Fifty Shades of Glaze

vegan doughnuts, A Streetcar Named Devour

Yes, they’re real and they’re spectacular.

Let’s talk about Book Club. Not generally speaking; the 2018 rom-com, Book Club. Starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, the film follows these life-long best friends, (now in their 70s ) navigating their post-menopausal, post-divorced, post-widowed, and post-sexless marriage lives. (Side note: Did you know that Jane Fonda was 81 when this film released?! Yes, 81! She looks amazing.)

The friends are in a book club, and their next book is Fifty Shades of Grey. The story continues with them reading the book while finding love, rekindling love, reigniting love and rediscovering their self love. Some may say it’s cheesy, but I’m a sucker for any rom-com, and I found it lighthearted and endearing. The scenes between Fonda’s character, Vivian and former flame, Arthur (played by Don Johnson), clearly have incredible on-screen chemistry. Or the adorableness that’s Steenburgen’s, Carol, performing a tap-dancing number as her husband (a very hilarious Craig T. Nelson) rides in a motorcycle singing Meatloaf’s, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

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Original image by Apartment Story + June Pictures

I went to see this movie in theaters with my fellow rom-com loving friend, Lindsay when it first came out. I cried. I’m unsure if she did. But I definitely cry watching movies. I’m an empath. It happens.

I watched it again recently (it’s currently steaming on Amazon Prime.) I still enjoy it. With all of this extra time on my hands, I wanted to make time-consuming yeast-raised doughnuts. Fridge foraging is a trending hashtag on social media right now, as many of us are in self-quarantine and socially distancing. I discovered that I had almost three bottles of black sesame seeds in my pantry, so I wanted to make doughnuts with them. I found a recipe on Belly Rumbles, and made a couple of edits and vegan-ized it. I replaced the miso glaze in her recipe with matcha glaze (another ingredient I have plenty of in my pantry). And black sesame + matcha go together like peanut butter + jelly. Wouldn’t you agree?

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“To even be holding this book is embarrassing.” -Sharon (Candice Bergen)

Black Sesame Doughnuts with Matcha Glaze

Yields about 1 dozen
Recipe slightly adapted from Belly Rumbles


FOR THE BLACK SESAME PASTE

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
4T date syrup (or honey if not vegan)

METHOD
Toast the black sesame seeds in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan, making sure all sides are toasted evenly. Toast till fragrant. Turn off burner and set pan aside to cool. Place seeds in a mini processor or coffee grinder and blitz till completely ground. In a bowl, mix with your liquid sweetener. Set aside.

FOR THE DOUGHNUTS


INGREDIENTS
¾ cup milk, warmed to 100-110 degrees
3T active dry yeast

¼ cup sugar
2 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
2T flaxseeds + 2 1/2T water mixed together
¼ cup black sesame paste
Fryer oil

FOR THE GLAZE
3T soy milk (or other dairy-free option)
Pinch of salt
2T vegan butter, melted
2T food-grade matcha powder
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD
In a small bowl heat your milk to 100-110 degrees. Add in the yeast and 1T of sugar. Whisk to combine and allow to rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes. There should be a layer of bubbles upon resting.

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“I would like to introduce you to Christian Grey” -Vivian

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sugar, flour, flaxseed, water, black sesame paste and bubbled yeast mix. Beat on low speed for about 5-7 minutes. It’s done once the dough is smooth.

In a large lightly greased bowl, add the dough ball and secure with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside where it’s warm. Dough should rest for about an hour (depending on your home temperature). You’ll know it’s ready when the dough has doubled.

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“I do like the idea of romance.” -Carol

Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for another 5 minutes. Then roll the dough to about 1-1.5cm thick. Use a doughnut punch cutter. Continue to roll out the dough scraps and punch out the doughnut rings till you have no more dough. You should get about 9-12 doughnuts in total.

