Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three protagonists and mystery series: Charlotte Adams is a professional organizer in upstate New York, while lawyer Camilla MacPhee snoops in Canada's capital, and Fiona Silk must be the most reluctant sleuth in West Quebec. Before turning to crime, Mary Jane had lots of mysterious fun as a librarian and a mystery bookseller. She lives and plots in Ottawa, Ontario with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. Really, she should be working on the page proofs of her new Charlotte Adams book Closet Confidential (July 2010) instead of attempting the impossible.
For more on MJ and those stubborn sleuths, drop in to www.maryjanemaffini.com
Take my three protagonists. Please! I mean they can outwit a killer, but they can’t cook to save their lives. Today I am doing my best to bail them out in the kitchen with some three-ingredient recipes that anyone can master. I hope.
For instance, Charlotte Adams former successful financial analyst turned professional organizer seems to eat nothing but Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk straight out of the freezer. And when Fiona Silk last appeared in Too Hot to Handle, she was forced to use her friends’ recipes to create an erotic cookbook. Those bananas flambé were flaming in every sense. Luckily Fiona’s friends have insurance and her own house should be rebuilt by the time the next book comes out. As for Camilla MacPhee, she has been eating out for the last ten years. I know that Canada’s capital has wonderful restaurants, but it’s kind of embarrassing here on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.
Of course, as their creator, I have to take the blame for this. I have always loved cooking, so what was I thinking? Don’t get tied up in the kitchen in case there’s a pot on the stove when you dash off in pursuit of a villain? Hardly. If you can solve a mystery and fend off a villain, you can probably turn off a burner.
Maybe it’s because, in a way, each sleuth is like a child for this author: they’re fun, they’re engaging and they’re easy to spoil. Whatever the reason, it’s time for mine to get over this. We’ve all got to grow up sometime and really, it’s time. So consider these recipes gifts to my darlings. If they were any easier, my dogs could make them.
Camilla: You first. You’re always hanging around D’Arcy McGee’s pub munching on sweet potato fries. You probably could have bought a yacht with what you’ve spent on them over the years. But if that man in your life actually is moving a thousand miles closer, you might not want to ask him to do all the cooking, Here’s an easy equivalent that even you, yes really you, can master. No need to measure anything. Just don’t leave the house with the oven on. I mean that.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1 or more sweet potatoes cut in wedges (or whatever shape suits you)
Good quality olive oil – 1 tbsp per sweet potato
Sea salt (makes a BIG difference)
Optional: Sprigs of thyme or a sprinkle of dried thyme.
Slather oil on sweet potato wedges. Dust lightly with sea salt. Sprinkle thyme.
Bake about 35 - 40 minutes or until sizzling.
Nice with chili mayo, although that would be five ingredients or even a separate recipe. (Teaspoon of chili powder in a quarter cup of mayonnaise)
You can serve any sweet potato leftovers (as if!) with a savory vinaigrette, green onions plus a few nuts and dried cranberries.
Oh Charlotte, at barely thirty-one, you are still the baby. Now I know you think of Mars Bars as a main course, but sooner or later, baby, you are going to have to cook dinner or find some one to cook it for you. As for Jack Reilly, the love of your life, he isn’t any more adept than you are. Let him fix the bikes and dodge bullets, while you make this soup. Try it just once and you’ll be hooked. We’re find a recipe for him sooner or later.
1 ripe avocado – peeled and diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Bring broth to a boil. Add avocado and whip with a stick blender until smooth. Or transfer to a blender or food processor and process until creamy. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream. Feel like going crazy with a fourth ingredient? Add a swirl of your favorite salsa for a zippy variation. (Served in pretty cups, this is good enough for a dinner party, not that Charlotte would ever have one.)
As for you, my darling hopeless Fiona, oh dear. Can you live on hummus and pita forever? I think not. The consensus is that you would be a more successful romance writer if you had a sex life. Hard to argue with that. So in the hope that you and your Marc-André live HEA, here’s a sexy recipe to share as you cuddle on the sofa in a candlelit room, with perhaps a warm fire flickering, but in the fireplace this time.
Jar of fig spread
1 small wheel of Brie
1 crusty baguette, sliced (or could be crackers)
Put brie on an ovenproof or microwave safe shallow dish. Spread brie with a layer of fig spread. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or 1 minute (or so) in microwave, until soft and runny in the middle, while brie holds its shape. Serve, and savor with someone you love. Pair with wine or even martinis (3 ingredients also).
There you go, girls. You’re off to a running start. Let me know if you have trouble turning on your stoves. Nothing can go wrong, although with your track records …
The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :) Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy enter! Just send an email to MysteryLoversKitchen@gmail.com with “Contest” in the subject line.
Really, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at MysteryLoversKitchen@gmail.com and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!
Happy Easter to all our friends
from Mary Jane Maffini and the authors at
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!