BreakFast in the TreeHouses 2 of 5

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!

Today: EGG BAKES

EGG BAKES are fairly simple.
They are a Great Way to serve Breakfast to a lot of guests, without having to cook individual omelets for each person, which would likely not all be ready at the same time.
With a little prep the day before, the Egg Bake pops in the Oven, and comes out ready all at once so that everyone may enjoy Breakfast Together.
And Community — Being Together — is a Beautiful Way to start the Day
And Live the Day, for that matter!

At Tree House Point www.TreeHousePoint.com , I have seen a greater variety of Egg Bakes than I could have known existed.
Creative People, Creating for Other People…
Celebrating Community!

The Basic Concept is that of a Bread Pudding…
In fact, these are often called “Savory Bread Puddings.”
Or the name I prefer, “Strada.” (it sounds so Grand!)

It is difficult to write down a recipe for this dish, because there are as many variations as there are people making them.
In truth, we never measure for this dish, so these measurements are merely estimates. If it looks like you want it breadier, add a bit more bread.
If you want it eggier, add some more eggs.
If you want it creamier, add some more cream…

To Begin: Some stale bread.

I am always fascinated at all of the Amazingly Delicious Dishes that are made with Stale Bread! In days gone by, the majority of people were making ends meet in ways that are not understood by many Americans today.
Nowadays, we are often more likely to go out and buy Bread to let it get stale so that we can make a Recipe…
My parents were born into the Great Depression.
They raised us with a clear understanding that food is not to be wasted.
If something went bad and had to be thrown out, my Mother would say, not with admonition, but with genuine regret, “Oh, That’s a Sin!”
There are Hungry People in the World. Please do not let food go bad.
Rather, Let us Live in Gratitude for the Food that we have!
My Father would tell me of when he was a Child and some stranger would now and then come to the door, asking for a meal from his Mother.
“What did she do?” my Mother would ask.
“She would invite the person in and make them dinner,” my Father would respond.
My Mother would laugh, “They asked the right one!” she would say acknowledging the indefatigable Good Heart of my GrandMother!
And she recognized it because she is the same way!

Yet even in the most trying times,
Creativity
And Ingenuity
And a Sense of Fun…
Predominated.

Necessity… the Mother of Invention!

People — Women, really — figured out that just because the bread was stale, did not mean they had to eat bad food.

Stale Bread is the Secret Ingredient!
I remember making my GrandMother’s MeatBalls for my Uncle once — he tasted them and shook his head. “Your Bread wasn’t stale enough!”

Bread Puddings are made with Stale Bread — not rock hard. But stale.
Past the point where you would eat it.
If it’s almost there, let it sit out for a day or two, uncovered. It’ll get there.

Tear the Bread into pieces, and fill a pyrex pan.
(You may choose to remove the crusts — I usually do (and you can finely chop the crusts in a blender to make breadcrumbs for use at another time (fresh breadcrumbs like that freeze well too!) No waste required!)
I prefer to dice the bread into very very small pieces.
(Of course, if you are in a hurry, just tear the bread by hand into medium size chunks and toss it into the pan. It will still taste delicious! There are So Many Variations to this that work!)
Fold into the dry bread pieces whatever ingredients you like…

Marinated Red Peppers and Marinated Artichokes are a good combination for when you’re in a hurry. Just remove from their jars and chop.

Some Combination Suggestions:

Sautéed Spinach, Sautéed Mushrooms and Cooked Bacon
or
Marinated Roasted Red Peppers and Marinated Artichokes
or
Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, and Marinated Artichokes
or
Cooked Sausage, Sautéed Peppers and Sautéed Onions
or
Ham (Diced)
or
Make up your own combination of things that go well with Eggs and Cheese!

Lightly Beat a dozen eggs (give or take), and add some Half n Half (or Cream or Milk, if you prefer.)
Season as you like (Pepper and Salt, or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, or Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning or 21 Seasoning Salute, or Dry Mustard… Whatever your preference!)

Pour the Egg and Cream Mixture over the Bread Cube Mixture, slowly, allowing the bread to get coated, and the liquid to fill in all of the cracks.

I am often surprised at how much liquid the pan can hold when it already appears so full with just the Bread pieces.
It reminds me of that Wonderful Lesson of the Empty Pickle Jar:

Back to the Egg Bake…
Cover the top with Lots of shredded Cheese!
You may use Cheddar, Mozzarella, a Mexican Four-Cheese Blend, a Pizza Cheese Blend, Cheddar Jack, Swiss, Havarti… Any Shredded Cheese will do!
What do you think combines best with the ingredients you have chosen?
More importantly, what do you Feel combines best with the ingredients you have chosen?

Let your Grand Masterpiece sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, pop it in the Oven, and let it bake.
Serve warm!

YUM!

