Showing posts with label herbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label herbs. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cherry Tomato Frittata with Fresh Thyme

by Leslie Budewitz

I’ve been testing recipes for the third Seattle Spice Shop book, KILLING THYME—even though the second, GUILTY AS CINNAMON, won’t be out until December! But fresh thyme’s in season in my garden, and well, it’s always time for thyme, don’t you think?

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in season right now, too, although I admit my plants aren’t going to produce enough at one time this year to make a whole egg pie’s worth. (Started writing two mystery series and my garden went to seed—go figure.) We used a combination of red, yellow, and orange beauties in this dish.

But one of the wonderful things about this frittata is that it really knows no season. Because these days, we can get fresh tomatoes year-round and either grow our own herbs in windowsills or find fresh packs in the grocery stores. (For those of us old enough to remember when trucking and storage meant grocery stores’ winter fruit offerings were apples, bananas, oranges, and the occasional grapefruit, this is heaven. I still remember my mother going a little crazy at Albertson’s annual “February in Hawaii Days,” when the clerks donned Hawaiian shirts and the store flew in pineapple, coconut, and papaya. We weren’t quite sure what to do with them, but we ate the experiments with pleasure!)

A cast iron skillet is perfect for a frittata. Ours is too large, though, so we used a stainless skillet; it was a little harder to clean.

Frittatas are also super easy, super flexible, and reheat beautifully, making this a perfect dish for a light dinner—add a green salad, a crusty bread, and a glass of white wine—that can also be reheated for a yummy breakfast. The thyme and tomatoes made a lovely flavor, but it would also be yummy with an Italian herb blend (I’m working on one right now!) or herbes de Provence (there’s a recipe in ASSAULT & PEPPER, the first Spice Shop Mystery).

Turns out this recipe probably won't make the book---I just didn't need another dinner dish, and Pepper's rarely home for breakfast. So you get to enjoy it now---or any thyme of year!

And it's release day for  Daryl Wood Gerber--FUDGING THE BOOKS, a Cookbook Nook Mystery, and Peg Cochran, BERRIED SECRETS, first in her new Cranberry Cove Mysteries! Congratulations, Daryl and Peg, and HAPPY READING to all!

Cherry Tomato Frittata with Fresh Thyme

6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, stemmed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more leaves for garnish
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, for topping

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and salt until well blended. Stir in both cheeses.

In a heavy, 9-inch skillet, over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook, shaking them around in the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to brown in spots, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and thyme and continue cooking until the tomatoes are tender and have begun to burst, about 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and shake the pan to distribute the tomatoes evenly over the bottom. If like us, you have a very hot stove, you may want to take the pan off the heat for a minute or two; you want to avoid cooking the eggs too quickly.

Pour the egg mixture over the tomatoes and cook until the eggs are set at the edges, about 3 minutes.

Using a heat-resistant rubber spatula, work around the edge of the pan, gently separating the edge of the cooked eggs from the edge of the pan and allowing the uncooked eggs to flow underneath. When the eggs are softly set, with only a little liquid at the edges, after about 3 more minutes, smooth the top with a spatula and sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan on top.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the frittata is just set in the center, about 7 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then sprinkle with additional thyme.

Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day and serve cold. Serves 4.

Leslie's newest:  BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries (July 2015)

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. 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.

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook,
or on Twitter.

Friday, September 19, 2014

End of Summer Pasta

by Sheila Connolly

After a relatively cool summer (we no longer know what normal is), the weather decided to turn hot in early September. Having forgotten what “hot” feels like (would you believe I was wearing fleece in Ireland in August?), of course I didn’t feel like cooking, or at least, making anything that involved using heat.

But I dutifully went to my small local farmers’ market, since I want to support the vendors there, and found a lovely clutch of oval yellow tomatoes that called out to me. And some little onions. I knew I had some tiny red peppers at home, and my pot of herbs has somehow survived my neglect, so I also had chives and oregano and parsley. And plenty of pasta.

I wanted simple and I wanted colorful, and this is what I came up with.

End of Summer Pasta

One pound fresh tomatoes (the yellow ones were too pretty to pass up, but you can use whatever you have handy)
4-5 small red sweet peppers (or mix and match: if you have red tomatoes, use yellow and green peppers), sliced into matchsticks
2-3 small onions
Assorted fresh herbs
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for sauteeing

Spaghetti or other pasta

Slice your tomatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Slice the onions and the peppers to about the same thickness. Roughly chop the herbs.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

In a wide sauté pan, pour enough olive oil to cover (note: my daughter had given me some exotic gourmet olive oil, so I threw in a dash of that too), and heat over medium heat. Sautée the onions until they are limp but not brown. Add the peppers and cook for a couple of minutes, until they soften. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat until they render some of their juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. When you’re nearly ready to serve, add the herbs and toss to distribute them (you don’t really need to cook these).

