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Sara Moulton's Breakfast Strata



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profusely now as we used to, but every mouthful should be memorable…"

~ Julia Child

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Breakfast Strata

Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

by Sara Moulton, 2002, Broadway Books
Random House


“Dreaming up a brunch for friends and family is a lot of fun, but when it
gets down to the morning of the grand event and you’re chained to the
stove cooking up scrambled eggs and omelets to order, it often boils down
to an awful lot of work. This dish will solve your brunch problems. You
set it up the night before and then just bake it 60 minutes before it is
time to eat.
Breakfast strata is nothing more than a savory bread pudding with layers
 (strata in Latin) of bread cubes, vegetables, and cheese, all bound by eggs
and milk. It is crusty on top and creamy in the center, my favorite combo.
This strata is as versatile and accommodating as an omelet. Once you feel comfortable with this version, you can make up your own: change the
cheese, change the vegetables; add some ham, sausage or bacon. It is a
great vehicle for using up leftovers (and your guests will never know).
And once you’ve decided that this is the way to go, you can kick back
and read the Sunday paper before they arrive.”

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
15 to 18 medium shiitake mushrooms,
about 10 ounces, stems removed
and caps thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 to 4 scallions, white and 1 inch
of the green parts, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste
6 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
One 1- to 1 1/2-pound loaf French or
Italian country bread, crusts removed
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp
Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Several fresh basil leaves, shredded,
for garnish

 Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook,
stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms,
peppers, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often,
until softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely. (The recipe can be
done up to a day in advance to this point. Keep tightly covered in the
refrigerator until ready to assemble the strata.)
Whisk the eggs with the milk in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the
mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 8 cups of cubed bread. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish and spread half the bread over
the bottom. Season with salt and pepper and scatter half the mushroom
and pepper mixture over the bread. Sprinkle on half the Cheddar cheese
and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pour in half the egg mixture. Repeat
the layering with the remaining bread, vegetable mixture, and cheeses.
Slowly pour in as much of the remaining egg mixture as possible. (Place
the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spillovers.) Cover and refrigerate
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until
lightly browned on top and set in the center, about 1 hour. Serve warm,
garnished with basil leaves.

Storing Eggs: You know those happy little open-air plastic egg containers that
live on the door of the fridge? Throw them out or use them for one of your kid’s
art projects. Eggs are porous; they absorb air and aromas through their shells.
They need to be protected. Keep them in their closed cartons in the back of the fridge. The door is the warmest part of the fridge, the perfect place for items
that don’t spoil easily, like jams and pickles.

On Wine with Brunch (Michael Green says): “Some are content with juice
and coffee in the morning, but on weekends and special occasions a glass of
wine can add a fantastic element to the start of a romantic or leisurely day.
Look for wines that are modest in alcohol, fresh, and lively… One of my
favorite brunch wines is the slightly sparkling, aromatically intoxicating
Moscato d’Asti from the Piedmont region of Italy. Low in alcohol and
wonderfully floral, the wine is a vibrant morning pick-me-up.”

Featured Archive Recipes:
Basil Breakfast Strata
Chef Johnny's Morning-After Strata
Eggs by Julia
Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Ham Strata
Sausage and Cheese Strata with
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
The Incredible, Edible Egg

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