Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What do you do with leftover bread, earlie in the morning?

A few days ago a friend posted a picture of his dinner on Facebook. "Hey facebook, look at this lovely strata we're eating," was the gist of it.

Whoa. What's a strata?

I have, let us say, been around the bush a few times in the kitchen. I know oddly named things. I've heard of a croquembouche. I've heard of thousand-year-old eggs. I've even heard of Surströmming. But I had never heard of a strata. This gave me pause. I was shocked. Amazed. No, not really. But I was intrigued. So I googled it, and you will never believe what I discovered!

Kidding. That click-baiting talk is really starting to get to me.

Anyway, I discovered that apparently I don't go to brunch enough. A strata is... a savoury bread pudding. (I had even MADE a savoury bread pudding once, I just didn't call it that.) It's like a bread pudding meets a quiche. Classic brunch food, and I presume it's not just CALLED savoury bread pudding so that Americans will tolerate it. (Americans would be all, "bread??? In pudding??? EWWWW.")

But here's the great thing about this recipe, and the reason I found it blog-worthy. IT USES UP BREAD LEFTOVERS.

Isn't that great? Especially, need I remind you, when we are about 3 weeks away from Pesach.

When I decided to try this recipe, I promptly opened my freezer, and you will NEVER BELIEVE what I found! (No, you totally will. I really need to stop doing that. It's surprisingly catchy, even if I mean it ironically.)

I found about 8 tons of leftover bread.
I believe I will call you lunch. Hello lunch.

There were two bags of leftover sourdough, which gets eaten quite often around here - but also keeps replenishing itself, because sourdough is like tribbles.

One bag of leftover cornbread, because there was only one night this year that was legitimately cold enough for chili, and who wants to eat cornbread after the chili was gone?

One or two pitas left over from a restaurant meal, because they would have just thrown them out, and the Holocaust.

One bread to rule them all, and in the darkness of my freezer, bind them.

Clearly it was time to bake.

I'm going to say one other thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it takes about two seconds to prepare, which is awesome) and then we're going to get to the fun, recipe-filled part.) Remember Smokey the Bear? Only you can prevent forest fires? So, same thing with this recipe. Only you can determine what goes in it. That's how leftover recipes work. Ignore any recipe site that tells you otherwise, and if there's one sentence that I've ever typed that you should listen to, that would be it.

I literally used up oodles of leftovers that would otherwise have been thrown out with this recipe. The first recipe I saw called for tomatoes and olives. The second, onion and spinach. Guess what? I used leek, mizuna salad mix, and leftover salsa rosa. You use what you have in your fridge. Only you.

Remember that.

Leftovers Strata

picture for illustrative purposes
  • leftover bread - enough to fill the pan you intend to use 
  • oil/butter - a tablespoon or so, enough to fry things in
  • onion or leek if you have it - I used about 1/2 a leftover onion, and 1 dying leek
  • green things - spinach. chard. mizuna. Or not if you don't have it. 
  • bit of salt/pepper to taste - I used about 1/2 tsp salt and no pepper. That's my taste. Maybe yours is different.
  • nutmeg - about 1/4 tsp, if you like 
  • leftover salsa rosa - or tomatoes. Or tomato sauce. Or maybe olives. I bet salmon would taste delicious. Or anchovies. Yum.
  • about a 1.5 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • leftover cheese
  • a tiny bit of shallot jam, which is absolutely delicious and you need to make it and promptly eat it with everything 

  1. Take the leftover bread, and fill one of those round pans with it. Like the 9 inch ones. If it overflows, don't use as much bread. Try to determine which bread you are unlikely to ever eat, and use that. Measure it out, cut or tear it into big chunks, and put it into a bowl until you're ready to use it. 
  2. Butter that pan. 
  3. Take frying pan. Fry up the things that need frying - onion/leek/etc. For about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add other things that need frying. Only until slightly wilted. Then put aside. 
  4. Take another bowl. Pour in milk, crack eggs into it. Beat slightly. Mix in a tiny bit shallot jam, because OMG shallot jam.
  5. Grate cheese. (or should I say...great cheese. BA dum.)
  6. Now, build the strata. Put bread in first. Then fried things. Then the salsa rosa or whatever you're using. Then top with the milk/egg mixture - careful not to overfill the pan. If it threatens to overfill, don't use the whole thing. I know, I know, Holocaust. Find another use for it. 
  7. Top with cheese.
  8. Now, this is the weird counter-intuitive part - cover it, leave in it the fridge, and walk away. That's right, walk away. Leave it overnight. 
  9. THE NEXT DAY, probably for brunch, preheat oven to 350; take strata out of fridge while the oven heats. Take off the plastic wrap - you don't want to eat that. Then bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, until it's lovely and puffed and browned and smells amazing. 
  10. Eat. Try to share. 

Three seconds later...
P.S. If you want actual amounts and measurements and stuff, which, as you may have noticed, I don't really do - go here. I may be truly envious of her blog and success, but if you want measurements, go there, and trust Deb. If you want foul language and irreverence, stay here.

1 comment:

  1. For some reason, I got serious FoodWishes flashes from this one. I kept hearing Chef John say: "Remember; only you can be the Robin Hood of what goes into your leftover food."

    Also this: