Brunch tableToday, some dear friends came over for brunch, and to view my latest paintings. I wanted to prepare a menu that would allow for as much advance preparation as possible requiring a minimum of last-minute work. The cheese bread for the strata was made yesterday; the assembled strata actually must sit in the refrigerator overnight before baking so that the bread soaks up the custard; and the tropical fruit bread can be made several days in advance—actually the better for it. That left nothing but the apples to attend to before my guests arrived and only took a few minutes of prep.

The strata is pretty close to the traditional sausage-bread-cheese-egg custard casserole but as you know I tend to fiddle with things…so I made my own cheese bread to use as the base layer of the dish, and also substituted pepperjack cheese for half of the cheddar.

The quick bread is also my variation on a classic banana bread recipe, but instead of nuts I add finely diced dried pineapple and shredded unsweetened coconut. There was a three year old among us who declared this his “favorite.” And before you puzzle over whether this was too much bread for one meal, remember that the bread in the casserole which is yeast-based soaks up so much of the custard, it’s really not evident that you are eating bread at all. The quick bread is actually almost more like a cake.

Breakfast strata with house-made cheese bread, sausage, cheddar and pepperjack cheeses, and egg custard enriched with mustard powder and smoked paprika
Apple wedges braised with honey and butter
Eddie’s Hawaiian tropic quick bread

Mimosas and coffee