Showing posts with label basil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basil. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

I Say Bru-shetta, You Say Bru-sketta!




A very warm welcome to our friend Victoria Hamilton. MUCH ADO ABOUT MUFFIN, the fourth book in her Merry Muffin Mystery series will be in bookstores tomorrow!

Don't miss her fun giveaway! To enter, see the instructions below.

Here's Victoria!


I love growing herbs. I have, in the garden: variegated sage and regular sage, thyme, lemon thyme, lemon balm, summer savory, French tarragon, oregano and others. Lately I have moved to growing annual herbs in a pot. I have marjoram, rosemary (a tender perennial that doesn’t fare well this far north) and three types of basil: Sweet, Lemon and Thai in order from left to right in the picture.

However… recently I kinda lost sight of the rosemary in the center of the pot because the basil took over. I’ve never made pesto (tho’ I may try this year) so… what to do with all that luscious basil? Bruschetta is something many enjoy only in the restaurant as an appetizer, but I often make it, topped with cheese, for lunch, or a meal side dish.

Now, as to the title… well, I started seeing it long ago on menus and so pronounced it my own way, as bru-shetta, only to learn it should be pronounced bru-sketta. But it’s hard to break old habits, right? Ask me, the gal who still pronounces ‘mandarin’ with the emphasis on the middle syllable, man-DAR-in, because that’s how I thought it sounded.

Enjoy my bruschetta, delicious any way you say it!


Ingredients

Two or three tomatoes

Generous handful of fresh basil, whatever kind you have.

¼ cup finely diced sweet onion

2 – 3 garlic cloves

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

Garlic butter

2 – 3 panini rolls (or whatever kind of roll or bun you like)

1 cup grated cheese – I used extra old cheddar, but use whatever you like!

*Some people use balsamic vinegar; I’m not a fan, but go ahead if you like it, a tablespoon or so!

Freshly grated sea salt and pepper.



Directions

Do this part a few hours before you plan to make the bruschetta:

1 – Chop tomato to a medium dice, discarding seeds and excess liquid. Throw in a bowl, and add: chopped or chiffonade of basil, finely chopped onion, chopped or grated garlic.

2 – Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar (if you’re using it) the fresh ground sea salt and black pepper to taste – not too much - and mix it all up.

3 – Set aside in a jar or covered bowl so the flavors marry. You can hold a ceremony if you like, but don’t expect the garlic to obey. It’s more strong-willed than that.

Just before meal:

4 – Split your rolls. (Don’t get confused and roll your splits). You can spread a good commercial garlic butter on the split rolls, or just brush olive oil and rub a garlic clove over it.

5 – Broil for a couple of minutes until the top is crusty.

6 – Take buns out of oven (you should never leave a bun in the oven too long!) and pile the bruschetta mix on – I use a slotted spoon so I don’t soak the buns with too much of the liquid – top with grated cheese, and broil again until bubbly and melted, or even until the cheese is browned a little on top.


This is a really versatile dish, as you can tell by my ingredients list, and easy to stretch. It can be an appetizer, but I call it lunch!


~::~  


Ready to go.

Lovely mix jar.

Cheeky garlic!

3 kinds of basil.

Basil.

Bruschetta chop.

Bruschetta done.

Bruschetta YUM!

About Much Ado About Muffin

In this fresh mystery from the national bestselling author of Death of an English Muffin, baker Merry Wynter comes to the aid of an innocent woman accused of murder.

When muffin baker Merry Wynter sees an innocent woman accused of murder, it’s dough or die...

Opera singer Roma Toscano may have a crippling case of stage fright, but she certainly is stirring up drama in Autumn Vale, New York, as she prepares for an upcoming performance at Merry’s Wynter Castle. With her flamboyant style and flirtatious personality, Roma attracts fans as well as critics, including the town’s postmistress—and Merry’s bitter foe—Minnie Urquhart.

But Roma and Minnie’s heated rivalry goes cold after Merry discovers Minnie dead at the post office. While every clue seems to be another ingredient in the investigation of Roma, Merry thinks the case is half-baked, and she’s eager to get her mitts on the real killer...

~::~

Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of three bestselling series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries as Victoria, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper. She is also the bestselling author of Regency and historical romance as Donna Lea Simpson.

Victoria loves to cook and collects vintage kitchen paraphernalia, teacups and teapots, and almost anything that catches her fancy! She loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything… except writing!

