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Winnifred's Cheese & Sausage Strata


“Blue Flower Feather-bed”Cheese & Sausage Strata

*******
Serves 8-10
We love this soufflé on Christmas morning.  It is prepared the night before, and baked the next morning.
From my friend, Winnifred Jardine, a great lady—former food editor
 of Utah’s, “Deseret News” for 36 years (editor from 1948-84). 
She served this strata at the bridal shower brunch in her home for Stan and me in 1985.
I’ve adapted it by adding chive blossoms (if you make it in the spring) and the option for using ham.  
‘Strata’ is Latin for ‘horizontal layers’, and is the plural form of ‘stratum’, in case you were wondering.

8 half-inch slices heavy country white or peasant bread, crusts off, & cubed
2 C (½ lb) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (I use less)—good quality
¼ C extra grated cheddar cheese
20 (1-½  to 2 lb) breakfast sausage links (nitrate free) OR cooked high quality ham*
4 eggs
2 ¼ C whole milk
¾ tsp dry mustard
*
½ C chopped chives10 purple chive blossoms (just bloomed and soft). florets plucked (discard stems)

1.  Arrange bread cubes in bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with the 2 cups shredded cheese (reserve the other ¼ cup cheese for later).2.  Brown the sausage links; drain and cut into fourths; arrange on top of cheese.3.  Beat eggs with milk and dry mustard.4.  Pluck chive blossom florets from the base of each flower. Discard the stems (they are tough). Add chive blossom florets, and chopped green chives to the egg mixture.5.  Pour over sausage, cheese and bread.  Cover tightly with tin foil.  Refrigerate overnight.
6.  1 ½ hours before serving:

    1. Preheat oven to 325º.
    2. Leave aluminum foil on casserole.  Bake for 1 hour.
    3. Increase oven temperature to 375º.
    4. Uncover casserole and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. 
    5. Bake for 15-20 minutes more.

NOTE: Delicious with fresh fruit salad and Sticky Orange Buns.

*If using ham: add the layer of ground ham (in stead of sausage) in-between layers of bread so that it is in the middle of the strata.  Gayle Evan’s served ham strata at a stake presidency lunch in Park City.  She ground up her own ham (food processor) bought from Costco (spiral cut)—so that’s where I got the idea for the ham layer.

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