Sunday, May 27, 2012

Comfort Orzo

by Guest Edith Maxell/Tace Baker
Thanks for inviting me into the kitchen!

I'm thrilled that my debut mystery, Speaking of Murder, will be published by Barking Rain Press in September of this year.  The book is being published under my alter-ego's name, Tace Baker.

In it, the murder of a talented student at a small New England college thrusts linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau into the search for the killer. Lauren is a determined Quaker with an ear for accents. Her investigation exposes small town intrigues, academic blackmail and a clandestine drug cartel that now has its sights set on her.

Convinced that that the key to the crime lies hidden in her dead student's thesis, Lauren races to solve the mystery while an escalating trail of misfortune circles ever closer. Her department chair behaves suspiciously. A century-old local boat shop is torched. Lauren's best friend goes missing and the unsettled relationship with her boyfriend threatens to implode just when she needs him the most.

Lauren doesn't cook, but her sister Jackie does, as well as her boyfriend, Zac Agnant. The following is the end of a scene.

I closed and locked the door behind me. My legs tingled with fatigue and the aftermath of fear. Wulu ran to his dish, back to me, back to the dish, and looked up with expectation on his face.

"Just a minute, Wu. Just give me a minute." I leaned against the door. I sank to the floor, knees up in front of me, groaning when my bruised and swollen knee bent too far for comfort. Wulu ran back, gave a little bark, and then licked my hand. My world was exploding. My head was, too, and I sank it into my hands.

The phone rang. I wanted to reach for it. My ebbing adrenaline fought with being too exhausted to move. I needed to call Natalia, report the incident on the house boat, have her see if Thomas was all right. Coming up with the energy to do that seemed beyond me, though. I closed my eyes for just a second. Just a minute to let the throbbing in my knee ease up.

After Lauren wakes up injured and cold in the dark, she listens to the voicemail and finds Jackie offering to bring dinner over. When Lauren asks what's on the menu, Jackie responds, "Comfort food. Orzo with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and spicy chicken sausage."

I thought I'd share that recipe with you here. Does this sound like comfort food to you? And what about a mystery that includes linguistics, Haitian cooking, video editing, a heroin-smuggling ring, and small-town life?

Speaking of Murder Comfort Orzo

1/2 box orzo
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 c soaked and drained sun-dried (or dehydrated) tomatoes
1/2 c fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful fresh basil, sliced
4 spicy chicken sausages, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1.      Boil pot of water.

2.      Add orzo and a pinch of salt.

3.      Stir until boiling, then turn heat down but keep boiling, until al dente.

4.      Add 1 T olive oil and garlic to large skillet over medium-low heat and saute until tender.

5.      Add sliced sausages to skillet and brown on both sides.

    6.      Drain orzo, toss with olive oil, and add to other ingredients in skillet.

    7.      Add olives, both kinds of tomatoes, and basil.

8.      Salt and pepper to taste.

9.      Warm together and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese., red wine, a green salad, and a dose of mystery.

Speaking of Murder, a mystery featuring Quaker Linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, will be published under Edith Maxwell’s pen name of Tace Baker in September, 2012, by Barking Rain Press. You can find Tace at,, and @tacebaker.

Edith Maxwell also writes the Local Foods Mystery series, featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty and the Locavore Club. A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die will be published by Kensington in the spring of 2013. She has also had short stories in two Level Best anthologies and elsewhere. Edith blogs at, posts at, and is at @edithmaxwell.


  1. Welcome Edith and Tace! The dinner sounds delish and we can't wait for all the books to come...

  2. This sounds delicious ... as does your mystery! Can't wait to read it (though I'll be eating this orzo even sooner!).

  3. What a colorful dinner for summertime eating. Thank you for sharing it with us, Edith, and warm congratulations on the publication of Speaking of Murder. It sounds like a wonderful read, especially given your area of expertise. Have a good Sunday and enjoy the long weekend!

  4. Edith/Tace, (boy, do I know about double names)

    Lovely recipe, full of color and fun! Congrats on Speaking of Murder. Your protag sounds like a very adventuresome linguistics professor!

    ~Avery aka Daryl

  5. This is definitely going on our menu! I'm always looking for quick, easy and delicious!

  6. Congratulations on your books, Edith! This is very exciting news.

    Your orzo has so many wonderful flavors in it. Yum, the thought of kalamata olives, garlic, and orzo is making me hungry! Thanks for visiting us today.

    ~ Krista

  7. Thanks, everybody! I was busy today visting my sons in the DC area, shopping at the farmers' market, where produce is so much further along in the season than in Massachusetts, and then cooking for a party with three twenty-somethings.

    I hope you'll enjoy the book this fall. Look forward to a few more of Jackie's recipes and some Haitian delicacies from Lauren's beau, too.