Before you toss out that old, stale bread, why not repurpose

“Waste not, want not.” So goes the timeless saying made famous by Benjamin Franklin … and I cannot think of a time when it has been more pertinent. From the recession to skyrocketing food prices to the state of the environment, there has never been a more opportune time to make the most of every morsel of food you buy. Conserving food and wasting as little as possible is also an ancient Jewish value.

Not long ago, I bought a beautiful loaf of local sourdough for dinner with a friend. Since there were only two of us, we didn’t get very far into it. It wasn’t until a week later that I remembered that the remaining half of the bread was still sitting on my kitchen counter, wrapped in its brown paper bag … and was stale as can be. Though I considered pushing it down the garbage disposal, I’m glad I didn’t, because the bread pudding recipe that resulted was so delicious that I’ve repeated it several times since.

Another such evening, I made a side dish of freshly shucked and cut corn with butter. With about a cup left, I considered composting it, but then the idea for a spicy corn chowder occurred to me, and again I was glad I resisted the temptation to throw it away.

 

Ginger-Molasses Bread Pudding with Blueberries

Serves 6

11⁄2 cups milk

2 eggs

1⁄8 cup blackstrap molasses

1⁄3 cup sugar

1 small piece ginger, peeled and minced

1⁄2 baguette (ideally stale), cut into cubes

1⁄2 cup fresh blueberries

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan

powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and molasses. Gently stir in sugar and ginger until well incorporated. Add bread and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Use a spatula to scrape the bread mixture into the greased pie plate. Sprinkle with the blueberries and dot with butter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

 

Spicy Corn Chowder

Serves 3-4

3 Tbs. unsalted butter

6 Tbs. flour

31⁄2 cups water

1 white onion, diced

2 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and diced

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

6 scallions, sliced

1 cup half-and-half

1⁄2 to 1 tsp. chili powder

1⁄2 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1⁄4 cup grated jack (or pepper jack) cheese

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk together until a thick paste forms. Slowly add 31⁄2 cups of water, whisking constantly until a milky broth develops. Add the onions and potatoes to the broth. Increase heat to high and cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

Add the corn and most of the scallion slices (reserve a few pinches for garnish). Stir in the half-and-half and more water if necessary to bring the soup to a creamy, chowder-like consistency. Add chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Stir in cheese until melted and fully incorporated.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions and croutons if desired.

Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, www.gabimoskowitz.com.

 

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at brokeassgourmet.com.