Asparagus Tart For Spring

April 3rd, 2014

Asparagus Tart 1


It is so good to be back in the North Carolina Mountains.  There is nothing more beautiful.  Our timing for the trip back was perfect.  The temperatures have been even warmer than in Florida.  The only downside to being back is the amount of work that we are facing.  Because of the brutal winter, we had to deal with cracked water pipes; no water for the first couple of days.  There are leaves to be raked, downed limbs to be hauled, porches to be cleaned and fresh paint needed in several places.  But one of the first areas I tackled was the upper porch.  It is warm enough for meals out there overlooking the lake.  I made this asparagus tart for lunch yesterday to celebrate our good weather.

Asparagus Tart 2V

This is very simple to pull together if you have sheets of puff pastry in your freezer.  I found the recipe on Pinterest.  It came from Nicole at Heat Oven to 350.   You may want to visit her blog to see instructions on how to shape the pastry.  The filling in the tart is a mixture of ricotta cheese, egg and cream.  The asparagus is not blanched ahead of time, but if you have large stalks, you may want to consider doing it.

Lake Upper Porch

Relaxing on the porch for lunch was a good respite from the tasks at hand.  The asparagus tart was light and delicious.  I served it with leftover corn and black beans with picante sauce.

Asparagus Tart 3

This was a wonderfully flaky tart with a mild and creamy filling that supported the vibrant green asparagus.  The recipe makes two tarts.  One tart can be cut into 4 pieces to serve four or if that is all you are serving, perhaps two hungry people.  I halved the recipe to make this one tart.



  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (There are two sheets in one package. You can find puff pastry in the freezer section, usually near the pies.)
  • 1 large egg, beaten, for crust
  • 1 large egg, for filling
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower position and hear oven to 375 degrees. Unfold each pastry sheet one at a time and, using a rolling pin, roll each pastry slightly to smooth out the seams and increase the size.
  2. Lay each pastry sheet onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each pastry with the beaten egg. Fold the edges on opposite sites of the tart over by about 1/2 inch and brush with beaten egg. Repeat with remaining two edges and brush with egg. Fold the first two sides over once more and brush with beaten egg. Use a paring knife to cut through the folded edges and corners. (See photos below) Prick the inside of the tart shell repeatedly with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack. (If the middle of the pastry has puffed up at all during cooking, push it back down. It’s easier to do this before it cools.)
  3. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together egg, ricotta, cream, milk, salt and pepper. Pour half of the mixture into each baked tart. Lay half the asparagus on top of the ricotta mixture in each tart. Bake another 15-20 minutes or until golden and set. Serve hot or cold.

Printable recipe

Appetizer Cheese and Jalapeno Bites

March 25th, 2014

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 3


Bike week in Daytona Beach is an annual motorcycle invasion.  Bikers gather from all over the country to show-off their rides and participate in such activities as coleslaw wrestling and wet tee-shirt contests.  Our biking buddies always come to visit us during bike week.  But our antics are a little tamer.  The most outrageous thing that we did was to attend a David Allan Coe concert at The Iron Horse Saloon.

Motorcycle Gang


Pictured above are Ron (biker name, Pittstop), Jackie, Jim (biker name Diamond Jim), Barbara and Me.  David (biker name Snake) and I love having them visit.  We have a long history together with bike trips, visits to each others’ homes, lots of laughs and the enjoyment of good food.  Both Jackie and Barbara are good cooks.  While we were in the grocery store one day, Barbara picked up bags of shredded cheese and other ingredients and made this simple appetizer for one of our evening cocktail hours.  You can always count on her to turn simple ingredients into marvelous tasty treats.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 4


This is such an easy appetizer to pull together.  The only complication is that it should be done ahead of time.  Letting it rest for two hours after baking is recommended.  I like it even better refrigerated for a while after baking and then cut into precise squares before reheating.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno squares 1


Simply dump half of the shredded cheese into casserole, top with jalapeno slices, top with remainder of the cheese and pour the flour, milk and egg mixture over it.  Bake until nicely browned.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 2

The hardest part is waiting to dig in.  This makes a lot of appetizer bites, so it is great for a crowd.  I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday at the The Comforts of Home.  Enjoy.


2 (8 oz.) packages shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 (8 oz.) packages shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (8 oz.) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 (12 oz.) jar Jalapeno peppers, drained
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour

Mix 1 package of mild cheddar, 1 package of Monterey Jack and 1/2 of a package of sharp cheddar and spread evenly in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Spread jalapeno peppers over cheese.

Top with a mixture of the remaining cheeses.

In a mixing bowl slowly add the flour to the evaporated milk, blending well.  Add the two eggs and mix all together.  Pour mixture over the casserole.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about an hour until lightly browned on top.  Let cool for two hours and cut into squares.

Printable recipe

Chicken and Barley Soup

February 26th, 2014

Chicken Barley Soup 1


While we were in Washington DC a few weeks ago, we spent a Sunday morning visiting The Phillips Collection of art in one of the row houses in Dupont Circle.  We had decided that we wanted to stay in the neighborhood where our apartment was located.  As much as I admire the Metro System in DC, we found that the Red Line was undergoing an upgrade this Winter and parts of the track were closed.  On Saturday we had experienced delays, overcrowded cars and none of the ease that we had experienced in our previous visits.  Besides that, the morning was very cold, so being close to our warm apartment made sense.