One of my Favorite things about Egg Bakes is that they can be such a Bold Expression of your own style of cooking!
Once you get down the basic formula, as described above, you can use your own cooking style or preferred ingredients and seasonings, and it can be your personal signature dish!

I once asked an Asian Chef why her Egg Strada was So Delicious.
She thought for a moment, and replied, “Lots of Garlic!”
Then she thought for another moment and added, “LOTS of Garlic!”
Then she paused, thought again, and concluded, “That’s it!”

Nowadays, with so many people Gluten Free, I will often create an Egg Bake with a base of sautéed, cubed potatoes instead of Bread!
(You can even buy the cubed potatoes frozen and already cut.)
Works just as well!

This series is based upon my own Cooking Escapades!
Five Days this Week, we are featuring Breakfast Recipes, many of which I have whipped up at TreeHouse Point .
On Friday, the final Post in the Series will be featured at www.nelsontreehouse.com the Blog for all things TreeHouse. There will be a link here on that day, as well!

Tomorrow… More BreakFast Ideas from the TreeHouses…

 

Recipe: AN EGG BAKE
(n.b.: Feel free to change around the filling ingredients based on what you like! These instructions are offered merely as a guide…)
 
The Ingredients:

Butter or Non-Stick Cooking Spray for pan.

Approximately 10 slices Stale Bread (any kind — White, Whole Wheat …Sourdough works particularly Well! Or you can mix ‘em!)

Approximately 3-4 strips of bacon, cooked somewhat crispy, patted dry, and crumbled (optional)

2  10-oz packages of fresh mushrooms

Olive Oil (Approximately 6 TableSpoons, for those who desire a measurement.)

1 Large Vidalia Sweet Onion, Diced

12-15 Large Cloves of Garlic, Peeled and finely diced (or pressed)

2 lbs fresh spinach, or two 10-oz packages frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed somewhat dry.

Fresh Grated Nutmeg (approx. ½ tsp)

I Large (15-oz-ish) Jar of Marinated Roasted Red Peppers, oil drained off, and diced

10-12 Eggs, lightly beaten together

3-4 cups of Half n Half (or Milk or Heavy Cream, if you prefer)

Seasoned Salt (approx. 2 Tblsp) (or whatever seasoning you prefer)

Fresh Ground Black Pepper, if desired

8 Cups (approximately) of Shredded Cheese (Asiago Blend is nice for this, or Cheddar Blend… Pepper Jack is nice too. Your Choice!)

3/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese

 

The Process:

Grease a 10×13 pyrex pan.

Remove Crusts from Bread and dice into very very small cubes.

Toss into pan, loosely.

Place Mushrooms in a pan, over medium heat until they are cooked and most of the water has cooked off (approx. 7 minutes.) Remove from Pan and Drain in a strainer or colander.

Pour approximately 3 TableSpoons Olive Oil into Large Frying Pan, to coat the bottom of the pan well.

Immediately, add the Diced Vidalia Onions, and Raise the heat to Medium-High.

Cook until they are lightly Brown, stirring often but not constantly.

Remove Onions to a Bowl.

Clean Pan (after letting it cool), or using a different pan:

Heat the other 3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Sauté Garlic very briefly (approx. 30 seconds — you don’t want it to burn.)

Add the Spinach, and Sauté over medium heat until the Spinach is wilted and cooked.

Grate some fresh Nutmeg onto the spinach while it is cooking, if desired.

Add to the Cooked Spinach: Cooked & drained Mushrooms, Cooked Onion, Chopper Peppers,

Stir together.

Remove from Heat, and place into a mixing bowl.

Add Bacon (if you like), and the Parmesan Cheese.
(*n.b.: I prefer Bacon as an Accent. Otherwise, I find the flavor overrides all the others, so I keep the amount on the low end of things.)

Stir together.

Fold the mixture into the bread cubes in the pyrex pan (It’s not about stirring it together, so much as it is just adding small clumps amidst the BreadCubes. You might even remove half the BreadCubes, add spoonfuls of the mixture, and then add the rest of the Bread on top…

Lightly Beat the Eggs with the Half n Half and the rest of the Seasonings; then slowly pour over the Bread Mixture in the pan.

Add the Cheese on Top (You may need to gently press down on the top to help the bread absorb the liquid so all of the cheese can fit.)
Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

 

When ready to Bake, the next morning,
remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.
Bake in the PreHeated Oven (350 degrees) for approximately 1 hour, or until Top I lightly browned and Egg Bake is no longer liquiddy with runny eggs.

Using Safety Mitts, carefully remove the pan from the Oven.
Let Stand for 10 Minutes.

Slice into squares, and leave in the pan to serve.
Serves 16-18 people.

This one was made Gluten Free… using potatoes instead of bread!

Celebrate your Act of Love!

# # #

 

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