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“We are too old.” -Sharon

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“But it does say right here, ‘for mature audiences'” -Carol

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Yeah, that certainly sounds like us.” -Diane

On a parchment-lined sheet tray place the cut out doughnut rings and holes, and top with plastic wrap on loosely. Put the tray somewhere warm to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Dough should be doubled in size when it’s ready.

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Stimulate your mind.

Fill your deep-fryer or a large sauce pan half way with oil over medium heat till it reaches 350°F. Fry the doughnuts but don’t overfill the pan. Flip after 30-50 seconds on one side and finish with 30 seconds on the other. I like using wooden chopsticks to do the flipping, but you can use a stainless steel spatula if you don’t chopsticks on hand. Doughnuts should be golden brown when they’re done.

Allow doughnuts to drain excess oil on a cooling rack lined with a larger sheet tray underneath. While doughnuts are cooling make the glaze.

Add all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together till smooth and a think but pourable consistency. 

Dip the top of doughnuts in glaze and return to the cooling rack to drain and dry. Repeat with the rest of the doughnuts.

Enjoy. These are perfect with a cup of hot coffee, or my new favorite Dalgona coffee.

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“Drink up. Hoist that glass. Happy reading, ladies.” -Vivian

Just Like A Circus

I believe in the art of organizing. Marie Kondo is my hero. I could spend hours at The Container Store. So now that all of the planet is pretty much under lockdown, I’ve had time to purge, audit and organize our fridge and pantry cabinets. In trying to store all the food we have for X amount of time, I took pleasure in organizing the shelves and FIFO-ing (kitchen term for First In First Out) all of our food. When making breakfast the other day, I had a handful of perfectly ripe pears that I wanted to add in this oven pancake recipe I found. Of course I had to veganize it. Honestly, these oven pancakes tasted like funnel cakes and transported me to a time not long ago where we could go to the county fair and eat all the things.

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Caramelized Pear Oven Funnel Cake Pancakes

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

6T vegan butter, divided

3 ea. pears, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4-inch wedges

2T coconut sugar

Juice of half a lemon

1t ground cinnamon

1C plant-based milk (I used oat milk and had great results)

1t pure vanilla extract

1C Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake + Waffle Flour Mix

2 T flaxseed + 4T water

Powdered sugar for dusting

METHOD

Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flaxseed eggs, 1T of the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Add in the flour mix. Whisk till the batter is just incorporated. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium-high heat. Then add in half of the pears and half of the coconut sugar and cinnamon, sautéing till it’s nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Add 2T of butter, melt, and pour in half of the pancake batter.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pancake is golden and puffy.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Let’s Do A Makeover!

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I’ve been thinking about the weight of the world right now. The proverbial dark cloud currently encapsulating our planet. Our upcoming presidential election and the possible changes (good or bad) that come with it. I’m unsettled, and the only thing we can do right now is take extra care and precautions to be healthier and safe. To be more proactive than reactive. To vote for the most competent and capable candidate. I’m trying my best to relax and stay calm, but that’s very difficult when you have OCD as I do.

Needless to say, it’s time to escape, if only for a few hours. I decided to watch one of my favorite movies that always sparks joy—“Clueless.” Yes, that iconic ‘90s film that managed to turn a Jane Austen novel into a reimagined fashion revolution.

It’s actually the perfect movie to watch right now. (Did you know “Outbreak” is the 9th most-popular movie streaming on Netflix right now?! So much for escape.)

In the words of Cher Horowitz:

“I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength…”

<Cut to an exterior shot of the Westside Pavilion>

CLUELESS. Image shot 1995. Exact date unknown.

Fun fact: I know and can recite the entire movie from beginning to end. (I’ve honestly watched this movie maybe 1000 times. Not an exaggeration.)

Cher Horowitz is such a mood right now. That scene where the guy at school bumps into her very persuasively so she quickly pushes him off as she quips,

“Ugh. Get off of me! As if!”

Honestly, that’s how I feel right now.

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On my day off while I was socially distancing myself, I stumbled upon a recipe from I Will Not Eat Oysters for Rye Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. It looked so dreamy and delicious, I had to make it. And just like Cher and Dionne gave Tai a makeover, I reworked the recipe, veganized it and then added a couple of superfood ingredients. (Superfood is super important right now, wouldn’t you agree?)

I’m convinced I’ve succeeded because I had left out a container of these only to discover the morning that my boyfriend had eaten almost all of the cookie cups after I had gone to bed. (Little did he know they are super healthy. Bwahaha!)

Feel free to play Jill Sobule’s “Supermodel” in the kitchen while making this recipe.

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The key ingredients in this recipe are:

Walnuts: An excellent source of antioxidants and significantly high amounts of omega-3 fats called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)s, an essential fat that studies have shown helps to lower heart disease risk. Helps decrease inflammation, control blood sugars, promotes healthy gut and helps control blood sugars and lowers blood pressure.

Maca powder: A superfood chock-full of vitamins (including B1, B2, C, and E) with more than 20 amino acids and also contains calcium, zinc and iron. AND it helps increase your libido.

Flaxseed Meal: Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fats ALAs, lignans and fiber. It also helps lower blood pressure and may improve cholesterol.

Blackstrap Molasses: Yet another low-profile superfood. It’s an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Tahini: It’s rich in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cacao Nibs: Packed with flavonoid antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Rye Flour: High in fiber and contains small amounts of zinc, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

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Superfood Tahini Rye Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Prep time: 3 hours 20 mins (“Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes!”)
Yields: 18 cookie cups

INGREDIENTS

226g plant-based butter (I like Earth Balance)
200g coconut sugar
50g maple syrup
50g blackstrap molasses
100g tahini
3T ground flaxseed + 4T water
2t pure vanilla extract
150g all purpose flour
40g rye flour
30g maca powder
1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1 1/2t Kosher salt
1c dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
1c dairy-free dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1/2c cacao nibs
2c walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

METHOD

Melt the butter. Pull off heat and set aside to cool for about 10 mins.

Once the butter has cooled down a bit, add to a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and mix with the coconut sugar till fluffy. About 5 minutes on medium speed. Turn off the mixer and add the maple syrup, molasses, tahini, flaxseed egg and vanilla. Mix for another 2 minutes, or until incorporated.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients, in three increments, on low speed. Once all flour has been added, throw in the chocolate chips, chocolate shards, cacao nibs and chopped walnuts till just incorporated. Don’t over-mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion out a scoop of the dough and place inside a standard muffin tray. Once all dough has been scooped into each muffin tin, place the entire tray in the freezer for at least 3 hours. This allows the flours to relax. Cover the top loosely with parchment paper.

Once your dough has rested, pull out your dough tray from the freezer and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Bake 12-17 minutes (depends on your oven). When fully cooked (I like mine slightly gooey in the middle) pull them out and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying!

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Let’s Twist Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

 

I need to get back into yoga. My body is constantly telling me I need to stretch and to weight train more. The aches + soreness associated with having a job where I’m on my feet 10+ hours a day, where I’m going up and down stairs all day is taking its toll. I average anywhere between 3-5 miles in steps alone by just being in the confines of the building. (That’s upped to 5-8 miles a day during our peak season!) On busy summer days (where the restaurant averages 2-hour wait times and lines stretch around the block like the ones in Disneyland) my body is wrecked from moving up and down and all around. I’m a bit older now (40 is getting closer and closer!) and I’m not as spry as I once was. So I’ve decided that yoga and weightlifting is a priority in 2020.

Another priority? This matcha and black sesame + dark chocolate babka. It is as heavenly as it sounds. The deep nutty and cocoa aromas from the toasted, ground black sesame seeds, and the full-bodied slight umami flavors from the matcha powder with the bittersweet chocolate is a lovely taste combination.

