Buchman action adventure thriller romance writer's recipes

“Skibird” Lazy-night Frittata

Recipe (printable PDF)
Miranda Chase #11


“What’s this? More stragglers?” The chef called out when he spotted them. “You folks from the crash team they’ve been squawking about so fierce?”

“Aye, that be us.” Miranda did her best to sound like Holly, which earned her surprised looks from the rest of the team. Maybe she’d simply keep her mouth shut in the future.

“Ah well, what’s to be is to be. You’ll take what I feed ya and like it too.”

“Yes sir.”

“Dan’s the name. Been cooking for these folks onto five seasons. Know egg-xactly what folks new to The Ice need. A taste of home.” He poured most of a pitcher of whipped eggs onto a big griddle. After chasing the edges together a couple times with big spatulas that he used like an extension of his arms, he tossed on a fistful of smoked salmon and another of dried chives until it was more buff and green than yellow. He set five plates on the warmer and waved a hand toward a large coffee urn. “Load yourselves up. Be done here quicker’n you can dance on a dime.”

As the others were filling their mugs with coffee, she turned to inspect the room. Though it was the height of summer in Antarctica, Christmas decorations abounded.

NOTE: This is my zero-energy meal, one step above a bowl of yogurt and fruit because it’s so easy to throw together. The first time or two may be scary, but this has been a weekly or so staple for years.

Total time: 10-15 minutes

The Eggs

  • 2 eggs per person in a deep bowl
  • An oven-proof pan with a metal or silicon handle. (2 eggs in an 8” pan, 4 in a 10” pan, 6 in a 10” or 12”) (I use a non-stick pan but real omelet pans work well too. If you don’t have a pan with an oven-proof handle, see the note below.)
  • A splash of “expander” (cream, milk, soymilk, even water), a scant 1/4 c. per 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper eggs to taste
  • 1/4 c. favorite cheese shredded or sliced thin, harder (or very soft) is better. Cheddar or Parmesan are favorites. Mozzarella or jack get all stringy.

The Fillings (Almost anything. This is a real fridge-cleaner. “What do we have lying around?”)

  • 1/8 c. per person diced red onion and a fistful of small broccoli florets
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Feta (rather than Cheddar) and halved Greek olives
  • Crumbled bacon
  • or plain cheese (laid on a little heavier)
  • The one in the photo below is a deluxe version:
    • 4 oz. smoked, cracked-pepper salmon
    • Chives and scallions (I did half and half and preferred the scallions)
    • 10 chopped black olives
    • 1/2 c. shredded Cheddar and 1/4 c. light cream cheese


  1. Start the toast. (Yes, unless you have a very fast toaster, it will go that fast.)
  2. Heat the pan on med-hi for 1-2 minutes with a 1/2 Tbsp. butter or 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil.
  3. If you have ingredients that need pre-cooking (onions, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.), throw them in once the pan is hot. Get them most of the way cooked. But not all the way because the al dente bite of the fillings can be a nice contrast to the delicate eggs. (You may want to delay starting the toast until they’re nearly done.)
  4. Whisk the eggs hard with a fork or whisk, hence the deep bowl. (It’s the extra air that adds to the fluffiness.)
  5. Pour into the pan. If other things were pre-cooking, pour the eggs right over them and everything will be incorporated. (Ideally, the eggs should sizzle a bit if the pan is hot enough.)
  6. Turn down to medium (or even a little lower if you have a hot stove).
  7. Swirl the eggs a bit. Give them a bit of a shuffle in the pan with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon, or a good rhythmic shake of the pan. Pop any big bubbles.
  8. As it starts to cook, leave the center alone. But scrape and fold the thin edges inward. Then slowly swirl the pan at a low angle to spread fresh egg to the edges. Let them cook a little, then scrape inward again and repeat several times.
  9. Somewhere in here, put the oven rack on the second highest position. Set the broiler on high. (Note: if you don’t have an oven-proof pan, then you’ll toss a cover on the pan in the next step—bottom of a cookie sheet if you don’t have a big enough lid. In 2-4 minutes everything should have firmed up nicely.)
  10. When the middle is still sloppy, but the eggs won’t readily swirl past the edges, sprinkle on any other fillings, with the cheese last.
  11. Broil for 2-4 minutes. (Do NOT do this without a timer. Check every minute. Out around minute 3, it goes from perfect to burnt terribly fast.)
  12. When the cheese is melted and everything is nicely golden, serve. The egg layer should be quite puffed up. If not, give it another minute or whip the eggs harder next time.

