Arsip Tag: strata

spinach and cheese strata – smitten kitchen

I have spent the last few months unearthing recipes I’ve had bookmarked for an eternity. A whole lot of them, mostly things I have spared you, did not exactly age like fine wine, as they say; fillings ran, vegetables never caramelized, spiced mixed nuts were grimy and cookies were painfully sweet. The rest of them, however, caused me to become consumed with regret when I think of all of the times we could have already consumed mindblowing butterscotch, caviar-esque creamed mushrooms and speedy, rich biscuits but did not know of them yet. This is one of those times.

egging up the casserole

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m all about hosting brunch, but only if I can make everything in advance. When it comes to biscuits, bacon, baked French toast and fruit salads, pulling it off is obvious. But I always get lost on the eggs, and for a whole lot of people, it’s not breakfast if it doesn’t involve eggs. This strata — really, a savory bread pudding — is the missing piece because not only can you make it the night before, you are supposed to.

spinach and cheese strata

You can even, as we did this weekend, run out to pick up eggs and milk at the store, your bacon from the Polish meat market, coffee that someone else made for you, and assemble it while waiting impatiently for the snowstorm to start.

Then, once it really starts to come down, wrap it in plastic and chill it in the fridge while you go investigate the wonderland.

letitsnowletitsnow

And the next morning, when everything outside your kitchen window is blanketed white, wet and icy, bake it up, stay inside and watch Home Alone while eating the most effortlessly decadent eggs yet.

brekky

One year ago: Potato Pancakes and Braised Beef Short Ribs
Two years ago: A Slice-and-Bake Cookie Palette
Three years ago: Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti and Hazelnut Truffles

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Gourmet (sniffle), February 2003

Serves 6 to 8

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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corn, cheddar and scallion strata – smitten kitchen

I have a lot of feelings about lunch boxes, none of them especially genial. But as this teeny tiny person that I only just recently brought home from the hospital, barely able to utter a “beh” and now able to fill a 2-hour car ride back from a beach house with all the words every uttered (hm, wonder where he gets it) begins kindergarten this week, and will do so with a lunchbox in hand, I’ve realized that the only way to move forward with my grouchy feelings about lunch boxes is to air them here, in this town’s square, and then move on.

what you'll need, plus a lunchbox
three cobs because summer isn't over yet

And so here goes: I, Deb Perelman, resent lunch boxes. I resent that my friend Valerie can send her children to a French summer camp where they are served hot lunches (just the basics, like blanquette de veau, omelette aux champginons and, oh, a galette du rois) on real plates daily and the best my child can hope for is stuff like this. I resent that we don’t prioritize filling our children’s bellies with nutritional, balanced meals that will fuel them their growing bodies and brains through long school days, and that only parents with the means to (time or financially) can provide wholesome alternatives. I resent that I’m looking down the barrel of a decade or more of this, every single school day. And I resent that, on top of all this, if our summer months of packing lunch boxes for camp were any indication, at least half of the food will come back uneaten because a whole lot of places that ostensibly have children’s best interests in mind feed them cookies or crackers with ingredient lists as long as this blog post and juice in the middle of the morning as a snack, sometimes just an hour before lunchtime.

a good hearty miche

corn cut from cobs
scallions

And I know how terrible this makes me sound — whining about being lucky enough to have lunch options, problems which, believe me, I am very grateful to have — but I am a person that needs to vent, I need, yes, to also be allowed my tantrum (hm, wonder where he gets it), before I can move on and now I’m ready. Because life, as I’ve tried to explain with limited success to my (sniffle) kindergartener, is not about what you like and want as much as it is about how you handle what you dislike and don’t want.

all ready to go
adding the egg mixture

Plus, I wanted to tell you about this one thing that’s actually worked, if “worked” can be defined as coming home with an empty lunch box, asking for it again the next day and then even receiving an email from the teacher asking for the recipe because it looked so good. I am not sure I will achieve such great lunch box heights again, so we’re going to run with this. It was, of all things, the spinach strata I shared a few years ago as the perfect brunch dish for a crowd. Cubed bread, beaten eggs, milk, and a hearty helping of spinach and cheese cook together into a savory bread pudding that is nothing short of a dream for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. It’s also surprisingly packed lunch-friendly: it freezes well, reheats well and holds this warmth for hours. I figured that I was providing him with the grilled cheese sandwich he’d rather subsist on, while throwing in some protein, calcium and green vegetables that make me feel triumphant, or at least like I’m doing a passably okay job at this parenting gig, uh, today.

