Saturday, September 19, 2009

Danish Apple Cake

This is a recipe my mom has made for as long as I can remember. She probably baked it before I was born. At our house, it always heralded the arrival of new fall apples and a cold snap in the air. It's not overly sweet, which makes it popular with people who aren't big on cakes or desserts. It's perfect for tea on a cold afternoon. However, it's best served slightly warm from the oven. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly good cold, but a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on a piece of warm apple cake with one of Cleo's fancy coffee drinks -- yum!

Danish Apple Cake

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

6 - 8 large apples


1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

The dough can be made by hand, however, it's a breeze in a food processor. Just be sure to use the dough blade.

1. Peel and core the apples, and slice. I usually quarter the apples and cut each quarter into 4 slices. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 425.

For the dough --

3. Cut the butter into four pieces and place in food processor. Add the flour and the baking powder. Pulse until thoroughly mixed, scraping the sides a couple of times.

4. Add the egg and the milk and pulse into a ball. Do not over-process or it will be sticky.

5. Lightly butter a large baking sheet with a lip around the edge. Press the dough into the pan or roll out it lightly. If it's sticky, use just a bit of flour on top to roll it out easily.

6. Place the apples on top of the dough in rows so that they barely overlap one another.

7. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping --

8. Mix the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a smooth paste. I use a mini food-processor.

9. When the apples have finished baking, remove from oven and turn the temperature down to 325.

10. Drop bits of the paste topping over the apples as uniformly as possible.

11. Return to the oven and bake at 325 for an additional 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the whipping cream and the coffee.

You're on your own for the coffee or tea!

For the cream --

1. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream.

2. When it begins to take shape, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whip briefly.

Remove the Danish Apple Cake from the oven and let stand a few minutes. Cut into squares, top with a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy your afternoon!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake for a Sweet New Year!

Congrats to our final gift card winner! Molly Ebert of Indiana won our last $25 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Stay tuned for more of our contests coming up in the near future...


On the Gregorian calendar, the New Year will be celebrated on January 1. On the Chinese calendar, the date for turning over a new leaf will be February 14. And on the Jewish calendar, the New Year (5770) is ushered in this very evening!

Rosh Hashanah literally means “first of the year” in Hebrew and it commemorates the creation of man—within the larger Biblical story of the creation of the world. It also begins the High Holy Days, a ten day period that culminates in the somber observance of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.

In synagogues across the world, the Jewish New Year is celebrated with many traditions, one of which is the blowing of the ram’s horn. The “shofar” is the name for this horn, and it’s blown like a trumpet to symbolically awaken the listeners from their slumbers and alert them to the coming judgment of God. In general, this is a time of year to reflect on the year you’ve had--especially mistakes and missteps—and contemplate how to do better in the year ahead.

Rosh Hashanah is a holiday rich in meaning and tradition. As with all holidays, food plays an important role. Apples are commonly eaten (dipped in honey – yum!) to symbolize a wish for a sweet year ahead. Honey cake is also a favorite.

Even though my Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake is not Kosher, I thought I’d share it with you today because of Rosh Hashanah’s apple tradition.

I love this cake because it’s easy to make and also very light, tender and buttery, with a delicate flavor of apple and the rich, bright note of buttermilk.

While it's a delish snack cake to eat any time year (and goes very well with a freshly brewed pot of joe), I think it’s especially comforting to slide into the oven on a fall afternoon when there’s that crisp chill in the air, the sun begins to set a little earlier than you're used to, and you’ve just come in from raking leaves, a long walk in the park, or picking those newly ripened apples...

To get my recipe for
Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake,

The recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can print it out or save it to your computer.

For more of my recipes or to find out more
about the books in my culinary mystery series,
click this link to my virtual home at

Finally, if you’d like a truly Kosher recipe for an apple cake, click here. The ladies who created this recipe know their stuff. They managed a catering company in Columbus, Ohio, for over twenty years.

In closing, a common greeting at this time is “Shana Tova” for a good year or “Shana Tova Umetukah” for a good and sweet new year. So...

Shana Tova Umetukah

~Cleo Coyle
author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Travelling Soul

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb I’ve just returned from a relaxing trip to Orlando, Florida with my sister. The weather was great and the rides and entertainment at Disney World were a lot of fun.

The only icky moments for the trip? They were all at the airport. Apparently, there are a lot of sick people in America right now. I felt bad for them, but I avoided them like the plague they were likely infected with.

