Chef Janis McLean’s Asparagus Frittata

Janis McLean’s Asparagus Frittata

This is one of Janis’s favorite quick spring suppers. “Serve this frittata with a loaf of crusty (whole grain) bread and a nice green salad and you can have dinner on the table in nothing flat!! Also lovely on a spring brunch table. It can be served room temperature, so it is perfect for entertaining, as it can be done ahead!” said Janis, Bistrot Le Zinc’s executive chef.


Serves 1

4 asparagus spears (2 oz)

1 scallion (spring onion)

1/2 tablespoon Canola or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 eggs

1 heaping tablespoon of ricotta cheese

1 pinch salt

1 good grind of the pepper mill


Preheat oven to 4000degrees

1. Wash the asparagus spears in cold water (rather than holding it under running water, dunk it in a pan of water so that you can clean the tight heads). Starting at the head — cut it into thin slices on the bias (angle), working your way down until you reach the woody end. Discard the bottom end which will be tough. Slice the scallion in the same manner (on the bias) starting at the white end and working up the onion until you reach the raggedy end (discard tippy-top dark green portion).

2. Heat a 7’ skillet over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking (3 minutes). Toss in the oil – it should sizzle.  When the foaming subsides, add the asparagus slivers and cook over brisk heat until tender (about 1 ½ to 2 minutes). Meanwhile break the eggs into a medium sized bowl, add the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper and whisk until thoroughly blended.

3. Turn the heat down to low, add scallions to the asparagus in the pan and tip in the egg mixture  — it should sizzle when it hits the pan. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, gently draw in the base of frittata as it set — pulling in from the sides toward the center — working your way around the outside circle of the pan — in a clover leaf pattern — this will allow what is unset to flow to the bottom of the pan. Once you have made two complete passed around, stop or you will have scrambled eggs, not a frittata.

4. Place in 4000degree oven, and cook until the frittata is set through (about 3 minutes). Place a heatproof plate over the pan, and carefully tip it all upside over to remove the frittata (what was the bottom, is now the top!). Then carefully slide it back into the sauté pan — set it back in the oven for 1 minutes to allow the bottom side to set. (or turn on the broiler to finish the top)

5. Remove from the oven. Slide out onto a plate.  This also makes a lovely snack if you cool it to room temperature and serve, cut into wedges.

(c) Janis McLean, all rights reserved

Kale Recipe Quest: Making this “Superfood” Delicious!

Janis McLean's Kale Quesadilla with Chipoltle Salsa

Kale: does it evoke rapture? Anticipation? I fear you may be scrunching your face at the mention of kale. I completely understand! I’m constantly looking for ways of making kale and other deep green leafy vegetables delicious, and regularly surprised at how easy it actually is. If you can let go of any skepticism and trust me on this, I think you will be very pleased, too…

Do you have kale recipes you’d like to share? In my “Kale Recipe Quest,” here are some of my favorites. I’d love to know what you think…

Carla Hall’s Hearty Greens Salad with Warm Balsamic Cherry Vinaigrette

Roberto Donna’s White Beans, Kale and Shrimp Salad with Basil Dressing

Janis McLean’s Kale Quesadillas with Chipoltle Salsa

Eggs Scrambled with Onions, Garlic, Kale and Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

Deep Green Leafy Vegetables have the highest antioxidant content of all vegetables. High in fiber, they are rich in minerals, B-vitamins, beta-carotene, and lutein, a compound which may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of preventable blindness). Absorption of carotenoids, such as lutein, in your body is increased by cooking and by the presence of fat (so cook in a little healthy olive or canola oil!)

Robin ‘Poldark’ Ellis Charms Washington, D.C. and Me

Photo: Acorn Media

It’s official. Now that I’ve met Robin Ellis in person during his recent Washington, D.C. visit, I have gone completely gaga over this talented and elegant actor, chef, and author, and his warm and lovely collaborator and wife, Meredith Wheeler. But I’m also charmed by his cookbook, website, and blog. I believe you will agree, and feel transported… inspired… to live a better, healthier life.

When I heard Robin Ellis was coming to D.C. to promote his new Mediterranean cookbook, I jumped into action, and so did a group of generous, community-minded people who came together to give Ellis and Wheeler a warm Washington, D.C. welcome. Washington Fine Properties’ Nancy Taylor Bubes opened her home and her heart to more than 80 guests, the American Institute of Wine and Food  co-sponsored, Bistrot Le Zinc Executive Chef, Janis McLean, demonstrated one of Ellis’s signature recipes, and at least twenty guests and fans brought dishes from Ellis’s book.

Ellis is known worldwide as the swashbuckling Captain Ross Poldark, the lead character in the classic BBC Masterpiece Theater series, “Poldark,” originally aired in the 1980s, but recently hailed as “a cure for your ‘Downton Abbey’ blues,” by Los Angeles Times media critic, Robert Lloyd, after viewing the series for the first time. I agree  with Mr. Lloyd: but expect a LOT more action, excitement, and ribaldry!

“Over 29 episodes, social and political intrigue ensue, with heaving bosoms and rugged landscapes and a soaring musical score,” said The Washington Post’s Bonnie Benwick. I’ve enjoyed watching the new DVD version of “Poldark,” available from Acorn Media, where I’ve incidentally conducted wellness programs (it’s a small world, isn’t it?).

Robin Ellis makes a few remarks to the gathering in Georgetown. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

For the past twenty years, Robin Ellis has lived in the south of France with his American wife, Meredith Wheeler, and their menagerie of animals, where he has collected and tested recipes while becoming an accomplished chef. I feel so fortunate he was willing to share his time, his talents, and his evocative stories and photos of his life in the south of France. His culinary experiences and travels, and even step-by-step recipe instructions, have been an inspiration.

