Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shrimp with mango mayonnaise: what's not to love?

A summer idea from Victoria Abbott here (aka Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini). 

It’s late in summer and we get tired of eating the same old same old, so when old friends were coming for lunch on a steaming hot day, we gave shrimp and mango mayonnaise a try. 

Shrimp with Mango Mayonnaise

For the shrimp base:

1 lb jumbo shrimp, cooked, drained, chilled.
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
½ Spanish onion (or other sweet onion) diced very fine.  (we will try this with finely sliced green onion the next time)
Juice of half a lime

For the mango mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
¼ cup best quality olive oil
¼ cup canola
Juice of half a lime
1 mango
Pinch of salt
2 green onions, green part only, sliced fine


Put the shrimp into a bowl,. Add the avocado cubes and the onion. Pour the lime juice over and mix, to get the lime juice everywhere.  Cover and chill.

To make the mayo:

Put the eggs yolks into the bowl of a food processor and turn it on. Add the olive oil one drop at a time (use a teaspoon for control).  Add the canola oil in a steady stream.  Make sure it’s being incorporated.  

When thick and creamy, add the lime juice. 

Peel and cube the mango.  Note the clever way that The Hubster discovered on how to do this in the series of photos below. 

It will be juicy, so do this on or near a plate.

Add the mango cubes and juice to the mayonnaise and pulse until blended. 

Some of us liked the mayo with the green onion on top. Others liked it straight. You can work that out.  

Serve the shrimp on a bed of lettuce or mixed greens and drizzle mayo on top 
or as a dip.  

This salad was a hit and our guests declared it ‘blogworthy!

When we find and test a recipe like this (modified from another English cookbook that has been waiting years for an outing), and we like the results enough to add them to the family favorites, we feel it’s something to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrating, we're celebating the coming arrival of The Wolfe Widow, the third in our book collector mystery series. It will be out on September 2nd!


That’s less than two weeks and Walter can't wait to be in print again, but we are crazy excited. 

Especially as you can   Pre-order it here! 

That also makes us happy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Smoked Salmon Chowder

by Sheila Connolly

I love to talk about Irish food. And I happen to be in Ireland at the moment, making the most of local food.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Irish food keeps evolving, and quickly. I first visited Ireland in 1998, with my husband and daughter. With just my daughter in 1999. In 2001, with a friend I’d met online because we both had ancestors who lived in a tiny townland in County Carlow. There was a pause of a few years, and then I started going back in 2011, and 2012, and twice in 2013, and now again in 2014. The trips began long before I even thought of writing, but once I started writing, I knew I had to write about Ireland, and in particular, County Cork, where my grandfather was born.

Looking back on those first few trips, I have trouble remembering any noteworthy meals, either in Dublin or out in the country (unless you count the French fry sandwich in Carlow). It was almost as though the Irish were trying to live up to their own reputation for lousy food: watery potatoes, mushy carrots, soggy cabbage and grey meat. I ate my share of it, because there weren’t a lot of choices.

But things started changing. In an Irish paper just this month, I read that West Cork is now “a byword for good food.” The writer went on to say, “anyone who doubts that West Cork is now driving the food revolution begun in Ballymaloe [site of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, also in Cork] should visit the farmers’ market in Skibbereen any Saturday morning.”

I wrote about that famers’ market after I visited last November. Believe me, this year I’ll be there, shopping bag in hand.

This year I’m going back to Ireland (unexpectedly) because the pub that I write about—that used to be called Connolly’s—is reopening this month, after it went dark several years ago, and I want to be there. Having decided that I was going, I started making a list of places I wanted to visit or revisit, and the farmers’ market was near the top of that list (right after Connolly’s and the Drombeg Stone Circle). I’m actually staying in Skibbereen this time, and can walk to the farmers’ market. And to the amazing grocery store, where last year I bought wild game. Funny—sounds like I’m flying a couple of thousand miles just to eat, doesn’t it?

But it’s not happening only in the big town (Skibbereen’s population is about 2,700), but in the smaller villages as well. There’s Leap, which now has a bistro (that opened last year) with good food. There’s tiny Union Hall (2006 population, 192, although there are plenty of summer holiday visitors), which has its own fishing operation and a fishmonger with fresh fish that make me want to weep; and a place down the road that makes its own smoked salmon; and a new distillery that makes Irish whiskey.

Yes, West Cork has discovered food--fresh, local, and outstanding. They even have a food festival (in September, alas, so I will miss it). So rather than find a cute B&B (since I’m traveling without family and friends this time), I’ve rented a small one-bedroom place so I could have a kitchen and take advantage of some of this fabulous fresh food.

And lest you think that this town has gone food-mad merely as a tourist gimmick, as a central town in the region Skibbereen has been holding weekly markets for well over a century—year round. Live chickens and ducks. Apple trees. “Tat” dealers (sort of like a flea market table). And one man who carves magic wands from bog oak. Yes, I have one.

