Showing posts with label chives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chives. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lemony Sugar Snap Pea Salad

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: “Summer time, and the living is easy.” And one reason, of course, is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if we aren’t growing them ourselves – and I confess that since I started writing two books a year, my gardens have not gotten the care and feeding – let alone the weeding – they deserve.

Happily, chives and mint need no tending – if they grow at your house, you know both those tasty herbs have minds of their own and spread on the wings of the wind. It’s fun to snip them into summer teas, pastas, and salads. This salad – a variation of a Weight Watchers recipe – takes full advantage of that herby tang. I’ve made it with both mojito mint, a classic green mint, and a combination of mojito and a nameless darker variety that seems to have appeared in my garden without a name tag!


Lemony Sugar Snap Pea Salad

1/4 pound sugar snap peas, about two cups, trimmed (Chinese or flat peas will do fine, if that’s what you’ve got)
1 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2-3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and toss in the peas. Cook 1-2 minutes, until peas are bright green and still tender crisp. Drain and rinse in cold water, stirring or tossing to release the heat. Drain and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. Then slice the peas once, lengthwise, and toss into a large flat bowl with the cucumber, feta, and herbs.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the other ingredients and toss to mix and coat.

Makes 4 one-cup servings that taste like summer!

(That's feta, not butter!)

Mint and chives, so fresh they're practically still growing!

This salad is terrific with shrimp or any kind of fish, and even by itself!

From the cover of KILLING THYME -- out October 4, available for pre-order now:  

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer… 

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. When Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But when Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebookwhere she often shares news of new books and giveaways from cozy writer friends.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Irish Pizza

Wait, ­the Irish don’t make pizza, do they? Well, this didn’t start out as pizza. After last week’s fish casserole, I got to thinking about smoked salmon (which I adore, and I do know a great place that smokes their own in West Cork) and what to do with it. Not another casserole, so what about a crust? No—puff pastry (which even out of a frozen package is far better than my pie crusts)! And cheese. But not Italian cheese—how about goat cheese? A nice sharp tang to offset the smoky creaminess of the salmon. And some good Irish cheese (Kerrygold, which does use some milk from Cork). And maybe some of my homegrown chives (which overwintered quite well, thank you) for color contrast and a hint of onion.

It was only an hour or two later that I figured out what I had done: put together the colors of the Irish flag. Which is important because this week marks the hundred anniversary of what most Irish people regard as the birth of the Republic, with the infamous Easter Uprising, a disastrous and poorly planned confrontation with British troops in the heart of Dublin. If things had ended there, probably tempers would have cooled, but the British decided they had to execute the leaders of the uprising, which rallied the rest of the population to the cause of a free Ireland. So this is my celebration. 

The Irish flag (bratach na hÉireann) is a vertical tricolor of green, white and orange (in that order, left to right). The green represents the Gaelic tradition of the country, the orange represents the followers of King William III (of Orange) in Ireland (his troops defeated King James II at the Battle of the Boyne), and the white stands for the hope for peace between the two. It was first raised over the General Post Office in Dublin in 1916 and came to be seen as the national flag, and symbolizes the hope for union.

Here endeth the history lesson. Let’s eat!

Irish Pizza

1 piece frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

8 oz. smoked salmon (you don’t have to buy the expensive stuff—a package of the tag ends would do just fine and it’s cheaper)

4 oz. goat cheese (okay, here I faced a dilemma: goat cheese is squishy, in general, so how do I spread it evenly over the crust? I froze it first, then grated it coarsely!)

4 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, grated

1 bunch chives (however many you like)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the thawed piece of puff pastry on top.

Isn't that a great rolling pin? It was a gift from
my sister in law, who knows the guy who
made it.
If the smoked salmon pieces are large and/or raggedy, chop them up into smaller pieces (but not too small).

Chill your cheese, then grate it. Roughly chop your chives.

Sprinkle the grated goat cheese evenly over the crust. Place the salmon pieces on top, then sprinkle with the chives. Add a top layer of the cheddar. (Don’t overload the crust or it won’t rise well.)

At this point a little oil might be good. I’d suggest butter, which would be more Irish, but I don’t think that would work, so a neutral vegetable oil or oil will do just fine. Add just enough to keep the toppings from burning while the crust is cooking.

