We are here, having survived several days of water-throwing, face-painting and general shenanigans in Bangkok. Songkran lived up to its wild reputation, and by Friday of last week I have to admit that I was tired of packing my cell phone in a plastic bag before leaving the house and dodging water guns on every street corner. The desire to douse every passing person in water is so focussed during Songkran that it was typical to pass pick-up trucks filled with passengers firing water guns. These roving water trucks drove slowly along Bangkok’s main roads, spraying everyone within a 30-food radius. There was no hope for the tuk-tuk and motorcycle drivers who drove around looking resigned to their fate and donning giant, billowing rain parkas as they drove through the heat.
Beyond the water guns, our Songkran 5-day-weekend was so luxuriously full of swimming, trying new restaurants, and a barbecue hosted by our new friend Remy (and his owners), that Monday came as a bit of a shock. I’ve been easing my way back into the routine by cooking things that don’t require too much hovering over the stove. (After a six-day break from yoga, my return to the 7am class this morning also got me thinking that perhaps I could use a departure from the Thai fried chicken with sticky rice and the Sunday morning post-church international brunch that are both indicative of my indulgent diet over the holiday.)
This breakfast-for-dinner meal was the perfect solution. I am a breakfast for dinner sort of person. Growing up, I don’t remember having dinners that turned the day upside down, eating pancakes or waffles or eggs in the evening. However, I do remember discovering that this was a socially acceptable dinner option at some point in college and embracing it with abandon. This easy strata is vegetarian, but takes on a savory and mildly sweet flavor from roasted shitake mushrooms and tomatoes.
Strata with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms
- 1 pint / 12 oz / 340 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 6 oz / 90 g shitake mushrooms (about 10 small mushrooms), cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups / 480 ml milk
- 1 small loaf / 12 oz / 340 g ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 and 1/2 cup / 4 oz / 110 g shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss together the tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and olive oil. Spread the vegetables evenly on a large baking sheet (minimize overlapping). Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt and pepper over the vegetables. Roast until tomatoes become shriveled and caramelized (lightly browned) on top, about 60 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper. In a large bowl, combine bread, roasted vegetables and cheese. Turn out into a greased 9x13 inch baking sheet. Pour egg and milk mixture evenly over the top, gently pressing the bread into the liquid to saturate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350. Remove strata from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, until egg mixture is set and top is lightly browned, 40-45 minutes.