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Thank You, Veterans and Savory Bread Pudding (aka Strata)

2009 November 11

I would like to thank all of those serving in the military or those that have served our country on this Veteran’s Day. I support you in your endeavors and also acknowledge your families for the sacrifice and dedication that comes with these duties. I hope that future generations appreciate and are aware of what this means for them. Thank you for striving so that we may carry on our days and as well, thanks to those of you that have protected the United States in the past. You are cherished and respected. Thank you.

I have my Thanksgiving meal finalized (I think) and it looks something like this:
Brined-herbed turkey from Food & Wine
Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes from allrecipes Cathy M
Ina Garten’s buttermilk mashed potatoes
Herb Stuffing from Real Simple
Fat Girl Skinny’s cranberry sauce with candied ginger and orange zest
Ice cubes with mint to place in the water for a palette cleanser (as a reader suggested)
Hot Mulled Cider from Food & Wine
S’mores brownies from Joy the Baker
Pumpkin pie with streusel

As I’ve mentioned before, disappointment comes my way once in a while when it comes to recipes and many other things. Since the holidays are approaching, I decided I wanted to make strata, sometimes called a savory bread pudding. I found a recipe, one that I should’ve been leery of but tried any way. The recipe didn’t request toasting the bread and I know how important stale/crispy bread can be when it comes to soaking up wet ingredients but for some reason, I thought this would work. That should’ve been my first clue that this recipe wasn’t carefully created. The second warning should’ve been the vague ingredient amounts; some were specified but most were not. When the first strata came out, the entire bottom was mush. We picked from the top but the rest was trashed. Try again. I created the second recipe and it turned out much better. I added spinach, a few herbs, toasted the bread, changed the cooking temperature and the amount of cheese. I think this would make a great holiday breakfast, brunch or anytime meal. If you aren’t a fan of Gruyere, use another shredded cheese you enjoy.

Strata or Savory Bread Pudding

Savory Mushroom, Artichoke, Sundried Tomato and Gruyere Bread Pudding (aka Strata)
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces (cut bottom crust and short ends off bread)
¼ cup olive oil
4 tsp rosemary or thyme, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 14-15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10-14 oz. spinach (if frozen, thawed and water removed as best as you can and if fresh, wilted in a pan over low heat)
2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
4 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
3 stalks green onions, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
salt/pepper
2 tsp oregano or herbes de provence (an herb you enjoy)
4 to 5 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded (or another shredded cheese you enjoy)

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a large casserole dish. In a bowl, place bread cubes and oil, rosemary or thyme, toss to coat. Spread on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Return toasted bread cubes to same large bowl. (You want to make sure they are crunchy or it will end up as mush on the bottom of the dish.)

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, broth, milk, artichoke hearts, spinach, mushrooms, onion, shallots, sundried tomatoes, salt/pepper and herbs. Pour the wet mixture over the bread and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak in the liquid somewhat. Transfer to the casserole dish and sprinkle gruyere over the top. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the top is brown and crisp and there is no liquid left in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. This looks so rustic and beautiful, makes for a great breakfast, brunch or anytime meal really.

Strata or Savory Bread Pudding

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