Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easy Mango Sauce #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: It seems to be mango season around Key West. Being a good detective, I make that deduction when I see piles of them at the now weekly farmer's market at Bayview Park. 

The market showcases plenty of great produce, but lots of my favorite vendors are there, too, like Mozzarella Mark and the Pickle Baron. 

And also there's a guy who sells irresistible gumbo, and another stall selling Indian food, and olives and smoothies and all kind of cheese.

Anyway, the piles of mangoes launched me on a mango theme. You might have noticed the sauce I served alongside the almond cake last week. Now here's how to make it. It could not be easier.


1 Mango
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice

Peel one ripe mango and cut away the flesh from the weird hard core. Since you are basically pureeing the fruit, you don't have to worry about making it pretty.

Drop the mango into the food processor with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice. Whirl it until smooth. That's it!

I would serve  this with ice cream, a plain cake, or even mix it with some plain yogurt and voila--smoothie.

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mystery series.

 Fatal Reservations, the sixth book in the series, will be in bookstores on July 7, but you can certainly order it now!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream from Cookbook Nook Mystery ala @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you yet. It's my favorite all-time ice cream!! Kid you not. And it's perfect for the holidays...or any time.

There is a character in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, Kellerwho is the boyfriend to Katie, the chef at the Nook Cafe.  Keller is adorable and quirky and inventive. He makes ice cream and keeps it cold by peddling his bicycle through town. The peddling works the freezer. Keller doesn't play much of a role in the series yet, but I like him so much, he might in the future.  Katie makes ice cream, too, and she's been teaching Jenna how to make it. In fact...well, why don't I let Jenna tell you. At the end of each book, I have recipes. For each recipe, I let the characters do the talking. This one can be found in Inherit the Word, book 2 in the series.

From Jenna:

Knowing how much I love ice cream, my aunt bought me a countertop ice cream maker. And then Katie, who remembered how much I’d raved about Keller’s caramel macchiato ice cream, wheedled this recipe out of him. She said it was a cinch. Yeah, right. Anyway, she walked me through the first batch, and it wasn’t that hard. Katie says the trick to making homemade ice cream—which I guess Keller knew, too—is making sure there isn’t too much “moisture” in the mixture. Moisture, a.k.a. water, turns to ice in the freezer. I guess there’s a lot of water in milk. Who knew? Hence, you’ll see evaporated milk in these ingredients. I’ve got to say, yum! If you’re really daring, try making your own caramel sauce. I've included that recipe below.

Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream
(serves 6-8)

1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons espresso coffee (brewed, liquid)
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup caramel dessert sauce (I used Smucker’s)

In a saucepan, over medium heat, cook whipping cream, espresso coffee, ¼ cup of sugar, salt, and evaporated milk. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tiny bubbles form around the edges. DO NOT BOIL.

Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar and egg yolks. Stir well. Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, stirring constantly.

Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until tiny bubbles form again. DO NOT BOIL.

Remove the pan from the heat. Cool at room temperature and then set in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  

Transfer half of the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, then spread half of the caramel sauce on top.  Top with remaining ice cream, then remaining caramel sauce.  Using a knife, swirl the caramel through the ice cream.  

Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.

From Katie:
Making your own caramel sauce isn’t that hard. And it takes no time at all! Enjoy.

Caramel Sauce ala Katie
(Yield: 1 cup)

2 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Note: Making caramel is a fast process, so have everything ready…right next to the pan. You don’t want the sugar to burn. Promise! Also, the sugar gets really hot, so be prepared with oven mitts. Okay? Ready…go.

In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, heat the water and sugar on medium heat. Stir constantly. As soon as all the sugar has melted—the color will be a warm amber—add the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted. You will see bubbles around the edge of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream in a steady stream, whisking the whole time. Note: this mixture will foam!!!! It’s so pretty.

Whisk until the mixture is smooth, then cool a few minutes and pour into a glass heat-proof container, and let cool completely. Remember the glass container will be HOT until the mixture is completely cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to at least 2 weeks.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One-Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry

by Leslie Budewitz

Vegan, Thai, and yummy!

One-pot meals are super on weeknights. This one takes less than half an hour from chopping to eating, with enough time while the pot is simmering to saute some vegetables, grill some naan, and start on a glass of a nice white wine—any Chardonnay would be good with this dish, especially an unoaked or lightly oaked variety, or a fruity Pinot Grigio.

We love the Southeast Asian spices, and this recipe blends them beautifully. There are times when frozen vegetables are useful, and this is one of them. Curries vary a great deal in flavor and heat; adjust the amount based on your curry and your taste.

(Adapted from a recipe in Costco magazine)

One-Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry

1-15 ounce can coconut milk
3 cans of water (just fill that coconut can 3 times; the water will rinse out any cream stuck in the can)
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup carrots, diced (about 2 medium carrots)
1 3-4 ounce potato, cubed (a Yukon Gold is lovely)
1-15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1-3 tablespoons curry blend
1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of 1 lime (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In a 6-8 quart stockpot, combine the coconut milk, water, rice, garlic, carrots, and potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, loosely covered, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the sauce is quite thick.

Add the frozen corn and peas and stir until cooked and fully combined. Depending on the thickness, you may want to add up to ½ a can of water.

Just before serving, add the curry, soy sauce, lime juice, and cilantro. Stir to combine, then serve in pasta bowls.

Serves 8-10. Reheats nicely; spritz with water before reheating to plump the rice.

Good accompaniments: Steamed broccoli and cauliflower and grilled naan.

ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries (March 2015, Berkley Prime Crime)

Leslie Budewitz is the only author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction—the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, for Death al Dente (Berkley Prime Crime), and the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction, for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books).

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

There Is No Chocolate Babka

No, that's not a line from Seinfeld. Fans of the show will recall the episode in which he mugged an old lady because she got the last chocolate Babka at the bakery. When I was little, I asked my dad if we could have a chocolate Babka. He laughed and told me there was no such thing. Seinfeld fans know differently! I can only guess that clever American bakers incorporated chocolate into the bread.

I have baked a typical western Ukrainian Babka, which is traditional at Easter. I understand Babka means "grandmother." It's baked in a pot which is taller than it is wide. I read somewhere that it's supposed to be the shape of a woman's skirt. I'm a little afraid to imagine what their skirts looked like!

Every year, we had a Babka (never chocolate much to my dismay) at Easter. It was always amazing to look at. However, while my mom was a great cook and a fantastic baker, her Babka was always, er, a little on the dry side. So when I set out to bake a Babka, the first thing I dismissed was my mom's recipe. (Don't tell her if you see her, okay?)

I went straight to the cookbook called A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES Compiled by THE SISTERHOOD of St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Johnson City, New York. Copyrighted in 1968, I assume these recipes were by women who had eaten and cooked Ukrainian food all their lives. My mother's dry Babka in mind, I selected BABKA WITH PUMPKIN by Pani Lawryk. She says, "This is a very old recipe and worth preserving. Mashed pumpkin imparts a mellow yellow color to Babka and keeps it fresh and soft for days." I hope so!

Now, while some of you are bakers who love to tackle big projects, I do realize that most of you won't be tackling this. So just enjoy the fact that I slaved over it and that at least one very old recipe will go on the net and be preserved for generations to come.

If you like to bake bread, this is no big deal. The most difficult part is finding the correct pot in which to bake the bread. Ukrainian women are particularly fond of using coffee cans. Soup cans and the like will work as well, but won't be quite as large as the one you see here.

(by Pani Lawryk in A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES Compiled by THE SISTERHOOD of St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Johnson City, New York)

1 cup scalded milk, lukewarm
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 c. lukewarm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
2/3 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
5 cups flour, more or less
soft butter for greasing the pans
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk

1. Scald the milk and set aside to cool.

2. Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in the water and sprinkle yeast over top. Stir gently. Let stand about 5 minutes, until it begins to expand and bubble. Add the milk, and 1 cup flour and beat well. It will be very thin. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm spot until light and bubbly. (Note: it took about 40 minutes).

3. Beat the eggs with the salt. Add the sugar and continue beating. Add the butter, orange rind, pumpkin, vanilla, and orange juice and beat to combine. Pour into the yeast mixture and mix. Stir in the five cups of flour and knead (I let the machine do it) in the bowl for ten minutes. (Note, I needed six cups of flour but I used jumbo eggs.) The dough should be very soft. If necessary, remove from bowl and slowly add flour while kneading by hand. Place in a deep bowl, cover with the towel and let rise until double.

4. Punch down and knead a couple of times. Cover and let rise again until it doubles in size.

5. Thoroughly butter the baking pans. The should be taller than they are wide. You can make them taller by buttering parchment paper and inserting it in the pan so that it extends from the top. Fill them 1/3 full. Cover and allow to rise to the top.

6. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk the beaten egg with the 2 tablespoons of milk. Brush on the top of the loaves. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. (15 if very large like mine). Lower heat to 325 and bake for 30 minutes. If at any time you think the top is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Lower heat to 275 and bake 15-20 minutes longer (or 20-30 minutes if very large). The baking times depends on the size of your loaves.

7. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Pani Lawryk recommends covering a pillow with a cloth and tipping them out gently, rolling them every few minutes as they cool. I found I could tip the pan and ease mine out without any problem - without a pillow.

8. Drizzle white sugar icing over the top. I mixed 2/3 cup powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to make it the right consistency. Pani recommends mixing 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water and a few drops lemon juice. Cook to soft ball stage and stir in one direction until it turns white.

Oops. Needed a larger cup!

It will be very thin.

It was actually bubbling!

Again, very thin.

That's a lot of dough!

The parchment paper reminds me of a chef's hat!

After baking.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Welcome Amanda Cooper!

We're excited to have Amanda Cooper with us today. You might know her as Victoria Hamilton. As Amanda Cooper, she writes the Teapot Collector Mysteries. If you share her love for china (I know I do!) and all things related to tea time, check out her fabulous Pinterest board. But today she's having an inner struggle that I can relate to all too well. 

Don't miss her amazing giveaway at the end!

Here's Amanda!

I’ve been trying to eat better lately, but for someone who likes food and cooking, it’s not always easy. 


A conversation with myself goes like this:

Self: You should eat more fruit.
My other, brattier self: How about a big, fat raspberry?
Self: How about you grow up?
Bratty Self: Is jam fruit?
Self: No, jam can’t be considered fruit. Too much sugar.
Bratty Self: But fruit is booooring!
Self: What’s boring about a lovely juicy apple or a pear? Or a handful of grapes?
Bratty Self: Hmm… a couple of apples, a pear, a cup of grapes. Maybe some dried cranberries and pecans. Oooh, time for a fruit salad, but not a boring old fruit-only fruit salad, a super deluxe kick ass fruit salad. And I will call it…

Caramel Apple Salad
Makes: 4 – 6 Generous servings.


2 Honey Crisp or Royal Gala apples (or whatever kind you like best!)
1 pear, whatever type you prefer
1 – 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup seedless grapes (I used a mix of green and Sable Black seedless grapes.)
¼ cup dried cranberries (or raisins, or omit)
¼ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or omit)
½ cup fat free Greek yogurt
2 - 3 Tablespoons caramel topping, to taste
Cinnamon to taste, if you like.


1 – Blend the Greek yogurt and caramel topping together until smooth. Add cinnamon, if you’re using it. Set aside.
2 – Wash the fruit. Dice the apples and pears. The size of the dice is a personal thing; coarsely, but not big chunks.
3 – Sprinkle the apples and pears with lemon juice and toss, so they won’t brown.
4 – If you have very large green grapes like I did, you may want to slice them in half.
5 – Chop the nuts coarsely.
6 – Combine the fruits, nuts and dried cranberries or raisins, then coat well with the sauce.

And… done. It’s that easy. I just love the caramel apple flavor of this salad, but for a sweetening ingredient you could substitute honey, maple syrup, or even a fruit syrup. A blackberry syrup would be lovely! This will last in the fridge a day or two, but I doubt it will last that long!

Blend topping and dice fruit.

Combine fruit and nuts.

Even more elegant when served in a teacup!

Shadow of a Spout:
Avid teapot collector Rose Freemont takes a break from her Victorian tea house only to find a new mystery brewing elsewhere...

Leaving her home in Gracious Grove behind her, Rose is off to the annual convention of the International Teapot Collector’s Society. Her granddaughter Sophie is minding the tea house while she’s away. Rose is eager for tough cookie Zunia Pettigrew to appraise a prized antique teapot she believes may be a holy water vessel from China.

But when Zunia declares the pot a fake, Rose is really steamed. After Zunia’s found dead beside Rose’s dinged-in teapot, Sophie must rush to her grandmother’s aid and find the real killer—before Rose is steeped in any more trouble…

To learn more about Amanda Cooper and the Teapot Collector Mysteries see these pages:

Killer Characters – 21st of each month:

Victoria Hamilton/Amanda Cooper on Facebook:


About Amanda Cooper:
Amanda Cooper is the pseudonym for bestselling mystery author Victoria Hamilton. She writes the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and the Merry Muffin Mysteries as Hamilton, in addition to the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper.
Cooper’s long time love of mystery novels started at age twelve when her mom handed her an Agatha Christie book and said ‘Read!’. Thousands of novels later Cooper is still reading. And writing.
But besides those two favorite pastimes, Cooper also enjoys collecting vintage kitchenalia, old books, teacups, teapots and other ephemera. Perfume is her secret addiction. She likes to cook, hates to clean, and enjoys time spent with friends chatting over wine or tea. She loves crafts, loathes boredom, and her guilty pleasure is ‘reality’ TV, which she knows is largely fake but enjoys anyway.
Cooper thinks that people are the most interesting study of all, and more than anything, she loves to hear from readers, not just about her books but about anything and everything.

