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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dinner tonight - easy as pie!

Think about it, my friends: we are on the hook for up to 365 dinners a year, minus a few meals out. Multiply that by how long you’ve been cooking for yourself and others and you get an idea of the magnitude of the challenge we face to keep it fresh and interesting. That’s not even talking about breakfasts, lunches, birthday parties and dog biscuits. It’s a miracle we don’t unionize!

This is all to say that I bet I’m not the only one who gets tired of the same old same old. My husband and I both like to cook but we also like a variety and surprise now and then. Today I’d like to share a recipe that is easy, looks great, tastes different and can be adapted easily. Naturally (because I am sharing it) you can trust that it takes very little ‘hands on’ time.

This is an update of a recipe I found in the original Joy of Cooking. I like mine better! I think it looks great, tastes different every time and reheats well (if there’s any left). I used old cheddar and havarti for this because that’s what I had, but you can use any mix of cheese you have hanging around. Of course, eggs save the day.

Easy as pie dinner

· 8 inch pie crust shell, purchased is fine (partially baked if you’re a purist – I’m not)

· 1-3/4 cups (425 ml) milk or cream (I used cream)

· 1 cup (225 ml) shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand!)

· 1/2 tsp (2 ml). salt

· 1/4 tsp (1 ml). paprika

· 1/2 tsp (2 ml). chopped green onion (green parts)

· Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or dried if you’re stuck

· A few grains of cayenne

· 3 eggs beaten (room temperature if you remember – makes a puffier filling)

· Optional: 6 oz bacon – in one-inch pieces, cooked (vegetarians – ignore this!)


· Preheat oven to 325 degrees (175 C.).

· Scald the milk or cream over high heat.

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

· Add salt, paprika, green onion, cayenne.

· Remove mixture from heat and beat in eggs slowly.

· Scatter bacon on the crust

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

How easy was that? And you can vary the seasonings to suit yourself! It tastes great and it's pretty enough to serve to guests for lunch or brunch too. I'm planning to try it with a bit of jalepeno next time. Gotta love eggs. By the way, it's perfect for a rainy day and around here we've had plenty of those around here lately. It's rich so all you need to serve it with is a simple, crisp green salad and crusty bread.

I need fast and easy recipes like this to meet my writing schedule, promote my latest Charlotte Adams book, The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder and have a life. I'd love to hear of any ideas you have for varying this Maffini family favorite.

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

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

Now here's a little 'treat' for dessert from our own MLK gal Wendy Watson!

A Parfait Giveaway

In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, I'm giving away a little cowboy couture: a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a "rodeo queen" keychain.

Eligibility: This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada. One entry per person, please.

How to Enter: Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to Put the words "Parfait Giveaway" in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17. I will randomly select one entry, announce the winner on MLK on Saturday, June 18, and contact that person via e-mail. If I do not get a response within 7 days, I'll draw another name.

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.