December 26, 2012

The Maine Ingredient: After dinner, be a love and pitch in


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For those of you who cook for loved ones, thank you. For those of you who don't cook, thank you for being part of the family team and contributing in other ways.

If you are like me and have been up to your eyeballs in cooking and baking, I created this brunch menu for you. It is easy, delicious and can be expanded to feed a crowd.

To those who have been the recipients of loving food, but have yet to be the giver, feel free to spread the load a little and give these recipes a try. If that ain't your thang, feel free to do the dishes.


12 slices of day old or dry French or Italian Bread, cut in 1/2-inch slices

1 clove garlic, slightly crushed

5 large eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 medium summer squash or zucchini, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2 inch thick

2 tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Rub the top of each slice of bread with the garlic clove. Lay the slices in the dish in one layer, cutting them into pieces when necessary. Season lightly with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, half of the cheese and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the basil and stir gently. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and colors lightly, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir the squash into the onion, spreading everything in a single layer, and let it sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage browning. Turn and continue cooking another 1 to 2 minutes until browned. When the squash is lightly browned on both sides, stir in the tomatoes, stir to toss and remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid and spread the vegetables evenly over the bread. Give the milk and egg mixture a stir and gently pour it all into the dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the milk and egg mixture sets, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.

Serves 8-12


2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

11/2 cups thinly sliced onion; about 1 medium onion

1 pound thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled (about 4 to 6 potatoes)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup minced parsley

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the garlic and onions, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth. Cover and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Add more broth if necessary to prevent sticking. Preheat the broiler. Lightly grease an 8-inch gratin dish or baking dish. Mash the potatoes coarsely with the back of a spoon or fork, stir in the parsley and spoon it into the prepared gratin dish, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the potato mixture with the grated cheese. Broil until the top is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of "At Home, At Sea." She can be reached at:


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