On a quest for a simple yet sublime brunch for the holidays I have decided that this is it for me. I hope you like it as well. It consists of a hot, savory, tangy vegetarian cheese strata with its companion chilled fresh fruit slaw. You can make this ahead for easy, gracious entertaining, but it is best to time the baking so the strata can be served hot and fluffy from the oven for your guests. —Sagegreen
matchstick-style sliced firm mango
matchstick-style sliced and peeled crisp Asian pear
juice of 1 lime
1 or 2 tbl. Domaine de Canton, to taste...and maybe half a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup chiffonade of fresh spearmint
cups of stale cubed challah bread
1 cup of thinly sliced yellow onion, to caramelize nicely in butter
pinch of your favorite salt
a few tablespoons of unsalted butter
farm fresh eggs, room temperature
cup of great quality half and half (or your own cream and milk mix)
1 1/2 cups
tbl. Dijon mustard
oz. of goat cheese, chevre
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and fresh cracked pepper
Toss the sliced mango and pear matchsticks gently together so they are evenly mixed. If you like add a tiny pinch of coarse salt. Pour over the lime juice to coat the skin of the fruit matchsticks. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes. As a variation you could sneak in some fresh grated ginger, about half a teaspoon.
Add the Domaine ginger liqueur. Keep chilled until serving.Gently toss in the fresh mint leaves you have rolled and snipped just before serving.
Air your stale challah cubes for a few hours to dry out the pieces further. If your challah is not stale, then you can lightly heat the cubes in the oven for about 5 minutes. Dry them out without browning and cool completely, if you must heat them.
Add the salt to the onion slices. Heat a few tablespoons of butter in your pan and then slowly caramelize the thin onion slices. Cook until perfectly caramelized to a lovely brown color and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk the eggs with the half and half, buttermilk, and mustard until smooth. For a variation, you can add 1- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (such as Italian parsley and dill) into the whisked liquid.
In a lightly buttered baking dish (@13") add the bread cubes. Fold in the caramelized onions. Break up the chevre into half teaspoon-sized pieces and dot the strata with it. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the bread-onion-chevre.
Top with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg, coarse salt to taste, and pepper. If you are caraway fans, you could add a sprinkle on top for a variation. Bake until all rises to a rich, souffle-like golden brown, about 40 minutes.