Showing posts with label pears. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pears. Show all posts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Guest Susan Shea

Join us today at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen in welcoming Susan Shea, author of a lovely series set in France, who gives us a delicious dessert recipe.

A mid-summer field of blooming rapeseed in rural Burgundy

Thank you so much for having me today!

Love & Death in Burgundy, the first in my new mystery series, was loosely inspired by the experiences of two middle-aged California friends of mine who moved with two large dogs and a cat to rural Burgundy on not much more than a whim. Their romantic dreams hit some snags (leaking roof, leaking stone walls, the mystery of the carte de sejour, the downpours that inevitably drench the sheets just hung outdoors to dry) but they persevered, slowly working their way into the life of their crossroads village. While most of the novel is complete fiction, the pear tree under which Katherine and her friends sit in the opening scene is a more productive version of the one I have sat under many times during my visits. The summer day in Burgundy I write about mirrors my experience there, quiet except for a passing tractor and the sounds of birds. Burgundy is famous as the origin of boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, escargot, and pain d’espices, among other gourmet recipes. Pears poached in wine are served in restaurants in the region, but my recipe is one I’ve been making at home in California for many years.

Summer pears poached in Burgundy wine

Love & Death in Burgundy begins with a scene under a fruiting pear tree in the heart of agricultural France, so this recipe seemed perfect. I have made it several times with different kinds of pears and wine. I prefer the dessert chilled, and that also means you can make it ahead of time.

1 bottle of red wine  
(I chose a pinot made in Burgundy, France, because my new book is set there)
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
the juice of 1 orange
the zest of that orange, but save 4 lengths of peel for decoration
a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg
4 firm pears, peeled but not cored

Make the poaching liquid by combining everything except the orange peel and the pears in a tall saucepan and bringing to a high simmer so the sugar dissolves.

When that has happened, reduce the heat, add the pears and poach, spooning liquid over the pears at least a few times. The cooking time required will depend on the type of pear and how much poaching liquid touches the pears. You don’t want them to get mushy! (To keep them looking pretty, test them for doneness near their bases.)

Gently remove the pears from the poaching liquid and either chill them or set them aside while you bring the heat up and reduce the poaching liquid to a syrup. Spoon the syrup over the peaches and decorate with a curl of orange peel. If you cool the syrup first, you can serve the pears with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or tart lemon sorbet. 

Susan will give a copy of Love & Death in Burgundy to one lucky person who comments today.

Biography: Susan C. Shea is the author of the Dani O’Rourke mysteries, set in San Francisco ("Fresh, fast-paced and great fun." - Library Journal) and a new series, set in France (“…a pleasant getaway from hard-core killers” - NYTBR). Before quitting her day job to write full time, she was a non-profit executive for more than two decades.

You can find her at and on Facebook

About the book: After three years of living in the small town of Reigny-sur-Canne, all Katherine Goff really wants is to be accepted by her neighbors into their little community. But as an American expat living in the proud region of Burgundy, that’s no easy task.
When the elderly Frenchman who lives in the village chateau is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, the town is turned into a hot bed of gossip and suspicion, and Katherine suddenly finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the small town’s secrets. A motherless teenager, a malicious French widow, a brash music producer, and a would-be Agatha Christie are among those caught up in a storm that threatens to turn Katherine’s quiet life upside down. As more and more of the villagers' secrets are brought to light, Katherine must try to figure out who, if anyone, in the town she can trust, and which one of her neighbors just might be a killer.

"Shea launches a cozy series that richly details life in a small French village. The outlandish antics of the eccentric locals add to the humor. Suggest to fans of Rhys Bowen's early "Evan Evans" series for the humor, the characters, and the charming setting." -Library Journal

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pear and Ginger Crumble

What, no cake? Well, it's still a dessert. One must be careful of withdrawal symptoms.

I found this recipe in a recent newspaper, and immediately I started tweaking. Hmm, pears and ginger—that sounds promising. Kinda early in the year for juicy fresh pears, but whatever—there are plenty of pears in the market. I like ginger. I have plenty.

The original recipe called for chopped nuts. I'm not wild about nuts, and I didn't like the combination of nuts suggested with the pear and other flavors. Axe the nuts. I swapped in candied ginger, which I do like. Adds an interesting texture to the crumble on top.

The suggested oven setting of 375 degrees seemed a little high—the top gets brown long before the pears get soft. I cut it down to 350 degrees and baked it longer.

