Like most adults I know, in my case I use that term loosely, I find it almost impossible to sleep in. Some of that is an inability to break routine, but mostly, it’s because of Belly. Her bladder is like *this* big. By 6:30 a.m. she’s practically crossing her legs, hopping up and down in front of the door. However, Belly had dragged me out at midnight last night (Oh, why did I ever train her to use that bell?).
So this morning, she was able to wait a little longer to go out, and I was afforded the exceptional luxury of sleeping in. I took my time about walking her, having coffee, listening to NPR, which is now a rare treat since work claims most of my Saturdays.
I didn’t notice the time passing until “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” was coming on, which means I was trapped in my house until “Sound Opinions” came on. I had intended to cook breakfast during Wait, Wait. Something simple, scrambled eggs and bacon maybe? But then, I realized I used the last of my eggs on pumpkin muffins – recipe coming soon. By the time I got back from the corner store an hour and a half later, I was bordering on ravenous. I ate an ear of sweet corn raw to tide me over. Did you know you can eat corn raw? I just learned that last year. Blew my mind. So I had sailed past breakfast time into the brunching hour, and brunch calls for some more serious provisions than simple eggs and bacon. Clearly, breakfast strata was in order.
It’s just me – spinster casserole dish to the rescue – but you can multiply this as needed
1 1/2 – 2 cups crusty bread, cubed
1/2 cup whole milk
1 – 2 ounces cheese – I had Colby on hand
salt and pepper to taste
Here’s where you can kitchen sink this puppy. Whatever you want. I had like maybe a cup of add ons.
Today, I chose:
2 strips bacon
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup spinach, rough chopped, or baby spinach whole
Preheat oven to 375. Butter your pan. You could also use pan spray.
I keep my bacon in the freezer for a few reasons – 1. Out of sight, out of belly. 2. keeps for weeks and defrosts in a trice 3. easier to cut frozen
So for things like this I cut it frozen into “lardons”, the fancy pants way of saying tiny bacon strips. Don’t you love that the French have a specific word for “cube of pork fat”? Awesome.
Bacon is one of the only things you should start in a cold pan so that the fat renders properly, so I put those strips right in, frozen still, and turned the heat to medium.
Once they were crispy, I took them out, but left all the happy rendered fat in the pan. If you wanted to do this vegetarian, just skip this step and start with a preheated pan and olive oil.
Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly caramelized. If you used bacon, you’re fine on salt for now. If you’re starting with onions, salt ’em. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add salt. If you add salt at first you draw the moisture out of the mushrooms and you’ll never get a good sear on ’em. Turn off the heat. Add the bacon back in and the spinach and let the residual heat of the pan wilt the spinach. I find too much heat on spinach takes away it’s lovely buttery taste and replaces it with a rank “overly spinachy” quality. I don’t know how else to describe it, but you know what I’m talking about, yes? We’ve all had spinach that some feckless spinach-hater has abused. People, respect the spinach. I hear it makes you strong to the finish. Ok, ok, back to the recipe. We’re almost done.
Let mixture cool a little. Now’s a good time to cube your bread if you haven’t. Any crusty bread will do. Stale is better. Stale brioche is best, but I don’t keep that on hand for reasons that the scale on my Wii Fit will attest.
Beat eggs and milk together. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything else, including bread and cheese. Pour into a prepared pan.
Bake at 375 until the strata is golden brown. Mine took about 20 minutes. Depends on how big your dish is.
I meant to only eat half of this… but um… yeah. It’s real, real good. At least I put it on a plate first? I know. I’m in for a dressing down from the Wii Fit. Stupid avatar.