Showing posts with label olive oil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label olive oil. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Special Chanukah Latkes from a teen Iron Chef by Cleo Coyle

A few weeks ago on Facebook, Nancy Prior Phillips, one of our wonderful followers, mentioned that her teenage son, Connor, whipped up my Autumn Potatoes recipe (a mashed potato makeover, adding flavor and nutrition to your classic mashed via garlic and carrots).

I was delighted to hear that Connor, an aspiring chef, was inspired by my recipe to take it one step further. He added a few ingredients and fried them up as pancakes! Brilliant!

The result is a delicious latke recipe that my husband and I inhaled the day we tried them. I hope you enjoy them, too. Connor even gave us a sweet variation. Go, Chef Connor! You’re on your way to becoming the next Iron Chef!

Wednesday evening, December 1st, of course, brings us the first night of Chanukah, and latkes (potato pancakes) are a tasty, traditional Chanukah food.

The Jewish custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil comes from the original miracle of the Chanukah menorah, which involved the discovery of a small flask of oil that lasted many more days than it should have. Consequently, the “Festival of Lights” is eight days long and marked each night by the lighting of a new candle.

My barista character, Esther, has her own unique spin on her mother’s traditional latke recipe. In Holiday Grind, I share her recipe with readers. For today’s post, I am delighted to share…

Connor Phillips’
Chanukah Latkes (2 Ways!)

To print, save, or share this recipe in a PDF document, click here.  The PDF includes Connor's Latke recipe along with Cleo's Autumn Potatoes.

Garlic-Carrot Potato Latkes
with Dill, topped with
Ginger Sour Cream 

Servings: 6 pancakes

1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon Wondra flour
2 teaspoons dried dill
3 cups of Cleo Coyle's Autumn Potatoes (click here to get Cleo's free PDF of her recipe, which will give you 3 cups of garlic-carrot mashed potatoes) 
Olive oil (enough for 1/2 inch in frying pan)

For Topping:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or to your own taste)

Directions: Mix together Cleo's Autumn Potatoes, egg, flour, and dried dill. Now heat 1/2 inch of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or frying pan) until it shimmers. (Be sure oil is nice and hot or the results will be greasy.) Using an ice cream scoop, carefully place mounds of the batter into the hot oil. Flatten with a spatula. Cook these small pancakes until they brown and form crunchy crusts (5 or 6 minutes on one side), then flip over and continue until the other side is similar (another 5 or 6 minutes). Remove the pancakes from the pan and drain on paper towels. Serve with ginger sour cream.

Sweet Latkes with
Cinnamon and Apple Sauce 

Servings: 6 pancakes

1 egg, well beaten 
1 tablespoon Wondra flour
2 teaspoons nutmeg or cinnamon 
3 cups of Cleo Coyle's Autumn Potatoes (click here for Cleo's free PDF of her recipe, which will give you 3 cups of garlic-carrot mashed potatoes)
Olive oil (enough for 1/2 inch in frying pan)

Directions: Follow cooking instructions in previous latke recipe. Top with cinnamon apple sauce (Connor used the chunky kind). You can also use vanilla yogurt or sour cream swirled with vanilla and cinnamon.


Cleo's Tip #1:

For best results, be sure to use 1/2 inch of olive oil. Don't skimp. Remember: It's the temperature of the oil that will give you greasy latkes and not the amount.

Just make sure the oil is hot enough before you plop in your first scoop of batter. As Connor advises, wait until the oil "shimmers." (As Esther advises, "It's the oil that's the mitzvah, so don't be stingy with it!") 

Plopping scoops of latke
batter into the hot oil.

Flatten with spatula.

Cleo's Tip #2:

Be patient. The pancakes will take 5 or 6 minutes to cook per side. The oil needs to be nice and hot (note the bubbling in the photo).

Flip with care: Allow the latkes to cook until nice and crispy on one side before flipping to the other or they may fall apart on you. And don't flip more than once. Just fry until crispy. Flip. Fry until crispy, and you're done.

When finished frying, drain them on a paper towel,
plate them up, add a little sour cream, and...

Eat with joy!


Thank you,

Happy Chanukah,

~ Cleo Coyle, author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, find out more about my books, or sign up to win free coffee, visit my *virtual* coffeehouse at...


by Cleo Coyle

Holiday Grind: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery,

“Fun and gripping…” —The Huffington Post 

“Some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read. Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all.” Mystery Scene

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sneak Peek at Some Hummus

Hummus was first foisted upon me a few years ago by a woman standing next to the appetizer table. "Try that," she insisted, pointing to a bowl of bland-colored goop.

"What is it?"


Okay... I'd heard of hummus, but until that point had never tried it. Gamely I dipped a chip and took a big bite.

As I did, the woman continued, "I bought this hummus at [whatever] store. Isn't it great?"

Umm... no, it wasn't. "Delicious," I lied, and quickly moved on to the bacon-wrapped shrimp. Uh-huh. Now that's an appetizer!

