Sunday, November 19, 2017

Brandied Cranberry Sauce #recipe #Thanksgiving #mystery #giveaway

Oops!  It looks like Peg Cochran and I were singing from the same hymn book when we both came up with cranberry recipes for our Thanksgiving Week posts. 

Peg's cranberry fig compote yesterday was a super choice and I can't wait to try it.  AND I have one too. 

There's a reason for our back to back recipes: Not long ago, I did a little poll on Facebook asking friends what dishes they loved most on Thanksgiving. Except for creamed onions (really!!!???!!!) there weren’t too many surprises. Right at the top of the list was cranberry sauce

That made me very happy  because cranberry sauce/compote/relish is one of my favorite parts of the meal. We have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The results of that poll reminded me of a gift I’d received from my good friend of many years, Wendy Watkins (not to be confused with our mystery writer pal, Wendy Watson).  Some time back, Wendy gave me a jar of her own homemade Brandied Cranberry Sauce for Christmas. It was terrific and made a special gift and was a great addition to the table when the big day came.   

There’s so much going on during the holiday season, that it’s a bonus when one recipe is delicious and very easy and suitable for a gift!  Wendy's original gift was one that kept on giving.

So last week, I asked Wendy for the recipe and she sent it right away. All I can say is this is soooo easy and yet it tastes like it was a lot of work.  What could be better?

You can make a lot or a little. You can make it for yourself or for others. Or all of the above.  I have made cranberry sauce with brown sugar and bourbon for Mystery Lovers Kitchen but I think Wendy’s brandied cranberry sauce wins hands down.  I even had a bit of it with breakfast the morning after I made it.

Brandied Cranberry Sauce


1 bag FRESH cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup brandy
Have ready three sterile jelly jars with lids

You could easily double or triple this recipe!


Rinse cranberries. Transfer to a medium size pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of brandy. 

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then turn up the heat to high.  Once it's boiling, cook for 10 minutes. Cover most of the pot with the lid, because the berries sometimes don't behave and pop out of the pot. You don’t want to be the target. 

After ten minutes cool and transfer to jelly jars or your favorite serving dish.   

This glass turkey has been ours for many years and was MJ’s mum’s before that. It’s been on the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas for all of Victoria’s life and most of MJ's.  I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it here before too.
So, how easy was that?   Enjoy it and enjoy the time you save making it.  Perhaps read a mystery!

 If you make a few batches, there's a hostess gift or two and some small gifts taken care of.  That’s another good thing. 

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for!  We’re thankful that you keep coming back and engaging with us here in the kitchen.
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! 

But of course, this is our Thanksgiving Theme and (wait for it!) The Wolfe Widow (book collector mystery # 3) takes place at Thanksgiving. It is one of our favorite books so it makes sense to us to make a little Thanksgiving gift to one of our faithful readers.  To get in the giveaway, comment below AND don't forget your email address.  We'll chose a random winner!   Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

#Thanksgiving Cranberry-Fig Compote #Recipe @PegCochran

Do you love cranberry sauce (why do they call it "sauce" I wonder?)?  I love trying different variations on the theme so when I found this recipe in our Parade Magazine (you know--it's tucked into your Sunday paper if you still get one), I decided to try it.  I love figs--my grandparents always had fresh figs and dried figs on hand.

Of course, cranberries play a big role in my Cranberry Cove series!  Monica Albertson heads to Cranberry Cove to help her brother on his cranberry farm. What she doesn't expect is to harvest a body along with the cranberries!

1 cup water
1 orange--juice and peel
1 cup chopped, dried figs
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

Bring one cup of water to the boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in your dried figs and the juice of one orange.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

Return pan to medium heat and stir in one cup of sugar and one cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil again and add one package of cranberries.

Reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries start to burst.

Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar, zest of one orange and a pinch of salt.

Cool completely, remove cinnamon stick and transfer to a container.

Keep refrigerated for up to three weeks.


The county fair is the highlight of the year for the small town of Lovett, Michigan—especially for food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald, who writes as the Farmer’s Daughter. She’s submitting jams and jellies she’s created from the produce she grows at Love Blossom Farm in hopes of harvesting a blue ribbon.

But the townspeople get more than just the excitement of hayrides, tractor pulls, and cotton candy when Shelby’s neighbor and volunteer fireman, Jake Taylor, extricates the body of Zeke Barnstable instead of a dummy during a demonstration of the Jaws of Life. The fact that Jake and Zeke were known to be at odds plants suspicion in the minds of the police. As evidence against Jake grows, Shelby knows she has to plow through the clues to weed out the true killer and save her friend.