Pear-Ginger Crumble

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan (or any pan which would hold the same amount—a ten-inch round pan would do).

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 Tblsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped into 1/4-inch bits

In a bowl, whisk the flour, granulated and brown sugars, salt, and nutmeg to blend them. Add the butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the diced ginger and toss to combine.

Pear Filling

6 pears (enough to make about 
five cups of filling), peeled, quartered,
cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp grated fresh ginger

In a bowl, combine the pears, orange and lemon juices, honey, and ginger and toss. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the crumbs.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the pears are tender. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sure and it's not Saint Paddy's day yet, but here at MLK we'll be havin' a guest on the day next week, and my book's comin' out on Tuesday next, so I'd better be offerin' the giveaway to yiz now. Tell me what's your favorite Irish dish in a comment (with your email, más é do thoil é--that'd be "please") and I'll be drawing the name of the lucky winner out of a hat!

"Move over, Agatha Christie: a pub owner in County Cork fancies herself a young Miss Marple... A fine read in the classic style."
Kirkus Reviews

Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan's small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn't sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan's Pub. But now she's stranded in a bar full of patrons—and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura's been in Ireland less than a year and hasn't heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they're not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she'd never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan's reviews the facts and theories about the case—and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case?

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Apple-Pear Tart

by Sheila Connolly

I won the book The Spirit of Christmas (Book 6) in a holiday drawing, and during our seemingly endless round of snowstorms (hush—it may not be over yet) I gave in to my urge to bake, so I decided to try this recipe.

But there was another reason: during the peak of the storm cycle, when the snow was, oh, four or five feet high in my yard, I looked out the kitchen window one morning and saw a single apple sitting on the snow. No footprints anywhere nearby. No dents or grooves to suggest that it had been tossed there. Perfectly straight, its stem at the top, all by itself on the pristine snow. I took it as a sign—of what, I’m not sure. So I baked an apple tart.

As you may notice, this is a no-roll crust (hallelujah!). It also contains graham crackers and orange juice. It’s actually quite tasty, and the dough easy to handle (it's a keeper!).

Apple-Pear Tart


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tblsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2-2/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla


4 tsp cornstarch
1 Tblsp water
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples and/or pears

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, concentrate and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour and cracker crumbs and knead in the bowl until a soft dough forms.

Press into a 9”x9” tart pan (yup, it’s my favorite Irish one again—it’s getting a lot of use!) with a removable bottom. Prick the crust with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a rack.

The filling is basically custard. I was worried that it wouldn’t gel enough to be able to slice the cake pieces, but after a night in the refrigerator it worked just fine.

In a medium pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly stir in the cream and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes or until it thickens.

Stir about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture into the beaten eggs (so they don’t scramble!), then add the eggs and vanilla to the pan and whisk. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Let cool to room temperature and pour into the cooled crust. (See why this is a good recipe for a snowbound day? You have to cool each part before you combine them.)

For the topping, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir to form a paste.

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine and the sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (don’t worry—the alcohol evaporates with the cooking). Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the wine mixture.

Stir in the chopped fruit. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook 5-8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly on top of the filling. Cover the pie and refrigerate for at least one hour (I did it overnight, and the cake unmolded without a hitch).

Remove from the pan to serve.

I think if I make it again, I will add some freshly grated orange peel to the topping to brighten up the flavor, at least if I’m using apples. With pears, you might want to try a different spicing, or a different wine. And I have a blood orange in my fridge, that I was tempted to use. Feel free to experiment!

A New York Times Bestseller! Available now! (Even in audio format!)

By the way, it's been snowing in Ireland this year as well. (But not in the book!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry Relish

by Sheila Connolly

Okay, I'll admit it:  my family always ate Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, the kind that comes in a can.  It was fun to open one end, then poke a hole in the other to eliminate the suction and then watch it go "plop" onto the serving dish.  Then we sliced it and doled it out, one slice per plate.

We still do. And now I live in the town that is home to Ocean Spray, so I guess I have to remain loyal.  Besides, Ocean Spray is a cooperative, buying cranberries from a lot of local growers, an idea I kind of like.  And the nearest bog is only a couple of miles from here—I go by it on the way to the grocery store.


The American Indians ate cranberries long before the settlers showed up—the cranberry is one native to this country, just like the turkey.  You probably learned about "pemmican" in grade school:  mashed up deer meet and cranberries (no, I'm not going to give you a recipe for that!). Still, the cranberry did not become a commercial crop until the nineteenth century and the development of the "wet harvesting" technique, where the bog is flooded and the cranberries float to the top, where they are sucked into…umm, I don't know what.  You see, even though I live near a lot of cranberry bogs, I've never managed to watch a harvest.  Any year now!

