June 7th, 2016
May 28th, 2014
I have cobbled together a picture of a breakfast casserole that I served to company. My life has been rather cobbled together lately. From selling our Florida house, to pulling a u-haul back to North Carolina, to a major get together with friends, the one thing I did not need was to get sick. But sick I was. I developed a hacking cough, headache, fever and laryngitis. David dragged me to the Doctor last Wednesday. All I could croak out were the words “I can’t afford to be sick. I have 16 people coming tomorrow for 4 or 5 days.” I am so impressed with our Nurse Practitioner. She prescribed an antibiotic and words of wisdom. She said be sure your friends have clean sheets and towels, but forget about the rest of the house. No one will notice or care about a bit of dust or a less that neat house. So true. Everyone pitched in and we had a wonderful time.
The occasion that brought us all together was the annual Lake Lure Lakefront Home Owners Association annual dinner and meeting. David and I were in charge of the entertainment. We booked our good friends from Florida who have a doo wop group called Malt Shoppe Memories. They perform all over Florida and are also known in our area from previous visits.
The concert was held on the beach and a fun time was had by all.
The hotel even arranged to serve S’mores on the beach.
The party was held on Saturday night. On Sunday evening the group performed on the top of our boathouse and people were encouraged to come by boat to sit back and enjoy the concert. The acoustics on the water and between the mountains are something special.
It was great to have so much help in the kitchen. We did a pot luck on Sunday and everyone contributed wonderful dishes.
I made this casserole on Saturday afternoon when I was feeling better. I tucked it into the refrigerator and baked it on Sunday morning. It couldn’t be easier. What you see here are the leftovers. It is a special breakfast casserole because it uses croissants instead of bread (thus the buttery description) and because it comes from The New York Times. All of their recipes are first rate. I will be adding this to my permanent recipe file. The sausage, Gruyere cheese, sage and green onions just add to the goodness.
BUTTERY BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
- 1 pound croissants (about 5 to 7), split in half lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for baking dish
- 1 bunch scallions (6 to 7), white and light green parts thinly sliced, greens reserved
- ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces Gruyère, grated (2 cups)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat oven to 500 degrees. Spread croissants on a large baking sheet and toast, cut side up, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (watch carefully to see that they do not burn). Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add sliced scallions and sausage meat; cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in sage, and remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, toss together croissants and sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.
- Lightly oil a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn croissant mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing croissants down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced scallion tops before serving.
May 8th, 2014
This is an easy breakfast dish and very impressive when it comes out of the oven. Photographing it is another story as it deflates rather quickly. But, when cut into and served, it is creamy and luscious. I love the texture of the eggs and the bits of ham and herbs.
I have so much basil this year that I am putting it in everything. It holds its own with eggs. But you could use other herbs. This souffle is one of those dishes that is easily adaptable. Substitute sausage or cooked vegetables for the Canadian bacon, parsley or tarragon for the basil, or cheddar cheese for the Gruyere topping. It doesn’t matter. The magic still happens and it comes out of the oven puffy and golden. I liked this so much that I made it two Sundays in a row.
This time I used a combination of fresh tarragon and basil. David wants to try it with sausage and cheddar next time. But I am also thinking about that leftover zucchini and corn. I am sure all of you could come up with some wonderful combinations. This is a keeper.
SOUFFLEED OMELET WITH CANADIAN BACON AND GRUYERE CHEESE (Adapted from Gourmet)
6 ounces sliced Canadian bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
3 tablespoons flour
8 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese
In a flameproof 1 1/2 quart baking dish cook the bacon in the butter over moderately low heat for 5 minutes, or until it is golden, stir the mixture to coat the sides of the dish with the butter, and remove it from the heat. In a bowl whisk together the cream the flour, the eggs, the basil and the salt and pour the mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the mixture with the Gruyere cheese and bake it in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the omelet is puffed and golden. Serves 4 to 6.
April 18th, 2014
I have been following the blog Manger for a while now and am thrilled that the author Mimi Thorisson is coming out with a new book this Fall. Manger is the French word for “To Eat”. Mimi lives in the Medoc region of France with her husband and growing family. Her blog is beautiful both in her prose and the photography. Her husband is a professional photographer and is responsible for the ethereal images.
To celebrate the publication of her new book A Kitchen in France, I will give one lucky winner a copy of the book. Since it will not be published until this Fall, you will have to wait to receive your copy. Mimi’s food is as unique as she is with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. I have tried several of her recipes and have been very happy with the results.
