Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Gift of a Recipe

When my friend Dino shared a recipe he thought I'd like, I'm fairly sure he had no idea what his gift was really giving me.

Getting together with my Gram doesn't happen nearly often enough.  No, Dino hasn't delivered her on my doorstep, but he has given us a  relatively new set of fun antics in the kitchen.  When she and I do get together, we love making his breakfast strata recipe. You'll know why as we progress through the recipe.

**Recipe Below**

Free grandmother hugs!

The day before our breakfast, she and I take advantage of the quiet afternoon in the house to prep this savory dish.  

The beauty of any strata is doing all the prep the day before and popping it in the oven the next morning for a great breakfast that all will rave about.

The prep is really quite simple, especially if you mise en place.

Look who is charge of the cheese

It's important to grate "extra" cheese
This will give the egg dish extra pizazz.  Maybe the cooks too.

Toast up slices of day old bread and give it a smear of butter.   Lay first layer in a casserole.

Cook down the spinach with shallots.

Setting the cooked spinach/shallots aside, use the same skillet to cook down the 1/2 cup of wine.  At this juncture, the first time we made this, my grandmother discovered with a sip of wine from the open bottle   enhanced the pinch of cheese she was snacking on.  She couldn't hide her reaction....mmmmm how wonderful they are together.  A new tradition began...

Getting back to work, whip up the eggs with half and half.  Add the simmered wine to the egg mixture.

Spread the cooked spinach and shallots over the first layer of toast and sprinkle with Gruyere.  Repeat if you have more toast.  Similar to making a lasagna.

Pour the egg mixture over the assembled strata.  Cover with plastic wrap and put something heavy on top to encourage the toast to soak up all that goodness.  Another casserole dish or a package of sugar will do the trick.  Refrigerate overnight.

If you planned ahead like we do, you'd have some cheese left and of course the wine you just poured yourself.

Enjoy the evening.  Sleep in the next morning.  The moment you arise, remove the casserole from the refrigerator while the oven comes to temperature.  Once it is at temperature, bake.  An hour later you will have:

Dino gave me a great recipe, but even better he gave me quality time with my grandmother.  Needless to say, if you want to do the same with a loved one, you best shred extra cheese and have tad more wine on hand than what the recipe calls for.  We hope you enjoy!

Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere (courtesy Dino Kostas)
Makes one 8x8 inch Strata, Serving of 6

8-10 (1/2" thick) slices of french or Italian bread
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 medium shallots, minced
1 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup medium dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/12 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.. Cook, stirring occasionally until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside.
3. Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high heat, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
4. Butter 8" square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture then 1/2 cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half and half, salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap. Weigh down (two 1 lb boxes of brown or powdered sugar laid side by side works well). Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
5. Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over surfaces; bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish, 50-55 minutes. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes. Serve.


  1. Love this! Thank you Dino!

  2. AnonymousJune 19, 2013

    Oh my gosh that looks/sounds so good! Lucky you, making it with your grandmother.
    - Barbara


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