Follow me on Facebook to learn about upcoming giveaways! 



Friday, November 17, 2017

Irish Food

If all goes as planned, by the time you see this I’ll be back in West Cork, admiring the “improvements” to the cottage, including the very large rock, and collecting food supplies.

My husband hasn’t been there in a year, and my daughter, who will be joining us, hasn’t visited Ireland since 1999. Back then I remember a lot of terrible watery stews, all apparently based on the same recipe: Irish bacon (more or less like our ham), cabbage and potatoes. Place in a large pot, cover with water, and boil for a week or two. You could find it about anywhere in the country. (I will concede that the soda bread and local butter were always good.)

My, how things have changed! I was listing for my husband the places I wanted to revisit or visit for the first time on this trip, and far more than half turned out to be either restaurants or food vendors. At least my daughter has grown up to be a foodie, and is now a professional baker, when she isn’t acting with small theater troupes, and I want to show off to her what the Irish chefs have achieved since she was there last.

I’m torn between going to restaurants, large and small, versus buying fresh ingredients and cooking in my own tiny kitchen. When I acquired the cottage, the first thing I bought was a water-color from a local artist. After that I went straight to equipping the kitchen, before I bought more than a couple of pieces of essential furniture (a bed is handy, when the floor is concrete!). I’m getting by with the original appliances (although I am so coveting a Neff Slide-and-Hide stove, as seen on the Great British Baking Show—I think there’s room for it), but I’ve acquired decent cookware from a variety of second-hand dealers. And of course a hot-pot and French press for coffee, and a microwave.

Skibbereen Farmers' Market
I’ve raved about the Skibbereen Farmers’ Market before. Seafood, two tables of local cheeses (I’m partial to the gubbeen), locally smoked salmon, the lovely cookie and sweets baker I just discovered this past summer, bread in shapes I can’t even describe, vegetables that were picked that morning, plus assorted "tat."

Seafood, including monkfish!

This is only half the cheeses they have.
Mind you, this market has been there for centuries, literally—it is not the brainchild of a marketer who decided to create a magnet for upscale blow-ins (those pesky furriners who buy up the local properties—I don’t count as one because my name’s Connolly, and I had “people” in the area). People of all ages and descriptions show up at the market on a Saturday, then sit and chat. There’s a antiques dealer I’ve gotten to know (in his spare time he’s an editor and writes mysteries), and various people who have odds and ends to sell (at a very good price!). At this time of year there may be a jumble sale at the church on one side of the market. This isn’t food shopping—this is an experience. Which is why I always plan to be in the area for at least two Saturdays. 

And I adore the local supermarket, Field's SuperValu, which has food and more. 

Field's vegetable section: "Golden Wonder" potatoes
The candy aisle is six feet high and twenty feet long.

The baked goods are wonderful.

And this time of year you can get fresh game!

Oops—no recipe here! But I’m plotting one for my post next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t yet know what it will be (turkey is unlikely—the Irish save that for Christmas--but maybe a pheasant?) but I’m hoping I can figure out how my 1950 cast-iron Rayburn cooker works and produce something edible.

My cooker (I've cleaned it up a
bit since). Fuel goes on the left,
and you bake on the right. I'm
still trying to figure out what some
of the other parts do!
Wish me luck! 

Oh, right, books. It's definitely a week for the County Cork Mysteries!

The trade paperback format for Cruel Winter will be released on December 12th (just in time for holiday giving!), and . . .

the next book in the series, Many a Twist, will be released in hardcover on January 9th! Read more about it here.

I won't give anything away, but a lot of old questions will be answered.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts #recipe #Thanksgiving @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: What to make to add to your Thanksgiving bounty if you need a side dish but don't have a lot of time to come up with something fussy? I can highly recommend roasted Brussels sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese to finish. This dish can go with just about any meal--say meatloaf, or Thanksgiving turkey, or roast chicken. I can even imagine it with pasta! Maybe these vegetables deserve a little doggerel...

You can eat them in spring, 
You can eat them in the fall,  
We think roasted Brussels sprouts 
Are good any time at all!

