Tag Archives: sun-dried tomatoes

PANCETTA AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO BREAKFAST STRATA

Breakfast strata is so easy to make and so impressive when it comes to the table puffy, golden, and as high as a soufflé. You need to start it the night before, but otherwise the ingredients and the method are very straightforward.

I made this for Carol’s recent visit to Santa Fe, but it is a perfect breakfast during the holidays. You won’t need much more than juice or fresh fruit and a beverage.

 

RECIPE

Pancetta and Sun-Dried Tomato Breakfast Strata

Ingredients

  • 6 – 8   ½-inch slices of sourdough or French bread, crusts trimmed
  • 6 tablespoons butter + more to grease the baking dish
  • ½ cup dry-preserved sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • boiling water
  • 8 thin slices pancetta
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated

Method

  1. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven for 40 minutes, turning once. When cooled, butter one side of the bread and set aside.
  2. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Then drain, chop finely, and set aside until ready for assembly.
  3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, lightly brown the slices of pancetta. Set aside.
  4. In the same sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the minced shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the wine and simmer until reduced to about half.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy. Stir in the cream and the shallot and wine mixture. Set aside until ready to assemble.
  6. Heavily butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with a layer of buttered bread, buttered side up and trimming pieces to fit. Spread the slices of pancetta evenly across the bread. Top with the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Pour one-half of the shallot, egg, and cream mixture over the top. Sprinkle on one-third of the grated cheese.
  7. Place another layer of bread on top. Pour over the remaining cream mixture and sprinkle with half of the remaining grated cheese. Reserve the rest of the cheese to sprinkle on top immediately before baking.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Weight down with a brick or other heavy object and refrigerate over night.
  9. About an hour and a half before you are ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Remove the brick and the covering and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place in the middle of the oven preheated to 325°F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the center is puffed and brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then serve. Four to eight servings, depending on appetite. Like quiche, it is delicious cold the next day.
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A NEW GENERATION OF COOKS

My granddaughter, Ciara, will turn 11 in just a few weeks. She has been cooking with her mother, Carol, for many years. Carol is a good and dedicated home cook who has been having kitchen fun with her children for a long time. For years she has had a fish bowl on top of the refrigerator. The bowl is  filled with little slips of paper  labelled with countries of the world. Each week the kids draw a slip from the bowl, and the identified country becomes a project for the next week. Finding it on a map, identifying the capital on the web, reading about the geography and history all become assignments above and beyond the usual homework. The highlight of the whole week, though, is preparing a meal that is representative of the country. For places like France and Italy, that is easy, but Tajikistan, Cote d’Ivoire, and others present real challenges. After the menu is selected and recipes have been found from exotic cook books or Epicurious on-line, my daughter makes runs to the appropriate grocery stores or specialty shops to find the ingredients.  One additional rule is that everyone has to eat at least three bites.

Ciara

Sometimes the dinner falls flat, and everyone eats three bites and then looks for something else. More often than not, though, these foreign foods are a great success, and the children have had new eating experiences – no finicky eaters here! (or at least not too bad).

Holidays are other times for adventures in food. One of the biggest successes and now a tradition has been Halloween with ghost mashed potatoes, cooked fingers, bone snacks and other gory treats of the season. I shall report further with recipes for Halloween in a couple of weeks.

With as much fun as all of this in the kitchen, it is not a surprise that Ciara has developed an enthusiasm for cooking.  So it seemed the expected thing when she decided on a cooking class as one of her electives for sixth grade. Be advised: this is not the home economics class of my days in high school. The class includes boys, and it focuses on good food without getting bogged down in the boring lessons on home canning, sauerkraut making, and cooking with three different kinds of condensed soup or flavored gelatin.

The following recipe is an example of this modern approach to teaching kids how to cook and how to think about good nutrition. It looks delicious and tastes good along with being easy to make.

The main stars of the dish are fresh bulk Italian sausage and orecchiette pasta. The pasta originally comes from Paglia, the region of Italy at the heel of the boot. The name means “little ears” because of the shape – which is perfect for holding some of the sauce. At least in big cities, orecchiette has become much easier to find, but if you can’t find it, don’t despair – any pasta with a lot of body will do.

Orecchiette with Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes; crispy bread on the side

ORECCHIETTE WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

⅔ Cup heavy cream

½ Cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped

8 Cups baby arugula, coarsely chopped

1 lb orecchiette

½ Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ Cup fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper

  1.  In a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage, stirring frequently to break up any large lumps. Transfer with a slotted spoon to several thicknesses of paper towel to drain.
  2.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat, return the skillet to the heat, and add the onions and garlic. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is browned and caramelized, about 12 minutes.
  3. Stir cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and sausage into the onion mixture, stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the arugula, stirring until the greens are lightly wilted.
  5. While the sauce is cooking, boil the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with the Parmesan cheese.  Mix to coat the pasta with the sauce, thinning if necessary with the reserved cooking water. Add the basil and serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

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