Thursday, October 16, 2014
I was told to eat eggs by my midwife and I’m nothing if not vigilant at following instructions when it comes to food. Say what’s that you say? Midwife, Jess? Yes it’s true, there’s something in my belly that, for once, is not a burrito*. Spoiler alert: it’s a baby and we’re all feeling pretty stoked about it! I’m actually quite far along at this point- over the halfway mark at 24 weeks (or like 5-6 months in regular people speak). Baby Dickens will make his or her debut around the first week of February so let’s pray that we don’t have a 20 foot snow storm with three day power outages; because while I’m pretty burly when it comes to many things, giving birth to a baby in an unheated wood paneled basement does not sound like my idea of a good time.
*I can in no way whatsoever guarantee that at your particular reading of this blog post that I don’t also have a burrito in my belly.
So the past few months of being lazy were totally justified- I mean. I’d say. As a white lady of a certain age, I’m pretty used to beating myself up if my day off productivity level a nice midpoint between Martha Stewart and Jesus. I like to Get Stuff Done- blog post (check), two loads of laundry (check), make chicken stock (check), teach yoga class (check), make hugely unsuccessful attempt at growing herb garden (double check). So when I found out I was pregnant the first week of June I embraced the new need for lots of down time and I felt, completely fine ignoring much of the to-do list and just chilling out when I had some time to myself. I mean shit I’m growing a human, I think that’s task enough for a Tuesday, wouldn’t you say? It’s all together very liberating and a gal could really get used to this. Especially the ignoring-the-herb-garden part, because I’m already really good at that.
I have been hesitant to share this big news here, because well, I haven’t been here all that much. And I didn’t want to come back and be all “Sup dudes, how’s your summer? B T dubbs I’m pregnant. It's yours.” Plus, online pregnancy announcements in this age of all things baby being hyper fetishized, make me feel sort of self conscious. I think they are cute- don’t get me wrong, just not for me. I don’t get the facebook baby announcement- mostly because it’s SO MUCH MORE FUN to tell people in person. They jump up and down and hug you and scream (well the ladies do) and you get to see real joy in their faces. And some people cry! And if you’re me you also cry. Every single person you tell you cry, even an odd elderly gentleman at work who asked me in a creepy tone if I was “with child.” It’s all just so hilarious and so emotional and so real I would never want to reduce it to likes and comments of ‘congrats’ punched out on an iphone while someone is waiting for the T.
And you know we’ve always been an in-person kind of family. So, I didn’t want to share news like this in a blog post until it was, well, too big to ignore. Which, I totally am. I already look like I ate another, smaller, weaker pregnant lady and I kind of love it. The first trimester food is not your friend because it feels a bit like a three month hangover. You want food. You just don’t know if food is going to cooperate once it’s in your possession. At 14 weeks I turned the corner though and I went from wanting toast with a side of toast to craving, hm, All The Foods. Thank god I have had the kind of pregnancy where cooking is still my favorite leisure activity. My sister and some close friends lamented that they just didn’t have it in ‘em/ were too ill or exhausted to saddle up to the stove. Whereas during my first few exhausted, nauseous weeks in the first trimester even though I didn’t feel like eating all that much the kitchen was the only place I felt normal. I hope that is always the case. Even when I have this bambino strapped to my chest and I’m accidentally splashing sauces on their little face (just kidding…I’ll be more careful than that!) So anyways, enough about the baby, back to the eggs!
BRIOCHE ‘BENEDICT’ BREAKFAST STRATA
Softened butter for pan
8-10 small brioche rolls, or about ¾ of a loaf brioche, preferably day-old
½ lb. Canadian Bacon, diced
½ cup shredded mozzarella
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 cups whole milk
1 ½ tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Slice brioche into large chunks, about 1-2 inches square-ish. In a large glass baking dish or oven-safe skillet, spread a thin layer of butter evenly on bottom and sides of pan. Set a small skillet to medium heat and brown Canadian bacon for a few minutes on each side. Dump brioche chunks into pan and in a large mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, Dijon, salt and pepper. Whisk together thoroughly and fold in approximately ¾ of the shredded cheeses (cheddar and mozzarella only), reserving parmesan and remaining shredded cheeses for later use. Scatter Canadian bacon into pan with brioche and pour egg and cheese mixture over. Squish everything down a bit so all the bread has a chance to absorb the custard. Pinch a touch more salt and pepper over the top and then scatter on reserved cheeses, including grated parmesan. Chill up to 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Optional step: I layered a sheet of plastic wrap and two heavy dinner plates on top of my strata to weight down the top so that all the bread would saturate in custard as it chilled and there would be no dry bits.
In the morning one hour before baking: set strata out at room temperature; remove plastic wrap and plates, if using. Set oven to preheat at 375. Cover strata loosely with tin foil and bake, checking periodically for 45-50 minutes. Remove tin foil for last 10-15 minutes of baking so it gets golden brown and crusty on top. If your strata is especially soupy- cooking time may take closer to an hour. Mine was not because my brioche was a bit stale (which is ideal) so it soaked up every bit of egg. Cooking is done when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and it’s golden brown on top.
Let sit about 5-10 minutes before serving. We served this with a pot of baked beans, some fruit salad and yogurt- it was a super hearty fall brunch. I also ate the leftovers for a whole week and did not get tired of it once. It is by no means a healthy breakfast dish- it’s a total comfort dish and, aside from chilling overnight, only takes about ten minutes to prepare. Perfect for a brunch or lunch crowd and can serve at least 6 people. Or one, highly motivated pregnant lady in her second trimester.