Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Apple Gouda Bacon Quiche #recipe from author @AveryAames

Whenever I'm writing a Cheese Shop Mystery, I try to focus a lot of my energy on finding recipes that include the cheese of the day. For As Gouda As Dead, I made a lot of "gouda" dishes.  Yes, pun intended.

I realize that I've shared a couple of quiche recipes this past year. I hope you don't mind that I'm sharing yet another one. Quiche is so easy to make. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Charlotte, as many of you know, makes a daily quiche for Fromagerie Bessette. When they're gone, they're gone! And they do run out.

This one incorporates so many things I love to eat, that I couldn't pass up making it. Yes, this is my own creation, though I have to admit I scoured the Internet for ideas of combinations. What could be bad about bacon and apples, right? Sweet and savory. Add cheese and smile!

In fact it's so easy, I'm going to make this one again this week when I have family in. My son and DIL are moving to Los Angeles!  Whee!  Brunch is definitely on after the movers have come and gone. Perhaps I'll serve



(Serves 4-6)

1 pie shell (home baked, recipe below, or store-bought, usually frozen)
1 green apple, pared and sliced into thin slices
4-6 slices of bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
½ cup sour cream
       ½ cup whipping cream

       ½ cup milk

       ½ cup mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)

       2 eggs

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake pie shell for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.

Arrange apple slices in cooled pie shell.  Arrange crumbled bacon on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

In a small bowl, mix sour cream, whipping cream, milk, mascarpone cheese, and eggs. Mix in the shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie shell on top of the apples and bacon. [The apples and bacon will rise in the cream. Don’t worry.]  Dust with cinnamon, if desired.
Bake 35 minutes until quiche is firm and lightly brown on top.

[Note from Charlotte: If you need to eat gluten-free, either use a gluten-free pastry mix, a store-bought pie crust, or substitute the sifted flour in the Pastry Dough recipe  below with gluten-free flour. My favorite combo is sweet rice flour mixed with tapioca starch. Add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum to the mix. And make sure you roll out the dough between parchment paper for best flexibility. Gluten-free dough doesn’t hold together as well as regular dough, but be patient.]


1 ¼ cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
6 tablespoons butter or shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash on pastry (see below)
Kosher salt

Put flour and salt into food processor fitted with a blade. Cut in 3 tablespoons of butter or shortening and pulse for 30 seconds. Cut in another 3 tablespoons of butter. Pulse again for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons water and pulse a third time, for 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the food processor and form into a ball using your hands. Wrap with wax paper or Saran wrap. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle flour on a countertop or board. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and remove the covering. Place a large piece of parchment paper on a countertop. Place the dough on top of the parchment paper. If desired, cover with another large piece of parchment paper. This prevents the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll out dough so it is 1/4-inch thick and large enough to fit into an 8-inch pie pan, with at least a ½-inch hangover the edge.

Remove the top parchment paper. Place the pie tin upside down on the dough. Flip the dough and pie tin. Remove the parchment paper. Press the dough into the pie tin. Crimp the edges.

Brush with the egg wash. Bake the pastry shell for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mexican Coffee - Launch Day - #bookgiveaway

by Leslie Budewitz

Today is the launch of the first in Leslie's new series, the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries. To celebrate, she's pouring drinks---and offering a signed copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment.  

In ASSAULT AND PEPPER (March 2015), Pepper’s girlfriends Laurel and Kristen take her out for a night on the town to drown her sorrows---and force her to share a bit of information she’d rather keep to herself. The three enjoy a killer dinner at Café Frida, one of the more delicious figments of my imagination, and later settle in to the Diego Lounge for music and aight cap. This recipe doubles as both coffee and dessert.

Mexican Coffee

For each drink:

½ ounce tequila
½ ounce Kahlúa
1 cup hot, strong brewed coffee
¼ to 1/3 cup vanilla ice cream
dash of cinnamon, optional

Make the coffee. Use clear glass serving cups if you can, for presentation.

Set out the ice cream. You want it partially melted.

