Food In Fiction: Underway Recipes

One of my favorite things is recipes in fiction novels. I’ve featured quite a few of them here. 

So when I began to write my own fiction, I wanted to include my recipes. Run Aground (Book 1 in the TJ Wilde Trilogy – for sale here) featured Smashed Potatoes and Lemon Piccata Chicken

My newest book, Underway (Book 2 in the TJ Wilde Trilogy) features two recipes.  Tahini Walnut Rolls (recipe here) and Sausage and Grapes below.

Underway is on sale now, here. You can read Chapters 1 and 2 here.

From 2015:

…I decided to experiment with flavors I would have never thought of on my own. Facebook and blog friend Michael F, shared a recipe on Facebook from Italy, in Italian no less, and the photo intrigued me. I let google translate the recipe (which was a hoot) and went about putting my touches into it.

It was so unusual, my most reliable recipe testers politely declined my dinner invite. Totally understandable. But I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out. If you like pork and apples, this has a similar flavor palate. It was also quick and easy to prepare. I’m glad I decided to experiment.

All right, if you’re up for something new and different, here you go, tonight’s featured recipe.

Sausage and Grapes

  • 8 links Italian sausage (I used spicy, but you could use any style sausage you favor)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cup green seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used none, didn’t need it)
  • angel hair pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan

skillet

Slice sausage links into four pieces each, add to skillet and fry on medium high for about 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel seeds, cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add grapes, stir until well mixed, cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.

You can toss with the sausage mixture, or serve separately. Serve with Parmesan.

The pasta was my addition. When I asked Michael what would be a good side, he suggested eggplant or roasted potatoes. Roasted zucchini spears would probably work well, too.


Underway: A TJ Wilde Mystery


 

Breaking All The Rules

Good Omens turns 30 today. I didn’t discover the book until recently and loved it. This video is much fun. And I can relate to Aziraphale, cooking relieves much stress for me, but then that leaves me with LOTS of food, food I usually give away or invite friends over to enjoy, or send home to feed family.  Sigh. Well, at least Aziraphale can give his away without fear of infecting loved ones (does he have loved ones?).

A Little Baking: Tahini Rolls

I’ll post the full recipe once I’ve completed this. I like to make sure it works first, LOL.

A friend is coming over for coffee this morning and I wanted to prepare a little treat. Luckily my friends are used to me experimenting on them.  What I realized this morning, I really miss playing with recipes.

But at the moment, there is not a lot of time for that. I did have fun this morning doing this one and playing in the kitchen really is stress relief for me.

Stay tuned for the finished product. Until then…


 

Thursday Recipe Exchange: A Plateful of Burgers

Photo by JeffreyW who has so many photos of burgers I had a hard time choosing.

Friends and I were out shopping last week and decided it was lunch time. We drove by a place with an intriguing name and decided to try it. To our surprise, we were their first-ever customers. They were having a soft launch and we were the first through the door. I had my reservations, but we were feeling adventurous and the experience was a success. If we’re in that neighborhood, I believe we would lunch there again.

The menu was full of tasty things, including African Ghost Spice Fries, which were perfectly spiced. I’m sorry I didn’t ask them to elaborate on what the heck “African Ghost Spice” was, because it was not something I could identify but would love to use myself. Several items had it as a feature, most tantalizing was the African Spiced Grilled Chicken. The other item on the menu that caught my eye was bison. Almost all their beef items offered a bison option instead. I was tempted, because I like bison meat, but I felt we were already in unknown territory and bison is tricky to cook properly. We all settled on various beef burgers, each very good – moist and well flavored, served on ciabatta bread.

That brought me to my idea for a two-part recipe exchange. I have a variety of burgers I make because by mid-summer grilling the same burger recipe, while tasty, lacks challenge. I thought I’d start with four tonight and conclude with several more next week.

First up: My basic burger recipe that has never failed to produce moist, flavorful burgers. I sprung it on my parents at the age of 10 and my family has used it ever since. Recipe here.

Next up: Black Bean Cheddar Burgers (recipe here) which I love, but find the frozen ones often lack, well, everything – flavor, texture, freshness. So I went hunting for a decent recipe.

