Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

Umoja: Feed the Resistance by Julia Turshen

While I didn’t grow up celebrating Kwanzaa, the Umoja principle rings true for me. The idea of unity, of building a community that holds together, is what I try to do in my work as a cookbook author and, honestly, in my work as a human being. Unity and community building requires tools, requires glue and string and mortar to keep everything connected. Food is the best tool I know to achieve this. It brings us around tables, it grounds everyone, it sustains and supports and, remarkably, it allows us to share ourselves with everyone we feed. Food is where we are most vulnerable and also where we can be most supportive.

The Umoja principle is, in hindsight, what inspired me to put together my latest book Feed the Resistance. The book is from a community and it’s meant to help nourish and build other communities. It has over twenty contributors and every recipe, essay, and list is about ways to get involved in your community.

Photo by Julia Turshen

One of the ways I get involved with my own community is volunteering weekly with my wife Grace at an organization called Angel Food East in Kingston, New York near where we live. We cook and deliver homemade meals for clients in our area who are homebound with chronic illness. One of the things I make most often at Angel Food East is an easy bread pudding both as a way to use up the leftover bread we always seem to have and to give something sweet and comforting to our clients. I included the recipe in Feed the Resistance because it’s affordable, easy to make for a large crowd, and is basically like a hug in dessert form. It’s also a reminder that showing up regularly for the people around you is so important and food is a very easy way to do that.

Photo by Julia Turshen

Recipe excerpted with permission from Chronicle Books.

Angel Food Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 20


  • Baking spray
  • 1 lb. [453 g] white or whole-wheat sandwich bread, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lb. [453 g] cinnamon-raisin sandwich bread, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • One 14-oz [397-g] can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] granulated sugar
  • 4 cups [1 L] whole milk
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup [240 ml] heavy cream
  • 12 large eggs
  • Butterscotch Sauce (Recipe below)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. Spray the bottoms and sides of a 12” by 18” [30-by 46-cm.] roasting pan (basically whatever you would roast a turkey in and a disposable aluminum pan is totally fine) with baking spray.
  2. Place all of the bread in the roasting pan.
  3. Place the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt in a large pot set over high heat.
  4. Warm the mixture, stirring now and then to dissolve the sugar, until bubbles form at the edge and then turn off the heat.
  5. Place the cinnamon in a very large bowl with half the cream and whisk well to form a paste.
  6. Add the rest of the cream and whisk well to dissolve the paste and then crack all of the eggs into the bowl and whisk well to combine (making the cinnamon paste helps it incorporate evenly).
  7. Ladle in about 1 cup [240 ml] of the hot milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Repeat the process a few more times to gently warm up the eggs. Add whatever remains of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk well.
  8. Pour the custard over the bread and stir well to combine (I use my hands to do this).
  9. Press the bread pieces down to make sure they’re all submerged in the custard.
    Bake the bread pudding until golden brown, set throughout (test by jiggling the pan), and slightly puffed, about 40 minutes.
  10. Serve warm with the Butterscotch Sauce drizzled on top.

Butterscotch Sauce

Makes about 2 cups [480 ml.]


  • 8 tbsp. [1 stick/112 g] unsalted butter
  • 1 cup [200 g] packed dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups [360 ml] heavy cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  1. Directions
    Place the butter, brown sugar, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan set over high heat.
  2. Once it comes to a boil, decrease the heat and simmer, stirring now and then, until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Serve warm. You can also cool it to room temperature, store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week, and then reheat in a saucepan set over low heat until warm.

About Julia Turshen

Julia Turshen is the bestselling author of Feed the Resistance, named the Best Cookbook of 2017 by Eater, and Small Victories, named one of the Best Cookbooks of 2016 by The New York Times and NPR. She has coauthored numerous cookbooks including It’s All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow, and hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, VogueT Magazine, Bon AppétitFood & WineSaveur, and SELF. Epicurious has called her one of the 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time. Julia lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets.


This entry was posted on December 26, 2017 by in 2017, desserts, Personal Story, Recipe, Umoja and tagged , , , , , .

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Learn more about Kwanzaa

The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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