Adding ingredients one at a time

The entire cooking process should take no more than 10-15 minutes (after the chopping, of course).

Place individual servings of spaghetti in wide flat bowls, and top with a generous helping of the sauce, and serve. And bid farewell to summer.

Counting the days until October 7th!

Available for preorder now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Herb Crusted Eggplant

A very warm welcome to Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband and wife bestselling mystery writing team. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family, their cat, Quincy, and their rescue dog, Rudi. They enjoy photography, watercolor, gardening and long drives.

Their next mystery is Buried By Buttercups, a Peggy Lee Mystery.

And now -- Joyce!

I come from a proud family of Southern gardeners and cooks. My mother was from Charleston, South Carolina and she grew up going out to the farm to pick produce when she was young.

She and her mother, along with her brothers and sisters, spent whole days picking tomatoes, green peppers, corn, and eggplant. They were very poor and this provided them with some spending money - also fresh fruit and vegetables.

Even when my mother could afford to buy her own produce, she grew everything she could. Her yard was filled with fruit trees and vegetables. It was important to her that she ate as much fresh food as she could.

She rubbed off on me, I guess. When I grew up, I became a Master Gardener and enjoyed growing fresh food too. I put as much of that information as I could into the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries.

Peggy Lee is a botanist who specializes in botanical poisons. She owns a small garden shop in Charlotte, North Carolina and helps the police solve mysteries with her knowledge. Her next book is Buried By Buttercups, out in October 2012.

Peggy loves herbs and spices. I think she’d enjoy this recipe.

Making Herb Crusted Eggplant

I know a lot of people don’t like eggplant. I’m a vegetarian and I’m always looking for new ways to make vegetables. I think you’ll find that you don’t have to ‘like’ eggplant to enjoy this.

You’ll need one eggplant. Cut off the top and bottom then thinly peel off the purple skin. Cut the eggplant into thick slices, about one quarter inch.

You’ll also need about a quarter cup of olive oil, one and a half cups of plain, dry breadcrumbs, five tablespoons of fresh, chopped, basil, two tablespoons of fresh parsley and two tablespoons fresh rosemary, one teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste.

Mix breadcrumb/herb mixture in a bowl. Use the olive oil to coat the eggplant slices then put each side of the slices into the breading mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until eggplant is tender and crust is brown.

These make delicious sandwiches or a great side dish with pasta or potatoes. One eggplant serves about four people.
Thanks for having me here!


And don't miss their
Visit Joyce and Jim at, .
Twitter: @authorJLavene and Google Plus.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mojito Sorbet

I see these ads on local TV all the time, touting the great bounty of fruits and vegetables that grow here in Texas.  I'm not sure what magic these farmers are using, what strange ju-ju makes their plants grow, but everything in my yard is deader than disco.

The one bright spot in my otherwise brown wasteland of a yard is my little duo of earth boxes.

Earth boxes, you ask?

Yes, earth boxes.  You can buy them ready-made, though I made mine with a big storage tub, a plastic colander, some duct tape, and a drimmel tool.  Basically, it's a big ol' box of dirt.  But the secret is that about a third of the way from the bottom there's a divider.  Below that divider, instead of dirt, there's a reservoir for water.  A small bit of the dirt (in my case, contained within the colander) dips down into the reservoir and wicks the water up to the plant roots.

The advantage to the earth box is that the water is deep, so it doesn't evaporate in the hot Texas sun.  The plants take just exactly what they need (no more, no less).  And when you refill the reservoir (through a 2 inch pipe with an "L" in the bottom), it waters the plants for at least a week ... so you can go away for a weekend without all your plants dying in the heartbeat you look away from them.

Spearmint and oregano going crazy in my homemade earth box.  Note the dead stuff on the ground nearby.

I use my earth boxes for herbs.  I have one chock full of beautiful basil (just made a simple pasta with vegies and basil last night!).  The other, this year, has oregano and spearmint, both of which are going nuts.

That abundance of spearmint--which I'm using in iced tea and lemonade and half-and-halfs every day--inspired this yummy grown-ups only, completely refreshing summer treat.  I bring you ...

Mojito Sorbet

1/2 c. fresh lime juice (strained)
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 bunch spearmint leaves, cleaned
2 Tbs. rum (I used coconut rum, but regular is fine)

In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and spearmint to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to steep until cool.  Strain the minted syrup through a sieve and add the lime juice and rum.  Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, until nice and cool.

Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.  Note that the sorbet will melt quickly, so be ready to serve right away OR pack into a container, cover, and freeze overnight.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Say Cheese for Risotto!

