It has been quite a year and while this holiday season may not look at all like it has in the past we all cling to comfort. Comfort from our homes with fires burning in the fireplace and blankets piled high while watching movies or binge-watching a whole series. From my family to yours, may this season bring you comfort and we wish you the warmest and healthiest of seasons.
Mornings often get forgotten and I’ve been experimenting with morsels and how they fit into the morning meal or brunch which started me on a search for wonderfully sweet bread-based breakfasts and desserts. Customers have sent me recipes and the differences between bread-based casseroles is wide and wonderful: everything from stratas to bread puddings and panades.
Strata – The key differentiation of a strata is ease and proportions of egg to milk or cream making it more eggy in consistency and flavor. doesn’t require the added step of a bain marie for cooking like bread puddings. And, whether you choose to go sweet or savory, it’s perfect for a breakfast or, maybe I should say bread-fast or brunch. The best part is: prepare it the evening before and just pop it in the oven while presents are being opened or while you enjoy that perfect eggnog latte. If you really want to go all out, make your eggnog from scratch, but that isn’t necessary with lots of quick versions like this one that are just as good.
I recently tried this Cheesy Mushroom Breakfast Strata. This is a rich egg mixture made with Margot’s Morsels Rockin Rosemary and a creamy brie and topped with the tang of parmesan. This is an easy-to-make recipe when you have a houseful of people, letting you sit and enjoy the family while the strata takes care of itself. I’ve read that you can replace the cream with sour cream which I want to try and this recipe that might benefit from that extra tang of sour cream, especially if you choose to leave out the wine for the mushrooms.
Bread Pudding – Now, bread puddings are another one of my favorites, especially because they are almost always sweet. Made with a more equal ratio of eggs and milk and baked in a “bain marie” – a larger pan holding boiled water that reaches ½ way up the sides of your baking dish of your mixture. I’ve included an Eggnog Bread Pudding on the website because this is the perfect time of year for it. But, swap out the eggnog for milk and honestly, it becomes a wonderful creamy dessert without the seasonal undertone. I’ll always order a bread pudding if it’s on the menu. I love the soft custard-like texture whether it is as a dessert or in place of pancakes for breakfast, it comforts my soul.
Panade – And finally, this bread-based dish has been described as soup without the broth or, “soup you can stand your spoon in.” It is made with only stock, either chicken or vegetable, and no eggs. Very close to Thanksgiving stuffing when you decrease the amount of liquid and balance the quantity of bread and other ingredients. A panade is a truly rustic and earthy dish – très bon! It’s a perfect combination of crunchy, soft spoonfuls, and chewy bites, depending on what you put in it. It is always savory and so satisfying. I’m going to try the New York Times recipe for French Onion Panade using Margot’s Morsels in Simply Sea Salt to start and I'll put it up on the “recipes” page of the website. Look for it in the next few weeks.
All of these casseroles are based on the cooking principle of soaking stale or leftover bread or, selfishly "morsels" and filler ingredients — like onions, mushrooms, and cheese and baking until the inside layers are soft and creamy. The main difference lies in the kind of soaking liquid you use, the fillings and whether you are looking for a more egg-like texture, a custard-based dish, or a rustic meal with much less dairy. Try one for breakfast or brunch or, as a meal while you enjoy your family.
If you’d like me to cover something specific, just let me know at email@example.com. I’ll continue to tell you what’s happening in my kitchen and coax my husband, Milt, to guest blog on his baking adventures.
If you are in the San Francisco bay area, come to the farmer’s markets in the North Bay Area and look for us. Right now we’re in Mill Valley and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. I would love to meet you and find out how you use morsels. Don’t forget to Get Your Crunch On!