Lisa’s Letters Home: Strata

Lisa’s Letters Home: Strata

It was my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday gathering last weekend, and she decided on a brunch family get together for the Sunday. I love brunch. Brunch reminds me of home, and of  gobbling down an obscene amount of food because your first meal of the day isn’t until 11am.

I remembered seeing quite a few one dish, chuck it in the fridge the night before and bake it the next day recipes on Pinterest for Christmas breakfast ideas. Sadly, most of them involved frozen hash browns – something we can’t get here and not really high up on my favourite foods (unless they’re deep fried and next to a massive stack of pancakes, obviously.) I asked a group of food-loving friends on Facebook about brunch ideas, who taught me about this thing called Strata.

I don’t know where it comes from or what it means, but it’s good. It’s essentially a savoury bread pudding, which can contain any number of ingredients. The dish is lined with bread, topped with whatever ingredients take your fancy, then an eggy custard is poured on top, usually followed by a layer of cheese.

It sounds stodgy and it is quite filling, but it’s got a surprisingly light texture. It’s not as dense as a quiche; the bread makes it lovely and squishy and fluffy. Incredibly, it even withstands a trip in the microwave very well the next day.

You can use all sorts of bread, but anything stale works best. I went for a ham, cheese, and asparagus combo but you could use things like browned sausage meat, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, bacon, smoked fish – whatever combination of flavours floats your boat.

This is a great one to feed a crowd, especially if you have a lot to do the day of the festivities. You put it all together the night before and bake it the next day. Easy peasy, and even the kids will love it.

Lisa’s Letters Home: Strata

Ingredients

  • Serves 8
  • Butter, to grease the baking dish
  • 6-8 slices of bread (sourdough, French, wholemeal etc.)
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream/double cream
  • 3 cups of grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10-12 asparagus stalks
  • 10 slices of prosciutto or Parma ham

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter an 11”x9” baking dish.

Layer the bread at the bottom of the dish, and don’t worry if it overlaps or sits above the top of the dish.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream in a large bowl. Stir in half of the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Pour 3/4 of the egg mixture over the bread.

Layer the ham over the bread and top with the asparagus.

Pour the remaining egg mixture over the top and finish with the remaining cheese.

At this point, you can bake the strata immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to bake the next day.

Bake the strata until just set, about one hour. Let it cool slightly, sprinkle the top with chopped chives, and serve in the baking dish.


 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Helen
    November 18, 17:59 Reply

    That is totally getting made for book group next month! Excellent :o)

  2. Lisa Durbin
    November 19, 04:24 Reply

    Excellent! Please let me know how it turns out.

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