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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Contest and Bobby Flay

by Sheila Connolly

No, you do not win Bobby Flay for a day. Hmm, something to think about...

In case you haven’t heard (impossible!), we’re wrapping up both our 5th Anniversary Contest and our individual blog post contests. For today’s individual winner, my alumna-guest from last week, Ellery Adams (Jennifer Stanley), will send you a signed copy of Pecan Pies and Homicides, her most recent Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery, to the lucky winner (drawn at random from those of you who leave a comment today—with email, please!).

We apologize to our wonderful Photo Contest entrants but there's a tiny delay in tabulating the votes because someone (not naming any names) set it up to end at midnight. We promise we'll post them tomorrow!

And now for something that is not a cake! (I adore sugar, but we've had a lot recently.)


Bobby Flay wants me to change the way I cook chicken.

I have to say I’m not one of his biggest fans (although my sister is), but maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up with Southwestern flavors and I’m still not sure how to cook with them (I’ve never liked strong spices—but them, I didn’t like onions at one point, so maybe I can learn). As I’ve no doubt said before, I was raised in the meat/starch/veg tradition, each in its own section of the plate. At least I’ve gotten past that!

Chicken was one of the first things I learned to cook. My mother had a job and would sometimes come home late, so I would be responsible for taking the chicken pieces out of the fridge, seasoning them (Season-All!), putting a dab of butter on each piece, and sticking it in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Hey, I was ten! And we didn’t starve.

I picked up other chicken tips later, mostly from Julia Child. Things like: sear the chicken on high heat, then cook through at lower heat. I admit still have trouble with the timing when I cook a whole chicken (which is why I flatten them often, which distributes the heat better)—it seems like the front end is always done well before the back end. I end up either with dry white meat or pink dark meat (not a good idea!).

So now, in a New York Times article from June 29th, Bobby tells me I’ve been doing in wrong all along. What I should be doing is:

--wash and dry the chicken (already got that part right—if it’s wet, it won’t get crisp). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

--coat the chicken pieces with dry spices and a lot of salt and pepper (S&P I’ve done, but the rest? Not so much.).  Really rub it in! For spices he suggests paprika, ground cumin, ground mustard, and ground fennel seed. Note: this means spices, not herbs, which will get lost in the cooking.

--Put some olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan. Set the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot and the olive oil is shimmering, place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Keep it as flat as possible (like with a brick! Though maybe you should wrap the brick in foil first…or just use a smaller heavy pan that fits inside your saute pan, as long as you make sure the bottom of the pan is clean). You want as much skin as possible in contact with the pan. And don’t poke at it or peek at the underside during this stage—just leave it be.

Pan on pan!

--Cook—still on medium—until the skin is golden, maybe 8 minutes. Don’t let it burn!

--Turn the chicken pieces over in the pan, then slide the pan (minus the one on top, of course) into the oven, to finish cooking, maybe 12-15 minutes. (No, you don’t try to brown the second side.) Let it rest just a bit before serving.

And that’s it! You can make a sauce of your choice if you want.

So I’ve been doing it wrong all along? Maybe. Scrub that high heat sear—going slower lets the fat render out and makes the skin crisper. Works with either white or dark meat, although you may need to adjust your timing a little, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.

After trying this out, I think Bobby is right. The chicken came out nicely browned, with great flavor, but it was still moist (and thoroughly cooked) inside. My only quibble is that it would be hard to do this with more than a few pieces of chicken, unless you do it in multiple pans (my guess is that Bobby’s kind of spoiled by all those big restaurant ranges!).

Don't forget to leave a comment today (before midnight) with your contact email for the drawing for Ellery's book!

The next Orchard Mystery, coming October 7th!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Charmed Meat Pies with Paprika Aioli

We're delighted to welcome back our own Ellery Adams. PEACH PIES and ALIBIS, the third book in her delightful Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries is coming out on March 5th!