Robin Ellis' home base in the south of France. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

Ellis was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes twelve years ago and has managed to keep the disease controlled, stay healthy, fit, and even optimistic. “After a few weeks of shock, and ‘why me,’ the diagnosis became an opportunity to get into shape,” said Ellis. “It opened up a whole new culinary path.” His new book, “Delicious Dishes for Diabetics: Eating Well with Type 2 Diabetes” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011) is for anyone who loves Mediterranean classics. The Mediterranean diet is one I heartily endorse for anyone for superior health, but also, satisfying dining. I’ve witnessed the surprise, relief, and joy when my clients stabilize, and even reverse their Type 2 Diabetes. Robin Ellis did it and you can too!

See a few recipes and a beautiful video montage of Robin Ellis cooking in the south of France

Read The Washington Post’s story about my March 7 Robin Ellis event in Georgetown which contains details about Robin Ellis’ life and new cookbook

Read Robin’s own account of the Georgetown Event on his blog

Read about the Robin ‘Poldark’ Ellis cookbook reception in The Georgetown Dish

Janis McLean and Robin Ellis demonstrating "Salmon Fishcakes with a Sauce of Yogurt, Mustard and Dill"... Katherine "helping" in background. Photo by Robert Arnold


The crowd watching as Janis McLean and Robin Ellis entertain. Photo by Robert Arnold


Robin Ellis signing books in Nancy's kitchen...before the event. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

Friends/Volunteers Begin Preparations in the Kitchen. Katherine Tallmadge, Elizabeth Mautner, Zach Lipson, Johanna Medlin. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

Nancy Taylor Bubes’ dining table was brimming with simple yet sublime Mediterranean dishes “Roasted Eggplant Slices with a Walnut and Garlic Spread,” “Grilled Lamb Chops with Rosemary,” “Tzatziki,” “Fennel Salad with Parmesan Shavings,” “Minestrone,” “Grilled Strips of Duck Breast smothered in Walnut and Garlic Sauce,” “Rice and Spinach Torte,” “Tuna and White Bean Salad,” “Spinach Salad with Bacon and Avocado,” “Goat Cheeses served with Apple and Pear Slices,” and more…

Liz McGuinness with a few dishes assembled before guests arrive. Photo by Helen Belletti

Debbie Weil, Lisa Lambert, Hostess Nancy Taylor Bubes, Roxanne Fleming. Photo by Johanna Medlin

Michelle Molotsky, Robin & Meredith, and Robert Arnold

Katherine with Marcia Horting and Marc Marzullo

Elizabeth Mautner and Phyllis Frucht


Ben and Anne Vendegrift and Katherine Tallmadge with Robin Ellis. Photo by Robert Arnold

Helen Belletti and Robin Ellis

Robin Ellis with Hedvika Krone. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

Robin Ellis and Michele Reilly Hall. Photo by Helen Belletti

Robin Ellis and Bonnie Benwick relax before the event. Photo by Meredith Wheeler

Robin & Meredith surprised me with a lunch invitation at D.C.’s iconic “Kramerbooks & Afterwards” the day after… I feel truly blessed!

You Are Invited to a Cookbook-Signing Reception with Robin “Poldark” Ellis on March 7

Please RSVP TODAY for the March 7 Robin Ellis book-signing and reception. Attendance is limited. See invitation and video montage below...

I have been completely charmed by actor, chef, and author Robin Ellis, his cookbook, website, and posts – and I believe you will be too. This is why I’m so pleased to ask you to join me, Nancy Taylor-Bubes, Robin Ellis, and his wife Meredith for a book-signing reception, celebrating the publishing of Ellis’s new Mediterranean cookbook. As you may know, the Mediterranean lifestyle and way of eating is one I heartily endorse!

Ellis is known worldwide as the swashbuckling Captain Ross Poldark, the lead character in the classic BBC series, “Poldark,” recently hailed as “a cure for your ‘Downton Abbey’ blues,” by Los Angeles Times media critic, Robert Lloyd, after viewing the series for the first time. I agree  with Mr. Lloyd, only expect a LOT more action, excitement, and ribaldry! I’ve enjoyed watching the new DVD version of “Poldark,” available for the first time from Acorn Media, coincidentally a company close to my heart, as I have had the good fortune to conduct wellness programs with Acorn’s extraordinary staff (it’s a small world, isn’t it?).

For the past twenty years, Robin Ellis has lived in the south of France with his American wife, Meredith, and their menagerie of animals, where he has collected and tested recipes while becoming an accomplished chef. I feel so fortunate he is willing to share his time, his talents, and share a few stories about his life in the south of France with us. I hope you’ll join me, Nancy, the American Institute of Wine & Food, and Chef Janis McLean, in giving Robin and Meredith a warm American welcome!


HOSTS: Nancy Taylor-Bubes and Katherine Tallmadge

CO-SPONSOR: The American Institute of Wine and Food

SPECIAL GUEST COOKING DEMONSTRATION BY: Executive Chef, Janis McLean, Bistrot Le Zinc

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 7, 2012;   6 – 8 pm

PLACE: Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

COST: $15.00 at the door, which provides you with a signed copy of Robin Ellis’s new cookbook

R.S.V.P. (and to receive more details)

DONATION: If you wish, you are invited to bring a dish from Robin Ellis’s cookbook or blog. When you send your RSVP, communicate your interest to bring a dish, and I will send you several recipes you could consider. You could also consider recipes on Robin’s website and the few examples on my website.

BOOKS: Provided by independently owned Bridge Street Books of Georgetown


Please RSVP no later than Tuesday, March 6

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