10″ pan and 4 eggs with cream expander, salt, and pepper. Fillings: cream cheese, and on the board are chopped olives, salmon, chives, scallions, and Cheddar.

Into the broiler when it looks like this and the top of the eggs are just a little loose.

These are the fanciest toppings I’ve ever done, and I’ve never made two halves different before. It worked well in case you have a picky eater. (Cheddar, light amount smoked salmon, scallion, and sauteed mushrooms to the front, and heavy salmon, chives, and cream cheese to the rear.)

And now out of the broiler 3 minutes later. Tip onto the plate and use the pan edge to fold it over is it slides out. This is served with a fresh-toasted sourdough bagel I’d baked earlier in the day. A proper feast for hungry denizens of Australia’s Casey Station on the shores of Antarctica.
Recipe (printable PDF)
Buchman action adventure thriller romance writer's recipes

“Lightning” Chicken Piccata

Recipe (printable PDF)

action adventure thriller buchmanEXCERPT:

“They burned one of my ships with an orbital laser?” President Roy Cole sounded… Miranda reached for her notebook.

“Aghast,” Andi whispered.

“Oh,” Miranda nodded as the waiter served a course of chicken in lemon sauce with asparagus and fingerling potatoes. Then she shook her head. “The ship was only burned a little. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t seen the setting sun reflecting differently off the exposed section of the landing runway.”

“Then what happened to the ship?”

“Oh, that was completely because of the pilot’s actions. I thought that was clear. I inspected his canopy, helmet, flightsuit, and seat. Then I had the medical staff rush an autopsy. I don’t think they were pleased.”

She’d had to have Susan go to the captain and order it. It was far more important than broken bones and people’s various remaining burns remaining from the firefight. All of the critical patients had already been treated.

“They’re asking what you found out, Miranda.” Andi whispered.

“Oh. He’d been cooked.”

Then she looked around the table, then whispered to Andi, “Why am I the only one still eating?”

NOTE: I love making this dish. It’s one of my signature dishes. It’s incredibly simple, quite healthy, and punchy with flavor. My family requests it often. It creates a lush and tangy sauce, so it goes great with rice. Steamed red cabbage or broccoli, or a quick sauté of veggies with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar will make the colors really pop on the plate.

Active time: 30 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes

Serves 4 (plus great leftovers)

Ingredients for Chicken

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 small lemons
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Ingredients to Cook

  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (olive oil will scorch)
  • 1 largish shallot, sliced thin, or
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 c. chicken stock or broth

Ingredients to Finish

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced (2 tsp. dried works in a pinch, but add one step earlier to hydrate it)

Prep Instructions

  1. Slice a lemon in half the long way, pole to pole. Trim off the ends.
  2. Juice half, then slice the skin 1/8” – 1/4” thick.
  3. Juice the other half and the whole second lemon.
  4. Slice the chicken into cutlets.
    1. Remove the cutlet from the bottom of the breast, if any.
    2. Place the breast with the fat end toward your non-knife hand.
    3. Starting 3” back, slice 1/2” thick toward the fat end. Do not cut through. Instead, flop the cut part over.
    4. Start 1/2” behind that, slice 1/2” thick toward the fat end. Cut through (watch your fingers).
    5. You should end up with a nice large piece of chicken, perhaps the size of your hand, and 1/2” thick.
    6. Repeat for all of the chicken. (At the thin end, just fake it, it’s not critical, but no thicker than 1/2”.)
  5. Sprinkle both sides of the cutlets generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Put the flour into a shallow dish or plate.
  7. Flop each cutlet in the flour, making sure no chicken remains unfloored. Shake off the excess. Set aside on another plate.

Cook the Chicken

  1. Put oven rack at lower-middle position, put a large heatproof plate on the rack. Heat oven to lowest setting.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil over med-high heat in large heavy-bottomed skillet until it shimmers.
  3. Lay down as much chicken as will fit without overlapping. You’ll have to cook in batches, adding another 1-2 Tbsp. of oil as needed.
  4. Sauté the cutlets until lightly browned (2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side).
  5. Put on the plate in the oven to keep warm.

