Note: Feel free to stray from this recipe and use what you have available. The strata can be made with most type of firm cheese...Swiss and fontina are awesome choices. And any veggies you have handy. Just give them a quick sauté or roast first. You may like sautéed spinach, caramelized onions or chopped roasted veggies, like fingerling potatoes. You could add a handful of chopped prosciutto, speck, ham or cooked bacon if you have it. If you add a bit more vegetables or bread, you might use a slightly smaller or larger pan. From the Sugar Cube
1Generously butter bottom and sides of a 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. In medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, paprika, nutmeg and dill.
Put large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, add olive oil and heat til shimmering. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté til mushrooms are tender and their juices have evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté til fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
2Pour about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover bottom of baking dish with a layer of bread, pressing into the mixture. Sprinkle with half of the goat cheese and then 1/3 of the sautéed mushroom, one third of the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Pour 1/3 of the egg mixture on top and press to help saturate all ingredients. Repeat layering, starting with another layer of bread, the remaining goat cheese, half the mushrooms, half the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Pour half of the remaining egg mixture over the top and press. Add a final layer of bread and remaining egg mixture. Press to saturate. Cover with remaining vegetables and remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Cover strata tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This will give it an extra luxurious texture. If you’re in a pinch and need to bake it right away, it will still be a delight. Just try to wait 30 minutes to give the bread a chance to soak up the moisture before baking
3When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Put dish on middle rack of oven with a sheet pan below to catch drips, and bake uncovered, til puffed and the custard is set in the center, about 1 hour. If it’s getting too dark too soon, tent it with foil, making sure the foil doesn’t touch the cheese. Let cool for at least 30 minutes to allow bread to reabsorb the juice. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.
4For sweet strata, follow the recipe above, adding 1/2 to 34 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want it to be, the grated zest of 1 tangerine or orange and 2 tsp. vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean to the egg mixture, Of course, leave out the herbs, pepper, paprika, cheese and vegetables. Instead, use 2 cups berries or sliced fruit. If using apples, sauté them in butter first. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake as directed.