Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Strata Various - Best in Brunch

I once joked with another holiday season baby that we should write a book called “The Yule Tide Birthday – Buy This Book AND SOMETHING ELSE”. As a kid, I hated the dual occasion present. Now I’m much more mature. (I’ll wait ‘til you finish coughing.)

When my friend Don seemed particularly bummed out at our mutual birthday season, I suggested I host him a brunch with guests and menu of his choosing. Now I’m the daughter of a woman who maintains that chocolate is a vegetable (and that she needs her five a day), but even I thought French toast followed by chocolate cake might be edging into too sweet. Plus, I worried about getting everyone served promptly . . . the answer came to me in layers.

Stratas were an ideal solution because they could be made the day before and meant we’d all eat at the same time. Stratas are a variation on a quiche and bread pudding. I used my own pain de mie (see Square Loaf in a Round Hole, April 12, 2010), because I’d found it was ideal for French toast in individual servings. The bread is toasted dry in a low oven for about half an hour, then soaked overnight in a mixture of egg-milk or cream-seasonings and possibly cheese. I did two, the French toast strata was topped with brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans; and, just in case not everyone felt up to unremitting sweet, I made an egg, sausage and cheese strata. These were accompanied by a fruit salad and a green salad. The cake, which I have now made for Marion, Naomi and Don’s birthday is a chocolate pound cake layered with a milk chocolate ganache with a hint of cinnamon, covered in a dark chocolate-espresso glaze. No complaints to date.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and reading in 2011
A recent Skeptics in the Pub podcast featured an interview with Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong, Adventures in the Margin of Error. I asked for it for Christmas, because never having been wrong . . . ararararar . . . it is a fascinating study of our attitudes to being wrong, and perhaps most interestingly why we cling to ideas and beliefs when we know them absolutely to be wrong.

In 2011 I look forward to reading the rest of the Inspector Montalbano series, The Return of History by Robert Kagan, Simon Gray’s The Last Cigarette, his final book in the Smoking Diaries, and many more of the many books that line my bedroom. They provide R value only in the sense they insulate me from life’s chaos.

In 2011 may you read many wonderful things, eat many wonderful things, may you recognize your wrongs, forgive and be forgiven.