corn strata, from the oven

But it’s still summer out so I believe that this dish needs a winter’s-not-coming-yet lunchbox update. To get us ready for the big week ahead, I used a whole-wheat sourdough bread (miche), lots of sweet summer corn, sharp cheddar cheese and scallions. Unlike the spinach version, no sauteeing or even heating of ingredients is needed — you’ll just chop and assemble. You set it in the fridge overnight or at least for several hours and bake it when you’re ready. It can then be kept in the fridge for the rest of the week or frozen in foil-wrapped squares slide into a larger freezer bag, perfectly portioned to easily be reheated in the morning before school. The other sections of his lunchbox are usually filled with kid-approved fresh stuff: cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and sometimes even a couple thin slices of salami. In an ideal world, the lunchbox will return empty and there will be no pre-dinner hangry meltdowns that result from mostly skipping lunch. But in the one where I actually live, we’re also going to need some after-school snacks for big and small people alike. More of that, soon.

corn, scallion and cheddar strata

New Category: Lunch! Lunch boxes may be more specific, but these are things that I think can work for all ages — whether you pack one for the office or just hope to have something easy to reheat at home in the middle of the day. I’m just populating it now; let me know if you think a dish in the archives is a great or beloved candidate for inclusion. Thanks!

Lunch Box Strategies: I’d love to hear about yours — what’s worked, what flops and how you managed the daily part of it without wearing out. I need tips!

One year ago: Butterscotch Pudding and Pink Lemonade Popsicles, and Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Two years ago: Roasted Apple Spice Sheet Cake
Three years ago: Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar
Four years ago: Fresh Tomato Sauce and Peach Shortbread
Five years ago: Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Six years ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs, Dimply Plum Cake and Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Seven years ago: White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Corn, Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Adapted from Gourmet’s 2003 spinach strata

I buy whole wheat sourdough in quarter loaves (which clock in at about or just under 1 pound) from the Le Pain Quotidien chain or Balthazar, inexpensively. Balthazar distributes to many grocery stores, as well. A baguette or country bread will also work here. You could deliciously replace the parmesan with a crumbly salted cheese such as feta, ricotta salata or queso fresco; use just 1/2 to 2/3 cup instead. In the spinach strata, 2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard are whisked into the egg mixture and it’s wonderful. But I (hangs head in shame) couldn’t resist replacing it here with a less earnest ingredient — mayonnaise. Obviously, if you loathe mayo, you should skip it or just use the Dijon. But if you like it, you probably already know how good it is with cooked corn and cheese.

Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups fresh corn (cut from 3 small-to-average cobs)
1 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (both white and green parts from a 4-ounce bundle)
8 cups whole wheat, country or French bread in 1-inch cubes (weight will vary from 10 to 14 ounces, depending on bread type)
2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely grated sharp cheddar
1 cup (2 ounces) finely grated parmesan
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional, see Note up top)
2 3/4 cups milk [note: several commenters have said that they find prefer it with only 2 cups milk]
1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons of a coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Generously butter a 3-quart baking dish (a lasagna or 9×13-inch pan works well here too). Toss corn and scallions together in a medium bowl. Combine cheeses in another bowl. In a large bowl, gently beat eggs and mayo together, then whisk in milk, salt and lots (or, if measuring, 1/2 teaspoon) of freshly ground black pepper. Spread one-third of bread cubes in prepared baking dish — it will not fully cover bottom of dish; this is fine. Add one-third of corn, then cheese mixture. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, corn and cheese. Pour egg mixture evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake strata, uncovered, until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: Strata keeps baked in the fridge for 4 days or longer in the freezer, wrapped well. It reheats wonderfully, either from the fridge or freezer and holds up well in lunch boxes.

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