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Strata for the Holidays

This is a guest post from our good friend, Rebecca Wellman. Rebecca is the leading food photographer and author in Victoria BC and is also a guest instructor, along with Chef Jennifer Danter, at our Victoria teaching kitchen.


I released the cookbook,”First We Brunch” in the fall of 2017. A journey to all the best Brunch locations in Victoria – and trust me, they’re all great!

by Rebecca Welllman

With the holidays approaching, it is always helpful to have a recipe in the repertoire that provides an easy make-ahead option, that is warm, filling and great for company. Whether it’s for a weekend with guests, a Christmas morning breakfast, the addition to a potluck or a simple Tuesday morning, a savory strata is the perfect addition to a hearty brunch, lunch or even dinner. Strata (also known as bread pudding) will put all of your leftovers to work. As long as you have a base of eggs, milk and bread, you can add virtually anything to the mix to bring something delicious to the table. Leftover roasted vegetables? Throw them in. That slightly wilted bunch of kale? Chop it up. A few heels of cheese left over from that cheese plate? Shred it! Best made the night before, the flavors soak into the stale bread and once baked, create a decadent dish. This recipe, from Rebecca Wellman’s book First, We Brunch, is entirely flexible. Make it your own with loads of veg or meat if you prefer. Make it in individual ramekins or in a large casserole. Whichever way you choose to put it together, enjoy it with friends and family and get ready to ring in the holidays!

First, We Brunch can be found at many independent Vancouver Island and mainland book stores and shops (including Cook Culture!) as well as online at Amazon and Chapters. An excellent gift for that foodie friend! rebeccawellman.ca

MUSHROOM AND SMOKED CHEDDAR STRATA

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, or 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp minced fresh oregano (or thyme or flat-leaf or curly parsley), divided
  • 12 large eggs 2 1/2 cups half and half cream (or whole milk)
  • 1 bunch of kale, stiff stems discarded and leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 loaf of sourdough (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch cubes 2 1/2 cups grated smoked cheddar
  • 2 lb rosemary mushroom sausages (or your favourite flavour) (optional)
  • Butter for greasing casserole

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, place them in a large measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let sit until the mushrooms are reconstituted, about 20 minutes. Remove from the water, squeeze out any excess moisture and chop.

  1. Combine the butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms and olive oil and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread them in a single layer on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  3. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of the oregano and set aside.
  4. In the meantime, remove the sausages from their casings (if using). Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and crumble the sausage meat into the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, until browned. Remove from the heat, drain the fat from the pan and set aside.
  5. Mix together the eggs, half and half, the remaining 3 Tbsp oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  6. Wipe out the sauté pan and heat about 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, until slightly wilted.
  7. In a 3-quart buttered casserole dish, layer half the bread, half the kale, half the squash and mushroom mixture and half the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese on top.
  8. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top. If possible, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  9. On the day you are serving the strata, remove it from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking.
  10. Remove the plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the strata is firm in the middle when you touch it with your finger.
  11. Remove the foil and bake for another 10–15 minutes, or until the top is browned and a bit crispy. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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