Showing posts with label strawberries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strawberries. Show all posts

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wimbledon Cake

I love it when the stars align. This week there’s a perfect example:

-- You foodies may know that The Great British Bake Off has returned with a whole new season of yummy baking projects that I most likely will never attempt to make. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is hosted (and judged) by Paul Hollywood (really), Mary Berry, Sue Perkins, and Mel Geidroyc.

Mary is the more serious baker of the judges, and I have one of her many cookbooks. Her recipes are simple and direct, and the ones I’ve tried have worked well. But you do have to do a bit of translating from British measurements to American ones. This is an example that I have adapted and tweaked a bit.

Now for the serendipity:

--One of her recipes is for Wimbledon Cake. Wimbledon happens to be playing this week. Perfect!

In case you have been living in a cave all your life, “The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely considered the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments… Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I have a fondness for Wimbledon, and not because I’m an avid tennis fan. The summer after college, I found myself a job in London (not simple in those pre-Internet days), working as a sales clerk and sometimes receptionist in the barber shop, at Simpsons Piccadilly, a venerable department store right on Piccadilly Circus. The pay was minimal (yes, I even had a green card for the summer!), but it was enough to cover a rented room in a flat and my Tube pass and food, and what more did I need?

It was also right in the heart of a fabulous city, and I took advantage of cheap tickets for musical events, plays, museums and anything else. Including Wimbledon, an easy train ride away. I saw Chris Evert play there—I think she was 18. (She lost to Evonne Goolagong that year.)

But I digress. You don’t go to Wimbledon just to watch tennis. Part of the tradition was to enjoy a dish of fresh strawberries and cream (the real stuff, not out of a can). Hence Mary Berry’s Wimbledon Cake, made with (you guessed it) fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It’s quick to make and not too heavy—and should be eaten quickly (or it will get soggy)!

Wimbledon Cake (adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe)


3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of one orange
1/2 cup semolina
Pinch of salt

4 oz fresh strawberries
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep round 8-inch cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Note there are no fats in the batter, so don’t skimp on greasing the pan.)

Put the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and juice, semolina and salt into a bowl and beat until blended.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Fold gently into the first mixture. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the cake is risen and the top is springy when you press it with a finger. Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove it from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Let it finish cooling on a rack.

Put aside a few strawberries for decoration, then slice the rest. Whip the cream (sweeten it if you like--you might taste your strawberries first to see how sweet they are).

Cut the cake in half horizontally. Put a generous layer of sliced strawberries and whipped cream between the layers.

When you’re ready to serve it, put the top layer on and garnish it with the reserved strawberries, whole or sliced. (Feel free to add more whipped cream if you like!) Sit down and watch the last matches on the telly—Wimbledon runs until Sunday!

And here's a bonus (and a reminder why I should not be allowed to browse in cookware stores). It's an English measuring cup, the likes of which I have never seen.

Book, you say? Well, I'm currently working on three, or is it four? (First edits, proofs, first draft, revised draft--one of each. Can you tell this is why I bake?) The next one to hit the shelves will be Seeds of Deception (Orchard #10, and don't ask me how that happened), coming in October. But I'll be telling you plenty about that in coming weeks, I promise.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cobbler #Recipe from @PegCochran

Looks like it's strawberry week here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!  They are so bountiful right now and I love the scent when I walk by the stack of containers in the grocery store.

This recipe is super easy and really lets the fruit shine.  We added a dollop of whipped cream, and it was delicious.  The recipe is courtesy of


4 cups strawberries sliced (one large container)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, cut into cubes

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Spread the sliced strawberries in a square 8x8 pan (spray with non-stick spray)

Mix dry ingredients--flour, baking powder and sugar.   Add the beaten egg and mix with a fork until the egg is incorporated and the mixture looks crumbly.

Spread this mixture over the berries in the pan.

Dot with butter cubes (you can be as OCD as you want about lining up the cubes of butter)

Bake for approximately 45 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is) and let cool if you can wait!

Top with whipped cream if desired and ENJOY!

And speaking of berries...Berried Secrets, first in my brand new Cranberry Cove series, is coming out on August 4!  I'm giving away an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) on my Facebook page and the contest ends at midnight on Sunday so hurry over!

Pre-order on Amazon
Pre-order on Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins and a Virtual Drive with Cleo Coyle

Here in the New York and New Jersey area, strawberries are a local crop. How local? Get in my car, and I'll show you (well, virtually, anyway), and during our drive, I'll point out some fun ideas for your summer vacation, or in my case, staycation!

