Showing posts with label Cricket McRae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cricket McRae. Show all posts

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest: Bailey Cates and Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

I (Wendy) am patting myself on the back right now ... I can't believe I landed Bailey Cates for a guest spot.  And then she produces this recipe.  Yowza.  Join me in welcoming Bailey to the Kitchen, and then prepare to drool ...


Thanks for inviting me to share a recipe here on Mystery Lovers Kitchen, Wendy!

Before the title for Brownies and Broomsticks was finalized my editor and I talked about calling the first Magical Bakery Mystery Brioche and Broomsticks. Oh, how I love brioche! Rich, buttery, lovely stuff. I don’t own any brioche pans, though, since they can’t really be used for anything else, and it bakes up just fine in a regular loaf pan. Even better? Use the dough to make cinnamon rolls!

This recipe calls for duck eggs. Quack! They’re quite large and add wonderful richness to baked goods. But if you don’t know any duck farmers or they aren’t offered at your farmers market good old chicken eggs work just fine. Also, I’m a bit of a purist and don’t put nuts or raisins in my cinnamon rolls, but if that’s the way you roll just sprinkle your additions over the central filling.

Since this is a no-knead dough it’s best to make the dough a day ahead and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

¾ cup lukewarm water
¾ Tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
¾ Tablespoon Kosher salt
3 duck eggs (or 4 chicken eggs) slightly beaten
1/3 cup honey
¾ cup butter, melted
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour

For the filling:

1/3 cup butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon (I use more)

For the glaze:

¼ cup butter softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar

In a large bowl mix the water, yeast and salt. Allow to sit for a few minutes then mix in the eggs, honey and butter. Add the flour all at once and mix with the other ingredients just until blended. I’m afraid using your hands is the best way. Don’t over mix. Don’t knead. And there will be some lumps when you’re done.

Lightly cover and allow the dough to sit on the counter for two or three hours – it will double in size. When the top has flattened, cover the bowl and leave overnight – or up to a week – in the refrigerator. You don’t have to punch it down first.

When you’re ready to make your rolls, generously flour your work surface, your hands, the dough, and a rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness in a rough rectangle – about 12x15 inches. I usually do this on a piece of parchment paper because it’s easier to roll the dough into a log to slice. Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon and spread over the dough, then roll from the short side so you have a roll about 12 inches long. The brioche dough is rather sticky, so you may have to use a dough scraper if you didn’t use parchment paper. Slice the roll into 8 (or 10, depending on how large you want the end product) equal pieces with a sharp serrated knife.

Mix together the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar for the glaze and spread in the bottom of a 9x12 baking pan (I use a large round cake pan). Place the rolls cut side down on the brown sugar mixture and allow to rest/rise for 1 hour. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and done in the middle.

Invert the rolls onto a plate immediately after you remove them from the oven or the brown sugar glaze will harden and the rolls will stick in the pan.

These are already crazy decadent, of course, but you can mix up an additional thin glaze of confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and a little water to dribble over the warm rolls.

And regarding the brownies in the final title of Brownies and Broomsticks? You can find the recipe for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies in the back of the book!

Thanks again, Wendy. Enjoy!


Bailey Cates writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries. They feature new witch and baker Katie Lightfoot and are set in Savannah, Georgia. The first in the series, Brownies and Broomsticks, released this month in paperback and ebook formats from NAL/Penguin. She also writes the Home Crafting Mystery Series as Cricket McRae. The sixth in the series, Deadly Row to Hoe, will release this November from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn.

For more information, please visit her website or check out her blogs at and You can also find her on Twitter: @cricketmcrae and @writerbailey and on Facebook as Cricket McRae and as Author Bailey Cates.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hot Where You Are? Try Some Homemade Ginger Ale--by Cricket McRae

Hi everyone! It’s Riley/Elizabeth here. I know a lot of y’all are dealing with a heat wave right now---and I’ve got a special treat. My friend Cricket McRae has a new release—and a recipe for homemade ginger ale. Welcome, Cricket!

McRae_Cricket picHomemade Ginger Ale

It's great to be back at Mystery Lover's Kitchen! Thanks for having me.

I don't know about you, but I've heard at least a dozen horror stories over the years from people who made some kind of home brew -- beer, ginger ale, root beer -- and the bottles blew up! In the attic, the basement, the barn, and in one case in the bedroom closet (ick!). Most of these stories are from a time when making your own libations was a regular practice. Fermentation creates carbonation, and, especially in the heat, that pressure can literally break glass bottles.

My fifth Home Crafting Mystery, Wined and Died, features mead making as the colonial home craft behind the murder and mayhem in small town Cadyville. There's plenty of information about different kinds of mead, or honey wine, and naturally I had to include one of those horror stories about root beer bottles going off like bullets. However, Petunia Hanover also teaches her great-granddaughter, Erin, how to make ginger ale.

This can be a tricky endeavor as the idea is to harness yeasts which occur naturally in the air to ferment your ginger culture. Certain areas naturally have more yeasts than others (like the distinctive San Francisco sourdough) as do some kitchens. But don’t be intimidated, as it’s a simple process and doesn’t take many ingredients or special equipment. Always make sure your jars, bottles and utensils are perfectly clean to start with. Read the whole recipe through before you begin so you can see what you’ll need to have on hand.

First you have to make the culture, which is what Tootie teaches Erin how to do. Simply add a teaspoon of either powdered ginger or chopped ginger root to a teaspoon of sugar and one and a half cups of filtered or spring water. Mix together in a wide-mouthed canning jar and cover with a single layer of cheesecloth. You want it to have plenty of access to the air. Let it sit on the kitchen counter for twenty-four hours or so.

