Showing posts with label balsamic vinegar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label balsamic vinegar. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette & Feta

I am so pleased to announce that Roberta Isleib (Lucy Burdette) and I (Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames) have been nominated for the Anthony Awards for our short stories. Whee!

The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented at the Bouchercon Mystery Convention since 1986. The award are named for Anthony Boucher (1911-1968) one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America.

Click this title to read Roberta's "The Itinerary". You can catch my story, "Palace On The Lake" from FISH TALES: THE GUPPY ANTHOLOGY on my website.

Speaking of fish...

Oh, wait, no, I don't want to talk about fish today. I want to talk about's almost summer, right? [Can you tell I'm a little befuddled? I'm waiting for a baby to come from my nephew and his wife - my nephew is like a son to me! So sweet. On pins and needles.]

Anyway, back to summer. Summer should be simple, easy, and fun, don't you think? It's time to spend hours outside, drink in the sun, inhale the fabulous aromas of barbecue and ocean (lake) air.

Summer is also one of the best times to enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits. I love going to the local farmers' market and picking up tomatoes, lettuce, and all sorts of goodies.  One of the easiest things to do to liven up a salad is sprinkle it with cheese.  Feta offers a terrific tang to just about any salad. 
My husband loves to add Greek olives and red onions to his salad. In addition, I like to add artichoke hearts. Yum!  (Granted, I don't get the artichokes at the farmers' market. I'm all about efficiency sometimes. But don't cheap out on artichoke hearts. There is a difference in certain canned or jarred goods!)

Make your salad with your preferred ingredients.

DRIZZLE with balsamic vinaigrette and you're good to go.  Enjoy your greens. They're so good for you!


(Yields: one cup, approx.)


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper, ground
1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil


Mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and basil in a blender.  Slowly add the olive oil so the mixture emulsifies.    [If you're not going to use the dressing right away or use all of it, cover and refrigerate. Shake well before using.]


* * *

If you don't figure it out yet, I, Avery Aames, am also

Daryl is what my husband actually calls me.

Here's how to learn more about Avery Aames or Daryl Wood Gerber.

Click this link to get to "our" website.

Chat with Avery on Facebook and Twitter.

Daryl will have a new series out in 2013:
featuring a cookbook store owner
who is an avid reader and admitted foodie!

"Like" Daryl's page on Facebook and "follow" Daryl on Twitter.
She doesn't say all the same things "Avery" does. Promise.

And if you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!

Say cheese!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clobbered by Camembert and Pears

Yes, I'm sharing another Camembert recipe in honor of CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT, which is coming out in just a few days!!!

I have to admit this appetizer blew me away. I got the inspiration for this on an Internet post from a romance author who said she received it from a neighbor, and though I have tweaked it, I wanted to double-check. Well, lo and behold, the basis for this recipe came from a Martha Stewart recipe.

Where did she get it? Julia Childs? I'm not sure. I just want to give credit where credit is due.  Except I tweaked it, so give me a little credit, okay?

It's easy, simple, not at all fussy, and looks beautiful! Martha included Brandy. I went with Triple Sec--I like the tangy, less alcoholic flavor--and I used less rosemary than the recipe called for.

Bosc Pears
I adore pears. Especially Bosc. When I first tried them, I was wary. They were so firm, how could they possibly be delicious? But inside they are like gold sugar. And for this recipe, they didn't have to be perfectly ripe. They cook down to just the right texture. But when is a pear ripe? I found out you're supposed to press by the stem area. If it gives a little, it's ripe.

So when you look for a recipe, where do you turn nowadays?

To the Internet? To a friend?

To your old cookbooks and reliable go-to recipes?

Camembert Pear Appetizer


1 8 oz. round of Camembert
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Bosc pear, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
1 Tablespoon rosemary (fresh, if you can, chopped)
2 Tablespoons Triple Sec (or other orange liquer)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey



Remove the Camembert from the refrigerator and slice in half. Set aside.

Slice in half
Peel the Bosc pear. (It does not have to be completely ripe; may be firm)

Prepare the pears before you melt the butter
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the pear and cook about 3-4 minutes, until the pear is tender. Add the rosemary and Triple Sec. Cook another minute.

Remove the pears from the pan.

Set one half of the Camembert, bloomy rind side down, on a pretty serving dish. Pour almost all of the pears (except 2 Tablespoons) on the bottom half of the Camembert.  Top with the other half of Camembert (bloomy rind on top). Top with the remaining pears.

Assembly is fun
Return the saucepan to the stove. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey and cook about one to two minutes, letting the combination reduce. Pour over the cheese and pears. 

Serve immediately (if you can, but sometimes guests aren’t always on time). It’s lovely at room temperature, too.

* * * * * * * * *

Cute cheese paddle!
BY THE WAY, I'm having a contest for all of those signed up on my mailing list starting February 7 until March 1. You could win this adorable cheese paddle.

