Friday, April 19, 2019

Chocolate Easter Cookies

I realized at dawn one day this week that this Sunday was Easter Sunday, which made my usual post day Friday Good Friday. My family was never terribly religious, so we didn’t celebrate in a religious way (although I once attended a midnight Easter service in a French cathedral, which was very moving).

Sundays were the days when the grandparents or step-grandparents came to dinner. They were rather stiff and stuffy affairs, and the menu didn’t vary much. Turkey was for Thanksgiving and Christmas; all other Sundays (including Easter) we had a standing rib roast. I have never cooked one of those in my life, mainly because I’ve always liked rare meat, and making one with two ribs was just too much food, and I don’t even know if stores sell a single rib, which was almost guaranteed to be overcooked (and both are expensive!).

But we always had Easter candy. Lots of it. For just my younger sister and me. Usually it was placed in a large papier-mache egg hidden in plain sight, or around the carefully dyed real eggs in our Easter baskets. (I hate to admit how many of all of the above I still have in my attic.) One year my engineer father decided we were going to blow eggs rather than boil them, and he got out his power drill and made the holes at the ends of each egg (my sister and I provided the air for blowing). His technique worked surprisingly well. 

But there is one particular aroma that says Easter to me: the combination of dark chocolate and those wonderful pungent white Easter lilies. My New York grandmother lived near some high-end candy makers and always brought a selection when she visited for Easter. The kind I remember best is little marzipan bunnies (about an inch high) half-dipped in chocolate. As long as you didn’t tell me it was marzipan, which meant nuts, which I hated, I thought they were wonderful.

No, I’m not going to paint eggs or try to make exotic candies this year. But I do have an extensive cookie-cutter collection, which just happens to include bunnies and chickies and flowers and such, which will do fine to celebrate spring. And I’m going to make chocolate sugar cookies to celebrate those old memories. The following recipe is a combination of vintage Fanny Farmer and Joy of Cooking recipes—yes, from my mother’s copies.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies


1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1 Tblsp milk or cream
½ tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup dry cocoa or 2 squares melted chocolate


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your cookie sheets.

Beat together the soft butter, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients (including the dry cocoa) and add to the first ingredients. Mix well.

If you are making rolled cookies, add enough flour (about a quarter cup) to make the mixture stiff enough to roll . Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more. 

My seasonal cookie cutters. You have to look hard at the
round item in the middle: it's a vintage cookie cutter that
lets you cut out a whole batch of different cookies at once.
There are flowers and assorted animals, including a duck.
Roll out the chilled batter (not all at once!) about 1/4-inch thick. Cut with a selection of floured cutters and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Isn't it a great rolling pin? It was a gift.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can brush the cookies with melted butter while warm, of spread with melted semi-sweet chocolate, or add frosting.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Grilled Pear with Syrup and Berries #recipe by Essie Lang

I wanted a dessert to celebrate spring to go along with my burger BBQ meal, even though the weather wasn't very spring-like. I thought, that's not going to stop me and it didn't.

Although it was chilly, windy and raining, the first BBQ of the season went a long way to putting us all in a good mood, expect perhaps the one standing outside doing the actual barbecuing.

I've grilled pears before and used them in salads but I thought it might make an interesting dessert, and it was a test-run for Easter. Why not be a bit un-traditional on that special day?

I started with Asian pears, because I've never tried them but had read they have a sweeter taste. They weren't overly sweet though, which I'd worried about because I planned to dress the pears in Coconut syrup. It's my syrup of choice after I discovered it for a previous recipe that required a syrup that was low in sugar and high in taste. I should point out that one comment from around the table was that chocolate syrup would have been great, too. Even a licquer.

I added vanilla ice cream, although whipped cream would work just as well. And then came the fresh berries. I'm surprised they are so flavorful so early in the season, of course, they're not local and they come from a much warmer climate.

The only thing I'll do differently when I make this dessert in summer, it to serve the pears cold and that way the ice cream won't melt so quickly. Other than that, it scored high on the flavor meter at my house.

What you'll need:

2 Asian pears
Olive oil
Vanilla ice cream
1 pt. fresh berries, sliced

What to do:

1.  Wash the pears and berries. Slice the pears in half and remove the seeds and core. Set the berries aside.

2.  Apply a light coating of olive oil to both sides of each pear half.

3.  Heat grill to medium-high, then place pears, sliced side down, directly to the grill for 5 minutes; turn over and grill for another 5 minutes. Test before removing so that the pears have softened. If they haven't, leave on for a few more minutes until they reach the texture you prefer.

