Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I've always looked forward to baking holiday cookies, eating special appetizers and the awe on my children's faces when they see what Santa has left under the tree.
Christmas morning, while undoubtedly a highlight for my children, used to be a bit of a let down for me in the food department. Year after year I found myself waking up early to make coffee and assemble a tray of our holiday baking efforts before my kids woke up. Often, I admit, those sweets would be our breakfast, as no sooner were the gifts opened, and briefly played with, did we head off to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I didn't have time to prepare that Rockwellian Christmas morning breakfast, unless, of course, I made it ahead of time …
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That need to work ahead prompted me to open my cookbooks, scour the Internet and poll friends for a recipe fit for a holiday that didn't require last minute prepping. My research paid off with recipes for ham/bacon/sausage and cheese strata, monkey bread and baked French toast -- all delicious and prepared the day before you serve them. Exactly what I was looking for! These recipes saw many Christmas mornings on our breakfast table, but in my never-ending quest I unearthed a unique recipe that was too temping not to try.
I found the recipe for this Souffle Roll in a favorite cookbook, "Creme de Colorado" by the Junior League of Denver. According to the recipe, a souffle roll is an airy egg sponge, baked, covered with filling and rolled up jellyroll fashion. Imagine a buche de Noel, or cake roll. It's basically an omelet filled with savory ingredients that can be completely prepared the day, or days, before you need it. It's easily reheated, whole or sliced.
While the egg part of the souffle roll is light and airy, it is also the perfect canvass for your choice of tasty fillings. This spinach and cheese filling features smooth sour cream, gooey cheese, loads of spinach and is a beautiful contrast to the pale yellow egg souffle. Or try a creamy onion and green chile filling that provides all of the flavor without the heat. Top it all with guacamole and salsa, and you have the perfect balance of flavor to contrast with the rich souffle. Of course, if you prefer extra heat, you can always add a jalapeño or two to the onion and chile mixture.
I have been making the souffle roll a number of years and have begun experimenting with fillings based on family's preferences. Try decreasing the spinach to one, 10-ounce package and chopped cooked bacon or cooked and crumbled breakfast sausage. My family likes spicy food, so one year I added ½ cup pepper jack cheese to the onion and chile filling and topped the souffle with more spicy cheese. YUM! Try your own ingredient combinations; just be careful to not add too much moisture to your filling or it won't bake properly.
I now have an entire file of make-ahead breakfast recipes to carry me through many Christmas mornings to come. I even bought a coffee pot with a timer so my coffee is ready when I wake up and I can relax and enjoy opening gifts and have a nice breakfast. Ahh ... the perfect Christmas gift.
• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge.