Showing posts with label The Sayers Swindle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Sayers Swindle. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Celebrate the season and more with rhubarb-pecan tea cake

Brought to you by Victoria Abbott


Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini 

Congrats to our lucky winner of  'the pug in the mug' from our last post: Lynda MacDonald, please email us at to claim your pugly mug. Yippee!

Speaking of luck: Are you lucky enough to have rhubarb? Whether you pick your own, buy it or use frozen, this tea cake is a delicious treat to celebrate whatever needs celebrating.  We fell totally in love with its rich, tangy taste.  We have a nice patch of it and are reaping the rewards.

Many of you know that we moved into our renovated ranch house two years ago.  The house suited us perfectly but the garden lay in ruins. All that survived years of abuse was a lone peony, some wandering hostas and a vigorous rhubarb plant.  We have been very happy with that rhubarb plant and have tried a number of recipes with our harvest. Yes, we know that rhubarb is really a vegetable, but we’ll pretend it’s a fruit and put it in this yummy cake. We understand the cake freezes well, but haven’t had any left over to test that. Oh well.  The tea cake is an adaptation of a recipe from Chatelaine, a Canadian magazine with super recipes and more. Chatelaine has been the source of many a great meal here. 

Rhubarb tea-cake

Assemble your ingredients!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1  egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon

1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sifted icing sugar
4 to 5 tsp lemon juice

Then all you have to do is:

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 × 4-in. loaf pan.  Cut a rectangle of parchment paper the width of the loaf pan and about six inches longer. Place the paper in the pan with the extra paper hanging over.  This makes it very easy to remove the tea loaf after it cools. 
Stir flour with baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Add the lemon zest.  We found the zest gave the cake real zing, but you can dial it back if you prefer.

Whisk egg with brown sugar, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in large bowl, then stir in flour mixture. Add rhubarb and pecans and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean, 70 to 75 min. Transfer to a rack to cool in pan for 10 min.

Stir icing sugar with lemon juice in a small bowl, adding juice 1 tsp at a time until smooth. We like ours slightly runny.  You must suit yourself with icing consistency.

Drizzle glaze over warm loaf, letting it run down the sides.

Enjoy with or without ice cream.  Yum.

Here’s a dandy tip: Are you tired of wasting buttermilk or passing up recipes with buttermilk?
We know that there are many substitutes for buttermilk, but we love the real thing and now we'll always have it at our fingertips, because we've learned you can freeze buttermilk in half-cup measures by filling a muffin tin and freezing it. Repackage into freezer bag after 24 hours.   It even looks cute!

But wait! What else is new? Is there something else we should be celebrating?

Of course! We want to celebrate that The Wolfe Widow, third in our book collector series, will be out in less than three months, Less than 90 sleeps!  It will hit the shelves and e-readers on September 2,  2014.  

But you can  Pre-order it here!

Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter for contests, news and fun. 

Just click here!   



Saturday, May 24, 2014

A peachy cake and contest

Here's a  peachy idea and a comment contest from Victoria Abbott  (aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini)

A peachy little cake and a contest

We admit peaches are not in season here in this part of Canada yet.  None of our local fruit is.  We have to accept that. But for the Victoria Day weekend we had a little party outdoors with the grill and felt that a cake with some fruit would be just the ticket.  This little cake is a bit like a pound cake, a bit dense.  The lime syrup gives it some real zing.   

The peaches in our market seemed to be made of rock, so we used frozen peaches, just thawed, and blueberries.  Both times we made the cake (Mother’s Day and Victoria Day) it didn’t last long.  We look forward to trying it again in peach season.  It will be a regular at our table! 

You will need:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 eggs at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
Zest of two small limes
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp icing sugar
3 peaches unpeeled, but sliced or 1 cup frozen peach slices and ½ cup fresh blueberries

Here's how to make it! 

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Butter an 8-in round pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Cream butter with ¾ cup sugar at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk, lime zest and vanilla. Reduce speed to lowest and beat in flour mix until just blended. 
Transfer batter to pan and smooth top.

Bake in center of oven 30 – 35 minutes until a tester comes out clean. 

Boil the lime juice with 2 tablespoons of sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Cool slightly. 

Let cake rest for about 15 minutes and transfer to a rack (remove parchment first) Brush top with the lime syrup. It may not take the whole amount. 

Cool completely. 

Whip the cream with the icing sugar (and a bit of vanilla if you like) until you have soft peaks.
Just before serving slather cream on cake.  Top with peaches and blueberries. Or you could use strawberries - lots of options! 

 Help us celebrate!

Something else we think is just peachy is the approaching release of The Wolfe Widow, book three in our book collector series.

    Pre-order it here!

 We're celebrating with a draw for this Wolfe Widow mug.  All you have to do is leave a comment here!

Walter the Pug looks great on the cover. He's a dead ringer for Peachy, seen here in her tutu, dressed to kill for the launch of The Sayers Swindle.

 Come over and friend Victoria Abbott on Facebook
Tell  her  you love the pug!
and check out Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Abbott

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chicken Scaloppine - Nonna's Way

Brought to you by that shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott (aka Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini)

Chicken Scaloppine alla Nonna!

In our family, MJ’s mother-in-law’s (and Victoria’s grandmother’s) cooking is legendary.  As soon of you may remember from previous posts, it was impossible to get a recipe from her.  We worry that some of these recipes will be lost forever.  So this year, we decided to try to duplicate her beloved chicken cutlets.  These are better known as Scaloppine al Limone in Italian cookbooks. But they were always cutlets to us. 

We think we came pretty close and we hope to serve them to her for Mother’s Day. How much fun will that be?   

What you need:


6 small boneless chicken breasts (or turkey or veal scaloppine)
3 tablespoon flour
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Juice and grated zest of one large lemon
2 – 3 tablespoons of dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground peppers
Lemon wedges or extra zest for garnish

How to do it:

If chicken pieces are large, cut in half.  If they are thick, slice them in half. Cover each piece of poultry or meat with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Pound with a mallet or a cup or a rolling pin until they are ¼ inch thick.  This is pretty easy.  If using a bottle, cup or mallet, be careful not to cut through the cutlet.


Coat with flour and shake off excess. 

Heat two tablespoon oil in the pan.  Sear the chicken quickly on both sides, then sprinkle with parsley, lemon zest and juice.   Add remaining oil if needed.

Lower the heat and cook for about five minutes.  Turn chicken over again. Season with S & P and cook for about five minutes until just cooked through.

Arrange on a warmed serving platter. 

Add the wine to the pan and scrape the bottom, mixing pan juices with wine.  Cook briefly.  

Pour juices over cutlets on serving platter. Garnish with lemon wedges or zest. 

Serve while piping hot.   And as Signora Panetone says in our book collector mysteries: Eat! Yes!


Victoria Abbott is the mother and daughter team of Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini.  They enjoy working Italian food into their book collector mysteries and reading the books from the Golden Age of Detection that the books draw on.   


Book three: the Wolfe Widow will be out September 2nd.

Pre-order it here!

Like Nero Wolfe, the characters in this series enjoy having a good meal prepared for them. 
Find out more at and

Things are happening with our book collector mysteries.
We are thrilled that The Christie Curse and the Sayers Swindle are now available in audio!

We think Walter the Pug looks great on the cover. 
Order it here!

Come over and friend Victoria on Facebook

Tell  her  you love the pug!

Check out her Pinterest fun.