Sunday, June 17, 2018

Welcome Guest Nora Page & Pimento Cheese Biscuits #bookgiveaway


LESLIE: Always a delight to welcome a new guest to the Kitchen, especially one with a new series! Today's guest, Nora Page, writes the Bookmobile Mysteries, set in Catalpa Springs, Georgia. And she takes her biscuits as seriously as her protagonist, librarian Cleo Watkins, takes a due date.

I have such fond memories of my childhood bookmobile that I'd read this for the nostalgia alone -- but I suspect the humor and the food would keep me coming back!

She is also the author of the Santa Fe Cafe Mysteries, written as Ann Myers. 

One luck reader will win a signed hardcover of Better Off Read. Leave a comment below for a chance to win! 

Pimento-Cheese Biscuits by Nora Page

Many thanks to Leslie and the Mystery Lovers Kitchen crew for inviting me to guest post! I love recipes and include one in each of my mysteries, so this was a fun post to think about (and to 
taste test).

The Bookmobile Mysteries star septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins. Cleo has a lot on her plate in the first book, Better Off Read. A toppled tree takes her main library out of circulation, and the mayor threatens to shelve the damaged building permanently. Then a patron is killed, and Cleo steps in to help catalog clues.

Cleo’s busy, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying some good southern food. She’s a skilled cook and a master of biscuits. I, however, have long searched for the perfect biscuit recipe. My mother makes raised biscuits with yeast. They’re fabulous, don’t get me wrong! I also have a go-to drop-biscuit recipe. They’re easy and good, but not “the one.”

The pimento-cheese biscuits I’m sharing today have the elements I crave. They rise high and pull apart in buttery layers. That’s a key: a good helping of butter. I acknowledge this after years of searching for the unicorn that is the health-food biscuit.

Cleo would argue these biscuits do qualify as a healthy treat. Pimento is a vegetable… She’d slather on extra butter or pimento cheese or smother them in sausage gravy.  

Do you have a recipe quest? Any favorite food you wish you could perfect at home or already have? I’d love to hear about it!  

Nora will choose one lucky reader to win for a signed hardcover of Better Off Read(US addresses only.) Leave a comment below for a chance -- the winner will be chosen on Wednesday, June 20.)

Pimento-Cheese Biscuits

Makes about a dozen small biscuits, using a 2½ inch round biscuit cutter.

Biscuit tips: Keep everything cold. If your kitchen is warm, stash ingredients and even mixing bowls in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon paprika or mild red-chile powder (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced into ¼ inch cubes, plus 1½ tablespoon melted butter
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup pimento, drained and diced  
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425°F with a rack positioned in the middle.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cold butter cubes and work them in using a pastry cutter or, better yet, your fingers. You’re aiming for a mostly sandy texture but also leave some pea-sized buttery lumps and flakes, which will help make layers. Reserve the cheese for a later folding step.

Get your fingers floury. Work the butter in by hand.

Make a well in your dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and pimentos and gently mix and knead until you have a shaggy dough. As in all stages, try not to overwork the dough. Turn it onto a floured counter and roll into an approximately 12-inch square.

Now to the folding, which also makes layers. Fold the lower third of the square to the middle, like folding a business letter.

Fold the dough like a letter.

Next, fold the upper third up the middle too. You’ll have a rectangle. Fold this the same way: up from the bottom (of the long end) and down from the top, creating a stubby square with layers.


The folded square. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.

Reroll the dough out to another 12-inch square. Sprinkle on the cheese and lightly press it into the dough. Repeat the folding steps above (make a letter, then a square). Roll out to another 12-inch square.  


Don’t forget the cheese (as I have done, although those were good biscuits too).

You’re ready to cut! Before you do, some tips on preserving your layers: Use a sharp biscuit cutter or knife. The rim of a glass or a dull cutter could squish the sides and stop your layers from rising. Cut straight down and up. Don’t turn and twist the cutter. If you have scraps, gently gather them together and knead, roll, and cut. For fewer scraps, cut your biscuits into squares.



Transfer your biscuits to a parchment-lined or oil-sprayed baking sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Brush with the melted butter.


Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for a few minutes if you can stand to wait and then serve.



 Take time to breathe in the cheesy, buttery aroma.




