Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: On our trip to Paris in January, I found myself enamored of a dish I hadn’t particularly considered to be French, but that turns out to be one of the unsung classics: the warm goat cheese salad. We had it several ways, with the goat cheese fried into croutons, chunks of goat cheese dropped warm into the salad, and rinded goat cheese melted onto slices of baguette, like crostini, laid on top of the greens.

Use a firm goat cheese. The trick to frying it is to get the oil and butter mixture really hot, almost to the point that you’re afraid of it. One trick is to stick the end of a chopstick or a wooden spoon into the oil; if it bubbles around the stick, it’s hot enough. Keep the cheese in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It’s the shock of the cold cheese in the hot fats that forms the lovely crisp crust while keeping the cheese itself from melting.

I’m still working on recreating the honey dressing with toasted walnuts. This creamy vinaigrette, based on Ina Garten’s version of the salad, is equally lovely. The original recipe called for two eggs, using the whites in the cheese croutons and one yolk in the dressing; if you’re not sure you’ll use the other yolk quickly, use them both. A cup of oil seems like a lot, but it’s not. Use a small food processor or an immersion blender, and the emulsion won’t separate. If you’ve got extra, stash it in the fridge for a few days and use it on other salads. 

The recipes I found claimed the necessity of fresh bread crumbs, not dried like Panko. I used a small food processor to grind up 2-3 slices of a country-style bread and that worked well. 

We had it served with mixed greens and with frisees, or curly endive. Use what you have and like. 

Serve with more of that country bread and a glass of a crisp white wine. 

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

1 10-12 ounce log plain goat cheese
2 extra-large egg whites, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Fresh white bread crumbs

For the dressing: 

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 egg yolks 
1 cup olive oil

Salad greens for 6 servings
Olive oil and unsalted butter, for frying

Slice the goat cheese into 12 slices, ½ inch thick, using a clean sharp knife or kitchen twine. Dip each slice into the beaten egg whites, then into the bread crumbs, thoroughly coating each slice. Place the slices on a plate or rack and chill them for at least 15 minutes.

For the dressing, put the vinegars, sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in the bowl of your food processor or the mixing container for your immersion blender. Begin blending and slowly pour in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Toss the salad greens with enough dressing to moisten, then divide them among 6 plates.

In a saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat until very hot. Cook the goat cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside but not melted inside. Top each salad with 2 warm croutons and serve.

Serves 6. 

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Cover Reveal Gingerdead Man #Book #Giveaway #Recipe by Maya Corrigan

MAYA: I'm excited to share the cover of my upcoming book, Gingerdead Man, which comes out September 29, 2020. It’s my 7th Five-Ingredient Mystery, featuring café manager Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay tourist town. Here's a taste of what's inside Gingerdead Man.

This holiday season Bayport, Maryland, is a dead ringer for Victorian London. Val and her grandfather are taking part in the Dickens of a Holiday festival. At day’s end Val hosts a tea party for the festival's costumed volunteers, who range from Dickens divas like Madame Defarge and Miss Havisham to Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Santa and Mrs. Claus join the tea party.

But one costumed reveler may have gotten the holidays mixed up. A figure robed in black with head encased in a gift bag hands out gingerbread men with skeleton bones outlined in white icing. Known as gingerdead men, the cookies are common Halloween treats. All the volunteers put aside the creepy cookies in favor of Val’s desserts, except for Santa, who gobbles down his gingerdead man. When the man in red turns blue, Val and Granddad have a cookie-cutter killer to catch before another victim is stamped out.

Even if you've never seen or heard of a gingerdead man, you'll easily pick out the one on the cover. To make gingerdead men, follow any recipe for gingerbread men. After you’ve rolled out the dough, you use a special cookie cutter. Cut each cookie out with the hollow side and then turn it over to stamp the bones, creating the indentations for the white icing. 

Gingerdead Man Cookie Cutter
I can't share a gingerbread man recipe because I'm not a fan of them. I'd much rather bake and eat Grasmere gingerbread. It's so famous and popular in England that people travel to the small town of Grasmere in the lake district just to buy its famous gingerbread. I highly recommend this easy-to-make and yummy treat.

Grasmere Gingerbread

Adapted from English Food by Jane Grigson. 

1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour 
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons butter  
1-2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger [Optional, but highly recommended.]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 7 X 11 inch oblong pan with parchment paper. 
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Melt the butter and add it to the dry ingredients.
Add the chopped crystallized ginger to taste, one tablespoon if you’re not sure if you like it and two if you know you do. This recipe makes a crumbly gingerbread bar, and the chewiness of the crystallized ginger is a change and an added treat.

Spread the mixture over the pan in a thin layer, pressing it down lightly with fingers or the bottom of a glass.
Bake until golden brown - about 25-30 minutes.

