Prepare meat and/or vegetables, if using. Whisk half & half,
eggs, salt and pepper until smooth. Spray a 9x13 pan or one
a little larger with cooking spray. Line bottom with 6 (whole)
slices of bread. If using meats and/or vegetables, scatter half
of each over the bread, then sprinkle with half of the scallions
and cheese. Pour 1 cup of egg mixture over the top. Repeat
layers with remaining bread, meat, vegetables, cheese and
scallions. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over top.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Return to room temperature before baking. Adjust rack to
middle position. Bake in preheated 325º oven until custard is
just set, about 1- 1 1/2 hours. Turn on broiler and broil strata
just until lightly brown and puffy (watch carefully), about 5
minutes longer. Let stand for 8-10 minutes, then serve.
Benedict Strata: use canadian bacon and omit other
vegetables (still use scallions). I use Monterey Jack, swiss
and cheddar cheeses to total the amount above. Then serve
with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce streamed over each
Sausage and Mushroom Strata: Use 1 pound, bulk breakfast
sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained along with 1 pound
sliced mushrooms that have been sauteed.