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