Babka is a dense cake comprised of yeasted dough that’s filled, rolled and cut in half vertically, then twisted and baked to perfection. I highly recommend upping your baking game by trying this easy to follow recipe if you are new to the beauty that is babka. Of course, I veganized it, sourcing a handful of recipes and testing combinations of each one. The recipe below gave me the best results. Share your babka experiences, tips and tricks below!

VEGAN Matcha Babka With Black Sesame + Dark Chocolate Filling

Recipe slightly adapted from Fix Feast Flair + The Little Epicurean 

Yields 1 babka loaf

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MATCHA BABKA DOUGH

  • 1/2 cup soy milk, plus extra for brushing
  • 3.5 g active dry yeast
  • 344 g all-purpose flour
  • 64 g non-dairy, unsalted butter (I like Earth Balance) at room temperature
  • 25 g coconut sugar
  • 2 flaxseed eggs (2T flax + 5T warm water)
  • 1/3 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T matcha powder, cook-grade
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • Oil for coating bowl

FOR THE BLACK SESAME SEED FILLING

  • 6 T non-dairy unsalted butter (like Earth Balance or Melt), room temperature
  • 1/4 c coconut  sugar
  • 1.5 T maple syrup
  • 4 T black sesame seeds, toasted lightly and coarsely ground
  • 1/2 c miniature dairy-free dark chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

METHOD FOR THE  DOUGH

  1. Heat the milk till the thermometer reaches 100-110°F.
  2. Whisk the warmed milk and yeast in a medium-sized bowl. Then whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed till light and whipped fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in half of the flax eggs mixture for about a minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the rest of the flax mix and whip on medium for another minute. Add the vanilla. Stir for 30 seconds.
  5. At the lowest speed, slowly add in the rest of the flour and matcha powder till almost combined, and then mix in the  yeasted milk for another minute. Then add the salt. Mix on low till the dough starts to pull away from the bowl and it’s fully incorporated. About 5 minutes.
  6. Lightly coat a large bowl with a neutral oil and place the dough in it. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm area for about 1-2 hours, depending on the temp of your house. (You’ll want the dough to double in size.)

METHOD FOR THE BLACK SESAME FILLING

  1. Heat the sesame seeds over medium-high heat and toss occasionally till the seeds start to give off a toasted aroma (you’ll know it when you smell it). Turn off the heat.
  2. Place the seeds in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder till completely ground.
  3. Using a paddle attachment on a standing mixer, combine the butter, sugar, syrup, and  toasted sesame seeds. On medium speed, whip till combined. Place in the refrigerator till you’re ready to assemble the babka.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out starting in the middle and working your way out. Roll the dough to a 12×16 rectangle.
  2. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the sesame filling into the dough. Sprinkle a generous layer of chocolate chips on top.
  3. Line an 8” x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper.


  4. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly. The seam should be at the bottom of the roll.
  5. Cut the ends off of both sides using a sharp serrated knife.

  6. Gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, from top to bottom.
  7. With the cut sides up, twist the halves over and together. Cross the left end over the right, and then carefully lift the right side over the left again. Repeat till all sides are intertwined.
  8. Carefully place the dough twist into the prepped pan. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F
  10. Remove towel. Brush the babka with soy milk.
  11. Place in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes (depends on your oven) and till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. When done, carefully remove from oven and allow to cook for about 15 minutes on a cooling rack before serving.

The Kids Are Alright

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Holiday get-togethers can be a bit challenging for us folk who have food allergies. It is sadly true. We are the ones who come to birthday + holiday parties, weddings, showers, potlucks, sulking at the buffet table full of food that we simply cannot eat. We stand there and salivate over all the pies, pizzas, bread, cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, cheese plates, etc., that are hands off. I mean, we *can* eat them, sure, but that would mean we want to:

A) Die

B) Get rushed to the hospital 

C) Be stuck on the toilet for the next week, wishing we were dead 

D) Be stuck lying on the floor next to the toilet in the fetal position, wishing we were able to physically get onto the toilet 

It’s not fun. For us or for our loved ones who have to deal with it. I once accidentally ate a few bites of risotto at a “build your own risotto bar” at a wedding thinking that all the cheeses that were placed in separate bowls at the build-your-own bar were my signal that the actual risotto base didn’t include cheese. I was wrong. I was so deeply wrong. My body made sure to tell me how wrong I was. I was sick for a few days after that, and have avoided “build-your-own” risotto buffets ever since.

