Web Xtra: Deconstructing the Dish

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There’s a reason they call bread the “staff of life.”

From Biblical times onward, cultures throughout the world have relied on bread as a crucial part of their diet. Little wonder, then, that wasting bread was, if not quite a sin, a very foolish thing to do.

Some of the world’s most iconic dishes evolved from cooks determined not to let a single crumb of the staff of life go unused. The Italian panzanella and ribollita. Migas and gazpacho in Spain. The German dumplings called semmelknoedel. Garbure in France. Even our own bread-based stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey.

And for everyone with a sweet tooth, bread pudding. At its simplest chunks of stale bread soaked in custard, its origins go back to at least the 11th century. Long a staple of Southern and New Orleans cuisines, bread pudding is now tricked out with everything from fruits and nuts to white chocolate. And that’s before we get into fancy sauces.

This version, from cook Hilda Lear of Boca’s Best BBQ (9181 Glades Road, 561/488-9688) and chef/partner Nathan Gibson, is an eggless take on a classic.

BREAD PUDDING WITH HONEY WHISKY SAUCE

For pudding

2 loaves white bread, cubed (about 16 cups)

3 ounces almond paste

2 cups heavy cream

1 ounce vanilla extract

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 pound butter

For sauce

1 cup condensed milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup honey

1 shot whiskey

For pudding: Melt butter, then mix with remaining ingredients, place in oven-proof baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.

For sauce: Place all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and reserve.