Monday, October 15, 2007
Wake 'N Bake
Not that kind of wake 'n bake. This is about actual breakfast. See I have this problem with breakfast. I’m just not very good at it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, because I do. I just happen to struggle with the actual act. I don’t eat breakfast during the week, and on the weekends, when I have the time I never want to eat it. It makes zero sense; during the weekdays all I want to do is lounge around with a plate of pancakes and good book, but on the weekends I find myself holding out on eating until noon so I can I dig into a BLT or an al pastor burrito.
In truth, when I do make it out to breakfast I end up indulging, like eggs benedict with avocado, home fries, and a scone indulging. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s just so good, and it’s never the same at home. I guess breakfast has become some illicit act that I save for one special morning once a month. But maybe it doesn’t have to be like that? The BF certainly doesn’t believe so.
This weekend I finally enjoyed breakfast at home in the form of strata. Strata is essentially a savory bread pudding. And boy is it good. We made it late Saturday night after getting back into San Rafael from San Francisco, and then baked it until bubbly in the oven.
I’d never had strata before. It’s just not quite as ubiquitous as frittatas and French toast at your neighborhood café. But it should be. Or maybe it shouldn’t, because it might be the only breakfast worth staying at home for.
Mushroom, Fontina, & Sausage Strata
3 cups half & half
8 cups sourdough bread, cubed, oven dried
12 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, small diced
4 Italian sausages, fresh from the butcher, 2 hot, 2 sweet
2 ½ cups grated (soft) fontina cheese
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200F. Spread bread cubes across two sheet pans and cook in the oven for twenty minutes, flipping half way through. Remember we want the bread dry, not browned.
2. Whisk the eggs and half & half together in a medium bowl, with a big pinch of salt and a smaller pinch of pepper. Keep in the fridge until the other ingredients are ready.
3. Heat a saucepan with a tablespoon oil. Cook the onions with two cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of rosemary until caramelized. While cooking, season with salt and pepper. They should vary in color from golden brown to near black. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a separate pan with a tablespoon or two of oil, two garlic cloves, the remaining rosemary and a pinch of salt. Cook until the juices from the mushrooms have been cooked out. Set aside.
5. Remove the sausages from their casing. Keep in large, bite size chunks and begin to brown in a large pan. Brown until just cooked through, about 8 minutes.
6. Using a 9in. square baking dish, place a layer of the bread cubes, followed by a layer of ½ the mushrooms, onion, and sausage with a final layer of ½ the cheese. Repeat once more.
7. Pour the egg mixture over the entire dish. Place a heavy dinner plate on top of the casserole and press down. Leave for at least an hour or keep overnight so that the bread can absorb the egg and cream.
8.Bake at 350F, covered, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and bake for a final 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.