Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding

1 loaf hearty white bread, day old, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

2 medium leeks, sliced thin

4 Tbs olive oil, divided

8 large mushrooms (crimini or white), sliced thin

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half and half

2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

5 ounces (about 2 cups) grated cheese (Gruyère, Baby Swiss, or Emmenthaler are best)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 7x11-inch baking dish. Spread the bread cubes in one even layer on the baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until dry and light brown along the edges. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 325 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté leeks until lightly golden brown (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl to cool.

In the same skillet, heat the final 2 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown (about 5-8 minutes). Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the leeks to cool. Whisk together the milk, half and half, parsley, eggs, egg yolks and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with melted butter. Stir in the leeks, mushrooms and cheese. Spread mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Do not push down or pack the bread into the dish; it will be heaped over the top of the dish. Pour the milk mixture over the bread, trying to coat all parts of the dish. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place the covered baking dish on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check to see if the pudding is set; if still liquid bake for 10 minutes longer. When everything has set up, remove the foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes to brown the cheese and bread on top. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Arctic Garden Studio. Adapted from More from Macrina.