There is no time as special as sharing a simple breakfast with your family or a secret week night supper. A time where there are no blackberries and no work pressures, where sharing stories and sharing a meal are the only focus
As a kid I was always in a rush and wanted to go off and call my friends or bury my nose in a great book but now all these years later I cherish the memories of those meals. I live on my own in Toronto, my parents are in BC and my sister and her husband are in Witchita Kansas and everytime I feel a little homesick and want to feel like I have my family closer I make a nostaligic dish and instantly feel better. Coming from a family who loves to cook there was never any shortage of recipes and although I always make them my own there is always a special memory at the heart of it.
When I was little one of my very favorite weekend brunch dishes was what we know as strata but which we always used to call poof as kids because of the light and fluffy eggs and bubbly cheese that would puff up before your very eyes.
I first discovered Fred’s bread at the Healthy Butcher last year and was very impressed, it reminded me of the bread that my mom would make. It was that kind of experience, you know the one, when you are tasting something and the memory comes at you so vividly. Where you can almost smell the bread as you run in chilled from playing out in the yard and it is there waiting for you.
Having just started a new position at work, it had been almost a year since I had seen any of my family and I asked my Mom for the recipe. I picked up some Fred’s bread and it was so perfect! I have adapted the recipe adding pancetta and spinach and created the recipe below.
I am looking forward to entertaining my family in my hometown this Christmas for my 40th birthday and can not wait to share this dish and Fred’s bread with all of them.
They say home is where the heart is…for me I put my heart into my food and it is like I am home.
Spinach and Pancetta Strata
1 loaf Fred’s bread a sourdough based one works best in this recipe (The Toronto’s best cheese bread is very good also but you
may want to cut down on the grated cheese if you use that one)
2 cups. Sharp cheddar—grated
1 cup Asiago grated
2 cups milk
10 thin slices of pancetta 0r 6 slices of regular bacon crisp and crumbled
6 eggs beaten
1 bunch fresh spinach
1 shallot chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter a large souffle dish or a 9×11 glass baking pan
Layer half of the bread in the bottom of the pan
Lightly saute the shallots until soft and translucent (approx 5 minutes) remove from heat and set aside
Wash spinach well and in a large pot steam for approximately 7-10 minutes or until wilted but still vibrant green
Remove from heat and when spinach is cool enough to handle squeeze any excess liquid out
In a medium mixing bowl combine spinach, shallots and salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet fry pancetta or bacon until crisp
When cool enough to handle crumble and set aside
In the baking dish layer the spinach and shallot mixture on top of bread and spinkle the pancetta evenly distributing
Layer remaining bread on top of spinach and pancetta layer
In a medium bowl beat the eggs with the milk
Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top
Top with the grated cheddar and asiago cheeses
Let strata sit for at least 1/2 an hour before baking
Bake strata for 45-60 minutes or until a knife can be inserted into the center and come out clean.
Serve with mixed baby greens