Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Baked Mini Meatloaves with Roasted Apples

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Looking back over my posts in the nearly two years that I’ve been part of the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen crew (thanks, friends!), I see that I don’t post many meat dishes. When I do, you’ll often see Mr. Right’s hands in the photograph. According to Mr. Right, I officially lost my title of Picky Eater about ten or twelve years ago, when we ate street tacos in Mexico for my birthday—we’d miscalculated what would be open on a Wednesday in the small undeveloped oceanfront village where we were staying, and they were the only option. Not long after, we were in France and I ordered langoustines. “You know they come with their heads on,” he said. I knew. They were delicious.

Point is, I still have a few food quirks left—no doubt we all do. One of mine, a remnant from years as a vegetarian, is that I don’t like to physically handle red meat, although I will when necessary. I recognize the contradiction—we’ve all got those, too. So when we eat red meat, it tends to be a steak or a burger Mr. Right makes. 

That’s a long way of explaining why I don’t very often post meat dishes. But this one, in my mother’s Good Housekeeping magazine, caught my eye. It’s a variation of our basic burger, which includes ground sirloin, seasoning, Panko, and Parmesan. This version substitutes zucchini for the cheese, a great way to sneak in vegetables; they keep the burgers moist and hold them together well. 

The original recipe suggests ground beef or dark turkey; we prefer ground sirloin, which is a little more expensive, but is comparatively lean and doesn’t shrink much. It also calls for shaping the meat into 4 oblong meatloaves, but you can certainly make more, smaller burgers—just keep an eye on your baking time. And while it suggested Gala or Empire apples—firm and tart-sweet—I used two of the Red Delicious the bears kindly left on our tree this year and a Gala from a friend’s orchard. I think a mix of apples is always best; use anything firm enough to not turn to mush when baked. I thought the mustard might be too strong, but it mellows beautifully in the baking. 

Baked Mini Meatloaves with Roasted Apples

(Adapted from Good Housekeeping, November 2016)

1-1/4 pounds ground beef or sirloin
1 small zucchini, grated
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 small to medium apples, cored and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped, or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
dash of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the beef, zucchini, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. 

Shape into four small meatloaves or six small burgers, and place on baking sheet. Brush tops with mustard.

Toss the cut apples with the rosemary, cayenne, salt, and olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet around the loaves or burgers, in a single layer.


Bake 30 minutes, or until done. Garnish the meat with fresh herbs, if you’d like.

From the cover of KILLING THYME (October 2016, in paperback, e-book, and audio---large print coming soon!): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Pupton of Apples

This past Monday was Johnny Appleseed’s birthday. The most recent book in my Orchard Mystery series, Seeds of Deception, is coming out next week. A nice alignment of the stars, especially since Johnny (an exceedingly distant cousin of mine) got his start in Massachusetts!

A part of Jefferson's orchard
In the new book, the 10th of the series, Meg and Seth, now finally married, kind of improvise a honeymoon, with the goal of visiting Jefferson’s Monticello (Jefferson’s orchards for Meg, an amazing house for Seth). Jefferson installed his orchard before he even began building his house, so clearly apples were important to him. 

There are cookbooks from Monticello. In fact, Thomas Jefferson himself left some handwritten recipes, which have been published. I don’t have that cookbook (although I may need to get it!), and I wouldn’t presume to borrow such recipes without attribution. However, I do have a copy of The Williamsburg Art of Cookery that my grandmother purchased in 1951, which draws upon a range of 18th and early 19th century recipes, as originally written, so I present you with one of those recipes, A Pupton of Apples, originally written by Mrs. Martha Bradley. Apparently she was an important figure in 18th-century cookery. I thought I’d try it, in honor of Johnny and Meg and Seth.

A Pupton of Apples


These are Cortlands, if you're curious

18 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
Okay, how big was an apple in 1800? Eighteen apples is a lot. I used nine.

3 Tblsp water
5 oz. sugar (by weight)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Hello? You mind telling me how much? A tablespoon? A pound?

1/4 lb (1 stick) butter, softened
6 egg yolks

Put the apple quarters in a saucepan and add the water and sugar. Set over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally. When they are tender, add the cinnamon. Transfer to a large bowl and cool—the mixture will thicken. Um, are these supposed to be reduced to mush or still lumpy? Do I mash them or just go with the way they are? Please explain! 

Take some grated breadcrumbs. As I said above: HOW MUCH??? I decided that two cups seemed reasonable. I made my own breadcrumbs from some artisanal (white) bread. Nobody mentioned whether they should be fresh or dry.

Beat the six egg yolks and blend with the butter. Add the breadcrumbs.

Combine this mixture with the cooled apples. And you get (tada!) a pile of lumpy mush.

Put the mixture into a baking dish. Will someone please explain what an 1800 baking dish is? China or metal? Deep or shallow? How well filled should it be?

