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Serves six to eight

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

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Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray

7 cups bread cubes, using a good-quality French or Italian bread

½ pound Brie, rind removed, cut into small, rough cubes

3 pound sliced cooked ham, cut into slivers

6 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups milk

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced chives

1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper; saute five minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Top with the vegetables, pieces of Brie and ham.

3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over the ingredients in the pan, pressing down lightly to immerse. Sprinkle top with chives. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

4. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350-degree oven 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 15 minutes, or until the strata is done in the center. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

From The Seattle Times archives, 1998

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