Showing posts with label goat cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goat cheese. Show all posts

Friday, April 29, 2016

Irish Pizza

Wait, ­the Irish don’t make pizza, do they? Well, this didn’t start out as pizza. After last week’s fish casserole, I got to thinking about smoked salmon (which I adore, and I do know a great place that smokes their own in West Cork) and what to do with it. Not another casserole, so what about a crust? No—puff pastry (which even out of a frozen package is far better than my pie crusts)! And cheese. But not Italian cheese—how about goat cheese? A nice sharp tang to offset the smoky creaminess of the salmon. And some good Irish cheese (Kerrygold, which does use some milk from Cork). And maybe some of my homegrown chives (which overwintered quite well, thank you) for color contrast and a hint of onion.

It was only an hour or two later that I figured out what I had done: put together the colors of the Irish flag. Which is important because this week marks the hundred anniversary of what most Irish people regard as the birth of the Republic, with the infamous Easter Uprising, a disastrous and poorly planned confrontation with British troops in the heart of Dublin. If things had ended there, probably tempers would have cooled, but the British decided they had to execute the leaders of the uprising, which rallied the rest of the population to the cause of a free Ireland. So this is my celebration. 

The Irish flag (bratach na hÉireann) is a vertical tricolor of green, white and orange (in that order, left to right). The green represents the Gaelic tradition of the country, the orange represents the followers of King William III (of Orange) in Ireland (his troops defeated King James II at the Battle of the Boyne), and the white stands for the hope for peace between the two. It was first raised over the General Post Office in Dublin in 1916 and came to be seen as the national flag, and symbolizes the hope for union.

Here endeth the history lesson. Let’s eat!

Irish Pizza

1 piece frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

8 oz. smoked salmon (you don’t have to buy the expensive stuff—a package of the tag ends would do just fine and it’s cheaper)

4 oz. goat cheese (okay, here I faced a dilemma: goat cheese is squishy, in general, so how do I spread it evenly over the crust? I froze it first, then grated it coarsely!)

4 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, grated

1 bunch chives (however many you like)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the thawed piece of puff pastry on top.

Isn't that a great rolling pin? It was a gift from
my sister in law, who knows the guy who
made it.
If the smoked salmon pieces are large and/or raggedy, chop them up into smaller pieces (but not too small).

Chill your cheese, then grate it. Roughly chop your chives.

Sprinkle the grated goat cheese evenly over the crust. Place the salmon pieces on top, then sprinkle with the chives. Add a top layer of the cheddar. (Don’t overload the crust or it won’t rise well.)

At this point a little oil might be good. I’d suggest butter, which would be more Irish, but I don’t think that would work, so a neutral vegetable oil or oil will do just fine. Add just enough to keep the toppings from burning while the crust is cooking.

Bake for…well that’s a little tricky. Bake until the crust has risen and the cheese in lightly browned. The edges will rise first, but be patient and wait until the center had risen too (it won’t go as far as the edges). Keep checking every couple of minutes to make sure things aren’t browning too quickly, but it wasn’t a problem. Total time was probably 20-25 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool briefly, then cut into serving pieces. This recipe served two of us (my husband scarfed down the last piece as a late snack), but to serve more just duplicate it (the frozen puff pastry comes in a package with two, so you’d be all set).

Now raise a glass of Guinness (or Murphy's stout, which is made in Cork city), or maybe a shot of good whiskey (quite a few labels are made in Middleton, which is also in Cork), and salute one hundred years of Irish history!

[If I don't respond to your comments quickly, it's because I'm hanging out with all my cozy-writer friends--and probably some of you readers--at Malice Domestic in Maryland.]

A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #4) came out in February 2016 and was a Barnes and Noble bestseller.

The next book doesn't yet have a name or a cover, but it will appear in February 2017. I can tell you it involves an old open case and a big snowstorm (yes, they do happen in Ireland, if rarely)!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ghost Cheese Cupcake Winner is...

The winner for the Ghost Cheese Cupcake 
comment of the day is...



