Just because your holiday houseguests are gone doesn’t mean you should to turn weekend breakfast into a buffet of cold cereal.
To help create weekend brunch dishes, we turned to three experienced hostesses across North Carolina: Fran Scibelli of Fran’s Filling Station in Charlotte; Jean Martin, the owner of NOFO at the Pig in Raleigh; and Sara Foster of Foster’s Market in Chapel Hill and Durham.
It’s telling that each shared recipes for breakfast casseroles, from sweet to savory.
“They are really easy. They appeal to everybody and can be either down-home or fancy,” Scibelli says.
Scibelli often will tweak her recipe for Ham and Cheese Strata to include sauteed mushrooms and Gruyere cheese or bacon, roasted green chiles and cheddar, she said.
“That’s the beauty of something like that,” she says. Just open your refrigerator and use what’s on hand to create your own variation.
Foster says most breakfast casseroles, like the one she shared for Breakfast Bread Pudding, can be assembled beforehand and popped in the oven in the morning.
And don’t forget the ham. “What can be better than ham biscuits?” Foster asks.
HAM AND CHEESE STRATA
From Fran Scibelli at Fran’s Filling Station in Charlotte.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or as needed for baking dish
1 pound (12-14 slices) Italian bread or baguette, cut into ½-inch slices, preferably day-old (can be lightly toasted if fresh)
1 cup diced Serrano or Virginia ham
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1 cup grated Manchego or Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons minced chives or finely chopped green onion
4 roma tomatoes cut in 1/4-inch slices
8 large eggs
4 cups milk or half-and-half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard or 1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
BUTTER bottom and sides of baking dish. Arrange half of bread slices in tight rows to cover bottom of dish. Sprinkle with half of ham, cheeses, and chives or green onion. Add another layer of bread and cover with remaining ham, cheese, chives or green onions. Arrange tomatoes in pattern over the top.
WHISK eggs with milk, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Pour over bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Let strata sit on counter 20-25 minutes, then unwrap and bake for approximately 1 hour, until top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
NOTE: Scibelli also makes this with sauteed mushrooms and Gruyere cheese; bacon, roasted green chiles and cheddar, or, in warmer weather, with asparagus and slightly aged Gouda cheese.
Yield: 12 servings. PER SERVING: 339 calories; 25g carbohydrate; 20g protein; 18g fat (46% of calories); 190mg cholesterol; 1g fiber; 1,090mg sodium; 6g sugar.
CHEESE PASTRY CASSEROLE
Jean Martin, the owner of NOFO at the Pig in Raleigh, says her daughters love this casserole served with ham, fresh fruit and a green salad.
1(8-roll) package crescent roll dough, such as Pillsbury
1/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 pound Swiss cheese
1/4 pound muenster cheese
1/4 pound sharp cheddar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/4 to ½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter, or more if needed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent roll dough and divide into 2 sections. Pat half the dough in the bottom of an 8-inchsquare pan, completely covering bottom of the pan.
GRATE the Monterey, Swiss, muenster and cheddar cheeses. Mix with cream cheese. Mix together egg and parsley, then stir into cheese mixture, mixing well.
SPREAD the cheese mixture on top of dough in pan. Roll out rest of the dough and fit into the pan, covering the cheese mixture. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
BAKE for 30 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Cut into 6 or 9 squares.
Yield: 6 to 9 servings.
PER SERVING: 617 calories; 25g protein; 19g carbohydrate; 49g fat (70% of calories); 158mg cholesterol; 1g fiber; 800mg sodium; 5g sugar.
SWEET FRUIT-FULL BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING
Butter for baking dish
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 cups half-and-half
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 loaf country Italian or French bread, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes, or about 6 cups any stale bread, biscuits or cake
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, pitted cherries, sliced peaches or plums; or 1 cup good quality semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with butter.
STIR buttermilk, half-and-half, eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl. Add bread cubes. Let them stand in the liquid for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread has absorbed most of the liquid. Add fruit or chocolate and stir to combine. Pour bread mixture into buttered baking dish, making sure to get all the liquid out of the bowl.
CUT a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the baking dish and grease it with butter. Place the aluminum foil, buttered side down, over the baking dish and place in the oven to bake 1 hour. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the top is golden brown and crispy.
PREPARE the buttery glaze while the pudding is baking. Whisk the butter and cream together in a small bowl. Slowly add the sifted confectioner’s sugar, whisking until smooth. Drizzle over the warm pudding. Serve warm, fresh from the oven or reheated in a 300-degree oven until warmed through.
Yield: 12 servings.
PER SERVING: 249 calories; 8g protein; 24g carbohydrate; 13g fat (47% of calories); 136mg cholesterol; 1g fiber; 242mg sodium; 9g sugar.
Note: Sara Foster of Foster’s Market says this is one of her most requested recipes. The base can be made from a number of things – day-old bread, dry or broken pound cake, even day-old scones and biscuits.
Because this is breakfast and not dessert, it isn’t as sweet as a dessert bread pudding. We don’t add any sugar to the pudding itself, only a little to the glaze poured over the top.