Showing posts with label Alton Brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alton Brown. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Herby Cheesy Spread -- #bookgiveaway

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  I’ve often said one of the secrets to adult life is to have friends who cook well, and I’m particularly fortunate in that regard. When I visited Seattle for the launch of ASSAULT & PEPPER, my first Seattle Spice Shop Mystery, I stayed with Lita, my best friend from college. She inspires me in many ways, not least in the kitchen. She’s got a knack I’ve given my main character, Pepper, for being able to step into her kitchen and emerge with what appears to be spontaneous deliciosity.

The moment I tasted this dip, loosely based on a three-cheese dip she watched Alton Brown make on his TV show, I knew I’d have to share it with Mr. Right—and with you.

If you’ve read my Spice Shop Mysteries, you know that the recipe section includes one or two recipes for the seasonal spice blends Pepper and the crew are mixing up at the shop. KILLING THYME includes a terrific Italian blend. I posted the blend two weeks ago with the Herbed Black Bean Pasta Salad; here’s the link. You can also use a commercial blend if you have one.

This spread is even better the second or third day—if you can keep yourself from eating it all at once. An easy flavor variation: substitute 2 tablespoons of the Italian blend for the herbs and spices listed below, and omit the ½ teaspoon salt.

(Sorry the pictures aren’t so great—I took them with the old camera, now-deceased!)

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, the second Seattle Spice Shop Mystery!

Pepper’s Herby-Cheesy Spread 

4 to 5 ounces Parmesan or Parmesan-Reggiano, cut in small cubes
4 to 5 ounces Asiago, cut in small cubes
4 scallions or ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper***
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons black pepper
½ cup olive oil, more or less

***Aleppo pepper is hard to find these days, because of the war in Syria. Substitute Maras peppers, the Turkish counterpart, or any good red pepper. A paprika, especially a smoked paprika would also be tasty.

Place the cheese cubes in the bowl of a large food processor and pulse or chop until coarse. Add the scallions or chives, and the oregano, red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Process until fully mixed.

Pour in the olive oil and process until fully blended and smooth. Use less oil for a thicker spread, more oil for a thinner, smoother spread. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your palate.

Let the spread sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve it, to allow the flavors to develop. Store leftovers in the fridge, but let the spread return to room temperature before diving in again to get the fullest flavor. Serve with hearty crackers, crostini, or cut vegetables.

DO YOU have a favorite recipe from a friend? Do tell!

Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, the second Seattle Spice Shop Mystery! The winner will be chosen on Friday, October 21.

From the cover of KILLING THYME. out October 4 in paperback, e-book, and audio:  

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Does Thanksgiving Taste Like? Foodie Poll + Perfect Turkey Gravy via Cleo Coyle

What does Christmas taste like?

That is the question my coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi asks her quirky staff of baristas at the start of Holiday Grind.
Published back in 2009,
Holiday Grind (Coffeehouse
Mystery #8)
reappeared on a
recent B& bestseller list
Read more in my facebook
post here.

Their answers define their charactersand help Clare create a menu of wildly popular Fa-la-la-la-lattes for the season.

fa-la-la-la-lattes!   > > > 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in crime-writing, her
husband, Marc Cerasini. Learn more about them
and their books here.

Now Marc and I are using
the phrase from our own book!

What does Thanksgiving taste like?


If you do not see the poll above, simply click this link
to take it 
at the PollDaddy site.


Drawing 12 Noon
Thanksgiving Day!

Drawing is Over
Congrats to our comment winner:
Jim Elliott "Library Jim"

After you take the poll, tell Marc and me how you voted in the COMMENTS of this post (or the polldaddy comment area) and you will be entered in a random drawing to win a signed copy of ONCE UPON A GRIND, the new Coffeehouse Mystery, which Penguin is publishing in a beautiful hardcover edition this December 2nd.

You will also win this fun custom-designed mug with a favorite saying of the octogenarian owner of our coffeehouse (Clare's beloved boss and former mother-in-law) Madame...

"Survive everything. And do it with style."

~ Madame in 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

As for me, my voting on the poll
was tough. I couldn't decide between
pumpkin and pecan pie...

You can get my favorite recipe for Pecan Pie Bars
in my 
November Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter,
going out soon. (Sign up 

For my husband, Marc,
Thanksgiving would not be 

Thanksgiving without turkey GRAVY!

And that's the subject of
our recipe post today...

The Mystery of Perfect Gravy

When used correctly
(and Marc and I will show you how),
this secret ingredient will let you
serve smooth, velvety gravy to
your guests instead of a lumpy
turkey glue. And this method
(used by restaurants)
will give you enough gravy
to serve a crowd!
Anyone who's thickened gravy using the traditional method (aka, flour) knows that if you use too little, your gravy will be weak and thin, and if you use too much, your gravy will transform into a lump of gelatinous glue as soon as it begins to cool.

To solve this dilemma, celebrity chef Alton Brown recently reminded us what restaurants do to make the perfect Turkey Day gravy. Because this gravy is made with stock, you can make plenty of it--and it will be a smooth, velvety gravy.