Email me at Avery (at) averyaames (dot) com 
with your mailing address 
so I can send you the coasters!

Ghost Cheese Cupcakes for Halloween


It's creepy and it's kooky,
mysterious and spooky...

But isn't it fun?!

Colorful, decorative, with memories that make you shiver, laugh, and howl.

Did you run down the street when you went trick or treating?

 Did you play pranks or were you the polite person who said please and thank you after "Trick or treat"?

Did you love wearing masks? Did you shun them because you couldn't breathe?

Did you have the one friend who loved to jump from around corners and scare the spit out of you?

What was your favorite candy? What candy did you absolutely hate?

Did you ever perform in a Halloween play? Do you like books about ghouls, ghosts, witches, the paranormal? Do you like a regular book that has a slightly paranormal element?  Did you love the TV show Bewitched?

Have these questions made you wade through memories? If so, mission accomplished. I did, too. And I've been smiling throughout.

One of the other things I remember is having Halloween parties. Pizza, candy, orange-colored everything.  Cupcakes should always be part of a party, don't you think? And if you can make them "spooky" for Halloween, all the better.

I got these cute cupcake liners (up, to the left) at, of all places, Barnes and Noble bookstore. Aren't they adorable? There were enough for 2 dozen cupcakes. I made one dozen cupcakes and a 9 x 9 sheet cake, so I still have a dozen cupcake decorations for next year. Yay!

Note: This recipe will make 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 dozen cupcakes and one 9 x 9 cake. Perfect for kids and adults.



         1 1/2 cups sweet white rice flour
         3/4 cup tapioca flour
         1 teaspoon Kosher salt
         1 teaspoon baking soda
         3 teaspoons baking powder
         1 teaspoon xanthan gum
         4 eggs
         1 1/4 cups white sugar
         2/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise (GF)
         1 cup milk
         2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix the sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and xanthan gum together and set aside.

Mix the eggs, sugar, and mayonnaise until fluffy. 

Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture. Mix well again.

Using soup ladle, pour batter into the cupcakes liners. 

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15-17 minutes. 
Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched 
or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Put on wire rack to cool so they don’t get “moist” on the bottom.

Let cool completely then frost, if desired.

4 oz. goat cheese  - room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese – room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (more if necessary)
½ cup pure maple syrup

Mix all in a blender. 

May be saved in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

NOTE: this recipe can be made "normally". Just replace the flour with regular flour and don't use the xanthan gum. And you can use real vanilla


We're having mini-CONTESTS some days this week. 
Leave a comment TODAY answering one of the questions above, 
and you'll be entered for today's contest. 
I'm giving away these perfect-for-fall coasters! 
Absorbent, made by "Counter Art."
Not scary at all.

The winner will be announced in a post right before midnight tonight, EDT.

* * * * * * * *

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's in a Platter?

My third book is on its way to publication. The title: CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT. In the book, I feature a number of cheese platters. Charlotte teaches a course on how to prepare platters. There are no "rules" - just so you know.  But there are things that lots of people teaching platter design are into right now. On a platter have one of each type of cheese: a goat cheese, cow's cheese, and sheep's milk cheese. Add nuts, sweets like honey, fruits or veggies.

There's NO right or wrong. What you want to put on your platter is what you want to serve. The fun in platters is making them works of art, if you will.

I subscribe to a magazine called CULTURE, which is all about cheese. It's a delicious magazine. (No, I don't eat it.) But I do consume the recipes, the articles, and the research. And as part of my research, I've subscribed to the Culture "centerfold" series. Okay, yes, sounds like sex but it's not. They put a centerfold in the middle of the magazine that highlights a special cheese.  For a fee, they will send me that cheese and the accoutrements.


I just received a centerfold cheese this week, and I had to share it with you.  It's in the above left corner. It's a goat cheese called: Capriole: Julianna. Don't you love the name? So feminine, named after its creator. [It's a raw milk, hard cheese that is nutty like a Tomme de Savoie, yet buttery and smooth and coated with herbs.]

