weeknight gourmet

Category : Brunch

Zucchini Tart With Crumbled Sausage and Dijon

IMG_0023I posted a photo of this recipe on Facebook about a month ago.  It was the second time I made it and it is SO tasty.  I’ve made it with sweet and hot sausage.  Both work well.  I also added some grilled corn (as seen in photo).  The mustard – sausage combo is tasty and I think could work with a number of different veggies.

In general puff pastry is a great starting point for easy savory tarts.  Here are a few of my favorites:

These tarts are a great brunch, lunch, or dinner!  Super delicious with a simple green salad.

Zucchini Tart With Crumbled Sausage and Dijon
Real Simple

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 small zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • green salad, for serving

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked partway through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon; reserve the skillet.

Add the zucchini, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

Unfold the pastry on a baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, leaving a ½-inch border around the dough. Spread the mustard on the pastry (avoiding the border); top with the zucchini and sausage. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cut the tart into 8 pieces. Serve with salad.

Kitchen Cabinet Coffee Cake

I decided we deserved a nice breakfast treat on this snowy weekend.  Coffee cake came to mind, but all the recipes I looked at would have required me to go to the store to pick up an ingredient or two.  I really didn’t want to get out my pajamas quite yet so I pulled together this recipe based on a quick perusal of 10 or so different coffee cake recipes and the ingredients I had on hand.

Many of the recipes I looked at called for blueberries.  We didn’t have any fresh or frozen blueberries in the house but did have some very nice blueberry jam.  I decided I would swirl the jam through the batter for a nice marbled effect and blueberry taste.

I also didn’t have whole milk but learned a good substitute.  Pour 1.5 tablespoons of heavy cream into a 1 cup measuring cup and fill the remainder with skim milk.

The cake was amazing!  Great light texture, with nice blueberry taste from the jam, and a delicious crumb topping.  This will be a great go-to recipe when we entertain in the Berkshires.

Tim jokingly asked who the other 11 people coming over for breakfast were, but I have a feeling the cake won’t last long!

Kitchen Cabinet Coffee Cake

•    2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
•    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
•    1/2 cup walnuts chopped
•    1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
•    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    1 cup sugar
•    2 large eggs
•    1 cup whole milk
•    1/2 cup blueberry jam (at room temperature)

Combine 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter (cut into pieces), walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Mix until moist and crumbly. Set topping aside.

Preheat oven to 357°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Sift remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt into small bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Mix dry ingredients into batter alternately with milk in 3 additions each.

Transfer cake batter to prepared baking pan. Swirl the blueberry jam into the batter using a knife.  Sprinkle topping evenly over batter.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool cake slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday Morning Breakfast: French Toast

Since it is our last morning in Becket after a wonderful week, I decided to make a special breakfast.  Pregnancy has definitely brought out my sweet tooth so I thought french toast would be a delicious way to start our Sunday!

I had a loaf of cinnamon bread so for some extra flavor I decided to use that instead of boring old white bread.

I used the Barefoot Contessa’s Challah French Toast recipe as a guide.  I think the honey and orange zest add a wonderful something extra to this french toast recipe.  I served the french toast with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and delicious local maple syrup and a few slices of bacon.

Lately I have been baking bacon because it is a much less messy preparation.  I just place the bacon on a baking sheet lined with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on how you like your bacon).

Overall the breakfast was a delicious start to our snowy Sunday and should provide the sustenance we need to drive back to NYC.

French Toast
10 to 12 slices

  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Dip the cinnamon bread mixture in the egg mixture as possible for 2 minutes, turning once.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the soaked bread and cook for 3 minutes on each side.  Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven.

Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding more butter and oil as needed.

Serve hot with maple syrup and dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Brunch for 4: Herbed-Baked Eggs

I made this delicious egg dish today for brunch. Baked eggs allow for such an elegant presentation and appear far more complicated than they actually are. It really isn’t much more than throwing some eggs and other ingredients in gratin dishes. This recipe was flavored with some fresh herbs, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

The one tricky thing about baked eggs is the timing — I need to work on it. I initially didn’t cook the eggs long enough and then I may have over cooked one or two of the dishes — the yolks weren’t as runny as I would like.

We served the baked eggs with some freshly sliced slab bacon from Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers in Great Barrington. What a delicious start to a rainy Sunday!

