We have had a number of fine weather days and I'm being cautiously optimistic that they'll continue. We spent some time in the yard over the weekend. Winter's snow and bitter cold left some damage. Lots of bushes have browned leaves that need selective pruning. Nothing that a few big pots of hardy pansies won't perk up until it is safe to put out the tender plants of summer. But, oh that sunshine!! I stood by the garden gate and turned my face to it and it felt good!! There were sounds of buzzing saws around the neighborhood. I even heard what sounded like a lawn mower but can't imagine what that was all about. The best part--neighbors strolling by and greetings exchanged. We're all pale survivors of a brutal winter!
I was inspired to bring out the chicks, bunnies and colorful eggs and decorate for spring and Easter. For once, I didn't have to put away snow people. Just opening the blinds was enough of winter decorating---more than enough.
Today I'm sharing the recipe for a delicious strata that I made when my sister and family joined us for our first Thanksgiving in Charleston--at least thirty years ago. It is on a recipe card but I'm fairly certain it came from Southern Living. I was looking for something I could easily put on the table for brunch before the turkey went into the oven. This dish was perfect.
Through the years, it has been my go-to brunch dish, especially for Easter. Add a bowl of fruit, assorted muffins and you can make twelve diners very happy.
The photo is before it went into the oven. Things were a bit hectic when it came out and it was completely devoured before anyone thought of getting a finished photo!!
Ham, Cheese and Vegetable Strata
10 slices of day old white bread, crusts removed
12 ounces of baked ham, chopped fine (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup scallions, including part of the green top, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red and green peppers
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Butter an oblong baking pan and arrange the bread in overlapping rows. Evenly sprinkle with the ham, cheese, peppers and scallions. Beat the eggs with the milk, dry mustard, pepper and paprika. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the baking dish. Cover tightly and chill at least an hour to overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dish 45 to 50 minutes until puffed up and golden. Test with a knife in the center that should come out clean. Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered 10-15 minutes before serving.