Merry Muffin Mysteries Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MerrysMuffinsMysterySeries

 

Giveaway:

I’ll be giving away a pretty white and silver china teacup and saucer, and a very cool skull spoon, as well as a copy of Much Ado About Muffin and bookmark!

Open to US and Canadian addresses; include in your entry comment your email address and a name, please! Entries accepted until midnight, August 7th!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lemon Basil Maple Syrup dressing recipe



 From Daryl aka Avery


From a fan online, I discovered a cookbook dedicated to maple syrup: the MapleSyrup Cookbook.  I love maple syrup. There’s something so satisfying about the flavor. It reminds me of special mornings as a kid, usually on weekends, having pancakes or French toast. Now, I’ve never tapped a tree. I don’t have any maples around to do so. However, thanks to an MLK follower, Libby Dodd, I learned “how to tap a tree” after I googled “how to tap a tree.” A duh moment for me, right? Thanks, Libby! I found this site called TapMyTrees. The site is dedicated to helping people learn environmentally sustainable ways to make syrup. Enjoy exploring the site.

Though there are no pictures in this cookbook (boo-hoo; I’m one of those cookbook purchasers who
really, really likes photographs), the recipes are fabulous. The lemon-basil salad dressing caught my eye right away. It’s simple, easy and as Haedrich, the author of the cookbook, wrote: “Somebody could bottle this and make a fortune, that’s how good it is.” 

So true!!!  Hmmm. New career in store for me? Probably not.

In addition to maple syrup, I love spinach. Spinach is so fortified. It’s got a thicker-than-lettuce texture that really appeals to me. However, often I find dressings for spinach salads are too thin or too salty.

But I tossed the maple syrup-enriched dressing on a spinach salad for my stepson and his wife this weekend. Over dinner, she was delighted that I had found a dressing that stuck to spinach. That’s because of the syrup. The combination of flavors really work!

Enjoy!

LEMON-BASIL SALAD DRESSING
From the Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich

Ingredients:

1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
satl and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I added a lot more, like ½ teaspoon)

Directions:
Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl or in a measuring cup.
Taste and adjust the flavor with more maple syrup, if needed. Bottle and refrigerate.



This made enough for an 8-portion salad.  Yield: about 1 cup.
Note: I grated the lemon right over the bowl so I caught all the zest.


SPINACH SALAD
(for four)

Ingredients:
2-3 cups raw spinach
½ red onion sliced thinly
½ avocado, sliced thinly

Directions:

Wash spinach. Remove the stems. Put in a salad bowl. Slice the onions and avocado. Add to the spinach. Toss with ½ cup lemon-basil salad dressing and serve.



 * * *


The first book in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series is out!!

FINAL SENTENCE
You can order the book HERE.

It's set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California and features Jenna Hart, a former advertising exec who returns home to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and café.

The 4th in A Cheese Shop Mystery series is out, too! 
TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE
You can order the book HERE. 

Next up: DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT preorder here
INHERIT THE WORD, available soon!

You can learn more about Daryl by clicking this LINK. "Like" my page on Facebook and "follow" me on TwitterAnd if you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! You can also follow and "like" Avery Aames the same way:  Facebook and Twitter














Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Luscious Peaches with Prosciutto Recipe




Thanks to the research I'm doing for my COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERY series, I am amassing a whole new library of cookbooks. I can’t seem to help myself. All in the name of research.

I’ve mentioned this before, but peaches are my favorite fruit, and when they’re in season, I’m a nut for peaches. Thanks to a cookbook I found called the Perfect Peach, I’ve been inspired to make a spinach and peach salad and a peach cobbler. This weekend, I made a peach appetizer that was so simple my protagonist Jenna would shout, “Hooray!”

The authors of the cookbook, Nikiko and Masumoto, share wonderful memories throughout this book. I could spend hours reading of the farm and family. And the pictures...wow, wow!!!

For this particular recipe, the authors wanted something that reached out as a thank you to all the people who help them – in bringing produce to the table. 
Not just the farmer, but the workers on the farm, the people supplying the seeds, etc. You get the idea. It takes a village to make one meal. The story brought tears to my eyes.

