15 April 2014

Breakfast Casserole with Ham, Brie and Lingonberries - and Swedish Rye Bread

Transparency is always the best policy when blogging. If you try to assume a role, or pretend to be what you are not, readers will catch on sooner or later.


So let me be perfectly transparent: This dish started out as a grilled sandwich. Visually seduced by all the grilled cheese sandwiches other bloggers have posted lately, especially those oozing with Brie, I visualized what I was going to call a Door County Swedish Grilled Sandwich, on Swedish rye with lingonberries and ham.


I made one. It was delicious. But it didn't look at all like the deliciously gooey sandwiches photographed by other bloggers.

It wasn't photogenic. But it tasted good.

So I sought other ways to share this combination, which reminds me of breakfast at Al Johnson's in Sister Bay, the place with the goats on the roof.

Lingonberries and Swedish rye are inseparable in Door County. Brie is a mild, earthy cheese that reaches heavenly status when paired with many fruits. Ham is great with almost anything. So why not?

This pudding has a surprise topping of cheddar cheese to ground it in Wisconsin. Here's the recipe:

Breakfast Casserole with Ham, Brie and Lingonberries
  • 4-6 slices Swedish rye bread, toast and cut into quarters or eighths
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup spreadable Brie
  • 3 tablespoons lingonberries jam
  • 4-6 slices ham, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease square or rectangular baking dish - at least 8x8 or larger. Size of the dish depends on how much bread you have. Mine was a relatively small loaf with smaller than usual slices.

Slice the bread and lightly brown in the oven, while the oven is heating.

When toast is browned, lightly butter each slice, and follow with a generous layer of Brie and a layer of lingonberry jam. You may find you have butter left over; set this aside for later.

Cut toast into quarters or eights and arrange in greased baking pan. Arrange slices of ham in between each cube or slice of bread for even distribution of flavors.

Using a whip, blend milk, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar in a mall bowl. Pour over bread-and-ham layers (you may find you have some left over) and allow the toast-ham mixture to absorb the liquids for about 20 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt to bring out the sweetness and add balance. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

After about 40 minutes of baking, add cheddar cheese and remainder of butter to the top of the casserole. This provides a tangy topping. (It also hides an uneven appearance, as sometimes occurs with bread pudding.) Bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Once cheddar has melted and begun to brown, remove casserole from oven. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

I ate mine for supper, with a side of cole slaw. Pineapple slaw would be especially good with this dish.

You need not use Swedish rye for this recipe; any bread would do. It's a good way to use up leftover ham, and if you serve it with slaw, leftover pineapple.

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