Our trek begins in Manhattan, where we cross the 59th Street Bridge. Yes, the same span on which Simon and Garfunkel were "feelin' groovy," all those years ago. Click on the arrow in the window below to watch them sing the classic tune in Central Park. If you need a pick-me-up, this should do it.

Were you a fan of Simon and Garfunkel? 

(Waves hand madly...)

The Famous Central Park Concert

Are you "Feelin' Groovy" yet?...

Well, let's keep driving then! 

On the other side of New York's famous 59th Street Bridge 
is a forked body of land, also surrounded by water. 
This is Long Island...

To learn more about Long Island,
New York click this link:

On the Manhattan end of Long Island sits Queens, one of New York's five boroughs and the place I (and the Mets) call home. Driving east, toward the rising sun, apartment buildings and row houses gradually give way to middle class homes. We're now leaving New York City and entering what we locals think of as "Long Island" proper.

A fun summer read,
Murder Most Frothy takes
my coffeehouse manager
and amateur sleuth,
Clare Cosi, to New York's
Hamptons, the fabled seaside
playground of the rich and
famous on the "South Fork"

of Long Island. To learn more
about this frothy culinary
murder mystery,
click here.
The roads here (almost magically) appear much cleaner and in better shape. Suburban malls sprout up and we pass familiar franchise stores, restaurants, and movie multiplexes. Most of these things will be found along the center of the Island. The picturesque waterside views (a quiet bay on the north end and the tumultuous Atlantic on the south) are peppered by exclusive communities with multimillion dollar homes. 

But fret not, Oh ye who do not manage hedge funds nor own multimedia conglomerates, because there are plenty of state parks on Long Island, too. One of my favorites is a 6.5-mile white sand playground for the public called Jones Beach, which makes it possible for even lowly writerly types (like me) to appreciate an ocean view.

If strolling through historic villages floats your boat (as it does mine), then you should be buoyed by the many quaint towns along both shorelines. 

National landmarks are worth a look, too, like Teddy Roosevelt's stunning Victorian home, Sagamore Hill (aka his "summer White House"), near the scenic town of Oyster Bay on Long Island's North Shore.

Continue driving east and the Island takes on a much more pastoral complexion. At the end of the island, the land splits into the "North Fork" and the "South Fork," the latter is where you will find the famous Hamptons, a collection of seaside villages where rich and famous folk, especially those who live in New York City, have summer homes.

Although you will find uber-rich people out here with their yacht clubs, stables, and summer houses, you will 
also find families who've been here for many generations, along with working vineyards and farms. Touring around this area is a beautiful way to spend a day (or two or three)...

Strawberries are one of the big crops of their summer season. In fact, many of the farms feature pick-your-own strawberry patches.

I didn't pick my own today, although picking your own is a fun outing for young and old...

To visit a Strawberry Festival on Long Island 
and lick your lips at some of the ways strawberries 
can be eaten, enjoy this 2 minute video...

Okay, now you're ready for a snack, right?

Full disclosure: For today's recipe, I got my strawberries the old-fashioned way, at the grocery store, where the sign next to the stacked containers of bright red berries declared: "Buy 1, Get 1 Free!" 

Indeed, I did buy one, took home two, 
and had me a strawberry party.

Of course, I truly love Farmers' Markets,
and I'm sure most you will agree...

Nothing says summer like a stop
by a local farmer's roadside stand.

To check out New York State's 
interactive guide to its many farmers' 
markets, click here.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Cleo Coyle's
Shortcake Muffins 

This is one of my favorite summertime muffins. It has the taste of a strawberry shortcake but with less fat and calories, making it a lovely breakfast or coffee-break snack. If you should want to make it richer, simply replace the low fat milk with whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream. However you decide to bake them, I hope you eat them with summertime joy! Love...

~ Cleo

To download a fee PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo's Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

Makes 6 standard muffins


4 - 5 ounces of ripe strawberries (This equals about 4 medium,
      or 3 large, or 8 small berries. Or about 2/3 cup when chopped.)