This recipe is a nod to the Union Hall Smoked Fish Company that I hope to have explored fully by the time you read this. (Wonder how much I can fit into my carry-on?) The recipe is derived from one I found in Margaret Johnson’s The New Irish Table, into which I inserted more than a dozen sticky notes the first time I read it. Yum!

Smoked Salmon Chowder

3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
2 Tblsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
Ground white pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
Sour cream and a few fresh dill sprigs for garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms and parsley. Cook for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add the salmon and the pepper and sauté for another two minutes, until the salmon is heated through.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Return to the burner  and cook over low heat, stirring (this “cooks” the flour). Gradually add the fish stock or clam juice, stirring continuously until the flour is incorporated. Return to medium heat and bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the cream.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a spoonful of sour cream or crème fraiche and top with a dill sprig.

It's a fairly quick recipe (once you get done chopping everything!), and I have a suspicion that this soup might be good cold as well.


And since I'm talking about Ireland, here's a sneak peek at the cover for the next County Cork Mystery, An Early Wake (coming February 2015)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Farmer's Market Summer Supper @LucyBurdette #recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: Do you ever make supper according to what you see in refrigerator or at the market? I do! My hub calls it my French market method. 

Last week I saw some darling new potatoes at the market in town. And the most beautiful red onion. And the green beans were swarming our garden, along with some lovely cucumbers. Add a couple of eggs, some well done bacon crumbles, and a vinaigrette, and voilà, an easy summer dinner.


Two handfuls of fresh green beans, snipped in half
Six or so new potatoes

One small fresh red onion, peeled and sliced

4 ounces good bacon, cut into one inch pieces

Two large eggs, boiled, peeled, and sliced

  (Olive oil, vinegar, good mustard, pinch of salt)
Fresh dill, washed and snipped

Lettuce for display purposes

Sliced cucumber
Corn on the cob, if desired


Cook the eggs 10 minutes and let them cool in the pot. In another pan, simmer the potatoes until almost soft. Then add the green beans for the last three minutes of simmering. Drain the vegetables, slice the potatoes into chunks, and place in a glass bowl. Add the snipped dill and 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette, depending on how much dressing you like.

In a frying pan, sauté the bacon pieces until they are crisp and move them onto a plate covered with paper towels to drain. For the onions, you may either leave a tablespoon or so of bacon fat in the pan or start fresh with olive oil. Sauté the sliced onion until it's brown and soft. Reserve the bacon, but mix the onions in with the other vegetables.

To assemble the salad, lay out some clean pieces of lettuce. Mound the veggies on the lettuce, then layer on sliced eggs and sprinkle the crispy bacon bits on the top. Serve at room temperature with fresh corn on the cob.

MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out in December.

 Follow Lucy on Facebook

And Twitter

And Pinterest.

And lest you forget, DEADLY ADVICE, the first advice column mystery (written as Roberta Isleib) is finally available as an ebook.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Black Bean Casserole

From Daryl aka Avery

Congrats! Special giveaway for last Sunday, via a random number drawing, went to Dawn and Pokocat! Your books and mug are in the mail! Thanks for participating! And thanks to all for the great comments about a luscious steak barbecue!

I have other contests going, so see below for more details...

But first...

Moms: sometimes summer comes at you fast, right?  School starts up way before Labor Day nowadays. Football practice or band camp or cheerleading or "recommended" volunteer work kicks in. There are supplies and clothes to buy. Yipes. You need an easy dinner, one that is packed with nutrition and good flavors, so your kids...and you...don't go hungry.

This is it. When my son was in high school, I resorted to a lot of casseroles. Quick things that I could reheat packed with goodies that he liked. Luckily, he also liked these same meals for breakfast or on the weekends. Leftovers.  He adored leftovers!!  He didn't eat cereal. He still doesn't. I needed go-to items. This is one of them.  Throw it all together and what have you got?

Bibidi-bobi-boo! Magic.

By the way, Charlotte, the protagonist in my Cheese Shop mysteries, would love the combo of cheeses in this. And Jenna, the protagonist in my Cookbook Nook series, would love how EASY it is!

If desired, have a little guacamole and some warm corn tortillas on hand.

Black bean casserole

Full recipe (for 9 x 13 pan)
3 cups cooked white rice
2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 diced tomatoes
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack  OR Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped onions, if desired
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
jalapenos, if desired

Half recipe (8 x 8 pan)
1 ½ cups  cooked white rice
1 (14.5) can black beans, drained
2 diced tomatoes
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup grated cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped onions, if desired
½ tablespoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon round black pepper
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
jalapenos, if desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the appropriate size baking dish, depending on whether you’re making a full or half recipe by spraying with cooking spray.

Cook rice, according to directions.

In a large bowl, mix cooked rice, black beans, diced tomatoes, cottage cheese, grated cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped onions, parsley, black pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Pour into prepared dish.

I know, yuk, right? Ugly!

Bake in preheated oven until cheese is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Garnish with tomato slice.

