Showing posts with label Charlotte Adams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charlotte Adams. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2011

An easy breezy brunch for any weather!

I had been wanting to invite our friends Sue and George over for quite a while and soon they’ll be departing for their cottage for most of the summer. I was wondering about what to do that would be easy when I was so busy getting ready for a book tour, Malice Domestic and Festival of Mystery. Sue and George are fun and relaxed so I decided on a simple brunch. By some miracle after trying Cleo's fabulous recipes, I still had a half-cup of maple syrup left, from a sugar bush here in the middle of Canada’s capital. And I had an idea: Maple syrup French toast. As the maple leaf appears on our Canadian flag, it's downright patriotic.

I thought if we softened up Sue and George with mimosas and some easy advance nibblies, then served the French toast with a bit of maple-glazed bacon and fruit, that would do the trick. It’s all very easy, so we could relax too.

As you can see, Sue likes the mimosas!

I decided to follow it with an easy lemon mousse with served with a few berries and a chocolate cookies. What a nice way to welcome spring weather!

Unfortunately, the day was freezing and blustery with hail and winds and rain. At midday we turned on every light in the living area and hoped the power didn’t go out. The upside was that this brunch, which would be nice and sunny even served outside, was warm and comforting in the bad weather. My DH squeezed large juicy oranges and popped a bottle of Prosecco, a dry Italian sparkling wine. We like it more than champagne and that’s good because it’s not expensive.

Here is the recipe for Maple French Toast and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.

3 eggs

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup 5 % cream (or milk or heavy cream – suit yourself!)

½ tsp real vanilla

6 slices of bread

I used homemade, but any white bread is fine, especially egg bread or rustic – my attempt with whole wheat bread was not so successful in this recipe.

2 tbsp butter

Beat the eggs, maple syrup, cream, vanilla and salt in a bowl.

Arrange the bread in a baking dish or lasagne dish.

Pour the mixture over it. You can make it the night before and it will be perfect for breakfast. The bread will soak up all the liquid. Yum. Make sure you let it rest at least an hour.

Melt butter in a heavy pan with even heat or use a griddle. Keep it to medium heat. Fry slices for about two minutes on each side. They should be golden. We ate ours with bacon drizzled with maple syrup and pepper and baked. Some people had extra maple syrup for the vitamins.

I didn't include the bacon recipe, because it still needs experimentation to get a nice rich color. Stay tuned.

Mimosas (my kind of recipe – two ingredients)

Some fresh orange juice

Some Procecco or your favourite sparkling wine or sparkling water (chilled)

Pour into glasses and serve.

Lemon Mousse


1 ¼ cup whipping cream

1 lemon juiced and zested

½ fine sugar or regular sugar put through the food processor

2 egg whites

Put the cream, lemon zest and sugar into a large bowl and whisk them together until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice and whisk again until the mixture thickens further, don't let it get too stiff or you won't be able fold in the egg whites.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then fold them into the lemon mixture. Spoon the mousse into 4 glasses and chill. Decorate with extra zest if you like, or berries and small cookies.

We think we’ll make this brunch a tradition! With a griddle, we can whip up enough for a crowd easily.

I've decided to offer all these recipes to Charlotte Adams, currently run off her feet in The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder. After all, she's offered us a lot of time saving tips and that's only fair.

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder: a Charlotte Adams mystery (April 5, 2011)
A TOP PICK! RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars

“Devotees of the classic mystery can do no better than this clever twister.” The Globe and Mail.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is there anything an egg can't do?

As Easter draws near, eggs seem to be everywhere. Symbolic of the earth and new life, they also manage to be tasty, versatile and so often chocolate.

I love eggs. I think they are like magic. There’s nothing they can’t do: become meringues, make cakes rise, turn into omelets or soufflés. Best of all, eggs are easy. And so they are often the answer to a meal when you are standing in front of the fridge with a panicked look on your face.
As this was the week that my new book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder, was released, I was short of time. I am sharing two egg recipes that saved the day and were made with ingredients I had in my fridge and freezer. Even in the same week, they were different enough to appeal.

I discovered this recipe for Eggs and Shrimp during our year in England. If I remember correctly it came from a Scottish-Italian cookbook, but that may have been a hallucination. I’ve had the recipe in a file for years and never tried it until last week. I’ve fiddled with it a bit (Don’t we all find that irresistible?) and was really pleased with the result. My husband loved it. He actually said, “I sure am glad you joined Mystery Lovers Kitchen!” I am not making that up. I appreciated this recipe because it didn’t taste like anything else I’d been cooking. Aren’t we always looking for something that tastes different, without being frightening?

I hope you’ll like it too. It sounds more complicated than it is. It’s another one of those recipes that take longer to type up than to make.

Eggs and shrimp


6 hardboiled eggs, shelled and cut in half (I cooked them ahead of time)

½ pound shelled cooked shrimp (Lucky me, I had cooked shrimp)

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

2 cups of milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Tablespoon of lemon juice

Pinch of cayenne

Dash of Worchestershire sauce (unless you hate it)


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Melt butter over medium-high heat until it is foaming. Add flour, lower heat to medium, stir and cook for two minutes without browning. It really does taste better if you don’t cheat on the two minutes. Add milk and Dijon and cook on high until thickened. Use a whisk to blend until smooth. Keep whisking so it doesn’t burn. But do not abandon hope as this hasn’t really taken you very long! Remove from heat and add salt and pepper, lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce and cayenne and let it cool a bitl Of course, you can vary the seasonings to suit your own taste (and I know you’ll do that anyway). The sauce should be thin enough to pour easily, but have a nice creamy texture, so adjust accordingly.