Here’s hoping they all got to their destinations and made themselves a nice bowl of soup. And here’s hoping I don’t catch their colds! Just in case I do, I’ll be armed with the recipe below and ready to combat the germs with a bowl of liquid comfort:

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 qt chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup flour
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t black pepper
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup half and half
1 prepared pie crust, thawed and baked as directed

This is more of a chicken pot pie soup, actually. :)

Add diced potatoes to bowl of cold water and put aside. Boil 2 qt chicken stock. Add chicken. Poach 10 min in the stock. Remove chicken to cool. Reduce the stock by half (10 min.) Dice chicken when cooled. Heat oil (or extra-virgin olive oil and butter) and sauté onion and celery. Stir in flour and whisk until it forms a roux. Add Italian seasoning and pepper. Cook for 3 more minutes. Whisk roux into broth. Drain potatoes and add to broth along with frozen vegetables. Simmer (covered) at least fifteen more minutes. Stir in half and half—cook another 10 minutes. Place in bowls and garnish with broken, cooked pie crust.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams
Pretty is as Pretty Dies—August 2009
Memphis Barbeque Series—Book 1 in May 2010
Please pop by and see me at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Congrats to our final winner!
Molly Ebert of Indiana won our
last $25 Williams-Sonoma gift
certificate! Stay tuned for more
contests in the future!

And now, who is CHO? Well, he's the man I call
"the Hub", aka Chris Hansen Orf, a Phoenix
based musician and music writer. (The Hub
is an encyclopedia of music knowledge, truly, I don't
even bother to take him on in that category in Trivial
Pursuit because it's just too demoralizing).

He is also an excellent cook, whose skills are most exemplified
in the meat department. When asked to prepare supper, he
does it with gusto and when dinner is served it is generally a
beautifully grilled piece of meat. No salad. No sides. No, I'm not
kidding. When I inquire as to side dishes, he looks perplexed. And
I know he is thinking why do you need sides when you have meat?
And then one day I came home and found the Hub in the
kitchen, chopping...VEGETABLES!

I hit him with a quick marriage
based quiz, answers that only my
true husband would know, because
I was thinking we had an alien
abduction happening or perhaps a
clone gone awry. But he knew the

What caused his sudden need for veggies?
He said he had a craving for tomatos that
could not be ignored. Thus proving my theory
that the body will crave what it truly needs,
so you should listen to it when it says,
"Chocolate cake." But that's another blog!

And so here is the Hub's recipe for the best salsa ever.
Honestly, I would eat this stuff with a shovel if I could!


1 finely chopped habanero pepper(hot)**
1 finely chopped serano chili pepper
1 finely chopped (seeded) jalapeno pepper
3 tomatoes quartered and chopped in a Krups food processor
3 finely diced (seeded) tomatoes
1 tbspn chopped cilantro
1 tbspn chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic minced
Mix ingredients in a large bowl, then strain. Then add:
Juice of 2 limes, hand squeezed into salsa
1 tspn salt
1 tbspn fine tequila (Cabo Wabo)**

**The dudes love their dad’s salsa, too, but for a more kid friendly
version, we leave out the habaneros and the tequila.

When asked how he thought of the tequila, which in my opinion
"makes" it, Hub said, "I'd always thought that adding a bit of a good
reposado tequila (not Jose Cuervo or any other cheap, rotgut tequila)
might mingle nicely with the lime and the salt in the salsa, like in a good
margarita, so one day I figured what the heck and added a TBSP of
Cabo Wabo to one batch, loaded it up on a tortilla chip and after that
first taste, I knew I had created the perfect salsa."

And so we share with you...ENJOY!

Jenn McKinlay SPRINKLE WITH MURDER March 2010
aka Lucy Lawrence STUCK ON MURDER Sept 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


First of all, I want to send a shout-out to Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha's Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Robin's also the president of the Kerrytown Bookfest (also in Ann Arbor) and invited me to participate in this year's event, which I did this past Sunday.

The day was beautiful, the readers friendly - I was thrilled to be a part of it. (I'll be blogging more about it on my "Julie Hyzy" blog later this week. But I just wanted to let everyone here know that it was a truly fun event and Aunt Agatha's is a wonderful store. If you ever have the chance to go to the Kerrytown Bookfest or visit Aunt Agatha's -- you should absolutely jump on it.

Pictured here are those of us on the Cooking with Mystery panel.

From left: Connie (Miranda Bliss), Eve (Joanna Carl), me, and our wonderful moderator Angelee whose last name escapes me at the moment.


Because this was such a busy week, and because I've been using way too much heavy cream and sugar in many of my recipes, I decided to go with a somewhat healthier alternative this week.