For holiday parties, and actually, any party all year round, I love making this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe and bringing it to parties because it’s so dang delicious, moist AF, and is gluten-free, vegan AND nut-free. It’s perfect for adults and kids with food allergies.

I hope you try out this recipe, and if you do let me know how it turns  out.

xo Kelly Rae

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free

Recipe slightly adapted from Kitchen Confidante

INGREDIENTS

1 C brown rice flour

1/2 C potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup or agave syrup

1/4 cup vegan butter or coconut oil, at room temperature

1 flaxseed egg (1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2 1/2 Tablespoons water, mixed together in a small bowl)

1/2 cup “vegan buttermilk” (coconut milk plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, mixed together)

3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork 

1/2 dairy-free chocolate chips (I’m a die-hard Enjoy Life bittersweet chocolate fan!)

METHOD 

Preheat oven to 300°F. 

Grease your loaf pan with coconut oil, olive oil or vegan butter and line the base of your pan with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir in the flax egg and then the bananas, and lastly adding the vegan buttermilk. Slowly add the dry ingredients and then the chocolate chips and mix till just incorporated to avoid over mixing.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. If in doubt, do the toothpick test.

Bagels for Days

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Bagels are such a versatile treat–you can pretty much top them with anything and they’ll be delicious. Cream cheese, jam, peanut butter, avocado, lox, pesto, seriously anything.

Here’s a super-easy recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Homemade Bagels
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Yields 6-12, depending on size

INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 and 3/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

FOR THE WATER BATH
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 3 teaspoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons raisins
egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

METHOD
Quickly whisk in the yeast into the warm water till completely
dissolved. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed the flour, sugar, and salt for about 30 seconds. With the mixer continuing to run on medium speed, slowly drizzle the bloomed yeast mixture, making sure to scrape out any undissolved yeast with a spatula, getting all of the yeast into the dough.

Turn down to low speed and mix until all the flour has been well incorporated into the dough. The dough will look choppy; once you get it to this point, bump up the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes. Once done mixing, the dough will be super stiff, that’s OK.

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(Mine somehow managed to resemble the mandrake root in Pan’s Labyrinth. Creeeeepy.)

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(Note: If you’re making cinnamon and raisin-flavored bagels, section off about 1/3 of the mixture and hand-mix the raisins into the dough.)

Otherwise, remove from the mixing bowl and shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place into the bowl, turning the dough ball to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and place in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough should to be noticeably larger.

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Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or SILPAT mats if you have them. Place a wire rack over a third baking sheet.

To shape the bagels, gently punch down the dough if you notice any air bubbles. Turn it out onto a clean surface and divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.

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Shape each piece into a ball and place 4 balls onto the two lined baking sheet. Then, hold up one dough ball and press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole, widening it. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest as you prep the water bath.

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Preheat your oven to 425°F.

To prepare the water bath, fill a large, wide pan with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring the water to just-simmering. Once simmering, add in the bagels, about 2-3 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the bagels for about 1 minute on each side, then transfer each bagel to the cooling rack.

To prepare your optional toppings: Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel, then sprinkle each with your desired toppings.

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Place the bagels on the lined baking sheets, and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to get an even coloration. The bagels should be golden brown and delicious.

Remove the cooked bagels from the oven and to cool for about 20 minutes before enjoying.

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(Cook’s Note: You can freeze your bagels in an airtight bag. Refrigerated bagels will keep for about 7-10 days.)

