Wednesday, December 23, 2015

spinach and cheese strata.

As much as I enjoy eating cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning (and let me tell you I really enjoy eating Christmas cookies) it's not really sustainable.  By 1PM I'm starving which leads me to consume whatever food I come in contact with first and then I ruin my appetite for the main meal.  

It's a vicious cycle.

Which is why I propose starting your holiday with something a little more substantial.  This strata begs to be eaten in PJ's nestled under blanket in front of a fire with puppies at your feet (doesn't that sound dreamy).  It comes together quickly and can be prepared the night before.  Simply pop-up it in the oven when the present opening commences and an hour later breakfast/brunch is served to one happy family.  Not a bad way to start Christmas.  

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Recipe from Gourmet 

12 ounces fresh or frozen spinach (if using frozen, thaw)
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 (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 lb)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

If using frozen spinach - Squeeze handfuls to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop.
If using fresh spinach - finely chop.

Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach and cook for about 60 seconds (until the spinach softens and wilts), then remove from heat.

Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).

Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

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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