Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes General Recipes Cheese Strata with Ham and Tomatoes

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      1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
      12 large eggs
      1 1/2 cups milk
      1/2 cup heavy cream
      Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
      Pinch cayenne pepper
      1 teaspoon kosher salt
      1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      1 cup diced baked ham
      1 cup Oven-Dried Tomatoes, chopped, recipe follows
      1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
      1 1/2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh chives
      2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
      1 pound sourdough bread (boule preferred), crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
      Directions
      Grease a 3-quart gratin dish or casserole with 1 teaspoon of the butter.

      In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, toss together the ham, tomatoes, parsley, and chives.

      To make the strata: Scatter a 1/2 cup of the cheese over the bottom of the buttered dish, cover with one-third of the bread, and then half of the tomato mixture. Repeat. Top with a final layer of bread and remaining cheese.

      Pour the egg mixture over the strata and gently press it down with the back of a large spoon to make sure the top layer is moistened with the custard. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and drizzle it over the strata. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until golden brown and slightly puffed, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

      Yield: 6 to 8 servings

      Oven-Dried Tomatoes
      2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut in half lengthwise
      1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
      Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
      Fresh herb sprigs, like thyme, rosemary, or sage (optional)
      Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Arrange the tomatoes cut side-up in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt. Dry in oven until slightly shriveled but still plump, about 5 to 6 hours.

      If not using immediately, store the tomatoes in a sealed container in the refrigerator, for 3 to 4 days. Alternatively, layer them in a container with the herbs, cover with olive oil, and store, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.

      Yield: about 2 cups

      Copyright 2001 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

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Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes General Recipes Cheese Strata with Ham and Tomatoes