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Tanmoy and I love to go out for brunch once in a while, and spend a lazy couple of hours at some nice little cafe which is not in a hurry to shoo us out the moment we put the knife and fork down. And then there are those weekend mornings when it would take a crisis to make us get ready and out of the house. It is these latter, on which I try my hand at brunch recipes I have collected.

The recipes which get precedence are, you guessed it, the minimum-effort-maximum-result kind. Ever since I have discovered that things other than cakes can be baked, it is as if a whole new world has opened up for me. The concept simply fascinates me. All one has to do is assemble all the ingredients together, dump them in a baking dish and pop it into the oven. Then while your meal makes itself, you are free to go back to your book (or whatever your thing is). What could be more liberating than that, short of employing a cook?

Consider this Mushroom Olive Strata, for instance. As a recipe goes, it has a tick in all the must-have boxes. The ingredient list is short and easily accessible, the prep-time is short, it is not fattening, it is delicious and interesting and while it bakes, it frees you up to attend to life. Tanmoy is convinced that a guy must’ve invented this dish – you are after all laying a layer of bread, throwing some stuff on it, pouring some other stuff on it and letting the oven do the rest. I beg to differ though – it has too sophisticated a texture and taste for it to have been the creation of a guy (And there is no meat in it!). It takes a girl to think that up (and to have a polka dot design on it). What guys are best at doing, is this. Sophistication, you will concur if you clicked on the link, is rather conspicuous by its absence.

Be that as it may, both of us enjoyed the strata immensely. The texture… the texture is, well, something to die for.  The mushrooms and olives and eggs go together like a match made in heaven. I could go on and on, but just try it, ok, just try it once and you will make it again and again.

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Prep-time : 15 minutes
Baking time : 30-40 minutes
Serves : 2

WHAT YOU NEED :

100 gms white Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Onions, sliced
1 large clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Black Olives, drained and cut in rings
4 Eggs
1 cup Milk
2 slices Bread, at least a day old
1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 tbsp Feta Cheese, grated
Salt and cracked Pepper to taste

WHAT YOU DO :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9″ pan with oil.
  2. Cut bread slices into 1″ cubes and spread them on the pan in a single layer.
  3. In an medium sized frying pan, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Saute the sliced onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, mix well and saute until the mushrooms are shrunk and half done, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from flame.
  5. Spread mushroom mixture over the bread layer. Sprinkle cracked pepper and oregano on top.
  6. In a blender, quickly whirr together 4 eggs, 1 cup milk and salt and pour evenly over the bread and mushroom strata.
  7. Sprinkle the olive rings and feta cheese on top and pop into the oven. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 minutes until tester inserted in the center of the strata comes out almost clean.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

MY NOTES:

Use bread that is at least a day or two old and has a bit of a texture to it, so that it adds body to the strata.

Do yourself a favour and try not to use a disposable foil pan like I did, unless you absolutely have to. I placed the foil pan on a thin biscuit tray which twisted with a twang a few minutes into the baking and strata baked thin on one side and thick on the other, and a some of the egg mixture spilled out, creating a holy mess. But such is the awesomeness of the recipe, that such minor accidents do not spoil it in the least bit, other than reducing its aesthetic value somewhat.

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