On the menu:
Broccoli and cheese strata
Turkey sausage links
What a fantastic way to ring in the Spring season. It was a beautiful day! And with great company and great food, I really couldn't ask for anything better!
I have to say that I hate when the host/ess of the party spends the entire time cooking and serving without much interaction with the guests, yet today I found myself doing just that! Boo! I will say, though, that my kitchen is more like a breakfast nook; it is completely secluded from the entertaining area. AND my breakfast potatoes took longer than expected.
Last night I went grocery shopping, prepared the strata, and baked the zucchini bread - a very soothing way to spend a Thursday night.
As far as the Zucchini bread goes, I was hoping to make my Nanny's (grandma's) recipe (she passed away mid-January), but I couldn't find it in her recipe box! So I had to resort to Paula Deen's recipe on foodnetwork.com. I am ALWAYS hestitant to get recipes online, but this recipe is fantastic.
Chocolate chip zucchini bread
3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 t baking soda
2 C white sugar
1 C vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 C grated zucchini
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 T orange zest
Preheat your oven to 350 and spray 2 - 9 x 5 inch pans with non-stick spray.
Grate your zucchini.
Mix your dry ingredients until well mixed.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, and continue to beat until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, chocolate chips, and orange zest.
Stir in your dry ingredients. Pour in to prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
I kept the loaf in the pan overnight, covering it with a towel to keep moisture out. Then I cut the loaf and served it on a cute platter.
Then David and I contrived an action shot with his hand taking a piece of bread and laughed our booties off after I took the photo.
I love strata. It bakes like a yummy souffle. And the best part of this strata is that you can make it the night before and pop it in to the oven 15 minutes before your guests arrive.
Broccoli and cheese strata, modified from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 6-8 servings
10 oz broccoli
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 T butter
1 t salt
1/2 t fresh cracked rainbow peppercorn
1/4 t grated nutmeg
8 C French bread
6 oz freshly grated Gruyere
1 C freshly grated Parmesan
9 large eggs
2 T Dijon mustard
Saute onion and broccoli in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper, and nutmeg and continue cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Spread half of your bread cubes on the bottom of a well-buttered, 3-quart casserole dish. Add half of your sauteed broccoli and onions over the bread cubes, and sprinkle with 1/2 of your cheese mixture.
Repeat the second step with the rest of your bread, the rest of your broccoli and onions, and the rest of your cheese.
Whisk your eggs, Dijon mustard, and the rest of you salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture evenly over your strata.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate ovenight. In the morning, remove from the fridge and let sit for 30 minutes. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350.
The potatoes are super easy. Fry red potatoes and sweet onions in olive oil until brown. Add sea salt and fresh cracked rainbow pepper.
And I can't forget the fresh flowers I used as a centerpiece! $3.99 at Trader Joe's, and very Springy!
Great food, and great company...Couldn't be better!