So what is the secret ingredient? It’s potato starch! And, no, it's not used for thickening; it’s there to prevent clumping!

The potato starch will stop the flour from congealing, so you’ll be able to serve your guests a rich, smooth, lump-free gravy and not a ball of turkey-flavored glue!

Better still, you can divide the preparation by making the turkey stock the day before, and finishing the gravy right before the Thanksgiving Day meal.

Marc and I guarantee that your guests will (pun intended) gobble this gravy up!

How to Make Perfect Turkey Gravy 

(and enough to feed a crowd!)

Makes 3 cups of gravy! Woo-hoo!

To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here and enjoy! ~ Cleo
Click here for the
downloadable recipe PDF:
How to Make Perfect
Turkey Gravy.

Ingredients and directions adapted by
culinary mystery author Cleo Coyle
from a recipe by celebrity chef Alton Brown


For the Turkey Stock (this will yield 3 cups):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 turkey neck saved from the bird
1 bag of turkey giblets, saved from the bird
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 large carrot, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
¼  teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

For the Final Turkey Gravy:

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼  teaspoon ground black pepper

Step 1 - Make the fresh turkey stock: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Cut the neck in half and sauté for 6 minutes or until browned. Add the giblets, the quartered onion, carrot, and celery, along with the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 or six minutes. Add the 6 cups water and stir in the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, cooking for about 1 minute. Now uncover the pot, reduce heat to low and slowly simmer the stock for 90 minutes, until the stock reduces by half, to 3 cupsStrain the stock through a mesh strainer and let everything cool. Discard all solids. You can make the gravy now or refrigerate this stock for several hours or days.

Step 2 - Turn the stock into velvety gravy: Begin by placing 2 (of those 3) cups of your freshly-made turkey stock into a saucepan over medium heat. The remaining 1 cup of stock will be used to create your gravy. Here's how to do it...

Measure out ½ cup of your reserved stock and whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour until it completely dissolves and no lumps remain. You have just created a slurry. Gradually whisk this flour slurry into the 2 cups of stock warming in your saucepan. As you continue to whisk, bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Now remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool off a bit.

*WARNING NOTE FOR NEXT STEP: If the temperature is too high in the next step, the properties that make potato starch so useful are lost, so it is important to simmernot boil—the gravy once the potato starch slurry is added.

*Step 3 - Add the Secret Ingredient: Make a second slurry using that final 1/2 cup of your reserved, cooled stock and the 1 tablespoon of potato starch. (Make sure the potato starch dissolves into the slurry and no lumps remain.) On a low heat, whisk the potato starch slurry into the saucepan of gravy, along with the salt and pepper. While gently stirring, simmer but do not boil the gravy for about 5 minutes, it will begin to thicken. Continue to simmering until it reaches the thickness that you prefer.

Serve immediately or reserve in a gravy bowl or thermos until needed.
To store longer, place in fridge, in a covered container for up to 3 days.

For more Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas, 
including great tips on cooking your turkey,
be sure to visit our Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog
"Savor the Season" Page by clicking here!

Click here for the
downloadable recipe PDF:
How to Make Perfect
Turkey Gravy, and...

Eat with (Thanksgiving-

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.

On Sale
December 2nd!

Join coffeehouse manager
Clare Cosi as she solves the crime
against "Sleeping Beauty," opens
secret doors (uptown and down),
and investigates a cold case that's
been unsolved since the Cold War.

A Wicked Good
Murder Mystery

Learn more by
clicking here.

* * * 

are a bestselling series of 
amateur sleuth murder mysteries set in a 
landmark Greenwich Village coffeehouse, 
and each of the 14 titles includes 
the added bonus of recipes. 

Get a Free Title Checklist
(with mini plot summaries)

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Haunted Bookshop Mysteries 

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with mini plot summaries, by clicking here.
Or learn more Learn more here. 

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Dormitory Currency

When my godson bravely ventured to his first days in college, I sent some dormitory currency with him -- the sure way to meet people and make friends in a dorm -- Chocolate Chip Cookies!  They're also an excellent choice to bring along for parents' weekend, which will be coming up pretty soon.

I have learned a few things in my quest for the best chocolate chip cookies.  Alton Brown says that the darker the sugar, the chewier the end result.  Interesting!  He also reminded me that melted butter makes for a chewier cookie.  So true.  That's why my recipe for Blondies is the real deal that we remember from the 1970's. I wasn't totally convinced that bread flour with extra gluten was the way to go, though.

Bobby Flay threw me for a loop with his Kosher salt -- but it works!  There's definitely a subtle difference.

The most important ingredient, though, is the chocolate.  Personally, I just don't think Callebaut can be beat.  However, a conversation with a couple of my friends revealed a crucial factor that cannot be dismissed -- familiarity of flavor and consistency.  Once again, the it-doesn't-taste-like-the-ones-Mom-made curse raises its ugly head.  Whatever you grew up with is very likely to influence your expectations, especially where the chocolate is concerned, but also in the chewy versus crispy debate.

