Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tangy sesame chicken thighs

Those of you who remember my error in buying the super-giant size bottle of Sriracha Sauce (for the recipe that called for 1 teaspoon) may not be surprised to discover that I recently bought enough sesame seeds to fill two large mason jars and then promptly forgot what they were intended for.  


 Sesame seeds do not keep forever and we don’t use them often.  I’m not sure why that is because sesame seeds are delicious and add an easy touch to many dishes.  This week we have added them to our favorite salmon recipe and now are adapting that marinade to chicken thighs.  I toyed with adding a bit of Sriracha sauce to the ingredients, but decided to give you a break.

You eagle-eyed readers will note that there are only six chicken thighs in the photos and the recipe calls for eight.  Eight would have been perfect!  We loved this chicken and plan on having it often!

Sesame Chicken Thighs 


1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (if you use thighs with bone and/or skin, you will need to cook longer)  
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds – or enough to coat chicken pieces
2 thinly sliced green onions, green part only


      Preheat the oven to 400°F.
     While it’s preheating, toast the sesame seeds on a pan until browned. They burn quickly.
      6 – 8    minutes should do it. Remove when toasted.

Slice green onions.

Place the chicken in an oven safe baking dish. You can line it with foil.  We forgot.
Mix the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, cider vinegar and sesame oil in a small dish.  Pour over chicken.  Marinate as long as you can in the fridge, up to overnight. 

 If you can’t marinate, it will still be pretty good.  You can take it this far by marinating in a zippered bags and transferring to baking dish later. 

Bake for about twenty minutes. Use meat thermometer to make sure they’re cooked. Remove and let rest. Top with toasted sesame seeds.  Add green onions just before serving.

 This is good with crisp salad, rice and tomatoes.  Enjoy!

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We love your suggestions and comments. Come on by and tell us what you would add or subtract or substitute in this recipe. Not everyone loves every ingredient!

In case you don't know, Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between  me, Mary Jane Maffini, and my daughter Victoria. Together we write the book collector mysteries.   We think that reading them is like taking a lovely trip to a mysterious place where books are everything and, yes, murder happens and great meals are served and some relatives are not to be trusted. Of course, justice prevails in the end and books are loved.


The book collector mysteries are fun, easy to read and surprising too. All five titles are available in print, e-book and audio format. Don't miss out.  You can get to meet Peachy (posing below) aka Walter the Pug.  Watch out for the Siamese cats - one is good and one will get you!

Friday, September 22, 2017

How We Cook and Apple Ginger Cake

So I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to pry my eyes open and reading the paper, when I stumbled on a foodie article by Janelle Nanosin in the Boston Globe. Mainly it was about millennials and cookware, but she also commented on how millennials look at food and how they prepare it. What caught my eye was her statement, "The species [i.e., millennials] shop at Whole Foods and order meal kits from Blue Apron, scan for recipe ideas, and then document dishes on social media." 

We here at MLK probably have well over a century of cooking experience among us. I shop at Whole Foods when I'm near one, but I've never ordered a meal kit from anywhere, nor had I ever heard of (Okay, we do all talk about food on social media.) I'm more likely to look for ideas on Epicurious, which in comparison to Food52 seems kind of stodgy.

So I took a peek at Food52. Oh my--they promise nearly 3,000 apple recipes. The recipes overall are a bit edgier than those on Epicurious, with a broader range of ingredients and more foreign dishes. They certainly look interesting, but . . .  What? Are we stuck in the past with our mothers' cookbooks (guilty as charged--I've been known to give you recipes here that are a couple of centuries old)? Not that I'm against trying new ingredients and ways to combine them, but there were a few examples of Food52 that kind of pushed my limits. Polenta with sausage and apples? Quinoa salad with hazelnuts, apples and cranberries? Definitely a lot of creativity here, but I'm not sure I want to make them (I might try one if I saw it on a restaurant menu, though).