Cut the gingerbread into squares or rectangles while the gingerbread is still hot, but leave it in the pan to cool before removing it. 

Do you like gingerbread? What do you think of the cover of Gingerdead Man

Leave a comment below about gingerbread or the book cover to enter a drawing for a free Five-Ingredient Mystery. The last day to enter is February 25th.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Baklava Honey Pie #Recipe and #Giveaway from Guest Nancy Parra

Our guest today is Nancy Parra. She'll tell us about her latest book, Death Bee Comes Her, the first in a new series. Nancy will also share a recipe and give away a book to someone who leaves a comment at the end of this post. 
Please welcome Nancy, a good writer, a good cook, and a good friend. 

Take it away, Nancy!

Hi Mystery Lovers, Thank you for letting me visit and share with you my latest book, Death Bee Comes Her. It’s a cozy mystery set on the beautiful coast of Oregon. Wren Johnson, our protagonist, owns “Let It Bee” a shop using honey and honeybee products. She even has a hive in the wall of her store (encased in glass) so people can see the bees at work.

Death Bee Comes Her is the first in a new series and is a Barnes and Noble exclusive this year. You can find it here.

For today’s blog, I’m sharing my Baklava Honey Pie recipe.

Baklava Honey Pie


1 16-ounce package of phyllo dough (you can find it in most freezer sections at your local grocers)
1 pound of real butter (melt ¼ of a pound at a time. You might not use it all, but you can never have too much butter in Baklava.)
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¾ cup of water
4 cups of finely chopped walnuts (you can substitute pistachios or almonds or combine all three.)

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Step 1: Thaw filo dough (over-night in the refrigerator is best).

Step 2: In a heavy sauce pan, mix together sugar, honey, lemon juice and water. Boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Then reduce the heat to med low and boil unstirred for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Step 3: Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Place a sheet of thawed phyllo dough in pie pan gently tapping it along the side to take the shape of the pan. Use a pastry brush, brush on melted butter to completely cover the dough. (Some dough will hang over the edge. We’ll address that later.) Turn the pie pan and place a second sheet of dough so that the points hang over opposite of the first sheet. Tap into pan and brush on butter. Repeat turning the pan and placing the dough and buttering until you have ten sheets. (Tip: cover the remaining dough with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out while you are layering)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Step 4: Finely chop the nuts and combine with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Spread about ¾ cup of nut mixture over phyllo dough. Repeat with five more sheets, turning the pan, buttering each sheet with melted butter. Add ¾ cup of nut mixture. Repeat until you only have ten sheets left. Finish off the top of the pie with 10 layers of buttered sheets. Brush the top with butter.

So it should go like this: 40 sheets of Phyllo
10 buttered, ¾ cup of nut mixture
5 buttered, ¾ cup of nut mixture
5 buttered, ¾ cup of nut mixture
5 buttered, ¾ cup of nut mixture
5 buttered, ¾ cup of nut mixture
10 buttered and butter the top
If your package is less than 40 sheets, still put ten on bottom and ten on top and fewer layers in the middle.

Step 5: Carefully trim off extra phyllo dough hanging over the edge and using a fork press and seal the edge of the pie. Cut pastry into 1 ½ inch wide strips, then cut again diagonally to form traditional diamond shapes. Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 min or until golden brown.

Step 6: Remove the pie from oven and immediately spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava evenly. Let cool completely uncovered.
Tip: let it sit 4-6 hours or overnight before serving. Store at room temperature, covered with a tea towel. It can keep up to two weeks but that rarely happens at my home.

You can find more honey recipes and tips about bees in the book. The Oregon Honeycomb series is my latest mystery series. I also write as Nancy J Parra and Nell Hampton. Please feel free to visit me online. 

Website: nancyjcoco.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nancyjcoco/.


I’m happy to give away a copy of Death Bee Comes Her to one lucky winner. To enter leave a comment below by February 22nd and list your e-mail address.

Honey and bee products are used for more than just yummy recipes. What is your favorite way to use honey?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Sticky Ham Sandwiches #Recipe @PegCochran

Sliders are so easy to make and they're always a hit.  They're perfect to bring to a potluck or a family gathering.  I made these for our get-together last night where everyone brings a dish to share.  I saw the recipe on the Today show--it's Carson Daly's wife's recipe.  I've made ham and cheese sliders before, but the glaze on these takes them to a whole new level!


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 TBL dry mustard
1 TBL Worcestershire sauce
2 TBL brown sugar
1 TBL poppy seeds


1 package Hawaiian sweet buns
1  lb. ham
1 lb. Swiss cheese or cheese of your choice

Put all ingredients for the glaze in a pan and simmer gently until butter melts and ingredients are incorporated.

