27 July 2011

Lox and Bagel Cheese Strata for Invite a Blogger to Your Table

Lox and bagel Cheese Strata

Through blogging we are given so many opportunities and heartwarming collaborations with people from all over the world. I learned about Norene Gilletz from my kindred spirit Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen whom I met in "real time" a few years ago in San Francisco. During my recent trip to Ontario to see my family we spent some time in the kitchen in her Toronto area home and this is our adventure. Also check out Giz' take here as well.

Norene Gilletz started writing and publishing cookbooks in Montreal in the 1960s and over the years has continued to specialize in healthy cooking. This past week I was fortunate to spend some time in Giz's beautiful Toronto area kitchen chopping, slicing, grating and baking our way to a delicious and healthy dish that will definitely show up back here in British Columbia in the near future. Giz brought up her two kids on Norene Gilletz' cookbooks. We chatted till the wee hours of the morning, sipped British Columbia wine and survived the hottest and muggiest day in Toronto on record since the 1940's!! In her living room, with the pitter patter of little doggy feet, I browsed through Norene's latest cookbook Norenes Healthy Kitchen. Once I returned home a further search  brought me to Norene's website Gourmania, "for people who are crazy about food!" 

 Giz and Norene have a lot in common. Both born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and both with a passion for cooking healthy meals and helping others through their charitable works. Not only does Norene create healthy and delicious ideas she uses her cooking demonstrations, lectures and cookbooks as fund-raising tools for many charitable organizations. You can check out Giz' website here at Blue Marigold Designs.

For the past 11 years Norene has lived and worked in Toronto which is home to a vibrant and diverse Jewish community where as the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada she is a highly sought after culinary consultant, cooking teacher/lecturer, cookbook author, and freelance food writer, with a big focus on healthy cooking. 

When Giz asked me to join her in making this dish  in her own kitchen for Invite a Blogger to Your Table on my recent trip back home I was thrilled!!! After a fabulous dinner at a local restaurant with local area bloggers (more about that later) we drove out to her home on the outskirts of town and prepared this dish side by side for the following morning. The dish sits overnight in the refrigerator ready to be baked to golden deliciousness whenever you crawl out of bed. We used Dempsters Thin Bagels and smoked salmon (lox) for a mouthwatering casserole that's perfect for feeding your family and yet special enough for guests. Also in the photo above you will find Giz' exceptional perogies found on her site.  "Every cook puts his or her own mark on a dish," Noreen says. "If you give someone a recipe, they'll always put their own twist on it. There's a certain chemistry between the cook and the ingredients."

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to "Invite a Blogger to Your Table"! This is a fun event and an outlet for us each to challenge ourselves and create stronger bonds within the blogging community. Nothing is more intimate, or more effective at creating friendships than cooking and sharing meals together, even if it is virtually. But hey, if you live in the same area as another blogger what's to stop you from gathering in your own kitchen for this challenge as Giz and I did and work some magic!!!

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know that I have been creating personal challenges to infuse new life into my cooking adventures. Even every day food should always be an adventure either with new ideas, or experimenting with a new cuisine. With these personally imposed challenges my own culinary skills have been rejuvenated and back on track and I am once again inspired. With this ongoing event I will challenge myself and one blogging friend at a time throughout the year as the seasons change. I hope this inspires you to make new friends in the blogging community as well as create something you have been itching to try.

Your choice of recipe can be anything you would like it to be. Is there something you have been wanting to make and need feedback and encouragement from a friend to create on your blog? Is there a special dish that you just have to share sweet or savoury? Do you just want the fun of collaborating with other bloggers to come up with a tasty dish you feel you and your readers might enjoy. This is a fun event that creates friendships throughout the blogosphere. Invite someone you have followed for years or a perfect stranger. It is up to you!

Norene's motto is "Food that's good for you should taste good!"

Back to The Future

Over four years of blogging I have found many wonderful recipes to share on these pages. Some from my own kitchen, some from your creative blogs and web sites, and some from well known celebrities and chefs. I was feeling a little nostalgic and was browsing these very pages just the other day, creeping back to the very beginning in 2007 when More Than Burnt Toast was in it's infancy and know more than "knee high to grasshopper". We all have those stellar recipes from when we first started when we were lucky enough to find one comment and have maybe one reader; in my case even before I was taking photos of the dishes I prepared.

So here are a couple of flashback recipes from the very first baby steps here at MTBT with...