Then for the next week add another teaspoon of sugar and one of ginger each day and mix thoroughly. If you start with chopped ginger root, don’t switch to powder and vice versa. You are feeding your ginger ale culture during this week. After a few days it should start to form little bubbles. That means it’s fermenting!

On the last day, strain the mixture though a piece of muslin or an old, clean dish towel. Discard the solids (or save them to start another batch) and put the liquid in a bowl or pan that can accommodate seven or more quarts of liquid. Mix in 5 quarts of filtered or spring water, 3 cups of sugar and the juice of two or three lemons. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

gingerbeer2Then get out your funnel and the plastic water or soda bottles you’ve saved and carefully washed with hot soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and allowed to dry. Any size works -- just make sure you have enough to hold up to 7 quarts of liquid. Using plastic rather than glass helps avoid the whole exploding bottle problem. Be sure to wash the caps as well.

Fill the bottles, leaving a few inches at the top for the gases to expand as your ginger beer continues to ferment. Twist on the caps. Let the bottles sit at room temperature for two days, checking them often. When you see bubbles forming, put the bottles in the fridge immediately. Your ginger beer is ready to drink! Some bottles may ferment faster than others, especially if you use different sizes. Be careful not to allow any to ferment too long or the pressure inside will spray the contents out when you open it. It also helps to keep your brew cold.

If any alcohol forms during the fermentation it is negligible and very diluted, so this drink is suitable for children and adults alike.

Wined and Died_1In honor of the recent release of Wined and Died, you can enter to win a FREE Author Website ($900 value!) from the creative folks at Bizango Websites for Writers until July 29, 2011. For more details and information on how to enter, please visit my blog at For more information about me or the Home Crafting Mystery Series, check out

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Cricket McRae!

Thanks for posting today, Cricket! Cricket is the author of the Home Crafting Mystery Series featuring protagonist Sophie Mae. The fourth book in the series, Something Borrowed, Something Bleu, releases July 1 from Midnight Ink.

Something_Bleu What fun to contribute a recipe to Mystery Lover's Kitchen! I'm a big fan. Thanks for inviting me to guest here.

Amidst the murder, mayhem, soap making and spinning, the characters in my Sophie Mae Reynolds Home Crafting Mysteries eat pretty well. That's especially the case when the home craft that provides the backdrop for the murder plot involves food. And in Something Borrowed, Something Bleu, to be released on July 1st, it does: cheese making.

Sophie Mae travels back to her home town of Spring Creek, Colorado to look into her brother's suicide eighteen years after the fact. A suicide notes has surfaced, and with her penchant for investigation she hopes to bring closure to her parents after nearly two decades of wondering.

It's August when she arrives, which means lots of fresh garden produce. She's learning how to make cheese at the local dairy, so there is plenty of fresh cheese available. And it's Colorado, so Mexican food is popular. Her father, Calvin Watson, takes over most of the cooking in this book. One of his specialties is baked chile rellenos.

chili relleno3

Baked Chile Rellenos

8-10 fresh poblano chiles (also known as ancho chiles)

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 Tablespoon nitrate-free bacon grease

1 small onion, diced (about a cup)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

29 ounces canned, diced tomatoes (2 cans)

1 cup chorizo (or other spicy sausage), cooked and drained

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 cup crumbled queso fresco (found near the ricotta in most grocery stores)

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced (or if you have epazote -- Mexican oregano -- use that)

12 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups Monterey jack or mild Cheddar, shredded

chili relleno plate closeup If you can find the chiles already roasted at a grocery store or farmer's market, snap them up. Otherwise, wash the fresh chiles thoroughly and place on a hot grill, turning often with tongs, until the skin blisters and begins to blacken. You're not looking to cook them so much as loosen the skins without burning holes in the peppers you'll be stuffing. When blistered all over, put in a plastic bag to cool. The peppers will have softened and the skins should rinse right off. And if you leave a bit of skin here and there, no big deal. Carefully remove the stems and as many seeds as possible. Pat dry.

Heat canola oil and bacon grease (or 2 Tablespoons of canola oil if the idea of bacon grease is verboten) and cook onion until just translucent over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until the aroma is released. Add the tomatoes, with juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Pour thickened sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan, spreading evenly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine cooked chorizo, chicken, queso fresco and oregano. Salt to taste. I usually add at least a teaspoon, since the cheese isn't salted. Carefully stuff the mixture into the peppers and lay them on top of the tomato sauce. There will be splits and occasional holes in the peppers -- don't worry. Like paneer, queso fresco doesn't melt and dribble out when heated! So the peppers will still retain integrity when baked.

Spread half the shredded cheese over the peppers.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl, or use the low setting on an electric mixer. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, incorporating thoroughly. Pour egg mixture over the peppers. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake the chile rellenos until the egg mixture is set but still tender, about 40 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

My favorite accompaniments are homemade refried beans (

), a simple salad, guacamole and sour cream. Oh, and maybe a pale ale.

I should mention that poblanos vary in heat, so it's hard to predict how hot these will be. If you like heat, go for it. Use all chorizo and leave out the chicken, use pepper jack instead of plain. But if you like less heat, use all chicken, or stuff with sauteed mushrooms, more shredded Monterey jack or Cheddar, or pork carnitas. You can even use chopped shrimp if that's the way you roll. After all, the best recipes are the ones you can make your own, right?

Look for other recipes from the Home Crafting Mystery Series, along with my ramblings on writing and all things domestic over at

. For more information about my books, check out




And now to celebrate the upcoming release of THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE,
Avery is hosting our next exciting contest!

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.