After watching Alton Brown once on the Food Channel, I attempted my first-ever frittata. At that time I didn't have all the ingredients in the house I needed to recreate his version, so I improvised, which is something I love to do.

This time I tried a different version, and even though I was certain I had all the necessary items, I found out at the last second that I did not.

No worries... There's a lot of room for creativity with fritattas!

Although I usually prefer a more low-carb option, the potatoes in this one don't add horribly to the carb count and they give the frittata a nice texture that allows this dish to be enjoyed at any meal. Just because it features eggs doesn't mean it's solely a breakfast item!

Ready for an easy recipe?


1 T butter
6 eggs**
**You can use egg substitute if you prefer. Measure out about 1.5 cups for equivalent to 6 eggs.
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 big bag of frozen hash browns - about 13 ounces
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large skillet (must be oven-proof) melt the butter and saute the onions, green pepper and broccoli until the onions are soft and the broccoli is al dente. If you want to add more butter (I did), you may.

Add frozen potatoes and cook until they're warmed and cooked through, though not necessarily brown. Mine stayed white.

Mix the eggs until well blended, add salt and pepper to taste. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring slightly until the eggs start to set. Don't pull them to the center of the pan, like scrambled eggs. You want the mixture to take up the entire bottom of the pan.

Place pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 4 minutes. Add shredded cheddar (yikes! mine was gone, so I chopped up a block of cheddar) and return to oven until cheese is melted and the sides of the frittata begin to brown.

Remove from the oven and serve hot.

As I said, this can be a wonderful low-carb option if you omit the potatoes. I made this once with some leftover salsa and it was fabulous.

Hope you enjoy!


My White House Chef Mystery series includes State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

Sign up for my newsletter at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Say Cheese Salad!

Congrats to last week’s winner who won our final $25 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate! For all of our new readers, look at the right column to find out more about the next contest!

As I do research for The Cheese Shop Mysteries, because my protagonist is supposed to be an expert in all things cheese, I am having the best time checking out restaurants that spotlight cheese. I found a great place this past week. It’s actually, get this, called Say Cheese! [my motto] It’s in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles on Hyperion. It’s a charming deli as well as a café.

So, anyway, my friend and I went for lunch and we chose the same salad, Lemon Dill with Smoked Salmon. The salad was DELICIOUS!!!! But it did not have cheese in it, and I thought, harrumph, I must rectify that. I wanted to add a cheese that had a nutty flavor and the firm texture of a Tomme Savoie. The cheesemonger at Say Cheese fixed me up with Vacherin Fribourgeois, a cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland.

I went home that night with all the fixings and plated the salad as I’d seen it at the restaurant, but I tweaked by adding some spicy olives, baby tomatoes, and slices of the cheese. Voilá!




[makes one salad]

Mixed greens

4 stalks asparagus per salad, cooked al dente and cooled

3 oz. smoked salmon per salad

6 mixed olives

2 slices Vacherin Fribourgeois

6 baby tomatoes


Layer the greens on a large plate.

Place the four stalks of asparagus down the center of the greens.

Place three olive and three tomatoes on each side of the plate.

Wrap slices of salmon around each stalk of asparagus.

Crisscross two triangular slices of Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese below the salmon.

Next, I tried coming up with the same dressing as the restaurant. While they probably used mayonnaise, I kept mine simpler, a little lighter. I had brought a sample home and had my husband taste-test. He preferred mine. [Note: He might be biased.]

Here’s the recipe:



[enough for 3-4 salads]

1 large lemon

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 egg (whipped)

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Pinch of dill


Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl, remove any seeds.

Add the other ingredients.

Whip with a blender. Serve immediately.

Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and you’ve got a lovely fall meal as the temperatures start to turn.

Enjoy! And Say Cheese!

And if you like, visit my website: and sign up for my newsletter with recipes and tips and a recurring column about the history of cheese. Next month I'll spotlight Vacherin Fribourgeois!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jeri Westerson Guest Blogs

Please welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!!
Writing a medieval mystery like my latest, SERPENT IN THE THORNS (in bookstores Sept 29), involves a lot of diverse research, from the weight of armor and weapons (I own a sword, a helm, and numerous daggers), to the feel of the clothing, and to the taste of the food. And yes, I have cooked medieval food. It’s good to know what my character Crispin Guest—an ex-knight turned detective—might have eaten when he was a knight and flush with funds, and what he might have been reduced to eating when he was stripped of his title and wealth.

The first in the series, VEIL OF LIES; A Medieval Noir, will be released in paperback on October 13 with a brand new and sexy cover! I was very excited when it was nominated for a Macavity Award for Best Historical Fiction and then even more excited when it was nominated for a Shamus for Best First PI Novel. I think that’s a first for a medieval mystery.