This is Julie Hyzy's week. Her new book Eggsecutive Orders comes out tomorrow, and the White House Chef was on Iron Chef Sunday Night...and she won! Whooppeeee!

Talk about perfect timing!

I hope you will all buy her book and participate in her contest.

And now for other news concerning wine and cheese.

I love side dishes!!! [Good segue, huh?]

But I do. I love side dishes. You know the ones--like mom used to make. Hearty, rib-sticking side dishes. The kinds you’d use your index finger to swoop up the very last flavor off the plate.
Finger-licking good.

Risotto is one of my favorite all-time side dishes. And it doesn’t have to be difficult.
I can hear a lot of you now...

“You’ve got to be kidding!”

But I'm not. I made risotto last week, and it only t
ook 30 minutes. My guests devoured it. And yes, many used their index fingers before I could remove the plates from the table.

The secret: Wine...

And cheese.

And herbs.

And adding things that you think taste yummy.

Try it! You'll like it!


Serves 6


2 Tbs. olive oil2 Tbs. butter
1 cup Arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt


Put olive oil and butter in shallow sauce pan. Heat to melting. Add onions, garlic and shallots. Stir on medium until tender. Add Arborio rice. Stir constantly. Rice will get slightly brown. Add spices, crushing in your fingers before adding.

Add 1 cup white wine and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Stir until all the liquid is incorporated into the rice. Add 1 more cup chicken broth, a half cup at a time. Each should get incorporated into the dish. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (reserving the rest for garnish).

HERE'S THE EASY PART. Add the last 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Stir and let simmer on low for about 20 minutes. [I know traditional recipes will say you need to continue stirring, but as long as you stirred the first half of the cooking process, this second half is good to go.]

Remove from heat. May be made ahead 45 minutes. It will keep warm in the saucepan.

Garnish each portion generously with Parmesan cheese!

[Silly Side Note: When you're plating, and if you're photographing, you might consider a brighter plate than I did. ]
Don't forget to check out Julie's special contest, and we're still open for suggestions for our February Iron Chef ingredient! Rumor has it the prize involves chocolate!

And last but not least, if you'd like to know more about my new book coming out in July, The Long Quiche Goodbye, click here. If you'd like to sign up for my next newsletter, in which I share lots of tidbits about my new book as well as a history about particular cheeses, click on this link: Avery Aames Newsletter. I’ll be having my first contest via the newsletter in just a few weeks. All who are signed up are eligible to win.
Enjoy the new year. And Say Cheese!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Herb Scalloped Potatoes

Dear Readers, our latest Iron Chef contest is completed, and we'll be using the special ingredient our winner Molly Ebert suggested in December, but we'll be having another Iron Chef contest in December, with the special ingredient to be announced in January, so continue to sign up and drop us suggestions! Someone will be a lucky winner close to the holidays! And the prize is a Junior's Cheesecake! Remember, one entry per person, per day, and you must be a follower of the blog.

And now for more "Thanksgiving Week Goodies."
Turkey isn't the only thing to eat at Thanksgiving. There are all sorts of side dishes. Stuffing, veggies, sweet potatoes.
But let's not forget the real POTATO. Add CHEESE. And WOW! Scalloped Potatoes, done right, can be the one item on the Thanksgiving buffet that trump all others. There's texture, taste, and satisfaction all in one casserole.
So what if you add a boursin cheese? That's a creamy concoction mixed with herbs and spices, delicious on a cracker, but absolutely fabulous in scalloped potatoes. Top with plenty of Grana cheese (which, if you remember, is parmessan cheese in the USA). And YUM!
So this Thanksgiving, don't just think mashed potatoes and gravy. Think layered potatoes and cheese! Here's my version of Herbed Scalloped Potatoes.



3 russet potatoes, peeled
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
4 oz. Boursin cheese with garlic and fine herbs
4 whole eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 pinch paprika
1 whole yellow onion, finely chopped
4 oz. Grana (hard parmessan) cheese


Thinly slice the potatoes and cook them for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and cool by rinsing.

Line 8” square pan with foil. Grease the foil.

Mix Boursin cheese, eggs, milk and spices to make a “sauce.” [I used a blender to whip the cheese into the mix.]

Layer the square pan, alternating with potato, Boursin sauce, onions, parmesan. 2-3 layers. Finish with grated cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and place in oven.

Bake a 350 degrees for one hour. REMOVE FOIL. Bake one half hour longer.

If you want to check out more about me, check out my website: Avery Aames. And don't forget to signup for my newsletter, filled with facts and, well, news!!
Better yet, become one of the first to buy The Long Quiche Goodbye. It's now available on Amazon, Borders and Books a Million for pre-order!! The publishing date is July 6! No cover art yet, but that's coming soon!