Showing posts with label Christmas recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas recipes. Show all posts

Saturday, December 12, 2015

MARINATED GOAT CHEESE TWO WAYS #Christmas #appetisers #giveaway @AbbottMysteries




 Christmas is almost upon us!  Even though it’s unusually warm here this week here in Eastern Ontario and the grass is green, we can feel the excitement in the air.  It’s a lot easier to get around and shop without slush, snow or freezing rain.  We love a white Christmas but are looking at this weather as a gift.  The last two years  we had minus 20 Celsius aka minus 4 Fahrenheit from late November.  Not that we’re bitter!  So let's celebrate with a giveaway!  Read to the end for details.

Of course, Christmas is always fun here at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  We love the visitors and friends and neighbors dropping in.  It’s all great if you’re ready in time.  Over the years, we’ve posted recipes here for make-ahead baking to give ourselves a breather on the run-up to the big day (or the big week!)      j

This year we turned our hand to Marinated Goat Cheese. Are we the last people to fall in love with this little recipe?  Never mind. We’re in the game now.  We tried these first when we had dinner for eight last week.  They were close friends and we told them they were Guinea Pigs. They sipped their wine and stiffened their spines.  But the Marinated Goat Cheese was a hit. Both versions. 

We’re making more because we never know when someone will drop in and because they just get better marinating.  Plus, you don’t have to be too fussy about exact measurements and can change the ingredients to suit yourself.

Let us present:  Marinated Goats Cheese Two Ways.

We invested in pretty mason jars with flip tops and pink peppercorns (which we couldn’t find in our village).  We think they jazz things up a bit.  These would also make great gifts.


Maple Walnut Marinated Goat Cheese


1 log goat cheese (250 grams/8 ounces)Good quality olive oil (about 1/4 cup)1/2 cup walnut oil  
1 ounce pink peppercorns
½ cup walnut pieces, toasted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Orange zest (we decided against it because of an allergy)

All you do is: 

Toast walnut pieces at 350 F for about ten minutes. Cool.
Slice the goat cheese into medallions

Place two or three medallions in the wide-mouthed jar.  Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and walnuts.
Mix olive and walnut oil.
Drizzle with maple syrup and oil,   

Repeat until all medallions are used. How easy is that?  Cover with remaining oil. You may need to add a bit more.

Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for one to two weeks (or at least a couple of days).
Bring to room temperature before serving so the olive oil becomes liquid again. Serve with fresh rolls, crostini or your favorite crackers. Ours were gobbled up before we had time to take photos!


Lemon Garlic Marinated Goat Cheese

1 log goat cheese (250 grams/8 ounces) for each
Good quality olive oil (about ¾ cup)
Fresh thyme sprigs and fresh rosemary

1 ounce pink peppercorns

Zest of one lemon
2 cloves garlic sliced

All you do is:

Slice the goat cheese into medallions
Place two or three medallions in the wide-mouthed jar.  Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and thyme, lemon zest and garlic. Drizzle with oil. 
Repeat until all medallions are used. How easy is that?  Cover with remaining oil. You may need to add a bit more!

Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for one to two weeks (or at least a couple of days).
Bring to room temperature before serving so the olive oil becomes liquid again.

Serve with fresh rolls, crostini or your favorite crackers.
We hope you enjoy these and however you celebrate or brighten your life during the dark days of December, we hope you have joy, happiness and great food. We hope you get to put your feet up and relax!

We hope you get to read lots of books too, of course, it goes without saying.

With great affection to all our friends and readers, from Victoria Abbott (aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini) and our furry friends.

We wish you all things bright and beautiful, like this amaryllis that was a month early this year and a month late last year. We love it anyway.

Please come by with a comment and you might win our fabulous book collector tote!  You know you want it! Perfect for lugging your Christmas books about.

Merry and happy to all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Savory Cheddar shortbread


 From the festive files of Victoria Abbott

You never know when someone will show up at your door for a visit during this festive season. No matter what’s going on, you want to be prepared to offer your visitors—expected or surprise—a little something that allows you to sit and relax with your guests.

