Sunday, February 8, 2015

Make Yourself Comfortable

Craving comfort food? I sure am. This little gem managed to get me out of the bad mood I've been in due to the constant snow that has invaded New England for 2-1/2 weeks. Oh yes, 2 or 3 more days of shoveling, salting, are sanding are in the forecast, not to mention an additional 12 to 15 inches of the white stuff. When we have a snowy winter like this one, I always try to keep bread, eggs, cheese, cream and butter in the house.  One of the reasons is so that I have an excuse to comfort myself with this decadent strata. It's great right out of the oven, and almost as good at room temp. Here's the recipe.

Ham and Cheese Strata
Serves 9

Cooking spray
2 T unsalted butter
8 slices hearty white bread cubed 1" pieces
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz honey ham sliced 1" pieces
2 scallions chopped
5 large eggs
1-3/4 cups fat free half and half
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Ready to assemble this cheesy, buttery, savory concoction? I sure am.

Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish and set aside. On stovetop on low, melt butter in small saucepan and remove to cool. Place half the bread cubes on top of the sprayed baking dish.

Sprinkle with 1-1/2 cups of cheese. Top with all the ham and chopped scallions. Add the rest of the cubed bread and the remaining cheese.

Set the baking dish aside and make the custard: Whisk together eggs, half and half, melted butter, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour this liquid gold over your ham, cheese and bread mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours (or longer shouldn't hurt), letting the custard soak into all the elements of the dish. About an hour before you're ready to bake, remove dish from fridge and let come to room temperature.

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake 50-60 minutes in middle rack on oven. All ovens are different, so start checking for brown-ness at about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest about 10 minutes before serving. I slice into 9 squares. Doesn't that look comforting?

There are so many ways to re-mix this recipe...add some Dijon mustard to the custard. Place a layer of roasted red peppers or softened sun dried tomatoes on the ham and cheese. Of course some chopped, cooked bacon would be heavenly as well. One of my favorites is blue cheese and caramelized onions. You can even make this on a sweet note, with cottage cheese, raisins and cinnamon. There are so many ways to make yourself comfortable, I suggest you give a strata a try!


Didi Dalaba said...

Love, love this recipe my Linda!!

Linda said...

Thanks Didi- I'm eating a piece now. Super creamy AND crispy!

Helene said...

Linda, I can't believe how funny it is to see this recipe! My mother in law made something similar for my father in law.. she called it Murphy's? I could never find her recipe and thought it was gone forever! Thank you so much for as hating your version, I can't wait to make this for my hubby!

Helene said...

Oh my darn kindle typos so bad! I meant to say sharing.. Thanks for sharing!

Linda said...

Happy to oblige Helene. I think you guys will be pleased!