Assemble sliders:

Slice buns in half and separate the top from the bottom.  (I found them easier to slice if I popped them into the freezer for about 10 minutes first.)  Place bottom half of buns in a pan that will hold them relatively snuggly.

Layer ham on top.  You may or may not need the entire pound of ham.

Layer cheese slices over ham.

Replace tops of buns and pour glaze over the top smoothing it out with a spatula so all the buns are well covered.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.

They can be a little tricky to cut because of all that delicious melted cheese so I separated them before serving so guests didn't have to wrestle with them.  They were gone almost before the gathering got underway!


Amazon review: "Murder, She Encountered by Peg Cochran is a terrific quasi-cozy mystery and a terrific read for anyone who likes WWII era fiction. One of the outstanding things about this book, which doesn't always happen, is that the author kept us solidly in 1939 New York between speech patterns, history happening in real time, and social history as it was happening....This was an excellent mystery and museum piece, both. I highly recommend it."

New York City, 1939. A rising star at the Daily Trumpet, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams has been sent to the World’s Fair—billed as the “World of Tomorrow,” a look toward a brighter future even as the drumbeats of war grow louder—to cover a robbery. What she stumbles upon instead is a dead woman, dumped into the Aquacade’s pool with a nylon stocking wrapped around her neck.

Elizabeth snaps a photo as the police arrest Joey Dorman, a gentle young hot dog vendor who made no secret of his obsession with the murder victim. Even though she’s thrilled that her photo makes the front page, the fear and confusion evident on Joey’s face are haunting. So Elizabeth vows to prove his innocence—or his guilt—with her partner at the Daily Trumpet, Ralph Kaminsky. Meanwhile, her romance with Detective Sal Marino is heating up, and Elizabeth is more determined than ever to follow her heart.

But when Kaminsky’s efforts to expose the real killer land him in the hospital, Elizabeth is forced to continue the investigation on her own. And as she tries to narrow down the long list of suspects, she discovers a dark secret running through the Fair—a secret some would kill to protect.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Mocha-Kahlua Valentine's Cookies and #GIVEAWAY

Today the Kitchen welcomes Maddie Day as a regular contributor to the MLK blog!

From Maddie Day:

I'm delighted to be joining this stellar group of author-cooks, and today I share Mocha-Kahlua Valentine's cookies. Please read down for a giveaway!

Since I'm new here, I'll introduce myselfMaddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha-nominated and bestselling author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau north of Boston, where she’s currently working on her next mystery when she isn’t cooking up something delectable in the kitchen.

Today is the ritual day of love, and it also marks sixteen years since I met Hugh, my tall, funny beau. I wanted to bake something yummy for him, but also not a tricky recipe, so all you wonderful readers can try it at home.

So far none of my cozy foodie mysteries - the Country Store series and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries - have taken place over Valentine's Day. You can believe I'm keeping this recipe in reserve for the next one that does.

Mocha-Kahlua Valentine's Cookies


½ cup butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 ¾ cups unbleached white flour (plus extra for rolling)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso or dark roast coffee powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pink and red sprinkles


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and Kahlua and mix. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix until a dough forms, but don’t overmix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Press gently into a flat disc shape. Cover the disc in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

When ready to roll and cut, preheat the oven to 375°F. Take out the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Dust a clean countertop or table with flour. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and place on the prepared surface. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into heart shapes. 

Transfer the cookies to cookie sheet, being sure to leave about 1/2 inch between each cookie. Decorate with pink and red sprinkles.

Bake for about 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. The edges will be slightly firm, and the center slightly soft and puffed. Remove from the oven. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack or brown paper to cool completely.

My next book is Murder at the Taffy Shop, which comes out March 31 in an exclusive paperback deal from Barnes & Noble and is the second Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. Twenty-five copies of the book are on a Goodreads giveaway from Kensington until February 22! 

It’s August, full season on Cape Cod, with plentiful sunshine and tourists alike. When Mac Almeida heads out for her early daily walk with her friend, she finds a horrified Gin staring at Beverly Ruchart, an imperious summer person, dead on the sidewalk in front of Gin’s candy shop, Salty Taffy’s.

Lots of people wanted Beverly gone. But when the police find the murder weapon in Gin’s garage, the Cozy Capers book group members put their heads together to clear Gin’s name and to figure out who killed the woman whom almost everyone disliked. Mac’s bike shop is vandalized one night, and when the killer later invades her tiny house to finish her off, Bella, Mac’s African Gray parrot, comes to the rescue.

I hope you'll visit my alter-ego Edith Maxwell and me on our web site, sign up for our monthly newsletter, visit us on social media, and check our all our books and short stories.

I'll give away a copy of book one, Murder on Cape Cod, to one (US) commenter here today!

Readers: What's your favorite Valentine's treat?