste.
    Layer 10 slices brioche or challah, sliced ham, the leeks and spinach, thyme, and Gruyere in the buttered casserole. Arrange the bread slices like shingles, slightly overlapping, tucking the leeks, ham, spinach mixture, and cheese between the slices. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients. (The casserole can be refrigerated for as long as overnight, but bring to room temperature before baking.)
    Press the bread down gently to help it absorb the egg mixture. Bake for about one hour, until golden brown and set in the center. Tent the casserole with foil if the top of the pudding is becoming darker than golden brown.
    Cut into squares or simply scoop out with a spoon and serve.

Mushroom and Fontina Quesadilla
    This recipe is from “Living the Good Long Life.”
        Serves one.
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup fontina, grated
1 flour tortilla
Salt and pepper

    Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms and grated fontina on half of a flour tortilla. Fold tortilla over filling. Cook quesadilla in skillet over medium heat until golden and cheese is melted, three minutes per side. Cut into wedges.

Banged Chicken
    This recipe is from “Hamptons Weekends.” I like the name.
        Serves six.

3 whole bone-in chicken breasts (about 3 lbs.), halved
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 Tbsp. kosher salt

    Flatten the chicken breasts by placing them one at a time in a resealable plastic bag. Bang with a heavy skillet or meat mallet. The bones of the chicken will break and the pieces should be flattened until they are half an inch thick. Generously season the chicken on both sides with the dried herbs and set aside. This acts like a marinade and can be done several hours in advance. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
    Sprinkle one tablespoon of the salt in a hot cast-iron skillet set over medium high heat. Cook three pieces of the chicken until browned on both sides and cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and keep warm. Re-season the skillet with the remaining tablespoon salt and repeat with the last three pieces of chicken. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.