When I'm planning a brunch or breakfast for friends, I like to make things as easy on myself as possible.
A strata is one of my favourite things to make for brunch. On the East Coast of Canada, we often serve this savoury bread pudding for Christmas breakfast, but we're not fancy enough to call it strata.
Instead, it's called "Christmas Morning Wife Saver". However outdated or politically incorrect this title might be, what it really means is it's an easy and elegant breakfast to make because you can put it together the night before and simply bake it off in the morning.
At home, the "wife saver" usually consists of ham, cheese and regular yellow mustard. I love getting creative with the flavours of a strata. It can be made with creamy goat's cheese or blue cheese (and a drizzle of honey), spinach and feta to keep it vegetarian-friendly, or go meat-crazy with a full Irish (just hold the beans).
This black pudding strata is my all-time favourite combination, though. With sweet cherry tomatoes and strong Dijon, the flavours are well-balanced and just rich enough without going overboard. I love using homemade batch loaf and Inch House Black Pudding, which is made in the traditional style and crumbles beautifully.
1 Make the royale mix: in a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, milk, dijon, garlic, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use.
2 Assemble the strata: spread the butter all over a large casserole or roasting tray. Add a layer of sliced bread, followed by a sprinkle of the 100g of cheese, ham, black pudding and tomatoes. Repeat until all ingredients are used and evenly incorporated, ensuring the top layer is bread.
3 Pour the royale mix evenly over the strata, top with the remaining cheddar, wrap tightly in cling film and chill for one to two hours or overnight.
4 Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the strata from the fridge and remove the cling film. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until set (a skewer inserted in the centre of the strata should come out clean when it's baked through).
5 Remove the foil and grill lightly for two to three minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbly and starts to turn golden brown.
6 Let the strata cool slightly before slicing and serving. Serve hot, topping each slice with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs. Best served with roast baby potatoes and leafy green salad.