Showing posts with label Peg Cochran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peg Cochran. Show all posts

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chocolate Irish Whiskey Cake #Recipe @PegCochran


Yes, St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday but I had to take a dessert to a St. Patty’s Day-themed party last weekend and this was so delicious I wanted to share the recipe with you.  It comes from Bay Area Bites and I didn’t do anything to change the recipe (a first!)  Except I did use bourbon since I didn’t have any Irish whiskey but it was suggested that that would be a fine substitute.

I even invested (a whopping $9.99) in my first bundt pan for this cake!  




Making it was quite the adventure, I must admit.  First I solved a mystery! I invested in an oven thermometer because I suspected my new oven runs cool.  Does it ever!  It indicated it was pre-heated to 325 when the thermometer read only 225!  No wonder the chocolate roll cake I make every Christmas didn’t turn out this year—my oven was off.


I forgot to take my butter out to soften it so I had the bright idea of popping it into the microwave for ten seconds.  Good idea except I hit one minute by accident.  Yup—melted butter all over the inside of my microwave.  And those were my last two sticks so everything had to go on hold while I went to the grocery store.


Then I was about to put the cake in the oven when I noticed a bowl on the counter—full of the whiskey soaked raisins that were supposed to go in the cake!  I managed to gently stir them in and finally got the cake in the oven!


It was worth the effort—it was rich and moist without being overly sweet.   



Ingredients:

Butter or nonstick spray for greasing pan
3/4 cup Irish whiskey
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup golden raisins
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.
Pour whiskey and coffee over raisins and set aside.
In a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool.


Cream one cup butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.
Whisk together the salt, baking soda, cocoa powder and flour. Stir one-third of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, until just combined. 



Add one-third of the coffee-whiskey mixture and stir to combine. Repeat two more times, alternating flour and coffee. 



Fold in the soaked raisins at the end. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, approximately 50-60 minutes. 




Transfer cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes then unmold. Optional: for a more potent whiskey flavor, sprinkle warm cake with about two more tablespoons whiskey. Let cool, then sift confectioners’ sugar over cake before serving.


COMING IN MAY!




STILL ONLY $2.99 FOR E-BOOK!!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Around the Kitchen Table with Mystery Lovers Kitchen Authors + book #giveaway!

Every few weeks, we're having a new Around the Kitchen Table discussion. We hope you'll like getting to know us as we have a little chat!

Today, we're talking about our love affair with reading, when it began, why we write.

BUT FIRST - new RELEASES plus two GIVEAWAYS below.  
Both Sheila and Linda have new releases!!  Congrats, ladies.


And now, let's chat!

From DARYL:

One set of my mystery bookshelves
I wasn't a reader until the 4th grade. I mean, sure, I COULD read, but I didn't like it. I was an active girl. I wanted to be outside, running, playing. I also enjoyed math and cooking. But reading? Yech. Then I got sick with the measles and I was bedridden for a week. My mother worked. My parents were divorced. Back then, latchkey was not a forbidden word. I was home alone until my mom came home at lunch to check on me. "I am so bored," I told her. So she gave me her set of Nancy Drew books (all 37 of them) and said she thought I might enjoy them. Honestly? (Ugh!) Luckily, I picked one up...and I read all 37 of them in a week. I was hooked. I tried my hand at writing one six months later. That never saw the light of day, but it was my first inspiration to become a writer. I'm so thankful!  (Sadly, I do not know what happened to that set. I would imagine they were sold along with all my comic books when my mom and sisters and I had to downsize. Sigh!)



From SHEILA:

I can't remember not being able to read (and wanting to!). The first book I remember reading on my own is Harold and the Purple Crayon, neck and neck with my battered copy of Read Me More Stories, an anthology which was given to me on my third birthday (it includes an early version of "The Runaway Bunny"). It has memorable black and white illustrations, and I added a few of my own. It wasn't long after that my mother got me a library card, and we would go pick out books every week or two. One small misunderstanding: I thought the books were mine to keep and stuck them under my bed. It took my mother a while to catch on. Clearly my passion for book-collecting started early!

From DARYL:

Sheila, I remember my first library card, too. I did love going to the library and picking out books. Wonder why it took me so long to fall in "love" with reading. Hmm.

