Sarah Daniels is the first female executive chef to head up a kitchen in a Del Frisco’s Grille, the chain of trendy bar-and-grill eateries that have more than 20 locations from coast to coast.
Daniels took culinary charge of Irvine Spectrum location a few months ago, working her magic on everything from hearty salads to wood-oven baked flatbreads to pappardelle Bolognese.
Yes, and desserts, too. The Nutella Bread Pudding is a customer favorite, and she agreed to share every detail of how to prepare it. The short video shows every step!
A blissful marriage of chocolate and hazelnuts, this rich mix of custard and brioche bakes in individual cups. Inverted to unmold them onto dessert plates, each warm pudding is accompanied with caramel sauce, coffee ice cream and whipped cream.
Tune Time: Rock is king in her kitchen. Tool, System of a Down, and Deftones are some favorite bands. She says that sometimes you just have to tune out all the stresses and jam out – if you are lucky enough to work in a closed kitchen that allows music.
The Competition: Her favorite restaurant is Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen, Orange. The fish tacos are her thing. She thinks the salsa is awesome, and loves the generous size of the fish servings.
New Ingredient Find: Gelatin! Not everyone knows how to make marshmallows.
Del Frisco’s Grille’s Nutella Bread Pudding
Yield: 16 servings and 3 cups caramel sauce, can be halved if desired
5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups Nutella spread
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 cup cocoa powder
3 pounds crust-on bread, such as brioche, cut into 3/4-inch dice, see cook’s notes
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Caramel sauce (if using, can substitute store-bought):
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 pound (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
Sweetened whipped cream
Coffee ice cream
Cook’s notes: Rustic country white bread can be substituted for brioche. It is best to cut bread a day in advance to allow it to dry slightly; it will absorb the custard better. If you don’t have a scale for weighing bread, figure that a rounded loaf of La Brea Country White bread weighs between 15 and 16 ounces.
1. In a large bowl, combine cream, Nutella, eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla, Frangelico, and cocoa; puree with an immersion blender until smooth and well combined (or use a food processor, pulsing enough to thoroughly combine). Add bread and gently toss to combine. Let rest for 30 to 40 minutes or until custard is absorbed.
2. Preheat convection oven to 300 degrees or standard oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray 16 custard cups (8- to 12-ounce size) with nonstick spray. Using an 8-ounce ladle portion mixture into prepared cups; push down lightly to pack cups and create a mound on top. Top off with any remaining custard. Place cups in large roasting pan. Add hot water half way up the cups to create a water bath.
3. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes for convection oven or 35 minutes for standard oven. Remove foil, if they look like they are cooking unevenly, very cautiously rotate pan; bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cautiously remove from oven and transfer puddings to sheet pan. If making ahead, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.
4. Meanwhile prepare caramel sauce (or skip this step if using store-bought sauce): Cook corn syrup and sugar a heavy-bottomed large saucepan over medium heat to a golden caramel color, stirring from time to time. Remove from heat. Add cream while whisking and return sauce pan to a boil to dissolve any sugar that seized while adding cream; remove from heat. Whisk in butter. As soon as butter is blended into sauce, pour sauce into bowl and place heatproof bowl in a pan of ice water to cool. If making ahead, refrigerate; warm before serving over low heat or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.
5. To serve: If made ahead, warm the bread puddings in a 375-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Run a knife around circumference of cups. Invert to unmold onto individual dessert plates. Top each with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle sauce on top. Pipe or scoop whipped cream next to ice cream. Dust with powdered sugar.
Source: Del Frisco’s Grille, Irvine
HERE’S A QUICK TIP FROM MELISSA’S
Aqua fresca, which translates from Spanish as “fresh water,” is a refreshing beverage made most often from fresh fruit, water, and some kind of sweetener.
Here the star is fresh watermelon, cut into chunks and pureed in a food processor with water. Agave syrup and fresh lemon juice add just-right balance to this refreshing drink.
Watermelon Aqua Fresca
Yield: 5 servings
5 cups (1-inch) cubed seedless or seeded watermelon, divided use
1 2/3 cups water, divided use
1 teaspoon agave syrup, or to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Ice, preferably crushed
Garnish: 5 fresh sprigs mint or peppermint or spearmint
Garnish: 5 thin lemon slices
1. Place a medium mesh sieve over a medium bowl; if you have a batter bowl with a spout and handle, it is handy for this.
2. Place 1 cup watermelon cubes and 1/3 cup water in food processer or blender. Pulse until pureed. Place in sieve. Repeat, using 1 cup of melon and 1/3 water, until all melon and water is used and strained in sieve.
3. Add agave syrup and lemon juice to strained mixture. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more agave syrup or lemon juice, or additional water.
4. Fill 5 glasses with ice. Stir mixture and pour into glasses. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and a lemon slice.
Nutritional information (per serving): calories 45; fat calories 0, total fat 0 grams; sat fat 0 grams, cholesterol 0 milligrams; sodium 5 milligrams; total carbohydrates 15 grams; fiber 1 gram; sugars 14 grams; protein 1 gram; vitamin A IUs 10%; vitamin C 20%; calcium 2%; iron 2%.