Showing posts with label Bourbon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bourbon. Show all posts

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Plumcott and peach skillet cake, with bourbon, whipped cream and maple syrup

From Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

It’s Fall, the bright leaves are scattering and we’re indoors already, thinking that warm, rich comforting desserts are what we want.  I love to make plum cakes and have brought my ‘regular’ one to Mystery Lovers Kitchen, but this weekend on the roll-up to Canadian Thanksgiving (Monday!) I decided to try something different. I’d found a nice recipe for peach cake with a maple bourbon sauce. Then next to the peaches were some lovely plump and juicy plumcots, all ready to go.  I decided to mix it up a bit. 

The recipe called for maple syrup and I’d just stocked up on a lovely, dark syrup from a local family producer. It also called for buttermilk and I had lots of buttermilk frozen in convenient ½ cup servings. I had a wonderful new vanilla extract to try. The recipe used a cast-iron skillet and I had one that was more than ready for an outing. It was meant to be!

In fact, I had everything except the bourbon. I knew I could make the cake without bourbon and serve it up with just maple syrup or just whipped cream or both, but I had to find out how this tasted. 

But back to my story: in our village, there was a selection of exactly one choice of bourbon. They tried to tell me that Tennessee whiskey was really the same (Please wade in on this issue, friends!). I stuck to my guns and left with the only bourbon. At home, I discovered that I only needed a quarter cup.

It was lovely! And it will be a dessert for Thanksgiving here as well.  Too good to waste. 
All to say, the combination of bourbon, dark maple syrup and Madagascar vanilla was a potent one.  And you can expect to find a few more recipes here using each of them over the next few months. 

Plumcott and peach skillet cake

All you need is:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tsp sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 ripe peaches, sliced
2 ripe plumcots, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup maple syrup, medium or dark
1/4 cup bourbon
Whipping cream

All you do is:
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and 1/2 cup sugar and beat at medium speed until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix gently a few times. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, and mix until just combined. Transfer batter to a well-greased cast-iron or ovenproof pan.

 Arrange peach and plumcot slices and sprinkle with lemon juice and remaining sugar. 


Bake for 35 minutes or until cake is set and edges are brown. Don’t over

bake or it will be dry.  

Serve warm or cool, but warm is really great!

Meanwhile, in a saucepan on the stove top, heat your maple syrup. I cooked it for a while to thicken it, although it's still fairly runny. Remove from heat and add the elusive bourbon. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a minute or two. 

Serve with whipped cream and syrup!  Or by all by itself.  

Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini. They like desserts.

Victoria and MJ  have lots to give thanks for this year, including good food and this dessert.  

We're thankful that we are all well again. We're thankful we have access to great food, family and terrific friends. We are grateful that Victoria Abbott has had a good year. The Wolfe Widow is off to a roaring start and that there will be two more Book Collector mysteries.  

We are thankful for the joy our pets bring us.


We can sit back and enjoy our meal!   

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bourbon Hot Dogs from The Unemployed Cookbook via author Cleo Coyle

After my dear dad passed away last year, I received some of his things. Among them was this blast from the past...

Cooking on Extended Benefits: 

The Unemployed Cookbook. 

The book was put together by volunteers in the Western Pennsylvania area during the deep recession of the 1970s. 

Old joke:

What's the difference between
a Recession and a Depression?

A Recession is when
some other guy loses his job.
A Depression is when I lose mine!

So anyway, while national stats ran to 9% or so unemployment in the mid-1970s, regional stats were appalling. Some towns in our Mon Valley area were registering up to 50% unemployment. Families used to working hard and paying bills on time were now accepting blocks of government cheese and using food banks.

Worst of all, men and women who had decent-paying jobs not only lost them, they fell off the grid. After their unemployment ran out, nobody counted them anymore. Some would never be employed again. Some would find work, but the new jobs would pay them far less that the old ones. 

Recovery? Not a good recovery for them. But that's a song this country has heard before: Eddie Cantor performed the brilliantly ironic lyrics during The Great Depression.

Feeding the Community

As for this cookbook, it was created to raise money for the Mon Valley Food Bank. It was also distributed to families to help them with ideas for cooking at home and eating economical meals. It was done with good humor and good grace, and I'll always cherish it.

Below is a recipe from the book, 

so let's get cooking!

Shockingly tasty...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

Bourbon Hot Dog Bites

Marc and I have seen versions of this dish around the inter-web, but the recipe predates the digital domain. Given that it was in my late father's  Unemployed Cookbook, it's at least 40 years old. 

It's also shockingly tasty. Seriously. We could not stop popping these babies into our mouths.

We did tweak the original recipe, adding dry mustard for better complexity of flavor. We used dark brown sugar instead of light brown for the same reason. And if you're serving these at a party, we suggest using a little slow cooker to keep the bourbon bites warm throughout the evening. 

