This year, Thanksgiving dinner at our house will be celebrated by a small, but jolly group. Our oldest son moved out in February and we dropped our daughter off at UBC at the end of August. That leaves hubby, myself, and our youngest son who receives the benefit of our full, undivided attention. I like to joke that with the others gone, I get to ‘mom’ him extra hard! Come to think of it, he’s had it fairly easy being the baby of the family and I know that he’s learned to use this to his full advantage. I really don’t know what I’ll do when our nest officially becomes ’empty’. I suppose that’s when dinner parties with friends begin to happen more often and that’s okay too.
Our late summer trip to UBC led us through the Okanagan where hubby and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary by wining and dining our way through the Naramata Bench. We stayed at a really wonderful B & B run by a senior Italian couple who fed us unbelievable multi course breakfasts. We were the only guests during our stay so we had their undivided attention. We spent a lot of time visiting and talking about food, touring their vineyard and garden; so much so that it became a part of our day. It dawned on my that they didn’t run the B & B to make money, but that they truly enjoyed having someone to feed and talk to. They were lonely. Sure, they have friends and a supportive community, but nothing takes the place of family.
The drive back from Vancouver was tough as I could physically feel my daughter getting farther and farther away. I counted the kilometres and the time it would take to rush back, if only I had received a text or that said we had forgotten to drop all of her belongings off. If only to go back for just one more hug. We spent the night at the halfway point, my sister’s house in Vernon, and visited the local Farmer’s Market on our way out of town the next day. I picked up many fruits and vegetables before I realized that I would need far less with her gone. I still bought a box of fresh picked honey crisp apples because at 50 cents a pound I just couldn’t leave them behind. The boys and I have done a good job of eating them, but they are getting a bit squidgy and I need to use them up.The best way to use a squidgy apple up is to bake with it. In this recipe, I take the classic bread pudding and add layers and layers of apples and spice. Then I top it off with a bit of Apple Brandy Caramel Sauce. The apple brandy is a locally made autumn treat, the first of it’s kind Eau Claire Distillery and it lends just a tiny bit of smoky flavour to the caramel sauce. Cooking with apples always ends in a delicious final product, however, the peeling, coring, and slicing can be tedious. I don’t know how I’ve survived until now without this pampered chef gadget to help me out. Yeah, I know…do we all really need more gadgets? I would usually say no, but when I saw this gadget at the local thrift store, I couldn’t pass up the deal. I paid $7.99 instead of $46…and it was so worth it! Next up…apple pie!
Apple Brioche Bread Pudding with Apple Brandy Caramel Sauce
- 1 loaf day old brioche (6-8 cups); torn up
- 2 honey crisp apples; peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/3 cup booze (I used Apple Brandy but you could use Calvados, Bourbon, etc
- In a frying pan, melt the butter and add apple slices and spices. Sauté until apple becomes soft and remove from heat. Grease a 9 x 9 pan well, then add a small layer of torn brioche (about 1/3 of your brioche) to the bottom. Place 1/2 apple slices evenly over top of the brioche, then repeat layering ending with a layer of brioche.
- Add cinnamon and brown sugar, salt, whipping cream, and milk to a medium pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking regularly and watching closely. Once the mixture begins to boil up on the sides of the pan, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for a few minutes.
- In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until combined. Gradually pour 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the eggs, and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth. Add the rest of the milk mixture and mix well. Carefully pour custard over the bread and apple and give the whole thing a little pat down to make sure it’s nice and squidgy. Cover with foil.
- Bake in a 350 F oven for an hour and ten minutes, then take it out to see if the custard has set. Bake longer if needed.
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