Herbed-Baked Eggs
Barefoot Contessa

* 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
* 6 extra-large eggs
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won’t be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It’s very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren’t cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

Five Year Anniversary Breakfast: Baked Eggs with Artichokes and Parmesan

Friday was Tim and my five year wedding anniversary!  It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since that beautiful day in Lenox, MA.

Tim and I celebrated with an amazing dinner at Bouley.  I have been lucky enough to dine at Bouley a few times.  I think it only gets better — or at the very least I am able to appreciate it more and more.  We’re also headed to Spain — the Basque region — later in the month for a little vacation, second honeymoon, and delicious food and wine.

Since food and cooking have been such a part of our relationship, I couldn’t let the anniversary pass without cooking something for Tim.  I figured a nice breakfast would start the day off well!  But Friday was a workday so I needed to make something simple and relatively quick.

I opted for baked eggs.  My friend Patty gave me several oval au gratin dishes that she didn’t need and I’ve been eager to use them.  Plus who doesn’t love eggs baked with cheese and veggies!

I loosely followed the recipe below.  I used two eggs per dish.  I also used a dried Italian seasoning blend because I was out of fresh herbs.  I was generous with the parmesan and also added a little fontina as well.  In addition to the artichoke hearts, I added some halved cherry tomatoes to the dish as well.

As the eggs baked, I cooked some bacon in the oven — a much cleaner method than frying.  Both the eggs and bacon cooked at 400 degrees.

Tim loved the eggs and it was a wonderful start to our special day!


Baked Eggs with Artichokes & Parmesan
Bon Appetit

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 8 canned artichoke heart quarters, drained well, patted dry
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Rub butter onto bottom and sides of two 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups, dividing equally. Sprinkle with herbs, dividing equally. Place 4 artichoke pieces in each dish. Crack 1 egg into each dish, being careful not to break yolk. Sprinkle eggs with salt, pepper, and cheese. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until eggs are softly set and cheese is golden, about 9 minutes. Serve immediately.

Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina

Looking for a Sunday brunch recipe?  Here is a delicious and easy frittata!  I made this last Sunday for Tim’s family and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

I doubled the eggs and whipping cream — I had made the recipe once before and it really only serves 4 as written.

I sauteed a diced shallot before adding the asparagus.  And, I also added some grated parmesan before putting the frittata under the broiler.

Serve the frittata with a side salad or some toast for a delicious breakfast!

Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina
Giada De Laurentiis

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces Fontina, diced

Preheat the broiler.

Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and saute 2 minutes longer.

Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes.

Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate.

Brunch Dish: Zucchini Frittata

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had guests in the Berkshires this weekend.  I had planned out the meals for the weekend pretty well, but hadn’t given much thought to Sunday breakfast.  I had eggs and bacon so that was a good starting point.  I took a look in the crisper and I still had a zucchini left so I decided to search the Food Network website for “zucchini frittata” and found the following recipe.

The frittata came together quickly and had nice flavor from the garlic, basil, and cheese.

A couple of notes: I just whisked together the eggs and milk not wanting to get my blender out.  Also, I found that I had to cook the eggs a touch longer than the recipe called for a yummy breakfast.

If you don’t have zucchini just substitute whatever veggie you have on hand!

Zucchini Frittata
Michael Chiarello

  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • Olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 bunch basil
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the broiler.

Start by crushing some garlic and heating it in some olive oil in a medium nonstick saute pan on the stove. While that is heating up, very thinly slice the zucchini on a mandoline. When the oil and garlic are heated, tear some basil into the pan and add all the sliced zucchini. Cook until the zucchini is tender, but not cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Blend eggs in a blender with a little bit of milk and some salt and pepper. Blend on the highest speed.

Pour the egg mixture into saute pan and let it sit for 1 minute. When there isn’t much loose egg left in the pan, grate some Parmesan on top and place pan in the broiler for 1 minute.

Take pan out of broiler, let it cool and set in pan for 5 minutes. When cool invert a plate on top of pan and turn over. Slice and serve.

The Weeknight Gourmet's 100th Post!

I started this cooking blog one night in late January and really wasn’t sure how it would be received or if I’d enjoy writing it.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception from my readers and how much I enjoy communicating my culinary adventures.  I love when one of my posts inspires someone to cook a homemade meal.  I love noticing certain trends in what I cook and what ingredients I use.  I always knew I used a lot of garlic but never realized how many of my recipes rely on cumin!  I love checking my blog stats to see which recipes draw the most interest.  Based on my page views, people love curry and turkey burgers.

