A few weekends ago, when my work life calmed down enough that I didn’t have to go into the office on a Saturday morning, The Roommate* and I hosted our friends Lauren and Adam for brunch. Lauren and I met on the first day of law school — her interesting fact about herself was that she didn’t watch Gossip Girl, but read the New York Magazine recaps anyway because they were snarky and funny. I knew I had found my first friend.
Lauren and I have lived together twice since, in two different terrible falling down apartments in lower Manhattan (which we loved anyway). We are gemini twins who share a love for wine and sunshine (though I like my sunshine with a lotta SPF and Lauren is, well, tan) and Harry Potter and seltzer water and did I already say wine? Seeing Lauren after being in a weird work hole was like finally getting fresh air after being trapped somewhere dank and nasty. And while I have never lived with Adam and have no funny story about how we met — except that I’m pretty sure he was wearing a ninja turtles t-shirt — I love him all the same. Hosting them for brunch was a perfectly lovely way to spend our Saturday morning — we talked about Game of Thrones and sat on the roof during one of New York’s brief warm spells and talked about our hopes, dreams, and Real World Ex-plosion, which is weirdly addicting. What? I don’t watch it. Reality TV is crap. (Just kidding, I love it! Cory is my favorite but I also really like Jenna. Ah! I’m 15 again!)
Update: Jenny is now my favorite on Real World Ex-plosion. Last week, she was trying to tell Jenna how hot she is, and Jenna wasn’t really hearing her, so Jenny said: “I don’t lie, and I’m not fake. I’m real as colby cheese. I’m real as f*ck … I just made that up. I don’t know how real colby cheese is.” Don’t worry, I’m tracking down a gif to link here. I don’t know why this seems important to me, except that I am not here to make friends.
Anyway, for brunch I like to make things that will be done the minute our guests walk in the door. For Lauren and Adam, I made an egg-y, savory breakfast strata and Not-My-Grandma Pat’s Coffee Cake. I threw together the strata the night before and baked it up in the morning before Lauren and Adam arrived. That meant minimal post-brunch dishes and minimal pre-coffee work, and a nice relaxing breakfast with my friends. And this strata is great — it has all the flavors I love from New York bagels cooked into one big bread-y egg pie. Plus sausage, which I added because who doesn’t like sausage? Also, we had some in the fridge.
The original Smitten Kitchen version uses actual bagels instead of sourdough bread, but I found that to be a little too dense. A generous sprinkling of poppy seeds achieved the magic of using actual bagels, and the sourdough baked up with a lovely fluffy texture.
- 5 cups sourdough bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
- ¼ red onion, diced
- 1 bunch green onion, sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 link of sausage, casing removed and browned (a few slices of bacon would also have worked nicely here)
- 2 T. capers
- 2 T. poppy seeds
- 8 eggs
- 2⅓ cups milk
- The night before you plan to serve the strata, spread half of the bread cubes in a baking dish. Evenly distribute half of each of the bagel toppings: cream cheese (spooned into small lumps), red onion, green onion, tomato, sausage, capers, and poppy seeds. Repeat with a second layer of the remaining bread and toppings.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and toppings mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, pull the casserole out of the fridge to warm up on the counter and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the casserole, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. You will know it's done when it's puffed and golden brown. Slice and serve warm.
*Okay, fine, The Roommate is also The Boyfriend. But sometimes I don’t like calling him that all the time because I just sound like A Girlfriend. He will heretoforth be known as both The Roommate and The Boyfriend so you suckers will think I have twice as many friends.