By Guest Blogger Ellery Adams

Ella Mae LeFaye of the Charmed Pie Shoppe knows that you’re about done with winter. You’re about done with cold weather and grey skies. Well, here’s a wonderfully tasty, slightly spicy hand pie that will warm you right down to your toes. That’s the magic of  homemade food, isn’t it? It makes you feel cozy and loved and happy.

However, I must warn you: this is the kind of pie that makes a man go weak in the knees. Ella Mae made it for Hugh Dylan, her handsome fireman, and now things between the two of them are really heating up! When Peach Pies and Alibis comes out next week (March 5) you can read all about it! Until then, here's the recipe:

2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup ice water

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound ground beef chuck
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 splashes of Tabasco sauce (add more if desired)
1 egg beaten with tablespoon half and half (egg wash)

Paprika Aioli

¼ fresh lemon juice
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons (sweet or Spanish)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ cups mayonnaise

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the ground beef and cook until no pink is showing. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. About 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cayenne, cloves, thyme, and allspice and cook for 3 minutes. Season with hot sauce and let cool. Transfer the filling to a food processor and pulse until chopped.

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out each disk of dough to a 12-inch round. (If you don’t want to make the dough by hand, Pillsbury pre-made piecrusts will work just as well). Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out 6 rounds from each piece of dough. Brush the edges of the rounds with some of the egg wash and place a rounded tablespoon of filling to one side of each circle. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and press to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork. Transfer the pies to the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

While pies are baking, blend together all the ingredients for the paprika aioli. Serve in individual bowls for dipping.

Name the spiciest food you’ve ever tasted! 

And before I go, here's the blurb for Peach Pies and Alibis!
ISBN - 0425251993
Price - $7.99
Available at your local bookstore or Amazon.comIndiebound.comBarnes & Noble

Ellery Adams serves up a mystery that’s a real peach...
Ella Mae LeFaye’s Charmed Pie Shoppe is wildly popular in Havenwood, Georgia—which is not surprising since Ella Mae can lace her baked goods with enchantments. The shop’s extraordinary success seems destined to continue when Ella Mae meets an engaged couple who hire her to handle the dessert buffet at their wedding.

But Ella Mae has a lot on her plate. She is also searching for the origin of her magical powers—and hoping to determine if the spark of attraction she feels for the handsome Hugh Dylan is authentic or just her new abilities gone awry.

Then Ella Mae discovers a high-standing member of the community dead, and a wedding guest becomes seriously ill at the event she’s catering. Now she’ll have to use all her sleuthing skills and culinary talents to prove her pies don’t contain a killer ingredient . . .

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Charmed Frozen Raspberry Lemon Chiffon Pie

Ellery Adams

If you think that title is a mouthful, wait until you try the pie. This is truly a summer pie and if you can get freshly picked raspberries, then every bite will taste of summer.

I won't lie to you. This is a pie for those with some patience. Straining the seeds from the raspberry mixture will take some time (my sous chef agreed to help) and then the whole pie has to freeze overnight. But trust me, the effort is worth the results!

Before I post the recipe, I'd like to thank all of you who purchased and spread the word about PIES AND PREJUDICE. I really appreciate your support. 

Charmed Frozen Raspberry Lemon Chiffon Pie

         1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
         3 tablespoons butter, melted
         1 tablespoon sugar
         1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
         1/4 teaspoon salt
         4 large egg whites
         1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
         6 tablespoons water
         3 cups raspberries
         Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; toss with a fork until moist or pulse in bowl of food processor. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with butter.
Combine 3 cups raspberries and fresh lemon juice in a blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Place salt and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Combine sugar and 6 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a thermometer registers 250°. Gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into egg white mixture, beating at medium speed, then at high speed, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in raspberry mixture; pour into prepared crust. Cover; freeze 8 hours or overnight.

Which fresh berries have been calling your name this summer?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Comment to Win a Pocket Pie Mold for Ellery Adams' Pies and Prejudice Release!

Comment for a chance
to win this week!

See details below...

