Breakfast this morning was -- no big surprise -- EGGS. I believe, if there's a fried or poached egg on top of something, that something is only made better! These eggs are baked upon creamy kale from my garden and cubes of sweetened cornbread that crisp up a bit when in the oven. I was told that the only thing that could make this meal any better is a glass of crisp, white wine... I think that would now make this lunch!
• Olive oil, for skillet
• 1/4 cup finely diced onion
• 4 cups chopped kale, center stem removed
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) cornbread (recipe HERE)
• 4 organic eggs
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
PREHEAT OVEN to 375˚F
1. Warm a hefty drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add kale to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Remove skillet from heat and stir the heavy cream into the kale mixture. Add about 5 to 6 drops (more or less depending on the amount of heat you want) of Tabasco. Fold in the cubed cornbread.
3. Transfer mixture to two greased 6-inch baking dishes or one larger baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, press wells into the kale mixture and fill with the cracked eggs.
4. Place baking dishes on a sheet pan and transfer to middle rack of oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the eggs are just set and yolks still runny. Sprinkle eggs with a little salt and a grinding of pepper. Serve immediately.
TAKE a LOOK:
My weekend revolved around tomatoes. My goal was to use as many tomatoes as I could in all that I was baking. Our temperatures during the night flirted with the upper 40's and as the daylight hours dwindle away, I have come to terms with another summer's end. And did I say, we ate a huge amount of tomatoes? I copied this recipe for Tomato Cobbler with Gruyére Crust from a Martha Stewart Living magaziine in 2002. I was never, however, satisfied with the results. I really liked the idea of sweet cherry tomatoes paired with a flaky, cheesy crust...
but the recipe combined the tomatoes with too much flour -- over 1/4 cup. What was Martha thinking? It was pasty and cloudy. I substituted arrowroot which results in a clear, flavorless thickener, allowing the tomatoes and basil to shine.
Try and let the cobbler cool somewhat before eating to allow the juices to stabelize.
Mixed Tomato Cobbler with Gruyére Crust
adapted from Martha Stewart Living|2002
• 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
• 2 teaspoons salt, divided
• 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
• 3/4 cup Gruyére cheese, divided
• 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely diced
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 pounds assorted cherry tomatoes
• 5 teaspoons arrowroot
• 1/2 cup chopped basil
• Pinch of pepper
• 1 large egg
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 cup Gruyére cheese. Add the butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. With the machine running, add about 1/4 cup ice water, little by little through the feed tube. Pulse. Do not allow dough to become wet.
3. Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and softened, stirring frequently. Let cool.
5. Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with the arrowroot and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, basil and pepper. Add the cooled onion mixture to the tomatoes and toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie dish or gratin dish.
6. Heat the oven to 375˚F. Roll the dough 1-inch larger that the baking dish. Place the dough on top of the tomatoes, tucking in edges to seal. Make several small slits in the crust and crimp the edges. In a small bowl, mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the egg glaze over the crust and sprinkle crust with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool before serving.
I had been looking forward to July 25th for days. It was the day the bikers riding in La Tour de France would be ascending Mont Ventoux.
We watch the Tour de France almost religiously each summer. I think I like cycling, but honestly, the reason I'm glued to the television screen during La Tour is because of the scenery. I'm a sucker for the cobblestones and tiled roofs of France. When the cyclists are on secluded stretches of road, I'll find little jobs to do around the house. But as soon as my husband yells, "Hey, look at this!", I run back to the t.v. and images of another village I now want to visit.
Seeing the 20th leg of La Tour was especially important to me because we always stay near Mont Ventoux in the Vaucluse region when visiting Provence. Last summer we based ourselves in Carpentras and wherever we ventured during the day, Mont Ventoux was most likely in our sight.
My husband, who has become more interested in cycling over the years and participates in Ragbrai (the bike race across Iowa) with our youngest daughter, has never joined me on my visits to Provence. But he seemed intrigued, seeing the shots of lavender fields and vineyards during La Tour yesterday. I'm hoping he'll consider a trip with me. He could ride his bike from village to village and I could meet up with him for lunch, taking a break from the markets and brocantes -- my favorite pasttimes in Provence.