Combine the tequila and Kahlúa in the serving cup. Pour in the coffee, add the ice cream, and add a dash of cinnamon. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

From the cover of ASSAULT AND PEPPER:

Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop, thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murderer ends up in the mix…

After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars.

But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on her doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest Tory Finch, one of Pepper’s staffers, for murder.

Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…


ASSAULT AND PEPPER, March 3, 2015 (Berkley Prime Crime)

Leslie Budewitz is the only author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction—the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, for Death al Dente (Berkley Prime Crime), and the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction, for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books). She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Braised Bok Choy Shanghai Style

We're not as stylish as Victoria's cauliflower, but we have better hair.
Oh dear! I fear I'm getting a reputation for baking sweets. The shame! We really do eat veggies around here, too.

One of the things I miss about Washington, DC is the incredible Chinese restaurants. I was always the one in the crowd who insisted we order veggies along with everything else. There's just something so delicious about steamed vegetables with salty-sweet sauces.

If you're like me, you probably walk by baby bok choy in the grocery store all they time. I bought some last week and thought I really ought to try doing something with them besides throwing them into soup or a stir-fry. I found this interesting and oh-so-simple recipe for braised bok choy and had to try it. I took a quick look at other Chinese recipes and most seemed similar but involved a lot more liquid. In this recipe, the bok choy is mostly steamed. It's still crispy, not limp and cooked to death, which I particularly liked. It says this is Shanghai style.

However, for my American palate, I thought the sauce was a little bit too watery. So I whipped up a second sauce by decreasing the water and increasing the other ingredients. Then I simmered it for about five minutes to enhance the flavors, and that turned out great. It would be a snap to add some garlic powder or ginger, if that's your taste.

I happened to have some Asian cooking oil on hand, which is a combination of peanut oil and sesame oil. The recipe doesn't specify the type of oil. I suspect that the flavor benefits from an Asian style oil like sesame or peanut if you have it on hand.

Braised Bok Choy Shanghai Style

2-4 baby bok choys
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 cup water

Slice the bok choy in half and soak in water for about half an hour to loosen any dirt in between the leaves. Swish it in the water, then pat dry.

Combine the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the bok choy, bottom first. Press leaves down as necessary and place a tight lid on top. Turn the heat to low and simmer 5-7 minutes. Serve hot.

Krista's extra sauce:
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons water

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer, uncovered, about five minutes. Serve over bok choy.

Bottoms into the sauce in the pot.

Push down the leaves and put a lid on the pot.

After cooking. Still nice and green.

Serve warm with Krista's extra sauce on the side!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome guest author Jenn McKinlay

     On New Year’s Day, the Hub and I were invited to a delightful open house at a musician friend’s abode.  Now this was in Tempe, AZ where the temperature should have been a blissful 68 degrees, you know, jeans and long sleeve shirt weather with no jacket required, but it was not.  No, instead it was a bone chilling 41 degrees and left all of us desert rats scrambling for real estate around the fire pit and strategically placed space heaters.
     Yes, I know that my family in New England would consider anything in the forties a glorious respite from the negative digits, but for us southwestern folk, it was bitterly, frigidly cold.  One of the party goers even wrapped herself up from head to toe in a thick wool blanket.  In conversations, we could see our breath puff out in white clouds when we spoke -- at mid-day, in central Arizona, it boggled!
     Still, the music and laughter and good times commenced, musicians are a hearty lot, and the large table sagged under the weight of all the food, which was plentiful and diverse, always a good thing.  Looking for something that would toast up my insides, I spotted a huge crock pot of pozole rojo made by one of the guys, a guitar player named Dave.  Don’t you love when men are good cooks? 
     Elbows were thrown, mostly between me and the Hub, as we zeroed in on the delicious, warm up your nether regions soup.  We both had a heaping bowl, and Hub circled back for seconds. I have to say as a cold weather curative, it worked like a charm. 
     Naturally, I then had to learn how to make it.  So to help you keep warm during this last gasp of winter, here’s the recipe I cobbled together from a couple of different sources.  Enjoy!  And remember, spring has to come eventually, right? 

