Zucchini Flans and a Giveaway

May 8th, 2014

Zucchini Flans 1

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.


A Kitchen in France 2
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  Since it will not be published until this Fall,  you will have to wait to receive your copy.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.

zucchini flans 2V

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
5 eggs
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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Tuscan Spinach Torta Rustica

April 18th, 2014

Tuscan Torta


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.

Tuscan Torta 2V


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.

Tuscan Torta 3 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.


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.

Printable recipe


Ham, Cheese and Quinoa Frittata Muffins

March 18th, 2014

Quinoa Frittata Muffins 1


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.

Quinoa Frittata Muffins 4


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.

Quinoa Frittata Muffins 2V

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.

Quinoa Frittat Muffins 3

I am entering the recipe in Tasty Tuesday over at The Comforts of Home.  I hope you will give these tasty muffins a try.


2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
2 eggs
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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. FOR REGULAR-SIZED MUFFIN TINS: Bake for 25-30 minutes

Printable recipe

Impossible Breakfast Pie

September 16th, 2013

Impossible pies were invented in the 1970’s by Home Economists at General Mills.  I’m sure it was to promote their baking mix, Bisquick.  The baking mix is combined with other ingredients in a pie plate that, when baked, turns into a crustless pie that tastes like a traditional pie.  Usually the ingredients are those that you would use for an apple or other fruit pie.  But if you check the internet you will find everything from cheeseburger impossible pies to chicken and broccoli impossible pies.  If for some reason you don’t want to use Bisquick, you can make your own baking mix.  You can find the recipe here.

We are staying with my Brother and SIL while in Michigan for my class reunion.  It was fabulous by the way.  Here are a few pictures.




For a class of 180, we had a great turnout.  The music was great and it was fun catching up with people, some of whom I had not seen since graduation.

My SIL  Barb made this impossible breakfast pie for brunch Sunday morning.  It was delicious and we demolished the whole thing.  Dancing, partying and staying out past midnight ( we are not as young as we used to be after all) builds up an appetite.  She used a recipe for impossible cheeseburger pie, but substituted  sausage for the ground beef.   We will be heading back to Lake Lure tomorrow.


1 lb. bulk sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 cup Bisquick or homemade baking mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Tomato slices for top (Optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.

In a skillet, cook the sausage and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sausage is brown; drain.  Stir in salt.  Spread in pie plate.  Sprinkle with cheese.

In a small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended.  Pour into pie plate.  Place tomato slices on top if using.

Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Printable recipe




Spinach and Swiss Souffles and a Lesson

October 28th, 2012
It is not easy to photograph a souffle.  These babies were over the top of the ramekins when I took them out of the oven.  I clicked and clicked as fast as I could, but the deflation happened just as quickly.  
But there is a story behind these souffles. This is the second time I have made them.  The first time was on the morning of David’s birthday earlier this month.  I wanted to make his birthday special by starting  his day off with a good breakfast. But please don’t say . . . aww, isn’t she special, making her hubby’s day great.  You see, he forgot my birthday 20 days earlier and I think I was reacting by being cloyingly nice.  In other words, “you are a low-down insensitive male who should have remembered and I am a perfect wife who always has your back”.  I hate to admit these feelings but I think  many of you would agree with me.  On top of that, I had an ulterior motive because the pictures would be great to put on my blog.  So my motives were, if not evil, at least questionable. 
Enter Karma, or God, or Gotcha.  When I went to download my pictures, they were not on my memory card.  How could that be?  I am sure I checked while snapping the pictures.  So all I can say is that while you are enjoying taking your pictures of  food or family, design or whatever, keep a good attitude and and a sane head and be committed to what you are doing. Be sure that you are focused on what matters and that you are not distracted by other feelings while you are snapping away. 
For various reasons, I am glad I had the opportunity to make and photograph these souffles again.  The original recipe from Cooking Light called for Parmesan cheese.  Although we liked it, I decided that a more assertive cheese would be better.   The Emmental or Swiss cheese was the answer . The souffles were so good and healthy.  And this time we enjoyed them together on a Sunday morning with a much better attitude.  Guess that’s why the pictures came out as well as they did.    
Cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
2/3 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Swiss or Emmental cheese
2 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Place a baking sheet in the oven.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Coat 4 (6-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, tilting and turning dishes to coat sides completely.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly coat pan with cooking spray.  Add spinach; cook for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing constantly.  Place spinach in a colander; let stand 5 minutes. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach.  Coarsely chop spinach.
Combine 2/3 cup milk and the next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Cook for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Spoon mixture into a large bowl, and let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir in spinach, cheese, and egg yolks.
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl, and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Beat with a mixer at high speed until medium peaks form (do not overbeat).  Gently stir one-fourth of egg whites into spinach mixture, and gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Gently spoon mixture into prepared dishes.  Sharply tap dishes 2 to 3 times on counter to level.  Place dishes on preheated baking sheet; return baking sheet to 425 degree oven.  Immediately reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake souffles for 21 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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