From LESLIE:

I'm the youngest child by 9 years, so as a kid, it seemed to me like everyone else was always reading. Naturally, I wanted to read, too. The first books I devoured were The Happy Hollisters and The Bobbsey Twins. They went to the seashore! (No seashores in Montana!) They found clues in old mailboxes and decrepit buildings! Much as I loved those books, it was probably Harriet the Spy who made me want to be a writer -- I remember sitting in my bedroom with my notebook, looking out the window, hoping something would happen "out there" that I could write about. I'm eight in this photo -- could that be Nancy Drew in my hands?


From LINDA: 

I hear you, Leslie. I had an older sister, 14 years older, so I grew up almost an only child. I had a wonderful fantasy life and reading fed it. We had a lot of books in the house but mainly in Swedish, so I dove into the popular kids books of the time - starting with the Golden Books, and then, The Bobbsey Twins, and Charlotte's Web. And I loved horses, so I read Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, My Friend Flicka, and all of the Black Stallion books. Then, I decided to write a novel...about a young girl, oddly enough same age as me, who lived on a ranch, and had a horse. The only mystery is why I still have it in my drawer.



From LUCY

Oh don't throw that away Linda--it's precious history! I'm so sorry I can't find my first short story ever--something happens to a girl and she's unhappy and so runs to the top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, soon followed by her dream boyfriend, Micky Dolenz. That's right, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees LOL. That could be worth a lot in blackmail, don't you think?

I have loved to read as long as I can remember, and the first book I remember owning was called THE SCARY THING by Laura Bannon. My older sister and I (11 months apart), would come home from school and go to our rooms and read until dinner. Certainly Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys (stolen from my younger brother) and yes, the black stallion books, and hundreds more. I thank my parents for the love of reading--they read to us every night and they themselves were always reading. The best gift ever!


From KRISTA

I can't remember not reading, either. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan. In fact, I remember my mom shooing me out of the house to play. I took Nancy with me and read sitting on the lawn. I also had an older sibling. When I had the chicken pox (there seem to be some themes here!) my brother was going out one night. My mom gave him some money and asked him to pick up a book for me to read. I must have been around seven or eight. He brought home a collection of short stories that a seventeen-year-old-boy would like. It included Edgar Allen Poe and, most memorably, The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As you might imagine, they were a bit grisly for a kid. I read every single one of them.

And PS to Lucy—after attending a performance of The Point, I rode home on the Tube seated just in front of Micky Dolenz.


From CLEO:

Mickey Dolenz! (Krista and Lucy: Marc and I are both unabashed fans of Mickey and The Monkees!) Okay, back to the subject. I loved reading all your memories of reading! I'll just add that my own connection with books began as a newborn. No, I couldn't read at the age of 0, but... My sister, Grace, was four years old and loved the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland so much that my parents decided to name me Alice (Cleo, of course, is my pen name). My next "chapter" on books came via my Dad. Our small Western Pennsylvania town had no library, but that didn't stop my father from driving me and my sister to the Big Green Bookmobile every Wednesday evening when it pulled into the Acme parking lot. Thank goodness (and it was literally goodness) for libraries and librarians. We didn't have the money to buy, but we sure had the will to borrow, which sparked a lifelong passion for stories and a fulfilling vocation in telling them. So here's to the librarians...and all those bookmobiles that rolled into kids' imaginations with hundreds of worlds on wheels.


 VICTORIA ABBOTT: 

Victoria here! One of the fun things about being a mother-daughter team is that we read together. I always loved reading with my mom..  We still love (and share with children)  the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. Here's Frog and Toad all year, a charming and funny look at the two friends through the seasons. These books are easy to read to pre-schoolers and great fun for young readers.





 MJ: The tragedy of my early life was when our public library burned to the ground when I was seven, putting an end to my access to the 'fairy tale' books from many countries. I'd had enough time to get hooked though, and switched to MacLeod's bookstore and Hardy Boys books. Now and then, books were treasured gifts:




I still have my tattered copy of Anne of Avonlea, the follow-up to Anne of Green Gables, a gift from my fourth grade teacher. I read all Lucy Maud Montgomery's magical stories of life in PEI.

