Monday, April 4, 2011

Girls' Night Food

I have this friend, C (hi C!).  C LOVES artichokes.  Because of her love of artichokes, I have discovered my love of artichokes.  Don't get me wrong -- I always enjoyed them, but my experience with them was primarily related to the marinated kind that come in the teasingly small jars.  Since C loves them so much, I gave them more of a shot, and man, am I hooked.  I put them in anything I can get away with.  And I hoard recipes that contain artichokes. 

I originally saw this recipe for Goat Cheese Artichoke Strata in my googly reader.  The original can be found here.  I knew it would be a huge hit with C, so I was just waiting for an occasion to make it.  Well, we had a girls' movie night, where a few of us got together to make some dinner, and watch a movie (a violent, graphic, un-girly movie).  C made a delicious pork loin, and I brought this strata.  Since we did this on a work night, I assembled this the night before, and then it hung out in the fridge at work for the day, and we just tossed it in the oven the night we ate it. 

A few notes:  I used canned artichoke hearts, because I already had them.  And I doubled the amount, because I felt like it.  I just gave them a good drain and cut them into quarters.  Also, I used a little onion rather than shallot.  Again, I had onions (white) in the house, and I didn't feel like buying a shallot just for this. Worked out just fine.

It was sooooo good.  Totally worth the effort.  The bread gets all fluffy on the inside, with yummy crunchy bits on the outside.  This was my first time working with herbes de Provence, and I will use it much more now.  It's so floral smelling and wonderful.  If you look at the photo, you'll see that the goat cheese on the top browns a little, and so you get these yummy goat cheese nuggets.  Let me tell you about the nuggets: they will make you do crazy things.  C and I had been eyeing the same nugget, and when it came time to serve the dish, she janked the good nugget!!!  And then, she saved it until the very end.  There it sat, this perfect little nugget, all alone on her plate, begging to be eaten.  Before I knew what I was doing, I reached across the table, stole the nugget off her plate, and shoved it in my mouth!! Honestly, I have no idea where my brain or sense of decorum went.  But, boy was that nugget good.

So make this.  Enjoy it.  And, above all else, protect the nuggets!

Artichoke Goat Cheese Strata
This feeds an army.  No joke.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 1 large)
12-ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed. (2 cans, if you are like me.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
5 slices country-style white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
Cooking spray
5 ounces crumbled goat cheese, divided

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in artichoke hearts and garlic; cook for 8 minutes or until artichoke hearts begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in herbes de Provence. Cool 10 minutes.
  2. Combine milk,  black pepper, salt, and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and bread; toss gently to combine. Stir in artichoke mixture, and let stand for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Spoon half of bread mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half of goat cheese, and top with remaining bread mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of goat cheese over top. (fp note: if you wanted to make this the day before, at this point you would cover the dish and let it hang out in the fridge. also, don't turn on the oven in step 2.)
  4. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce. (fp note: hmmmm, i just realized that i forgot about the parsley, lemon and hot sauce.  my bad.)

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