Smoked Cheddar, Leek & Mushroom Bread Pudding
This would be a spectacular buffet table or holiday dish -- super rich and flavorful. You can switch out the cheese and veggies. Ideas might be Gruyere or Feta cheese; artichokes or red bell pepper. It's completely adaptable.
2 tablespoons Wild Mushroom & Sage or Butter Olive Oil
3-4 leeks (white and light green parts only), cut into half-moons, rinsed and drained on paper towels
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
Kosher salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 lb. country bread (day old), cut in 1 inch pieces (about 5 cups)
3 ounces smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square or other 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
Pour the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool a bit.
Add the bread and cheese to the leek/mushroom mixture and give a gently toss. Whisk the eggs; add the half-and-half, rosemary, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add to the bread mixture. Gently combine and pour into the casserole dish.
Cover with foil or a lid and bake until the edges are set and the middle is still wobbly, 20-30 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned on the edges, about 20-25 minutes more.
Let cool a few minutes and serve.