Now on to food! You posed a few questions to me.

Name three things in your refrigerator right now.

Home-brewed mead (my husband makes it), brie, and sugar-free
strawberry Jell-O.
Do you cook or are you a take-out queen?

I do like to cook but lately there doesn’t seem much time for that. Though a few months ago, I did make the dinner for our little gourmet club. I served tapas. I set up stations throughout the dining room and living room with different foods and wines to go with them. It was a lot of fun and it gave me the excuse to buy new platters (I’m a sucker for crockery).

What does your protagonist like to eat?

My protagonist, Crispin Guest, is a former knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London. What he used to eat and what he eats now are two different things. The nobility were pretty much carnivores with quite a few dishes at one sitting devoted to something with meat, though they were either dipped in sauces or were cooked in sauces with a decidedly flavorful flair. (And before you say it, they didn’t use sauces to cover rotten meat. That’s just one of those myths we can’t seem to get rid of.) Of course now, in his reduced circumstances, Crispin is forced to eat a lot of soup or pottage. The dreaded turnip shows up a lot and coarse breads and cheeses. He used to enjoy fine wines from Spain and France, but wine is expensive, even in the tavern he frequents and it would have been wiser of him to buy the cheaper ales than pay more for wine, but its his one concession to his glorious past and more often than not, he over indulges.

Is your heroine a good cook or is she going to look around town for someone to feed her curiosity?

I don’t really have a heroine, except for the wife of the tavern owner at the Boar’s Tusk, Eleanor Langton. She doesn’t provide a lot of meals for Crispin but something more like a place for him to find some comfort (they run a tab for him). His cook, more often than not, is his servant and former street urchin/cutpurse Jack Tucker. Jack is young and scrappy and he manages to scrounge the occasional sausage and capon for their hearth as well as brewing the interminable turnip pottage. If they get tired of Jack’s cooking, there are also many sellers of cooked food in London--medieval fast-food. They might enjoy cooked meat pies, fish, fowl, and even hedgehog and cat meat!

Would you care to share a recipe with us?

I found a lovely medieval dish that anyone can prepare at home. It’s a chicken dish, and I love chicken. This recipe is quite good and it’s easy.

First, the recipe in Middle English, the language of Chaucer and also of Crispin. Then a translation, and then a modern version for you.

Middle English: Chykens in Hocchee. Take chykenns and scald hem. Take parsel and sawge without eny other erbes. Take garlic and grapes and stoppe the chikens ful, and seeth hem in good broth so that they may esely be boyled therinee. Messe hem and caste thereto powder douce.

Modern Translation: Chickens in Hotchpot. Take chickens and scaled them. Take parsley and sage without any other herbs. Take garlic and grapes and stuff the chickens full and cook them in good broth so that they may easily be boiled within. Divide them into portions and cast sweet powder on top.

A word about medieval cooking before the modern recipe. The flavors that the medieval person enjoyed with their meat is very different from the modern European. In the middle ages, they seemed to like a lot of dried fruits and spices that we are more familiar with in desserts. If you are at all familiar with Moroccan cooking (or real mince pies), then you have tasted medieval meat dishes.

The powder douce that is mentioned in the Middle English version above was usually a mixture of spices, something like we’d use Zatarans or Old Bay. This is a collection of “sweet” aromatic spices, like aniseed, fennel seed, and nutmeg.

Chickens in Hotchpot (Hodgepodge) or Stuffed Chicken in Soup

4-5 pound stewing chicken
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon dried sage
12 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ pounds grapes
garnish/powder douce: nutmeg, crushed anise and fennel seeds

1. Place chicken in colander and scald with boiling water. Remove fat from cavity opening.
2. Bring water and salt to boil.
3. Stuff bird with 6 Tablespoons of parsley and the sage, garlic, and grapes
4. Place chicken in boiling water. Return to boil; cover and lower heat.
5. Allow to simmer about an hour or until chicken is tender. About 15 minutes before it is finished, add the remaining parsley to the broth.
6. Cut chicken into portions, and serve together with stuffing and liquid in soup bowls.
8. Remember to eat with your fingers. No forks and spoons were rare.
7. Sprinkle each serving with powder douce.

The pictures of that medieval woman are me! I cooked a medieval feast for friends while we were camping last year. And no, I usually don't wear fourteenth century clothes. I am cooking a version of the chicken dish on a fire rather than in a pot. It's good both ways.
Thank you, Jeri, for joining us today! If you'd like to know more about Jeri and her character, Crispin, please check out her website: Jeri Westerson