Friday, August 28, 2015

Plum Torte

by Sheila Connolly

Apple season is almost upon us, so why am I talking about plums? Because they just appeared in our market, and they were so darn cute! So here's the last hurrah for summer.

Technically, these are prune plums—you know, those little ones that you can dry and eat, or that you can stew. When I was young, they were said to be good for the digestion, a theory my mother subscribed to. I was not impressed. But I don’t remember ever seeing the raw variety, which would have been a great size for a kid.

There are various recipes for these little cuties, but this one is fairly simple, and the hazelnut flavor goes nicely with the fruit.

Plum Hazelnut Torte

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.


1-1/2 pounds prune plums

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (you can add a little hazelnut extract if you have it)

Quarter and pit the plums (the pits come out easily). Coarsely chop half of them, put them in a bowl, and toss with 2 Tblsp sugar.

In another bowl, combine the remaining plums (not chopped) with 2 Tblsp sugar.

On a baking sheet or pan, in the middle of the oven, lightly toast the hazelnuts in a single layer (until you can smell them and they look golden—do not let them burn!). This should take 10-15 minutes. Cool the nuts, then grind them fine in a food processor. [Note: if you toast hazelnuts with the skins on, then rub them between your palms—let them cook first!--most of the skin will flake off.]

Whisk together the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) beat the butter and the remaining sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and the flour mixture until just combined (do not overbeat).

Drain the chopped plums in a sieve, pressing on the fruit to get out most of the liquid, and then pat them dry. (If you don’t the cake will be soggy and won’t cook through.) Stir the plums into the batter and spread in the prepared pan.

Drain the quartered plums the same way, then arrange them, skin side up, over the batter.

Bake the torte in the middle of the oven for 1 hr 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a tester poked in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the torte in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Remove the sides or rim of the pan and let the torte cool completely.

You can serve this with whipped cream if you like, or sprinkle some powdered sugar over it. It’s a moist tasty cake so it’s fine on its own.

A Gala Event (Orchard Mystery #9) is coming in just over a month! Just in time for apple harvest season, except the story takes place in December, when the harvest is done--no time for a wedding before that. 

Look for it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

By the way, my own orchard (all eight trees) is doing very well this year.

This is the Hudson's Golden Gem variety

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Basil Parmesan Biscuits #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: In my Connecticut town, we have a wonderful independent bookstore named RJ Julia Booksellers. As you can imagine I spend a lot of time there, drawn to it like metal filings to a magnet. This photo shows my book launch party back in July.

In addition to the inside of the store--the shelves and shelves and shelves of fabulous books with smart booksellers to help you figure out what you need, and a cafe at the back where you can have a cup of coffee and a cupcake, they often put reduced price books out on tables in front of the store. I double dare you to pass by without checking them out. A couple of weeks ago I found a Cooking Light book called Everyday Baking. Leafing through, I found each recipe looked better than the last. Maybe I was just hungry. But you know by now how much I love biscuits and bread and cake, and you know that I bought it. 

And this recipe for basil Parmesan biscuits is adapted from that cookbook. I adjusted the amount of salt (up a little) and sugar (down a little).

I made these biscuits in my food processor and they were snap to put together. Though the recipe calls for purple basil (which I used because I found it at the farmers market,) I think you could substitute green as well. Why not? You're the chef!


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup purple basil, chopped
1/2 cup grated hard Italian cheese, such as Parmesan, Romano etc.
2/3 cup milk
One large egg

Pulse the dry ingredients together. Then pulse the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles crumbs. And the basil and the cheese and pulse that until well mixed. In a measuring cup or bowl, whisk the egg with the milk, add this to the mixture and stir until combined. 

Scrape the batter out onto a floured surface. Kneed lightly then pat the dough into a square, about 1 inch thick. Cut into 16 biscuits. 

Bake at 4:25 for 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Best served piping hot with good butter.

FATAL RESERVATIONS is on bookshelves now! 

And you can follow Lucy on Facebook,



and Instagram!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cauliflower Dill #recipe ala from author @DarylWoodGerber FUDGING THE BOOKS


I've been flooding you with sweets lately: chocolate, fudge, more chocolate. You know why. I had a book to pitch, FUDGING THE BOOKS, and well, that is the theme in the book.  Chocolate Month and a chocolate cookbook club (plus pirates). 

But it's time to move into the end of summer and taste some of the lovely flavors of the garden. Smell something savory. Enjoy something with tang!

I remembered I had a head of cauliflower in the veggie drawer of my refrigerator. Hmm. What to make?

I know many of us on MLK have shared recipes using cauliflower, even as a substitute for pasta dough or for rice (risotto). But I wanted something simple.  S-I-M-P-L-E.  Why? I'm in full edit mode for the next Cheese Shop book (#7), FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE. That means I need something easy to put on the table! I can't tax my brain! It's mush.

So I went searching on the internet for a recipe. I love how easy it is to find something there. Type in a word. Type in another word. Voila! 

What did I type:  cauliflower > dill > recipe 

Yep, I also have a lot of dill!  

This is the recipe I stumbled upon, on  And it is SO SIMPLE! Even my protagonist Jenna, in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries could do it!! And it's super tasty, with a nice tang! A terrific side dish for any meal. And it would probably be a great appetizer at a party. Bring on the toothpicks!




1 large head cauliflower, split into florets
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard **
1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
2 lemons (juice of)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

fresh ground black pepper to taste – I did this after it was cooked!


Preheat oven to 400°F

Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine all other ingredients to make a sauce, whisking until blended.

**Note: My mistake; the recipe called for 2 teaspoons, I used 2 tablespoons. I LOVED 2 TABLESPOONS! 

Include generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper.

Pour marinade over the cauliflower and toss until coated.

Spread on baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining marinade over the cauliflower.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until tender but not mushy.

Toss once, if desired, halfway through cooking. The cauliflower should have some browning around the edges.


Savor the mystery!

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

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FUDGING THE BOOKS, the 4th Cookbook Nook Mystery, is HERE!  Click to order.

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