Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Breakfast

Christmas is such a magical time of year. I have so many fond memories of past Christmases with my family - gifts exchanged, happy faces, but most of all, the FOOD!

Within the last ten years, a new tradition has been established in our family with respect to Christmas morning breakfast. My mother found a recipe for a wonderful casserole designed to be prepared the night before, and then popped into the oven when you get up, saving you from having to worry too much about food when there are more important things (I can't believe I'm saying this) to be done. The name of the dish, as I received it, is "The Christmas Morning Wife-Saver". However, I think I'll just refer to it as "Breakfast Casserole".

One of the good things about this casserole are the ingredients - peameal bacon, cheese, eggs, bread, onion, pepper and cornflakes. What says "breakfast" more than that? And, all in one place.

First of all, here's the recipe. It's dead simple. This version of the recipe is slightly different from the version I got from my Mom, as I used whatever was in the fridge, rather than buying stuff I didn't really need just because it was in the recipe.

Breakfast Casserole
Serves 4-8, depending on how hungry everyone is

About 16 slices of Wheat 'N Oats bread, crusts removed
8 slices of Canadian Back Bacon, or whatever you need to cover the bread
2 C cheddar cheese, grated
2 C mozzarella cheese, grated
6 eggs
3 C cold milk
1 healthy dollop of Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, minced
1 C red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
heavy pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
125g (¼ lb) butter
crushed corn flakes

A note on substitutions -
* The original recipe called for White Bread. I didn't have any, but I did have a whole loaf of the Wheat 'N Oats.
* You can use sliced ham if you can't find back bacon, but I really recommend using the back bacon - it just tastes better.
* The original recipe calls for 8 slices of sharp cheddar cheese (or enough to cover the bacon. Again, I didn't have any, so I just grated up the marble cheese and the mozza that I had in the fridge. I find that grated cheese tends to melt better.
* The original recipe called for 1 tsp of dry mustard, but you guessed it, I didn't have any, so I used Dijon.
* The original recipe called for only ¼ C of both onion and green pepper, but I really like both of those things, so I increased the quantities somewhat.

1) Place eight pieces of the bread in a lightly greased 9"x13" glass baking dish, or however many you need to completely cover the bottom of the dish.
2) Cover bread with slices of back bacon.
3) Completely cover the bacon with the grated cheese mixture, then cover that with the remaining bread to make it like a sandwich.
4) In a bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper.
5) To the egg mixture, add the mustard, shallot, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and milk. Mix together, then pour over the bread, making sure that every bit of the bread gets hit with the egg mixture.
6) Cover, and let stand in the refrigerator overnight.
7) In the morning, preheat the oven to 350F.
8) Melt the butter. Pour over the top of the casserole, then cover with the corn flakes.
9) Bake, uncovered for 1 hour. Let stand 10 min. before serving.

The best part about making this dish is the aroma that permeates the kitchen and the whole house while it's cooking. It's such a happy smell. I popped the dish in the oven this morning, and within 15 minutes, I was flashing back to Christmas morning. Seriously. I was.

Although the directions say to chill the casserole in the fridge overnight, I think in a pinch, 2-3 hours will do nicely. Here's what the sweet baby looked like when I took it out of the fridge this morning, before I put the butter and cornflakes on top.
Notice how the bread has soaked up most of the egg mixture. Mmmmmm....egg mixture....

This was definitely a breeze to make, and now I have breakfasts for about a week. Some nice sliced tomato goes really well with this dish, too. Give it a try, you know you waaaaaanna.

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