From DARYL:  MJ, I can't imagine the horror of losing a library to a fire! How horrible. But I'm jealous that you still have childhood books. I have The Jungle Book, Robinson Crusoe, Dr. Doolittle, and a few others, all of which were my grandmother's.  The bindings are very fragile! The artwork in a few is amazing!








So, delightful fans, how did your love of reading begin?

GIVEAWAY!


Linda and Sheila are each giving away one of their mysteries this week. 
Two commenters will win! 
So remember to leave your email so they can contact you by Friday. 






Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mashed Cauliflower "Potatoes" #Recipe @PegCochran

For me one of the hardest things about a low carb diet is giving up potatoes.  I love potatoes--fried, baked, scalloped, mashed, shredded...whatever.  I think I must have at least a drop of Irish blood in me somewhere!

But sometimes you've just got to stay on that low carb stint for awhile for your own good!  And mashed cauliflower makes a decent substitute for a pile of mashed potatoes.  Actually, even if you aren't on a low carb diet, you would enjoy these!



 Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
1 leek
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of nutmeg


Break the head of cauliflower into small pieces and clean and slice the white part of the leek.


Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add cauliflower and leek.  Boil until both are tender--approximately 15 minutes.


Drain vegetables and return to hot pan briefly to dry.


Place vegetables, cream, butter and nutmeg in food processor and puree.







Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thai Stir Fry #Recipe @PegCochran

Here is another great stir fry from Skinny Kitchen—this one with a Thai flair.  I’ve made a few changes (surprise!) by adding broccoli—because I had some, and I’m always trying to get more green veggies into us.  I was going to make the cauliflower rice since it’s quite easy with a food processor, but our grocery store was completely out of cauliflower!  Fortunately I found frozen cauliflower rice (albeit with the addition of peas and carrots) and that made this a very quick weeknight meal. 


We really enjoyed this (hubby had seconds!) and didn’t miss having it served over regular rice although you could do that if you wanted.  


Ingredients for Peanut Sauce:
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter (natural peanut butter is best)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced (I use the minced garlic in a jar)
2 teaspoons ginger, (again, I use the jarred ginger)
1 teaspoon sriracha (more or less depending on your taste)


Ingredients for Stir-Fry:
Olive oil--approximately 1 tablespoon to coat pan
1 (16 oz) package cauliflower rice
1 cup onions, diced or sliced
1 cup red bell peppers, cut in strips or diced
1 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen but if using fresh microwave until soft)


My frozen cauliflower rice








Prepare ingredients--slice, dice, etc.


  Mix together the sauce ingredients and microwave for one minute.




Add olive oil to pan and heat.  Add red pepper and onions and stir fry until wilted.




Add cauliflower rice and stir fry until cauliflower is soft--approximately five minutes.

 


Add broccoli and stir fry for one minute or until broccoli is cooked.




Add chicken and sauce and stir fry until heated through.

 


Berkley Prime Crime is having a sale! The e-book versions of two of my books are now only $2.99! 









Monday, February 6, 2017

AROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE -- Our first cookbooks


LESLIE: Today, we're starting something new in the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. On the first Monday of the month, we’ll gather around the Kitchen table to chat about something on our minds—food-related, because we’re all obsessed with cooking up recipes as well as crime! Today, we’re remembering our early cookbooks. We hope you’ll join the conversation in the comments.

As a teenager, I worked at Waldenbooks, and on September 8, 1978—I dated the bookplate—I used my employee discount on The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two. The author, Anna Thomas, traveled widely in Europe and beyond, then created vegetarian versions of favorite dishes. Opened up my little palate, I’ll guarantee you! We still adore the salad torcoloti, and I used her curry and garam masala blends as the starting point for my own, in the Spice Shop Mysteries.

A few months later, I picked up Laurel’s Kitchen, the first cookbook to delve into the science and nutrition of vegetarian cooking. I still consult the tables of cooking times for grains and beans, and make the vegetarian chili often. Now I wish I’d sprung for the hardcover, but at the time, the 3.95 paperback was all I could manage!

Actually, the first cookbook I ever bought was probably this copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, my mother’s Christmas wish. There’s no inscription or, oddly, a publication date, but I’m guessing 1976. It lives in my kitchen now, and while I don’t use it much, it isn’t going anywhere for a long time.


