Thursday, June 9, 2016
Fruit and cream cheese stuffed French toast casserole *plus* the savory version
This is a great brunch dish as well as supper. It's less hands-on than making pancakes or waffles, freeing me to pull together the rest of a brunch set-up, or work on other projects in the late afternoon.
You put the casserole together the night before (for a brunch dish) or anytime during the day (for supper). It only takes about 1 hour to sit, before baking, but can be held in the fridge overnight, if needed.
For 3 or 4 servings, I use an 8 X 8-inch Pyrex baker. For 4 or 5 servings, a 7 X 11-inch casserole. And for 6 to 8 servings, an 9 X 11-inch casserole (all Pyrex).
For each serving, count on 1 full sandwich (2 slices of bread). Stale bread works best. If the bread is too soft, it becomes mushy in the egg batter.
cream cheese (about 4 ounces)
sliced bread, whole wheat, white, French (my favorite is French bread, but I also use whole wheat sandwich bread)
fresh or frozen fruit -- berries, peaches, plums, nectarines, bananas (sweetened, if desired)
jam or jelly (optional, I leave it out when I want a less-sweet casserole)
soft butter (about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons)
the egg batter
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter the casserole dish well.
Make sandwiches, spreading 1 to 2 tablespoons cream cheese on one slice of bread, and jam/jelly plus a tablespoon or 2 of sliced or whole fruit on the other slice. Put the slices with cream cheese on the slice with jam and fruit and place in casserole dish. Spread the tops of each sandwich with a teaspoon of soft butter.
Blend together eggs, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla extract. Pour over the baking dish of sandwiches and allow to sit for 45 minutes.
Turn each sandwich over and allow to sit another 15 minutes. (If keeping overnight in the fridge, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are set and edges are looking lightly browned.
Remove from oven. Top with additional fruit and powdered sugar.
and the savory version:
Cheese Strata or Baked Cheese Fondue
My mom's c.1970 cookbook calls this Baked Cheese Fondue. In university, we had this in the dorm for lunches, and they called it Cheese Strata (makes sense, layers, or strata, of bread and cheese). I tend to call it Strata.
This is the basic recipe. You can add sliced or cubed, cooked meat (ham, sausage, chicken, turkey), cooked veggies, like asparagus, or leftover cooked greens, or, just as a plain cheese, egg and bread dish, with a nice salad or fruit on the side.
To serve 4 to 6
10 thick slices of a narrow loaf of French bread, or 6 large slices of wide-pan bread, cut in half -- stale is best
2 and 2/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped green onions, chives, or green tops of garden onions (I use the tops of my growing shallots for green onions)
1 tablespoon of soft butter
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
any extra seasonings that you think you'd like with this. Mustard powder is good. I used some chili powder to give it a kick the other night when we had it.
Butter an 8 X 8-inch Pyrex casserole dish.
Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you are wanting) together. Stir in green onions.
Place half of the bread into the dish, cutting the last slice of bread to fit tightly in the casserole dish. Top with 1 cup of cheese. Place other half of bread on top. Spread the soft butter on top of the top slices of bread. Pour the egg batter over all of the slices of bread.
Allow to stand for 1 hour.
Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven, for 40 minutes, or until eggs are set.