Sweet Pepper and Cheddar Clafouti

April 26th, 2020

A clafouti is a French egg dish. It is usually a sweet batter with cherries or other fruit. Melissa Clark, of the New York Times, recently came out with a new cookbook called Dinner in French; My Recipes by Way of France. In it, she shared this recipe for a savory clafouti with peppers, ham and cheese It is perfect for a Sunday brunch. We have made it twice so far; two Sundays in a row. Adjusting to quiet solitary living has mixed results. We miss meeting with friends, dining in restaurants, shopping and traveling to visit family. But the slow pace of being home has allowed us to relax, read, enjoy the lake and plan, cook and eat interesting meals.

The second time that we made this clafouti we used cooked sausage instead of the ham and roasted red peppers from a jar in addition to the sweet green peppers. But both times we used lots of fresh basil since I have a pot of basil sitting on my kitchen windowsill. You can use anything you have on hand for good results.

I almost skipped the suggestion to garnish the finished dish with crushed red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon. Do not ignore this suggestion. The heat of the pepper flakes and freshness of the lemon juice just made it all better. Whatever we can do to “make it all better” is important right now. From my isolated home to yours.


  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Crème fraîche or Sour Cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 Tbls. flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 oz. sliced ham, chopped
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 3 sweet peppers, preferabley different colors, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh lemon juice, for serving
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, eggs, flour, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheddar and ham.
  • In a 9″ ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the peppers and cook until they are softened and golden at the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Scrape the egg mixture into the skillet, and top it with the 1/4 cup remaining cheddar and the Parmesan. (Or, for a more elegant presentation, scrape the vegetables into a gratin or casserole dish and add the egg mixture and cheese to that). Bake until the eggs are set 35 to 40 minutes. (Mine took 45 minutes). Cool slightly then top with the lemon juice and red pepper flakes.

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Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Bread

September 28th, 2013

The changing of the seasons seem to be speeding up in my life.  I want to hold each precious moment in the palm of my hand and grasp it greedily so as not to let it fly away.  I want to be here for my Granddaughter’s wedding someday.  I want to witness what my precocious Grandson becomes.  All of these thoughts intensify with the arrival of Fall.  There is an urgency to Fall.  Squirrels gather their acorns.  Farmers harvest their crops and gather hay.  Many of us can and freeze the bounty from our gardens.  Fall is the season for soups, pumpkins, stews and freshly baked bread.  Fall food is solace for the soul and gives us a reason to look forward to Spring and bright days ahead.

Few things smell as good as pumpkin and cinnamon baking in the oven.  One of my favorite pies is pumpkin.  But this pumpkin flavored quick bread has also become a favorite.  The recipe appeared in a 2003 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  The article and recipe came from Ken Haedrich.  I have written about Ken before in this post.  By the way, I am still waiting for a guest post from you Ken.  He has a very informative website called The Pie Academy.

This is a dense and moist quick bread that is studded with cranberries and walnuts.  Eating a slice and sipping a cup of coffee while gazing at the changing colors across the lake is a celebration of all that is good about Fall.  The urgency and cold winds of Winter can wait.


2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a standard loaf pan.  Line bottom and 2 long sides with waxed paper.  Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy.  Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until blended.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Beat in pumpkin, then vanilla.  Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each.  Fold in cranberries and nuts.  Transfer batter to pan.

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Cut around bread at short ends to loosen from pan.  Turn bread out onto rack; peel off waxed paper.  Cool bread completely.

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Cornmeal Molasses Crumb Muffins

April 15th, 2013

I love rummaging through antique stores.  You never know what you will find; what stories will be revealed.  I was not on a quest for a cookbook, but that is what I came away with.  I found a pristine copy of Country Baking by Ken Haedrich.  There was a convenient love seat nearby so I sat for a while and read through the recipes.  The very first one was for these muffins.  I had eaten a very uninspiring breakfast that morning, so the thought of these cornmeal muffins appealed to me in a big way.  Wholesome cornmeal, whole wheat flour and just a touch of sweetness from the molasses sounded like my kind of quick breakfast.  There was more; lots of recipes for quick breads, yeast breads, pies, cakes, crackers and savory dishes like Deep Dish Sausage and Shrimp Pie.  I knew I needed this cookbook.

I found out something else when I got home.  Ken Haedrich is one of the country’s foremost baking authorities.  He has an online website called The Pie Academy.   It is dedicated to the idea that anyone can learn to make great pies from scratch.  I contacted him by email and he has graciously agreed to do a guest post on my blog in the near future.  Country Baking is now out of print.  He wrote it over 20 years ago.  There are still some books available on Amazon.  But Ken told me that he has three copies left in his supply if you are interested.  It has a different cover but the same content.  They would be $17.00 including postage.  You can contact him at ken@thepieacademy.com  to order your copy.  It is still a relevant baking book and according to Ken, one of his favorites from all of his publications.

I know I was glad that I found this book and had the opportunity to learn more about Ken Haedrich and The Pie Academy.  I look forward to having him share some of his knowledge with us on this blog.  I am also happy to share this great recipe with you.  A muffin and cup of coffee have been my breakfast of choice for the last few days.


Muffin Batter:
1 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses

Crumb Topping:
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and butter 12 muffin cups.  To make the muffin batter, stir the unbleached flour, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg lightly, then whisk in the milk, oil, and molasses.  Set aside.