Release day is always special for an author, and that's why we're celebrating. This is the official publication date for PIES AND PREJUDICE, the first installment in a charming new mystery series by our fellow crime-writing cook Ellery Adams!


Pies and Prejudice:
Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery

When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. After catching her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. But her pies aren't just delicious. They appear to have magical effects on the people who eat them.

Ella Mae soon makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. Then Loralyn's fiancé is found dead--killed with Ella Mae's rolling pin--and it will take all her sweet magic to clear her name. 

Available at your local bookstore or  -  -  Barnes & Noble

Help us congratulate Ellery
on her new release day!

Tell us YOUR favorite pie in the comments below, and you'll be entered automatically to WIN one of Ellery's favorite fun mini pie molds, a heart-shaped pocket pie maker! 

The contest is now over
and our randomly drawn winner is...

"The Cat Bastet"
aka Cathy AJ

Congratulations, Cathy!
Drop me an e-mail with your address,
and I'll send the pie mold out to you.
My e-mail address is

In the meantime, we hope you'll enjoy one
of Ellery's wonderful pie recipes, re-posted below. And, of course, we hope you'll go out this week and purchase Pies and Prejudice for your keeper shelf.

Ellery Adams' Low Fat
Apple Berry Tart


3 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used Honeycrisp, but it’s also fun to mix up the apples and use one Golden Delicious and 2 Granny Smith, for example)
1 pint of fresh raspberries, rinsed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
8 sheets phyllo dough (14-inch by 9-inch sheets)
butter-flavored cooking spray
cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss apples slices and raspberries in a medium bowl with sugar and lemon juice. Meanwhile, remove eight sheets of phyllo dough from the pack. 

Lay the phyllo sheets on a clean work surface. Removing one sheet at a time and covering the remainder with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel, spray each sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray (I used Crisco spray), then lay sheet in a 9-inch pie dish, with the extra dough hanging over the edge. Repeat with remaining sheets, forming a circular pattern.

Add in the mixture of apple and raspberries, then bring up the sides of the dough and fold in, leaving a gap in the center. Spray with butter-flavored spray. Sprinkle cinnamon over the whole tart. Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Cheers, Ellery!
Enjoy your release week!

Thanks to everyone who left comments. 
Watch this blog for more fun giveaways soon!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Charmed Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Sometimes it's too hot to turn the oven on. You crave something sweet, rich, chocolately, and perhaps, you even want a little taste of peanut butter, but you don't want candy and you don't feel like baking a cake. No worries! Ella Mae LeFaye has got the pie for you. You can skip the oven altogether by purchasing an Oreo cookie crust from the baking aisle at your local grocery store, or you can make the homemade version listed below.

When I tried this pie with the help of my sous chef and taste tester, I was stunned by its incredible flavors. Believe me, you only need a small wedge of this super rich pie. And it's a good one to serve to the men in your life. My guy is not fond of pie, but he yummed this one up.

Which candy flavor translates well into other desserts? I'd love to hear your opinions for future recipes!

Charmed Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Store brought Oreo or chocolate cookie crust
(Or for homemade chocolate cookie crust:
1 ¾ cups chocolate cookie crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup butter, melted)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup plus 1 ¾ cups chilled whipping cream, divided
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
If making homemade crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch glass pie dish with cooking spray. Blend chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter in food processor and press mixture over bottom and sides of pie dish. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Let cool.
For store bought crust, skip this step and continue on.
Combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup whipping cream, honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in microwave dish and microwave until chocolate melts (2 to 3 minutes
depending on strength of your microwave). Whisk until smooth and spread majority of chocolate mixture over bottom of crust, leaving a few tablespoons of the chocolate to drizzle on top of the finished pie later on. Freeze crust for 10 minutes.

Whisk peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. In medium bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar until very thick (don’t beat until peaks form, however). Fold into peanut butter in parts. Spoon peanut butter mousse over chocolate layer and chill for 1hour to 1 day. Garnish with drizzles of leftover chocolate mixture.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Charmed Banoffee Pie

Ellery Adams

In each installment of the Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries (the first one debuts this July), I include a customer of the week pie. These are recipes sent me by real readers and this one was to die for!

