Things They've Left In My Refrigerator

Paris

One of the great mysteries upon returning home from one of my frequent house swaps is discovering what my guests have left in the refrigerator...

I always ponder the state of my refrigerator before I get home, then see if I can make my first at-home meal by using up the ingredients, my own version of the BBC's Ready Steady Cook. This time I found milk, eggs and butter from my friends in Poland, plus a couple of stale baguettes that they had left on the counter, having been overambitious in their estimation of how much French bread they could consume in a week.

They also kindly left a gift of chocolate-covered dried cherries and a thick, creamy-sweet liqueur made from vodka, eggs and sugar from Krakowski Kredens that I had never tried before, but which struck me more as a dessert topping than a drink.

I had been in Poland earlier in the summer and had just come back from visiting friends in London when I got back from Gare du Nord. We weren't planning on dessert, but then I had a vision of a British/Polish dish inspired by my recent trips, a way of stretching out the memory of a summer of travel while using up the spoils left by my guests.

I had eaten many "puddings" in London that I never eat in Paris, which had put me in a homey dessert frame of mind. So I made bread pudding by cutting up the baguettes into chunks, melting a knob of the butter and combining it with the milk and eggs and a bit of sugar -- plus some cinnamon and nutmeg from the pantry -- and letting the mixture soak in my silicone cake pan for a half hour before baking. Halfway through, I cut some of the chocolate-covered dried cherries in half and scattered them in the pan. And then I scooped out the light, fluffy, chocolate-and-fruit-flecked pudding into bowls and served it with some of the creamy liqueur. It was a decadent treat inspired by Paris, London and Krakow, an edible souvenir of a summer that went by, like all summers, too fast.

Related: What's Your Favorite Kitchen-Related Travel Souvenir?

- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristin @ apartmenttherapy . com

Image: Kristin Hohenadel