Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Food #14: Easter Strata

edited to reflect what I really did

I made strata for the first time last year for Easter, as part of my famous all-custard meal (we had trifle for dessert). It was a big hit, so I think I'm going to reprise it this year. As I look over the various recipes in epicurious, however, I find that there are as many ways to make strata as, well, pancakes or cornbread or something basic like that. Basically you layer cooked veggies, cubed or sliced bread, cheese, and eggs and milk or cream. Let it all sit overnight in the fridge, and bake it for about an hour at 350 the next day.

The devil is in the details.

Last year we made two strata, as I recall: one with artichokes and mushrooms, and one with, I think, spinach and red pepper.

So here's how I plan to do it this weekend:

1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed this really needed two packages
12 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
olive oil, butter

1 large loaf french or italian bread, ripped or cut into slightly larger than bite-size chunks

3-4 cups milk I used three cups 1% milk, one cup cream
6 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard, optional

2 cups shredded gruyere or fontina
1 cup grated parmesan

Oil/spray a large baking dish--at least 9x11, possibly 9x13. for this one, I used the bigger dish

Saute the mushrooms and onions in butter and/or olive oil, with the garlic. Salt and pepper to taste; maybe add some thyme if you have it. Add the thawed artichoke hearts at the end and set aside.

Mix together the eggs and milk, adding the mustard if you're using it. If you look at the recipes, this is where you'll see the biggest discrepancies: some ask for as many as 12 eggs, others as few as 3. Same with the milk: some call for up to five cups of liquid (some combine milk with half and half or cream), others as little as two or three. I'm going to start low and add more if it looks too dry, but I'm figuring my ideal strata is more bready than eggy. Your mileage may vary.

Layer half the bread in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer half the vegetable mixture over it, then half the cheeses. Repeat the layers. (You can do this is three layers if that seems to work better in your dish.)

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the layered bread and vegetables. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.

Take the dish out of the fridge half an hour before you want to cook it, and preheat the oven to 350. Bake the room temperature strata for about an hour, until the top is puffed and golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I also made another one with no vegetables, a pound of turkey breakfast sausage, and shredded colby/jack instead of the fontina and parmesan. That one's in a 9 x 11 pan.

I notice I don't normally say the number of servings you should get out of my recipes; all are always enough for four, usually with leftovers. This should serve 6-8; I'll make two for our Easter meal for 12, and expect some leftovers. It reheats well, so leftovers are a good thing. (Leftovers are always a good thing, in my book.)


Lilian said...

You know, I don't think I've ever eaten strata, but it does sound completely delicious. I think I'll make it one of these days :)

(I saw it on Friday, but I like it better with the updated instructions - more precise)

expatmama said...

Oh, that sounds yummy! I'd never actually heard of this before, but I'm going to try it. It does sound very versatile as far as what ingredients you can use.