4.  Remove and let cool then drizzle each half with syrup. Place a scoop of ice cream on top of each and add the berries.


It's now available --  the first of the Castle Bookshop Mysteries 
written by Essie Lang (that's me!)

  Dine out with the DINNER CLUB MYSTERIES

Here's a taste of the reviews for Marinating in Murder, #3:     

Wiken’s third entry to the Dinner Club series is a clever twist on the classic whodunit… The book will have you guessing until the very end…. All in all, an intriguing read by Wiken.” – RT Reviews

"Foodies will love this book and this series. Great recipes are included as well....A fun romp of intrigue filled with foodie fun." -- Open Book Society

ROUX THE DAY,  the second  Dinner Club Mystery is available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!

TOASTING UP TROUBLE, the first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Curried Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches for #Easter #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

 From Daryl:

This recipe comes straight from Sifting Through Clues, which comes out next week. As many of you know, my protagonist Jenna and others in the series comment on the recipes at the end of each book. Here to comment on this one is Jenna.

Hi.  I love Indian spices, particularly the flavor of curry. Adding curry to this delicate sandwich adds just the right amount of zing. Katie taught me how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg. She heats up the water to boiling and, using tongs, sets each room-temperature egg into the water. If you don't use room-temperature, they will probably crack.  Katie leaves it boiling (on medium heat) and cooks the eggs for 10 minutes. Then she removes the eggs with tongs and sets them in a bowl to cool. Voilà. Done. The shell comes  off without a mess. The yolk is a perfect yellow color.

And now back to me (Daryl). In the book, Crystal Cove is sponsoring the Book Club Bonanza. Book clubs from around the state are coming to town. The Mystery Mavens, the book club that Jenna and friends belong to, are having a moveable feast to discuss the mystery they're reading. As it so happens, the mystery is The Diva Serves High Tea (by our very own Krista Davis). At one of the stops, they serve tea sandwiches. Perfect, right?  Tea sandwiches are easy to make. You can cut the crusts of the bread off before or after. It won't matter. In the story, Katie gives a demonstration how to make tea sandwiches just in case you want a step-by-step tutorial.


Curried Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

(Makes 16 sandwiches)

6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped coarsely
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste  (*for a nice change up, use white pepper)
8 slices white bread
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

In a medium bowl, mash the eggs, mayonnaise, and curry powder together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the egg mixture over half of the bread slices.  Top with a small amount of lettuce on each sandwich, then the remaining bread slices.  Cut the crusts from the bread.  Cut each sandwich into four triangles.


By the way, don't miss all the fun I'm having on my Facebook Author page and during my blog tour. There are theme-box giveaways on Facebook and a grand prize on the tour, which includes interviews, recipes, and more. Have fun. Tell a friend.
Here are links to both:





The latest Cookbook Nook Mystery (#8), available in trade paperback and e-book.

What's it about?

Book clubs from all over have descended on Crystal Cove to celebrate the library’s Book Club Bonanza week, and Jenna Hart has packed the Cookbook Nook with juicy reads and tasty cookbooks. But she’s most excited about spending an evening with the Mystery Mavens and their moveable feast, when they will go from house to house to share different culinary treats and discuss the whodunit they’re all reading. It’s all good food and fun for the savvy armchair detectives, until one of the members of the group is found murdered at the last stop on the tour.

As if that weren’t enough to spoil her appetite, Jenna discovers that all the evidence points to her friend Pepper as being the guilty party. And with Pepper’s chief-of-police daughter too close to the case to be impartial, Jenna knows she’ll have to step in to help clear her friend’s name before a bitter injustice sends her to jail. Sifting through the clues, Jenna unearths any number of possible culprits, but she’ll have to cook up a new way to catch the killer before Pepper’s goose is cooked.

Includes tasty sweet and savory recipes!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery.
Can Mimi prove her chef innocent before the chef gets dusted?
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A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st French Bistro Mysteries, in all formats.
Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat?
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SIFTING THROUGH CLUES, the 8th Cookbook Nook Mystery.
Sifting through the clues, Jenna unearths any number of possible culprits, but she’ll have to cook up a new way to catch the killer before her friend Pepper’s goose is cooked. 
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WREATH BETWEEN THE LINES, the 7th Cookbook Nook Mystery.
Jenna Hart is busy decking the halls and ducking a killer
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FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery by Avery Aames.
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
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GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense.
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free?
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DAY OF SECRETS, a stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew. An enemy that wants them dead.
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