Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dinner and Taxes

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "There are only two things in life which we can take as inevitable: death and taxes."

Far be it from me to rewrite history, but last night wasn't about mortality at all - although it did involve filling out some forms starting with "W" and "I".

For the past few weeks, I have been experiencing what I'm told is a common phenomenon during tax season: 3 AM panic attacks consisting of creepy swirling financial documents and a barrage of ghostly numbers circling above my pillow. I confessed this to my friend Jocelyn, who chirped, "Filling out your tax forms? I'll help you!" Of course I had to offer her dinner in return, so that's exactly what we did last night: my taxes, over dinner.

I decided for some reason to do a brunch-for-dinner thing (a morning theme inspired, perhaps, by the dawning of a new age: the age of me actually accepting adulthood and all its financial burdens). I made a quiche-like prosciutto and aspragus casserole with roasted new potatoes over bitter greens.

FEARLESS FACTOR: As for the dinner, I'd say a 6. As for the taxes, an 11. I've made many a casserole, but none quite like this: bread and egg based, with some cheese and other stuff thrown in. I figured I could handle it, but I had no idea if Jocelyn had any interest in eating breakfast at 8:30 at night.


12 eggs (cholesterol-watchers, don't worry: this made a large casserole - about 8 servings, so that evens out to about 1.25 eggs per person)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1 c. milk
5-6 1/2" slices Challah bread
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pack prosciutto (I used about 6 slices)
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper

3 c. baby arugula or other greens
About 10-12 new (small, thin-skinned) potatoes tossed in about 1 T. olive oil
1 T. chopped garlic
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
3 T. olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 T. red wine or other vinegar
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Halve the potatoes. In a large skillet, heat about 1 T. olive oil and the garlic. Throw in the potatoes and the thyme and toss around until they're evenly coated, adding some salt and pepper. When the garlic and thyme are fragrant, transfer to a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes, until they're tender and beginning to brown at the edges.


Slice the Challah bread and place it into a 9 X 13" glass baking dish (spray it with nonstick spray first, or butter it to prevent sticking). Grate the cheeses.


In a large bowl, beat the eggs and milk, and combine them with the grated cheese. Add a little salt and pepper.


In a dry skillet, cook the prosciutto until it's crisp. Remove it and chop it into small pieces. When it's cool, add it to the egg mixture.


Place the asparagus pieces and the tomato halves on top of the Challah bread layer and pour the egg mixture over the top, spreading it so it covers everything evenly. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the eggs are set and the top is getting lightly golden.


In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 T. olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt and pepper. Pour over the greens in a large bowl and toss to coat lightly.


Cut the casserole into 8 pieces. Plate each serving with the greens on the side, piling a few potato halves on top of the greens. Bon appetit!


JOCELYN: This has great flavor. It was really fluffly, not too dense or too mushy. I like how the bread just sort of soaked up everything. Awesome. Let me illustrate with a photograph:

JESS: loved it, eggs were majorly fluffy. I didn't think the asparagus would go, but because it was really soft, it blended in really well. Definitely not something you can have thirds of, very filling. But it was really good.

MY VOTE ON MY DISH: I give it 6.5 stars. I agree with Jess that it was very filling, but not in a "heavy way" if that makes sense. I'm glad I didn't skimp on the amount of asparagus I used - I, too, worried that it wouldn't blend nicely, but it was good. My favorite part was the tomatoes. Next time I'd add more. This would be great to host as an actual brunch dish, with mimosas and maybe a little something sweet, like yogurt and fruit.

As for the taxes, Jocelyn had a lot of faith in me - she was positive that I could've done it on my own, but let me assure you, even the simplest math is my kryptonite (which is why I hate to bake - measuring is just math thinly disguised as dessert). Without her, the IRS would have me in handcuffs, I'm sure of it.

Jocelyn did an AMAZING job helping me - and I'll get my glorious refund in 10 days! Yay, Jocelyn!

Thanks to my wonderful guests, and thanks for reading! Till next time...


Anonymous said...

can i quote you on my myspace page? the bit about measuring being disguised as dinner? i love that, and you!


Anonymous said...

oops, i mean dessert!


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