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September 17, 2014
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The Morning After (a recipe)

Photo by Laura Silverman


This is not diet food. Save that for when the holidays are really over. But this decadent dish redeems itself somewhat when you use whole-grain bread, though any sort will do, including those stale baguettes that always seem to be hanging around. I also substitute some of the milk and cream with buttermilk because it aids digestion and I like the tang. (Use farm-fresh eggs and organic milk, if you can.) Your strata is delicious for breakfast or brunch, of course, but it also makes a wonderful supper. Whenever you decide to serve it, offer a crisp salad alongside, ideally made with slightly bitter radicchio or escarole to cut through all that richness. And now that you’ve used up all your leftovers, you have a clean slate upon which to plot your next meal.

RECIPE:
Mushroom & Cheese Strata
serves 8

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
8 cups (packed) 1” cubes of crusty wholegrain bread, day-old preferable
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup buttermilk
5 large eggs
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives or scallion greens
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13”x9” ovenproof casserole. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.

Combine bread and milk in a large bowl. Let stand until milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Whisk half and half together with mustard, buttermilk, eggs, chives, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper in medium bowl. Stir in goat cheese.

Place half of bread mixture in single layer in prepared baking dish (it will not cover the entire bottom of the dish). Top with half each of mushrooms, Parmesan and Fontina, and half and half mixture. Repeat layering with remaining bread, mushrooms, Parmesan and Fontina cheeses, and half and half mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours.

Bake strata uncovered until puffed, golden and firm in center, about 1 hour.