Nora Page enjoys rainy weather, the perfect biscuit, and quiet evenings in with her husband and cat. You can often find her in the company of books. Stop by and visit at her website . You can follow Nora on Facebook or Instagram 

As Ann Myers, she is also the author of the Santa Fe Cafe Mysteries. 

Better Off Read is available for order from your favorite local bookstore or online at Amazon



Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sticky Grilled Chicken #Recipe @PegCochran


Do you like to barbecue? I love it. I was a hold out for a gas grill for the longest time but I caved and bought one and I'm so glad I did.  It's so easy to throw some meat (and even veggies) on the grill and produce dinner in no time at all.  Plus you can stand outside in the nice weather while you cook!




 Ingredients:

1/2 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 lb. chicken drumsticks or thighs
2 tbsp. Sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions:

Whisk together soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic and green onions. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade for brushing on chicken after grilling.




Put chicken in a large Ziploc bag or baking dish and pour marinade over it. Let chicken marinate in the refrigerator at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.



Heat grill to high. Add chicken, basting occasionally until chicken is cooked through. This will take 10 to 12 minutes per side (depending on 
thickness). No, this wasn't cooked on a grill.  Why you ask?  Because I got the grill started, put the chicken on and then...I ran out of propane!  Good news is you can bake this in the oven!



Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.  (And I forgot the sesame seeds!)






OUT NOW!

RT MAGAZINE TOP PICK!!



“The clever ‘Dear Reader’ asides serve up just the right amount of dry wit, and the occasional blog post snippet provides readers with some helpful tips alongside their mystery. The case is always well plotted, and the fictitious Michigan small-town setting provides an intriguing supporting cast with a bevy of interesting personalities. Readers will root for Shelby to solve the case and stay on the edge of their seats until she does.”

– RT Reviews




OUT NOW--BOOK #4 IN THE CRANBERRY COVE SERIES



Amazon
Amazon Print
Barnes & Noble

It’s a marriage made in murder in the new Cranberry Cove Mystery from USA Today bestselling author Peg Cochran!

The long-awaited wedding of Monica and Greg is the highlight of the harvest season in Cranberry Cove, drawing friends from far and wide to help them celebrate. Among the guests are an old college friend of Monica’s and the woman’s boisterous new husband, a man with many enemies and more than a few bitter women in his past. When he turns up dead on a boat, the victim of a fatal stabbing, Monica steps in once again to unravel the mystery.

As she dredges up clues and wades through a long list of suspects, Monica’s sleuthing becomes all the more pressing when the local police are convinced that her friend did the deed. Monica will have to clear her name fast and track down the real culprit as the killer threatens to bring her sweet wedded bliss to a bitter end.

Includes tasty recipes!
  

***


PRE-ORDER NOW! COMING JULY 31



Barnes & Noble


A Park Avenue princess discovers the dark side of 1930s New York when a debutante ball turns deadly in this gripping historical mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.

Manhattan, 1938. Tired of being trapped in the gilded cage of her family’s expectations, Elizabeth Adams has done what no self-respecting socialite would think to do: She’s gotten herself a job. Although Elizabeth’s dream is to one day see her photographs on the front page of the Daily Trumpet, for now she’s working her way up as the newsroom’s gal Friday.

But fetching coffee isn’t exactly her idea of fun, so when veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.

Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. . . .

From a Goodreads Review:

"What absolute fun! Penned with wit, humor and style, MURDER, SHE REPORTED gets my definite, “Yes!”

Catch up with me on Facebook!



Friday, June 15, 2018

Irish Seared Scallops

I’ve just read that the majority of scallops in this country come from New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is not far from where I live. While I grew up eating scallops, they were the cute little bay scallops—my mother and grandmother insisted they were more tender. As a result, I always expected big sea scallops to be tough and chewy.


I was wrong! Recently our local supermarket has been getting limited shipments of the big ones—only these are very local, never frozen, and soft as butter. And expensive! I was lucky this week because they’d just put the newest shipment out in the display case and they were on sale (at a mere $12.00 a pound! Ouch! But you only live once.). So I brought some home.

Scallops are delicate in flavor, but adopt other flavors happily. So I went hunting for a recipe that would not overwhelm the scallops but would enhance the flavor. (I had to laugh when my favorite fishseller whispered that some people think they smell bad. People, they come from the sea! What do you want them to smell like?)