The picture the Culture Magazine provided with the delivery was exceptional. I'm not a photographer, but I loved the minimalism of the presentation. There is the cheese (cut in half), long limbed crackers, and fruit chewies that are melt in your mouth delicious. Lemon, raspberry, blackberry, sort of like those candies you can find at Christmas time...or remember orange wedge slices, all sugar-coated? I haven't tried to make them, but I'm going to, and I promise to share the recipe once I do. I have a bunch of apricots waiting to be cooked!

And so, for my platter, I tried to copy the centerfold photograph.  Just so you know, the centerfold picture had no knife on the plate, but there were lots of magazine words over that blank place. I think the knife works on my presentation, don't you?

As for other platters, over the past two years, I've tested out a number of platter options. Some that are all cheese (with a variety of colors, shapes, tastes). Other platters that include the fruits and veggies. Please enjoy the photos and may they inspire you.  (One of my favorites--though  I'll be danged if I can't find the photograph--was an antipasto platter that included cheeses, salamis, peppers, turnips, olives and more. So much fun. Delish.)

Do what you will. Make a work of art. Yes, size matters...when it comes to how many people you're having to your party.





Wow, we've had so many wonderful new books released this month!  Congratulations to Julie, Wendy, and Riley!

Read on to order books or enter contests and to see more congratulations are due! 

Congratulations to Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth Spann Craig) on the release of Finger Lickin' Dead, the 2nd book in her Memphis BBQ Mystery series (and does it have great recipes!)Click here to read a review of Finger Lickin' Dead from Mason Canyon's Thoughts in Progress. Click here to read Diane's review at the Book Resort.

Click here to purchase the book.

Congratulations to Riley's contest winner: Darlene Peterson!

Congratulations to Julie Hyzy on the release of Grace Interrupted, the second in her Manor House Mystery series.

Click here to read a review from
the Chicago Sun-Times

Click here to order the book.

Congratulations to Wendy Lyn Watson on the release of A Parfait Murder, the third in her Mystery A La Mode series.

Click here to read a review from A Criminal Element.

Click here to purchase the book.

Click here to visit Wendy's Web site and
read on to learn how to enter her contest!

Wendy Lyn Watson's
new mystery
A Parfait Murder features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant. To celebrate, Wendy's giving away a little cowboy couture: a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a "rodeo queen" keychain.

Eligibility: This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada. One entry per person, please.

How to Enter: Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book), by e-mail to Put the words "Parfait Giveaway" in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17. Wendy will randomly select one entry and announce the winner here on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog on Saturday, June 18. She will contact the winner via e-mail. If she does not receive a response within 7 days, she will draw a new winning name.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I love fondue, do you?

Lost and Fondue

launched Tuesday.

What fun. I'm surprised and pleased with the response.

Thanks to all who have made getting published such a delightful experience.

In tribute to fondue (it has a national holiday, I might as well pay tribute, right?), I'm posting one of the two fondue recipes in the book. I'll be blogging about some of the other recipes as the month goes on.

Dave from My Year on the Grill posted the other one on Tuesday.

Just in case you don't know, I've made a how-to make fondue movie, as well. Or you can watch it for fun. (see below)


What’s not to love about fondue? It’s romantic, it’s easy, it’s delish.

It’s usually made up of two or more cheeses,

heated in a caqualon, or communal pot.



(regular or gluten-free)

(serves 4)

¾ cup cream

8 ounces feta cheese

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon green onion (green tips only)

1 tablespoon white wine

2 teaspoons flour OR 2 teaspoons tapioca flour (for gluten-free)

1 baguette bread OR 20-30 gluten-free crackers

Broccoli florets, steamed

Carrots, sliced raw

Celery, sliced raw

Warm the cream in a pot until hot but not burning. Use low heat. Add the goat cheese in chunks.

Stir with a whisk to prevent clotting. Add the pepper, wine, green onion tips, and flour/gluten-free flour. Stir approximately 5-7 minutes until as smooth as it can be.

Set up your plates with vegetables and bread cubes or crackers. Eat family style.

Note: The thickness of the fondue might vary. If it’s too thick, add a little cream. Too thin, add a little more cheese.

Second note: I like to snip the green tips of onions with scissors for even cuts.

Third note: To steam broccoli, perfectly every time. Bring to boil 1 cup water in a 6 quart pot with ½ teaspoon salt. Add cut up broccoli. Cover. Cook 4 minutes. Pour off boiling water. Cover again. Let sit for 4 minutes. Remove lid and rinse broccoli in cold water to stop the cooking process.



And just in case you want to order the second in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, click here: LOST AND FONDUE

If you'd like to read the first chapter, click here: SNEAK PEAK

And for a lark, if you'd like to see the book trailer, click here: BOOK TRAILER

And Say Cheese.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SAY CHEESE, one week

I'm traveling this week.

There's a big conference near Washington D.C. called Malice Domestic.

Tons of mystery authors and fans gather.

There are panels, special presentations, awards. It's a bunch of fun. But it makes for a short week to prepare food. Especially coming on the heels of a vacation week.

Add to that a book launch ONE WEEK FROM TODAY -- yep, one week -- LOST AND FONDUE comes out. Needless to say, I'm a little hyper. [Marketing, traveling, more marketing. Oh, yes, and writing book 4 in the series...]

(A hamster on a wheel has nothing on me! Whoa, am I spinning backwards? LOL)

So I decided to make something easy and light over the weekend. It's an appetizer that is so sweetly delicious yet tart that you can pop a dozen in your mouth over a period of an hour. Try...I dare you...try not to.

I've waxed poetic about the beauty of appetizers before. I love them. Done right, with enough selection, and you can make a meal out of them.

So here's this week's quickie. And I'll add a few links below for others. Make a meal. Make two.
And as we head forward into spring.



{Per person}

3 pitted dates

1 ounce goat cheese

1 sprig basil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 dash nutmeg


Slice dates in half. Fill each with 1/3 of the goat cheese. Set on a plate drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Set a sprig of basil in the center and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Simple and delicious!

OTHER APPETIZERS [click on the links]:

Fig & Pancetta & Goat Cheese [pictured on right]



And just in case you want to order the second in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, click here: LOST AND FONDUE

If you'd like to read the first chapter, click here: SNEAK PEAK

And for a lark, if you'd like to see the book trailer, click here: BOOK TRAILER

Friday, April 8, 2011

Artichoke Dip inspired by Rick Bayless

I didn't title this one EAT HEALTHY, but I believe this recipe qualifies. According to the recipe I found in HEALTH magazine, it only has 156 calories per 1/4 cup serving and only 4 g carbs (which is what I watch).

Now, the recipe they featured in HEALTH was provided by the fabulous Rick Bayless.

But, as always, I adjusted, changed, and otherwise adapted it to my own needs.

I assume the calorie and carb counts of my version don't vary too much from that of Rick's because my changes were pretty minor.

If you want the precise recipe, you'll want to check out the April, 2011 issue of HEALTH, page 129.

If you want to see what I've concocted, here goes:

1 six-ounce jar of marinated artichokes, undrained

8 ounces goat cheese (Rick's recipe specifies "fresh goat cheese" and Avery will be able to tell you the difference between fresh and whatever isn't fresh... stale? but I just picked up a goat cheese on sale at the grocery store.)

5 or 6 sun-dried tomato halves

3 green olives (I left the pimentos in)

A very small amount of jalapeno pepper. Rick's recipe calls for 1 Tbsp diced pickled jalapeno, but I couldn't find anything like that. I used about 1/4 inch of a fresh pepper.

1 half-handful fresh Italian parsley

pinch of sea salt

I combined the first two ingredients, the artichokes in liquid and the goat cheese in my food processor and I blended until smooth, then spooned the mix into a bowl.

At that point I deviated from the recipe (shocker) and combined the remaining ingredients in my already-gloppy food processor. What the heck? Why chop each thing separately as directed when I could get it all done with a couple of pulses. Well, maybe more than a couple.

Once everything was chopped, I added it to the goat cheese, artichoke bowl and mixed well. Then all that was left to do was set out crackers and serve.

Super simple, if I do say so myself.

But how did it taste?

Great. I like the tang that comes from the combination of cheese and artichokes. The jalapeno was not overwhelming, and the sun-dried tomatoes were wonderful.

If you're not a fan of goat cheese, you may not care for this. But I bet it would be good with other soft cheeses. I may have to experiment!

Hope you have fun with it!

Check out Jennifer's post yesterday at Jenn's Bookshelves - where she reviewed Grace Under Pressure. And my guest post about Grace Interrupted, too!

Just two more months before Grace Interrupted comes out. I'm very excited!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Timothy O'Shea's Goat Cheese Mushrooms

Congratulations to Cleo on the release

Roast Mortemof her new book

Roast Mortem!

Cleo brews up another mystery-and this time, it's New York's Bravest that get burned.

For online ordering, just click here!

As I did last week, I'm sharing another of my favorite recipes that is included in the The Long Quiche Goodbye, but it was not included in the selection of recipes at the end of the book (right before the sneak preview for Lost and Fondue).

Timothy O'Shea's Irish Pub--where Charlotte and her girlfriends meet for Girls' Night Out--offers a selection of appetizers.

One of Charlotte's favorite appetizers is the goat cheese
mushrooms. They come six to a serving, and Charlotte has been known to eat an entire serving herself. She might even follow that up with a juicy burger, but that's another story.

About Goat Cheese

Because goats are some of the first domesticated animals, the art of making goat cheese has been around for centuries. It started in the Eastern Mediterranean regions and spread to Spain and France, where it became a staple in their diets. Today lots of farmers in America practice the art. There are wide variety of goat

cheeses made by small, local producers, each with its own unique flavor. Compared to softer cow’s milk products, such as cream cheese, goat cheese is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. {Ha! Bet you didn't know that. I didn't...let's hear it for research.} Goat cheese also provides more calcium and fewer carbohydrates than cream cheese.

And yet, according to its fans, goat cheese has a fuller, richer flavor. [Side note: By the way, I was advised by a reader that I didn’t do right by Humboldt Fog goat cheese in The Long Quiche Goodbye. I had portions of it sitting on one of the barrels in Fromagerie Bessette, but my reader (a cheesemonger) said that Humboldt Fog is so delicate it must be refrigerated. I begged her mercy and said that the cheese sells so fast in the shop, Charlotte can barely keep it on the barrels more than five minutes. [Ah, fiction! My cheesemonger shared a cyber-smile.] So be good to your goat cheese. It needs to stay refrigerated if you’re not planning on eating it within the hour. Exposure to air causes goat cheese to dry out, I've now found out. Keep pieces wrapped in wax paper, or place them in a zip-style bag and squeeze out all the air before closing. This is a cheese that doesn't need to "breathe."

And now back to our regularly schedule program: the pub's appetizers.

Enjoy these tasty morsels! I like them with a Sterling Sauvignon Blanc, which has just enough citrus to balance out the pungency of the cheese.



1 tablespoon oil

6 large mushrooms, centers removed

2 Tablespoons bread crumbs, fine

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon oregano

1 ½ oz. goat cheese (Triple Cream) * I used Woolwich Dairy


Saute mushrrom caps in oil, on medium. While they brown, mix the crumbs and spices.

Remove mushrooms from saute pan. Put on baking pan. Fill with crumb mixture.

Layer two slices of goat cheese on top of each. Dust with extra paprika.

Broil for 3-4 minutes under the broiler.

These will be hot, hot, hot. The moisture inside the mushroom…beware.

But oh, so tasty.

If you want to get my quarterly newsletters and be a fan
of A Cheese Shop Mystery series,
click this CONTACT LINK and sign up. There are newsy bits, cheese of the month, recipes, contests and more.

And if you haven't read The Long Quiche Goodbye, and want to purchase a copy, click this booksellers link.

Say Cheese!