Val's Rhubarb Cheesecake
Lani's Broccoli Mandarin Salad

**Lox and Bagel Cheese Strata**
from Norene's Healthy Kitchen
  • 5-6 whole-wheat or sesame bagels, cut in bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups - if using the thin bagels you will need 10 -12)
  • 8 oz (250 g) lox (smoked), cut in bite sized pieces
  • 8 oz low-fat Swiss and/or Havarti cheese (about 2 cups grated)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp minced fresh dill weed
  • 6 large eggs (or 4 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
  • 1 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 cups milk (skim or 1%)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the bagel pieces evenly in the dish. Top with lox and sprinkle with the grated cheese, green onions, and dill weed.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, milk and seasonings; blend well (you can use a blender, whisk, or large food processor) Pour evenly over the bagel-cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (If desired, you can prepare the recipe up to this point and refrigerate for 24 hours)

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake uncovered, for about 1 hour or until the mixture is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes for easier cutting.

Join in!!! Here are the "rules" as I see it for now.

1) Choose a dish to prepare and invite 1(one) blogger to create that dish with you. You can source your recipe from a cookbook, magazine, blog or any other source. Your dish can be sweet or savoury; easy or complicated.

2) Decide upon a date that you can both mutually post your recipe within a 4 week time frame.

3) Link back to More Than Burnt Toast http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/ somewhere in your post as the caretaker of this event.

4) Please feel free to use the Avatar/Badge above "Invite a Blogger to Your Table".

5) Once you have made your dish with your blogging friend or friends and posted it, you can choose to STOP or CONTINUE on and "invite another blogger to your table" to make something DIFFERENT on a mutually agreeable date within the next 4 week time frame.

6) If you would like to please e-mail Val at bloggerstable(AT)gmail(DOT)com for no other reason than to let her know you have participated. She would love to see what you have accomplished.

7) Cut and paste these instructions into your post and contact a friend. Let magic happen and let's get cooking!!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. That dish looks like a unique (unique good, not uniqie eww) take on a classic.

    So sorry we couldn't make to the get-together. We just couldn't make it work. I can't wait to hear about it. And I'm sure there'll be other get togethers.

  2. What a nice idea! I was thinking just the other day that I had not made a strata in a while. This sounds really appetizing. I also have not made bagels in a while...

  3. What a fun idea...takes deli food to a whole new level! And, speaking of fun, I'm sure there were a lot of laughs in that kitchen!

  4. This strata looks wonderful! I love bagels and lox together, and stratas are always a great way to start the day (especially since you do all the work the night before).
    It sounds like you and Giz had a great time whipping this up after our lovely meal at the restaurant. I'm very jealous!

  5. I'm envious of your fabulous pictures. Still laughing over the perogies. Thanks for the great memories - so fun

  6. It looks fantastic!

  7. I am lucky to live in Los Angeles where the blogger community is well organized and interconnected, so I have had the pleasure of cooking and dining with bloggers in my home quite a few times. It thrills me that you got this opportunity too. Good people, those bloggers. GREG

  8. The strata sound delicious! And it sounds like you had a fun time! Way to go!

  9. I'm not big on lox, but I'm totally inspired in trying bagels in a strata.

  10. Wow what an awesome idea for a strata! I wish I had some more smoked salmon lurking around my fridge!

  11. AnonymousJuly 27, 2011

    loving it. great dish to make the night before, bake the next morning when everyone's up. my favorite kinda breakfast — no dishes!

  12. What a great strata. Different and delicious!! Looking forward to hearing about our get together!

  13. This sounds so fantastic...I love the play on lox and bagels. Yum!

  14. Hi Val. This looks so yum!!! Thanks for your sweet words. I was having a pity party...but I am suckin' it up today and trying to just deal with the way it is!!!!

  15. This look delicious Valli, nice recipe, gloria

  16. I wonder if there are any leftovers....I'll have to raid Giz's fridge/freezer this weekend.

    Sounds like you guys had a fun time. Can't wait to see the Ruby Watch Co post too!

  17. What a lovely twist to traditional bagel and lox Val. Sounds like a fun time.

  18. I so agree. Getting together with another blogger is so much fun. And, we too are struggling with the heat here in Nashville. It hasn't stopped me from eating though. :)

  19. It was a delight to meet both of you last week. :) My wish is that when you come back, we get a chance to cook together too.

  20. The strata is gorgeous and will be tried here very soon, Val, really fresh snow peas do not require stringing. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary


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