In case you don’t know, the scallop (that we usually eat) is only the muscle that keeps the double shell closed. If there’s a chunk of orange stuff attached, that’s the roe, which is what, um, makes baby scallops. It’s a delicacy on its own. The point is, when you look at a nice clean scallop, imagine a shell that is much bigger.

This one happens to be an Irish recipe from County Clare, on the west coast of the island. You know—where the Atlantic Ocean is, so I assume there are scallops there too. But all the ingredients are widely available.


Seared Scallops from Clare

Sauce:

2 Tblsp dry white wine
2 Tblsp white wine vinegar
2 Tblsp minced shallots
1 bay leaf
pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 leeks (white part only), sliced
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter,
   cut into small pieces
4 small tomatoes, diced



Instructions:

In a small saucepan combined the wine, vinegar, shallots, bay leaf and pepper. Cook over medium heat tof 8-10 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add the cream and the leeks and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the leeks are nearly tender.

Everything chopped


Shallots
Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, and stir until smooth. Add the diced tomato and cook for 1 minute.



Set aside and keep warm.


Scallops:

As usual, I made a half-recipe. The eight scallops below make up one-half pound. Yes, I ate them all!


3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 lb sea scallops (patted dry)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs*
1 Tblsp grated lemon zest

*to make bread crumbs, place 5-6 slices
of stale artisinal white bread in a food
processor. Add 1 tps each of dried parsley
(note: I don’t usually have dried parsley on
hand, because I think it tastes like nothing
at all. But don’t try to substitute fresh parsley
because that will make the crumbs mushy),
dried basil, dried oregano (or any other dried spices that appeal to you), and sprinkle with
salt and freshly ground pepper. Process for 15-20
seconds or until the mixture is ground into
fine crumbs.




Instructions:

Preheat the broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until opaque (do not overcook!).


Sprinkle the scallops (still in the pan) with the breadcrumbs and the lemon zest and place the pan under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly brown




To serve, place the scallops on plates and spoon the warm sauce over them.


And the verdict? The scallops are amazing--tender and delicate. The sauce doesn't overwhelm them (although I added a bit of salt at the end). The tomatoes pair well with them, with a touch of sweetness. I think I'll be making this recipe again.


If you haven’t heard the shouting, my next book, Murder at the Mansion (coming in eleven days!), has been getting some wonderful reviews.

Here’s what Library Journal said: Connolly’s accomplished series launch … incorporates humor, a realistic setting, and well-developed, appealing characters.

And then Kirkus wrote: The prolific Connolly kicks off a new series that skillfully combines history, romance, and mystery.

Wow! somehow I've managed to combine humor, a realistic setting, appealing characters, history, romance and mystery, all in one book. I'm not quite sure how I did that, but I won't argue! That certainly makes me happy since it’s the first book of a new series, and my debut book with St. Martin’s Press.

Find it for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mustard sauce #recipe from Linda Wiken



From Linda:

When you hurt yourself on a mandolin, it's time to take a step back from the kitchen and make something really easy. Yes, I hurt my finger. Ouch.

So here's an easy recipe that you can do with one hand tied behind your back. Literally.

Mustard sauce. Just a few ingredients. Very tasty on fish, chicken, you name it.

One hand to whisk.

Nothing to chop. Okay, there's salad, but I used pre-torn lettuce!

I used frozen fish that I could snip open the packet with scissors, one-handed.

And that cute little item to the right of the fish? A parmesan crisp bought at the store, not homemade.

Enjoy.  I" promise to be more careful in the kitchen. I promise..."

Yes, this is my new mantra.

And,  here's my best kitchen tip yet -- always wear a special cut-resistant glove when using a mandolin. Leaving it in the drawer does not work!
A mandolin looks so innocent, doesn't it? Heh-heh.
Which kitchen item do you think could be deadly?


Mustard sauce

Serves 2

2 tablespoons white wine (or chicken broth)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon flour or cornstarch, to thicken (more if you like thicker sauce)

In a small saucepan, mix together all ingredients using a whisk. Heat, on medium low, for about 2 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a dash of water and stir.

Serve warm over grilled chicken, fish, or pork.






Dine out with the DINNER CLUB MYSTERIES

It's now here --
Marinating in Murder, book #3
Recipes included!

