Salami, Tomato & White Cheddar Strata

StrataStratas are pretty common recipes in my family.  Every brunch, holiday breakfast, wedding shower and funeral seemed to include a strata of some sort.  This recipe, of course, reminds me of home and family, which is perfect as I’m suggesting you use it just as my family has for years – to make your life a little easier.  This recipe is one that I’ve used hundreds of times.  It’s extremely versatile.  You can make it the day before or even bake it ahead and freeze it.  If you are looking to go a little more elegant, use 6 to 8 oz. ramekins for individual servings.

Salami, Tomato and White Cheddar Strata

1 one-pound loaf of French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 eggs
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried mustard
4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced salami, cut in half and then in 1/4 inch strips, about 2 cups

Place the bread in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan or equivilant.  Beat the eggs and combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour over the bread and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. 

For baking ahead and freezing:  follow the above directions and cool to room temperature before covering and freezing.  Freeze for up to one month.  Defrost in the refrigerator and then bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until warmed through.

For baking in ramekins:  follow the above directions and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

Corn, Bacon and Cheddar – Substitute 12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled, for the salami and 2 cups of corn kernels, cut from the cob or frozen and defrosted for the diced tomatoes.

Smoked Salmon and Dill – Substitute the bacon with 10 slices of smoked salmon and the 4 t. parsley with 2 teaspoons fresh dill.  Omit the corn.  Lay the salmon over the bread and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Salsa and Pepper Jack Cheese – Substitute the 1 cup salsa for the bacon and the pepper jack cheese for the cheddar.

Ham and Boursin – Substitute 1 1/2 cups diced ham for the bacon and 2 cups of boursin for the cheddar cheese.  Omit the corn.  Dot the bread with pats of boursin and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Serves 10-12

Chef Annie
Thinking ahead

© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing

Dill, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pesto at the Green Fair

Dsc00644The first annual Green Fair held at Plants Unlimited in Rockport, Maine was a huge success.  It was warm and sunny enough that every Mainer was out buying geraniums and basil even when they know we still have until the end of May before we can be certain there won’t be another frost to kill off our new tender beauties.

There were two displays there, other than all of the green plants (heaven for Mainers who’ve only just stopped thinking they’ll see white snow when looking out the window) that just fascinated me.  The first were two owls, a Barred and a Barn Owl.  They were so beautiful and still that they almost didn’t look real. 

The second was a woman who makes all sorts of clothing out of Salvation Army rejects.  Sweater sleeves became pant legs for kids pants, jeans with holes in the knees were cut off at the hip and turned into skirts with fabric taken from a dress and a myriad of fabrics became bags of all sorts and sizes.

My talk was on how to use fresh herbs in cooking.  Chloe and I made fresh pasta, savory pie crusts and pestos.  Some of the recipes are in this week’s column in the Portland Press Herald.

This pesto is one that my daughter, Chloe, especially liked.  Serve it with pasta, spread on focaccia or over a toasted baguette. 

Dill, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pesto

1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed dill leaves
1/4 cup pinenuts
2 tablespoons goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic
several grinds of fresh black pepper
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor or with a mortar and pestle.

Makes 1/2 cup

Headed out to the garden now