The Sauce and the Finish

  1. Over medium heat in the same skillet, sauté the shallot (30 seconds) or garlic (10 seconds) until fragrant.
  2. Add the stock and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and scrape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula to loosen the browned bits.
  3. Simmer 1-2 minutes to reduce the liquid by half (a lot will have flashed off as you first pour it in).
  4. Off the heat, swirl in the parsley and the butter to thicken the sauce. A dash of salt (if you used low-sodium broth) and a dash of pepper to finish.
  5. Chicken propped on rice and drizzled with sauce is lovely. Yes, you can eat the lemon slices too, the sharp and delightful without being bitter. (Tomorrow, toast the chicken to recrisp and eat in a sandwich or with any leftover sauce and rice.)
Butterflying chicken. Crazy good with a side of roasted cauliflower and crumbled bacon. Or just serve on rice with any side veggie.
Recipe (printable PDF)

NerdGuy Fridays: Dispatches from a Writer's Brain - M. L. Buchman

NerdGuy Friday #40: it’s all about the heat

action-adventure thriller buchmanSo, the next Miranda Chase novel, Gryphon, came back from the proofreader a couple days ago. And she made one tiny edit that got me thinking, and that’s the subject of today’s Nerd-out.

The edit was to correct Ccentigrade (lower case rather than upper). That tiny change launched me down the rabbit hole. And now I’ll share it with you because it’s kind of cool.


This has always been such a strange measurement. In 1724 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit decided to create a scale for temperature. For 0°F he chose the freezing point of a briny solution not too dissimilar from seawater: water, ice, and ammonium chloride (a salt). For 90° he chose the estimated temperature of the human body, later corrected to 96°F (nope, not up to 98.6°F yet, maybe we were colder back then [grin]).

That gave us a freezing point of pure water at 32°F and a boiling point of 212°F, offering 180° divisions between the two. Is it any wonder that almost the entire world has discarded this silly measurement system?


Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius came along in 1742 and developed the far more sensible centigrade scale. Centi=100, so it’s the 100-gradiant scale from 100°C freezing of pure water to 0°C for boiling point at sea level. (Yes, that’s how it began.)

A curious fact is that while most of the world called it centigrade, Sweden very sensibly named it (as Fahrenheit’s scale was) for the inventor, the Celsius scale. Amusing historical tidbit, the next year Jean-Pierre Christin, a French physicist among other talents, inverted the scale to range from 0°C freezing to 100°C boiling. He also built the Thermometer of Lyon using mercury in a tube to accurately measure the temperatures between these two points.


As a further side note here, a English chap eventually named Lord Kelvin stumbled into the fray in 1848. In theoretical physics there is a point called Absolute Zero at which everything is so cold that all motion stops. It is the limitless, energy-less, heat-death of the far future of the universe kind of cold, one still not created in the most intense lab experiments (most of outer space hovers around 2.7°K).

However, that point is calculated to be -273.16°C. This becomes awkward in discussions of such phenomena. Therefore, he created what is still known as the Kelvin scale by adding 273.16°C to the centigrade scale. The universe stops moving at 0°K, water turns to a liquid at 273.16°K, and boils at 373.16°K. Just sayin’.

And the Kelvin Scale does not stand alone. The Rankine Scale adds 459.67° to the Fahrenheit Scale to adjust 0°R to match Absolute Zero. If you want to explore some others, including Newton’s scale of 33° from freezing to boiling, start HERE.


More and more of the world has shifted away from the English system by this process (should be metrification, but no one asked for my opinion) in favor of metric or SI (International Standard of Units). So much so that of all the world, only the US remains officially using English units. Even the US military has converted. Yet, because of our world leadership, (I’m trying to be kind) airplane flight levels the world over are still referred to in 1,000s of feet, FL37 is a Flight Level at thirty-seven thousand feet. Though this is slowly changing to metric as well and the metrication (metrification) of that is an issue that gives me the flight-safety shivers just thinking about it.