Luncheon of the Boating Party

The most well known painting in The Phillips Collection is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.  Duncan Phillips, an avid collector of modern art, acquired the painting in 1923.  He had opened his row house in Dupont Circle as an art museum in 1921.  Luncheon of the Boating Party “captures an idyllic atmosphere as Renoir’s friends share food, wine and conversation on a balcony overlooking the Seine at the Maison Fournaise Restaurant in Chatou.  Parisians flocked to the Maison Fournaise to rent rowing skiffs and . . . eat good meals.”   We also ate a good meal in the museum cafe, Tryst.  Chicken and barley soup was on the menu.  Due to the fact that I was still chilled to the bone, that was exactly what I wanted.  Lots of Hmmms later, David said “I know what you are thinking. You want to make this soup when you get home.”  He had it right.

Chicken Barley Soup V


The only decision was finding the right recipe that would be as close as possible to the soup that I had eaten.  Martha Stewart’s recipe won out.  It is full of vegetables and aromatic chicken and broth.  The barley is a quick cooking variety and I had this on the table in no time.  Each spoonful was as good as I remembered.  Even though we are all looking forward to Spring meals, this last hurrah to winter soups is worth your attention.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 carrots, diced small
  • 4 celery stalks, diced small
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (5 cups)
    1. STEP 1

      In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until chicken is opaque at edges, about 2 minutes.

    2. STEP 2

      Add broth and thyme and bring to a boil. Stir in barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until barley is tender and chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

    3. STEP 3

      Add spinach and cook until wilted, 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

    Printable recipe

Tomato, Sweet Corn and Basil Risotto Cakes

February 22nd, 2014


Risotto Cake 3


What a lovely little risotto cake.  I love food that can be stuffed in a ramekin, baked, and then un-molded.  I was perusing Nourish Magazine, a quarterly magazine from New Zealand, on-line recently and found this recipe for a vegetable filled risotto cake.  Nourish promotes local, seasonal and vegetarian fare, although the vegetarianism is not total.  There are recipes using meat products as well.  It is always fun to get a fresh prospective on eating.

Risotto Cake New 1


The recipe makes six to eight risotto cakes.  I think this would make a lovely luncheon dish topped with a small dressed salad.  For dinner, it makes a pretty side to fish or chicken.  The risotto can be made ahead of time, placed in the ramekins and baked right before you are ready to serve the risotto cakes.  The flavor of the tomato, corn and basil adds lots of interest to the dish.

Risotto Cake New 2


So simple, but yet so lovely and delicious.


On a change of subject, the above picture was taken at last year’s Bloggers’ get together at Larry, of Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings, and his wife  Bev’s Almost Heaven South lakeside pavillion in Tennessee.  We had the most wonderful luau with authentic delicious food, great company and a chance for all of us bloggers to connect with each other.  The event for 2014 is scheduled for either June 7th or 8th.  The official date will be announced in March.  We would like to invite any of our fellow bloggers to attend.  I can guarantee that you will have a good time.  You can contact Larry or Chris, at Nibble Me This, if you are interested in attending.

Blogger Party Grill line up

We had some of the best barbecue gurus in blogland manning the grills.  This grill line-up still brings a smile to my face.  Come and join us.


2 onions, diced
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced (I used canned)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp basil pesto
⅔ cup sweetcorn (I used frozen)
⅔ cup grated cheese (I used Parmesan)
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, soften the onions in the oil.

Add Arborio rice and cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to let the rice catch on the pan.

Then add the tomatoes, mix well and let the Arborio rice absorb some of the moisture from the tomatoes before adding the stock.

When the Arborio rice is nearly cooked through take it off the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon into greased ramekins and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden.  Un-mold by running a knife around the sides and inverting onto plates.

Serve with salad.

Printable recipe

Re-inventing Ina’s Curried Couscous

February 18th, 2014

Curried Couscous 3


Okay.  Everyone says you should plate your food in a white bowl so that it shines on its own.  Today I did not do that because the only bowl I could get to was this one.  I think Ina’s couscous looks just fine in a colorful bowl.  I am having some issues right now.  My kitchen is out of service due to a major leak under the sink.  David is working on it, but it has turned into a long, long …. process.

Curried Couscous David


I have been washing dishes in the bathroom and trying to avoid his work area.  That is one of the reasons that Ina’s couscous sounded like a good choice for dinner; minimal sink time and easy cooking.  What makes it different from the original recipe is the use of Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is larger and alternately called pearled couscous. I have paired the couscous dish with my Apricot Chicken, which is another easy recipe.  Just put it in the oven on a foil lined baking pan and you are done.  I have broccoli ready to steam on the stove and dinner will be ready.  My kitchen is a mess, but at least we will eat well.

Curried Couscous 1


I kinda think this looks like a work of art, but then I am probably a little punchy from cooking on the fly.  Hopefully dinner will be good.  David is still under the sink.  I have done my best and so has he.  Unfortunately, the work will continue for a while.  Take-out tomorrow night sounds like a good idea.


1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Melt the butter in the boiling water and add the couscous. Cover tightly and cook the couscous on low for 8 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Place couscous in a large bowl.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Printable recipe


© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.