I have had occasion to try hummus again, and although the flavored ones aren't as bad as that first taste I experienced, they're nothing to write home about, either. What did all these unpleasant hummuses (is that how you pluralize it?) have in common? They were store bought.

My next WHChef book has a hummus recipe in it. I groaned inwardly when I saw it (as you may recall, my "ghost chef" comes up with those recipes). "Not hummus!"

But how could I disparage one of my own recipes? Especially when chick peas (a/k/a garbanzo beans) are so good for you? -- Low-cal, low-fat, high fiber! I couldn't. So I tried it at home just to say I did. And you know what? I liked it. My family liked it. We've made it again and my husband insists on double recipes when I whip up a batch.

Super easy, this recipe is a slight deviation from the one that will appear in Buffalo West Wing(coming in January) but it's perfect because it's all made in a blender. No heating up the kitchen!

(And just so you know, the recipes in this next book are *amazing*! This one is just one tiny example. This time my ghost chef went all out!)


1 16 oz can of chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained (but save the liquid!)
4 - 6 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of one lemon (use fresh squeezed. Makes a huge difference!)
1/2 tsp salt
Chives for garnish
Olive oil
Chips to dip

In a blender combine chick peas, garlic, and lemon juice and salt. I like to start with only about 1/3 of the peas in the blender, and then I add more as I go. This way the blender doesn't get stuck because there's too much in there at once. Puree the mixture, adding a little bit of reserved chick pea liquid as needed. Keep adding and blending until the mixture is of dippable consistency. Like a very thick soup.

Pour into a serving bowl, drip a Tbsp or so of olive oil in the center, top with chives, and serve. This is pretty strong (really strong!), garlic-wise and the flavor will stay with you all day if you're not careful! And, be forewarned, every day this sits in the fridge, the flavor gets more intense. We love it. Hope you do too!

Just a quick FYI - I won't be monitoring comments today. Circumstances (good ones!) are taking me away from the Internet. But I will definitely check back as soon as I can, so please share your hummus stories! I can't be the only person who had to learn to love it!

Talk soon!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ollie's Green Beans

This recipe first appeared in my first White House Chef Mystery, State of the Onion. As I might've mentioned in the past, I have a ghost chef help me with the recipes for the books, and so I have no qualms whatsoever telling you how great they all are!

My family enjoys green beans, and I've always steamed them, then lightly sauteed in butter, served with a bit of salt and pepper. But Ollie's green beans are a bit healthier - prepared as they are with olive oil and garlic, and a bit less salt (tho, that's generally to taste).

When I made these at Easter, I wasn't sure how well they'd go over, but I probably got more compliments on these green beans (and the appetizers I shared last week) than on anything else. They were wonderful. Super easy, too.

It's getting to be time to plant green beans. With any luck I'll have a better crop this year. I think I came out with about five beans per week last summer. Nice snacking food, but not enough for dinner.

When you've got a taste for fresh green beans... here's your recipe:

Ollie’s Green Beans

2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and strings removed

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 T. olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

Salt to taste

Place oil in large heavy skillet, over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring until softened and onion turns clear.

Add green beans. Stir to coat. Continue cooking until beans are still bright green and slightly crunchy but cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy the fresh snap of delicious green beans! Mmm... wish I had some left over!



Coming soon, GRACE UNDER PRESSURE - June 1, 2010


Riley's April Contest


The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :) 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   CollectionReally, 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!

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!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Cleo Coyle’s (Healthier) Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair

You will not find a recipe for "shrimp scampi" among the 1200+ pages of The Professional Chef, the cookbook of the CIA. (No, not the guys with black helicopters, the Culinary Institute of America.)

You will not find "shrimp scampi" in a cookbook of authentic Italian dishes, either. For one thing, "scampi" in Italian refers to Dublin Bay Prawns (the singular is scampo. So essentially the loose translation of "shrimp scampi" would be shrimp shrimp, which sounds even sillier than the oxymoron jumbo shrimp).

Like me, shrimp scampi was born in America; and on United States restaurant menus, ordering this dish usually means you'll be getting a gratin of large shrimp that have been split, brushed with plenty of butter & garlic and then broiled. Some restaurants like to serve it over pasta or rice. A famous chain of American seafood restaurants has long been known for its scampi. (You can even get Red Lobster's copycat scampi recipe by clicking here.)

My recipe below is not "authentic" shrimp scampi from any particular menu, it's simply my improvised, lighter version. The meal is satisfying yet healthy. Garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, and seafood--all good stuff. You can make it even healthier by using a spinach, whole wheat, or low glycemic index pasta. When I make it, my husband inhales bowls of it, and I hope you enjoy it, too...

