Delicious Spinach and Cheese Strata (2018 Holiday)

Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 75 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes, plus at least one hour to sit in the fridge

1 pound bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces (3/4 pound) Italian sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 11 slices or 8 cups)
6 ounces (1-1/2 cups) coarsely grated Gruyère
2 ounces (2/3 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
9 large eggs
2-3/4 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and drained spinach and cook 2 minutes more. Set aside.
Butter a 3-quart (or 9×13-inch) baking dish. Spread one third of the bread cubes in the dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. (Try to break it up as much as possible so there are no huge clumps of spinach.) Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice, ending with cheeses.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half-and-half, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg and whisk until well combined. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the strata. Cover the strata with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed, set and golden brown all over top, 70-75 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: The cook time is based on the strata going immediately from the fridge to the oven. If it sits out at room temperature before baking, the cook time will be 10-15 minutes less.


Shortbread in a Pan

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (unsifted)
1/4 tsp. salt

Using the back of a large spoon, cream the butter until it is light (or use mixer). Cream in the powered sugar, then the vanilla. Now work in the flour. Knead the dough on an unfloured board until nice and smooth. Spray the shortbread pan very lightly with a non-stick vegetable oil spray. Put the ball of dough in the middle of the pan, and working out from the center, firmly press the dough into the pan. Prick the entire surface with a fork, and bake the shortbread right in the pan at 325 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until it is lightly browned. Be sure that the middle is thoroughly cooked and doesn’t look slightly opaque or the shortbread might stick in the pan.

Let the shortbread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before you loosen the edges with a knife and flip the pan over onto a wood cutting board. If the shortbread does not come right out, hold the pan upside down over the cutting board and firmly tap one edge of the pan against the board. This should loosen the shortbread and it should drop out. Cut the shortbread into serving pieces while it is still warm.

Let the pan cool before washing it in the sink or dishwasher.

Favorite Quinoa Salad – Cookie and Kate

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander (could sub brown rice)
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (could sub black beans?)
1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped fairly small
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped fairly small
¾ cup chopped red onion (from 1 small red onion) fairly small
(Could also add blanched asparagus, chopped?)
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (from 1 large bunch)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(Could add avocado on top; also, toasted, chopped pecans?)
(Could also add feta cheese for zing)

To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, to give it time to fluff up.

In a large serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and parsley. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and salt. Whisk until blended, then set aside.

Once the quinoa is mostly cool, add it to the serving bowl, and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Season with black pepper, to taste, and add an extra pinch of salt if necessary (can add avocado now, as well as feta?). For best flavor, let the salad rest in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 4 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Peanut Sesame Udon Noodles

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons white miso
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 ounces linguine (whole wheat is best)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about ¼ cup)
  • (To try – serve on a bed of shredded cabbage mix)

To make the sauce, mix all sauce ingredients in a Nutri-bullet blender until smooth; set aside.In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water, then drain the noodles. Rinse under cold water and drain again. Add the noodles and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking water to the sauce and toss until coated (add more, if necessary). Sprinkle with the scallions.

Tip: Don’t forget to rinse the noodles in cold water after cooking; they will become gummy otherwise.

Za’atar Chicken Cutlets and Lemon-Parsley Salad

  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (4 cutlets), pounded to ¼-inch thickness
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika and cayenne mixed
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
  • 2 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

Season the chicken all over with 1½ teaspoons of salt. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of the za’atar, the flour and pepper; pour into a wide, shallow dish. In a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering.

One cutlet at a time, transfer the chicken to the za’atar mixture, coating and pressing all sides. Add the cutlets to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until well browned. Transfer to a platter.

In a medium bowl, combine the parsley, scallions, lemon zest and juice, the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Drizzle the molasses evenly over the chicken, then mound the greens over the cutlets. Sprinkle with walnuts and the remaining za’atar.

Tip: Don’t substitute chicken breasts here without pounding the meat first. Boneless, skinless chicken cutlets were ideal for fast cooking and are widely available at grocers. If you only have chicken breasts, use a meat mallet or heavy skillet to flatten them to an even ¼ inch.

Bahama Mama (for two)

  • 4 oz rum (dark, light, or combo)
  • 1 oz grenadine
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz pineapple juice

For a drink on the rocks, place all in a shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into glass with ice. For blended drink, place all, with about 2 cups of ice, in a blender until smooth.