Monday, September 25, 2017

Praline Peach Pie

Have you tried ClickList? You order your groceries through the Internet, then pick them up the next day.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. We make a lot of decisions in the grocery store. There are seasonal products and new items that we don't know about. Plus we're picky about our fresh fruits and veggies. There are some we would pass on if we could see them. And others that look so good we would buy them even though we hadn't planned on it.

For my life situation at the moment, ClickList is a huge time saver. Not only don't I have to go into the grocery store, but the one I prefer is the size of a football field. By the time you get to the middle, you better not have forgotten anything on the side you just left!

Anyway, they allow you to click a box saying they can substitute something. Surprise! I asked for nectarines, and I got the biggest peaches I have ever seen. They're the size of grapefruits. I do love baked peaches, so I cast around looking for a cake or pie to bake. In my Mom's old Farm Journal cookbook called Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook, I stumbled upon something that sounded wonderful—Peachy Praline Pie. Wow, two delicious flavors together? I had to try it.

I thought I was being very clever by using a pecan and graham cracker crust. Hmm. Not so clever after all. After 30 minutes of baking, I smelled something burning. Yes, a graham cracker crust will burn at 400 degrees. Sigh. But I'm sharing it today anyway because we loved the pie. In the instructions, I'm lowering the heat to 350. I think that will produce the same results, sans the tiny bit of burned crust edge. Do check on it at 30 minutes and cover the crust with aluminum foil if it looks crispy.

My peaches were so big that 1/2 a peach filled a cup. If you have normal-sized peaches, plan on using 4-5 peaches. 

Warning: this is a cake for sugar lovers! It's sweet as, well, pie! If you want to tone down the sugar,  omit or decrease the sugar in the crust. And reduce the 3/4 cups sugar, depending on the sweetness of your peaches.

Peach Praline Pie
based on a recipe from Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook

9" unbaked pie shell OR
9 sheets cinnamon graham crackers
1/4 cup pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
pinch of mace
4 cups sliced peaches
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter

Crust: Place graham crackers, pecans, and sugar in a food processor.  Process until pecans are fine. While running, pour in the melted butter. Use your fingers to spread in the 9-inch pie dish.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and mace. Peel the peaches (with a vegetable peeler, or dunk briefly in boiling water and peel) and slice them, adding them to the bowl. Add lemon juice and turn several times to coat. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 3 tablespoons of butter. Trust me here, use your hand to mix it until the butter is incorporated and it's crumbly. Sprinkle half on the bottom of the pie pastry in the pan. Pour in the peaches. Sprinkle the remainder on top. Bake about 40-50 minutes. Check after 30 minutes. If the edge of the crust is getting too brown, top with a circle of aluminum foil around the edge.

Graham crackers, pecans, and optional sugar in food processor.

Add melted butter while running.
Pat into pie pan.

Briefly boil peaches to peel easily.

Toss peach slices with flour, sugar, mace, and lemon juice.

Scatter 1/2 praline mixture on bottom.

Add peaches

Sprinkle remainder of praline mixture on top.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Please Welcome Elizabeth J. Duncan #Giveaway

Today we welcome guest author Elizabeth J. Duncan back to the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen. The author of two series: the Penny Brannigan mysteries set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills, Elizabeth is a two-time winner of the Bloody Words Award for Canada’s best light mystery.
The paperback edition of Ill Met by Murder (Catskills #2) will be released October 10, and the hardback edition of Much Ado About Murder (Catskills #3) on November 7.
The Shakespeare in the Catskills series is published by Crooked Lane Books.
Nothing says autumn in upstate New York like apples. So when Paula Van Dusen, chairman of the board of directors of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, decides to give a dinner party to welcome two new British members to the troupe, an apple pie accompanied by artisan cheddar cheese and freshly churned vanilla ice cream is on the menu. After all, what’s more American than apple pie? Unfortunately, one of the guests is found dead the next morning, but that had nothing to do with the delicious dinner prepared by Paula’s kitchen staff! It was all just Much Ado About Murder!
However, if unlike Paula, you have no help, and no time to bake an apple pie, why not try this delicious quick bread that summons up all the flavours of apple pie without the bother? A perfect accompaniment to a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Apple and cinnamon quick bread
2/3 cup brown sugar, divided
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter softened, or margarine suitable for baking
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray an 8x4 loaf pan.
Combine 1/3 cup of brown sugar with cinnamon in small bowl and set aside.
Cream white sugar, remaining brown sugar, and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.
Stir together flour and baking powder. Add to egg mixture alternating with milk, starting and ending with flour. Do not over mix.
Pour half of batter into pan, sprinkle with half the chopped apples and half the remaining cinnamon mixture.
Stir the remaining apples into remaining batter and pour into pan. Top with remaining cinnamon mixture.
Bake approx. 40 minutes. Brush topping with melted butter. Continue baking an additional five to 10 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to rack to finish cooling.

Cream white sugar, remaining brown sugar, and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

Pour half of batter into pan, sprinkle with half the chopped apples and half the
remaining cinnamon mixture.

Stir the remaining apples into remaining batter and pour into pan.
Top with remaining cinnamon mixture.

Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to rack to finish cooling.


To win a paperback copy of Ill Met by Murder, or an ARC of Much Ado About Murder (publisher’s choice) simply leave a comment below. USA only. 

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter @elizabethduncan, on Facebook http.//www.facebook/elizabethjduncan or visit her website You can sign up on the author page to receive a brief newsletter

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!

Add caption

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