Posted in food

Chicken Fusilli

Photo credit: Alyson Muse

This recipe for chicken fusilli originally appeared in my cozy murder mystery Feta and the Fat Bastard (Whine & Cheese Cozy Mystery Series, Book 3). Click here to order directly from my publisher, Open Books.

You will need:

2 skinless chicken breasts or 4 deboned skinless chicken thighs

2 cups fusilli pasta

Creamy garlic alfredo type pasta sauce, plus add a ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or make your own- see below) plus 1 teaspoon mustard

1 regular size can of diced tomatoes

1 small can of mushrooms (whole or pieces, whatever you prefer)

1 teaspoon olive oil

Selection of cheeses, grated

Bacon, diced and cooked

Dice chicken. Heat olive oil in pan on medium high, then cook chicken until done. Set aside.

Combine pasta sauce (and garlic powder and mustard), tomatoes and mushrooms.  Simmer on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, giving flavours a chance to marry. Sauce will likely be tasty as is, however, you can also add herbs of your choice for extra flavor.

Cook pasta according to directions.  When ready, drain, serve with sauce and top with cooked chicken. Also good with grated cheese of choice (pop into microwave for about 45 seconds to melt cheese to perfection) and a handful of cooked bacon.

If you just want a creamy garlic sauce, omit adding canned tomatoes. Mushrooms are also optional.

Home-made creamy garlic sauce

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon mustard

½ teaspoon salt (or more according to your taste)

Few shakes of black pepper (about ¼ teaspoon)

Few shakes of paprika, if you have any (1/4 teaspoon)

Combine all of the above in a saucepan and cook on medium heat. Mix with a whisk every few minutes so that cornstarch is well blended and sauce doesn’t stick to bottom.  Once sauce begins to gently boil, reduce heat. Simmer until sauce thickens. If too thick, add more milk. If not thick enough, mix more cornstarch (1/2 teaspoon) in a glass with some cold water before adding to hot sauce.  Add can of tomatoes and mushrooms as noted above.

Posted in food

German Oven Pancakes

Photo credit: Freerange stock archives

Oh my goodness, this recipe!! Being Hungarian, I wasn’t a pancake fan; I grew up on crepes. But this? Topped with berries, pudding, yogurt, whipped cream, jam, custard, on its own, syrup….I could eat this for days in a row. Ehem, perhaps I have…

This recipe originally appeared in my cozy murder mystery Feta and the Fat Bastard (Whine & Cheese Cozy Mystery Series, Book 3). (click to order directly from my publisher, Open Books)

Cozy Mystery Book Series Recipe: German Oven Pancakes

The consistency is like a custard or almost cheese-like, and the flavour is simple but yet so good.  I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

You will need:

9×13 inch glass baking dish works best

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 and 1/3 cups flour

5 tablespoons white granulated sugar

cooking spray or about 1 tablespoon oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all the ingredients and blend well with electric mixer. Spray (or oil) a large casserole dish with cooking spray, then pour batter into dish and bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes until the edges are puffy and a nice golden colour. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar, then serve immediately; did I mention that the consistency is like a firm custard?

Slice and serve with a nice fruit topping, maple syrup or a squeeze of lemon. Keeps well in fridge- reheat slices for a minute or less in the microwave.

Enjoy, my friends.

Posted in food, Uncategorized

Mom’s famous Schnitzels

This recipe originally appeared in my cozy murder mystery Swiss Cheese and Sibling Rivalry (Whine & Cheese Cozy Mystery Series, Book 4).

I teased and taunted my readers with this through the whole quadrilogy before finally divulging the recipe in book 4. And now, here it is for free (but you should still buy the book, cuz, you know, it’s funny).