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj, Sententia Entertainment and Telecinco.)

DINING IN…

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A pet peeve of mine: When stores begin selling their holiday decorations months before the holiday has even come close. (Can we just celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving first, please?) It’s annoying, really. I don’t even want to think about Christmas in October when I’m trying desperately to put together my last-minute Halloween costume. Let’s keep them separated, people.

Another pet peeve of mine: Playing Christmas music in October. Or November.

Just stop.

I appreciate the wanting to get into the holiday spirit deal, but I just can’t justify listening to Bing Crosby singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” 100 times before Christmas. I just can’t. And as much as I love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, I don’t want to hear it every single day leading up to Christmas.

I can’t.

I like to wait a good four to three weeks before the holiday to get everything done. That includes shopping, getting the tree, decorating, and watching all of my usual holiday favorites (The Holiday, Love Actually, Home Alone, Hook, Bad Santa, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and While You Were Sleeping).

And The Family Stone. With an all-star cast–Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, and Craig T. Nelson, to name a few, The Family Stone circles around the Stone clan during Christmastime.

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The story starts off with the Stone’s prodigal son, Everett, (Mulroney) who brings his uptight, conservative girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Parker), with him to his family’s New England home for the holidays. Everett intends (albeit a bit skeptical) on proposing to her with his mom Sybil’s ring (Keaton), but is met with a bit of resistance from Sybil, who also has a terminal illness, and disapproves of her eldest son’s choice for a wife. None of the family approves of Everett’s girlfriend, either, and gives her a hard time at every opportunity they can. (Except Ben, played by Wilson, who shares a connection to Meredith.)

When Meredith sends an emergency SOS to her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to come stay at the Stones’ home with her for support, things get interesting when Julie arrives, and her growing mutual attraction to Everett cannot be denied. These star-cr0ssed siblings endure a few fights, misunderstandings and an engagement ring stuck on someone’s finger. Uh-oh.

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One of the more pivotal scenes in the movie is when Meredith plans to make her family’s traditional “Morton Strata”, a savory bread pudding, on Christmas Day for the Stone’s. But things quickly turn upside-down, quite literally.

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Without further giving away anymore spoilers, I encourage you to watch this heartwarming movie.

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This week’s post is dedicated to Meredith’s Christmas Strata, which includes mushrooms (even though Everett is allergic to them…oops!). Perfect for Christmas morning, make this recipe a day-ahead, as it’s important for the bread to absorb all of that custardy goodness.

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Meredith’s Christmas Strata with Swiss Chard, Mushrooms and Gruyère

Recipe slightly adapted from NYT Cooking
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
½ pound stale bread, sliced about 3/4 to 1-inch thick cubes
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats
2 1/2 cups milk
1 ¾ cup mushrooms, quartered
1 cup cooking greens stemmed and cleaned (Swiss chard, kale or spinach)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme, picked and chopped
 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon red pepper flake
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt

METHOD
Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.

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In a large pan, toast the bread cubes lightly in 2 Tablespoons of the butter. Place in a large bowl, and toss with 1 cup of the milk. Set aside.

Sauté the mushrooms in 2 Tablespoons of the butter, then add in the thyme. Remove from the pan and into the bowl with the bread and milk.

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Using the same pan, heat another 2 Tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat, and add the cooking greens.

Stir for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cover the pan, and allow the steam to cook the greens till it has completely collapsed, about three minutes. Uncover and stir, season with salt and red pepper flake.

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Remove from the pan, roughly chop and transfer to the bowl with the bread and mushrooms. Add the cheeses, and mix to incorporate. Arrange in the buttered baking dish.

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Beat together the eggs in a separate bowl, add in the remaining milk. Then pour over the bread mixture. Press the bread down into the custard mixture. Cover with foil and place into the refrigerator overnight.

On the next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place in the oven, and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, and serve hot.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Twentieth Century Fox.)