Savory cheese shortbread are easy and delicious and ready to go. I am afraid that we are quite addicted to them and polished off the first batch so fast that another had to be made to allow for photos and, of course, visitors.

As it’s confession time, quite a few of the second batch vanished too. Perhaps we need a sign in the kitchen: photos first, then samplings.

Here’s the recipe.
1 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
½ cup butter, cut into cubes
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese (we use Balderson extra-old or two-year old white cheddar –it’s a very tasty and award-winning local cheese – but any good quality sharp cheddar will do)
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp dry thyme
1 egg or 1 egg white
Chopped pecans or walnuts for topping (optional – but very good)
After cooking toppings: Fig jam, red pepper jelly, pink Himalayan salt – or let your imagination run wild

Preheat your oven to 375.
Add flour, dry mustard, salt, cayenne and thyme in the bowl of a food processor.

Add cubed butter, grated Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and pulse until the dough comes together – just enough to form in a ball.  If you under pulse, you’ll be left with a crumbly mess. Overdo it and your dough will be tough.

On a floured board or granite surface, form a ball. Divide it into four pieces and work one at a time.

Roll out dough to ¼ in thickness. Use cookie cutters (we like stars and moons for these, but hearts around Valentine’s Day) to cut shapes. You may have to keep reforming the dough, but that’s okay.

Transfer the shortbreads to a baking sheet (don’t grease it).

Beat the egg (or just the egg white) in a bowl and brush glaze on cookies. You can add nuts at this point or grate on some of the Himalayan salt.  You’ll think of some other toppings!
Bake for about 8 minutes, until they start to color.

You can also cook these at 300 degrees for about 18 minutes.  Suit yourselves - esp if you have a temperature you like for shortbread.

Cool on a rack. Store in a cookie tin until you are ready to serve them. Don't put the toppings until you are about to put them on a plate. 

These are best at room temperature. Top with a teaspoon of fig jam or red pepper jelly just before serving.

Pour your guest a glass of red wine and one for yourself and enjoy.

Here's a little bit more about Victoria Abbott, author of the book collector mysteries. 

Victoria is an artist and photographer and MJ is the author of 13 books in three other series, as Mary Jane Maffini. They love their book collector mysteries and are happily at work on The Wolfe Widow, third in the series.   They're very excited about the The Sayers Swindle which just launched and they're feeling festive as it made #10 on the Barnes and Noble mass market mystery list this week. Whee! Let's have a Cheddar shortbread to celebrate all that.

The Sayers Swindle, the second in the book collector mysteries hit the shelves and e-readers on December 3!

You can click here to order The Sayers Swindle!

Or here for the Kindle version!

Or order through your favorite bookstore - in person or online.

And don't forget to ....

Watch the trailer for The Sayers Swindle!


The Christie Curse, the first book collector mystery, launched in March 2013 to great reviews.

The Christie Curse is also available in Large Print! Tell your local librarian!

 Walter, the pug in the series is a dead ringer for Peachy, Victoria's new best friend. 

 Come over and friend Victoria on Facebook

Tell  her  you love the pug!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Linzer Torte

What's the first sign of Christmas in your house? I mean in terms of food. Special cookies? Chocolates? Something that someone always sends or brings over?

At my house, there are three German treats that always turn up early in the season. Stollen, a bread with dried fruit in it, Lebkuchen, spiced Christmas cookies, and Linzer Torte, with loads of sweet raspberry jam. You've probably eaten Linzer cookies, often made in a scalloped circle with three dots cut out of the middle so the pretty red jam shows through.

I made a double batch, enough for a large one, a medium, and a teeny personal Linzer Torte, which is the cutest, I think. My mother likes to give them as gifts. They keep very well, and even freeze and thaw quite nicely.

The rich dough is made with finely ground almonds and mashed cooked egg yolks. The almonds should not be blanched. It's fine to leave the peels on.

Mashed egg yolks!

Mashed egg yolks disappear into flour.

