Monday, January 2, 2012

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

This year for New Years, we decided to celebrate in Chicago with friends who traveled from Minnesota to visit for the weekend! We started the evening off right with some cocktails, baked brie bites, and tomato basil crostini. We walked to dinner at DeCero, a local favorite and came back to our place for more drinks and dessert of leftover Christmas goodies which included the amazing oreo cheesecake truffles! We rang in the new year with a champagne toast to old friends, a great 2011 filled with weddings and memories, and to all the new things to come in 2012!

I planned a baked egg dish ahead of time for New Years Day breakfast. I prepared it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight so that all I had to do in the morning was pop it in the oven! Simple and handy when guests are still sleeping! I had my eye on this strata for a while after we had it at a friends house a while back. It is so delicious and was perfect for the occasion! It is hardy and filling without being too heavy. The cheeses blend the sharp tastes from the spices and artichokes together so that each bite is perfect. Give this dish a try the next time you need to feed a crowd for breakfast and it is sure to be a success!!

Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Smoked Ham Strata
From Epicurious

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups 1-inch cubes sourdough bread, crusts trimmed
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
12 ounces smoked ham, chopped
3 6 1/2-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, halved lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk milk and oil in large bowl. Stir in bread. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in another large bowl to blend. Add goat cheese. Mix herbs in small bowl to blend.
Place half of bread mixture in prepared dish. Top with half of ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, and cheeses. Pour half of cream mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining bread, ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, cheeses, and cream mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Bake uncovered until firm in center and brown around edges, about 1 hour.

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