Cleo Coyle's (Healthier)
Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair

Servings: about 4

20-24 Large Shrimp (fresh or frozen)
16 ounces pasta (1 box is usually 16 oz or 1 pound)
5 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1/4 cup dried, but fresh tastes better!)
1/4 cup Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs (I use Progresso or 4C brand)
1/2 teaspoon oregano (dried is ok here)

(Optional finishers) Freshly ground pepper; a quick squeeze of fresh lemon wedge (or a bit of lemon zest grated over the top); sea salt; or freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Directions:

(1) First clean and peel your shrimp. (If using frozen, defrost first.) Then make your pasta according to the package directions. I like angel hair but any pasta will work. (To make this dish even more healthy, try spinach, whole wheat, or a specialty pasta with a low glycemic index.) Drain well and set aside.
(2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the chopped garlic cloves and saute for a minute or two. Toss in
your shrimp. When the little fellas begin to turn pink (3 to 5 minutes, do not overcook or shrimp will be tough and rubbery), stop the cooking. Leave the oil in the pan but take out the shrimp and the garlic and set aside.

(3) Add the butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add your drained pasta to the pan, rolling around to coat well with the oil and butter. Toss in the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, parsley, and oregano, and put your shrimp back into the pan to warm again.

(4) There is no need to add the chunks of garlic back in because the garlic has already imparted its flavor to the oil. However, if you really like garlic (as we do), then throw it back in there, baby! Toss all ingredients together and serve! Finish: Although there is much debate about whether to serve seafood pasta dishes with cheese, I do enjoy grating some nice, salty Pecorino Romano over the top. Freshly ground pepper is also nice on this dish and/or a squeeze of lemon.

Eat with joy!

To get more of my recipes or to learn
about the books in my
Coffeehouse Mystery series,
visit my official Web site:

Till next time,
~ Cleo Coyle

author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Comments welcome!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Leftover Champagne Vinaigrette

This post was named
a Foodbuzz Top 9 Pick.
Thank you, Foodbuzz!
~Cleo Coyle

Got Leftover Champagne?Waste not, I say…

So the countdown is toast, the ball has dropped, and the last of the champagne has gone flat. You know the stuff I’m talking about, the dregs in that bottle sitting in your fridge.

Well, for heaven’s sake, don’t pour that sad, fizzless liquid down the drain. Do what I do every New Year’s week. Use it to make champagne vinaigrette.

Yes, I know, champagne vinaigrette is typically made with champagne vinegar, but my version is a nice alternative for frugality and fun. My vinaigrette is light, bright, refreshing, and the delicate flavor of champagne comes through very nicely, too.

A fresh salad is also an especially intelligent way to start off the New Year. Why? Lettuce is mostly water and hydrating will help set your body right after an evening imbimbing to excess (aka attempting to pickle yourself).

My amateur sleuth, Clare Cosi, actually received this same advice from her
ex-husband, Matt, a guy highly skilled
in the art of party survival.
To learn more about my mysteries,
click here or on the book cover.

Got a hangover? My in-house editor Mr. Fellows says:
"Drink lots of water. Hydrate with salad. Even better, dress those crisp,
healthy, greens with a hair of the cat that bit you..."

Cleo Coyle’s Leftover
Champagne Vina

Servings: This recipe makes about 3 tablespoons of dressing, enough to dress an average salad for two people.

2 tablespoons champagne (fresh or leftover)1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon white rice vinegar (or white or cider vinegar or lemon juice)1 clove garlic sliced into big pieces (optional)
Combine all ingredients (but the garlic) in a small bowl and whisk well with a fork. Add the garlic and let stand 15 minutes (this optional step will impart a light garlic flavor). Remove all of the raw garlic. Whisk again with fork and pour dressing over your favorite salad. The salad you see pictured is one I often make: romaine lettuce and mixed greens, grape tomatoes sliced in two, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries.

*CLEO'S FINAL TIPS: Oil: the oil flavor really shines through in this vinaigrette so choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Salt: sea salt and Kosher salt are much better choices than table salt for flavor. Pepper: I often use black pepper or a pepper mix for this dressing, but if you want a really nice presentation, use white pepper. Grinding it fresh always gives you better flavor. Vinegar: I like white rice vinegar for this dressing, but any white vinegar will impart that needed note of astringent brightness, which will balance the sweetness of the champagne. If you don’t have any white vinegars on hand, use lemon juice to taste. I would not recommend red or balsamic vinegar for this vinairgrette. Not only will those darker, heavier vinegars overpower the delicate champagne flavor, they will change the dressing’s color and defeat the culinary concept. (Then again, if you’re hung over, snow is piling up outside, and it’s all you’ve got on hand, go for it!)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle
author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

You can get more of my recipes
at my virtual home...

"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

National Hardcover
Mystery Bestseller

National Bestseller

Now in paperback.

Click here
or on book covers to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.

"Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle, a new addition to the coffeehouse mystery series…adds in jolts of souped-up coffee, sweet cooking…and super sleuthing to deliver a fun and gripping fa-la-la-la latte surprise."

~ The Huffington Post

Text and photos in this post are copyright (c) 2010 by Alice Alfonsi
who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cleo Coyle
with her husband, Marc Cerasini