About this time of year, anyone with a back yard garden is looking for creative ideas to use up the abundance of zucchini, fresh tomatoes and herbs. Here’s a wonderful Saturday morning recipe for breakfast casserole, loaded with color straight from the back yard and a perfect recipe for a brunch. This makes for 12 servings, so cut it down as needed for a smaller family.
1 12oz package of bacon, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
6 eggs lightly beaten
4 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes, thawed
2 fresh zucchini, grated
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
In a saute pan, cook the bacon and onion until the onion is tender and the bacon has browned.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the hashbrown potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes and toss well. Add the bacon and onions along with the pan drippings to the potato-vegetable mixture, then mix in the cheeses, Tabasco, beaten eggs and the fresh basil.
Spoon mixture into a 9″x13″ glass baking dish sprayed lightly with PAM. At this point I usually salt and pepper the top of the casserole as well.
Bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes, until casserole has “set” and is just beginning to brown.
Serves 12 but can easily be cut down to 6 or 4 by equally dividing the ingredients.
With the abundance of delicious tomatoes coming to market these days, I decided to dust off an old recipe from my “Secrets of the Chefs” days when I worked for Bruno’s Supermarkets as an in-store personal chef for customers. This was one of the recipes I created that was featured in weekly store promotions and one of the dishes I prepared on Good Day Alabama. It was my take of the traditional Pissaladiere pastry. It’s really quite simple to make and it can be tweaked to your specifications. Although not in this recipe, I will usually brown and crumble some really good Italian sausage on top of the tart if I’m in the mood for meat, but the recipe is wonderful as written. It really showcases the flavors of fresh summer Alabama tomatoes!
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed enough to work with
3 pounds red/purple onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jar Kalamata pitted olives, sliced lengthwise
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced (or 2 pints grape tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise if making when fresh garden tomatoes aren’t in season)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Sprigs of fresh Thyme
Start by cooking the onions over low heat in the olive oil in a large skillet, until soft (this takes about 30-40 minutes). Be careful to not brown the onions. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan and continue cooking until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large cookie sheet (with sides) with parchment paper.
Working on a lightly floured surface, form the puff pastry sheet into a rectangle the size of your cookie sheet. Work a little of the dough up the sides of the pan to create an edge once it bakes. Dock the dough (pierce the surface all over with a fork if you don’t have a rolling docker).
Put the onion, tomato mixture in the sheet of pastry, smoothing it out to cover the entire surface (but not the sides of course). Sprinkle top with cheese (and cooked meats if so desired). Finish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and cook for 20 minutes more. Tart will puff up as the pastry cooks and will turn golden brown.
Enjoy the tart either warm out of the oven, or at room temperature if you prefer. You can also cut the tart into multiple bite-size pieces and use as an hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.
This morning I decided to make a dish I would make from time to time at The News for my customers. This is a really simply, but delicious (and rich/fattening) dish that is obviously great at breakfast but works well for a brunch also. You basically put the casserole together, stick it in the frig overnight and then slide into the oven when you wake up. This morning, we had our toast with some fresh strawberries and cafe au lait. Give it a shot! Kids love it, adults love it.. you can’t go wrong.
10 slices of 1″ thick French bread
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
3/4 cup chopped pecans
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half & half (or milk)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a 13×9 glass baking dish, start with melted butter, then add the dark brown sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom of the dish. Top the sugar with the pecans and drizzle the pecans with the maple syrup. Next, arrange the bread slices on top of the pecans.
In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs, half & half, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Blend well, then pour over the bread slices. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To cook and serve, remove the casserole from the frig and let it warm up while the oven is preheating to 350F. Uncover and bake the casserole for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with a spatula, by flipping the slices onto your plate, so all the praline mix at the bottom ends up on top of your toast. Garnish with fresh fruit. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.