Sunday, August 23, 2020

Welcome to Audrey Keown!









A warm welcome to Audrey Keown, whose first book, MURDER AT HOTEL 1911 is being released on September 8th! Be sure to enter the giveaway! See the instructions below.








This is one of those recipes that feels a little dangerous. (And we like danger, don’t we, mystery readers?)
George Anghelescu is the renowned chef at the period-themed hotel in my debut mystery Murder at Hotel 1911. His career and freedom are jeopardized when narcissistic business mogul Amelia Swain dies from an apparent allergic reaction to shellfish after eating one of his dinners.
The night before her death, George serves rich and elegant chocolate pots de crème. (The exacting Ms. Swain asks the dinner server, “And you made absolutely sure there is no fish whatsoever in that recipe?”)
But George enjoys “stirring the pot.” Innovation is a constant element in his kitchen, and he’s always getting inspiration from what the local farm delivers or from the Romanian food he grew up with.
In the warmer months, he would likely deliver pots de crème in a chill summery flavor like horchata, the classic Mexican drink, creating a Mexican-French fusion dessert. (George is fancy like that.)
Horchata is traditionally made with soaked rice, which gives the agua fresca a creamy and cooling consistency. Depending on where you are, it might also be flavored with almonds, condensed milk, or even melon, but cinnamon is always a big part of the flavor combo.
In this case, George has left out the rice in favor of the classic pots de crème thickening combo: heavy cream and eggs. (If you want to reduce the fat content, you can switch out half a cup or so of the cream for milk.)
Not counting the garnish, the recipe calls for just six, simple ingredients, (most of which you probably don’t have to make a masked trip to the store for—thanks, Corona), but the way you combine them turns the mundane into a dish that’s truly transcendent.
The richness of thick, sweet custard makes the tiny serving size just right. Any larger and you might have to ride the elevator straight up to your room at Hotel 1911 and sleep it off. The consistency and flavor remind me of crème brulee without the crunchy caramel top—which, let’s face it, is a bit of trouble.
The dangerous part of the recipe (okay, besides the fat content) is adding the hot cream to the eggs. This process is excellent for creating an inedible soup of cream and hardened egg bits if you’re not careful.
To temper the eggs without curdling them, proceed cautiously, starting with a slow stream of cream as you whisk. This process may create some foam, which you can scoop off for a smoother top to your finished custards. (If you end up with eggy floaters despite your best intentions, all is not lost. You can strain them out before pouring the mixture into the custard dishes.) I trust you’ll get the hang of it, and then you’ll be baking these all the time.


Horchata Pots de Crème
Ingredients

2 c. heavy cream (a.k.a. whipping cream)
1/8 tsp. salt (sea, Pink Himalayan, hey--whatever you like)
6 large egg yolks
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon (George would use Ceylon.)
Lime zest, chopped almonds, or toasted coconut to garnish

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and heat a good quantity of water in your kettle or what have you.
In your favorite saucepan, bring the cream and salt to a simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime, whisk yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until they’re a bit lighter in color. 
Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. When it’s smooth, stir in the vanilla extract and cinnamon.
Set six oven-safe jars or ramekins in a large baking dish and divide the custard mixture evenly among them. Place the baking dish on your middle oven rack, and gently pour in your hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of your jars.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the custards are still wobbly in the middle but set around the edges.
Use a potholder to remove the (hot!) dishes from the water bath. Let cool five minutes, then refrigerate until chilled completely, about 4 hours. (Technically, you could eat them warm, but the custard becomes thicker and delightfully refreshing as it cools.)
Serve with a sprinkle of lime zest, toasted coconut, or chopped almonds.

Whisk eggs-yolks only-with sugar until just blended. You don’t want the eggs to foam.

Horchata pot de crème mixed and ready to pour into ramekins. Chef George recommends this recipe for cooks who want an impressive, make-ahead dessert that’s actually no trouble at all.

Cinnamon is warming, but this chilled dessert remains cool and refreshing, especially with a garnish of lime zest.
Don’t have fancy dishes like George does at Hotel 1911? You can bake these velvety custards in small ramekins or, as I did, in Oui yogurt jars!

