Monday, February 15, 2010

Elegant and Quick!

My mother taught me something long, long ago. Elegant and quick can go hand-in-hand. A touch-up with a comb and a swish of lipstick can make any frazzled soccer mom or gal-on-the-go look pretty darned good.

Well, sometimes, that's how I feel about a meal. I want quick but I want elegant. There's nothing that makes a simple salad more elegant and TASTY than shavings of cheese. You don't need a cheese grater. Don't need a lot of time. Just a potato peeler and the best tasting cheese in your refrigerator.

Add a steak (yes, this ruins the vegetarian aspect, but then I wasn't going for vegetarian) and add grilled mushrooms, and you have an elegant QUICK meal.

Every time I go to the store, I get mushrooms. They act like a side dish without all the calories. I then eat guilt-free because I'm having basically protein and vegetables.

But it's the cheese that makes the meal that much better. Cheese is tasty, colorful.

Thanks to research that I've been doing for The Long Quiche Goodbye--research that is FUN, FUN, FUN--oh, poor me [tee-hee]--I've been learning about dozens of new cheeses. Really good cheese shops sho
uld be eager for you to taste before buying. That's what Charlotte, the owner of Fromagerie Bessette in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, does. A little taste of this, a little taste of that.

For the quick meal in the picture above, I used Mimolette, a cow's milk cheese from France as well as the Netherlands, similar in some ways to Edam. It's got a hard crust, yet the cheese is very tasty with overtones of hazelnuts. Its deep orange color comes from a natural colorant called annatto. If you were to see the whole ball of cheese, at first glance, you'd think cantaloupe!


So the next time you're thinking about dinner, which could be any minute now, think about what my mother taught me. Elegant can be quick and easy. Just consider adding a taste...just a morsel...of cheese.


By the way, if I haven't shared a photo of Charlotte's rescued cat, "Rags." Rags loves a little nip of cheese. Grated on his food. Purrrrrrr-fect. You can find out more about Rags, a Ragdoll cat, on my website by click this link: Rags the Ragdoll.

Last but not least, OUR OTHER NEWS:

Congrats to our own Julie Hyzy for being the IMBA top seller in January!!! Eggsecutive Orders is a terrific read! The honor is well-deserved. Way to go, Juluie.

Don't forget to enter your suggestion for the name of a fictional cupcake. You could have your name and cupcake written into BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF! (The sequel to SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, which just received a *Starrred Review* from Publishers Weekly!). Send proof of your pre-order of SPRINKLE WITH MURDER along with your name and cupcake name to Jenn at

And finally, congratulations to Helen K. who suggested the winning Secret Ingredient for Mystery Kitchen’s Iron Chef contest! What was the secret ingredient? Find out during our next Iron Chef week in just a week!!! And keep reading our posts to find out how to enter our next contest!

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Since reading your posts about cheese, I've come to look at it in a whole new light. I've started adding cheese to a lot of dishes I didn't before. BTW Rags is gorgeous.

    Congratulations to Julie for being the IMBA top seller last month.

  2. Thanks for introducing me to Mimolette, Avery! Sounds wonderful (I'm an Edam fan). And you're so right about a colorful presentation on the plate--it really does make a huge difference!

    We *almost* got a Ragdoll, the last time we were in the cat buying market a year ago. We couldn't find a rescued one close enough, though, so ended up with Maine Coon mixes to rescue. Very sweet cats!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Rags is gorgeous! And your recipe is perfect - truly elegant. Moms give great advice and your mom was totally right! I'm with Mason, I've been looking at cheese differently since following your posts and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book!
    Thanks for this great post!

  4. Oh, I love Rags! - and I completely agree with your tips. A bit of grated Pecorino Romano(or crumbled feta or bleu) always brings my ordinary salads into a whole new realm of satisfying -- and eating lighter is much easier when it's tasty! Great advice today, Avery!

    :) ~Cleo
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  5. Avery, I realized this weekend that I call too many of my recipes "Easy" something or other. Sometimes the simplest recipes and meals are best. Inspired by your book (which I've been lucky enough to read already and know everyone will adore), I've been experimenting with cheeses. It's amazing how many varieties there are and just how different they taste. Now if I could just wean myself off of that creamy peppery brie . . .

    ~ Krista

  6. Don't wean yourself off, Krista. Just eat a nibble at a time. Sounds delish!!!! I always find a glass of wine curbs the desire to eat too much cheese. It's like the perfect pairing. A sip of this, a nip of that. Oh, Yum!

  7. That's a meal Hub and I could split!
    He'll take the steak and I'll take the salad
    with cheese. Very nice.

  8. Rags is a one big handsome baby! Yumm..cheese. We eat some kind of cheese almost every night.

    Congratulations to Julie! Very well done.