Most of all, I hope that, in some small way, the recipes I post can help create for others the special moments and conversations I experienced around the dinner table as a child with my mom, dad, and brother and as an adult with Tim, our friends, and extended family.

Here are my top 10 favorite posts (in no particular order). Would love to hear from you — please tell me your favorite recipes that you’ve cooked from the blog!

1) Summer Kickoff BBQ…RIBS

2) The Super Bowl Cake

3) Birthday Dinner for Angus

4) Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole Salad

5) A Must Make Dish: Mahi Mahi in Tomato Olive Sauce

6) My Gastronomical Discoveries in Northern CA

7) First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

8) Dinner for Kaylin’s Parents: Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

9) Tribute to Domino

10) Spice Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Cream

Mother's Day Brunch: Tomato, Olive & Rosemary Crustless Quiche, Asparagus Gruyere Tart, and a Green Salad

Tim and I hosted an “Early Mother’s Day / See our New Apartment” brunch on Saturday for Tim’s parents, brother, our sister-in-law, and our beautiful little niece Kaylin.  I made two wonderful brunch dishes – a tomato, olive, and rosemary crustless quiche and an asparagus gruyere tart.  Both are really beautiful dishes and are perfect for a buffet table (sadly I was so busy cooking that I forgot to take photos of the food)!  I served the quiche and tart with a simple green salad.  We had some fruit and almond-blueberry cookies for dessert (will post on the cookies separately).

I loved the crustless quiche – you really didn’t miss the traditional crust!  I didn’t alter the recipe in any way and it turned out wonderfully.  Tomato and olive is such a great combo with the fontina and Emmentaler cheeses.  This is a great dish for a brunch party or a shower.

Since I left out the pastry on the quiche, I decided to make an asparagus tart that I have made a few times before.  It is such a pretty dish and looks far more difficult than it is to make.  All you need is puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge), shredded gruyere, asparagus, and olive oil.  The only trick is to make sure you score the pastry so that you create a border and prick the inside of the border with a fork so the area on which you place the asparagus doesn’t puff too much.

We had a great time and it was wonderful having our first get together at our new place!

Tomato, Olive and Rosemary Crustless Quiche
Food Network Kitchens

  • 4 cups grape tomatoes, mixed red and yellow if possible, rinsed and patted dry
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives, such as kalamata, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups (1-inch, day-old) bread cubes, preferably sourdough
  • 1 cup chopped white onion, about 1 medium
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces grated Emmentaler cheese, about 3/4 cup
  • 3 ounces grated fontina cheese, about 3/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the tomatoes out in a single layer on a shallow baking pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast on the top rack for 15 minutes. Add the olives, and continue to roast until the tomato skins are dark brown, black in spots, about 10 minutes more. Remove from oven, and reduce heat to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, pulse bread into crumbs in a food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add bread crumbs and stir until evenly toasted, about 5 minutes. Evenly spread crumbs in a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onions, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, over medium-high heat until translucent and starting to brown; add lemon zest and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk half-and-half, eggs and yolks in large glass measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Evenly spread the onions in the prepared pan. Combine the cheeses and scatter over the onions. Top with the roasted tomatoes and olives, and sprinkle with rosemary. Pour the custard over the fillings.

Bake until the quiche is just set in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.


Asparagus & Gruyere Tart
Everyday Food

  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Magic Mushrooms: Jess's Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche

I saw an amazing mushroom quiche recipe by Thomas Keller in Food & Wine but it was way more quiche than we’d needed for three people and I wasn’t in the mood to make my own pastry.

I ended up making a variation combining elements of the Keller recipe and the Mediterranean Quiche recipe I had previously posted.

Below is the recipe I concocted.  I served it with a simple green salad.  Everyone thought it was delicious!

One note to ease your cleanup, place the quiche on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Inevitably, some of the filling spills and it’s hard to clean up as the egg mixture bakes.

Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Store bought pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushroom, cook, stirring, until liquid is rendered.  Add shallots and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil, and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and half-and-half together. Add the salt, pepper, grated Gruyere, and crushed red pepper.

Spoon the vegetable mixture into the prepared piecrust, pour in the egg mixture.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche on Foodista