Breakfast, Stratified

23 07 2010

I’ve written about breakfast strata once before, which is why I declined Nick’s initial suggestion to photograph my process.  But after cutting into and tasting this one, I was reminded how truly awesome a meal it is, and anything I can do to get more people making it is a good thing.

Strata (a fancy word for casserole, if I ever heard one) is a wonderful way to use up any odds and ends you may have sitting around in your fridge or on your counter.  It’s best with day-old bread, and is extremely accommodating as far as flavors are concerned.  Does it taste good with bread?  It will be good in strata.  Will it play well with eggs?  It will make a good strata.  I like to make it a square meal by including meat, cheese, and vegetables.  Some of my favorite combinations: sausage, cheddar, and mushroom; bacon, apple, and gruyère; and serrano ham, caramelized onion, and manchego.

This one was born of an excess of bread and picnic leftovers from Bastille Day.  Namely chorizo.  I also had some leftover enchilada sauce.  And a thing of cream that was about to go bad.  Appropriate cheeses (cheddar and manchego) and vegetables (onions and hot peppers) were procured, and I constructed the dish on Saturday night for Sunday’s breakfast.  Ok, brunch.

I spread the slices of bread with sauce and placed them in a layer in a baking dish.  I topped this with deeply caramelized onions and peppers, followed by layers of chorizo and cheese.  Another layer of sauced bread went on top, and the rest of the vegetables.  I held off on the rest of the cheese for the moment.  Then I whisked together some cream, milk, and eggs and slowly poured it over the top.  (I don’t use a recipe and you don’t need to either – just make enough for the bread to soak up.  It’s ok  if there’s a little extra, but if there isn’t, just whip up a little more custard, or do as I’ve done and pour more cream on top.)  This I covered in plastic wrap and weighted down very gently before letting it rest in the fridge overnight. 

In the morning, I removed the plastic wrap – duh – topped it with the remaining cheese, and covered the dish with foil.  I baked it at 350F for a little over an hour, removing the foil about 45 minutes in so the cheese could get nice and brown.  You’ll know it’s done when it starts to puff up.  Let it cool as long as you can stand.  If you’re like me, this is 15 minutes, maximum, just long enough for it to not burn your mouth when you eat it.

Enchilada Sstrata

And there you have it.  Yes, there’s a bit of time investment and planning ahead, but when the majority of the time is hands-off and the result is so incredibly satisfying, it’s hard to say it’s not worth it.

This particular enchilada-esque strata actually pulled double duty – we ate it for brunch with slices of juicy melon, and again for dinner a few days later with a crisp green salad on the side.  Now I want to make one every week.

On this day in 2008: The Great Duo of Avocado and Shrimp (There’s a kickass gazpacho recipe)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Mackenstein

31 10 2008

Or, The Modern Procheesius

Just in time for Halloween, I smacked together a jumble of Ingredients That Needed To Be Used and called it Macaroni and Cheese.

Tillamook Cheddar?  Good.  Chorizo?  Good.

Which it was.  Only I didn’t have macaroni, so I used twirly pasta instead.  And I also threw in some chopped up chorizo, because hog+cheese=good things.  And some peas, because I was going to serve them on the side, but then decided I didn’t want to get another pot dirty.  But I did take the time to make Béchamel, and I used 100% Tillamook cheddar, just because I could (and because the damn refrigerator still hasn’t been fixed and I’ll be really upset if I have to throw Tillamook away).

Normally, when I make Macaroni and Cheese, I make fresh breadcrumbs, toss them with a little butter, and use that to top the gooey cheesy deliciousness.  Being Cuisinart-less, I resorted to using boxed breadcrumbs, which, in retrospect, was a mistake.

Don't call it casserole!

Still, it tasted homey, and was the perfect meal for yet another cold, rainy night.  The chorizo gave little bursts of smoky goodness, and the peas kept us from feeling like total pigs.  In fact, Nick gave me an engagement ring over a very similar meal almost exactly four years ago.

Happy Nevada Day!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





More Pizza Ideas

18 07 2008

Since I’ve decided my pizza/calzone dough recipe is a keeper, I’m finally going to share it with you.  But first, a couple more things I’ve done with it.  The first isn’t exactly revolutionary, but I was pretty proud to have made such a fine pizza from stuff I found lurking in the fridge.

Chorizo, Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

I think we can all agree that I have a slight addiction to caramelized onions.  I’ve taken to using them on my pizzas in place of tomato sauce.  Not that I have had any complaints.

This next pizza is an absolute stunner.  I breaded and fried eggplant slices and placed them on the pizza with a simple tomato sauce (courtesy of Nick), slices of fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Voilà!  Eggplant Parmesan Pizza!

Before - Nick thought this was too pretty NOT to photograph.

After - Drool-worthy, isn't it?

It was seriously the best pizza I’ve ever made.  The eggplant was deliciously crunchy with meltingly tender insides, and the cheese and tomato sauce complemented it perfectly.  Now I want more!

Doesn’t that just get your creative juices flowing?  Then I guess it’s time to give up the recipe:

Read the rest of this entry »





A Picnic by the Canal

8 05 2008

Given the incredible weather we’ve been having this week, I decided it was too nice last night to have dinner inside.  I won’t go into the various unfruitful market trips I embarked on before realizing that most of what I needed was in my fridge, instead I present to you:

Spanish-inspired picnic salads

Arugula and Piquillo pepper salad with Chorizo and goat cheese in Sherry vinaigrette.  I packed the salads into individual serving-sized Tupperware (What do you call non-Tupperware brand Tupperware?  Airtight plastic container just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) and placed them in a bag with a bunch of grapes, a baguette tradition, a bottle of rosé, and a couple of cookies.  Now that picnic season seems to be in full swing, we have a cupboard dedicated to picnic supplies: paper napkins, plastic utensils and cups are all at the ready for a last-minute weeknight picnic.  We took our dinner to the Canal St. Martin, a few blocks away and sat by the water alongside hundreds of Parisians who had had the same idea.

Bridge over the Canal St. Martin at dusk

We got there just as the sun was setting, so the temperature was just perfect.  We enjoyed our picnic and watched the sky slowly grow darker.

Crescent Moon over the Canal St. Martin

Nick got this photo of the crescent moon just above the buildings.  I love pictures taken at this hour of the evening, where the sky is still a brilliant blue but here on Earth it is already dark.  It reminds me of a Magritte painting.

So this is what people are talking about when they wax nostalgic about Paris in the Spring!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 307 other followers

%d bloggers like this: