Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Avocado with baked eggs, #recipe from @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

Want a great and easy breakfast, brunch or lunch idea?

I read about this "new" food combo and saw a picture and I couldn't believe it.

We all know how important Omega-3s are for us, right? Salmon, fish oil, etc. Well, I didn't know that avocados and eggs had Omega-3s. Guess I'm not keeping up with all the right information. Probably because I'm writing and not reading "fad" things. The Paleo Diet is a big fad right now, too, and eating things that are natural and not "man-made" is important.  (Psst. That still won't get me to give my up sugar and an occasional glass of wine.  Just saying.)

Anyway, I saw this idea for a recipe in the newspaper and then followed it up online, with PopSugar recipe. You can bake an egg in the hollow of an avocado and double-down on getting your Omega-3s. Now, I adore eggs and I adore avocados, which are in season right now. They're perfect every time I go to the store and test one. Not overripe, not bright green and underripe. Perfect.

So I tried the recipe. It tasted great, but it didn't turn as as pretty as the picture I'd seen online, so I tried it again.  This time I got it right. It's all about making enough space in the avocado to hold the whole egg, not just the yolk.

I have not seen the recipe with Parmesan cheese added, but yes, I'm the Cheese Lady, so I go the extra mile, and guess what?  Delicious!!!!

It's this easy:



(SERVES 1 or 2)

Avocado, split in half and left in shell
2 eggs
Salt, pepper
Your favorite spice mixture (I like bouquet garni; basil, rosemary, thyme)
Parmesan cheese, if desired


Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Halve the avocado and remove the pit.  Scoop out about 2 full tablespoons of the avocado so the whole egg will fit in the center. (I didn't the first time - result below - and there wasn't enough egg white space)  Note: EAT what you hollow out. That's the fun part!

Okay, now tuck lose little avocados into a tight pan. I didn't have one tight enough so I wrapped them in avocado and nestled them together. NOW, pour in the egg, slowly, trying to get all of it in the hollow. If yo have to, nudge the yolk to the center.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and spices on top.

Bake the avocados in the oven for 15 minutes, until the white is completely set.

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.

Serve hot.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Death and the Watermelon Appetizer by Cleo Coyle

For centuries, Italians have eaten fresh melons paired with prosciutto or another cured, salty meat. Though the combination is delicious, this was not a culinary tradition so much as a dietary precaution with a very long history.


In the hot summer of 1471, Pope Paul II dined on a refreshing meal of sliced cantaloupes, and he promptly dropped dead. Though the Pontiff likely perished of a massive coronary, congestione was blamed—stomach distress. 

The physicians decided that the pope's death must have been caused by eating three melons at a single sitting.

The news caused panic, but fortunately for melon farmers (and ultimately for us) Medieval medicine discovered a culinary "cure," and the Italian diet was changed forever.

To this day, folklore has it that if a cold food like melon is not balanced by a hot food like a spicy meat, the results could be deadly. The body might become chilled and one might risk a bout of indigestion, or even the dreaded congestione!

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Of course modern medicine debunks this notion, but the paring of melon and meat has stuck around because, well, it’s tasty. And refreshing. 

So why am I bringing you this tale today? Because it's the start of summer, time for tasty and refreshing this one.

Last summer, Marc and I learned about a hot, young executive chef (very young, age 19!) who was packing a Hamptons' restaurant with his culinary flare. His pairing of watermelon with pork belly as an amuse-bouche was not a wholly original idea, but it sounded like a delicious one to us.

We didn't have pork belly (i.e., uncured bacon) on hand, but we had cured bacon (close enough), so we sliced up some sizzling strips into bite-sized pieces and affixed them with toothpicks to juicy chunks of watermelon.

Sweet-savory heaven!

Bacon and Watermelon Appetizer

A quick culinary hack of a young
Hamptons' chef's amuse-bouche...

The salty, crisp bacon and sweet, juicy melon are a combination to die for. And if you're a superstitious Italian, they may just prevent that untimely end!

We highly recommend it for a fun, refreshing, and slightly different summer appetizer. Try it, your guests will thank you!

And how about that bacon?

A BLT with fresh garden tomatoes is also a summer treat to savor, but sweating over a hot stove top is no joy at all. My solution is one many of you may already employ yourselves. I bake my bacon in the oven, and it comes out beautifully every time. To see a past post on how I do it click above or click here. And...

May you...

Eat with summer joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
14 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick - King's River Life 

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews 
* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction 
* A Mystery Guild Selection

Delicious recipes are also featured in our 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Cinderella Pumpkin Cake 
* Snow White Chocolate Mocha 
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings 
* Poor Man's Caviar * Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev * Turkish Coffee
* Bosnian Coffee 
* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways 
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies

...and many more recipes, including 
a guide to reading coffee grinds...

See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

Sign up for our Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

After you subscribe, an auto-reply will send 
you a link to several past newsletters.

Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen! 

~ Cleo

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

My father grew up in a country where people were afraid to speak their minds. They were even afraid of the neighbors. They never knew who might turn someone in for having an opinion against the government. Or just an unpopular opinion. He learned early on that he had to be careful what he said and to whom he spoke. Consequently, he was always amazed by the friendliness of Americans. He shushed me more than once for having the audacity to speak to a stranger, but I grew up in the United States, where I never felt the fear he knew too well.

When I see what's happening in the Middle East, I have to think of my dad and his caution. The horrid pictures of innocent people suffering unimaginable acts of cruelty remind me how much we have to be thankful for in the United States. The people who deserve our thanks for protecting our freedoms are the brave men and women of the armed forces and their families, who sacrifice so that we can live free.

We should say it every day, but especially on Memorial Day, we send our appreciation and thanks to you.

Happy Memorial Day from all of us at 
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

When I posted my mother's recipe for cookies made with cottage cheese, I started wondering if the same basic recipe would work in a galette. With that in mind, I bought cottage cheese and fresh berries. And then I saw Smitten Kitchen's brilliant red and blue galettes. Perfect for Memorial Day!

I switched things up, though, because while Smitten Kitchen used ricotta, I wanted to try the cottage cheese. I revisited my mom's recipe and adjusted the quantities accordingly. My version is also a step easier because I was lazy and used the food processor to make the dough. Seriously, putting in the ingredients and pulsing the dough took all of about seven minutes.

I was so impressed with the star shape that Smitten Kitchen made! Sheer genius! And really not all that hard to do. Instead of different colors, though, I mixed raspberries and blueberries. At Smitten Kitchen, they said not to worry about the juices running. So to save some of those yummy juices, I used my mother's strudel trick and crumbled up half a graham cracker over the middle where the berries would go. You don't even notice that graham cracker, but it helps keep the juices inside.

On top, I drizzled a little bit of lemon sugar icing to add the white of the stars in our flag. This is a super easy recipe. The only caveat (because I always forget!!!) is to move your dough to the baking sheet BEFORE filling it. 

Star Berry Galette
inspired by Marianne's Windmills and Smitten Kitchen's star galette

1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces (1/2 cup butter)
1/2 a graham cracker sheet 

2 cups berries (raspberries and blueberries)
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
half a lemon
pinch of salt

1 egg, whisked
coarse sugar (optional)

1/2 lemon
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place cottage cheese, flour, salt, sugar, and COLD butter into food processor (use pastry blade if you have one) and pulse until it forms a ball. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for one hour.

Roll out the dough to about 15 inches. Trim the dough into the shape of a pentagon. Make a short slit in the middle of each of the long sides. Fold gently and MOVE DOUGH TO BAKING SHEET. Crumble the graham cracker as finely as you can over the middle of the dough.

In a bowl, mix the berries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Pour the mixture in the middle of the prepared dough and spread to within 1 1/2 or 2 inches of the edge. Fold the first part of the dough (with a point) over the berries. Follow with the next point, adjusting the edges as you go so that the berries show in the shape of a star. Brush the dough with the egg. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

When the galette has cooled, whisk the lemon and powdered sugar together into a drizzling consistency and drizzle over top.

Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or gobble it plain!

Dump the ingredients in and pulse.

So quick to make in the food processor.

Trim into a pentagon and make a little slit in the long sides.
Pour the berries in the middle and spread.

Fold the points inward so that the berries are in the shape of a star.

Make Windmills with the scraps!

Stop here, or -

Add a lemon sugar drizzle!

I can't believe that we're only a week and a day away from the release of 
I'm giving away a copy today. Leave a comment to enter. 
And don't forget to leave your email address so I can notify you if you win!
Good luck!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Welcome guest author Hannah Dennison+ book #giveaway!

Carolyn Hart says of Hannah's work: "The mistress of hilarious British Mysteries. Fabulous fun."

British born, Hannah originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Now living in Portland, Oregon, Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA Extension and still works for a west coast advertising agency. Hannah writes the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries (Minotaur) and the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable Crime) both set in the wilds of the English countryside.

Hannah is offering a lovely giveaway - see below!

Take it away, Hannah!


Since afternoon tea features quite a lot in my Honeychurch Hall series, I thought it would be a good idea to bake a British classic—the Victoria Sponge.

As the name suggests, this simple cake was named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who adopted the new craze for tea parties. However it was Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who is credited as the creator of “teatime.” Because the noon meal had become skimpier, the Duchess suffered from a “sinking feeling” at about four o’clock in the afternoon. At first the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few breadstuffs into her dressing room, but soon she was inviting friends to join her. The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses.

So here we go!

Hannah's niece Isla in the background!!

Victoria Sponge

4 oz butter
4 oz castor sugar/superfine sugar, not the granulated kind otherwise it will be gritty
2 eggs
Vanilla extract (if you want it)
4 oz flour
1 tsp baking powder (to make it rise unless you can get hold of self-raising flour)
A pinch salt
A tablespoonful of milk

Strawberry jam is most common but you can add freshly whipped cream

Icing sugar/powdered sugar

Take the butter and eggs out of the fridge so they will be at room temperature.
Turn oven on to 180 C or 350 F.
Lightly grease two circular 7” pans with either butter paper (i.e. the wrapping from a stick of butter) – or if you don’t have that, a dollop of butter on a piece of Scott towel will do just as well OR, if you are feeling particularly creative, line the pans with parchment/greaseproof paper. This makes it easy to turn the sponge out after cooking.

Beat the eggs separately in a basin and set aside.
Cube the butter and then mix with the sugar until creamy.
Beat in the eggs (but don’t let them curdle).

Sieve the flour and baking powder together and then fold into the ingredients … do not beat or stir because you’re essentially folding in “air.”
Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir gently. The mixture should have a “dropping” consistency.

Pour into the pre-greased pans and smooth level with a palette knife.
Pop the pans into the middle of the oven (not on the top shelf) for about 18 – 20 minutes.
Note: Do not open the oven door before the 18/20 minutes are up because this will make your sponge sink in the middle.
To test when a cake is done, thrust a skewer into it – if it comes out all sticky, it is not cooked! Put it back into the oven for a further five minutes.
When the cakes are done turn them out onto a wire tray to cool.

Layer on jam and cream and sprinkle with icing/confectioner’s sugar.

Always use good quality butter.
Always beat the butter to a cream unless the recipe states to the contrary.
The cake must be placed into the oven as soon as possible after the eggs have been added. If it’s allowed to remain too long, the cake will become heavy.

A little known fact:
In Isabella Beeton's 1874 cookbook, Mrs. Beeton's Cookery and Household Management a recipe is included for Victoria Sandwiches. The original method called for the mixture to be made in a rectangular roasting tin and halved horizontally, filled with jam and sliced into finger-shaped pieces.

For the Giveaway:

I'm offering a lovely raffle bag with English goodies - e.g. two books (one Vicky Hill and one Honeychurch Hall) - English candy etc. Leave a comment here {hint - see the word COMMENTS below -click it} and tell me what your favorite English treat is. Remember to leave your email or a cryptic version of it so I can figure out how to contact you!  Good luck!

You can reach Hannah online:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eight-minute rhubarb cake

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

It’s that season!  Today, there was a clump of  fresh rhubarb in my backyard and an imminent visit from my mother-in-law.

The weather was amazing and we'd decided to invite her to lunch on the spur of the moment. What to do?  I decided on one of my favorite little cakes: only five ingredients and it whips up in no time. It’s simple and delicious after a lunch on the screened porch or when a friend comes by for coffee.  It’s also an excuse to use the cute little red eight-inch square cake pan, one of a pair that are baking souvenirs of the year we lived in England. 

Of course, it might take as long as ten minutes if you dawdle when you gather and chop the rhubarb. 

 A bit of rhubarb how-to, if you're new to harvesting it: twist off each stalk, don't cut from the plant.  Don't use them once the flowers appear. The rhubarb will be bitter.  Unless you want to end up on the wrong side of a mystery, don't eat the leaves: they are poisonous. Don't even put them in your compost.


All you need is:

2  extra-large eggs, at room temperature (this always makes a difference). Of course, large would work too
½ cup plus one tablespoon sugar
½ cup plus one tablespoon flour
1 – 2 tablespoons chilled butter
½ cup plus one tablespoon fresh chopped rhubarb (although I think it would work just as well with frozen)

All you do is:

Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until thick. 

Beat in flour (don’t overbeat)
Pour into greased 8 inch baking pan.

 Arrange a layer of fruit on the top.  Top with dabs of butter. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.  In my strange relationship with my fairly new convection oven, I now bake it at 370 for 23 minutes.  What can I say? We work these things out with our ovens.

When the cake is cool, remove from pan and dust with icing sugar. We like to shake it through a little strainer. 

 You can serve as is or with vanilla yogurt which we all love.  Of course, most cakes are also flattered by whipping cream or ice cream. 

We liked this so much that I tried it again in the round pan.  It makes a nicer slice.  Do you agree?  Like the first one, it didn't last long. 

Go ahead Help yourself. There's another one in the freezer!

Moving right along ... 

You probably know that I am half of Victoria Abbott, author of the BOOK COLLECTOR MYSTERIES along with my daughter, artist and photographer, Victoria Maffini.  Abbott  is a good place to be on the shelf!  Speaking of book collector mysteries, this recipe is the kind of quick snack that Signora Panetone, the Italian cook at Van Alst House likes to serve amateur sleuth, Jordan Bingham.  You'll find some of the signora's recipes in each of the book collector mysteries.

And while we're on the topic, we're very excited that the fourth in the series, THE MARSH MADNESS,  will be out September 1st.

You lucky little devils! You can also order it from your favorite Indie or online bookseller.