Ingredients to serve 3

1 pound fresh Brussel sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450. Wash, trim, and halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts depending on their size. Mix the sprouts with the olive oil and vinegar. Roast 15 minutes on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, turning from time to time, until the vegetables are slightly crisp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Since the cheese is salty, we didn't find we needed to add salt, but you be the judge on that!

cut sprouts in oil and vinegar

after roasting

grate some cheese over top

And that's it! Time left to write or play or make dessert!

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Steak au poivre #recipe from A Deadly Éclair + book #giveaway

Well, I've got to say it's been quite a week. Launching a book is never easy. This week was much harder for me, for a lot of reasons that I won't go into. But add in a library luncheon and two book signings far, far, away - lots of driving - I've got to admit I'm exhausted. 

 When I'm tired, do you know what I crave? Red meat.  No kidding. And I found out some interesting information about why...

You're going to love this.  I did!

Have you heard of eating to your blood type? Here's a site that explains it: BLOOD TYPE

Type O blood people--which I am--should eat a high-protein diet heavy on lean meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and light on grains, beans, and dairy. The source also recommends various supplements to help with tummy troubles and other issues which he says people with type O tend to have.

Guess who has tummy troubles? Oh, yeah! Me!  And I'm celiac. Did you notice that mention about going light on grains? I guess that might be a reason. Also beans--like kidney beans--hate me. They always have. I do fine with dairy, though, so not everything is written in stone, I suppose.

Anyway, because I'm craving meat and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest, I'm going to make steak au poivre.

Let me share this delicious recipe with you. It was the first thing I made for the French Bistro mysteries. My pal, Krista, suggested it, and wow! I mean, wow! It is one of the most delicious ways to serve a steak ever! And so easy.

When I share the recipes at the end of the book, one of the characters says a little bit about the recipe. I started adding that personal touch in the third Cheese Shop Mystery and kept up the practice through the Cookbook Nook Mysteries and now the French Bistro Mysteries. I mean, who better than one of the knowledgeable characters to share the recipe, right? So today, I'm going to let Chef C, aka Camille Chabot, the main chef at Bistro Rousseau, introduce this entrée. She is a hoot of a character. I love her. She really shines in book 2. Take it away, Chef C!

From Chef C:

It’s important not to overcook this steak. It’s best served medium-rare. The sauce continues to cook the steak on the plate. Allow the savory sauce to melt in your mouth. This recipe comes to me from my mother, a Frenchwoman with a very strong will, to put it mildly. If you would like to know how to pronounce the dish, listen to this VIMEOSteak au poivre. Pronounced AW PAWH-VRE)  Bon appetit!


Steak au Poivre

4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup Cognac, plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup heavy cream
Salt, to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

It’s important to remove the steaks from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature prior to cooking, about 1 hour. Sprinkle all sides with salt.

Crush the peppercorns using something hard like a mortar and pestle, or a mallet on a cutting board. Spread the peppercorns evenly in a pie plate. Press each fillet, on both sides, into the pepper and coat the surface. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter and oil turn golden and start to smoke smoke, carefully place the steaks in the pan.

For medium-rare, cook for about 4 minutes per side; for medium about 5 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.

Pour off the excess fat from the skillet, but do not wipe or scrape it clean.

Now, with the skillet still off the heat, add the 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully light the alcohol with a long match or battery-operated lighter. Carefully shake pan until the flames die.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the heavy cream.

Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce becomes thick and sticks to the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the extra teaspoons of Cognac and season, to taste, with about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the savory sauce over them, and then set them on plates, adding more sauce, once plated.


By the way, I've got one more French Bistro themed box to giveaway this weekend on my FB author page. You have to leave a comment on my Facebook author page to enter. Don't miss out. The giveaway goes until Saturday. It's How to Sightsee in Napa Valley!


To enter to win, leave a comment to win a copy of A DEADLY ECLAIR, in hardcover or e-book.

Leave your email so I can contact you if you win. 
I'll pick a winner Friday. Good luck.  

Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.


"Talk about a culinary delight, this book is the pinnacle of deliciousness as I devoured all that was written in this exciting new series featuring Mimi and her friends." ~ Dru's Book Musings

"I have been looking forward to the book since I first saw the cover pop up on Facebook and it certainly exceeded my expectations. As a fan of the author’s Cheese Shop Mysteries and Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I knew the characters would be strong and the food descriptions would have my mouth watering and I was right." ~ Escape with Dollycas Blog

Savor the mystery!

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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.

the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery is out!
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

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.