Sunday, January 23, 2011

Welcome, Guest Hannah Dennison

Welcome one of my favorite people, Hannah Dennison.

Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries. Her fourth book, Thieves! (Berkley Prime Crime) is out in stores now!

In addition to being an excellent author, Hannah has done a variety of jobs. She wrote obituaries, worked in an antique shop, was secretary to a Formula One World Champion, a hostess in a nightclub, a flight attendant, and an assistant at New Line Cinema. To read more about the adventures of “Hannah,” check out her darling biography on her website.

Take it away, Hannah!

* * *

It’s such an honor to be invited to be today’s guest on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Thank you! Alas, unlike many of my fellow authors’ protagonists, my amateur sleuth, aspiring investigative reporter Vicky Hill, has no prowess in the kitchen.

As the reluctant obituary reporter for the Gipping Gazette, Vicky has more experience in eating traditional English fare like Dundee fruitcake and Victoria Sponge at post-funeral shindigs. And when she’s not solving murders in the English market town of Gipping-on-Plym, you’ll find her at various Women’s Institute meetings helping judge the Bottled Jam Boil-Off or sampling the Best British Pudding.

Speaking of puddings (yes, the Brits call dessert “pudding”), I want to share my absolute favorite. In fact it was on the menu at my wedding. It’s super easy to make and very fast, especially if you don’t have time to make your own meringues.

Eton Mess has been around since the 19th century. It’s traditionally served at Eton College’s annual prize-giving celebration picnic on the “Fourth of June” (actually celebrated on the last Wednesday in May). There is a rumor that the dish was created by an over-excited Labrador who sat on a picnic basket. No doubt this anecdote will join the annals of the great-unsolved mysteries of the world.

Ingredients to Serve 8

1 basic meringue recipe or 8 meringue, store bought shells

1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed

2 heaped tablespoons of superfine sugar (caster sugar in UK)

9 oz strawberries hulled and sliced

9 oz raspberries

1 pint of double cream

1 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Handful of toasted flaked almonds


Whip the double cream with the vanilla seeds and 1 tablespoon of sugar until you have soft peaks. Don’t over-whip or the cream will go thick and cloddy.

Take half the strawberries and half the raspberries and put them into a bowl with the rest of the sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Mash up with fork.

Put flavored cream and mashed up fruit (not together yet) into the fridge until meringues —if you are bravely making your own—have cooled down.

To assemble:

Break up your meringues into a bowl.

Fold the vanilla cream and mashed-up fruit together till well mixed.

Layer into serving dish or glasses and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

*Put this together right at the last minute so the meringue doesn’t go soft.


6 large egg whites

10 ½ oz superfine sugar (not granulated)

A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Whisk egg whites in the bowl on medium speed until they form firm peaks.

With mixer still turning, gradually add the sugar.

Turn whisk on high for about 7 minutes until the meringue mixture is white and glossy. If it’s grainy to the touch, then whisk a little longer.

Dollop blobs of the mixture onto the baking tray and pop in the oven for about an hour.

The meringues should be crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle.



Thank you, Hannah. What a fun recipe. And what a delight to have yet another Vicky Hill mystery to enjoy. I adore Vicky and I'm sure our readers will, too.

Visit Hannah at her website.


  1. I have read two of the books in the series and am happy to find out there is a new one to read! Thanks Mystery Lover's Kitchen!

  2. How much cream? The amount is not listed in the recipe. that being said, Eton mess sounds lovely!

  3. Hi Hannah. Welcome to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I can't wait to read "Thieves!" :) Eton Mess sounds amazing and I'm looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks!

  4. Hannah!! So wonderful to have you here today sharing such a fun recipe. I love Vicky Hill and am so excited that THIEVES! is out. Can't wait to catch up with you at Malice this year!

  5. Morning from the west coast - thanks for your lovely warm welcome and glad you enjoy Vicky Hill's adventures.
    A big thank you to Susan for pointing out my huge snafu! What a freudian slip!
    Cream is such a guilty pleasure in my family (my mother drinks it straight from the pot when she thinks no one is looking) - so the recipe calls for ONE PINT of double cream - I think you call it whipping cream here!

  6. Hannah, so sorry. I fixed the cream amount in the recipe. That slipped my read-through. Argh. So much for being a good hostess! Love the recipe, love and adore you and your writing! Much success.


  7. I so enjoyed the first two Vicky Hill mysteries and am looking forward to this new one (after I finish Expose!)! The recipe sounds delicious...and low on calories, too, I presume.

  8. Greetings, Hannah! I'm delighted to see you in our *virtual* Kitchen and with such a fabulous recipe - easy, delicious, and an interesting story to tell as we serve it (the best kind). Big congrats on the publication of THIEVES, the latest title in your thoroughly enjoyable Vicky Hill Mysteries series. Cheers to you!

    ~ Cleo

  9. Hi, all. I know Hannah is at a book signing in Arizona right at this moment. I know she'll chime back in soon.

    Erika, yes, this is a low-calorie dessert. NOT. LOL


  10. Hannah, at the risk of being attacked by chocolate lovers everywhere, I'd rather eat meringue and whipped cream anytime.

    BTW, if the opportunity should ever arise to see Hannah in person on a panel -- GO! She stole the show last year at Malice! I'm laughing just thinking about it.

    ~ Krista

  11. Krista, no kidding. Hannah is a stitch!

  12. Hello Hello! Here I am at last ... I tried in vain to access MLK from my BlackBerry but no luck. Thank you for your enthusiasm for Vicky Hill - and Krista, that panel Tails with Tales (I believe?) was such great fun.

    It's been such a pleasure to be part of this fabulous group of culinary experts and fans. Now ... I must devour a whole mountain of Eton Mess. Since I am among friends, I have to admit to not baking my own meringues on this rare occasion ....