Monday 27 April 2020

Recipe ~ Kitchen Scrap Stratarole: v1.0

 So, with the COVID19 pandemic, times are getting tougher for lots of us, and many folks may just find themselves visiting the food bank/pantry for the first  time ever, or for the first time in many years. 
That's been the case for me recently, as there just isn't as much of the freelance, work from home earning that has been my mainstay for the last several years available, now that the entire world is doing it!

One of the things you get a LOT of at the food bank is bread and other baked goods. I mean, a LOT of bready things! A while back, I posted a thing about saving your stale, flopped, meh, and extra baked goods for the World's Best Bread Pudding, and variations thereof. I had planned on adding a lot more of the variations I listed and some I hadn't yet listed as future posts, but just hadn't really gotten round to it, for reasons. 
Well, at week two of going back to the local food bank in order to keep us fed a healthy diet, I realised I needed to do something with all this bread. It is nowhere near the level of insanity as the great bagel explosion described in that original post, but this house is smaller, so is the household, and it would only be a matter of time before it got to that level if I didn't do something right away. 

Because of social distancing and contact restrictions, there is no opportunity to say, "No, thank you", on parts of the food offerings. You stay in your cars in lines, like at the ferry, pull up when its your turn, there's a pre-packed box of stuff per household that you load in, and you go away.

Which means finding a use for everything they give you, because, at least in this house, we do not waste things! Period. Not negotiable. 

Example of not wasting - this is lettuce stalks that are too woody and tough to be good in salads, but it's GREAT used the same way you'd use broccoli and similar! Here's the post I wrote on that

So, I was looking for inspiration on the internet to round out my "savoury bread pudding" ideas, and lo and behold, what do I discover? Strata! What a great idea! Except... It calls for a lot of extra steps and careful layering, which is all fine and good if you're using only pre sliced bread and processed lunchmeats and other things of that nature, for which most recipes called. NOPE! Too much hassle, too restrictive with the type and amount of stuff that can get effectively mixed in, and besides, when have I ever just made a recipe exactly as-is, without getting creative?? (once in a blue moon and rarely twice in a row) 

The recipe does call for a dozen eggs, but bear in mind that this is enough food to make 10-15 individual meals, and eggs are very cheap. 
(I've actually been trading my excess lettuce and herb harvests for excess eggs with a friend who has chickens. We both get farm to table food for almost free! It's awesome!)
Not to mention the fact that many of you, dear readers, are more beginner cooks, and would likely rather dispense with all the fancy presentation and just get some tasty, affordable, attainable food on the table, thank you very much! 

So, I took the overall ratios, played around with them a little to make it thriftier and healthier, and went to town. Or - well - specifically did NOT go to town. Or anywhere. That's the whole point of this stay at home order thingy, after all!

Note that this recipe is for a really huge batch. It makes 10-15 meal size servings, so it will feed a pretty large family/group, and/or provide several meals worth of leftovers to portion, seal, and freeze for later. It freezes and reheats VERY nicely, and is great for when you haven't got time or energy to cook, but still want to dish up a tasty, nutrition packed, home cooked meal!

There are two versions of the recipe that I made for two different weeks, mostly with whatever I had lying around needing to be used up. 

 Here's the first one. 

Do remember that this is just the add-ins that I used, because it's what I had available. You can substitute out pretty much anything, as long as you have the bread product, eggs, and some kind of liquid (it doesn't HAVE to be dairy). Cheese does definitely help pull it together and I think it tastes lots better, but YMMV. Use the guidelines and get creative!

Kitchen Scrap Stratarole v1.0

(To scale up or down, just remember: 1 part milk + 1 part eggs + 1 part cheese + 2 parts bread + up to 2 parts (after pre-cooking veggies) optional add-ins

    • 1 bag stale bagels (1 lb)
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar
    1/2 cup cut up processed, American style, "Swiss" cheese
    • About 2 cups chopped up lettuce stems
    • 5 large stalks kale, roughly chopped
    • 4 mini, red, yellow & orange bell peppers, sliced
    • 2 small onions, sliced
    • 1 bunch asparagus , chopped
    • 1+ cup sliced carrots
    • 1/4 cup kernel corn
    • 1 lb fresh spinach
    • 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley
    • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
    • 3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped
    • 12 eggs
    • 4 spare egg yolks (leftover from a cake that used egg whites only)
    • 2ish cups milk
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
    • Generous dusting of paprika (maybe 1tsp?)
    • About 2 tsp salt
    • A lot of black pepper (Like at least 2-3 Tbs, total)
    • Brown ground beef in large, cast iron Dutch oven, seasoning generously with black pepper.
    • Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving grease in pan
    • Saute vegetables (not the herbs) in reserved grease until mostly tender, and those with high water content (like spinach) are reduced to typical, fully cooked state
    • Remove from heat
    • Tear bagels into 1-2 inch or so pieces and add to pan
    • Place meat back in pan, along with processed "Swiss" cheese and most of cheddar, and toss until all mixed up fairly evenly
    • In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk eggs until well beaten, then whisk in milk, salt, pepper, and herbs until fully combined
    • Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture and mix up to coat all the bread. Squishing everything down a few times during mixing helps the bread soak up the egg mixture.
    • Top with remaining cheddar cheese and parmesan, and sprinkle liberally with a dusting of paprika
    • Bake at 350°F for about an hour to an hour and 1/2, until it is nicely puffed up and golden brown on top (No need to preheat - the egg mixture will soak into the bread more whilst the oven heats to temp)
    • Let rest for at least 10 minutes, ideally 20-30, so it can finish setting up before serving.

Mmmmmmm! Look at that! And yes, it is at least as tasty as it looks!

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