Fromageology

by admin on December 20, 2012 · 0 comments

in blogEATS

For a number of years now, Jessica B. Harris, who teaches English at Queens College in New York, and Darra Goldstein, who teaches Russian at Williams College, have had successful side careers as cookbook authors—in both of their cases, deeply admired and widely read cookbook authors.

The food blogosphere, too, has its academics moonlighting as food writers. Sometimes, as with Harris and Goldstein, the subject matter they cover overlaps with their culinary interests. For others, there’s little connection at all.

Tenaya Darlington, who blogs at (and as) Madame Fromage, is another moonlighter. She writes on her About page, “By day, I teach writing. By night, I haunt cheese caves.” She’s an accomplished poet and a professor of writing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. In her nighttime job she produces a terrific blog, with its own poetic style, plus lots of useful cheese info and many beautiful photos. And, amid what seem like thousands of food blogs named ThisGirl and ThatGirl—I half expect to discover some morning a blogger who calls herself GlutenFreeConvectionOvenCookingGirl—it’s nice to see a blogger who goes by a grown-up title like “Madame.” (Is Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, the only “woman” in blogging?)

One of the things I like about good food blogs is that they take you along on the writer’s voyage of discovery. Magazine and book food writing, with few exceptions, proclaim the author’s expertise from the mountaintop. In a blog you’re allowed a little naiveté. Madame Fromage nicely combines a sense of wonder and newness with some serious and hard-won wisdom. In her posts, which on one day might cover a taste test of two competing artisan blue cheeses, on another the hunt for the perfect Red Leicester, and on a third a visit to a cheesemaker to learn about the process and the craft, Darlington is assertive about what she knows but also honest about what she doesn’t. As a reader you feel you could build your own cheese connoisseurship along with her, which is more fun, I think, than taking notes on a lecture or book by The World’s Leading Expert.

Madame Fromage is not loaded with recipes, but the ones that are there are engaging and very good. Madame has granted blogEATS la permission to reproduce here a warming and substantial Cheddar Breakfast Bread Pudding, perfect should you have any overnight guests during the holidays and a leftover baguette or two. The original post was here.

Cheddar Breakfast Bread Pudding

Once you discover this use for stale baguette, you will dream of this dish in your blackest sleep. I am the sort of person who falls asleep by thinking about future meals, and this is one recipe that I used in place of Ambien – if I think about making this, I fall asleep quickly just so I can get up to eat it.

Breakfast bread pudding is similar to strata, but it’s less eggy and you don’t have to prepare it the night before, though you could. It takes about 30 minutes to bake, which is all the time you need to shower, walk the dog, and pack a lunch.

Although the recipe below calls for sundried tomatoes (I used some that I’d oven-roasted), you can really use any tidbits rattling around in your crisper– leftover roasted veggies, scraps of bacon, the baggy of chopped onion that lives behind the olives, etc. On a whim, I tossed in kielbasa. Boom. Delish. Serves 2

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup cheddar, cubed or grated (I used Quickes Clothbound Cheddar)

6 thickly sliced baguette rounds, preferably stale

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved; or sun-dried

½ cup kielbasa, bacon, or chopped ham (optional)

Fresh herbs, such as basil or chives

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two oven-proof ramekins with a pat of butter or a little oil. You can skip this step, but the ramekins will be a little tough to clean.

2. Cube or shred baguette rounds, and divide them between the two ramekins. Tuck cheese, tomatoes, and kielbasa into the bread, leaving plenty of crannies.

3. Mix together eggs and milk in a tall measuring cup, then pour over the bread mixture in each ramekin.

4. Fill a casserole pan half full of water, then set the ramekins into this cozy water bath. Pop the whole thing into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean and

 Recipe and photo used by permission of Tenaya Darlington

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