But my apple crop is at its peak and we're eating as many as we can straight off the tree, so I found a cake recipe that combines apples and ginger (powdered and fresh), both favorites. And of course I changed a few things, starting with the apple varieties. The original recipe called for a hearty dose of dark rum, which I don't happen to have, so I swapped in Irish whiskey.

The result? The cake worked (came out of the pan easily), and has a nice balance of flavors. I loved the buried layer of apples which peek out. It's a little more complicated than some apple cake recipes, but it's a bit more interesting. 

Apple Ginger Cake

3 large firm apples (or four smaller ones)

4 Tblsp turbinado sugar*
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for 
     greasing the pan and sauteeing the apples

*A note about turbinado sugar: it’s raw sugar made from pure cane sugar extract. You can substitute demerara sugar, which is easier to find in markets–that's basically the same but with coarser but more uniform crystals.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (if you know yours leaks, wrap the bottom outside with foil).

Core and peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Melt about 2 Tblsp of butter in a saucepan and cook until it begins to brown. Add the apple slices to the pan and stir until all the slices are covered with butter. 

Sprinkle about 2 Tblsp of turbinado sugar over the apples and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.

1-1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tblsp lemon zest (1 medium lemon)
1 Tblsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp molasses
3 Tblsp Irish whiskey
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yoghurt

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Dry ingredients in my vintage sifter

In a stand mixer with the paddle blade, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the two eggs and beat. Then add the lemon zest, ground ginger, molasses, whiskey and vanilla (the mixture may look curdled, but don’t worry).

By hand, stir in the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring after each addition. When the batter is smooth, fold in the milk and the yoghurt and combine thoroughly.

Scrape half the batter into the buttered pan. Cover with the apple slices, then spread the rest of the batter over the top. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with the rest of the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a racks, and run a knife around the edge to loosen. The open the springform ring and remove the cake. Let it cool on the rack. 

You can serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you like.

Less than two months until the release of A Late Frost! (Yes, the cover image looks just like my apple crop--well, almost.)

Available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baked Bananas with a Cuban Flair @LucyBurdette

a market in Havana

LUCY BURDETTE: You all are going to be reading a lot of Cuban recipes in the next year. I'll tell you why: The eighth Key West food critic mystery (coming out next summer with Crooked Lane Books,) takes place at a Havana/Key West conference. Hayley Snow's mother, Janet, has been awarded the catering contract and Hayley herself has been pressed into service for the weekend. I've just sent this off to the publisher--whoo hoo--and thought I would celebrate with this easy, sort-of-Cuban side dish.

Often in Cuba and in Cuban restaurants, fried plantains are found on the side of meat and rice dishes. But I discovered a version of this banana recipe in the Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase and loved it.(Confession: I don't love plantains.) And, it's a lot easier than frying individual slices of plantain, important if you are working on a lot of other dishes.


5 to 6 Bananas
Half a stick of butter
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or squeeze a half
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rum
Cinnamon sprinkle if desired

Heat the butter and other ingredients in a small saucepan. Pour over the bananas, that you will have laid out in a 11 x 13 pan. Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes until the butter is bubbling and the bananas are just beginning to brown. That's it!

These were delicious with the pork roast that I'd made but I could see them going with a lot of other main dishes. They look like you've gone to a lot of trouble when they're really easy as pie. (Not piecrust, as Sheila would attest.)

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

White Fish with Shallots and Spinach #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

I know I've been offering a lot of white fish dishes lately. I want you to know that I really love my beef and lamb dinners (I adore red meat!) but I have to interlace those meals with fish so that the cholesterol stays even. I "manufacture" cholesterol. Pooh!

Luckily, I love white fish, and I enjoy matching up simple spices and items to make white fish shine.

While I'm writing the 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery--yes, there's going to be a sixth coming out next spring--I keep thinking of how Jenna, my protagonist, would appreciate an easy recipe like this one. 5-6 ingredients suits her just fine. I know there are a lot of my friends who also prefer easy-to-make recipes. Because I can buy white fish (all sorts) at Costco and have them in the freezer, all I need is to have "other" items on hand in the refrigerator to create something delicious. So practically every time I go to the grocery store I pick up shallots or green onions or mushroom, as well as spinach, zucchini, or snow peas. They are go-to items that are easy in stir fry-style meals.

