Mrs Tiddlewinks Cheese and Tomato Bread Pudding
This is a savoury cheese and tomato bread pudding from the Beatrix Potter cookbook. The custardy texture of the bread, with the melted cheese, and tomatoes and basil, makes this a very morish, comfort-food dish that people are sure to reach for seconds of, yet it costs very little to make. It can easily become a week-night or "had a rough week" standard. Also good as a brunch dish. Treat this as a main dish. It doesn't need much with it; some sweet corn kernels on the side are nice, or another cooked veg such as peas, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc.. It's so filling and hearty that you probably won't want meat with it.
- Start heating the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4.
- Grate the cheese; set aside.
- Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl; whisk in the milk. (If you are using fresh bread, cut back a bit on the milk.) Set aside.
- Open and drain the tomatoes; set aside.
- Butter the casserole dish.
- Tear off rough cubes of bread and make a layer with the cubes in the bottom of the casserole (no need to take the crust off, etc.) Grab a handful of tomatoes and scatter them over the bread. Repeat until you have used half the tin of tomatoes. Sprinkle some basil and pepper (to taste) on, then sprinkle half the grated cheese on. Drizzle over it about 1/4 of the milk and egg mixture.
- That was the first layer.
- Make a second layer exactly the same, except you use up the rest of the milk and egg. Don't feel obliged to use up the entire loaf of bread (it's all gonna depend on how large your baking dish is.) If the dish is getting full, you can press down lightly.
- Pop in oven; let it bake until a knife comes out somewhat clean, and until browned and bubbling. You're really best to cook this just a bit on the slowish side (convection oven users be warned) to give the custard time to set without the top burning on you. If you had the oven too high and the top browned too fast, put a lid on it.
- Serve piping hot.
Use whatever firm grating cheese you like: Cheddar, American Swiss, Colby, Mozzarella, etc. All things being equal, cheddar does the job nicely. 2 cups grated cheese = 1/2 pound / 225 g Feel free to experiment with the herbs, though the basil does go nicely with the tomato. Use a two-quart (litre) or larger casserole / baking dish. To make it a bit richer, use a 4th egg in the egg and milk mixture. You likely won't want to add salt, as the cheese and tinned tomatoes will typically already have a fair bit in them. Leftovers are even better the next day; reheat for 2 to 3 minutes in microwave.
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