Preheat the oven to “slow”. I would guess 350 degrees. Bake for half an hour.

When it is done, turn it out onto a dish and serve hot. Uh, about that “turn out” part—yes, it came out of my (metal) baking dish. Or at least, most of it did. It sort of held together, so maybe I guessed right on the breadcrumbs. But it’s still lumpy.

Mrs. Bradley suggested serving with fresh parsley. I think I’ll pass on that. 

My first reaction was to whip up a lot of cream and smother the pupton with it, to hide its, uh, irregularities. Of course, dining rooms were rather dark back in those days, so maybe nobody would notice the cake is lopsided and lumpy. Right. Serve your guests plenty of wine before dessert.


But being of a persevering nature, I decided to hunt for an alternate recipe (interesting what comes up when you google “pupton”), and found one from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, which dates from 1774. Guess what? It’s even more vague. It starts out with “pare some apples”. Okay, how many is “some”? And farther on, “stir in a handful of bread.” What’s a handful? (I’m going to guess one cup or so.)

Whatever. I decided to give it one more try. Despite changing the proportions of the dish, it still came out like a lumpy mess. I’m going to guess that 18th-century baking dishes were made of smooth pottery. And whipped cream was good camouflage.

This much I will state with assurance: Serve the pupton with a good cup of coffee, which history tells us was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite beverages. See the Monticello website

Oh, that's right: the book is coming out next Tuesday! 

I've included some small inside jokes. For example, the cover is based on a house I lived in when I was five. And in the book, Meg's home town is based on the one where I grew up in New Jersey (which has changed surprisingly little, except for the home prices). She takes Seth on a tour of the place, and finds . . . a clue to the inevitable murder!

Find it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

French Apple Cake #Recipe for #BookClub Week @PegCochran

I love book clubs, don't you?  And I love dessert.  So book club + dessert = the perfect combination!

I found this recipe online at Laylita's blog and I had to try it.  I couldn't believe a cake could be this simple--the most time consuming part is peeling the apples!  The recipe apparently comes from her husband's aunt who lives in the south of France.  As complicated as some French pastries are, they also have a skill for creating simple desserts that showcase fruit in season.


6 ounces of sugar 
6 ounces of flour 
3 large eggs 
3 large apples, peeled and cut in small chunks 

Measure out the sugar and flour. I loved this way of baking--it's much easier to be precise. My scale is old but serviceable--I am sure there are more high-tech versions out there.

Peel the apple and cut into small chunks. I find it's easiest to slice the sides off the apple rather than coring it.

Mix the sugar and eggs in an electric mixer for approximately two minutes.

Add the flour and stir with a flat wooden spoon.  Batter will be thick.

Add the apples.

Pour into a nine inch pie plate. 

Bake at 400 degrees for five minutes, reduce temperature to 360 degrees and bake for approximately another 30 minutes.

To celebrate Book Club Week, I am giving away a copy of No Farm, No Foul--the first book in my brand new Farmer's Daughter series! Just leave a comment to be entered!

Friday, December 18, 2015

And More Christmas Cookies

by Sheila Connolly

You might have noticed that we at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen like cookies. My philosophy is, you can’t have enough cookies—and they’re all wonderful. 

We always made cookies for Christmas at my house—the same standard Fanny Farmer sugar cookie recipe, every year. Since then I’ve tried a variety of ginger cookie recipes, but I still haven’t gotten that recipe quite right. Never fear: I’ll keep trying.

I inherited most of my mother’s cookie cutters, and I keep adding to that collection because I can’t stop myself. I might have stopped, but not after I found Stock, the amazing cookware store in Dublin, where I keep picking up more. They’re unusual, well made, and easy to slip into a suitcase.

And there were always sprinkles.

Earlier this year I discovered that simple cookie recipe that has a bare minimum of ingredients (lots of butter, confectioner’s sugar, flour and vanilla) and that you roll it out in a plastic bag, which makes life so easy. I’ve already given it to you in both sweet and savory varieties. But now it’s the holidays, and I’ve been hoarding really cool sprinkles for the past year, and I have some new cookie cutters (again), and I really want to see if I can push the envelope with the recipe. Chocolate! Candy canes! Red and green coloring! And lots of sprinkles!!!

Remember the basic recipe?

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Warning: the batter has to chill for at least two hours before you cut out the cookies, so either allow plenty of time, or refrigerate overnight.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium for about 3 minutes or until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and the salt and beat.

With the mixer on low, beat in the flour until it just disappears into the butter mixture (do not overbeat, or the cookies will be tough!).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cover your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut out your cookies (whatever shapes you choose) and place on the covered sheets. Decorate to your heart’s content, then bake for 18-20 minutes, turning the pan once so the cookies bake evenly. (They won’t brown.)