Cut the eggs in half, remove the yolk and mash with a fork (just like deviled eggs, so far). Add the mayo and the chopped shrimp. Add half the cream sauce and mix. Place the eggs in a baking dish and heap the centers with the mixture. Cover with the rest of the cream sauce and bake for about 10 minutes or until brown and bubbly. That’s just enough time to set the table and make a crisp salad.

This is supposed to serve six, but that’s just not true. It also looks better in 'person'.

The second time and energy saver was Cheese Custard Pie. It’s been a family fave for years and really takes almost no time to prepare, especially if you can convince someone else to grate the cheese. It’s a great way to use up leftover cheese from one of Avery’s fabulous recipes.

Cheese custard pie


8 inch baked pie crust shell

1-3/4 cups 5 % cream (or milk)

1 cup shredded cheese (whatever you have in the fridge – I used old cheddar, Havarti and a bit of something quite mysterious).

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions (the green bits)

A pinch of cayenne

3 eggs, beaten


Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Scald the milk or cream over high heat.

Reduce the heat and add the shredded cheese, stir until melted.

Add salt, paprika, green onion and cayenne.

Remove mixture from heat and add eggs slowly.

Fill pie crust and bake it until the custard is firm, about 45 minutes.

This looks and tastes great! Next time, I may slip in a bit of crisp bacon too. Now I can sit back and relax a bit. The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder is out! And if I take some of Charlotte Adams' time management hints, I'll be even further ahead. After all, I don't have to solve the murder.

The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder was a top pick in April RT Book Reviews with 4 1/2 Stars. In addition to murder and mayhem, Charlotte's spoiled miniature dachshunds are trying to pass their Therapy Dog test. Will it be three strikes you're out? Or third time's a charm?

You could win this cute watch if you guess the right outcome. Just pick the correct answer to this question:

What happens to the darling dachshunds during the Therapy Dog Test?

a)Truffle succeeds. Sweet Marie leaves in disgrace.

b) Sweet Marie shines, but Truffle snarls at an evaluator.

c) Success! Break out the champagne!

d) Both bomb. Charlotte is mortified.

e) None of the above

Send MJ the answer at! Good luck all round. Visit MJ over at or on Facebook.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Now, kill two New Year’s resolutions with one recipe!

I am thrilled to graduate to a regular rotation with this wonderful group of friends on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I feel honored to be invited and I’ll be showing up very third Saturday with a big grin on my face (and maybe the odd bit of chocolate). But to kick things off, I thought I’d behave and get in that serious New Year’s ‘remake ourselves’ mode.

Chances are that this January many of you (like me) are engaged in the annual obsession to reorganize the same closets and cupboards we have been ignoring for the other eleven months. Hey, we’re busy. As I have an organizer sleuth in the Charlotte Adams series, it’s really important that I don’t let myself slip into total chaos. The optics would be bad.

So back to work: when you rummage in the back of those kitchen cupboards you’ll probably find a stack of canned and packaged staples that you stocked up on back in the distant past. What is it with those bulk purchases? I mean, how many sardines can you eat? As this organizing binge coincides with the annual January urge to spend less, with luck you can use it to your delicious and economical advantage.

This recipe is an adaptation of an ancient James Beard recipe from a battered cookbook. I was searching for a corn casserole and came across the earlier versions of this. It was a hit with my family and later with my daughter’s children. The result? Everyone in the family including my three grandsons can make this corn casserole and it is often part of family dinners and even shows up on Thanksgiving. The best part? You can’t really go wrong if you add a little more or a little less of any ingredient. We’re not talking layer cake or soufflé here.

So you can mess around with additional ingredients or your favorite seasonings and the stuff you have in your fridge: I always have parsley and green onions in mine. It’s a good dish for those days when the snow keeps you from the three grocery stores that you shop at each week (survey says). Plus the price is right and it doesn’t get much easier! If fact, it’s faster to make than it is to type up.

Preheat the oven to 375.


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1 12 oz. can of corn niblets, preferably from the back of your cupboard

Liquid from drained can of corn

Milk added to liquid from corn should add up to 1 cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika if you like

Optional: chopped red pepper, chopped ham or cooked crumbled bacon.

Optional: chopped parley and chopped green onion sautéed in butter

Optional: chopped mild (or livelier!) green chilies. Bet you found a can or two of those back there too!


Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir constantly for two minutes over medium heat. It will foam up nicely. Try not to let it brown, although the world won’t end if it does. Add the milk (and corn liquid) and bring to a boil, stirring, until it thickens.

Add the corn and seasonings. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Add the beaten eggs and any of those optional suggestions. The chopped, sautéed red pepper and ham are particularly fabulous if you want to make a light lunch out of it.

Transfer into buttered baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until top is set. What the heck, it's so easy you could make two.

Of course, in the summer when corn is fresh, you could get a snazzy dish with delicious fresh corn and seasonings. I know that, but never mind. This IS winter, where I am, and I like things easy. And neat! I hope you will too.

I know that Charlotte Adams would approve of this recipe, not that she can cook to save her life.