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Holiday recipes from Table Full of Welcome

The holidays are a time to celebrate the many ethnic traditions that have enriched our community. And there’s no better way to celebrate than with food. Especially dessert. Enjoy these yummy after-dinner dishes from two Kansas City families, each with a rich culinary heritage.

Big Momma’s Bread Pudding

The Peach Tree Buffet is a Kansas City soul food destination. Actually, to be more accurate, the Peach Tree Buffet is the Kansas City soul food destination. Owners Vera Willis and her husband Lavell have been serving up authentic Southern fare from their original south Kansas City restaurant since 1996. They’ve since added locations in Lee’s Summit and in the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City. The Willis’ are church-going Bible-reading people which contributes mightily to the soulfulness of their soul food. They’re also righteous good cooks. Vera calls this recipe “Big Momma’s Bread Pudding.” 

 4 cups toasted bread, torn or cut in pieces
1 quart whole milk
1-½ sticks of butter, melted
1-½ tsps. real vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl thoroughly combine butter, vanilla, eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder. Stir in milk. Add bread and stir to coat. Pour into a buttered baking dish or casserole and bake for one hour or until pudding no longer jiggles when the pan is gently shaken. Cover with foil if the top begins to get too dark.

For the sauce:

2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1-½ cups sugar
1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Serve warm over bread pudding.

Browne’s Porter Cake

Browne’s Irish Marketplace and Deli, at 33rd and Pennsylvania, is a Kansas City and American treasure. Founded in 1887, it has the distinction of being the nation’s oldest Irish-owned and operated business. It is certainly one of Kansas City’s oldest enterprises, and perhaps the oldest to have been continually owned and operated by a single family. The founders’ great-granddaughter, Kerry Browne, and her husband John McClain, are the store’s current proprietors. This traditional Irish dessert which features the surprising ingredient of Porter beer with a cake recipe is a Browne family favorite and a tasty alternative to the dreaded Christmas fruitcake.

1 cup Boulevard Bully Porter beer
1 cup butter
1 cup brown(e) sugar
6 cups mixed dried fruit (equal quantities raisins, dried currants, apricots, and pineapple)
4 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Grated rind from one small lemon
3 medium eggs
3 additional egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325  degrees. In a saucepan combine the porter, butter, and sugar. Over medium heat, stir until butter and sugar are melted. Add fruit and simmer for ten minutes. Set aside and let cool. Then add the flour, baking soda, spices and lemon rind and stir to combine. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks, then stir into flour and fruit mixture with wooden spoon. Pour mixture into a greased 9-inch cake pan and bake for one hour and 45 minutes. Us the toothpick method to check for doneness. Let the cake cool in the pan. Serve with fresh whipped cream. A bit of sugar and a splash of Irish whisky in the whipped cream wouldn’t hurt.

Recipe from A Table Full of Welcome, by Doug Worgul (Star Books, 2002), courtesy The Kansas City Star. Visit  



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