Brunch is my favorite meal. I love that you can mix sweet and savory. I love that it usually accompanies some sort of celebration. Mostly, I love that it’s the only meal at which it’s socially acceptable to drink alcohol before 11am.
When I was looking for some sort of theme for a recent party celebrating my webseries, Real Life With Married People, breakfast for dinner kept popping up. Seemed like a fun idea. Plus I have a great farmers’ market down the road from me and it was light enough for a summer evening in LA.
After turning to the Buttery Ladies for assistance, I settled on a strata (thanks, Mother Butter!) and baked french toast. The more successful of the two was the strata. Oh my.
This was possibly one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth. You must try this. And that thing about light summer dinner- yeah, no. But it is a perfect brunch meal to put together the night before and pop in the oven when you wake up. Cook’s Illustrated suggests it for Christmas morning. If I celebrated Christmas, I’d agree.
Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere
From Cook’s Illustrated via Baker Bites.
I misread the wine measurement and used 1.5 cups. I’m leaving it in because the recipe was so popular with the mistake. Just let it reduce a fair amount. I’d say mine ended up being 1/2-3/4 cup.
8-10 slices of supermarket French Bread (1/2 inch thick) or Italian bread
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 medium shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (10 oz) thawed and squeezed dry
ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup medium dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. (alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry) When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tablespoon butter; set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until fragrant and translucent; about 3 minutes; add spinach and salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl, set aside. Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium high and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 2-3 minutes; set aside.
3. Butter 8 inch square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of spinach mixture, then 1/2 cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half and half, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down, and refrigerate overnight.
4. Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over surface. Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. (50-55 minutes — or 60 minutes if you’ve doubled the recipe). Cool on wire rack 5 minutes, serve.
Be excellent to each other,