A Tale of Two Stratas

Brunch week has come to an end. Before I finish this series, I want to take a moment to reflect on what a feat it has been to post every day for a whole week. That was a first for my blog. This week has been a sign that I am feeling inspired again. I am wholeheartedly unsurprised that brunch would be what pulled me out of my hole. I will not be posting every day, but I will be trying to post once a week going forward. I have some new recipes in the works.

My last brunch post is devoted to the wonderful strata, one of my favorite brunch dishes. Not only are stratas versatile, but they are a great way to make your body feel satisfied first thing in the morning. You get a good balance of carbs and protein, and you can pack tons of veggies in them. I love to throw in peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, etc., matching them with the meat and/or cheese I have available. You can throw a lot into a strata, reducing food waste. Here are two examples of stratas I have made in the last two weeks trying to use up some random ingredients.

Last weekend, I made a caramelized onion strata. I had some stale bread and two vidalia onions. I decided to caramelize the onions and incorporate them into the custard. To caramelize onions, it is important to be patient. Cook them very slowly over low heat. In my case, I needed to go longer, although they had been cooking for over an hour. I got impatient due to hunger and decided to proceed to the next step, because I was the only one who was eating it.

Next, I made a custard with by whisking 6 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk in a large bowl. I gave the mixture a good pinch of salt and pepper, then added 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese and the caramelized onions, mixing them all together. This would have also been great with gruyere cheese, but I didn’t have any. Since my bread was very stale, like rock hard, I did not have to toast it beforehand. I added the bread to the bowl and let it soak in the custard for about 20 minutes before transferring to an 8×8 pan topped with 1/2 cup more parmesan cheese. I baked it at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until the middle was set.

Stratas should sit for at least 10 minutes before consumption. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Even though I did not take the onions as far into caramelization as I would have liked, the flavor came through beautifully. This was like eating French onion soup for breakfast. I would like to try this again using gruyere cheese, but I was very happy with this result.

I made strata number two yesterday, a ham and cheddar version with English muffins. I took a whole package of English muffins and cut them into cubes. Then, I toasted them at 350 for about 20. minutes until the pieces dried out. For this custard, I used 12 eggs and 2 1/2 cups of milk and seasoned with salt and pepper. I added 16 ounces of diced ham and 2 cups of grated smoked cheddar. I added the english muffin pieces and similarly let them soak for 20 minutes. After transferring to a 9×13 baking dish, I topped it with another cup of smoked cheddar and baked for about 50 minutes at 350.

This strata reminds me so much of Easter brunch at my Grandma’s. Ham and cheddar make such a great pairing. To add a vegetable, I would considered using broccoli. I was, however, able to use the pack of English muffins from my freezer and block of smoked cheddar in the cheese drawer.

If the stratas weren’t enough, I paired each of these with the mimosa cider from Downeast Cider, which was the most pleasant treat.