One small selection of my collection
DARYL:  I will never forget my first cookbook.  I still have it. The Gourmet Cookbook, volume 1. I started cooking way back when - I mean way back. I sold pies around my neighborhood when was 7. Chocolate pudding pies with whipped creamed topping. I made dinners. I designed menus. I played "restaurant" with my sisters. In high school I became more serious about learning to cook. Not just the dishes my mother or father made - yes, my dad loved to make Crepe Suzettes and Sunday omelets and barbecue anything - but I wanted to make things that were "gourmet." With sauces and exotic flavors. I ordered The Gourmet Magazine and challenged myself to make one new recipe every month. When I realized I could "do" it, I decided to save my allowance and purchase the cookbook. It wasn't cheap! It is still a go-to cookbook for me. For so many items: biscuits, beef stew, roast beef. The book is oil-marked and milk-marked and pie filling-marked.  I wasn't a neat cook. LOL But I don't think the book cares. It knows it has been well loved.  I will forever be grateful to this cookbook for inspiring me to think bigger when it came to the kitchen.

As for cookbooks in general - they are the reason I decided to write the Cookbook Nook Mysteries. When I stepped into a culinary bookstore and drank in the wondrous array of cookbooks at my fingertips, I fell in lust. That's the moment I knew I had to immerse myself in that world for one of my mysteries.


SHEILA:  My mother was a good plain cook--meat, starch and veg, plus dessert--so I grew up knowing the basics, like how to boil water. But my mother's idea of creative cooking was to add Vermouth to whatever meat dish she was making. Her cookbook collection was kind of pitiful: it might have filled one bookshelf. I still have the copy of The Joy of Cooking that she must have gotten when she married.

That was fine, because when I was a child, I was not a courageous eater. I had to separate each of the components of my dinner and consume each of them one at a time. I hated onions and mushrooms, and I never knew what garlic was (although I was fond of artichokes and asparagus, mostly because they were fun to eat). My grandmother, who lived in Manhattan, sometimes took me and my younger sister to lunch in what must have been some nice restaurants, but I have no memories of what I ate there.

It wasn't until I discovered Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking (whose co-author Simone Beck is often forgotten) that I realized what "real" cooking could be like. It was the first cookbook I bought, as a gift to myself when I graduated from college and moved into a small apartment with a kitchen that could fit in a closet. I still say, if you have only one cookbook, get this one. The recipes may have French names, but they work. Julia had a sense of humor and would insert comments like, "this may look curdled, but don't worry--it will smooth out later." Her ingredient proportions were generous, she used herbs liberally, and when she said a dish would serve four or six people, she was right--and they were for normal people with healthy appetites.

I still have that copy, and you can tell which are my favorite recipes by how greasy the pages are. When I married, my husband adopted some of the recipes as well, and still makes them. I even bought two copies (on sale) so I'd have back-up if the first one disintegrated into shreds. I don't know if I would have fallen in love with both cooking and eating if I hadn't found Julia Child.

BTW, we named our daughter Julia. Okay, maybe not solely for The French Chef, but that first Julia was in the back of my mind. And now my daughter makes croissants for a chain of coffee shops, and is learning to bake bread in large quantities. So maybe it rubbed off.


MARY JANE MAFFINI/VICTORIA ABBOTTt  When I got married, I was able to make tuna fish sandwiches (white bread only, no crusts) and I could fry chicken, with some singeing.  My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook and so was my mother so the time had come to pull up my socks. Things did not go well with the sock pulling.


I quickly came to hate cooking but I did like to laugh and was good at that.  Eventually I turned to Peg Bracken's popular (at the time) I Hate to Cook Book, a small and hilarious volume published in 1960.  There were enough 'keepers' in those pages to save me from daily mortification. Bracken was like having a friend in the kitchen: she didn't mind a trick or two and she was always ready for a joke.   The I Hate to Cook Book is still going strong and was reissued for its 50th Anniversary: it even has a Facebook Page!

After nearly fifty years, I still have my original  I Hate to Cook and still make a few of the recipes. Unfortunately, in the process I began to like cooking and then was forced to invest in more ambitious and heavier cookbooks like Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I never did master the art of French cooking, but thanks to the wit of Peg Bracken I learned to find the fun in the kitchen.  I did not name my daughter Peg, but you will notice I am still hanging around with another Peg who can be very funny.