Mom’s Famous Schnitzels

1 package of boneless, thin sliced pork cutlets (about 8 pieces of meat, although more is definitely better)

2 eggs, beaten, in a bowl big enough to dip the meat in

1 cup of flour, in a bowl big enough to dip the meat in

1 1/2 to 2 cups of breadcrumbs of your choice, in a bowl big enough to dip the meat in

salt, pepper

1/3 teaspoon of: garlic powder, paprika, dill weed, dried parsley (optional spices- the only necessity is salt and pepper)

1/2 cup or more olive oil or oil of your choice for frying-you might need more

Salt and pepper both sides of each piece of meat then set aside.  To the breadcrumbs, add about 1/3 teaspoon of each spice and mix around to incorporate.

Arrange the bowls in this order: flour, egg, breadcrumbs.

Coat each piece of meat in the order above. Flour both sides, then shake off any excess. Next dip in the egg mixture, coating completely and allowing excess to drip off before putting into the breadcrumb bowl and coating completely. Pat firmly so that the breadcrumbs adhere well.  When done, set aside on a plate until all of the meat has been prepared.  I use a fork in one hand to lift the meat from each bowl and my other hand to coat in the flour and breadcrumbs. Your coating hand will be gross by the time you’re done.

In a frying pan, add enough oil so that it covers the bottom and has enough in it to almost cover a piece of meat.  Heat on medium or just very slightly higher for a few minutes before adding any meat. Once a breadcrumb added to the oil begins to sizzle, the temperature is right.

Fit as many pieces of meat that the pan can accommodate without crowding. Mine fits 4-5 pieces comfortably. Each side will take a few minutes to fry. Once you have a nice, golden or light brown colour, you can flip the meat to the other side and do the same.  When ready, transfer to an oven safe dish lined with paper towel to absorb any oils. Keep the meat in a warmed but not hot oven until all of the meat is cooked.

Delicious served with rice or any type of potato that you like (mashed, baked, fried, potato salad, etc) and a side of Hungarian cucumber salad.

You’re welcome, my friends.

Posted in food

Turmeric Pearl Couscous Tabouleh

Tabouleh

For those of you expecting a Furtastic Friday post today….sorry! I need more animals! So, instead, I bring you food.

I was in my 30’s before I first tried Tabouleh. I mean, first of all, I couldn’t pronounce it and then I didn’t know what was in it. It was very green; too green. And, most people couldn’t even tell me what was in it, but swore by it.

I’m not even sure what possessed me to try it. Yes, I’m a finicky eater, though I branch out a little more with each passing year. I think it was some tortilla chips that convinced me to try it at a work potluck. There they were, side by side, and I thought, “Yeah, I can handle that.”

Being picky, it has to be made right. No surprise ingredients like olives, and for heaven’s sake, not made with quinoa! Traditionally, it’s made with bulgur, something else I was not familiar with. I’m Hungarian. We did not have bulgur in our house.

Now if you’re searching frantically through my books for the recipe, stop! It’s not one of my previously published ones. Nope, this is brand new, baby! And since I’m not doing a book 5, I get to share whatever inspires me right away.

The parsley in my garden had a sudden growth spurt, so Tabouleh sprang to mind. I’d never made it yet, but how hard can it be? Searches on line promised me that it could be made with couscous. I rummaged in my pantry and came across some of this wonderful, iron-rich turmeric infused pearl couscous.

Never one to follow a recipe, after gleaning inspiration from a number of different ones, I created my own. I cooked the couscous in a roasted garlic chicken broth, then added what I thought would not only taste good, but still resemble a Tabouleh.

For the batch pictured today, I even ran out and bought some of this weird bulgur stuff and added a bit to the recipe. It was pretty bland on it’s own, even though I cooked it in the same broth as the couscous. Mixed up all together though, delicious and I hope full of healthy goodness.

You be the judge!

