Tim Dineen

In five years of living at Lake Tahoe in the ’70s, one dish always stands out in my mind — our famous “Tahoe Brunch”.

There were 4 very social guys and gals (Susan, Clare, Michael, and me) living in a huge 4br home with 20′ ceilings and a wall of windows leading out to a deck and lake views from everywhere.

Whether we were entertaining friends, or just having a leisurely weekend, food (and lots of it!) always entered into the picture. (Fast-forward 30 years and some things haven’t changed at all!)

We cooked everything from scratch in those days – we made our own tortilla chips, baked most of our own bread, made huge pots of soups and stews in the winter and grilled all summer long. Communing with nature in style.

This is one creation we came up with to serve a crowd — and every time I make it I (vaguely) remember those thrilling days of yesteryear… Ah… sweet youth…..

  • a loaf of good quality bread
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 pound Cheddar Cheese, shredded (or assorted cheeses to make 1 pound)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard or other good mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs

Saute onions and mushrooms in 2 tbsp butter until lightly browned and tender (about 5 minutes). Season with salt & pepper. Cut sausage into bite-sized pieces, cook and drain.

Butter a 9×13 pan. Layer six slices of bread. Add half the mushroom and onion mixture, half the sausage and half the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Mix together the eggs, half and half, mustard, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the casserole and cover. Refrigerate 24 hours.

The following day — Preheat oven to 350°. Bake uncovered about an hour, or until set all the way through.

In true Tahoe fashion, serve with plenty of Mimosa’s, Bloody Mary’s, or freshly squeezed juices and a huge fresh fruit salad…

Fast-forwarding, again…

There weren’t that many sausage varieties back in 1978 Lake Tahoe (Italian, hot or mild) mushrooms were white, and cheese was American, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, and jack (we don’t count velveeta). Parmesan came in a green can. Heck, there weren’t that many bread varieties, either!

By switching out the bread, the cheese, the sausage, the mushrooms, adding different peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, whatever, you can create your own fun variation.