Dear SOS: I'd love to get the recipe for goat cheese bread pudding from Nopa in San Francisco. It's the best one I've had, and I'm eager to try to duplicate it.
Dear Margaret: Nopa's savory take on this classic comfort food is wonderfully rich yet amazingly light in texture, the bread cubes breaking down into a luxuriously soft pudding. Served alongside a simple salad, it makes the perfect meal.
Nopa's goat cheese bread pudding
Total time: Total time: 3 hours, plus overnight refrigerating and chilling times
Servings: 12 to 16
Note: Adapted from Nopa in San Francisco. The restaurant uses a mixture of pain de mie and white levain breads. This recipe requires a roasting pan large enough to fit an 11-by-15-inch baking dish. Large, disposable aluminum steam-table pans will work and can be found at most cooking and restaurant supply stores.
3 1/2 cups milk
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup crème fraiche
8 cups crustless bread cubes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, divided
1 (8-ounce) log fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, heavy cream and crème fraiche.
2. In an 11-by-15-inch baking dish, place the bread, mounding it slightly in the center of the dish. Pour over the milk mixture, gently pushing the bread down into the liquid so it is evenly soaked. Wrap the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, black pepper and one-fourth cup each Parmesan and Gruyère cheeses. Pour the egg mixture over the soaked bread. Dot the top with the crumbled goat cheese.
4. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients, making sure there are no pockets of unincorporated egg or cream. Don't worry if the bread breaks down. When everything is thoroughly mixed, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Gruyère over the top.
5. Cover the top of the dish with a sheet of greased foil, then place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven, carefully pouring in enough hot water to come up the sides of the baking dish by half.
6. Bake the bread pudding until set when jiggled (the middle will be moist but not runny), 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. Gently remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes more. Cool the bread pudding completely and chill before slicing, then rewarm the slices before serving.
Each of 16 servings: 382 calories; 12 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 31 grams fat; 19 grams saturated fat; 189 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 494 mg sodium.