That’s the basic recipe. Then I started experimenting:

Peppermint Stockings: take maybe six small peppermint-flavored candy canes (I suppose you could use any other flavor, but I like tradition), break them into another handy plastic bag, and whack them until they’re reduced to small pieces—not powder, but if the pieces are too big they’re hard to cut out. Swap out the vanilla for peppermint extract, decorate as you like (look! I had candy cane sprinkles!) and bake as above.

Chocolate Snowflakes: Okay, I know it’s not logical that snowflakes be dark, but I wanted to show off the pretty snowflake sprinkles. For this recipe, I substituted 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa for the same amount of flour. You can use whatever cocoa you like, although I think this works best with the less sugary varieties. Then follow the rest of the recipe.

Green trees and red bells: I bought the tree cutters at Stock last month. I like them because they’re irregular, like a real tree. Plus I had these nice large multi-colored nonpareils (okay, big round sprinkles) that kind of look like tree ornaments. I added 1 Tblsp of green food coloring to the mix, and added a bit more flour (remember that the original recipe didn’t include any liquid, and I didn’t want them to be too gooey).

For the red bells, I used 1 Tblsp red food coloring instead of the green. [I had plenty of the red for Red Velvet Cake; why I have a pint bottle of green coloring mystifies me.] Then I added some mixed red and green sprinkles, and baked.

And there you have it! Three flavors, two different colors, and lots of decorations. Enjoy! And feel free to experiment yourselves—there are plenty of options to try.

To celebrate the holiday season, I’m holding a giveaway: a copy of A Gala Event, which includes a December wedding, plus a framed picture (not a print!) of (surprise) apples, in honor of the Orchard Mysteries. Just leave a comment—cookie- related if you like, but anything that says “Christmas” to you will be fine.

You’ll have until Sunday to respond (I know a lot of you wait until Saturday to look at the blog).

Friday, October 16, 2015

One More Time: Apple Charlotte

by Sheila Connolly

I promised I’d stop with the apple recipes (although the apples sure haven’t stopped!). But that was before I found a copy of the 1892 book The Every-Day Cook-Book and Encyclopedia of Practical Recipes. The book itself is not extraordinary, although it’s entertaining reading. What was surprising was that I found it in a used bookstore in the Raleigh NC airport on the way back from Bouchercon. I figured it must be an omen. I mean, who looks for collectible cookbooks in an airport?

Of course there are apple recipes, in addition to useful information like how to clean a corset and how to keep flies away from your gilt picture frames. I’m also rather fond of instructions for Smoothing Sad Irons (in case you’re desperate to know, a sad iron is a solid cast-metal iron that must be heated on a stove, and yes, I have a few antique ones). And then there are the instructions on how to stop bleeding: pour a handful of flour on the wound. Good to know.

How we used to do things!
But I digress! Back to the apples. I could choose from apple trifle, apple fritters, apple sauce pudding, boiled apple pudding, rich baked apple pudding, apple charlotte, and apple ginger. Decisions, decisions! I decided upon apple charlotte, mainly because I’d never made a charlotte anything (plus I was on my way to Charlotte, North Carolina). And it’s not complicated (except for translating antique ingredients and measures to modern ones).

Apple Charlotte

Here’s the original version from the book: 

Here’s the translation for modern cooks:

Grease the bottom and sides of a deep baking tin with butter. Line the buttered tin with slices of wheat bread. (You may have to trim them to fit.)


Note: The proportions as given in the original recipe were: half a peck of tart apples/a quarter-pound of butter/half a pound of sugar. (A peck is equal to 2 gallons in volume (four pecks make up a bushel)). So don’t be scared by the idea of a gallon’s worth of chopped apples—they will cook down. 

Peel and core your apples, cut them into small pieces, and fill the lined tin, layering them with butter (1/4 pound total) and sugar (1/2 pound total) and grated nutmeg.

Yet another note: A gallon of chopped apples is a lot of apples. I was happy to find I had a vintage tin (or basin) of the right size, but I quailed at the idea of chopping enough apples on any flat surface—bits tend to wander off in all directions. But then I had a brainstorm: I have a chopping bowl and a slew of choppers from the same vintage as the cookbook! (BTW, one of those choppers appears in A Gala Event.) If you chop in a big bowl, the apple pieces can’t escape.


Spread additional slices of the bread brushed with melted butter and cover the apple mixture. Lay a plate on top of the bread slices and weight it down with something heavy (I used a metal pot lid and a pair of foil-wrapped bricks).

Bake for two hours in a “quick” oven [you think I know what a quick oven is? Ha! I guessed 375 degrees, and it worked out just fine.]. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a plate (good luck with that!).

Of course, you don’t have to make a giant charlotte—you can tinker with the amounts of apples, based on whatever you have. Just add plenty of butter and sugar and you’ll be fine. 

I can't believe it came out in one piece!

Next week: a potato recipe! With cheese and cream! And no apples!

A Gala Event was released last week! Earlier today it was ranked at #13 among Barnes and Noble paperback bestsellers. Thank you!