Turmeric Pearl Couscous Tabouleh

-1 cup turmeric pearl couscous (I found it at Bulk Barn)

-2 cups chicken broth of choice

-1 big bunch parsley chopped very small

-5-6 sprigs of cilantro (traditional Tabouleh uses mint instead), chopped very small

-5-6 sprigs fresh chives (you get the idea, chopped really small)

-1/2 small onion diced small

-1 diced tomato

-6 cloves of garlic (yes, diced small)

-4 tablespoons olive oil or more, depending on taste

-1/4 cup lemon juice

-salt and pepper to taste

Boil broth then add couscous. Reduce heat to simmer, then turn off once only a bit of liquid remains, allowing couscous to sit another 10 minutes or so. Then cool couscous. You may need to add a bit more broth if it gets sticky.

Meanwhile, chop up all the other ingredients and combine. Add cooled couscous, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste, adjust as needed. Refrigerates well for 3-4 days.

My step-daughter, Abby, added feta to hers, but if you do that, don’t add it to the whole thing because it won’t keep as well.

If you have any recipes you’d love to share, let me know!

Cheers, my friends.

Posted in food

Flaked Ham Pitas (or rollups)

Although I love to cook, the heat we’ve been having lately has dampened my desire to turn the stove or oven on. I have a lovely pool, but I do not have central air conditioning, so the house tends to get up to 80 degrees at times. Or more.

I revisited book 1, Asiago and the Accomplice, just to refresh my memory with what recipes I had shared in there. I came across my famous ham pitas recipes. Hey, it is famous, in some corners of this world; particularly where I worked for 20 years in Ottawa, Ontario. It’s easy, cheap, filling, yummy and best of all, no oven or stove needed.

It’s best with small, chewy-type pitas or flour tortillas. There’s some really interesting flavoured tortillas these days, too, to make it even more tasty. In a pinch, I’ve even just put it on sandwich bread or a nice, fresh bun. I’m salivating already; I shouldn’t be writing this just before dinner time!

As you can see here, I made it with plain tortillas and butter croissants this time. Since I hadn’t made them in ages, it tasted extra good.

You will need:

-1 can of flaked ham, drained (I use the low sodium one when available)

-1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, they are NOT the same thing!)

-dash of garlic powder

-dash or 3 (I use 3) of dried dill weed

-1 teaspoon relish (I hate relish but it’s really good in this- totally optional, 99% of the time I make it without)

Mix everything up in a bowl. If you have mini pitas, slit them in half and stuff about half a teaspoon to a teaspoonful of ham into it. This should make about a dozen.

If you’re using tortillas, spread about 1 tablespoon of the mixture all over the tortilla, roll it up, then slice it into about 5-6 pieces. If you have time to chill it a couple of hours, it tastes even better, but it’s also good right away. Don’t chill it too long though, since they can get mushy then.

You might want to add a nice salad to round things out. Try my feta and greens recipes, from book 3, Feta and the Fat Bastard!

http://www.bookglow.net/cozy-mystery-book-series-recipe-feta-and-greens/

Or, you can simply opt for a cheese and salami platter. Here’s a funny review I did a couple of years back that you might enjoy. I went through a lot of cheese, breads and salamis (and wine) when I was writing these reviews, so I’ll share them over the coming months.

They all include little snippets from my books, so if you have time (cuz, you know, you’re not cooking), take a look. Cheers!

http://www.bookglow.net/whine-cheese-bistro-favorites-big-house-jalapeno-monterey-jack/

Posted in food

Kitchen Staples and Greek lemon and herb roasted potatoes

Here’s a peek at what’s inside my cozy mystery #4. Somehow, murder mysteries and food just go hand in hand! First we have my kitchen staples and then a fantastic recipe that I highly recommend if you love potatoes.

Buying herbs and spices can be expensive. The seasoned cook (pun intended!) will already have a well-stocked supply, but if you’re just starting out, here’s my recommendations based on what I use most.

First and foremost, invest in a good-quality, light-tasting, extra virgin olive oil.  It’s pricey, but it will make all the difference. I’ve learned this from experience, after tasting many overpowering, lower quality, less expensive varieties.  Also, don’t skimp on the olive oil.  The recipes in my books already use as little oil as possible and there should be no need to further scale back. It’s a “good fat”, which our bodies need to function optimally, so you can enjoy small quantities without feeling guilty. I know what I’m talking about; I’m an ex-anorexic.