Anyway, back to our point. In 1948, along comes the International Committee for Weights and Measures. It is noted that centigrade is an inappropriate term. Why? Because there’s a unit in metric called a gradian. It’s equal to 1/100th of a right angle, so a circle equals 400 gradians. Certainly an improvement over 360 degrees. A centigradian is therefore not someone who studies metrified (see, the wants to be there) temperature, but is rather a right-angle turn. Worse, a gradian had multiple names, depending on the language, including: gon, grad, and (most awkward of all) grade.

Hence, a centigrade is both a right angle and a degree of temperature.

This was rectified by renaming the Centigrade Scale to the Celsius Scale and renaming the degrees to match. So, since the formal adoption of the change in 1954, anyone referring to centigrade is referring to gradiants of an angle—they only think that they’re talking about temperature.

Sweden, being sneaky, ducked through clean, because they’ve been calling it Celsius after their homegrown boy for 281 years already.

In Gryphon and future books, you’ll find Celsius, not centigrade…unless I’m talking about angles.

Pre-Order Gryphon Now (coming Jan 23, 2024)
Buchman action adventure thriller romance writer's recipes

“Start the Chase” Ma Po Bean Curd

Recipe (printable PDF)
Miranda Chase #9


Andrea forced herself to relax by brute force—which failed miserably. “Other than each of my flight tests, it’s the first time I’ve had an FAA official aboard.”

“Ooo! Am I scary? I always wanted to be scary, but my kids say that I’m a complete failure in that department.”

“Yes!” Andrea blurted it out. “Well, scarier than Mister Corporate Executive Number Eighty-four who is convinced of his own self worth beyond all—” She clamped her mouth shut. Another Hell-Air policy was to never trash talk any client, ever. That was not one of Mother’s policies. Raking clients’ reputations over a dish of spicy Ma Po Tofu or Dan Dan Pork Noodles at the dinner table was a favorite family pastime.

“Excellent. Will it ruin it for you if I tell you that I’m a curriculum writer for the FAA? I design and write the coursework for inspectors and air traffic controllers.”

Andrea managed to unearth a small laugh.

NOTE: Traditionally this dish has no veggies (except one lone scallion). Keep the veggies light, or they’ll bury the flavor, but I do add in some.

Total time: 10-15 minutes (start rice or rice noodles early)

Serves 4


  • 16 oz. firm bean curd (some prefer soft, but it turns to mush too easily for me), cut into generous 1/2” cubes

Sauce (all mixed together and set aside)

  • 1 c. chicken broth or bouillon
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce (we use low-sodium, easier to control flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (just a pinch if using full-power soy sauce)

For the Sauté

  • Optional veggies (1-2 c. total): 1/2 sm. red onion sliced thin, chopped cabbage, sm. broccoli florets, etc.
  • 2 oz. ground pork (Yes, it really is needed. Ground beef works as well. Can substitute Shitake mushrooms for veggie option [presoak and sauté with veggies].)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chili paste (I especially like Black Bean Garlic Paste here.)

To Finish

  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch in small bowl
  • 1 – 2 scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. hot chili oil (Sriracha works here if you have nothing else.)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. ground Szechuan brown pepper (Surprisingly crucial. In a pinch, substitute 1/2 tsp. black pepper with 1/8 tsp. white pepper.)


Warning: Like most Chinese cooking, the effort is in the prep. The cooking goes very fast.

  1. Heat pan (wok) on medium high with a good drizzle of vegetable oil (not olive oil).
  2. Sauté veggies 2-3 minutes until edges soften.
  3. Scrape to one side, add meat. Work with spoon or spatula to cook into crumbles.
  4. As soon as the meat is mostly cooked, scrape a hole and toss in the garlic and chili paste. Keep mixing quickly for 30 seconds until aromatic. (don’t overcook)
  5. Pour in sauce. Mix well. Add bean curd.
  6. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a fast simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Scoop several tablespoons hot cooking liquid into small bowl with cornstarch. Work until smooth. Add back into the pot. Mix well.
  8. Toss in scallion.
  9. It will thicken quickly (1-2 minutes). Stir constantly.
  10. Once it makes a nice thick sauce, remove from heat, stir in sesame oil and hot chili oil. Sprinkle with brown pepper. One last stir to mix.
  11. Serve over rice or rice noodles. Keep the hot chili oil on the table for those with 3-star and hotter taste buds.

It’s not very colorful but…Oh, so good!

Recipe (printable PDF)

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