What would you add to a white fish dish? What flavors, when they sizzle, stir your senses? Shallots and onions really do it for me!


Fish with Shallots and spinach
(serves 2)

2 firm white-meat filets ( I used frozen mahi-mahi)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 pound spinach, reserving 4 tablespoons for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the fish in foil and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until white throughout.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the shallots. Cook for 5-7 minutes until a warm brown, stirring often. Season with salt and white pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, mound the spinach on a large plate. Cover with a paper towel and cook in the microwave on high for 1 minutes. Remove and fold the spinach over on itself so it will cook through.

To plate, divide the cooked spinach between two plates. Remove the white fish filets from the oven and set on top of the spinach. Top with the cooked shallots. Garnish with chopped raw spinach.

Serve warm.

Savor the mystery!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Plus check out my website.

A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st in the French Bistro Mysteries, is coming November 2017. Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat? Click here to order.

GRILLING THE SUBJECT, the 5th Cookbook Nook Mystery, is out!
The Wild West Extravaganza has come to Crystal Cove.
Click here to order.

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

                                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


my new stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew. 
An enemy that wants them dead.
Click here to order.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Spicy Peach and Avocado Salad #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I’m sneaking this in before the last peaches disappear from the grocer’s shelves. I found this recipe in Country Living; my only additions are the splash of red wine vinegar and the bed of greens, although I did rewrite the instructions—magazine style and space considerations aren’t always conducive to clarity!

The original recipe also called for a Fresno chile; lacking same, I subbed an Anaheim, which are readily available.

The only problem with this recipe was that Mercury was not only retrograde, but spinning like a drunken dreidel. Plans called for grilled chicken. Mr. Right discovered that we'd forgotten to refill the propane tank, which forced a change to stovetop chicken---tastier but messier. And grilling the naan directly on the stove burner tastes great, unless you leave it on a tad too long, but hey, carbon is good for us, right? Then I forgot to hold the bowl while I turned on the whizzy-uppy thing, aka the immersion blender. Dinner prep does take longer when you have to stop and wash the olive oil off the floor, change your clothes, and start the laundry.

On the upside, I can assure you this salad pairs well with grilled chicken and naan and a healthy dose of Chardonnay.

Spicy Peach and Avocado Salad

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Anaheim or Fresno chile, thinly sliced
dash of red wine vinegar

1/4 cup pistachios, roasted
3 ripe but firm peaches, cut into wedges
2 avocados, cut into wedges
½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
mixed greens

Roast the pistachios at 350 degrees, about 10 minutes. (Remember that all nuts will continue baking after being removed from the oven, so don’t overbake!)

Mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk or an immersion blender. Add the sliced peaches, toss to coat, and marinade at least 15 minutes, up to an hour.

Just before serving, add the avocado and about half the mint to the peaches and toss to combine. Season to taste.

 Arrange the greens in your serving dish. Gently add the peach and avocado mixture, and garnish with the pistachios and remaining mint leaves.

Serves 6-8. Enjoy!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bacon, Chicken and Rice

If you're of a certain age, you may recall Mexican Chicken and Rice. I think the recipe must have been in a ladies' magazine because I recall people cooking it often. The beauty of the recipe is that it's protein, carbs, and veggies all in—one pan. You know how I love those dinners!

I switched things up a little bit by adding bacon and omitting the cumin. There's nothing that hints at Mexican in it anymore (though I'm not sure the original recipe was authentically Mexican, either). It verges on comfort food. Hot, full of flavor, and filling. I can see it after an afternoon out in the snow. Or on a rainy day.

If you don't have Roma tomatoes, you can use one regular tomato without the juice or seeds. I hate to do that because it's the best part of the tomato! Alternatively, you could try about 1/4 cup of canned chopped tomatoes, drained. When the dish is done, it will appear that there is additional liquid in the bottom of the pan. Stir it all together, and it will disappear.

