Cook | Wake-and-bake brunch for a civilized morning

A miracle happened today. The children woke up per usual at 6 a.m. and then played quietly in their room. Well, not quietly. But played. Without us. For a good 15 minutes. It was like freedom had shown her face.

To celebrate, I’ve been fantasizing about all the wonderful breakfasts that can be prepared the night before and then baked with little fuss after a glorious sleep-in. I’m talking 7:30 or 8, baby. I’m talking bliss.

We all know that brunch reigns supreme for family gatherings and celebrations. In la-la land, my brunch of choice is breakfast burritos. But just count up the dishes needed to amass that buffet: beans, potatoes, eggs, cheese or sausage, salsas, guacamole. Forget the cooking. Just contemplating the clean-up is a killer.

On the other hand, with careful foresight, one can prepare a lovely brunch in advance, plastic wrap in the fridge, and bake when the sun rises. Or when you rise — whichever comes first.


Egg Strata with Garlic and Mushrooms

Serves 6-8

6-7 slices sweet Batard loaf or challah, sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 cup shallots, diced

1 tsp. garlic, minced

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1/4 tsp. plus 1⁄2 tsp. salt, divided

freshly ground black pepper    

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sliced scallion

10 eggs

3/4 cup milk

6 oz. shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup basil, julienned, divided

Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Layer bread slices in pan to cover, overlapping slightly to fit.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot but not smoking, sauté shallots 30 seconds. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and sauté 2 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp. of the salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mushrooms over bread. Scatter cherry tomatoes and scallions over top.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste. Pour eggs over bread and mushrooms. Scatter cheese over top. Scatter half basil over top. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight if desired.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 30 minutes until egg is puffed and browned around edges. Garnish with remaining basil and serve.


Cornbread with Green Chile and Sausage

Makes 16 squares

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

3 Tbs. sugar

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. granulated garlic

1 cup almond milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 chicken apple sausage, diced*

4 oz. can fire roasted diced green chiles, drained

1⁄3 cup chopped scallion

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and granulated garlic. Make a well in center of dry mixture. Add almond milk, vegetable oil and beaten egg. Whisk to combine. Stir in chicken apple sausage, well-drained green chiles and scallion.

Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Pour batter into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if desired. Bring pan to room temperature before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake 25 to 28 minutes until golden brown at edges and cooked through.

*Applegate makes a good kosher-style chicken apple sausage, and Jack’s Gourmet Kosher sausage can be found at Oakland Kosher. Jack’s Spicy Southwestern Style Sausage is best for the breakfast strata. Substitute 1⁄4 cup feta for vegetarian bake.

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”