Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spinach & Gruyère Strata, Weekend Brunch, May 7, 2017

We didn't have fancy dinners on Saturday or Sunday. We always, always end up throwing away entirely too many leftovers, so I decided to institute a weekly Leftoverpalooza. It's going to work out especially nicely the weeks my wife has to travel for work, as they won't even seem like leftovers to her. That was true this week. She was eager to sample the curried turkey pot pie and North Indian style mashed potatoes I made while she was in New Jersey. I heated some for myself, too, but took longer to get the baby to sleep than expected and then fell asleep in the nursery chair. Oops! When I awoke, it was 3 a.m. and my wife was asleep on the couch. My leftovers had long since gotten cold and didn't seem at all appealing. So, I had a bowl of raisin bran and prepped a strata for our breakfast before climbing into bed.

As I was sautéing onions at 3:30 in the morning, I was questioning my sanity and thinking it'd be far better just to go to bed and have fried eggs in the morning. However, when we actually ate the strata, I was congratulating myself for going ahead with my plan, ever how late it may have been when I did. It was truly delicious. I'd wanted to create a wonderful meal for Jeannene before she had to fly out to Montreal that evening and I succeeded quite well. This dish would make for an excellent one to serve guests, as it's impressive and super simple. Plus, you can make it the night before and you just have to pop it in the oven in the morning. The original recipe came from Gourmet Magazine back in 2003 and I've altered it only very slightly.

Spinach and Gruyère Strata
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
Salt & pepper
A grating of fresh nutmeg
5 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 loaf French bread (4 c.), cubed
3 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
2 oz. parmesan, grated
1 1/2 c. milk (2% or skim is fine)
5 eggs
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter/oil until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add spinach and cook another minute or so. Place 1/3 of the bread into a greased (I use cooking spray) 2-quart casserole dish. Top with 1/3 of the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat with another two sets of layers. Whisk everything else together, adding a bit more salt & pepper, if desired. Pour evenly over the layers in the casserole dish. Cover and chill 8 hours or so. Let stand at room temperature half an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until puffed golden, and cooked through, 45-55 minutes. Serves 4-6. 

We had early dinner Sunday, too. We found a gorgeous heirloom tomato at the farmers' market that I just had to use in Russian sandwiches, an open-faced concoction beloved in my family for at least 4 generations. Apparently, if you Google "Russian sandwich," you will find a sandwich with salad as the filling. This is not that Russian sandwich---in fact, there's not much Russian about it. My friend, Lisann, says, "Except people will be rushin' to eat it." It's basically toast with a layer of tomato, a layer of crisp bacon, and a layer of extra-sharp cheddar. I made this round on flax & sunflower bread. I served our sandwiches with kale salad ((recipe here) and had angel food cake (from the grocery) topped with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.

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