There used to be a wonderful restaurant in Scotts Valley called "Hooked On Fish". I remember many nights I watching the summer sun go down from their tented deck. Our daughter Sadly, it closed when the owner ran off to Mexico. But the restaurant will always be in our memories for the good times we had there as a family, their excellent fresh fish, and this delectable dessert. My daughter Lauren found this recipe by Martha Rowlands--Sunset magazine, and it's darn close. I adapted it slightly by substituting poppy seeds for golden raisins to make it like the pudding at "Hooked On Fish". As an alternative...try making a light Lemon Sauce instead of the Amaretto Caramel Sauce. But don't forget to use Limoncello in the Bread Pudding! Yield: Approx. 8 servings.
1 loaf (1 1/2 lb) crusty French Bread (sour dough)
5 large eggs
2 C milk
2 C half and half
1 C sugar
1/4 C Amaretto OR Limoncello
2 t. vanilla
2 t. poppy seeds
Option: Trade all Amaretto for Limoncello Liquer and make Lemon Sauce instead of Caramel Sauce. See recipe for sauce below
Cut bread crosswise into 1-inch thick slices; trim off and discard most(but not all) of the crusts and cut slices into 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half & Half, sugar, Ameretto or almond extract and vanilla until well combined. Gently stir in poppy seeds and bread cubes until evenly moistened; pour mixture into a 9X13" baking pan. Coverloosely and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake pudding in a 350 degree oven until center is set (stick in a knife) about 1 hour. Scoop out portions or cut and lift out with a spatula.
In a 1-2 qt. pan over low heat, stir 1 C sugar and 1/4 C. water until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring until mixture is amber-colored, about 8 minutes, remove pan from heat. Meanwhile, in another 1-2 qt. saucepan, bring 1/3 C whipping cream to a boil. Turn off the heat and carefully add hot cream and 1/8 to 1/4 C amaretto (I found 1/4 C to be too much) or 2 t. to 1 T. almond extract (your taste again) to the carmelized sugar and stir until blended (the mixture will bubble up). Serve delightfully warm over warm bread pudding. Makes one cup.
Lemon Sauce: (from "The Joy of Cooking")
Combine over boiling water in a double boiler until thickened: 1/4 to 1/2 C sugar...1 T cornstarch...1C water. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in : 2-3 T butter...1/2 t grated lemon rind...1 1/2 T lemon juice...1/8 t salt.