These Zucchini Flans are very easy to make and a good use for the ubiquitous summer zucchini that will be in our markets soon. They make a lovely light breakfast or side dish for any of your summer meals. I changed the recipe a bit by using basil instead of mint. They are very adaptive and gluten free since they use cornstarch instead of flour.
To win a copy of the cookbook, you have two chances. Leave a comment on this post for one chance. Follow my new Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen Facebook page for another chance. Let me know in a separate comment if you are following me on Facebook.
2 large zucchini, sliced in half-rounds
4 tbsp cornstarch (maïzana in France)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
A handful of chopped basil
1/2 cup grated cheese (Emmental or Gruyère)
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
½ tsp nutmeg
Salt & black pepper
Preheat oven 180°C/ 350 F
Slice zucchini thinly in half rounds. Slice shallots and garlic finely. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and fry shallots, garlic and zucchini for a few minutes, until slightly golden.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and cornstarch, then add grated cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Combine zucchini/shallots/garlic, lemon juice and sliced basil – stir gently.
Pour mixture into a muffin pan. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until slightly golden on top.
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March 18th, 2014
There are many foods that we associate with Easter; ham, eggs and chocolate bunnies to name a few. In Italy this Spinach Torta is made around Easter time to celebrate the season. There are many versions of the dish. Some are made with a yeast crust and a lattice top. Some top the dish with pine nuts, instead of the almonds that I used. I added ham to my version. To me this would make a perfect brunch dish to celebrate Easter.
The torta is an Italian version of a quiche. The flavor additions include Mozzarella and Parmesan instead of Swiss or Gruyere, Italian seasonings instead of a hint of nutmeg and a pine nut or almond topping. The spinach, eggs, roasted red peppers and cream round out the dish. Since I was in a hurry I used a store bought pie crust, but you could certainly make your own or leave it out completely. I actually made another version of this torta a few years ago that is also great to make ahead of time for a brunch party. Here is the link.
This makes me wish for a trip to the Amalfi Coast. Since that is not possible, David and I will be attending The East Tennessee Italian Fest blogger party at Big Dude’s Almost Heaven South on Saturday June 7th. For details see Larry’s post here if you are interested in joining us. I am linking this dish to Tasty Tuesdays at the Comfort of Home.
TUSCAN SPINACH TORTA RUSTICA
1 Refrigerated Pie Crust or Homemade 1 crust pie pastry
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup diced cooked ham
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 9 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fit pie crust into 10-inch tart pan or 9-inch pie plate. Blind bake in oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil or parchment paper lined bean weights. Paint bottom of pie crust with mustard. Return pie crust to oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove, set aside and reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add ham and onions and cook until onions are soft and ham is slightly browned. Add red peppers, spinach and seasonings and cook a few minutes to meld flavors.
Beat eggs in large bowl. Add cream and shredded cheeses. Add the spinach mixture from the skillet and stir to combine well. Place in prepared pie crust. Sprinkle almonds over the top. Place tart pan in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until custard is set.
I am always looking for interesting breakfast options. There is something very special about food that can be picked up on the run when you have very little time. When you add to that a healthy alternative to heavy egg and cheese concoctions, I am delighted. I found this quinoa muffin recipe on Pinterest from Iowa Girl Eats. Kristin actually made her muffins in mini muffin cups and figured the calorie count to be 48 calories for each. I made mine in a standard size muffin pan. I was not so much interested in the calories as I was in the healthy ingredients.
The quinoa takes the place of flour in the muffins. There are only two eggs and two egg whites in the mix. The other ingredients are zucchini, cheese, ham (I used Canadian Bacon), green onions and parsley. But what is so special about the ingredients is that you can use anything that you would like. Leave out the ham and you would have a good vegetarian muffin, substitute spicy cooked sausage and you would have an added kick.
I plan to tuck these muffins away in the fridge and freezer for future quick breakfasts. We will be traveling back to Lake Lure at the end of the month. David usually likes to stop for a chicken biscuit at MacDonald’s. Even though he eats just the bottom half of the biscuit with his fried chicken patty, these muffins are a far better choice. The only down side that I see is that Daisy, our dog, won’t get her favorite top biscuit treat.
I am entering the recipe in Tasty Tuesday over at The Comforts of Home. I hope you will give these tasty muffins a try.
HAM, CHEESE AND QUINOA FRITTATA MUFFINS
2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
2 egg whites
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced ham
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 green onions, sliced
salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Liberally spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon mixture to the top of each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cups are golden brown. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the mini muffin tin.
- TO FREEZE: Place baked cups on a baking sheet then freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer bag. Microwave for 20-40 seconds depending on how many you’re reheating.
- FOR REGULAR-SIZED MUFFIN TINS: Bake for 25-30 minutes