Strata

Over the years a quiche or a Spanish omelette has been one of my staple dishes, either for a summer supper or a light lunch. I guess the key factor is the eggs. We have kept hens for over 25 years and our current small flock and their ruling cockerel, Rhodie, provide us with on average 3/4 eggs a day in the early spring. Within a couple of days we have enough eggs to make a quiche but of late it is a Strata that has popped into my mind as I start to cook. I first learned of Stratas from Nan, an American member of my AgaSagaLife Facebook group and since then I have made at least one a week and get more adventurous with each one.

Spinach Strata

Now, a Strata suits my cooking style well. With a quiche I have often got fed up at the pastry stage, and with a frittata I have had some turning-over disasters before putting in the oven. A Strata is so much easier and it combines ingredients I usually have in stock – bread, eggs and milk. For those of you who bake or eat sourdough you will know that the last piece of the loaf can be quite hard and unforgiving on your teeth, and if you are a regular baker like me you already have another loaf on the way, so, until I discovered Strata I would soak the last of the loaf in water until the chickens beaks could manage it. No longer! I now cut it up into bite site pieces and layer them in the bottom of my quiche dish, or another other dish which is easily on hand and is the right size for the amount of eggs I have.

Spinach Strata prior to cooking

How I usually make a Strata in a 10″ quiche dish… I make them very much depending on the ingredients I have around at the time. Less ingredients to put in = add more bread 🙂

The night before I make up the Strata by tearing or cutting up and left over, day old sourdough and scatter it onto the bottom of a buttered dish, mine is about 10″ round. I will then fry up one or two onions, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, whatever I have available and scatter them over the bread. In the case of the Spinach version I just laid the uncooked spinach over as I didn’t want it to get soggy with recooking. I then beat 6 eggs, the more free range the better, into about half a pint of milk ish, and add a splash of cream if you have any open. Generous salt and pepper and then pour over the bread and veg. A generous grating of cheese, or a few lumps of stilton or brie and then cover over night and put into the fridge. I cover with a silicone lid which you can just see on the right hand Aga lid. The Strata can sit happily in the fridge until you cook it for breakfast or lunch the next day. Leaving it overnight gives the flavours a chance to soak into the bread although it is still pretty nice if you cook it straight away. I put halfway up the top oven of my Aga for about 35 minutes. When you take it out it has puffed up and turned golden and will deflate slightly after a few minutes.

Best served with a large green salad and fresh sliced tomatoes.

Spinach Strata prior to cooking
Apple and frozen fruit Strata

We had a slightly scant Sunday lunch recently with more people to feed than food available so bulked the meal out with a large Apple Strata for pudding. I only had two nice large eating apples so added some frozen fruit from the freezer and added a bit of cinamon to the egg mix. It came out like a custardy bread pudding. Lush.