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.

Printable Recipe

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.

Printable recipe

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.

Printable recipes

Breakfast is Ready

December 3rd, 2012


December and the holidays are upon us.  We need all the help we can get this month.  My thoughts are on baking cookies, buying presents, entertaining and trying to cram it all into a three to four week period.  I actually relish the festive atmosphere of the month.  Our family will be visiting us in Florida for the holidays for the first time and we have our long standing New Year’s celebration with dear friends to look forward to.  What could be better?  But it does require a little planning.

Let’s consider breakfast for company.  We all have that breakfast casserole that can be assembled and placed in the refrigerator overnight.  Just put it in the oven in the morning and breakfast is on the table within an hour.  Most of those casseroles are based on bread, whether it is sour dough, challah, croissants or French.  I love all of them.  But I was looking for something a little less dense.  I should say lighter.  Since the inspiration for this recipe came from Cooking Light that would be the case.



In place of the bread this recipe has baby spinach, mushrooms, center cut bacon, fresh basil, and just the right amount of hash brown potatoes.  The eggy goodness and Swiss cheese is the same, so it is a casserole that everyone would enjoy.  Everything but the eggs and milk  can be assembled the night before, so in the morning it is almost as easy to get in the oven as the traditional breakfast casserole.



I had fun with my small star cutter.  I opened a jar of roasted red peppers and cut stars out of the peppers and placed them on the top of the casserole before I put it in the oven.  I can see getting even more creative with this for Christmas.  This recipe is open to creativity.  You can replace the bacon with sausage or add any seasoning or ingredients that appeal to you.  Holiday goodness made easy.



8 center-cut bacon slices
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
8 ounces sliced shiitake mushroom caps
3 clove garlic, minced
2 cups shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
1/4 cup Chicken stock
5 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
Cooking Spray
1/2 cup low-fat milk
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan;  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to drippings in pan; saute for 6 minutes.  Add potatoes and stock; cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add spinach, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes.  Stir in crumbled bacon and cheese.  Place mushroom mixture in an 11 x 7- inch broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Uncover dish.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, milk, and eggs in a medium bowl.  Pour egg mixture over mushroom mixture. Add any cut out decorations from a jar of roasted red peppers to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 28 minutes.

Preheat broiler to high; remove dish while broiler preheats.  Broil 3 minutes or until top is browned and just set.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Note:   I did not have to broil the casserole because it browned nicely; though it took a little longer in the oven to set the center.

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Fresh Tomato, Herbs and Egg Frittata

August 1st, 2011

There is nothing easier or more forgiving than a frittata.  You can add most anything to it.  It feeds a lot of people and goes together quickly.  This time of year I have been getting tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market, eggs from a farm and herbs from my own herb garden.  Sunday morning is our time to indulge in a big breakfast.  The two of us cannot eat a whole frittata but that doesn’t stop me from making one with eight eggs in a 10″ pan.  We just cut it into wedges and save what is not eaten for another day.  A frittata wedge reheats quickly in the microwave.

I am not bothering to give you a specific recipe because it is so easy.  For this particular frittata I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in my skillet.  Added chopped onion to cook for a few minutes, added chopped basil and chives, chopped tomatoes and stirred.  Then I added 8 beaten eggs.  It is a good idea to pull your spatula from the edges to the center to move the liquid eggs from the edges.  When the frittata begins to set, put it in a 350 degree oven until the eggs are set.

This is the kind of recipes that Mark Bittman offers in his new cookbook Kitchen Express.  I love this book because he offers simple combinations of ingredients using seasonal food just to give you ideas on what you can do.  All the recipes can be made in 20 minutes or less.

Here is one of his frittata recipes.


Beat four eggs; add a handful of freshly grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper.  Cut about a quarter pound of pancetta into small pieces and fry in a tablespoon of olive oil; add a couple of chopped shallots and continue cooking until the pancetta begins to brown and the shallots have softened.  Add a bunch of chopped spinach and cook until wilted and beginning to dry.  Pour in the egg mixture and cook slowly until the eggs just set.  Run under the broiler to brown for a minute if necessary if the top remains runny; serve hot, warm or at room temperature. 

There are creative recipes for everything from soup to sandwiches.  I find the book inspiring.

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