Cooking For Sig

A Sous Chef and Her Stories

Bread Reincarnated

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spinach strataI was so excited to tell you about my successful bread baking last weekend that I completely neglected to tell you about my lovely Sunday. It was lovely because we did absolutely nothing (except eat bread and get back in bed at 11:00am). I left the house once to pick up our turkey, which Matt tells me the grocery store would have almost certainly sold out of by now. The rest of the day we were warm inside, listening to the steam gurgling in the radiators and the wind whipping leaves against our window panes. For dinner I made soup. Of course.

The weather, the soup, the biting wind reminded me – nearly transported me – to Paris, to Le Troquet, a simple, traditional restaurant in the 15th arrondissement. My parents and I were there during the winter break of my senior year of high school. My dad had planned our meals methodically, with extensive research and consultations with the hotel’s concierge, as usual. But Le Troquet had a special significance because it shared a name with one of our favorite Boston restaurants  and we were eager to bring back a matchbook, a photo, a memento to share with our friends at Troquet in Boston. While we went for the name, it ended up being one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I remember so clearly when the first course came out, a beautiful pureed soup in a classic porcelain tureen. With a large silver ladle, the waiter expertly filled our bowls. It was so simple, just vegetables, cooked until sweet and buttery, then pureed into the the silkiest, freshest soup I’ve ever tasted.

But that’s enough about soup, I’ve surely bored you to tears with all my various soup stories. I should warn you that there are more, but I will spare you from them for now. After polishing off our soup on Sunday night with thick slices of my homemade bread, I realized that it would be nearly impossible for  the two of us to finish two large loaves before it went completely stale. And so, dinner on Thursday was a fluffy, eggy, spinach-strewn strata that used up half a loaf. As soon as Matt walked through the door, he commented on the aroma floating down the hall from the oven. Oh, the joys of breakfast for dinner. I might have had thirds.

*****

Spinach Strata from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old 1/2-inch whole-wheat bread cubes
2 cups finely chopped baby spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped

Brush a 9-inch square baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle the baking dish with lemon zest and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in remaining milk and the eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the spinach and half of the feta. Gently toss with your hands until combined. Drizzle the egg mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the edges are browned. Brown the top under the broiler, if desired. Serve warm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with the fresh oregano.

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Author: sarkrauss

Run, cook, eat, sleep, repeat.

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