I found the loveliest surprise when I went to the mailbox today: a handwritten note from my friend Laurie. It took me an (embarrassingly) long time to figure out why Laurie had sent me a note, when she usually just stops by for a cup of tea or calls on my cell when she has to chat. And then it hit me. She had actually read my blog (!) and noted my love of the handwritten missive (!!) and took it upon herself to make my day by writing me (!!!).
You gotta love a person that is so thoughtful like that.
So today's blog is dedicated to Laurie. She has been asking me and reminding me that she asked me for these recipes ever since she tasted them at our shearing day extravaganza this year, in early April. I have been horribly remiss, and I am suitably chastened by HER excellent follow through, when I didn't even ask for her to send me a letter!
So Laurie, this is for you. (For the rest of you reading this, these are both great brunch dishes. The best part about them is that you can make them the night before.)
Egg and Cheese Strata
2 tablespoons butter/marg
1/2 small loaf sliced white bread, cubed, with crusts cut off
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups half-and-half or milk (I usually use skim)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4-1/2 lb bacon, cooked and chopped
Melt butter and spread evenly in heavy baking dish. Arrange half of bread cubes in dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese, half the tomatoes and half the bacon (plus chives if using). Add second half of bread cubes. Repeat layer, but start with bacon, then tomato, then top with cheese. Beat eggs, then beat in milk, salt, mustard and chives. Pour evenly over cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake for 45-60 min at 375 degree oven until top is lightly browned and egg is "set" in center (shaking pan does not cause center to jiggle). Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Eggs a la 'Rents (my parents, that is)
Start by making a beef sauce. In a large frying pan, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 1/2 lb shredded dried or smoked beef and 1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms. Saute until tender. Add 1/4 lb cooked chopped bacon, and sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the mixture. Gradually stir in 4 C hot milk and cook until mixture is slightly thickened. Add pepper to taste and set aside.
In a separate (large!) bowl, beat 16 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup melted butter/margarine together. Scramble the egg mixture in a very large frying pan until the eggs are set but still very soft and moist. Butter an 11x13 inch casserole and, starting and ending with beef sauce, layer eggs and sauce (5 layers total).
Cover and bake at 275 degrees for 1.5 hours. Can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next day.