Showing posts with label Golden Malicious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Golden Malicious. Show all posts

Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebration Cheesecake!

by Sheila Connolly

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun! And clearly we here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen think cooking and sharing the results are fun, because we’ve been doing it for five years now.

To celebrate this milestone, this week and next we’re holding a contest: you can win one of five great MLK tote bags filled with copies of each of our books. All you need to do is to take a picture of one of our books in a fun setting—and there are five categories to choose from, and you can enter one photo in each! To enter, click HERE or go to our FaceBook page

But wait! There’s more! All this week each of us will be giving away one of our own books, and next week we’ll be giving away books from our blog alumnae. Just leave a comment on our post and tell us how you shared our contest or our anniversary news. You can enter each day, for each new post—that’s a total of twelve chances to win! Don’t forget to include your email address in your comment so we can find you.

I’m happy to offer a signed copy of the NYT bestselling Golden Malicious, the most recent Orchard Mystery (which just happens to take place during a hot summer).  Better read it soon: the next one in the series, Picked to Die, comes out this October! (If you already have this one, you can choose something else.)

So, readers, please spread the word about our MLK celebration, enter our contests, and continue to visit the blog and comment on our recipes.

Oh, right: I’m supposed to give you a new recipe today!

As you may have noticed this week, “celebrate” usually means dessert to us—and what a wonderful range we’ve found! Something for everyone—either seasonal fruit or chocolate. Or both, as in this recipe, which I shamelessly borrowed from a long-time friend (who also likes desserts!).

Raspberry Cheesecake


1-1/2 cups finely crushed Oreos
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan.

Mix the two ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for seven minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees.

Berry filling and topping:

1-1/4 cup sugar
3 Tblsp cornstarch
1-1/2 cups ripe raspberries (you may use frozen, 
   and you may combine berries or add cranberries)
¾ cup cran-raspberry juice

In a saucepan, mix the sugar and the cornstarch. Add the berries and juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens. Put through a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve or colander to remove any skins and seeds.

Cheesecake filling:

4 8-oz. packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar (taste your berry mixture first—you can
   cut down the sugar if the berries are sweet)
4 eggs
½ cup heavy cream

Beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just blended. Stir in the heavy cream.

Pour half of the filling mixture on top of the baked crust. Carefully spoon half of the sauce over the filling. CAREFULLY spoon the rest of the filling over the fruit mixture in the pan (oh, all right, if it gets mixed up, it’ll still taste good!).  Set aside the rest of the berry mixture.

Place a shallow pan half full of hot water on the lower oven rack (this is to humidify your oven). Put the cheesecake pan on a rack above this.

Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, until the edge of the cheesecake is set at least two inches from the edge of the pan. The center should still be jiggly.

Run a small metal spatula around the top edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake and put it back in the oven. Turn the oven off and open the oven door a few inches. Let the cheesecake cool gradually in the oven, about half an hour (this should keep it from cracking).

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for another 30 minutes. Then place the cheesecake in the fridge and cool for at least six hours before serving (overnight is fine).

When you’re ready to serve, remove the outer ring of the spring-form pan, place the cheesecake on a serving plate, and spoon the remaining berry mixture over the top.

This week we’re also touching base with our alumnae, to see how they’ve kept busy since they “graduated”. Jennifer Stanley has more mystery series to her credit than I can count on one hand: the Hope Street Church Mysteries (under her own name), The Collectibles Mysteries (as J. B. Stanley), the Supper Club Mysteries (also as J. B. Stanley); and as Ellery Adams, the Books by the Bay Mysteries, the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries, and the new Book Retreat Mysteries—the first book, Murder in the Mystery Suite, is coming out next month!

Here’s what Jennifer Stanley says about it:
“Murder in the Mystery Suite is set at a resort for book lovers and will feature daily afternoon teas in the Agatha Christie Tea Room, decadent meals in the Madame Bovary Dining Room, and sandwiches in the Kipling Cafe. As usual, I'll be doing my best to come up with tempting food descriptions (as well as a few dead bodies).”