Audrey Keown set her mystery series in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place she calls home. She lost her heart to the city in the early days of its downtown revival, and its bridges, coffee shops, breweries, parks, and people are its mixtape back to her. For ten years she wrote professionally for Chatter magazine and the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which sharpened her storytelling skills for cutting into fiction writing. Themes of redemption and connection to history often find their way into her work. Like her protagonist, she has battled anxiety and writes about mental illness in her fiction in hopes of helping lift the stigma. This is her first book.  

Audrey is very kindly giving away a copy of  Murder at Hotel 1911 to one lucky person. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. US only, please. Good luck!

57 comments:

  1. Love custard - thanks for the recipe.
    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Thanks, Taurus! It's an easy custard too! No standing and stirring.

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  2. Welcome today. I love custard. Thank you for the recipe. Oh but this books sounds like a good one. Thank you for the give a way.
    quilting lady 2 at comcast dot net

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    1. Thanks, Lori! I appreciate the support. This is a delicious and versatile custard for sure.

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  3. Congrats on the new book. It sounds good, I look forward to reading it.
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Alicia! It's so fun to debut, and I'm finding the mystery community so welcoming!

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  4. Yay....a new series to read!! Thank you for the opportunity to win.
    sharonquilts@yahoodotcom

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    1. Yes! Book number two in the series is slated for next fall, Sharon! Hope it's a great read for you.

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  5. The giveaway copy will be a signed, hardback! Good luck to you and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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  6. My mind is an interesting place. I was convinced as I started reading the blog that this was a chocolate dessert.
    I had to see the photos to kick my brain in gear to register that this is NOT chocolate.
    Your comment about creme brulee should have clued me in, but it didn't.
    Lovely idea, even without chocolate! ;o)
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. Ha! Libby, you're cracking me up. I can relate to this confusion. I did mention chocolate pots de creme in the post, so it probably came from there. A chocolate version is pretty traditional, and there are tons of good recipes for them online.

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  7. Thank you for the heavenly sounding recipe for Horchata Pots de Crème. Most definitely will be trying this.

    Love getting in on the ground floor with a new author. Already liked on Facebook and Twitter. Can't wait for the opportunity to read " Murder at Hotel 1911" to learn all about George Anghelescu. Sounds like a wonderful read and one I would greatly enjoy. Adding to my TBR list.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy! Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. Aw, thanks so much for the shares and the Goodreads add, Kay! I really hope you enjoy reading it.

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  8. Oh these look yummy & so pretty in your jars.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks, Jana! I don't mind telling that it was a lot of hard work eating enough yogurt to get six empty jars. 😂

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  9. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I look forward to giving it a try. And as it happens, I am one of those people who have saved my Oui jars! Your books sounds like a fun read!
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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    1. Oh perfect! Having the right containers makes this recipe so easy! Sometimes it pays off to be a pack rat.

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  10. Sounds like a great new series. Looking forward to reading the book.
    diannekc(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Dianne! Good luck to you!

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    2. Dianne! Congratulations to you! You won the signed copy. Check your email inbox for my note. :)

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  11. I love having a new series to look forward to reading. This looks like a fun one. Thank you! cindystamps(at)juno(dot)com

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    1. Series are the best! I love knowing that the end of one book is not goodbye. Thanks, Cindy!

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  12. Delectable treat. I love custards. So soothing and nostalgic. Your book sounds captivating. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, traveler! Soothing and nostalgic is exactly right!

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  13. This looks delicious and the books sounds interesting. mountainsr4me@hotmail.com

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    1. Thank you! My in-house tasters certainly scarfed down this recipe, twice!

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  14. Wonderful new series which interests me greatly. The story and era is intriguing. Enticing dessert which I will be making this summer. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much, petite! It's an ideal summer dessert! I do love the early 20th century. It was fun getting to visit that era through the theming of the hotel without making the whole book historical. Juxtaposing present and past gives the reader a chance for some insights of their own.

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  16. Congrats on the release of your first book! I have been to Chattanooga and we had a quick stop at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I would love to read Murder at Hotel 1911. Thanks so much for the giveaway for your new book.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! I love Chattanooga so much, and the Choo-Choo itself has just undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation. It looks so beautiful.

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  17. This looks great, and so does the the new book! BTW, my mom's name is Audrey, so I'll easily remember you! lola777_22 at hotmail dot com

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    1. Another Audrey! I feel connected already. Thanks for entering!

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  18. I’m all for a dessert that’s not chocolate! I’m looking forward to reading about Chattanooga.
    patdupuy@yahoo.com

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