There's very little that's pretty about casseroles and they don't look that good on a plate, either. But they TASTE good!
* * *

Are you on Facebook? You've got to check out the big Back to School giveaway from five of your favorite authors, including me, of course, our very own Krista Davis, Kate Carlisle, Hannah Dennison, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.  Books, mugs, book bags, and more! Go to this LINK:

Also, for STIRRING THE PLOT, which comes out September 30th, I'm going to be doing a number of giveaways. Books, mugs, stuffed kittens!  One on Facebook and another via my

Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter and "like" me on Facebook, where information about the giveaways will appear.


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
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Check out our website.

Days of Wine and Roquefort 
is out!
order here

Inherit the Word
  is out!
                                    order here

STIRRING THE PLOT is available for preorder: order here.

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so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to make Breaking Bad FRANCH Dip and Dressing – An Emmy Awards Recipe from Cleo Coyle

The Primetime Emmy Awards air next Monday, August 25. While there are many superb dramas honored with nominations, I have to admit that I'm rooting for a little black comedy/crime drama about a mild-mannered family man and school teacher who makes a big change in his life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

To save his family from financial ruin, Walter White breaks bad and pays his medical bills by entering the criminal underworld—not as an amateur sleuth. More like an amateur criminal. He uses his knowledge of chemistry to make meth with a hapless former student. The results are a mesmerizing odyssey of comedy and crime; tears and terror. It's one of the best written television shows I've ever seen, and (no surprise) it's up for a slew of well-deserved primetime Emmy Awards, including Best Drama, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, and a Best Actor nod for series star Bryan Cranston.

Breaking Bad, an offbeat AMC TV crime drama series
is a basic cable show, up for multiple Emmy Awards.
The awards show takes place Monday night 8/25.

So why am I featuring Breaking Bad in my weekly recipe blog post? Because, frankly, the show features a lot of cooking. 

Okay, much of that cooking involves Walter White cooking up a narcotic called Blue Sky (aka Blue Magic). But...his distribution partner owns a chicken franchise called Los Pollos Hermanos, and the legit food looks mighty good, I must say.

The show’s culinary legacy also involves a corrupt executive from a German food conglomerate. One unforgettable episode opened with a taste-tester sampling new dipping sauces created by its food lab.

What happens next, I won't spoil. Instead, I'll focus on the intriguing mention of a dipping sauce the lab called "Franch."

Described as a combination of America’s neon-orange French dressing and traditional Ranch, a "recipe" for Franch went viral as soon as it was mentioned on the incredibly popular show. 

A trio of editors from the Huffington Post even made a batch on YouTube by blending bottled dressings in equal measure. 



NOTE - If you choose to use bottled dressing,
the key to success is getting the ratio right when you
mix the two dressings. 
I give you a quick tip on how
to do it in my 
second Franch recipe below. ~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

Cleo Coyle's (version of) 

The Breaking Bad

Franch Dip and Dressing 

This delicious dressing mentioned in an episode of the television show Breaking Bad marries the sweet, tangy zing of French with the creamy zest of Ranch. It's fantastic as a dipping sauce for chicken tenders, raw veggies, onion rings, and French fries. It works wonderfully as a salad dressing and sandwich spread. It's even quite tasty on hamburgers.

Marc and I will be whipping up a new batch for the Emmy Awards show next Monday. Whether you're breaking bread or Breaking Bad, we hope you enjoy the show...and eat with joy. 

~ Cleo
To download this free
recipe PDF,
click here.

To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes about 2 cups


2/3 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dry)

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dry)

1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dry)

3 whole scallions, minced (including the green part)

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons ketchup

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon red hot sauce

½ teaspoon cider vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice

2/3 cup mayonnaise (more or less) to thicken

Directions: Blend all of the ingredient, except the lime juice and mayonnaise. Add the lime juice and blend again. Adjust spices for taste, and then add mayonnaise, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dressing reaches desired thickness. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Dressing will stay fresh for up to five days.

Cleo's Criminally Easy 

Franch Dip and Dressing


2/3 cup of bottled Ranch Dressing
1/3 cup bottled French Dressing

Directions: Combine well and enjoy. Like the scratch version, this recipe works wonderfully as a salad dressing and makes an excellent dip for raw veggies, chicken nuggets, onion rings, and French fries. We even enjoy it as a sandwich spread, and it's quite tasty on hamburgers, too. 

May you...

Eat with joy!

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

 Happy News! 

Just in from
our editor...


Our hardcover
bestseller is now
an official bestseller
in paperback!

*Starred Review ~ Kirkus
"Top Pick" ~ RT Book Reviews
"A highly satisfying mystery" - PW

Billionaire Blend
A Coffeehouse Mystery

This culinary murder mystery features
more than 30 delicious recipes, including
secret "off the menu" coffee drinks.
Read (and eat) with joy!

See the Billionaire Blend
Recipe Guide 
by clicking here.


Download a Free Title Checklist for
all 13 Coffeehouse Mysteries
(with mini plot summaries)
clicking here.

To sign up for Cleo Coyle's
fun E-Newsletter and weekly
free coffee drawings,
click here.

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