Those of you who are Baconistas (you know who you are) may wish to double the amount of bacon. Two slices are just enough to impart flavor while allowing the chicken to remain the star of the dish.

Bacon, Chicken and Rice

1-2 teaspoons canola oil
2 slices uncooked bacon
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound chicken tenders
1/2 large onion (or one small onion)
pinch of sage
2 cloves garlic
2 Roma tomatoes
1 red pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup long grain rice

Pour oil into pan on medium heat. Cut bacon into one-inch slices and add to pan. Turn occasionally.

Meanwhile mix the salt, paprika, pepper, and thyme in a medium-size bowl. Mix well. Slice the chicken tenders into one inch pieces and toss in the spices until there are none left on the bottom of the bowl. By now the bacon should be partially cooked. Add the chicken to the pan and lower the heat a bit. Brown the chicken, turning from time to time.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. When the chicken is browned (it will not be cooked through at this point), remove the bacon and chicken to a bowl and set it aside. You should have very little fat/oil left in the pan.

Add the onions and sage, and allow to cook until the onions begin to be translucent. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and red pepper. Cook about two minutes, turning occasionally. Add the broth and the rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, until rice is tender and chicken has reached 170 degrees.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Welcome to Our Guest Alexia Gordon

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is delighted to welcome author Alexia Gordon! For those of us with busy lives (uh, isn't that all of us?) she gives a simple strategy for quick and tasty meals.

Gethsemane Brown spent years traveling the US and the world touring with orchestras and giving concerts. Now she’s busy solving murders, directing an honors orchestra, and keeping a high-spirited ghost in check. Not much time to cook.

I don’t cook much, either. As a single woman juggling writing novels with a full-time day job, cooking for myself seldom seems worth the effort. Heat-and-eat and a variety of quality dining establishments within walking distance make take-out and dining out my default meal options. However, my budget and waistline demand I cook for myself on occasions.

Enter the pasta. I love pasta. Throw it in a pot for ten minutes or less, toss with some add-ins, drizzle with some olive oil and you have a meal. And pasta is perfect for the “some” method of cooking—throw some in a pot with a pinch of this and a bit of that—well-known to home chefs too busy dealing with life to measure ingredients by the milligram.

Here’s a gnocchi recipe I cooked up a couple of weeks ago:


1 package gnocchi
Vegetables of your choosing in amount you desire
Olive oil


Choose some vegetables. Chop them.

Put some olive oil in a skillet.

Put the chopped vegetables in the skillet and cook. If you used onions, cook until translucent. If you used squash, cook until soft. Vegetable hack: use mushrooms, peppers, and olives from the grocery store olive bar and heat until warm.

Set aside.

Boil water. Put a pinch of salt and some olive oil in the water first.

Prepare gnocchi according to package directions.

Put the pasta on a plate. Top with vegetables.

Top with olive oil.

Take a photo to post on Instagram to impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.

Eat! Enjoy!

A writer since childhood, I continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. My medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU's Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016 and book two, Death in D Minor, in July 2017. Book three, A Killing in C Sharp, is scheduled for March 2018.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Writers’ League of Texas. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at

Find out more about Alexia at: 


Death in D Minor (Gethsemane Brown Mystery #2)

Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders, led a school orchestra to victory in a major competition, and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy over the Christmas holiday. Right? 

Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord's about to sell her cottage to a hotel developer, and her brother-in-law is coming for a visit—with one day’s notice. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from certain destruction. 

But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with a garda investigator to go undercover as a musician at a charity ball and snoop for evidence linking antiques to a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the investigator’s help clearing her brother-in-law. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. 

“The captivating southwestern Irish countryside adds a delightful element to this paranormal series launch. Gethsemane is an appealing protagonist who is doing the best she can against overwhelming odds.” – Library Journal (starred review on Murder in G Major

Find Death in D Minor at AmazonBarnes and NobleiTunes, and Kobo