However, the ones you buy at the supermarket are dry harvested, collected by a mechanical picker.

But enough about how you get them.  What do you do with them?

Among my mother's recipes I found one for a Cranberry Mold.  I am not going to recommend it, because it includes cherry Jell-o, chopped celery, nuts, sour cream, and, oh yes, cranberries.  Not my kind of thing.  Instead I'd like to offer you an alternative side dish, if you just can't face another cylinder of Ocean Spray's finest. This one is easy to make (especially if you can draft someone else to do the peeling and chopping), and it's a fresh and tasty change in case you've run out of the canned stuff.


Fall Fruit Relish

2 sweet apples, cored and chopped finely (not peeled)

2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped

¾ cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

½ cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

½ cup apple juice

1 tsp grated orange zest

½ tsp ground cinnamon (I even grated my own!)

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Cortland apples, Bosc pears, and cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate.  This will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator, but it's better eaten fresh.  It does provide a nice bright note to go with your turkey and fixings.



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, February 8, 2010

Valentines, don't be blue! Eat bleu!

On Valentine's Day, don't be blue. Eat bleu.
Cheese, that is.

While at the Bouchercon Conference last year, I volunteered in the book room. A librarian came up to me and said I absolutely must try Roaring 40's blue cheese, from King Island, Australia. I'd never heard of it. And then another person who called me "The Cheese Shop Lady" said I had to try it. Well, okay. I do listen.
Roaring 40's is savory yet sweet. It has won all sorts of awards.

Then I was reading The Cheese Chronicles, by Liz Thorpe, and she wrote a section on bleu cheeses and mentioned the Roaring 40's blue, as well as a number of others. Point Reyes "original" blue cheese was the cheese that stuck in my mind. As their website says, their blue requires three things: Grade A raw milk froma closed herd of Holstein cows that graze on certified organic green pastures; the coastal fog; the salty Pacific breezes.

And I thought...CHEESE TASTING. [I found both cheeses at Whole Foods.]

So to prepare for this week's blog, I decided to taste the blue cheeses. Fun, fun, fun!
And then prepare a meal.
I'd had the most wonderful salad at a restaurant in menlo Park, California a couple of weeks ago. A restaurant called Cedro's. [Shout out to a fabulous place!]

The chef prepared a salad with poached pears and Gorgonzola, and I thought...why not blue? I could do a bleu cheese salad. How do I poach pears?

I searched the internet, found a recipe for poaching pears in wine, and tried it, changing a few things to make it "mine."

I hope you enjoy. I served this to my husband and he flipped. [I think I got a royal kiss afterwards--perfect from a Valentine, don't you think?]

Here you go.

First start with the Poached Pears...

Ingredients for Poached Pears:
2 firm Bosc pears, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Zinfandel wine (or your preferred dry, hearty wine)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Bosc pears can keep their peels. So slice each pear into 8 slices.
In a saucepan, bring sugar, water, wine, lemon juice, and spices to a boil over high heat.
Lay in the pears and simmer 5-10 minutes, until tender, turning often.
Cool pears in syrup.

Then construct the salad:

Valentine's Day Salad

Bib lettuce
Bleu cheese slices (for this recipe I used one slice of each, Point Reyes and Roaring 40's)
Poached Pears (recipe above)

Lay 2-3 pieces of bib lettuce on a salad or dinner plate.
Arrange cooled 3-5 poached pears on each plate.
Arrange 2 slices of bleu cheese on either side of pears.
Decorate with raspberries.
Drizzle with the cooled syrup.

Remember to take a bite of the cheese with the pears and raspberries. The salt and sugar combo is supreme!


Congratulations to Helen K, who suggested our next Secret Ingredient for the Mystery Kitchen’s Iron Chef contest. What was the next ingredient? Take a look at the end of February! And keep reading MLK to find out how to enter our next contest!

And don’t forget Jenn’s cupcake contest! Enter your suggestion and name a fictional cupcake. It’ll be written into the new mystery: BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF. Send proof of your pre-order of SPRINKEL WITH MURDER along with your name and cup ake name to Jenn at:

Jennmck (at) yahoo (dot) com

and Congratulations to Krista who's selling The Diva Paints the Town with flying colors! Available on Amazon, B & N, and all your favorite independent bookstores!