Amanda Usen on True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes
Posted by Beth Andrews Jul 3 2012, 4:16 am
Today I’m thrilled to welcome author and chef Amanda Usen to the lair! I met Amanda a few weeks ago when I gave a workshop in Buffalo, NY, and I knew right away you’d all find her as smart, witty and as much fun as I did *g* Here’s Amanda:
True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes
My husband is a fantastic gardener, and his favorite thing to grow is heirloom tomatoes. He grows different kinds every year. This year we are waiting on Orange Jubilee, the Charlie Chaplin, Chocolate Drop, Gooseberry and Brandywine. The names are almost as much fun as the tomatoes, and my husband can’t resist the more unusual varieties. Last year, he had a ball offering friends samples of his Cream Sausage and Black Seamen tomatoes. Seriously, who could resist?
Each year we discover a new favorite, although Orange Jubilee and Brandywine always make it into the mix. I also love the Yellow Currant (so tiny and cute), Black Pearl (like a cherry tomato but darker, and sweet as candy) and Rainbow (as pretty as it sounds).
It’s an unspoken rule in the household that we don’t buy any tomatoes at the grocery store or even at the farmers’ market. We wait for our tomatoes…although I want them now! I can’t wait to sit on the back porch with a glass of wine and eat grilled bruschetta until I absolutely cannot hold another bite. It is our simplest summer pleasure, but it feeds my soul. I can taste the sunshine on the tomatoes and basil. The juicy tomato water soaks into the bread, adding flavor. The kiss of salt, pepper and grill char add mystery. Garlic gives it bite…and a little bit of risk. It’s best to know who you’re going to kiss when you’re eating bruschetta!
Since my husband and I are both chefs, I always use our recipes in my books. It makes the research easier, except when my husband is cooking and I say, “Wait! I want to measure all of your ingredients for my blog!” So far that has only happened while he was making chimichurri http://amandausen.wordpress.com/chimichurri/ but I plan to nab his meatball recipe soon.
Since Luscious, my second culinary romance, is set in Italy, I put grilled bruschetta on my characters’ menu. It couldn’t be easier to make, but somehow it transcends the simplicity of its ingredients. Grilling the bread does something magical. No fancy-schmancy chef stuff in this recipe. If you can slice bread, tomatoes, basil and garlic and operate a grill, you can have your very own simple summer pleasure. Note: For a truly Luscious experience, enjoy the bruschetta with a glass of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay. I helped harvest and crush the grapes for that vintage while doing research for the book! Here’s the recipe:
Luscious Grilled Bruschetta
Enough tomatoes to make 2 Cups, seeded, diced
5 good leaves of fresh basil or 1 t pesto
¼ clove of garlic mashed with ¼ t salt
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Use a serrated knife to slice the bread into ¼ inch ovals, on the bias. That means set your knife up at a 90 degree angle to the bread, and then twist the knife about 30 degrees to the side and start sawing.
- Brush the bread with a little bit of olive oil, then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Heat the grill.
- Next, make what we refer to in my house as “tomato glop.” Dice your tomatoes, leaving as many seeds as possible on the cutting board. Fold the basil leaves into a tiny package, and slice it across one way to make thin ribbons. Then slice across the other way to chop. Use a Chef’s knife to mince your garlic and smash it into a paste with the salt. Mix the tomatoes, basil and garlic in a small bowl.
- Grill the bread until each side is marked.
- Top each slice of bread with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Eat. Mmmmmmm! Summer lovin’!
I know, I know…it sounds too easy. It is. I hope you’ll try it and tell me if you like it as much as I do.
Thanks so much to the Romance Bandits for hosting me today! I love sharing books and recipes. For the chance to win a copy of Luscious, leave me a comment and tell me your simple summer pleasure. Margaritas on the deck? Ice cream on the porch? Water balloons in the yard? I’d love to hear from you!
Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own luscious husband. If you want to chat about romance, writing or recipes, please visit her blog Writer. Chef. Romantic. http://www.amandausen.com where you can find recipes for many of the yummy dishes in her books. She can also be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amandausen and Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/AmandaUsen
Eat, play, love
Plain old ice cream just isn’t going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She’s been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there’s no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting…or will it all go up in flames?
Posted in Amanda Usen, guest blogger, Luscious, recipes, Scrumptious