Pig & Penguin Berry Bread Pudding

Posted on Jul 18, 2015


So the folks came to the Big Apple last week! My Tiny Kitchen is located in our tiny apartment, so it wasn’t practical that they would actually stay with us, and since, at the moment, they are both somewhat less ambulatory than they would like, staying at a hotel dozens of blocks away would have been challenging. So we were very fortunate to find a beautiful apartment on AirBnB.com only two and a half blocks away!

I was nervous hosting my folks for a couple of reasons: 1) I have a reputation as a bit of a cook (I have a food blog for pity’s sake!) and 2) They’ve never visited me before! I always visited them back on the farm. So this would be their first look at my life and my world. No pressure!

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. They loved being here, and I loved having them. I made breakfast every morning in my tiny kitchen and took it over to share it with them in their home away from home, which made their morning sooo much more comfortable than having to go out for breakfast every day. I cooked dinner at my place their first night in town. I made a slightly less spicy version of my Chipotle Chicken and Lemon-Asparagus Couscous with Tomatoes, Feta and Mint, adding fresh basil to the mix and substituting sugar snap peas for the now-out-of-season asparagus–all of which was a palate stretch for my Dad, who handily cleaned his plate despite the exotic flavor combo. The next night, before running off to see Peter and the Starcatcher (sadly sans Orville, as he wan’t on), I did a simple burger for dinner.

Dad & Mom at the 9/11 Memorial looking positively gleeful (but not disrespectfully so, I assure you!)

But by their third day, after a challenging day of walking through the 9/11 Memorial (moving and well done) and a spontaneous trip on the Staten Island Ferry (fun, free and beautiful), they opted for a quick deli sandwich and a nap before hitting Jersey Boys. I had some Prickly Pear Maragaritas and Beef & Black Bean Nachos (recipes coming to My Tiny Kitchen SOON!) after the show. My Mom said, “Is there an army coming later?” when she saw the huge tray of nachos I’d made, but thirty minutes and a couple of margaritas later, the Myers-Cooper-Mendoza army of four had done them in!

Carol, Orville & Don (aka Mom, Pig & Dad, aka my family)

On Friday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, borrowed a couple of wheelchairs and pushed Mom and Dad through 5000 years of art history, from ancient Egypt to Degas. It was a terrific visit, and they were able to sit back and enjoy the amazing collections instead of cursing their ambulatory challenges. Orville ferried my mom while I circulated Dad, intuitively moving toward whatever seemed to catch their eye. It was a terrific way for Orville and I to bond with them over our shared experience in a way that was just lovely.

All in all, it was a week of making terrific memories. So why then wait twenty-three years to have them here. That truth, my friends, didn’t reveal itself to me until after they’d checked their bags to go back to Ohio. When it hit me, I was flabergasted by the simple and shameful truth of why it had taken twenty-three years for them to visit me in NYC.  It’s pretty powerful stuff, and humbling, and I share it here if you’d like to read it.  [Really, the response I got from this piece was overwhelming, and I realized I was not alone. I hope you’ll check it out]

But of all the food I shared with them from my tiny kitchen, the most iconic Cooper-Mendoza recipe had to be one that Orville and I perfected together some years ago, our Berry Bread Pudding. Our quest for the perfect, fruity, light and custardy bread pudding started in New Haven where we fell in love with the bread pudding and breakfast strata at the Atticus bookstore. I’ve never been a huge fan of bread pudding, usually finding them dense and heavy. But the bread pudding at Atticus was light and custardy, bursting with berries and sporting a crunchy, sugared top. After much trial and error, we came up with a bread pudding that matched that fluffy standard-bearer in every respect, and so I give you Brian & Orville’s Berry Bread Pudding!

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Pig & Penguin Berry Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 3 hr 0 min | Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min | Makes: 16 servings | Difficulty: Medium


3 cups half & half

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups milk

9 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups berries of your choice (fresh or frozen). We like to mix blueberries and raspberries.

12 oz bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (use a good Italian or French bread)

2 Tbsp melted butter (plus butter to prepare the baking dish)

2-3 Tbsp Sugar In The Raw


Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and place in an oven set to warm until completely dried out (1 to 2 hours).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, milk, cream, half & half and vanilla. Add the bread and mix with your hands to coat the bread with the custard mixture. Put a plate on top to submerge the bread. Let sit for 20 minutes, mixing gently every 10 minutes.

Pour 2/3 of the mixture into a well buttered 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer the berries evenly and top with the remaining bread mixture. Gently pat the mixture down (don’t compress or the resutling pudding will be too dense). Brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle top with Sugar In The Raw.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the custard is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean – do not overbake.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.