Artichoke Bread Pudding

Circle B Kitchen

Recipe adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

12 to 16 thick slices of dry bread

2 1/2 to 3 cups milk

2 1/2 cups of canned or frozen artichoke hearts, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

5 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley and tarragon; or sage, thyme and marjoram)

1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

4 ounces fontina cheese, large grates

4 ounces asiago cheese, large grates

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small bits

INSTRUCTIONS: Place the bread in a single layer in a shallow dish. Pour 2 1/2 cups milk over the top. Let soak until the bread has absorbed the milk and becomes soft, about 30 minutes. Press the bread slices to extract the milk. Measure the milk; you should have 1/2 cup. If not, add milk to make 1/2 cup. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a small skillet and saute the sliced garlic until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Do not let it brown. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 3-quart mold - a souffle dish works well. Beat together the eggs, salt, pepper and the 1/2 cup milk until well blended.

Set aside a few of the artichoke slices to use for the top. Layer one-third of the bread in the prepared dish. Top the bread layer with half of the remaining artichoke slices, sprinkle with the sliced garlic and then half of the mixed herbs, and sprinkle one-third of each of the cheeses over that. Repeat the layers, using half of the remaining bread, all of the remaining artichokes and herbs, and half of the remaining cheese. Arrange the remaining bread on top, strew the remaining cheese over it, and garnish with the reserved artichoke slices. Pour the milk-egg mixture over all, then dot with the butter.

Bake until the top is crusty brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8