So from my table (and the authors') to yours:

PEACH BASIL PROSCIUTTO
(tweaked slightly re: proportions)

To serve four people handsomely:

2 peaches sliced in eighths
1 pound prosciutto, cut into thin one-inch slices
12-16 large leaves of basil, rinsed, stem removed

Directions:

Slice the peaches
Slice the prosciutto
Prepare the basil

Lay one slice of peach in each basil leaf. Using a piece of prosciutto, wrap at the center around the peach/basil combo, twisting or pressing at the end so the prosciutto holds together.

That’s it!  EASY!!!

NOTE: In the Perfect Peach recipe, the skin of the peach is cut off. I prefer the skin on for texture. You can do either.

Also, my husband liked the peach with the prosciutto by itself, no basil. I happen to adore basil and loved the combination.

Eat to your heart’s content!



* * *


The first book in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series is out!!

FINAL SENTENCE
You can order the book HERE.

It's set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California and features Jenna Hart, a former advertising exec who returns home to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and café.

The 4th in A Cheese Shop Mystery series is out, too! 
TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE
You can order the book HERE. 

Next up: DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT preorder here
INHERIT THE WORD, available soon!

You can learn more about Daryl by clicking this LINK. "Like" my page on Facebook and "follow" me on TwitterAnd if you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! You can also follow and "like" Avery Aames the same way:  Facebook and Twitter














Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rustic Ratatouille

A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of an earthbox.  You can see one here.  The idea is great (especially for dry/hot climates such as ours).  The reservoir in the bottom holds the water so the plants can suck up what they need from the roots AND you reduce evaporation.  Brilliant.

Problem is, they're expensive, and I'm cheap.  So I managed to use a big Rubbermaid tub, a small rotary saw, and a plastic colander to cobble up some homemade ones.  We've had lush and abundant herbs every summer since (despite our benign neglect).  This year in particular our basil has gone nuts.  As I type, it is the 5th of December and we STILL have fresh basil by the handful.  Unreal.

In any event, I've spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to find new and exciting ways to use fresh basil.  Ratatouille is not exactly new, but my version is slightly inauthentic ... but still delicious.  The potatoes make it hearty, but it's still quite healthy (especially important during the season of rich food).  Oh, and it's also crazy easy.  A little chopping, open a couple of cans ... voila, you have a beautiful dinner.  So one of these hectic holiday evenings, whip up a batch of this ratatouille and serve with a simple salad and a loaf of crusty bread.  And maybe a bottle of pinot noir.


Rustic Ratatouille

2 zucchini (about 1/2 a pound), cut in 1-inch pieces
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
small yellow potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt (divided)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil (divided)
cooking spray
1 can whole tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cans chick peas (drained and rinsed)
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 450.  In a bowl, toss zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 2 Tbs. water, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Spread on baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, place in the oven, and roast about 25 minutes.  I found I *just* had time to chop the veg while the oven preheated.  (You can roast the veg before moving on to the next part.)

In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in remaining olive oil; cook until onions are soft.  Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, three more minutes.  Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and remaining salt.  Add roasted vegetables.  Stir in vinegar.  If the veg has cooled, make sure you keep the ratatouille on medium low until the whole stew is heated through.

Serve with a hearty bread, and you have one delicious winter meal.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nectarines and Cream and Basil? I dare you.


I adore tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad.  A couple of weeks ago, I made one.  I had bought a huge bunch of basil (I don't have it growing in my yard) and wondered what to do with the rest of it. I couldn't just throw it out, and basil turns very quickly. 




I went online and searched for some kind of sauce to make and stumbled on a basil clear syrup. Interesting, I thought. What would I put it on? There was a recipe to add it to peaches and ice cream. Honestly I wasn't bowled over by the idea. But I made the syrup and set it in the refrigerator while I contemplated the idea.


A week later, as I thought about what I would serve guests for dessert, the recipe came back to me, and I thought why not? Something new. Be daring. It is, after all, August. I have nothing better to do than to be daring.


So I made some fresh mascarpone ice cream.


I bought some peaches and nectarines, but before I announced my dessert plans, my guests ate all the peaches, so I opted for nectarines, and put together a very simple and delicious dessert. The basil has just the right about of zest to zing up something as plain as ice cream and fruit.  And it was so pretty.


So when in doubt, take the risk. Be daring. Be bold. What is the worst that could happen? You could pour it down the disposal and be left with ice cream and fruit and NO SAUCE. Add a slice of cheese.  Not bad.







