The English Student Cooks: Strata with Cheese & Pesto

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Strata with Cheese & Pesto

Method: I dried out four slices of wholemeal bread in the top oven for 15 minutes (the lower oven was on, so I just used the excess heat from that rather than turning the top oven on); meanwhile, I mixed together four beaten eggs, 125ml of crème fraiche and 125ml of milk in a bowl. Once the bread slices were out of the oven I spread them with ready-made pesto, put them in the bottom of a glass baking tin, poured the egg mixture over the top (I couldn’t work out how to make the crème fraiche stop being lumpy, so the texture of the egg mixture was not unadjacent to scrambled egg) and grated about half a block of Cheddar and a couple of spoonfuls of Parmesan over the top. Finally, the whole caboodle went in the oven at 200 Celsius for 35 minutes.

Substitutions/alterations: The recipe called for vastly more Cheddar than I ended up using, but I felt that I’d already put loads on so I stopped. I suspect that the tin I used was smaller than the recipe specified.

Verdict: I didn’t really like this very much. Between the Cheddar and the pesto it was extremely salty, and there wasn’t very much texture to it: the bread kind of crumbled into the custard, so it was just all one undifferentiated mass of slightly textured cooked egg. I won’t make this again.

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