Pozole Rojo

2 ounces dried chiles de arbol
6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
Kosher salt
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano                                      1 bay leaf
3 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish options: Diced avocado, shredded cabbage, diced onion, sliced radishes and/or fresh cilantro

Break the stems off the chiles de arbol and shake out as many seeds as possible (do not rub your nose while touching the peppers – I did – and YOWZA!).  Tip: Wear food prep gloves if you have them. Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water, for about 30 minutes, until soft. Transfer the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.

Rub the pork all over with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pot; add the pork to the other side and sear, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

In a large crock pot, stir in the chicken broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the chile sauce (depending on your taste). Setting the crock pot on low, carefully add the pork, onions and garlic from the large pot, let the pork cook for about 4 hours.

Lastly, stir in the garbanzo beans and continue to cook for one more hour, until the pork is tender and starts falling apart. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat then return it to the pot. Add some water or broth if the pozole is too thick. Season with salt to taste and serve with assorted garnishments.

Jenn is the NYT bestselling author of a several mysteries series and lives in sunny AZ in a house overrun with kids, pets, and her husband's guitars.

Find Jenn on her website or on Facebook.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Easy and elegant cauliflower soup, plus an old friend gets glam

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

Don't miss the giveaway opportunity at the end of the post! 

You may remember our friend, Cauliflower, aka the Great Deceiver, the wonderful, versatile vegetable that can play so many different roles in so many different meals.  Well, our little veggie is all grown up and ready to party.  

So that's where my fascinator went!
A few weeks ago, MJ was fighting a cold and looking for soothing soups when she came across a very easy idea from Sue Riedl, a Globe and Mail columnist and food blogger who is brilliant and practical. If she ever publishers a cookbook, we will the first in line to buy it.

She suggested that cauliflower and stock could be cooked together and blended to make an amazing soup.   

 We said, Really? Wouldn’t it need a bit more than that?  It didn’t. It was perfect,creamy and filling with plenty of taste.

But when the cold cleared up we still wanted this soup and thought that we’d try a few more variations.  Here’s the result of our test.  


You will need:
 4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
3 green onions, white and green, sliced (optional)
EVOO  (optional)
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Spicy oil (optional)

You'll have noticed that the only two required ingredients are chicken stock and cauliflower!
We do love options, so we chopped the green onions and sautéed them in olive oil until they were nicely caramelized.  We added a bit of parsley. 
Meanwhile, we cut up the cauliflower into florets and added it to a pot (4 cups) of good quality chicken stock.  We know it was high quality because we made it from scratch.  We always have stock in the freezer. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.  (We think you could make this with commercial stock or broth from a box or can).  
We boiled the stock and cauliflower florets together for about twenty minutes, until the florets were tender.  We stirred in the green onions and parsley. 
Next , and why is this so much fun, we puréed it with our ancient immersion blender. It was soooo good. 

You: How good was it?
Us: It was so good, we made it again the next day. 

It’s good enough to serve at our next dinner party!  

Not only was it creamy, good and easy, but it was gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and low-calorie, and without artificial additives. Since what we were really looking for was easy ways to add more vegetables to our life, we decided to add some sour cream (so much for low-calorie and dairy-free).

We also experimented with a drizzle of spicy oil on top. We loved our little heart design.  

So welcome our friend, Cauliflower, back.  We think she looks pretty good dressed up!

The only downside was we kept eating it and then having to make more so we could get the photos with the toppings.   

We had some other ideas, but we ran out of time, cauliflower and stock. So we hope you’ll suggest a few more toppings or ingredients in the comments.  

We’ll have a draw from among YOUR suggestions for one of our book collector tote bags, now including the cover for The Marsh Madness.

Victoria Abbott is the mysterious collaboration between the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother, the mystery writer, Mary Jane Maffini.  That's us! Strangely enough, our three book collector mysteries, The Christie Curse, The Sayers Swindle and The Wolfe Widow all contain lots of food.

The Marsh Madness is due out in September 2015.


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Find out more about us here!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie

by Sheila Connolly

Guess what: there are no apples in this pie!