Here's a taste of the reviews:     



Wiken’s third entry to the Dinner Club series is a clever twist on the classic whodunit… The book will have you guessing until the very end…. All in all, an intriguing read by Wiken.” – RT Reviews

"Foodies will love this book and this series. Great recipes are included as well....A fun romp of intrigue filled with foodie fun." -- Open Book Society




ROUX THE DAY,  the second  Dinner Club Mystery is available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!



TOASTING UP TROUBLE, the first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!





Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

             
Visit Linda at www.lindakwiken.com
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
                                                                               


Visit Erika at www.erikachase.com 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.

 
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Salted Caramel Souffle + book #giveaway from author @DarylWoodGerber

 
A Deadly Éclair, the first French Bistro Mystery, is out in trade paperback. Whee!
 
Giveaway of the second French Bistro Mystery below!

For all of you who didn't win a book in the Countdown to Release Day Giveaway for A Deadly Éclair, and all of you who couldn't afford the hardcover copy, and all of you who didn't get in on the $1.99 deal for the e-book copy, I hope you'll order it now. Here's a link to my website page that has links to lots of physical bookstores and online bookstores. WEBSITE

I had the best time doing research for this book, both touring the wine country and taste testing new recipes in my kitchen. Yum!!

What's the book about?

Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro has seemed beyond her grasp ever since she was chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Fortunately, her best friend Jorianne introduced her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker, who invested in the promising restaurateur’s project. So Mimi works the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own. Now, Mimi is throwing the inn’s very first wedding—the nuptials of famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison.

This wedding will be the talk of the town, but anxious Mimi is sure the bride’s puffed-up expectations will collapse, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the evening, things are looking sweet again…until the next morning, when Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven if Bryan dies. So it’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat again.

*

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The next in the series is A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION and it comes out in one month! Yes, you read that right. One month.  Am I busy? You bet I am. Celebrating and sharing.  Today, I'm giving away a copy of A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION.  See below.


But before I give those details, I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from the book.


I have to tell you that I am a huge fan of caramel. I like it as a candy. I love it on ice cream. And now, this soufflé might be my favorite dessert. It’s decadent. It’s creamy. It’s packed with caramel flavor. And the pinch of sea salt gives it a delicious kick. Soufflé is easy to make, but it does sink quickly. Do not despair. Simply enjoy the flavor of whatever result turns out for you.



Salted Caramel Soufflé

(Makes 2)

Ingredients for caramel:
6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Ingredients for soufflé:
1/2 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup warm milk
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Ingredients for salted caramel sauce:
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of sea salt

First, make the caramel. In a sauté pan, over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir until it is a dark golden color, about 5-7 minutes, then add the crème fraiche and stir on low heat until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush two 3-inch ceramic dishes with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Dust each with 1 teaspoon sugar. Shake off the excess.

In a medium saucepan (off the heat), whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch, then slowly add the warm milk. * I heated the milk in a microwave for 1 minute on high. Whisk to incorporate. Cook the mixture on medium, whisking constantly, until thick. Then stir in the caramel, which will be sticky. Set the mixture aside and allow to cool slightly, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with the vinegar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the caramel-egg mixture. Pour mixture into the two prepared baking dishes and tap each on a level surface to remove air bubbles.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden. There will be a slight wobble in the center. Remove from the oven. Let cool 15 minutes. They might sink a bit.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce. Put the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let bubble for 1-2 minutes until glossy, stirring constantly.

Serve the soufflé with a side of the salted caramel sauce.

PS The salted caramel sauce is terrific over vanilla ice cream.
















Giveaway

Yes, I'm giving away a hardcover copy of A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION to one commenter. Tell me if you've ever had soufflé or tell me if you've ever read one of my books. Leave your email (cryptic if necessary) so I can contact you if you win.


Savor the mystery!


Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
Plus check out my website.

A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery
Can Mimi prove her chef innocent before the chef gets dusted?
Click here to order.

PRESSING THE ISSUE, the 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery
The annual Renaissance Fair serves up a helping of crafty courtiers, damsels in distress, and medieval murder . . .
Click here to order.

A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st in the French Bistro Mysteries, out in trade paperback, hardcover, e-book, and audio
Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat?
Click here to order.

FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
Click to order.

GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free?
Click to order

DAY OF SECRETS, a stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew. An enemy that wants them dead.
Click here to order.