Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mary Jane Maffini Cooks with Characters!

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


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.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

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.

Awesome Avocado Soup

1 ripe avocado – peeled and diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Sour cream

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.

Fig and Brie Spread

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 …

New April Contest!!!!DELICIOUS    SUSPICIOUS cover

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 with “Contest” in the subject line.

Grilling Rub   Collection 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 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!


  1. Happy Easter, MJ! Thanks so much for joining us at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I love your cooking with characters--that's so much fun! Although I do have my days when I'm like Fiona and think I can live on my pita and hummus dip!

    Your avocado soup and fig and brie spread sound *wonderful*. Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Happy Easter everyone. Thanks so much for introducing me to a "new to me" author. Mary Jane all three of the series sound great. I'm not sure which one to start with, but I'm definitely checking out all three.

  3. Happy Easter, MJ and thanks so much for your great post! Always wonderful to read what you have to say! And these recipes are the kinds I like best - easy. That avocado soup is first on my list to try. Thanks so much and have a wonderful holiday!


  4. MJ - Happy Easter!! These all sound pretty terrific. The avocado soup is a "gotta try!" Harley sends Daisy and Lily Happy Easter smooches.


  5. Thanks, all you Easter early birds! Who knew my friends were up so soon! I hope you all enjoy the recipes. Mason, I hope you have fun with whichever series you start with. I am thrilled to hear you'll meet one of my sleuths. Elizabeth and Julie, it's always great to join you on MLK! Kaye, I feel bad there's nothing for Harley in this batch. Maybe next time. I do have dog biscuits too.

  6. Great recipes, MJ. I think I need some of those sweet pootatoes right away.

  7. Me too, Leann! They're better than vitamins. Happy Easter!

  8. Happy Easter to all of the ladies at MLK!

  9. Happy Easter, MJ. How sweet of you to show up on this special day. And love the way you had all ofo your three characters face the task of cooking. What lovely simple recipes. I especially enjoyed the Brie with fig jam, of course.

  10. Happy Happy Easter :)

    I'm still salivating over the avocado soup :)

  11. Fantastic post by a fantabulous mystery writer. Lovin' all three of your recipes - perfect for each of your protags. Me? I would be perfectly happy livin' on your oven baked sweet potato wedges, avocado soup, and fig & brie spread (with the occassional New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream thrown in for decadent good measure). :) Cheers, MJ, and Happy Easter!


  12. Happy Easter! Thanks for the wonderful post, MJ.
    It all looks SO good. I am particularly taken
    by the avocado soup! YUM.

  13. This is a great post, and a really fun idea... Need to pick up one of your organizer sleuth books for my wife, she does our closet three times a month.

    That photo of the soup is wonderful... thanks for hanging out here and have a happy holiday

  14. Mary Jane, thank you so much for joining us today. I love this idea. Not only do your recipes sound wonderful, but we're all defined by our food preferences and habits. What a fun blog!

    ~ Krista

  15. Thanks for asking me, Krista! I look forward to visiting again sometime. I love this kitchen!

  16. Three easy recipes! And, they look good enough to eat off the page....thanks, MJ. They're in my recipe binder now. So that makes 4 items. Soon I'll be able to throw together a meal!

    Love the recipes & love your sleuths!!!