1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup white, granulated sugar

2 tablespoons canola (or vegetable or cold-pressed virgin coconut) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup low fat milk
(2% milk gives great results; for a richer tasting
       muffin, use whole milk, half-and-half, or cream)

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour


Step 1 - Prep oven, pan, and berries: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line six muffin cups with paper holders. To prevent muffins from sticking, lightly spray the papers with non-stick spray. Wash your strawberries and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. (It's okay if they're still damp.) Hull them (see how below) and chop them into small, uniform pieces. If you slice them over a small bowl, you'll retain more of the juices. Once chopped, the strawberries should fill 2/3 cup and no more. Sprinkle berries with 1 tablespoon of sugar, toss well, and set aside the bowl.

How to hull a strawberry: Pinch off green stem. Using a small, sharp
knife, cut around the berry's crown (or move the berry in a circular
motion against the blade). You want to remove the fibrous white,
conical-shaped core, leaving as much fruit intact as possible

Step 2 - Make batter with one bowl mixing method: Crack egg into a mixing bowl and gently beat with a whisk or fork. Add 1/4 cup sugar, oil, vanilla, milk, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and whisk until well blended. Add chopped strawberries from Step 1. Be sure to include any strawberry juices that may have accumulated at the bottom of the strawberry bowl. Stir to blend.

Batter before flour is added.

Step 3 - Add dry ingredients: Measure flour and pour into the wet ingredients. With a spoon or spatula gently mix dry and wet ingredients to form a lumpy batter. Do not over mix at this stage, but be sure to blend the raw flour completely into your batter.

Never over mix muffin batter or you'll develop
 the gluten in the flour and your muffins
will be tough instead of

Step 4 - Bake: This batter will make 6 standard muffins so divide it up evenly among your paper-lined cups. I use the two tablespoon method, scooping up the sticky batter with one spoon and scraping it off with the other. Bake in a well preheated 350º F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The muffins are not done until the tops have turned golden brown (see my photos)...

Step 5 - Cooling and storing: Allow the muffins to cool for five minutes in the pan. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. Once they're completely cool, you can wrap them in plastic and store them in the refrigerator. A little butter, a cuppa joe, and you're set for breakfast, a coffee break, or a late-night snack.

For a free PDF of this recipe,
click here or on the image below.

Summer is here, with all its
fresh fruits and veggies, definitely a time to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * * *

Thanks to American University Magazine
in Washington, D.C.
for featuring us
in their Spring Issue...

To see the article online,
click here for the free magazine app

click here to read
the Cleo article and enjoy!


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
14 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick - King's River Life

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews 
* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction 
* A Mystery Guild Selection

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

Sign up for our Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

After you subscribe, an auto-reply will send 
you a link to several past newsletters.

Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen! 


Friday, July 3, 2015

Strawberry Tart

by Sheila Connolly

The last of the local strawberries… I hadn’t been to a farmers market this spring, so I kind of over-indulged when I was in Northampton, buying two overflowing quarts of beautiful ripe berries.

There are only two of us at home these days, and that was a lot of strawberries. First round: the old stand-by, strawberry shortcake, with home-made shortcakes and plenty of whipped cream. Didn’t use up even half of the berries.

Also in Northampton, I visited one of my favorite used bookstores, The Raven, where I bought (1) a four-volume edition of the History of Middlesex County, published in 1927 (maybe only a Massachusetts genealogist can get excited about that); (2) Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which somehow I’d never read); and (3) two cookbooks. I can’t stop myself.

One of these cookbooks was Seasonal Fruit Desserts, by Deborah Madison, which had lots of nice recipes (I’m always on the lookout for new apple recipes). But what struck me was that there were not one but two new pie-crust recipes! I may have mentioned (often) that I am pie-crust challenged—these two may be numbers 14 and 15. But hope springs eternal!

So there I was with a pile of strawberries and a new pie crust recipe—but I couldn’t find a single recipe I liked. So I snooped around and combined several, and this is the result.

Strawberry Pie

The crust:

8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, 
     at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of one orange (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Butter a 9" round or square tart pan.

Beat the butter with the sugar and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again until smooth.

Add the flavorings, then the flour, and mix just to combine. 

Scrape the batter into the tart pan (be sure to gather up all the bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl).  With an offset spatula, spread out the batter, pushing it up against the sides to make a rim.

If the batter is too soft to handle, refrigerate it for 10 minutes.

When making your tart, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the tart pan with the dough and set it on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until it just begins to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool (it will shrink down a bit).

Lemon Curd:

Wait, what’s that doing here? Call it mortar, so you have something to set your strawberries in, to bind them to the crust. (You could also use a simple pastry custard without the lemon.)

