Tag Archives: Plowmans Lunch

Bread and Cheese Pudding

Bread pudding is most commonly seen as a dessert, with sugary sweet or liquor-based sauces, served at the end of a meal.

My first encounter with a savory bread pudding, designed to be an entree, was in The Mediterranean Slow Cooker, a cookbook by Michele Scicolone. The recipe for Mozzarella, Sausage and Sun-dried Tomato Bread Pudding is a knockout (check it out here on Google Books: Mediterranean Slow Cooker p 58).

We have had it for dinner a couple of times, we like to jazz it up by changing the seasonings and making different sauces. A Tomato Basil Cream Sauce goes very well with it, as does a rich Marinara-style sauce.

In the previous post we discussed John Thorne’s Outlaw Cook and his essay on the Plowman’s Lunch, so we’d like to share the results of an experiment we did with one of the recipes in Thorne’s book: Bread and Cheese Pudding.

The recipe is ridiculously simple, as are the techniques involved. Even if you have never made a bread pudding you can’t mess this up.

Since this was an experiment I cut down the recipe a bit, you can scale it up as needed. This makes enough for two.

  • 4 slices of Gluten-free bread, lightly toasted (I use the Glutino Multigrain)
  • 4 ounces of Aged Cheddar, grated
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 small Onion, (1 cup) chopped fine
  • 6 ounces of beer (I used Anchor Stout)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Butter

Your Mise

Components for bread & cheese pudding

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the egg, beer and cheese in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and onions. Stir well to distribute the yolk and the seasonings.

Cut the bread into 3/4 inch squares and stir them in to the liquid. Let it set for a few minutes to soak up the beer.

Use the butter to grease a baking pan, I made this batch into a mini-muffin tin. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

These took 35 minutes.

Bake bread and cheese pudding at 375 for 35 mins. Until toothpick comes out clean.

Mini bread and cheese puddings

Eat them while still hot!


While this savory bread pudding was delicious on its own, crispy on the outside and creamy inside, we tried a few topping and condiments.

Here they are cut in half, topped with a small slice of the aged cheddar and a teaspoon of Sweet Onion Compote:

Bread & cheese pudding topped with cheddar & sweet onion compote

Delicious. We also tried them with Stone Ground Mustard, Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard, and French’s Yellow Mustard. This particular combo was best with the Stone Ground.

Final Thoughts

We will definitely be making this again, with some small changes, depending on the rest of the meal we are putting together. I’d like to try it in a bread-pan, about 2 inches deep, so I can cut it into slices and make an open-faced sandwich with Ham and Cheddar. Or change the bread to Rye and top with Pastrami and Swiss.

So many possibilities!

Outlaw Cook – A Book Review

John Thorne is a brilliant food writer whom, I am ashamed to say, I only discovered recently. His website hasn’t been updated in years, but, there is plenty to discover and I have the luxury of reading his work at my pace, instead of waiting for each new thing to appear!

The first book I discovered was Outlaw Cook, a collection of essays, biographical notes, history lessons and recipes. What a treasure!

Outlaw Cook by John Thorne Essays on food and cooking, with recipes

This is my kind of food writing. I found this book at Brattle Book Shop, in Boston, and when I read the description inside the front flap I knew I had to get to know this writer:

…the opening pages of Outlaw Cook evoke the slow time of childhood summers in Maine, where he first learned to taste…and the years as a college dropout , where hunger and solitude transformed an indifferent meal maker into an outlaw cook.
The rest of the book shares his struggle to keep his kitchen a private place, and his consequent culinary rebellion – against food writers who keep filling his head with the chatter of instruction…

Wow. I can identify with this sentiment. That is exactly what I want this blog to be, not a set of instructions but a cornucopia of inspirations.

His essay on the Plowman’s Lunch is simply the best piece of food writing I have ever read. (You can read an excerpt here on Google Books)

History lesson, cookbook, and philosophical journey all rolled into one. Bread and cheese and onion and ale. Four simple, basic ingredients that can be expressed in unlimited ways.

On their own, in their “raw” state, a hearty meal with carbs, protein, vitamins and flavor. But think about how these ingredients can be transformed (yes, I watch too much Chopped), just for starters:

  • Saute the onions and make a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Put the ale in a pot and make a Plowman’s Onion Soup (we’ll be doing this together soon!)
  • Bake the onion in the bread and swap the Cheddar for Brie, the ale for wine
  • Cheese and Onion Pie!

The creative mind reels.

The last chapter is as much a treasure trove as the first, entitled “The Culinary Scene”, it discusses a food community that was current in the late ’80s/early 90s (when this book was published) as well as books from the 50s and 60s. Books I may never have learned of, but will be ordering from Amazon soon!


UPDATE: I just finished reading the second book, Pot on the Fire. It’s just as good, entertaining and informative. Next up: Serious Pig


With an appetite for accuracy to match his appreciation of food at its purest (an issue of form as well as content), John Thorne tracks down the origins of dishes that have captured his heart and imagination along with his palate.
The book focuses mainly in three regional food-ways: New England’s pioneer and Atlantic coast cooking, with a focus on Maine (in a section titled “Here”); Louisiana’s Cajun tradition (in the section “There”); and Texas’s cowboy heritage of chili, barbecue and cornbread (in “Everywhere,” which includes brief looks at hamburgers, white bread and other all-American inventions).
Besides recipes, the reader will find thoughtful, informed and opinionated disquisitions on such as jambalaya, chili (16 recipes chart its development, the first from an 1880 cookbook) and a global survey of dishes made with rice and beans.