For years, my cousin Claire and I repeated this conversation every time she came over to cook with me.
Claire: Ok, what’s next? Oh, do you have a pastry brush?
Claire: Wow, how do you cook without a pastry brush?
Me: I guess I just use my hands.
We went through this routine at least half a dozen times. She wanted a pastry brush to apply sauce on a roast, glaze on scones and I can’t even remember what else. It’s not that I was anti-pastry brush. It just never occurred to me to buy one.
But eventually Claire’s message sunk in and I purchased a brush. And now, I have to say I agree with Claire. I’m not sure why I went my whole life without one. It’s incredibly handy.
This is the model of brush I finally bought. It’s actually a basting brush but I call it a pastry brush.
I use it to brush oil on the tray before I roast vegetables. I grab it in the summer when I want to put marinade on kebobs and during the winter when I want to coat a roast with oil. Using a pastry brush – rather than my hands – is neater and keeps me from wasting oil. Plus, it’s kinda fun.
However, don’t skip this strata just because you don’t own a pastry brush. Just wash your hands, dip your fingers in the egg mixture and spread it on the sweet potatoes best as you can.
Now, it you don’t have sausage – well, then you may not want to make this until you do. The main flavor in this recipe comes from the sausage. It brings a meaty, fatty flavor that goes well with the sweet potatoes.
My sister Lauren told me a sad tale last week of trying to follow another recipe that called for sausage but she didn’t have any sausage so she doctored it up with a lot of spices. “It just didn’t work,” she lamented.
Sweet Potato Sausage Strata
Bulk sausage, ½ pound
Cauliflower, ½ cup, chopped well
Rosemary, 1 teaspoon
Sweet potato, about 3-4”
Ghee (or other fat of choice), 1 tablespoon plus enough to grease pan
Salt and pepper
- Cook sausage over medium heat until browned, about 7 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and rosemary and sauté for another 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower is softened.
- Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Add 4 eggs, salt and pepper. Stir until well mixed.
- Grease pan. Add mixture to 9” round pie pan.
- Slice sweet potato into thin rounds, using a knife or– better yet — a mandolin slicer. Overlap sweet potato rounds on top of egg mixture until you’ve covered the mixture. The sweet potatoes will shrink a little when cooking so add a few more than you might think you need.
- Whisk remaining egg well. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of oil. Brush on to sweet potatoes.*
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil for another 4 minutes to make the sweet potatoes crispy.
- Garnish with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Eat immediately or save for later in the week. Yum!
*You will have quite a bit of egg/butter mixture left over. My suggestion – toss it in a small pan with some veggies and spices and make yourself a scrambled egg. You can have a little snack while the strata is cooking.