Finally, we're sharing our bright idea of using pretzel sticks instead of the usual toothpicks or cocktail forks to spear them. That little bit of salty crunch with the sweet bourbon bite certainly had us eating with joy. 

We hope you enjoy it, too...

~ Cleo

For a free, illustrated PDF
of this recipe that you can
print, save, or share, click here.

Click me.

Adapted by Cleo Coyle 
from The Unemployed Cookbook


1 pound of your favorite hot dogs*
1 cup ketchup (we use Heinz Natural)
1 cup bourbon** (we use Jim Beam)
1 teaspoon dry mustard (our addition)
1 cup brown sugar (we suggest dark brown)

*Note 1: This recipe is delicious with beef or pork hot dogs, as well as Brats and cocktail meatballs.

**Note 2: The original recipe suggested that if 1 cup bourbon is too rich for your household, use 1/2 cup bourbon and 1/2 cup fruity red wine.


Step 1 - Cut both ends off each hot dog, slice cut each wiener into five, 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Step 2 - In a large skillet or saute pan, combine ketchup and bourbon and bring to a boil. As the mixture cooks, add dry mustard and dark brown sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then...

Step 3 - Add your sliced hot dogs (or Brats or cocktail meatballs). When the mixture boils, lower the heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm...

SERVING NOTE: Instead of the usual toothpicks or cocktail forks, Marc and I like to serve these with pretzel sticks. That salty crunchy flavor with the sweet bourbon bite is outstanding.

Click here for the
free recipe PDF, and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.

☕ ☕ ☕

The Coffeehouse Mysteries
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. 

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

When In Doubt, Throw in Whiskey

A very special welcome to Elizabeth Lee! Elizabeth has the enviable series title of Nut House Mysteries. So cute! I know it makes me feel right at home. But these are edible nuts, like pecans!  A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, the first in the series, was just released on February 4th. Elizabeth has very kindly agreed to give away a copy of her book to one lucky person who leaves a comment here today. Good luck, everyone!

In A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, the one thing you wouldn’t call Miss Amelia of The Nut House in Riverville, Texas, is straitlaced.  She may be seventy-seven but you’d better not call her “Dearie” or “Sweetie” or “Honey” either, unless you want that special pecan pie of hers to be served upside down in the box.

The Nut House is where a lot of the pecans grown on the Blanchard family ranch are turned into Sassie Tassies, and fried pies, and spiced pecans, and on and on—anything Miss Amelia can come up with, all very good according to the citizens of Riverville.

The thing with Miss Amelia and her granddaughter, Lindy Blanchard, is that when they get mixed up in murder, especially when one of their own family is accused of the killing, high dudgeon comes pouring out, and trickery, and investigative skills enough to rival Sherlock Holmes.

The only trouble with solving crimes, Miss Amelia finds, is that her time in the kitchen is cut way back.  The Nut House could suffer.   She figures she’s got to come up with something fast and wonderful to keep her customers happy while she’s out visiting suspicious new friends and calling on a few old buddies like the ‘girls’,’ a set of twins in their eighties who spend most of their time in the saddle, out shooting rattlers on their spread.  The ‘Girls’ argue like two squirrels in a sack, but have a couple of solid ideas about human rattlers they’d like to take aim at.   

Since Lindy Blanchard, like her meemaw, is creative and driven, the two of them find a way to intrigue and appeal to customers while still hot on the trail of a murdering wretch.  What they come up with is adding a dash of Garrison Brothers Texas Bourbon to some real easy-to-make, do-ahead recipes, and then advertise them as all ‘Pure Texas.’

Nobody’s about to complain.  That would be like turning your back on the Texas flag.

What Miss Amelia will tell you though, if you’re a teetotaler, is to leave out the bourbon in her recipe.   Last thing she wants is your lost soul on her conscience.  But, in fairness, she did add that if you’re having a bad day, maybe you just found a dead body or were out chasing a killer—feel free to go ahead and leave out the rest of the ingredients and just drink the whiskey.

Here’s her recipe for easy-to-make Texas Outhouse Moons.


1 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
2 cups flour
3 tbsp. bourbon
2 cups finely chopped pecans
More confectioners sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350

Cream butter and confectioners sugar together until smooth.
Add flour, bourbon, and pecans.
Mix well.
Shape into 2 inch quarter-moon crescents and place on a cookie sheet.
Bake 10-15 minutes.

Keep a close eye on these.  They should be set, but not too brown.
When cool, roll in extra confectioners sugar and get the heck out of the kitchen.

Elizabeth Lee (aka Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) lives in the north woods, back with the deer and the turkeys and the bear.  She has published prize-winning essays and short stories but loves writing mystery novels.  Her first was Gift of Evil, from Bantam, then Dead Dancing Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman, Dead Dogs and Englishmen, and Dead Little Dolly from Midnight Ink.  A Tough Nut to Kill is the first in The Nut House series from Berkley Publishing, part of the larger series: Soup to Nuts.  

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of