Jenn would be happy if you contacted her at to
get her thoughts on MLK and tell her about your favorite recipe. Here’s hers:

“My favorite recipe is probably my charmed pecan chocolate bourbon pie because it's so easy to make and the recipe produces two pies, so there's one for you and one for a friend. The recipe reminds me of MLK because it's basically a group of friends sharing recipes with other friends.”

Please come celebrate with us and enter our contests! You can see the entries HERE at the bottom of the page. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cracker Pudding

by Sheila Connolly

I may have mentioned that my Orchard Mysteries are set in a colonial house that was built by an ancestor of mine around 1760. I’m not sure if I mentioned that the owners in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century were still of the same family (and I’m related in different ways to both spouses). 

The woman of the house, Olive Barton Warner, kept a series of diaries, and the first (that we know of) was written in 1880 when she was about forty. Mainly she describes what she did, day to day, along with her two teen-age daughters. Husband Eugene took care of the outside stuff, like milking the cows and managing the farm and selling the produce they didn’t consume themselves (yes, including the apples from their orchard).  Although to give him credit, he did help peel apples for Olive now and then, and since she made anywhere from six to 14 pies on any given day (I can give you the dates!), that was a significant contribution.

I find the diaries fascinating (it’s just a little weird to know that kitchen, where Olive stood, where the barn was, what the view from the kitchen window looked like, and so on, because I’ve been in the house several times), because she provides details of what she cooked (bread, biscuits, cakes, and all those pies). She made butter every few days. She refers to what they ate for dinner only occasionally, except that apparently whenever they had meat with dinner (rarely) it was worth mentioning.  There are other wonderful details about what they wore and how they made or remade it, what kind of housecleaning they did, and who they either paid calls on or entertained in the house. It’s a delightful snapshot of country life in 1880. 

More than once Olive mentioned making “cracker pudding,” which I had never heard of. So I started hunting for a recipe. On the Internet there are a lot of references to Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch cracker pudding, which includes coconut (really?). That’s clearly not the right one: there were no Amish in the real town of Granby, Massachusetts, which became the fictional town of Granford in my books.

So I dug deeper, and came up with a recipe from the New England Country Store Cookbook by Peter W. Smith (which I do not own and which does not appear to be available for sale anywhere at the moment) which fit the bill.  It was called “Common Cracker Pudding,” and the author claimed that the recipe was over a hundred years old. Yup, that’s the one.

The recreated general store at Old Sturbridge
Village--note the barrels
 The problem is, “common crackers” are no longer widely available. You know, the kind general stores kept in barrels by the counter? Nabisco used to make them, but they stopped a while ago. (The Amish recipes all seem to want to use Saltines, but that’s not the same thing.) I did track down one source: the Vermont Country Store. And they shipped the crackers out the next day. I now have enough for several batches of Cracker Pudding.



New England Cracker Pudding 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-cup casserole dish.


3 pints (6 cups) whole milk
1 pint (2 cups) common cracker crumbs (break them up with a rolling pin)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp softened butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 cup seedless raisins

Mashed with my own vintage rolling pin

After pulverizing the crackers (the crumbs don’t have to be too fine), soak the cracker crumbs in two cups of the milk until soft (reserving the rest).


Mix in the sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon and spoon it into the casserole.


Bake for one-half hour. Remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the raisins. Carefully pour the remaining four cups of milk around the edge of the pudding (don’t just dump it in the middle).


Return the casserole to the oven and bake for another 2-1/2 hours. Yes, this is a long slow recipe, but it doesn’t take much tending once it’s assembled. Olive made it in March and April, when it was still cool enough in Massachusetts to keep the oven on all day—I wouldn’t try it in August!


It’s not a very sweet dessert, and some older recipes suggest adding a dollop of jam.

