2 tbsp orange, raspberry, or almond liqueur (optional)
Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, no higher than 200°F.
Slice your bread thickly. You can use white bread, challah, cinnamon bread, Hawaiian bread, brioche or any bread other than aggressively savory types such as sourdough, rye or whole wheat.
Lay your bread slices out on a baking sheet. You may need more than one baking sheet. Place the bread in the oven & let it sit for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over & let the bread sit for another 20 minutes. This dries out the bread, allowing it to soak up the fruit juices without becoming soggy. You can also lay the bread out on sheets & let it sit on the counter overnight to air dry.
While the bread is drying, wash all of your fruit & drain it well.
Pull the tops off the strawberries. Slice the strawberries thickly.
Slice the plums & discard the pits.
Place the strawberries, plums & blueberries into a large saucepan. Add the orange, raspberry or almond liqueur for a richer dessert, if you like. Gently stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Heat the mixture to a simmer & let it cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in the raspberries & remove the fruit from the heat.
Cut the crusts off the bread.
Line your casserole dish with cling wrap, making sure that at least 2″ overhangs the edge. You may need to lay one sheet across the width & one across the length.
Press half of the ‘crustless’ bread slices into the bottom of the casserole dish. Arrange them with the edges overlapping so that they make a complete crust.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the fruit out of its bowl & into the casserole dish on top of the bread. Keep the leftover juices, because you’ll use them later.
Arrange the other half of the bread loaf on top of the fruit. Press it down firmly.
Cover the bread completely with cling wrap. Place a plate that fits just inside of the casseroles dish on top of the cling wrap. Weight it down with two or three small cans of soup or a large can of tomatoes. Refrigerate the pudding for 8 hours or overnight.
Take the pudding out of the refrigerator & remove the cans and cling wrap. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate & remove the cling wrap. Pour the reserved juices over the pudding & sprinkle just enough sugar on top to lightly coat it.
Cut the pudding into wedges & serve it with whipped cream & fresh mint for a garnish.
To prepare sauce, in a large skillet combine 3 tbsp canola oil & flour little by little & mix to create a roux. Stir in flour to absorb the oil. Slowly whisk in the milk, & add Parmesan cheese & cheddar cheese. Stir in the egg to thicken the sauce, but do not allow to boil. Season with pepper, paprika, & Old Bay seasoning & remove from heat.
In a separate skillet, heat 2 tbsp canola oil. Saute mushrooms in the oil until soft.
In the same skillet, saute the asparagus.
Preheat the oven broiler. For each serving, put 2 slices of toast on a broiler-safe dish. Cover toast with layer of slices of turkey/pork roast & mushrooms. Smother each serving with sauce.
Place dish in broiler until the top of the sauce in speckled brown & bubbly. Remove from broiler, add tomatoes, & cross cross 4 stalks of asparagus (per serving) over top, & serve.
For each serving, slice up half an avocado & add as garnish.
Chef’s Note: The Kentucky Hot Brown retains a special place in my heart, as I was born in Kentucky. Of course, I had to add in more of a California flavor (and a dash of my Maryland side too) to make it healthier.