Tonight’s featured recipes are Bleu Cheese Burgers and Bison Burgers.

Are you burger fan? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? If you’re vegetarian, do you have a favorite substitute? I’m always looking for something beyond black bean burgers for meatless nights. Next week there will be flavors from around the globe to continue the theme.

Bison Burgers

You can substitute bison in almost any burger recipe, but it’s very lean, so you may want to add ground beef to it, or cheeses or additional olive oil, in order to cook a moist burger.  This recipe uses tomato sauce to keep the burgers moist.

  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs or 1 slice fresh bread, crust removed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp ea: thyme, rosemary, marjoram
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground bison
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

large deep skillet w/lid

Mix all ingredients, except oil, until well combined. Divide into 4 patties.

Heat oil in skillet, add patties. Sear for 2 minutes, each side, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Bison is a very lean meat, so you want to cook it slowly and avoid over cooking it. You can grill them, but you’ll want to do in on a very low heat on a well oiled surface and you might want to go 50/50 with lean hamburger.

Bleu Cheese Burgers

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp hot wing sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 oz blue cheese, divided into 1 oz crumbles

bowl

In bowl, combine all ingredients, except bleu cheese and mix well. Form into 8 thin patties, place 1 oz of cheese between two burgers, seal edges and gently flatten, so burger surrounds cheese. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve on onion rolls or focaccia bread.

Burger week continues…

Growing Up Trixie

Originally published 9/13/09

My first strong female literary character was Trixie Belden. She rocked. You have to be a woman, and probably a woman of a certain age, to be a hardcore Trixie fan. A friend’s sister gave me my first Trixie Belden book when I was in the hospital for surgery. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked.

It is fitting then, that I begin the series on Food in Fiction with Trixie Belden and one of the first recipes I tried on my own, cooking for my parents, adapting  and experimenting, even then.

Perfect Hamburgers

  • 1 slice bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste

Soak bread with milk for 5 minutes, mix all ingredients together completely. Form into 4 patties and grill or fry to desired doneness.

This works especially well with extra lean ground beef, keeping it moist and flavorful, even if you like them cooked to medium-well.

Burger week begins right here…

Food In Fiction: Wait, It’s Not Broccoli?

Rarely am I stumped or surprised when I’m reading and a food item comes up during a meal scene. But that happened the other day. I was reading the second book in the Lomax and Biggs series by Marshall Karp, when lo and behold, our hero is having dinner with his girlfriend and she serves him an authentic Italian meal befitting her heritage (nice Jewish girl who married a nice Italian man with a scary Italian mother) – oh, don’t worry, our hero and his girlfriend are both widowed now, so it is not an illicit dinner.   On the menu is broccoli rabe, and I was stumped. I had no idea what it was or how it was prepared.  So I did a little research and the first thing I find out is it is NOT broccoli, not even related, more like mustard greens:

The leaves, stems, and flower heads are cooked (broil, stir-fry, braise, saute, or steam) and eaten just like greens and have a flavor similar to broccoli but much more pungent. It is quite tasty with a nutty flavor and has a slightly bitter taste. Some say it is aggressively pungent and bitter. In spite of its uniqueness, broccoli raab/rabe is considered an acquired taste – but once acquired, it’s addictive! Preparing it is very easy.

I’m intrigued enough to go looking for some.  Here are two recipes I’m going to give a try:

Broccoli Rabe and Hot Italian Sausage Pasta

  • 16 ounce  farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the Italian sausage until crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and continue cooking until the sausage begins to brown, about 5 minutes more. Pour off the excess grease, then pour in the chicken broth and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the broccoli rabe, and cover. Cook until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 4 minutes.

When the broccoli rabe is done, stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper until the meat sauce has thickened. Toss with the farfalle and serve.  Serves 6-8 generously.

Lemon and Garlic Broccoli Rabe

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cleaned, stems trimmed, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Bring 1-inch of water to a boil in a deep skillet. Add rabe, season with salt, and cover pan. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Drain well.

Saute garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add rabe, coat and cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat.

Squeeze the juice of lemon over the pan and sprinkle in zest. Toss rabe and serve immediately.  Serves 4 – 6