The next Orchard Mystery, Picked to Die, won't be published until October (and I don't have a final cover yet), but here's the most recent one, Golden Malicious:
Since this story includes an insect infestation and the US Department of Agriculture appears in the book, this will be a raffle item at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting. Who would have thought!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Shrimp with Garlic and Saffron

by Sheila Connolly

Shoot, this recipe is just too easy! A grand total of seven ingredients. The hardest part is finding smoked paprika (but you can’t substitute the regular kind).

A word on shrimp. My husband and I have often chat with the woman who staffs the fish counter at our local market, and we eat seafood at least once a week. They sell shrimp there, both raw (shell on) and cooked. In an adjacent case, they sell bags of frozen shrimp. Guess what: it’s all the same shrimp. The bulk shrimp are shipped to the store in large bags, and they’re frozen. For the fresh shrimp, they’re thawed in-store.

Frozen shrimp are not evil. They’re all coming from Indonesia or Thailand these days, and over there they’ve long since figured out how to flash-freeze seafood. They taste fine, and some nice people have already removed the icky vein (i.e., the digestive tube). You can buy them peeled or not. You can keep the frozen ones in your freezer for that day when you have no time and nothing fresh to cook—and now you have this quick and tasty recipe.
With shell
Cleaned and ready

One digression: shrimp are harvested off the coast of County Cork in Ireland. I was incredulous when I first heard this, but it’s true—something about the warm currents there. I was tipped off when I innocently ordered what was called a shrimp sandwich in Baltimore in County Cork (in a restaurant across the street from the harbor there), and this was what arrived:


¼ cup olive oil
3 sliced garlic cloves

1 pounds peeled shrimp (about 2 cups)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic and saute until golden.

Stir in the other ingredients and cook, turning the shrimp once or twice, until the shrimp are pink—just a few minutes.

Serve over rice/pasta. Garnish with parsley if you like.

See?  Told you it was easy. One bonus: the combination smells wonderful even before you start cooking!
Coming November 22nd

A New York Times bestseller!

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Souls' Day

by Sheila Connolly

Haven’t we had fun this week with all the spooky and colorful recipes? And have you all recovered from the onslaught of costumed munchkins (we get over a hundred at our house, and we don’t even live in a city) and the sugar high you got from eating all the leftover candy (you wouldn’t want it to get stale or go to waste, now, would you?)?

But the festivities aren’t quite over yet, because today, November 1st, is All Saints’ Day, and the next day, All Souls' Day—and of course there is food involved. The event dates back to either 609 or 610 (maybe), and Pope Gregory III (731-741) made it official.  It also happens to fall on the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”), which marks the last harvest and the beginning of winter, when you’d count your herds and tally up your food supplies, maybe light a bonfire or two on the local hilltops. And since Samhain was the time of the year when beings and souls from the Otherworld could pass into our world, of course you’d make a feast for the souls of your dead kinfolk, and tell stories about them. (But watch out for the fairies, who could steal a soul away—make sure to leave them a snack on your doorstep.)

If you read about this, you’ll notice some similarities to our modern celebration of Halloween, including those (mostly children and the poor) who would go door to door volunteering to say prayers for the dead (in the old days, that is—now we call them trick or treaters).  The traditional gift, at least in England and Ireland, was the soul cake, made with sweet spices and marked with a cross on top. (Remember the Peter, Paul and Mary song “A’Soalin,’ which in turn was based on the lyrics of a nineteenth century song; Sting borrowed it for a 2009 album.  The tradition lives on!)

So here’s one version of a Soul Cake recipe (there are many).  You’ll notice it includes saffron, which I found in more than one version.

Soul Cakes

2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, softened

3 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp saffron

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

2 eggs

2 tsp malt vinegar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a baking sheet.

Cut the butter into the flour.

Mix in the sugar and spices.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the flour mixture.

