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Berries are one of the highlights of summer, and that's saying a lot given the abundance of every kind of produce in this sunny season.
Miraculous Little Berries
Even though I've created a super-delicious recipe using strawberries for this week, I must confess I have mixed emotions when it comes to cooking with seasonal fruit. When you taste something as divine as a ripe, luscious, just-picked strawberry, you can't help but think: why mess with success? In-season fruit is a sweet, juicy little miracle wrapped up and handed to us by nature. It's sheer perfection. Why do anything to it? Just enjoy it, and be grateful that the universe has provided you with such a treat!
Well, I was driving home recently from my CSA pickup, with the aroma from these amazing local strawberries filling car, wondering if I could bring myself to cook anything with them, when I stopped at my local bakery for some bread. My eye fell upon something special: cinnamon brioche. Suddenly I knew I had to get a loaf and turn it into bread pudding. And those fresh strawberries in the car would be just perfect on top - uncooked - maybe with a drizzle of something equally special. Like Grand Marnier cream sauce.
And voila. Here we are.
One of the drawbacks of being one's own webmaster (sigh) is that, by the time I get this posted, local strawberries may no longer be in season where you live! Not to worry. This would be equally delicious with blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, and peaches or nectarines would probably be sublime.
Don't have access to cinnamon brioche? You could use whatever dense, flavorful bread you do have, preferably something like challah or brioche. If the bread you're using doesn't already have cinnamon in it, see the notes in the recipe to add your own.
It may seem strange to begin a Mostly Plants series with bread pudding, but however you make it, it's real food, especially if you can make it with bread from an honest-to-goodness bakery like I did. And with luscious, local fruit as the star of your plate, it is mostly plants. (And if you're worried about not too much, just invite some friends over to share it - which is what I did).
Berry special, indeed.