[Recipe: Smoked Salmon & Chevre Strata]
Oh, to be a mannequin. They’re the ones outfitted in smart layers right now, in cashmere-blend cardis and scarves that float just so, in tight turtlenecks beneath tailored dresses.
Meanwhile I’m still trundling out the long, hot days in desert classics: shorts and tissue-thin tees and flip flops. It’s too hot to even wear sandals, to have more than that slim arch of plastic across the top of the foot.
If I weren’t so interested in survival, I’d go to autumn-fashion town. But since I’d hate to sweat to death just because I prematurely donned my riding boots, I’ve decided to cook in layers.
Yes, we did finally get around to food, didn’t we? A fascination with fashion can only get you so far. Eventually you get hungry.
I’m always looking for new ways to use the bounty of eggs available to me, and here’s a new one: strata. A strata — layers of egg custard, cheese, filling and cubes of crusty bread baked in the oven — is easily among the most elegant of savory egg dishes. It’s got the flexibility of an omelet, in terms of filling choices, but it’s got far less pomp and an attractive rusticity. It may look a little thrown together, but in truth it’s a constructed and considered dish — perhaps a little like your favorite fall outfit.
Smoked Salmon & Chevre Strata
adapted from Gale Gand’s recipe in House Beautiful
5 cups of cubed rustic bread, crust on
1 C grated mozzarella
10 large eggs
1 quart 2 percent or whole milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
8 oz smoked salmon
4 oz crumbled chevre
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
Butter or spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Spread out the bread cubes in the dish and sprinkle with cheese. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard and salt. Pour egg mixture over the bread and cheese. Layer smoked salmon on top, then dot with chevre and sprinkle tarragon on top. Gently swirl the fillings with a spatula into the rest of the mixture. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake strata for 1 hour, until the mixture has puffed a bit, is golden brown and set (shake the pan gently to check for shimmying uncooked custard, Gand says). Tent the dish with foil and continue to cook for a few minutes if the strata isn’t set and is browning too quickly. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.
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