Sign up for my
mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!

* * * * * * * * * *

You can learn more about me, Avery, by clicking this link.

Chat with me on Facebook and Twitter.

And watch for CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT, coming out February 2012.

* * * * * * * *

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Tasty Morsel

The Long Quiche Goodbye comes out in twelve weeks!

Count 'em. Twelve!!!! [Can you tell I'm excited?]

I don’t have a ticker counter, something that will tick off the minutes and hours and help me countdown to liftoff, but twelve weeks feels important. It’s the length of a season.

To every season, turn, turn, turn…[the page].

To honor this twelve-week mark, I’ve posted a book trailer on YouTube. Click this link to VIEW TRAILER. I hope you'll take a look at this "tasty morsel" and share with friends. [If you click this link and leave a comment on my website, you'll be entered to win my next newsletter contest.] If you want to pre-order, there's a link on my website for that, as well.

In the meantime, I mention The Long Quiche Goodbye because in the story, Charlotte, the owner of The Cheese Shop, has twin eight-year-old nieces and they are the inspiration for this week's recipe.

Long story short, Charlotte's cousin Matthew needed someplace to stay, so he and the nieces moved in with Charlotte. Charlotte adores the girls and wants to make sure they start off each day with a healthy dose of love and a good meal. Feeding them something they like to eat helps!

Their favorite breakfast includes eggs and Zircles or Crisp Toasts. I've shared my Parmigiano Zircles recipe before on this blog, but not Crisp Toasts. What I love about these little gems is how versatile they are and how easy they are to prepare. They go with breakfast, lunch, dinner, salads, soups, or are tasty all on their own!

And you are the visionary. You get to decide which spice and how much of each spice goes into them.


You'll need a baguette of bread, oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, salt and pepper.

For this batch, I sliced the baguette of bread thin. I set the slices on a cookie tray, then I brushed each piece with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I seasoned with the twins' favorite spices: rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper.

Then I sprinkled with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano-Regiano. [You can also use shredded Parmesan].

Slide the cookie tray into a preheated 400 degree oven.

Bake 6-10 minutes, depending on your desire of crispiness.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with your favorite meal. They are crunch-in-your-mouth yummy.

Don't forget that they make a lovely addition to a cheese platter,


New April Contest!!!!

The first book in Riley's Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. [The same date as mine!] Though I'll be having a contest in June to celebrate, Riley is choosing NOW! Don't miss out!!!

Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy to enter! Just send an email to with
“Contest” in the subject line.

Grilling Rub   Collection Really, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!

Last but not least, my next newsletter is coming out this week. Sign up to receive it by clicking this link: Avery's newsletter , read about my Cheese of the Month, and get a heads-up on future contests.

Best to all!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Baby Bellas with Balsamic Vinegar

Congratulations to Sally Minyard of Arizona! Sally is this week’s winner of our Williams-Sonoma $25 gift card giveaway. We have one more gift certificate to give away, so don't forget to enter TODAY!

I cook a lot of mushrooms and recently, several people have asked me how I prepare them. It's so easy that it's embarrassing. I'm going to post the recipe anyway, because it's lowfat, delicious, and done in a snap. The mushrooms make a wonderful side dish, and taste as good cold as they do hot. They'd be great on Avery's antipasto platter! They're easy enough to make anytime, but elegant enough for company. It's exactly the sort of quick and easy dish that Sophie Winston of my Domestic Diva Mysteries whips up when friends drop by for dinner.

If you're an Alton Brown fan, then you probably know that you can wash mushrooms. Alton did an experiment on one of his shows, in which he weighed two groups of like mushrooms. He soaked one bunch of mushrooms (for hours) and merely wiped the others clean, then weighed them again. Contrary to the old wives' tale, the soaked mushrooms did not take on water. So wash them and don't worry about it. Thanks, Alton!

Baby Bellas with Balsamic Vinegar

1 8-ounce package of baby bella or button mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

1. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stems, saving them for soup.
2. Pour the tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan.
3. I like my mushrooms a little bit chunky so I cut the caps into sixths or eighths, depending on the size. If they're very small, I leave the cap whole. However, you can slice them if you prefer.
4. Toss the mushrooms into the pan. (The pan and oil can be cold. I don't preheat them.)
5. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
6. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. If you're leery of vinegar, use less. I've realized that the brand and intensity of the balsamic vinegar can make a big difference. I use Spectrum's Organic Balsamic Vinegar (and I love balsamic vinegar so I use it generously).
7. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for about five minutes, turning occasionally. The juices and balsamic vinegar will cook down in the process.

And that's it! How lazy is that? Enjoy!


This is your last chance to enter our contest for a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. To enter just leave a comment, or send an "Enter Me" email to! Good luck!