Open to US AND Canada Readers. Comment to enter to win a prize package including…
· Grace Teaware Teacup and Saucer
· English Tea Shop Tea
· Signed copy of Shadow of a Spout
· Cozy up to a good mystery! Tote Bag

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lemon meringue tiramisu

Something to celebrate from Victoria Abbott (aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini)

We were looking something special to make for Easter, something pretty and not too challenging. Something with NO FLOUR! Something with eggs, of course, and bright spring color: yellow, for sure.

We've been thinking about tiramisu a lot lately and thought about a lemon variation. We put it together using layers of our favorite flavors. You could certainly experiment and make it your own. 

There are three steps plus assembly to this Lemon Meringue Tiramisu, but it’s all easy stuff. Plus at the end, you’ll have a recipe for meringue, one for lemon curd and one for the whole shebang. A bargain, we think. 


You will need to make one recipe of meringue, one recipe lemon curd and one recipe Mascarpone cream. 


This is the meringue MJ and Victoria both remember, one of MJ’s mum’s recipes.It was always made as meringue 'kisses'.  It’s very easy, as long as your eggs are at room temperature and there’s not a speck of anything greasy near bowl or beaters and that means not a drop of yolk.

Preheat oven to 225 F.

4 egg whites (from extra large eggs, at room temperature)
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla
½ tsp almond extract (optional because we ran out!)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Beat the egg white with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla and almond.  Slowly add sugar tablespoon by tablespoon, beating well after every addition, until stiff peaks have formed.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop out meringue and shape into discs or little bowls or twist into meringue kisses, depending on what you want to do with it.  We wanted them fairly flat to build our tiramisu.

Bake at 225 for twenty to thirty minutes.  Don’t let them brown at the edges. If your oven runs hot, reduce temperature. 

FOR THE LEMON CURD (makes about 1 2/3 cups)

3 medium or 2 large lemons (juice and zest) 
34 cups granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
12 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Finely grate enough zest from lemons to measure about a tablespoon. Make sure you don't get the bitter white part. Squeeze lemons to produce 1/2 cup juice.

In a metal or tempered glass bowl whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs.

Add the butter cubes to mixture. 

Set bowl over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water and cook mixture, whisking frequently, until thickened, smooth and glossy, about 20 minutes. Don’t let the water boil, keep to a simmer. 
That's it.  Just a little patience. Confession time:  MJ watched an episode of New Tricks while squeezing, zesting and stirring.  

The lemon curd will keep covered in the fridge about three days. 

Serve lemon curd warm or chilled, but of course, we are using it in our tiramisu.


1 cup Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Limoncello, optional. We opted not to. 
We did not include sugar in the cream segment because the meringues and the lemon curd both have a lot.  But, suit yourself and your sweet tooth.
Whip the Mascarpone and cream (and maybe Limoncello) together until creamy and smooth.
Some assembly required
Place a disc of meringue in the bottom of each of six pretty, transparent serving dishes or glasses.

 It’s quite rich, so you may decide to go with small glasses or dishes. We didn’t. Ahem.  Layer on about half the meringue.  Layer on half the cream mixture.  Add a second disc.  Repeat with lemon curd and cream. This didn't lend itself to being photographed for some reason.
Crumble any remaining meringues and sprinkle on top.

Cover and refrigerate at least overnight. We added a strawberry to the top of ours. You'll have your own ideas.  Serve with verve!

Happy Easter!  

Victoria Abbott is the mysterious collaboration between the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother, the mystery writer, Mary Jane Maffini.  Normally they're quite sensible but there's a lot of treats around Easter and well, you know ...


That's us! Strangely enough, our three book collector mysteries, The Christie Curse, The Sayers Swindle and The Wolfe Widow all contain lots of desserts and celebrations and a certain amount of silly head gear.

 By the way, we're still celebrating this cover for The Marsh Madness. We think it looks good enough to eat.

The Marsh Madness is due out in September 2015.



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