When it comes to the usual sausage and cheese breakfast casserole I think we’ve all “been there, done that.” So I’ve come up with a sausage-free version that’s simpler to prepare than the classic but has sublime flavor.
This week’s Egg and Cheese “Souffle” begins by removing the crusts of some hearty white bread. I usually use Pepperidge Farms white or hearty white bread for the recipe.
The bread is layered with a combination of sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses. Then the bread and cheeses are soaked in a custard which has a secret flavor component: A little bit of curry powder. It’s a mystery flavor that takes this dish to another level.
The custard also is spiced with paprika, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. The soufflé is covered and refrigerated overnight so you can bake this up in the morning without a lot of fuss.
Although I developed the recipe to be meat-free, some diced smoked ham would be a good addition to the dish. Just layer about a cup-and-a-half of ham, diced fairly small, in the first layer with the two cheeses. Top with a layer of bread and then with the remaining cheeses.
The “Souffle” makes a delicious holiday breakfast or brunch served with fresh fruit, hash browns or home fries and crispy bacon. Alternately, it can be served for lunch or dinner with a crisp green salad on the side.
EGG AND CHEESE “SOUFFLE”
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Swiss or Monterrey Jack cheese
8 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups half and half
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside. Remove crusts from bread and fit half the bread into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheeses. Place the remaining buttered bread on top and top with the remaining cheese.
Whisk the eggs, half and half and remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour over the bread and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Makes 8-10 servings.