Bake for…well that’s a little tricky. Bake until the crust has risen and the cheese in lightly browned. The edges will rise first, but be patient and wait until the center had risen too (it won’t go as far as the edges). Keep checking every couple of minutes to make sure things aren’t browning too quickly, but it wasn’t a problem. Total time was probably 20-25 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool briefly, then cut into serving pieces. This recipe served two of us (my husband scarfed down the last piece as a late snack), but to serve more just duplicate it (the frozen puff pastry comes in a package with two, so you’d be all set).

Now raise a glass of Guinness (or Murphy's stout, which is made in Cork city), or maybe a shot of good whiskey (quite a few labels are made in Middleton, which is also in Cork), and salute one hundred years of Irish history!

[If I don't respond to your comments quickly, it's because I'm hanging out with all my cozy-writer friends--and probably some of you readers--at Malice Domestic in Maryland.]

A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #4) came out in February 2016 and was a Barnes and Noble bestseller.

The next book doesn't yet have a name or a cover, but it will appear in February 2017. I can tell you it involves an old open case and a big snowstorm (yes, they do happen in Ireland, if rarely)!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Fever Pasta

Spring! I finally saw my first crocus! The lilacs have buds! I am positively giddy, and I may have gone a little crazy in the supermarket this past weekend. I’ll blame it on spring fever.

I promised you a recipe that wasn’t fish or cookies (or even Irish!). I was mulling over options when I found myself in the vegetable section of our local market and saw one of those bags of tiny peppers, in vivid yellow, orange and red. Ooh, pretty! (Hey, it’s been a long, dull, brown winter in New England.) Then I turned around and there was a basket of tiny tomatoes in the same colors. Light bulb moment!

And if that wasn’t enough, I had some humongous carrots waiting at home (they label them Rainbow Carrots, and they come in shades of orange, yellow and red). That clinched it. I wanted bright! Sunny! Cheerful!

I grabbed a package of fresh chives for color contrast and headed home to throw together a quick and easy pasta dish. This one’s simple, once you get done cutting up your vegetables.

Spring Fever Pasta

1 bag mini sweet peppers (in assorted colors)
1 package tiny tomatoes (likewise)
1 giant carrot (or a couple of smaller ones)
A bunch of fresh chives (use plenty, because 
they give a bit of onion flavor to the dish,
   as well as color)
Olive oil for cooking

Pasta of your choice (I used fettucine, but the kind doesn’t make much difference. This amount of sauce was about right for 12 ounces of pasta (not quite a full supermarket box), or two servings for hungry adults.)

Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse your peppers and tomatoes. For the peppers, cut off the stems and remove the seeds and any thick membranes. Cut into julienne strips. For the tomatoes, halve or quarter them (depending on size) and remove the seeds.

Teeny tiny cutters
Now here’s another crazy part. I love buying the colored carrots. They all taste about the same, but the colored ones are pretty. For some reason, recently the ones in our market have been immense (although reasonably tender), and I had a few left. I grabbed the pale yellow one.

I also had a set of miniature cutters, which I think was one of my flea market finds. It turned out they were all of tiny birds and animals. I looked at my giant carrot, and I looked at my cutters—and I decided to make birds and bunnies. (I could have made cows, but that made less sense to me.) So, peel your carrot(s), slice thinly, and cut out whatever shapes you feel like (that will fit inside a carrot slice). Or if you’re a normal sensible person, just julienne them like the rest of the vegetables.

Put on your pasta water to boil. Read the label, because cooking time for pasta is all over the map. Mine happened to need 11 minutes cooking time, which I figured was about right for putting together the sauce. Once the water came to a boil, I added the pasta and then turned to the sauce.

See? Fish and birds
In a sauté pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom over medium heat. Put in the carrots (they will take the longest to cook) and cook a couple of minutes until they’re softened. Add the peppers and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and let them release their juices for a couple of minutes. Toss in the chives last. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Drain the pasta and place a serving in individual bowls. Spoon the vegetables over the top. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if you like, or just enjoy the flavor of the vegetables on their own. And take a moment to enjoy the colors!

A Turn for the Bad is still sailing along.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


And coming in June: Dead End Street, the next book in the Museum Mystery series.

The New York Times bestselling author of Privy to the Dead returns to Philadelphia for more history—and a chilling mystery . . .
When the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society discovers it owns some unique real estate, a deadly plot unfolds . . .
Society president Nell Pratt believes life is finally going her way. Everything’s running smoothly at work, and her love life is thriving. Then some unexpected news rocks her foundation. Two members of a local neighborhood rescue program, Tyrone Blakeney and Cherisse Chapman, inform Nell that her society owns an abandoned row house in a rundown area of Philadelphia and they insist on taking her to see the property before its date with the wrecking ball.
But soon after they arrive at the house, Cherisse is fatally shot and Tyrone is badly injured. The police believe it’s just random violence in a bad neighborhood, but Nell thinks there’s more to it and is determined to find answers before someone else becomes history . . .

