Strata for one

So the other day I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (you can read what I thought about it here). If nothing else it got me thinking that I really ought to start trying trying more new recipes. But I'm a cooking one type person that I limits my choices. I do have my collection of Cooking for One recipes though. So I figured while I may not work my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking I can at least make an effort to try a few new recipes right? Cause to be honest, with the exception of the Tuna crusted in wasabi peas I've been in a bit of a rut lately.

So today, when I had a bit of down time while waiting for some stuff to load, I walked over to my cupboard and hauled out my Cooking for One book (the joys of working from home, I can do laundry and cook yummy things). Right there on the first page is a recipe that Foody Julia posted and I have a note beside it that says "Julia's favourite". (Perhaps because of the intro I really ought to point out that Foody Julia is not Julia Child...). I've been meaning to try it for years and just never got around to it. The recipe is strata for one. It's a very simple recipe.

Strata for One (from Foody Julia)

1-2 slices french bread (hearty white does in a pinch, it can be crustless if you want)
1 tsp butter or margarine
1/3 cup grated cheese (cheddar, muenster, your fave)
1 large egg (go with 2 if you're using thick slices or more than one slice of bread.
2-3 tbs white wine
Splash of tabasco sauce
(secret ingredient, 1/2 pinch of nutmeg)

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a ramekin or small baking dish. The dish should allow the bread to rest against all sides - this will cause the strata to puff up slightly. Spread the bread slice with butter and lay in the dish. Layer the on top (I realllllly like muenster or whide cheddar for this) and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the egg, wine, nutmeg and tabasco sauce together. Pour over the cheese. (At this point you can refrigerate it...I would prep it in the morning, cover and refrigerate it and when I got would would just toss it into the oven.) Pop it into the oven for 25-30 minutes until puffy and barely browned. Serve with fresh tomato wedges, a glass of the same white wine, and a spinach salad.

The flavour will change dramatically depending on the type of cheese you use. Some folks will make this without the wine, but I think it loses a lot of depth. Avoid red wine for this dish - it isn't pretty at all. LOL

All the notes above are Foody Julia's. Here are mine. First of all, I didn't have the wine. I'm sure it would have added some depth to this. And it needed depth. It felt like something was lacking. I will have to try it again sometime with the wine. Or maybe with a wee bit of dijon...so some reason I'm really digging the idea of a wee bit of dijon in this). Secondly, I didn't have a good white bread. But I did have a good wholegrain bread. Unfortunately I got it pre-sliced at the bakery and I think it would have been better if it were a bit thicker. I did slice the crusts off though. Thirdly, the cheese I used was pretty mild. I think that this really needs a sharper cheese. If I had some of the Seriously Sharp Cabot Cheddar cheese I think it would be yummy (I *do* have some Cabot cheese in my fridge...some jalapeno cheddar and maybe some habanero cheddar...).

Now all of that withstanding, this came out of the oven looking *awesome*. It puffed up and browned up (or barely browned if you will) beautifully. What happens is that that egg soaks through the bread so you kinda have a layer of egg, then bread, then cheese. Yum! My ramekins were to small for this so I used one of the mini casserole dishes that my mom bought me from Princess House years ago (yes I have crystal mini-casserole dishes - more than half my plates, mugs, bowls and drinking glasses are from Princess House). I just checked their site and they don't have them anymore. It's a shame because while there were a bit expensive they are so worth and it and use them a lot. This only took a few minutes to throw together.

Yes, I will try this again but next time with the wine and sharper cheese.