My friends think the original Tollhouse recipe cannot be beat.  I think that might be true for a lot of people.  There's a reason that Tollhouse cookies are so popular.  They're really good and that recipe is probably made and eaten every day by dozens of people. It's what we expect in a chocolate chip cookie.

Is this the end of my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie?  Probably not, but I'm pretty happy with this recipe!  It's incredibly easy and it makes a delicious chewy cookie.  Leftover raw dough can be wrapped in waxed paper in a roll and pieces can be cut off to bake as needed.  I have also baked them and then frozen them.  They tend to crumble a bit after they thaw the room temperature, but they're still very good.

Krista's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter (melted)
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in the microwave at half power in short bursts.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.

Beat the egg and egg yolk with the sugars. Add the cooled melted butter, alternating with the flour mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

I prefer to use parchment paper, but a lightly greased baking sheet works just as well.  Drop the raw dough on the sheet in generous spoonfuls a couple of inches apart.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack when done.

If you don't want to bake them all right away, roll the remaining dough in waxed paper and slide into a freezer bag.  When ready to bake, slice in inch thick rounds and cut each round in half.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Do you have a Favorite
Celebrity Chef?

Vote below and hit poll results to see how others have voted. If you don't see your favorite chef in the list below, you can vote "other" and leave a comment here or on my We
b site's messsage board at
Read the post below the poll for links to
some of our favorite RECIPES!
hotlinks to "rock star"
chef tours (per Wall Street Journal).

Did you know that chef’s are the new rock stars? The Wall Street Journal declared it this week in a huge article. I laughed when I saw it because this is far from news to me. I made this point in fiction two years ago...

In my mystey French Pressed, the twenty-year-old daughter of my amateur sleuth (Clare Cosi) became completely infatuated with a “rock star” chef with whom she was interning--to her detriment since murder was involved.

The real news to me in the Journal article was the fact that these celebrity chefs are now going on live tours, just like rock stars. Click on the chef’s name below for more info. If they have a live appearance coming up, I hot linked to a place where you can find out more and order tickets. And I hope you enjoy my little vision of the Rock Star Chef Family Thanksgiving below...


(Just pretend I actually had an ounce of artistic ability and drew the following as a cartoon with little word balloons...)

Alton Brown (tour hotlink)

My brainy big brother
“Pass the mashed potatoes, Alton. No, I don't actually need the metric conversion on that...but thanks.”

Guy Fieri (tour hotlink)
My wild and crazy little brother
“Holla, Guy! Did you know Jenn’s husband invented a salsa recipe with tequila? I thought you’d be impressed.”

Paula Deen (tour hotlink)

My funny, adorable auntie
“Oh, boy! Can we fry that too? And have you checked out Riley's baked Garlic Cheese Grits recipe (click here)?"

Tony Bourdain (tour hotlink)
The bad boy neighbor
“Gotta light, baby? You’ve inspired me to take up smoking again. Better yet, how about I mix you up a sexy Raspberry Lemon Drop martini a la Julie Hyzie?”

Emeril Lagasse (tour hotlink)
My jolly, loveable uncle
“After we go apple picking Saturday, can you show me how to make a brioche? I'll trade you Krista's recipe for Danish Apple Cake."

Rachel Ray
My bubbly, adorable sister
“Tomorrow night! Popping popcorn in rosemary oil then drooling over Jason Statham in Transporter 6."

Giada De Laurentiis
My sweet but too-thin fashionista sister.
“I’m in for Black Friday. We’ll shop, dish, have a latte, and workout. But then you better eat something, sweetie, I’m worried about you. I know what you'll love--Avery's "Hungry Girl" bacon shrimp & cheese kabob, under 200 calories.”

Ina Garten
My down-to-earth, knowledgeable older sister
“Super, Ina, one last thing? How long do you braise the beef in red wine?”

Tyler Florence
The cute boy next door
“Hi Tyler, can I borrow a cup of sugar? And that tagine of lamb you just took out of the oven? Thanks! I'll swap you my own recipe for holiday pernil: Puerto Rican Style Roasted Pork Shoulder.”

Gordon Ramsay
The hot English neighbor

“Thumbs up on the real gravy and Yorkshire pudding, Gordo, but you’ve just got to stop with the farm animal butchery segments.” (And if you’ve never seen this man’s BBC show, The F Word, forget you just read that.)

So who is your favorite rock star chef? Take the poll at the top of the blog and then click to see the results and find out what your fellow Mystery Lovers' Kitchen fans think. If I've missed your favorite chef, just write him (or her) in -- you can add a comment below or hop over to the Message Board at my Web site


~Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To download my latest free recipes or find out more about my nationally bestselling series of culinary mysteries, visit my official Web site:
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

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Web site for my free seasonal E-newsletter and you'll be entered automatically in my weekly FREE COFFEE DRAWINGS-- just a way for me share my latest "Coffee Picks" with my readers and Web site's visitors.