To prepare for the fast approaching beach weather here in Australia I have taken up running – even though the very idea is comical to those who know me well. I do not profess to be athletic in the slightest or even very coordinated for that matter (the first few recipes on this blog were made and photographed teetering on one foot with crutches under my arms) but I do give it my best and I feel like I can splurge here and there (milk, butter, cream). This recipe was my little reward for completing my first 10K workout – it is quick, easy, tasty and filling.

Sir William Nicholson, Mushrooms, 1940
oil on canvas board, 34.9 x 45.1 cm, The Tate Collection

Sir William Nicholson was a British artist who worked in both oil paint and graphic woodcuts. He was known for his minimal landscapes, influenced by the compositional and tonal qualities found in the canvases by Whistler. Throughout his career Sir Nicholson revisited the subject of mushrooms and often painted his still lifes in a small scale and in a quick, sketch-like manner. During the later part of his life, Sir Nicholson only painted what amused him – his delight in the delicate gills under the cap of the mushroom is evident through the skillful articulation of the texture.

Bread pudding is traditionally a sweet dessert made by soaking bread in a custard-like mixture and then baking it. The pudding is often accompanied by a sauce – rum, whiskey, and caramel sauce are among the most common. The dish is believed to have originated from frugal cooks looking for a way to use stale bread and in the 13th century it was known as the ‘Poor Man’s Pudding’. The British custom of serving it at Christmas dates back to the Victorian times although the dessert is commonly associated with childhood and school lunches.

{Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding}

adapted from Gourmet
serves 4

2 cups fresh bread cubes
700g mixed mushrooms
1/4 c chopped onion
1 TB butter
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c single cream
2 eggs
1/4 c Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake bread cubes in a shallow pan for 10 minutes until golden. Cut mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces.

Saute the onion in butter in a small saucepan until soft, three minutes. Add the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook until moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add parsley and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Whisk together the egg, milk, cream, cheese, and additional salt and pepper. Stir in mushrooms and bread and let stand 10 minutes until the egg mixture is absorbed.

4 ramekins. Spoon in mixture and bake on a metal tray for 30 to 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Serve warm.