Since we would be getting up at 6 a.m. (on a Saturday!) to watch the ascent of Mont Ventoux, I decided to assemble a strata the night before, to have as breakfast Saturday morning. The great thing about a strata is that you can work with what you've got. I had 2 cooked hot Italian sausages in my freezer along with a baguette. I sliced the baguette and covered the bottom of a buttered gratin with half. Over that I layered the sliced sausages and mushrooms from a jar in my pantry. I sprinkled about a cup of shredded Gruyére over the top, along with leaves of fresh basil from my garden. I covered this with another layer of baguette slices and more shredded cheese. I whisked together 4 large eggs and about a cup of half & half, seasoned with salt and pepper, and poured this evenly over the bread. (Feel free to add more cream or milk if the strata seems too dry). Covered with plastic wrap, the strata was placed in the refrigerator until the next morning when I popped it into a preheated 350˚F oven for 30 minutes. I wish the red peppers in my refrigerator had been roasted when I assembled this late Friday night. They would have been a great addition.
My very good friend, Renate, came for a visit this past week. We are childhood friends from my hometown of Amana, Iowa.
I had a small luncheon on the patio one afternoon during Renate's stay, which included other local friends of mine. I made Salade Nicoise for the main dish, and a Raspberry Clafoutis Tart for dessert. The Goat Cheese Gratin, pictured above, was an appetizer along with glasses of French Rosé.
Goat Cheese Gratin
adapted from a recipe by Patricia Wells in
Patricia Wells at Home in Provence
• 6 to 7 ounces soft goat cheese, broken up with a fork
• 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
• a sprinkling of fresh or dried thyme leaves
• 1/2 cup homemade Tomato Sauce, room temperature
• a scattering of black olives
• several leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Scatter the goat cheese on the bottom of an 8-inch gratin or baking dish. Sprinkle with the rosemary and thyme. Spoon the tomato sauce over the cheese and herbs. Scatter the olives on top.
3. Place the gratin under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted. Scatter the fresh basil on top. Serve with crackers or slices of baguette.
This is what I got to wake up to every morning at the home of our friends in Germany.
I was perfectly happy and content in that space.
One evening, while sitting in the conservatory, we were treated to Maria playing her saxophone. Another evening, Maria and her flute instructor of many years serenaded us with Brahms and Handel duets.
When sitting outdoors I was surrounded by roses. Maria and Dieter have over 150 rose bushes in their yard!
This is what I passed, stepping out of my bedroom every morning.
Maria served DELICIOUS meals and Dieter baked desserts daily. One thing my daughter immediately asked for on our return was Maria's potato gratin. I'm posting Patricia Wells' recipe for Gratin Dauphinois. Maria, I believe, only used about a cup of heavy cream and none of the whole milk used in this recipe. Also, what made Maria's potatoes so wonderful was the generous addition of French olive oil. She poured some oil onto the bottom of the dish, layered potatoes, poured on the heavy cream and then more olive oil, finishing with a good sprinkling of Swiss Emmanthal cheese. What kept me taking spoonful after spoonful of Maria's potatoes was the incredible taste of the olive oil. Maria said she used her everyday oil instead of the "good stuff" that she saves for vinaigrettes. Well, Maria's everyday French olive oil is what I would compare to the best olive oil in my kitchen. If you decide to make the potato gratin as Maria did and use oil in this recipe (and eliminate the milk), try to use the most flavorful oil you have.
CURRIED CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI GRATIN
I make gratins frequently for dinner. I love the brown crustiness that develops on top from the bread crumbs, cheese or butter, and occasionally nuts, that are combined and sprinkled over the filling before baking. This cauliflower-broccoli gratin is a great accompaniment to a roasted chicken or grilled steak, but I am also completely satisfied eating this gratin as the main dish along with sauteed apples and a loaf of bread.
Cauliflower & Broccoli Gratin