My grandmother did not cook. Which is odd when you think that she worked in the food industry (for Lipton Tea) for almost twenty years, and she knew a number of New York chefs personally. But the kitchen (a liberal use of the term) in the apartment in the residence hotel where she lived for several decades had been a closet originally (in fact, her clothes closet was bigger), and had a tiny sink, a minuscule refrigerator, and two electric burners. She also had a toaster oven—and room service.

But one of the most vehement arguments we ever had was over this recipe, the one that used to appear on the Ritz Cracker box (alas, no longer), about whether it actually tastes like apples. I was skeptical, but she was adamant.

The recipe apparently emerged during the Depression, but became really popular during the Second World War, both eras when fresh produce was hard to get, and crackers were cheap. And I realized that despite that argument, I had never actually made this recipe. So this is a weird tribute to my late grandmother.

Ritz Mock Apple Pie (No apples needed!)

Pastry for a two-crust 9” pie
36 Ritz crackers (I love the way you have to count them!)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Fit one crust of pastry into your pie pan. Break the crackers coarsely onto the crust.

Combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar in a saucepan, and boil gently for 15 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and rind. Let cool.

Pour the syrup over the crackers in the pan, dot generously with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cover with the top crust and crimp the edges together. Slit the top crust to let steam escape.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden. Serve warm.

The Verdict: Well…too sweet and too soupy. Too much lemon rind, but that might have been my fault. The texture was convincing if you normally make your pie with mushy apples rather than ones that hold their shape. I can tell you that it did not taste like Ritz Crackers. But not a lot like apples either.

So since I had nothing more important to do than watch snow fall, I made it again. Same crust, but I changed everything else, just a little. Less water, less sugar. Forget the lemon rind. More butter and cinnamon. And a few more crackers.

Did it help? Well, maybe. It was firmer, and not so cloyingly sweet. But it still didn’t taste like apples! Think of it as a cracker pie and you might like it.

Looks like apple pie, doesn't it?

Yes, it snows in Ireland, now and then, but nothing like in Massachusetts! If you're looking for an escape from what's left of the snow/ice/slush/gloom of your winter, wherever you are, try a quick trip to Ireland with An Early Wake.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eric's Coconut Cake (Almost) @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: My friend Eric (the model for the psychologist character in the Key West mysteries) is famous for his coconut cake. 

Below is the one he made for last Easter--how cute is that?

And I've been looking for a recipe for coconut cake for forever, so I begged for his. Of course, never able to quite leave a recipe alone, I did change things up a little from what he sent me. I used less of the cream of coconut and one block of cream cheese in the icing, instead of two. Oh, and unsweetened coconut instead of sweetened. It was delicious, if I say so myself.:) I think I will try this as a sheetcake next time I have to bring something to a party...

Ingredients for the Coconut Cake

1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 3/4 cup cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2-3 oz Coco Lopez from an 8 oz can (save the rest for icing)
1 cup milk 
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by buttering them well, lining with parchment, and then buttering the parchment too.


    Mix all the dry cake ingredients in bowl of electric mixer or stand mixer at slow speed. Add cool cubes of butter, a few at a time, along with the Coco Lopez, and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time, mixing well but minimally after each.

 Mix the milk with the extracts.

    Add 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat until combined. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.

    Pour batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans.

    Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake springs back when touched, in the neighborhood of 25 minutes. (Watch this because you don't want to overcook...)

    Cool the pans  for ten minutes, then remove the cakes, one to a plate and the other to waxed paper, and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Ingredients for the coconut icing:
1 8 oz block cream cheese  
1 stick unsalted butter
Coco Lopez --the rest of the can 

1 tsp vanilla
About 1 and 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
6 oz unsweetened flaked coconut 

Beat everything together except for the coconut, then taste to see if it's sweet enough for your audience. Ice the top of the first layer, then sprinkle with coconut. Add the second layer, ice the whole cake, sprinkle the coconut all over, patting as needed.

And then watch your people swoon...

And this is what the real Eric looks like when he's all spiffed up, and here he is with Bill, Barclay, and Toby...all characters in the books!

Don't forget: July will be here before we know it, bringing the sixth Key West food critic mystery, FINAL RESERVATIONS. You can pre-order it here.

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