            
SIMPLE BASIL SYRUP
Ingredients:
10-12 leaves basil, washed (about 2 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 cups water

Directions:
In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir to combine. Turn on heat to medium-high and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until syrup is thicker but not yet starting to turn color. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

Pour warm syrup in a blender. Throw in basil leaves. Pulse once quickly for larger chunks of basil; blend for a few seconds for more of a green syrup. (It may look a little funky, but man, does it taste good.)

(Can refrigerate sauce and use later.)

ICE CREAM SUNDAE WITH NECTARINES & BASIL SYRUP
Ingredients:

1 scoop of ice cream per serving
½ nectarine (or peach) in slices per serving
2-3 Tablespoons Basil syrup

Directions:
Scoop ice cream onto a plate, arrange nectarines around it, top with syrup.



MASCARPONE ICE CREAM

I use:  Cuisinart Counter top Mixer. EASY, PEASY.

Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
1 c. half and half
1 c. whipping cream
1 c. (8 oz.) mascarpone
1 tsp. G-F vanilla

Directions:
Stir together yolks and sugar and cook in saucepan, 30 seconds on low.
Add half and half, cook 1 minute on low.
Stir and cook 1 more minute.
Stir and cook 1 additional minute.  [Total 3 ½ minutes.]
Add whipping cream, mascarpone, and vanilla.
Stir and let cool to room temperature. 

Chill 1-3 hours in refrigerator

Then:

Start counter top mixer.  Add cream mixture.  Whip 20-25 minutes

Pour into clean containers and freeze.

Yum!

Say cheese!!!
* * * * * * **
 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eat Pesto -- Scare Dracula

The kids are back in school, or they'll be going back soon. Next weekend will be your last trip to the beach or the lake or mountains.


Halloween decorations are beginning to show up in stores, which means I won't seem so weird for having them up in my house already! For those who don't know, I'm working on a Halloween book, which means I've got witches and vampires on the mind.

Your garden is uttering the last gasps of summer. The zucchini is spent. The red pepper plants have withered. The cucumbers dried up, and there are only a couple of pathetic lone tomatoes left on the vine.

But in the middle of the garden, planted last spring when you were full of hope and energy, there sits a gigantic plant, the leaves still bright in the sun. It's basil's turn to shine -- which can only mean one thing -- it's time for pesto.

I have to admit that I was not a fan of pesto until I made my own. I suspect pesto is one of those recipes that is better if you tinker with it a little bit to emphasize the flavors you prefer.

The ingredients are fairly basic. Lots of basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I would recommend using a mild olive oil.

A few years ago, I searched high and low for pine nuts. I found them, too. $12.99 for less than a fistful. Consequently, I am officially a believer in substituting walnuts in pesto. They're every bit as good -- maybe better.

I'm a big fan of garlic, so I'm likely to toss in an extra clove or two. Beware! This is fresh, uncooked garlic, so it has a bite. If you think you might like to use extra garlic, add it gradually. Excellent for warding off the vampires in your life, though. One little poof of air in their direction, and I promise they'll flee!


Pesto

1/4 cup walnuts
2 medium size garlic cloves
2 cups packed basil leaves (washed and dried)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil

Combine the walnuts and garlic cloves in a food processor with a few leaves of basil. Pulse until the walnuts and garlic are fine. Mash in the rest of the basil leaves and spin. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a slow drizzle. Add salt and pepper to taste and whirl one more time.

Toss with pasta, use on pizza or bruschetta, add a dollop to grilled fish, or just spread on a slice of toast for lunch! Enjoy!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Do you love spaghetti?

Ah, summer.

Minutes away from its official start.
And isn't it lovely?
Birds are a-plenty.
Flowers are springing up everywhere.
The scent of barbecue is in the air.
And in just a couple of weeks, when The Long Quiche Goodbye comes out... [Yep, just a couple of weeks], I'll share a special barbecue dry rub by Charlotte's grandfather, Pépère. It's mentioned in the book, as are a number of other recipes that I'll be bringing to the blog in future weeks.

In the meantime, I tried an experiment this week. That's what has been such fun about our year-long blog. [Can you believe it? MLK's almost ready to celebrate its anniversary, thanks to all of you who are reading it and spurring us on!]

But over the past year, I've dallied with new recipes every week. Each with cheese in them. And I have to say, I've never had so much fun in the kitchen. This week, I wanted to use a vegetable that I adore and make it really sizzle. Do you love spaghetti???