Add the vinegar, and mix until you have a stiff dough.  Knead briefly until you can form a ball.

Dough, with my Victorian hand-turned rolling pin
Roll out the dough one-quarter inch thick.  Cut the dough into three-inch circles.

Meet my new Irish cookie cutter!
Place on the greased baking sheet (some people make a shallow cross on top at this point) and bake for 25 minutes.

If you like, you may sprinkle these with powdered sugar while they are still warm.

As you can see, there is neither liquid (apart from the eggs) nor leavening in these cookies, but they turned out to be fairly light and crisp, and not too sweet. And the dough is very easy to handle, a plus if you’re cutting out elaborate shapes. (P.S. My husband approved of them.)

This includes my new short
story, "That Other Woman."
Available in November.

A New York Times Bestseller!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Apple Cider Cake -- A New Old Recipe

by Sheila Connolly

Yes, it's another apple recipe. I promise this will be the last.  Maybe.  The harvest season in ending, after an incredible year (even for my baby trees).  And I feel positively giddy, because my latest Orchard Mystery, Golden Malicious, was a New York Times Mass Market Bestseller when it came out.  So forgive me if I revel in it, just a bit.

I also visited Old Sturbridge Village for their annual Apple Days, which is a lot of fun.  I tasted heirloom apple varieties (pleased that I had a few of them already in my tiny orchard, and I was so impressed with one I’d never tried  that I came home and ordered one immediately.  My “Mother” tree will arrive in the spring, in time for planting.).  I watched men use an ox to grind apples to make cider (and watched the same ox eat apples straight off a tree).

Ox in the apple tree
And I visited the old farmhouse, where the re-enactors were baking apples goodies.  Of course I came away with a new recipe.  Or rather, an old one, because this one dates from 1827.  The last cider cake recipe I gave you was from the 1880s—this one is half a century older.

The problem with the really old recipes is that whoever recorded them assumed you know the basic stuff, like when to mix and in what order, and what size pan to use, and how long to cook it at what temperature.  To be fair, back in 1827 there probably weren’t a lot of pans to choose from on a farm, and you guessed the (brick) oven temperature by sticking your hand in and waiting until you couldn’t keep it in there any longer. 

So I made some educated guesses to fill in the blanks in this very simple recipe.  And (drumroll) I mixed it all by hand, in the time-honored tradition.  Since the ingredients weight nearly seven pounds, that was no mean feat.  Do not take on a nineteenth-century farm woman in wrestling, for they were strong!

“To make a good Cider Cake” from the December 28, 1827 issue of the New England Farmer

Two pounds of flour, one of sugar, half of butter, one of fruit [raisins or currants], one pint of cider, two teaspoons of pearlash, cloves and spice to your taste.

Uh, that was the whole recipe.  Might be there are just a few gaps?  Here’s my modern version—although I did use a scale to weigh the ingredients (a very modern one!).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2 pounds flour (about 6 cups)
1 pound sugar (about 2 cups)
1 Tblsp baking powder
1-2 tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of cloves (or more if you like)
½ pound of butter, softened
2 cups cider
One pound of raisins or currants (I usually soak these for a few minutes in
     boiling water to soften them up)

In a LARGE bowl, place the dry ingredients and whisk them together.  Add the soft butter and work it in until it’s evenly distributed (mixture will be crumbly).

Add the cider (I used the last of my home-made batch) and mix until you have a stiff batter.  Add the raisins last and mix again.

Butter and flour a pan (I used a 9” x 13” baking pan).  Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth out the top.  Place in the preheated oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and the edges begin to pull away from the pan—probably around an hour.  Cool in the pan.

This is a hearty, tasty cake with a nice apple flavor.  It should keep well.  If you want to dress it up, you can drizzle it with some of that caramel sauce I write about recently, or add a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream.  I picture the farm workers in 1827 slipping a sturdy slice in their pockets for a quick snack after haying or milking or whatever.