I met Kate when we worked for the same television network just over seven years ago. She oversaw one sector of my department’s production activity, and she was great at her job. She was also fun and quirky with a quick sense of humor. Although we mostly communicated over email, I knew she was a good person. Over the recent years, I discovered her interest in food and cooking was just as strong as mine. It made sense to give her the spotlight. Although Amir and I worked at the same company for a very tiny window of time, I’m not sure if he’s ever met Kate. I do know that it would be fun for us to all cook together one day. Here goes Kate!
“I was first introduced to this recipe by my boyfriend’s mother, Stella Herpel. They are from a very small New England town, and this is one of those classic recipes I’ve come to love having grown up with a Vermont grandmother. For those of you not from New England, or any northern (read: COLD) area, most recipes are stick to your ribs, warm you up, pure comfort food. This dish does not disappoint in that regard. It’s great for curing hangovers, too!
The way the bread practically dissolves overnight soaking in the egg mixture is really what makes this meal surprising. Until I had the recipe in my hot little hand, I had no idea bread was even involved! It’s such a fluffy, eggy and cheesy concoction, it just melts in your mouth. The ham (and I am NOT a meat eater or a pork lover) really adds so much salty, hammy flavor, I couldn’t imagine the dish without it. I added chopped, wild mushrooms to this batch as an experiment, and it really worked. I might try an all vegetable version next time as it seems to be super versatile. The fact that you can just throw it together and forget about it until you want to bake it is just awesome. Delicious!
New England Soufflé – Serves 4 (Original Recipe from Donna Butler, introduced to me by Stella Herpel)
5 slices white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to butter the dish
1/3 cup milk
1/2 pound cooked ham, diced
1/2 to 3/4 pound muenster cheese, grated**
1. Spread the butter evenly over all 5 pieces of bread. Set aside. Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, then set aside.
2. Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl, then stir in the ham. Put bread in the bottom of the dish. Pour half of egg mixture over bread, then sprinkle half of the grated cheese on top. Repeat with remaining egg mixture and cheese.
3. Bake at 325 degrees until set, approximately 45 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve and enjoy!*
*You can cover and refrigerate the dish overnight as well for an early morning breakfast.
**Start with 1/2 pound cheese and add more based on your personal preference.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.