Monday, August 23, 2010

A Sweet Story for a Sweet Bread

One of the many joys in my daily life is to listen to friends tell me stories about when they were young and how food has taken such a profound and loyal place in their memories. Experts have said that of all the senses that we tend to lose when growing old, the sense of taste remains the one that triggers the most memories. I have watched people light up when talking about their mom's special cake recipe or how their dad used to make wine in the basement or those cookies mom used to have on a plate after school. I have even seen that look when someone describes that horrible liver they hated as a kid (no offense liver). The point is, whether it was something baked from scratch with love or just a special time, place, or person you sat with for a meal, it's all a beautiful story in your family's history and it should be shared.

Another perk to being a food lover is that you occasionally get special food gifts from friends. Whenever someone tells me they have something they want me to try, I'm instantly intrigued. Yesterday was like no other. A very special friend of mine drove out of her way - about 30 miles - to bring me one of those special gifts. Elda is a beautiful Latin lady with quiet poise and a sassy salsa in her step. She came to Austin after being born and raised in the city of Acambaro, Mexico. I would have never known about this city nor thought to visit until she handed me this beautiful loaf of sweet bread and rolls. She told me a little about this town and how it's known for its golden, delicious bread. She also shared a sweet story about how every block or neighborhood has a designated bread pick-up location. Bakeries all over town have figured out that having bread accessible to the people is great for sales. In this town, families would send daughters out to pick up bread from the neighborhood "bread house" between 6-8 each evening to get the pieces needed for a late snack with tea or coffee as well as for breakfast and/or lunch the next day. It is very common for men (when they find a woman to be attractive) to ask her: "¿A que hora sales por el pan?" which translates to "What time do you go get the bread?" This is because getting the bread is the only time most young ladies get to be alone and away from the eagle-eyes of the men in the family. If you are a lucky young man, you just might be able to escort one of these lovely ladies to her bread pick-up and then, as they sa,y "El amor está en el aire." Well, maybe not, but when she was telling the story I distinctly visualized a beautiful young lady and her basket of sweet bread being whisked away at sunset. Call me crazy but this is serious entertainment for me!

So write these stories down for your kids, tell them to your friends, remind the old folks or better yet, bake something for them. It may just trigger their memory and then they can tell you a story or two! I'm jus' sayin'!

Acambaro Sweet Bruchetta

For these recipes, try using Panettone or Hawaiian bread.
Slice bread in 1/4 inch diagonal pieces
Drizzle olive oil over slices and grill on both sides.

Spread Mascarpone cheese, diced dates and roasted pistachios.
Then drizzle a little agave nectar over the top to sweeten

Acambaro Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding w/Añejo Tequila Sauce

In a large bowl whisk the following:
5 large eggs
1 13.4oz can La Lechera Dulce de Leche (this is not sweetened condensed)
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Then add 1 loaf of sweet bread cubed.

Mix and pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan. Place pan in a larger 13x9 pan and fill outside pan with 1/4 in of water (Bain Marie)

Bake at 350º for 45-50 minutes until top is dry and middle is not jiggly.

Añejo Tequila Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons quality anejo tequila (I used El Gran Jubileo Extra Añejo)

First, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch and stir into the butter. Pour in milk and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in tequila. Serve warm over the Bread Pudding.