1 lb rustic bread, preferably day-old ciabatta or sourdough Italian, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large eggs
3/4 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 lb asparagus, tough stem ends removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small bulb of spring garlic, finely minced
1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced
1/4 lb Fontina cheese, grated, about 1 cup
3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as thyme, oregano, chives, and/or flat-leaf parsley
Place the bread pieces in a large shallow dish and pour the milk over. Set aside to soak until the milk is mostly absorbed, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and lightly salt it. Butter a 2 quart souffle or square baking dish and set aside.
Combine the cream, eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together. Set the custard aside.
Drop the asparagus in the boiling water and cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Toss together with the garlic, shallots, and bell pepper strips.
In a small bowl, combine Fontina and Parmesan cheeses.
Place 1/3 of the soaked bread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place 1/2 of the asparagus over, sprinkle with 1/3 of tcheese mixture, and 1/2 of the herbs. Top with 1/2 of the remaining bread, cover with the rest of the asparagus, half the remaining cheese, and the rest of the herbs. Cover with the last of the bread and the cheese. Pour the custard over the top.
Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. Check for doneness with a skewer or paring knife. The custard should be set and the tester should come out clean.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Source: Modified recipe from “Everyday Greens” by Annie Somerville
Prepared by: Stacey for the May 2011 meeting.