Tag Archives: bread

Make-ahead Breakfast Strata

28 Dec

Happy holidays!  It’s been a busy yet relaxing week filled with many Fs: family, friends, fun, and fabulous food.  I feel particularly thankful around this time of the year as I know there are many less fortunate than myself.  Despite living in different cities, my immediate family was able to connect again this year.  As we get older and life gets busier, work may not always allow us to travel to spend the holidays together.

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Christmas morning is the perfect time for a wholesome, make-ahead breakfast to balance the feast that follows later in the day.  This year my mom suggested a strata and I had the perfect recipe in mind.  If you’re not familiar with the term, a strata is essentially just a savory bread pudding.  This strata uses whole grain bread, an equal ratio of egg to egg whites, and is brimming with veggies.  Outside of the holidays, this recipe is perfect for cottage weekends– a bit of quick prep the night before and the dish is ready to go into the oven the following morning. No fuss, no dishes to wash.

I wasn't able to sneak a photo before we dug in-- everyone was too hungry!

I wasn’t able to sneak a photo before we dug in– everyone was too hungry!

I recently bought myself a new camera (Merry Christmas to me!) so you’ll have to bear with me and my many photos as I learn to navigate its settings.  Stay tuned for a few more recipes over the next week or two.  It’s been a treat having the time to cook proper meals!

Layers of goodness

Layers of goodness

You may want to keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!

Keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!


Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Breakfast Strata
(adapted from Foodnetwork.com)

4 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups), and preferably a sweet onion, e.g. Vidalia
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
5 cups cubed, whole grain bread
8 eggs and 8 egg whites
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1o oz frozen broccoli, thawed (or you can steam fresh broccoli, then cool)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated extra-old cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes, reconstituted
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt  (the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp but some reviewers said it was too bland)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their water, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Spray a large rectangular glass dish (9″x13″ or larger) with cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish.
  4. To the onion mixture, add mushrooms, broccoli, and sundried tomato.  Pour over bread cubes, ensuring vegetables are evenly distributed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk and mustard until incorporated.  Add Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, thyme, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
  6. Pour mixture over vegetables and bread, making sure liquid saturates bread.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  7. The next day: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap from strata and bake for 60 minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust and no liquid remains when knife is inserted into centre. You may want to place a baking sheet under the dish to prevent any spillage. An extra 15-20 minutes may need to be added to the baking time depending on the size/depth of your dish – cover dish with foil during this period to prevent the top from burning.

Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 297 kcal, 22 g CHO, 4 g fibre, 15 g fat (5.1 g saturated), 21 g protein, 710 mg sodium.

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

2 Sep

I had never heard of soda bread until we made it in my food science lab a couple of years ago.  Up until that day, I was only familiar with your classic sandwich breads (made with yeast) and the dense, sweet breads that my mom used to bake (banana bread with chocolate chips was my favourite!).  Little did I know that you could loosely combine these two types of breads and produce a sandwich-worthy loaf with little to no effort.

Soda bread is similar to many sweet breads (banana bread, loaves, muffins) in that the primary leavening agent used is baking soda.  There is no yeast involved, so you don’t have to put in the extra work of kneading and you don’t need to allow any extra time for rising.  In fact, the baking soda becomes active the minute it is in contact with something wet (in this case, buttermilk), so minimal handling is ideal as you want to get the loaf into the oven ASAP.




Call me a nerd, but the joy of seeing a nondescript blob of dough transformed into a beautifully risen loaf of bread is what I consider to be one of life’s many greatest pleasures.  Yeast breads are a bit more rewarding given how much work goes into them, but this one gives you that same sense of accomplishment with very little effort.  The final product is more dense than your typical yeast bread but it still works well if you’re using it for sandwiches.  I like to eat soda bread as a side– it is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty soup or stew.


Freshly Baked Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread


Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread
(from the Foods and Nutrition 2232 Recipe Manual)

I’ve been tweaking this recipe to lower the amount of all-purpose flour used.  Most recently, I used only 1 cup of all-purpose flour and increased the whole wheat flour to 2 and 2/3 cups.  The bread tasted identical to the original recipe, the only change was that I needed to add a touch more buttermilk so that the dough was moist enough to work with.  Feel free to play with the recipe as you go– it’s virtually fool-proof!

1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup)
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 2-2/3 cup)
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon old-fashioned rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; stir in whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup of oats, and bran.  Make a well in the centre; add buttermilk, stir until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface (or onto a large square or wax paper).  Knead 5 or 6 times until smooth.  Shape dough into a ball; bat into a 8″ (20 cm) round.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  With a sharp knife dipped in flour (a serrated knife works best), cut a large 1/2″ (1 cm) deep cross on top of the loaf.
  4. Brush loaf with remaining 1 tbsp buttermilk; sprinkle with 1 tbsp oats.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until well risen and golden.  Loaf will sound hollow when tapped on base.  Immediately wrap in a clean, dry tea towel.  Set aside to cool (this prevents the crust from becoming too hard).

The only downside to this bread is that it does not last very long on the counter and tastes best if eaten within a day or two.  After a few days, it becomes crumbly and dry.  Since this makes a large loaf (~28 small slices or 14 large slices), I like to slice the loaf and freeze it the day of or the day after I make it.  To serve, microwave each slice for 10 to 20 seconds in the microwave and top with a dab of butter or margarine.

Makes 14 large slices.  Per slice: 145 kcal, 1 g fat, 3.7 g fibre, 255 mg sodium