Spaghetti Squash. It's an ugly thing, oblong and yellow, and hard to cut in half, but that's what you have to do in order to cook it properly.

Once you've done that, the magic begins. Spaghetti squash is exactly what it says it is. A squash that, when cooked properly, turns into spaghetti-like strands of yummy, buttery-tasting squash that can fool you into believe it's spaghetti. Fool you! Add butter and Parmessan and you'll think you're eating spaghetti and it's really a vegetable. No starch! How wonderful is that? So...be careful, use a sharp knife, and go slowly to split this gourd lengthwise down the middle.


In addition, spaghetti squash can be a main course or a salad, which is how I prepared it this week. Both ways! As a main course AND a salad, using the same ingredients in both, except I added arugula to the salad. My husband tells me the entree is one of the best things I've ever cooked.

That drew a frowning eye from me, of course, because there are lots of things I cook well. What he meant was...back-pedaling quickly...I cook lots of things well and this fell onto his favorites list. Okay, I'd accept that. He loved it. What's not to love about Italian sausage, garlic, and a squash that tastes like spaghetti?

I do this experimenting all in the name of cheese. What fun!

No, it wasn't barbecue, but we enjoyed our meal al fresco, served with a crisp Pinot Grigio, listening to the birds sing their praise of another beautiful day.


SAUSAGE AND PARMESSAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH ENTREE

Ingredients:

(serves 2)

2 cups cooked spaghetti squash

½ cup shredded Parmessan plus 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup zucchini, diced

¼ cup snow peas, diced

2 tablespoons shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 tablespoons oil

1 roma tomato, diced

4 sausages – Italian

1 more tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon dried basil


Directions:

Slice open a spaghetti squash lengthwise, taking care because it’s a tough gourd and wiggles. Once open, place each half face down in a tupperware filled with one inch water. “Bake” in microwave 10 minutes. Remove from oven and scoop out the seeds. Then using a hard spoon, scoop out the meat of the squash, which will form strands like spaghetti. Set aside. * If using an oven, set both squash face down in an inch of water in a baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. [May be made a day ahead and reheated.

]

Next, in a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add diced zucchini, snow peas, shallots, garlic, and roma tomato. Stir fry until browned on both sides.

In a second saute pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and 2 Italian sausages. Stir fry, until browned on both sides.

While they are cooking, toss warm spaghetti squash with 1 tablespoon butter and ½ cup shredded Parmessan cheese.

Set 1 cup of spaghetti squash on each plate, top with the stir-fried vegetables. Adorn with two of the sausages. Sprinkle each plate with another tablespoon of Parmessan and adorn with basil.




And now for the salad - the only difference is in presentation and the addition of ARUGULA.


SAUSAGE AND PARMESSAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH SALAD


Ingredients:

(serves 2)

2 cups cooke

d spaghetti squash

½ cup shredded Parmessan plus 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup zucchini, diced

¼ cup snow peas, diced

2 tablespoons shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 tablespoons oil

1 roma tomato, diced

2 sausages – Italian

1 more tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup arugula


Directions:

Slice open a spaghetti squash lengthwise, taking care because it’s a tough gourd and wiggles.

Once open, place each half face down in a tupperware filled with one inch water. “Bake” in microwave 10 minutes. Remove from oven and scoop out the seeds. Then using a hard spoon, scoop out the meat of the squash, which will form strands like spaghetti. Set aside. * If using an oven, set both squash face down in an inch of water in a baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. [May be made a day ahead and reheated.]


Next, in a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add diced zucchini, snow peas, shallots, garlic, and roma tomato. Stir fry until browned on both sides.


In a second saute pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and 2 Italian sausages. Stir fry, until browned on both sides.


While they are cooking, toss warm spaghetti squash with 1 tablespoon butter and ½ cup shredded Parmessan cheese.


Set ½ cup of argula on each plate. Top with 1 cup of spaghetti squash, then top with the stir-fried vegetables. Adorn with 1 of the sausages, diced into bites. Sprinkle each plate with another tablespoon of Parmessan and adorn with basil.


Lest I forget, I'm running a contest and lots of people have entered, but there are lots of prizes, so if you haven't, join in the fun!


"You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

As I said above, my first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, I'm running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on my website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on my booksellers page.

Here is the link to my website to help get you started.