My new friend: Asparagus-Mushroom Strata…

Lately, brunch, once an overlooked meal in our house  years back, is now finding a new place in our world.Because the times are changing and I am getting older! (Not old – just older!)

First, my get-togethers with friends were usually in loud, smoky bars while consuming some good (or not so much) mixed liquor. Then after I got married, the favorite meeting place became the house…It turned into a long, sit-down dinners with LOTS of wine and beer…Then we joined the 8-to-5 crew and started having drinks after work or nice dinner/movie nights. Meanwhile, long dinners at home were combined with game nights!

Then something big happened. Not to us directly but we were effected in a semi-direct way! These little human beings, called babies, started to arrive in the friends’ houses. All of a sudden, they were everywhere… They captured our friends with their little hands and feet, demanded all their attention and told them to put that glass down. They told our friends that the get-together time and nature would have to be changed around something called “nap time“!

I tried to stay indifferent to them…oh, I tried very hard… But beware, these babies are very sneaky and they have a plan to get you with their innocent tricks… those bright eyes, faces smiling, hands moving, trying to talk but making silly noises… then they talk and have a conversation with you, when they see you, they run to you and wrap their little arms around your neck and call you “Aunt” or “Uncle”… Then their parents tell you “how much they loooveee their Aunt or Uncle!”.

And the proof that they got me wrapped around their little finger : My heart melts when I see them…I get down on all fours and make every kind of silly noise and face just to get a smile out of them… I am willing to revise our get togethers and meet for a brunch that is scheduled between their nap times… when my friends invite us over for a game night after the kids go to bed, I still push my husband out the door early so that we can make it there just before they go to bed and I can see them for” just five minutes“… I get a triumph-like feeling when my friend tells me that the little one refuses to take his pj’s off because “his aunt” gave that to him!

The best part: When they come, they eat everything we make… For example… there is Everett who wants me to pack “that, that, that and that” with him to take home and checks his mama’s bag just to make sure I put the cookies in there. Or another little guy, our nephew, Jackson, approaches me  and asks “Aunt Ilke, what was that chocolate thing you were talking about?” and demands some Nutella. Or our niece, Isabella bakes cookies and makes pizza with us like a pro…

I love it, love it, love it! Would not change it for anything!

That is, my friend, the evolution of my kind… I am thinking about putting my pictures together in a row, like in that monkey-to-man timeline figure we always have seen. Just to see how I have changed and how different I looked each time… I bet I look the best now with a few more wrinkles…rested better, less alcohol in my veins and we always, always have good breakfast at the table!

Asparagus-Mushroom Strata (adapted from Fine Cooking Breakfast Issue)

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 8 oz thinly sliced mushrooms (any kind would do)
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced deli ham, cut up in strips or anyway you want (I used one with rosemary flavor from Costco)
  • 1 lb crusty bread (I used Ciabatta) – cut up into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes.
  • 9 eggs
  • 2-3/4 cups of whole milk
  • 3 cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Snip the ends of the asparagus,wash and chop into 1-inch pieces.

2. Melt the butter and saute asparagus for 2-3 minutes, then add sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 minutes until mushrooms are cooked.Add salt and pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon of each).

3. Lightly beat the eggs, combine with milk, salt and pepper (another 1/2 teaspoon of each)

4. In a large casserole dish (I have a dish a tad bit bigger than 9 by 13, everything fit in perfectly), layer all the bread. Pour half of the milk-egg mixture, covering the pieces well. Spread half of the asparagus-mushroom mixture, then half of the ham, then half of the  cheese.

5. Pour the remaining egg-milk mixture, repeat the layers.

6. Keep it covered in the fridge overnight.

7.Next day, take it out and let it sit at room temperature while the oven is pre-heated.  Bake for 30 min at 350-F uncovered, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 min. Let it rest for 10 min before you serve.


  1. by Peggy
    4:10 pm
    Mar 5, 2011

    This strata looks like the most amazing breakfast/lunch/dinner idea ever! Can’t wait to incorporate this into our meals!

  2. by Meg (The Red Spoon)
    6:11 pm
    Mar 5, 2011

    Jackson sounds like a boy after my own heart :) The strata looks amazing, can’t wait for some fresh asparagus to come into the market so I can make it!

  3. by sonia
    10:56 am
    Mar 6, 2011

    Amazing dish, I never had this but would love to give it a shot anytime. Great post !

  4. by something_good
    3:20 pm
    Mar 6, 2011

    One of my friends warned me one day that we were getting older. “How could you tell?” I asked (worried about possible wrinkles :)). “Because we go to sleep so early so we could get up in the morning early as our children do.”
    Awesome looking strata!

  5. by Ilke
    4:35 pm
    Mar 6, 2011

    Thanks ladies for your comments!
    Yes, before the wrinkles, many other things give it away that we are not those 20 somethings anymore! :)

  6. by Monet
    12:27 am
    Mar 7, 2011

    Oh this makes me miss my niece and nephew. I wish I lived closer so I could have them over for brunch. And I would LOVE to make this strata for my mom. She loves asparagus. Thank you for sharing! I hope you have a happy week. Your posts bring me joy…thank you for being you!

  7. by BroadcastMarc
    6:31 am
    Mar 7, 2011

    Looks great…love asparagus…..

  8. by Kristi Rimkus
    2:03 pm
    Mar 7, 2011

    What a lovely blog post and so true. My children are grown now and believe it or not, we never had any nieces or nephews until this last year when my husband’s brother had his first baby. My youngest is 25, so Blake is the first baby in 25 year and the only nephew. He has me wrapped around his little finger too. Wonderful strata! Right up my alley with those lovely vegetables!


  9. by Tanvi
    12:30 am
    Mar 8, 2011

    What a heart felt post.I agree with u on the stages of friendships and enjoyment.But isnt thats part of change and growing up? This strata looks amazing.I have some frozen asparagus from last week.will try this quick recipe.

  10. by Jennifer
    10:56 pm
    Mar 8, 2011

    I really enjoyed this post and it’s so true. The recipe looks fantastic. I’m going to make it very soon. Oh, Jackson. That little guy is always looking for something sweet. He takes after his mama!

  11. by Shelley
    11:51 am
    Mar 10, 2011

    Yes, friends’ kiddos do change up the dynamic. Sounds like you’ve adjusted well. And with delcious food like this, how could the littel grommets not like it ;-)

  12. by Chef Dennis
    8:21 pm
    Mar 10, 2011

    that is one tasty looking strata!! your images are beautiful, I’m so glad you emailed me so I could find you!

  13. by Becky
    6:09 am
    Mar 11, 2011

    Hi Ilke,
    I came to your blog from Chef Dennis, and I love the strata, especially with the asparagus. This would be perfect for an Easter Brunch. I’m bookmarking this recipe.

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