The dough is not difficult to make but it's soft when done. It goes into the fridge for an hour so it's easier to handle. The toughest part for me is the strips that go across the top. Hint #1: Don't make them too thin. If they're a little thicker they handle much easier. Hint #2: Don't try to weave them. Just place them on top of each other in the lattice pattern, and they'll come out fine.

Choose a seedless raspberry jam. It should be relatively thick, not runny. Smuckers works very well.

Linzer Torte

1 nine-inch false-bottomed tart pan
or two smaller false-bottomed tart pans

1 1/2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup finely ground raw almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 hard-cooked egg yolks, mashed
1 uncooked egg yolk, lightly whisked
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for pan)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups raspberry jam

1 egg
2 tablespoons milk (if 0%, then 1 tbsp milk & 1 tbsp cream)

powdered sugar

Sift the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves into a deep mixing bowl. Blend well. Add ground almonds, sugar, lemon peel and mashed egg yolks. Beat in the butter, uncooked egg yolk, and vanilla. It will look like it couldn't possibly be right. Beat it until it it begins to form a ball and looks like a smooth dough.

Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate at least one hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator. If too stiff to handle, let stand a bit.

Use a paper towel to grease the pan well with butter. On a floured surface, roll out about 3/4 of the dough to a 1/4-inch thick circle with a floured rolling pin and lay into pan. Using your fingers, spread the dough and patch any gaps. HINT: Do not firmly push dough into side crevices. Simply form the sides and use the top rim to trim any excess.

Fill with jam. Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to spread it.

Roll out the remaining dough and any scraps. Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut two 9-inch strips about 1/2-inch in width. Place them across the jam in a + pattern.


Cut additional strips slightly shorter. Place them along the sides of the other strips in a lattice pattern.

Using a thin-tipped knife, loosen the top of the pan all the way around


and bend it over to form a rim.

Lightly beat the remaining egg with the milk. Use a pastry brush to paint it on the pastry. Refrigerate 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven. Bake 40-45 minutes until lightly browned. On removing it from the oven, place on a coffee can or bowl small enough to allow the side to drop away. You may need to loosen the edges with a knife for the side to drop away. Cool five minutes before removing from the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar before serving.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Week: Pomegranate, Olive & Walnut Salad

LUCY BURDETTE: I'd eaten a Pomegranate, Olive & Walnut Salad once at my sister's house and I thought a version of it would be perfect for the holidays. It has that red and green color scheme in spades.

Pomegranates are hot weather fruits that come as large reddish spheres. Once you cut the tops off and slice them in half, the little seeds (resembling red corn kernels) are visible. I'd never made anything with this fruit before so the process was interesting. I ended up scraping the seeds out with (well-washed) fingers. You don't want to get the pulp in your salad, as it has a bitter taste like a grapefruit rind. On the plus side, this fruit is full of antioxidants and vitamin C and has a lovely sweet taste. Be careful about what you're wearing as the red juice splashes out everywhere while you scrape seeds.

Because I had one lime left on our little tree that needed a special home, I made the vinaigrette with lime juice and good quality olive oil. (This is Tonka, watching me harvest the lime.) Taste it to see what you think you need--I added about 1/2 tsp of salt and the same amount of sugar. I think you could also do fine with balsamic vinegar and maybe a tsp of grainy mustard instead of the lime.

The whole salad is INTENSE with a lot of strong flavors, so I chose to serve it on a bed of mesclun greens. The mixture I found had a lot of pea shoots in it, which were lovely.

Ingredients (serves 10 to 12)

2 pomegranates
1 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (I used stuffed green)
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped

2-3 scallions, cleaned, chopped (white and pale green parts)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tsp lime juice
3 T olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
5 oz Mesclun or other nice greens

Cut off top of the pomegranates, cut in half, and pull apart.  Remove seeds and discard skin.  Place seeds in a bowl and add olives, cilantro, shallots and walnuts.  

Whisk together remaining ingredients to create dressing,  Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve on a bed of baby lettuce.  

Now back to Christmas shopping...don't forget that culinary mysteries are the perfect size for stocking stuffers:)...

 You can learn more about Lucy Burdette and her Key West food critic mysteries at her website or on Facebook or Twitter