A few years back, I decided to include the battered little blue book in a box headed for Goodwill.  But at the last minute, I realized there would never be a good reason to get rid of it.  We keep our friends!


PEG: Looks like Sheila and I both learned to cook from Julia Child and Simone Beck! I got a cookbook for a wedding present (1974) called Make It Now, Bake It Later. One recipe was for a casserole that included white bread and tiny canned shrimp.  Enough said!


KRISTA: Mary Jane, that's such a cute story. I never heard of that cookbook! My first cookbooks were from a collection that my mom bought at the grocery store. They came out one at a time, and she bought one every month. She had all of Julia Child's books, but they didn't have many pictures, which was very important to me as a kid. I read cookbooks by photo, not by recipe. I looked for those old cookbooks in my mom's house the other day but I fear they're long gone so I don't even know who published them.


LINDA: I love to laugh when I cook, Mary Jane. Helps get me through some dicey situations, so to speak. My first cookbook was a gift from my sister when I got married. She knows me so well! It's Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Basics. Up to this point, I hadn't cooked often at home and my roommate, when I'd moved out, was so good, I gladly left it up to her. So, having married another good cook, I felt the challenge to up my game. Craig helped me through it all...and still does. I can never remember equivalents when it comes to measurements, so I let Craig Claiborne handle that. 


LUCY: Your stories are so much fun ladies! Sheila, my mother cooked like yours, only not well. She didn't like desserts either--her idea of a company dessert recipe was red grapes in sour cream! Cooking for 6 after working all day was a chore, and kids underfoot did not help. So I didn't learn much about cooking growing up. But I did inherit her copy of The Joy of Cooking, and I would still have it if a puppy hadn't eaten the cover off. And then some Florida roaches began to nibble the pages, and that book became history. I still love the cookbook, though, and use it as a starting point for lots of recipes. Thanks, Mom!


CLEO: Like some of you out there, I come from a tradition of a little bit of this, a pinch of that--and a whole lot of garlic! My mom and her sister (who lived with us) were born in Italy and learned to cook from the women in their family. They had 3 x 5 cards with their handwritten notes, clipped items from newspapers, and tried out recipes printed on food packaging, but there were no cookbooks that I can recall.

Dad grew his own vegetables and made his own wine. His parents were dirt poor and his mom (my grandmother) baked bread every morning for the family in an outdoor oven (again, no cookbooks). My own first memory of written recipes came from beautiful, glossy recipe cards that Mom received through the mail—probably a bonus with a magazine subscription. I remember my eyes growing wide at the incredibly beautiful cakes, cookies, pies, and other foods in that stack of cards. Somewhere in that moment, the seeds were sown to try my own hand at food photography and recipe writing. Written or unwritten, it's clear the wish for all our recipes remains the same—that we eat with joy!
 

🍰

And you, readers? 
Do you remember your first cookbook? 
Is it still in your collection?




Krista's book, Mission Impawsible, launches tomorrow. She's giving away a copy today! We hope everyone will join the conversation and leave comments. If you would like to enter the contest for Mission Impawsible, leave your email address in your comment, please.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Tuscana #Recipe @PegCochran

Earlier this week we had Lucy Burdette's copycat pasta e fagioli recipe from Olive Garden and now here's another copycat Olive Garden recipe--Zuppa Tuscana.  Whenever I go there for lunch and get the soup/salad/breaksticks entree, I opt for this soup.

It's super easy to make and is a great dinner along with some crusty bread!



1 lb. Italian sausage (I chose mild Italian turkey sausage)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 or 3 large baking potatoes, diced (I went with 3 because I could happily live on potatoes)
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits (optional--I left this out but you could also crumble real bacon into the soup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or Swiss chard (I went with the chard--hubby thinks he doesn't like kale)
2 8-ounce cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy cream

Slice sausage (uncooked) into small pieces and brown in olive oil.  Add onions and garlic and cook until onion is wilted.






Add chicken broth, water and potatoes.  Cook until potatoes are tender.



Add salt and pepper to taste and optional bacon bits.  Simmer soup for 10 minutes.

Turn heat to low and add kale or Swiss chard and cream.  Heat until greens are tender and soup is warmed through.





Buon Appetito!!