2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon peel

Grate the peel from the lemon. Squeeze the lemon to extract the juice. (One large lemon will provide both enough juice and peel for this recipe.)

Whisk the eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a small heavy saucepan. Add the butter and the lemon peel. Place over medium heat and stir until the butter melts. Keep stirring until the curd thickens to the consistency of pudding, which should take about 5 minutes.

Place in a small bowl, then press plastic wrap on the surface (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill at least 2 hours.

Putting it all together:

Remove the rim from the tart crust and place the crust on a serving plate.

Spread a thin layer of the lemon curd to cover the bottom.

Arrange the strawberries on top of the curd.You can use whole strawberries, or slice them as I did (tastes good either way!). 

Melt some jelly (seedless—take your pick from any red jelly you like) and brush over the top of the berries.

Chill to set—then eat quickly! This tart gets soggy overnight.

P.S. The other pie-crust recipe from the Seasonal Fruit Desserts cookbook? A more typical rolled crust, but made with maple or brown sugar and a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour. Now, what kind of filling should I try?

Privy to the Dead, still in its first month. I promise there's nothing disgusting in the privy!

Have a wonderful (and safe) Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welcome, guest author Nancy Parra!

Welcome our guest, Nancy Parra!

Best known for writing “…strong stubborn heroes and plucky heroines who aren’t afraid to go toe to toe with them,” (Shelley Mosley, Booklist Magazine), Nancy currently has 3 cozy mystery series -- 
the Gluten-free Baker's Treat Mystery Series and the Perfect Proposal Mystery Series with Berkley, and the Candy Coated Mystery Series with Kensington--a total of 15 books in print. Praise from readers and booksellers made All Fudged Up - by pen name Nancy Coco - a 2013 National Bestseller. Nancy Lives in the Midwest with her Bichonpoo, affectionately known as Little Dog on social media. Nancy loves to hear from readers. Contact her at 

By the way, Nancy is offering a copy of Murder Gone A-Rye today to one lucky commenter. Remember to leave your email with your comment!!

Take it away, Nancy!

* * *

It’s  July and everyone’s eating fresh and colorful with great summer greens, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and more at the famer’s markets and in gardens.

Toni Holmes, of the gluten-free Baker’s Treat series, loves making gluten-free berry pies and coffee cakes.  If I may, I'd like to ask Toni a couple of questions.

Toni, what is your favorite summer desert?

I love to make gluten-free sponge cake. Then I layer it in glass dishes with blue berries, blackberries and strawberries, whipped cream, cake, more berries, more cake and whipped cream on top.

Is whipped cream gluten-free?

You can make your own to ensure that it is not made in a facility that processes other foods that contain gluten. It’s simple. Buy organic whipping cream – a pint will do. Be sure and get it as cold as possible. The colder it is the faster it whips. I like to put my beaters and the bowl in the freezer for ten minutes before I make the cream to help keep it cold and light. As the cream starts to form peaks add sugar. I like organic pure cane sugar. Usually a tablespoon per cup of cream is enough. For a faster smoother sweet, you can use confectioners’ sugar – I recommend pure cane sugar. Many people who have celiac or gluten sensitivity also have a corn sensitivity so cane sugar is best.  Serve immediately.

Will you share your sponge cake recipe?

Sure - this is my Grandmother’s recipe modified to be Gluten-free.

SPONGE CAKE, Gluten-free


6 large eggs, separated
½  cup sifted tapioca flour
½ cup sifted all purpose gluten-free flour
¼  teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white pure cane sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla (or vanillin)
2 tablespoons water
Zest of orange (outer skin) Approximately 1 tablespoon
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350. You will need an ungreased ten-inch tube pan.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes until they are room temperature.

In a medium bowl mix the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the egg yolks and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl and beat until thick and light – at least three minutes. Mix in water, vanilla and orange zest. Set aside.

In clean bowl with clean cold beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tarter and beat to soft peaks. Slowly add 1/3 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg yolk mixture-1/3 at a time until combined. Gently fold in the egg whites until the batter is a uniform yellow color. Pour into pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from heat and immediately invert the cake. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. About 1 hour.

Slice and layer with berries and whipping cream. 


So what is your favorite dessert with whipped cream??

PS  Don't miss the first in my new series, a Perfect Proposals Mystery.  Engaged in Murder debuted in June!