August 26, 2012


Jim gave me a call ~ he'd decided it was his turn to cook dinner and said he wanted to make French toast. I grimaced at the thought, but said okay. Then he told me that a friend had given him a loaf of day-old jalapeño bread from a local bakery and he was going to make a savory version. Now he had me on board! 

He had some ideas, but said he wanted some technical help and we ended up creating it together. It was great for dinner but would be equally delicious for breakfast. Think huevos rancheros flavors. Many specialty bakeries and some supermarkets offer jalapeño bread. Great Harvest, which has many national locations, makes one and also makes "Popeye bread" with red pepper, spinach and Swiss cheese which would work very well, too. If you can't find anything like this, just add some minced jalapeño chiles to your egg mixture and you'll be there. 

The toast was particularly good with the chipotle based salsa on the left, but also good with a basic, store-bought salsa. Just depends what you like! 


One loaf jalapeño bread, sliced
3 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground black pepper
1/4 c. milk
Butter for pan
Cilantro leaves
Salsas or chile sauces of your choice

Combine eggs, onion, salt and pepper in shallow bowl and whisk completely. Add milk and whisk until combined.  Heat a cast iron skillet (preferably) or a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Soak bread slices in egg mixture until saturated, about 20 seconds per side. Add a dollop of butter to the pan, swirl until sizzling, then place two to three slices of soaked bread in pan, depending upon how much room you have. Fry until browned on one side, flip and brown on the other. Serve with salsa and cilantro leaves on the side. Sour cream is nice, too. 

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August 15, 2012


I needed a cooking therapy day. With all that's been going on, I haven't had much opportunity to be in the kitchen. The herb garden is lush and fragrant. The sage is blooming, I can almost see the rosemary getting taller and wider, the lavender hums with bees and the lemon verbena perfumes the air with the slightest touch. Especially when the hot days cool into evening, the scents drift to find me and I want to do more than just inhale. I also want to taste.

I decided to make some herbal simple syrup. There are so many ways to use it - in cocktails and punches, lemon or limeade, drizzling on fresh fruit, mixing into whipped cream ... mmmm, cream!

The lavender is in perfect form. When cooking with lavender, use the unopened flower buds for optimum flavor. The lemon verbena plant has plenty of leaves to spare. There are so many herbs that can be used. Rosemary makes a complex-tasting syrup that makes great cocktails using gin. Beebalm (bergamot) leaves are one of my favorites - it's the distinctive flavor of Earl Grey tea. Mint leaves are great for mojitos. Pineapple mint is especially good. Lemon or lime peel can be added while making the syrup, if you like. 

The house smelled amazing while the syrups were simmering. The lavender syrup turned out a dusty purple color which makes drinks turn pink. Very pretty! 

Here is the basic recipe for infused simple syrup:

~ Herbal or Spiced Simple Syrup ~ 

1 1/2 c. water
1 c. white sugar
Fresh herb of your choice:

- 2 T. lavender buds OR ...
- 2/3 c. packed lemon verbena leaves
- 2/3 c. packed mint leaves of any type
- 4 6-inch sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 c. packed bergamot leaves
2 T. thyme leaves

Bring sugar and water to boil. Turn down to a simmer and add herbs. Simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered. Remove from heat, let stand 15 minutes. Strain into a jar. Can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks. Or you can put them in ice trays and then into a freezer bag. Use within 3 months.

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Aspenglow / Buttered Lips by Gayle Nabrotzky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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