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pasta with Smoked Salmon

by Sheila Connolly

I love smoked salmon. There’s nothing that tastes quite like it. Of course, I can’t afford it most of the time, but now and then I indulge in a package of kind of tag ends (what's left after all those tidy slices you put on your canapés along with a sprig of dill and a few capers). Tastes just as good and it’s less expensive. 

So there was this day when I didn’t feel like cooking anything elaborate, so I started rummaging in my fridge…  Oh, joy, smoked salmon shreds. And some nice chives. And cream cheese. And behold, a pasta dish was born. 

This is a no-brainer, and can be made for as little as one person, or expanded to feed many (well, I haven’t quite tested the upper limits).  

For each serving for two people: 

1/2 pound smoked salmon, chopped or diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 half-inch bunch fresh chives, chopped however fine you like them
4 oz. cream cheese (note: I use the real stuff, but you could use the lo-fat version; the same goes for the cream)
Pepper (you won’t need to add salt because the salmon is salty)
Lemon juice if you want to sharpen the flavor a bit

Boil large quantities of water.  Add salt. Cook whichever pasta you fancy according to package directions. 

Chop the salmon and the chives.  In a shallow pan over low heat, melt the cream cheese together with the cream until liquid. Do not boil. 

Add the salmon and heat through (you do not need to cook it!). At the last minute add the fresh chives and pepper, and taste for seasoning. 

Drain your pasta, then put back in the pan or in a bowl and toss with the salmon sauce until blended. Serve immediately. 

Fast, tasty and pretty too! I suppose if you were in a fancy mood and happened to have some of those capers in the fridge too, you could toss them in for a bit of tartness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sneak Peek at Some Hummus

Hummus was first foisted upon me a few years ago by a woman standing next to the appetizer table. "Try that," she insisted, pointing to a bowl of bland-colored goop.

"What is it?"


Okay... I'd heard of hummus, but until that point had never tried it. Gamely I dipped a chip and took a big bite.

As I did, the woman continued, "I bought this hummus at [whatever] store. Isn't it great?"

Umm... no, it wasn't. "Delicious," I lied, and quickly moved on to the bacon-wrapped shrimp. Uh-huh. Now that's an appetizer!

I have had occasion to try hummus again, and although the flavored ones aren't as bad as that first taste I experienced, they're nothing to write home about, either. What did all these unpleasant hummuses (is that how you pluralize it?) have in common? They were store bought.

My next WHChef book has a hummus recipe in it. I groaned inwardly when I saw it (as you may recall, my "ghost chef" comes up with those recipes). "Not hummus!"

But how could I disparage one of my own recipes? Especially when chick peas (a/k/a garbanzo beans) are so good for you? -- Low-cal, low-fat, high fiber! I couldn't. So I tried it at home just to say I did. And you know what? I liked it. My family liked it. We've made it again and my husband insists on double recipes when I whip up a batch.

Super easy, this recipe is a slight deviation from the one that will appear in Buffalo West Wing(coming in January) but it's perfect because it's all made in a blender. No heating up the kitchen!

(And just so you know, the recipes in this next book are *amazing*! This one is just one tiny example. This time my ghost chef went all out!)


1 16 oz can of chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained (but save the liquid!)
4 - 6 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of one lemon (use fresh squeezed. Makes a huge difference!)
1/2 tsp salt
Chives for garnish
Olive oil
Chips to dip

In a blender combine chick peas, garlic, and lemon juice and salt. I like to start with only about 1/3 of the peas in the blender, and then I add more as I go. This way the blender doesn't get stuck because there's too much in there at once. Puree the mixture, adding a little bit of reserved chick pea liquid as needed. Keep adding and blending until the mixture is of dippable consistency. Like a very thick soup.

Pour into a serving bowl, drip a Tbsp or so of olive oil in the center, top with chives, and serve. This is pretty strong (really strong!), garlic-wise and the flavor will stay with you all day if you're not careful! And, be forewarned, every day this sits in the fridge, the flavor gets more intense. We love it. Hope you do too!

Just a quick FYI - I won't be monitoring comments today. Circumstances (good ones!) are taking me away from the Internet. But I will definitely check back as soon as I can, so please share your hummus stories! I can't be the only person who had to learn to love it!

Talk soon!