A Sweet, Southern Thanksgiving Treat From B. Smith

Executive Chef Karida Celestine and restaurateur B. Smith present their Bourbon Street Bread Pudding at Smith's eponymous restaurant in Washington, D.C. i i

Executive Chef Karida Celestine and restaurateur B. Smith present their Bourbon Street Bread Pudding at Smith's eponymous restaurant in Washington, D.C. Bridget De Chagas/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Bridget De Chagas/NPR
Executive Chef Karida Celestine and restaurateur B. Smith present their Bourbon Street Bread Pudding at Smith's eponymous restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Executive Chef Karida Celestine and restaurateur B. Smith present their Bourbon Street Bread Pudding at Smith's eponymous restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Bridget De Chagas/NPR

As Thanksgiving approaches, you can almost smell and taste the turkey, buttered collard greens and soft corn bread stuffing. As a pre-feast treat, Tell Me More guest host Tony Cox visits a woman whose name to many is synonymous with fine Southern cuisine and entertaining: Barbara Smith, also known as B. Smith.

Today, she runs restaurants, writes cookbooks and designs a home goods collection. But before all this, she was a model who graced the covers of such magazines as Mademoiselle and Ebony. How did she go from fashion to food?

"I learned to cook with my parents. Holidays, we had Thanksgiving. That was our family holiday. Christmas was always at my grandmother's, and Easter was at my aunt's," she tells Cox. "I didn't take any classes. I didn't go culinary school. Instead, I got on the board of the Culinary Institute."

Smith was the first African-American woman elected to the board of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.

The Presidential Suite

Today, one of B. Smith's most striking restaurants is located in Washington, D.C., in what was once known as the "presidential suite" at Union Station. The suite was created after the assassinations of Presidents Garfield and McKinley, to increase the safety of traveling commanders-in-chief and their families. While the suite no longer serves its official purpose, Smith hosted an inaugural event for first lady Michelle Obama there in 2009.

B. Smith Knows Bread Pudding

One of the mouth-watering treats that the restaurant serves is bread pudding, which Cox tasted before his interview with Smith. Executive Chef Karida Celestine prepared the dessert, topping it off with bourbon sauce and pumpkin ice cream.

B. Smith's Bourbon Street Bread Pudding

B. Smith's Bourbon Street Bread Pudding i i
Bridget De Chagas/NPR
B. Smith's Bourbon Street Bread Pudding
Bridget De Chagas/NPR

Bread pudding:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 large eggs

2 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup seedless yellow raisins, more to taste

2 cups of heavy cream

8 cups of dense French bread (brioche bread), cut into ½-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Whisk the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until very smooth. Add raisins and cream. Mix well. Add the bread and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with bourbon sauce.

Bourbon sauce:

½ small can of evaporated milk

½ cup of sugar

3 tablespoons of bourbon

Boil the milk and sugar, then add the bourbon.

To serve:

Cut a triangle piece of the bread pudding, and heat it in the microwave until hot. Drizzle with warm sauce.

Garnish with cinnamon, powdered sugar and/or whipped cream.

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