Not only is it a blend of soft, ripe bananas and rich, decadent caramel, but the creamy smoothness of the whipped topping just finishes it off with a dollop of pure heaven. Add a few chocolate shavings for the garnish and you've got a pie worth serving Mother.

In fact, the woman who sent me this recipe comes from a long line of Scottish bakers. Her mam ran a bakery on Orkney Islands (sorry, but I don't know exactly where) and they're still boiling their sweetened condensed milk even though you can buy it pre-made nowadays. Some things are better done the old fashioned way. Some things are worthy of patience and attention to detail. I think that's something most moms would agree on.

So enjoy this wonderful pie and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there (whether your children have two feet or four paws!)

Charmed  Banoffee Pie

10 ounces ginger snaps, crushed fine
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 ripe bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
hunk of milk chocolate candy bar for garnish 

Prepare ginger snap crust. In medium bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar. Add crushed ginger snaps. Mix well. Press mixture into 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Cool.

Put can of sweetened condensed milk in large saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 2 hours (Adding water when necessary). Cool. Open and stir with fork to remove any lumps. (It will be brown in color). Spread on top of the ginger snap crust.

Slice three bananas and sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange over the toffee.
Put large mixing bowl and electric mixer beaters in freezer for ten minutes. Remove and add heavy whipping cream. Whip until peaks are just about to form and then add in vanilla extract and sugar. Continue whipping until stiff and spread on top of banana layer. Grate milk chocolate over the top. Chill until serving.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Charmed Mini Lemon Tarts (And Optional Easter Tarts)

Ella Mae, the heroine of the upcoming Charmed Pie Shoppe series, is a big fan of the lemon. The bright yellow of its skin, the clean scent of its fruit, and the millions of delicious recipes one can make with this citrus make it one of her all-time favorite ingredients.

Now that the spring sunshine has made itself known, you might be ready for a light, sunny dessert. Try these easy, creamy, lemony tarts and you'll feel warm and bright right on down to your toes!

Charmed Mini Lemon Tarts

5 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (requires 3 large lemons)

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 packages mini graham cracker tart crusts (for a total of 12 mini tarts)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a stand mixer or food processor blend cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar. Once the sugar is completely mixed into the cream cheese, add the eggs. Next, add the lemon juice and zest and process until completely blended and smooth. Spoon the mixture into the individual tarts, filling to the top. Bake the mini tarts approximately 15 minutes or when filling is set. Let cool and top with berries, whipped cream, a sprig of mint, or a piece of lemon cut into a small triangle.

To make cute spring bird’s nests, use food coloring to dye the tart filling before baking. After the tarts cool, use shredded coconut or chocolate shavings as the “nest” and add jellybean “eggs.” These are sure to brighten any table!

What's your favorite lemony food?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Charmed Lamb Pie

By Ellery Adams

Yes, every now and then I'll present you with a savory pie. After all, we can't eat sweets all the time, can we? (I'd like to but I don't want to give my dentist any more reasons to come at me with that terrible drill).

Despite the cold, gray weather we've had in the South lately, I know spring is on its way and I started thinking about the kind of pie Ella Mae LeFaye would make to celebrate the new season and a tender, flavorful lamb pie sounded nice to me. So here's my version, which takes some notes from Middle Eastern cuisine. I love the flavor of the toasted pine nuts but beware, they are expensive!

What spring fare are you looking forward to (besides Peeps!)

Charmed Lamb Pie

2 pounds ground lamb

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons mint, finely shredded

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 piecrust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on cookie sheet and toast for ten minutes. While nuts are toasting, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil (1 to 2 minutes) and then add lamb. Cook until lamb is nicely browned (about 5 minutes) and then drain excess liquid. In large mixing bowl, combine lamb mixture with spices, pine nuts, lemon juice, and yogurt. Pour filling into piecrust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees.