I’m not much of a breakfast person but I love breakfast for dinner. Christmas and Easter could fall off the calendar and I wouldn’t miss them, but please let me keep Shrove Tuesday and let me make every Tuesday Shrove Tuesday.
This recipe for Savoury French Toast Casserole from A Beautiful Mess inspired a recent round of breakfast for dinner. I skipped the melted butter in the egg mixture, used 5 whole eggs instead of 4 plus 2 whites, used less milk, and was a little more elaborate in method. And I’m spelling it savoury (hashtag Canada).
Here’s my version of the casserole:
- Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit.
- Scramble together 5 eggs in a four-cup measuring cup, and then add enough milk to reach 3 cups of liquid.
- Cut your loaf of bread into cubes and place in a bowl.
- Pour the egg+milk mixture over the bread and stir to coat all the bread; let the bread+egg+milk sit and soak up while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Add more milk if you bread seems dry (mine certainly wasn’t).
- Grate cheese.
- Chop sun-dried tomatoes.
- Get together anything else good–herbs, sausage, whatever–you want to add to the mix. I had some leftover ground lamb which had been cooked with herbs and red wine–plenty flavourful, so I skipped additional herbs.
- Coat the inside of your casserole dish with butter (or use the oil of your choice to prevent sticking–I say more butter).
- Spoon half of your bread+egg+milk into the casserole dish.
- Add your savoury goodies–in my case, lamb, sun-dried tomatoes and aged white cheddar cheese–to the dish. I opted for a single thick layer of goodies in the middle, rather than dividing them between the middle and the top as in the ABM recipe.
- Spoon the rest of the bread+egg+milk mixture into the casserole dish, and pour any remaining liquid over the top.
- Cover the dish and place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 20-ish minutes.
- Grate a liiitle (or a lot–I don’t judge) more cheese so you have some for the top of the casserole.
- Remove the lid from the dish and sprinkle with the additional cheese.
- Cook another 10-ish minutes until the casserole is set and cooked through.
- Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
I also cooked up a batch of caramelized onions (my favourite food, really, I think) to accompany the casserole. I used the onions as a timer: I started the onions once the casserole was in the oven, and cooked the casserole covered until the onions were close to being done. Then I took the lid off, added the cheese and waited until the onions were done. Perfect timing.
More to come on caramelized onions, I’m sure. Basically you want to do them Beastie Boys style: slow and low is the tempo.
I saw this recipe for butter burgers on xoJane last week, and just had to try it–even though it seemed terrible and wrong and so gross.
I think, for the most part, I’ll stick with my tried-and-true Fake Shack burgers instead. The butter burgers were tasty, but I’m not sure that gobs of butter really added much to my burger experience. The butter was great with the caramelized onions–I could eat caramelized onions on buttered toast all day every day–but thought that the butter was rather lost in relation to the meat and the cheese.
Thinking about gross burgers has reminded me of the “Aussie burger with the lot” and also more crazy burgers from oxJane. Burger to do list written. So bad but so good!
My mother once told me that “a ham and two people is eternity”–but the ham I cooked on Saturday night turned out so well, I think I could happily eat it forever. My boyfriend and I certainly have a lot of leftovers in the fridge now–we have barely put a dent in the ham so far–but it’s so good. My mom never cooked a traditional bone-in ham when I was growing up. We’d usually do turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and lamb at Easter, so getting to have real ham (as opposed to deli or pressed ham) was a real, rare treat. It never even occurred to me to cook a proper ham on my own until this past Christmas. I had really enjoyed the ham that a friend brought to a Thanksgiving potluck, so when left to my own devices at Christmas, I went with ham.
My Christmas ham was quite a production. I can’t find the recipe right now, but it was very involved: there was a complicated glaze, and lots of basting, and it took forever to cook. I was happy with the results at the time, but thought I could do better.
To start with, I made a batch of homemade mustard on Friday. I used this Beer and Onion Mustard recipe from Martha Stewart, following the recipe exactly–except for using an amber ale (Yukon Red, made by the excellent Yukon Brewing Co.) instead of a pale ale. I’m sure there’s not much of a flavour difference in the finished mustard; I was just choosing a beer that I’d be happy to drink.
Then on Saturday, I used this Martha Stewart guide with some modifications, along with this glaze recipe, for the ham itself. And it was so good!
I had a bottle of leftover bottle of champagne (!) from New Year’s, and Saturday felt like the perfect night for it. We had carrots and yam fries, too–very orange but easy to whip up. I just tossed the carrots with a little drizzle of oil and then threw them on the same cookie sheet as the yam fries to roast for a few minutes while the ham rested.
Here’s exactly how to ham like I hammed:
- Preheat oven to 300 fahrenheit;
- Roughly chop an onion and toss it into the bottom of your roasting pan;
- Add about 1/2 cup of red wine (or whatever you have open on hand) and 1/2 a cup of water into the roasting pan (maybe use less if your roasting pan is small? You want an inch or two of liquid in the bottom);
- Score the ham with a diamond pattern, cutting about 1/2 an inch deep (after trimming off excess skin or fat if required);
- Place the ham on a rack in the roasting pan and cover with foil;
- Put the roasting pan in the oven and let it cook; enjoy ignoring the ham while you quilt/sew/knit away your Saturday afternoon. I was using an electronic meat thermometer similar to thermometer #1 listed here, and it took about 3 1/2 hours for the ham to reach the recommended temperature. Definitely use a thermometer of some kind as it takes away the guess work.
- Once the ham is done according to the meat thermometer, pull the foil off the ham and spoon the maple syrup+mustard+thyme glaze over the ham; then let the ham cook uncovered for another ten minutes;
- Remove the ham from the oven and transfer to a large cutting board;
- Let the ham rest, covered with foil, while you prepare whatever veggies you like–about a ten minute rest;
- Then just carve and serve with the homemade mustard!
This seems like so many steps now that I write it out, but really it was so simple! So much better than my Christmas ham, which required so much more fuss, and didn’t turn out nearly so tender. I suspect that you could make it even easier and skip the glaze entirely–I think my ham’s good flavour and texture came from the aromatics/moisture of the wine and onion in the bottom of the roasting pan. Next time I might add some garlic and marjoram to the broth.