Make the crumb topping by combining the crumb ingredients in a mixing bowl and then rubbing them between your fingers until you have large, damp crumbs.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the liquids, and stir with a few deft strokes, just to blend.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Sprinkle some of the crumb topping on each muffin and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  When the muffins are done, the topping should be browned lightly and the muffins themselves slightly springy to the touch.  Cool the muffins on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes, after which they should lift right out.  Serve them hot, storing leftovers in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 days.  To reheat, wrap in foil and place in a hot oven for 5 minutes.

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Corned Beef Hash the Way I Like It

March 13th, 2013

One of my favorite restaurant breakfasts is corned beef hash.  If it is on the menu, it is on my plate.  I like it with crispy edges and crusty bits.  Up until now, I have never made it at home.  Probably because in order to make corned beef hash you need to have corned beef on hand.  We had company last week and I thought it would be fun to make corned beef and cabbage.  Corned beef is plentiful in the supermarkets this time of year.

Before I used my leftover corned beef for the hash, I did a little research on the internet.  One of the first requirements was to use a cast iron skillet.  It is also recommended to place your chunks for corned beef in a food processor and grind them to small bits.  All recipes included chopped onions, some called for chopped carrots and some for chopped peppers.  I decided to go with chopped red peppers for their color.  The tricky part is adding some kind of binder.  Some used beef broth, some used chicken broth and some used cream.

Then there is husband David’s suggestion…use chitlins.  He is reading The Nero Wolfe  series of books by Rex Stout.  The mysteries were written over a period of forty years starting in 1934.  There was also a short-lived television series a few years back starring Timothy Hutton and Maury Chakin.  You can order the DVDs of the series through Netflix.  We are enjoying them.  Nero Wolfe is a detective who loves his food, his beer and his orchids.  He has a chef named Fritz.  David was reading Cordially Invited to Meet Death  at the gym yesterday, and when he came home and found me making corned beef hash he said, “you are using chitlins aren’t you”?   In the book, Fritz and Wolfe are trying to solve the conundrum of dry corned beef hash.  A young Southern Belle comes to the rescue by telling them that corned beef hash must include chitlins.

“Chitlins!”  Wolfe bellowed.  Maryella nodded.  “Fresh pig chitlins.  That’s the secret of it.  Fried in shallow olive oil with onion juice.  “Good heavens!”  Wolfe was staring at Fritz.  Fritz was frowning thoughtfully.  “It might do”  he conceded . . . .   They loved it.

I used chicken broth.


1 pound cooked corned beef (about 3 cups),  pieces diced small in a food processor
6 medium size cooked red potatoes, cut into small dice (about 3 cups)
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, diced fine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
2 tablespoons canola oil
Parsley for garnish

Place the ground corned beef and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Heat the oil over medium-high temperature in an iron skillet.  Add the corned beef mixture.  Press mixture down with a spatula.  Turn heat to medium to medium low and cook undisturbed for about 5 to 10 minutes.  As the mixture starts to brown and crust up turn it gently.  Press down again with a spatula.  Leave alone to continue crusting for about 10 minutes.  Turn and continue the process two more times.  When browned to your liking.  Remove to plate, garnish with parsley and serve topped with a fried or poached egg.

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Sunday Brunch

March 7th, 2013


The only day of the week that we indulge in a large breakfast is Sunday.  I like to putter in the kitchen with a cup of coffee in hand and the sun streaming through the windows.  Sometimes breakfast will be standards like bacon and eggs or pancakes and sausages.  But more often then not I will be experimenting with a new idea.  I found a brunch menu from an 1989 Gourmet Magazine.  By the way I think Gourmet was at its peak from the late ’80’s through 1996.  Most of the recipes that I truly love came from that time period.  This menu included a Leek and Potato Frittata and a Bacon, Tomato and Basil Salad.

We loved this.  The frittata was full of potatoes, leeks, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese.  The vibrant tomatoes were lightly dressed with oil and vinegar and enhanced with crispy bacon and fresh basil.  The only other thing that would have made this a company worthy brunch would have been sweet scones, muffins or croissants.  David would add some more bacon slices to that list.  I plan to make this again when our friends are here for “Bike Week” this weekend.

Since it was just the two of us this past weekend, I halved the recipe and cooked it in a 10″ skillet.  We still had leftovers and the slices of frittata were a quick breakfast zapped in the microwave earlier in the week.  The leftover tomatoes made a great topping for salads too.  This is a winner all around.


1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes
3 cups thinly sliced white and pale green part of leek, washed well and drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the potatoes in water for 20 to 25 minutes until they are tender.  Drain, cool, peel and cut into thin slices.  In a 12-inch non-stick skillet cook the leek in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is very soft, and add salt and pepper to taste.  In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, the chives, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk the mixture until it is combined well.  Stir in the leek and the potatoes.  In the skillet, cleaned, heat the oil over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking, pour in the egg mixture, distributing the potatoes evenly, and cook the frittata, without stirring, for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the edge is set but the center is still soft.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere over the top.  If the skillet handle is plastic, wrap it in a double thickness of foil.  Broil the frittata under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.  Let the frittata cool in the skillet for 5 minutes, run a thin knife around the edge, and slide the frittata onto a serving plate.  Cut the frittata into wedges and serve it warm or at room temperature.  Serves 6.


5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
6 slices of lean bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, or to taste
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl toss together the tomatoes, the bacon, and the chopped basil until the mixture is combined well.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified.  Pour the dressing over the tomato mixture, toss the salad lightly until it is coated well with the dressing, and garnish it with basil sprigs.  Serves 6.

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