I will assume that everyone already has salt and pepper, so let’s move on to the very basics.

The Herbs

dill weed, parsley, chives, oregano or “Italian Seasoning” and cilantro

The Spices

garlic powder (not garlic salt), paprika, chili powder, cumin, turmeric and cayenne (if you like spicy)

If you have nothing else other than the above, you should still be able to become a very decent cook.

Now that we have that under our belts, how about using some of these in this absolutely mouth watering Greek lemon and herb roasted potato dish?

http://www.bookglow.net/cozy-mystery-book-series-recipe-greek-lemon-and-herb-roasted-potatoes/

This recipe for Greek lemon and herb-roasted potatoes originally appeared in my cozy murder mystery Swiss Cheese and Sibling Rivalry (Whine & Cheese Cozy Mystery Series, Book 4).

Greek Lemon And Herb-Roasted Potatoes

You will need:

7-8 medium large potatoes, peeled

8 cloves of garlic, halved

¼ cup mild tasting olive oil

¼ cup melted butter or margarine

1 heaping tablespoon yellow mustard

5 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon of each: dried oregano, dried or fresh parsley, garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried dill weed (optional)

1 tablespoon dried or fresh chopped cilantro (optional; not everyone likes cilantro or dill and prefer to leave it out. I add both to almost everything)

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut the peeled potatoes into wedges: cut in half, then cut those halves in half.

In a bowl, combine all the other ingredients except for the cloves of garlic and cilantro. I know you’re thinking EYEW about the mustard, right? Trust me. I don’t even care for mustard but it actually “makes” this dish complete.

Add potatoes and toss well so that it is all coated.  Place in a baking dish (I use a medium sized glass lasagna baking dish) and cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes then add cloves of garlic. If you add them sooner, they often burn. Cover with foil again and bake another 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until nicely browned.  If the wedges are very thick, leave covered with foil for 20-25 minutes before uncovering.

When done, add cilantro and serve. Also great with a sprinkling of tangy, freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Click below to go to the Open Books website and see recipes, old wine and cheese reviews that I did in my past, all sorts of books and other fun stuff!

http://www.bookglow.net/cozy-mystery-book-series-guide-to-kitchen-staples/

Want to see a really “cheesy” old video of me, from when I shot my first (and only) promo video? Click the youtube link below.

https://youtu.be/GQ0lS4skGU0

Posted in food

Better than Bushra’s Chickpea Salad

From Book 4: Swiss Cheese & Sibling Rivalry

First, a quick explanation for anyone not yet familiar with my cozy mystery series. While it’s not a recipe book, each book does have about 8-10 recipes. Most (though not all) involve either cheese, salami or bread, keeping in mind the Whine & Cheese bistro theme.

Click here to order the book!

http://www.open-bks.com/library/moderns/swiss-cheese-and-sibling-rivalry/about-book.html

For a quick little back-story on how the recipe came about, scroll on down to the bottom. Otherwise, let’s get to it!

For our first official summer weekend, this is a great accompaniment to any BBQ. It pretty much goes with everything.

You will need:

  • 1 large can chickpeas, drain and rinse well
  • 1/4 cup good quality, light-tasting olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon lemon juice (the juice from those plastic lemons works fine)
  • 1/2 of a large, firm tomato or 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts), diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh cilantro (a must- don’t skip this ingredient and it must be fresh, not dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin (also a must)
  • a few shakes of dried dill weed (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsly
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh chives
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chunks of feta cheese (optional)

Next:

Combine all ingredients, mix and enjoy. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days, if you don’t eat it before then. To take it over the top, if you are familiar with a good quality feta cheese, it’ll make the salad to die for.

Note: if you are adding cheese to this dish, it should be eaten the same day.Don’t be afraid to experiment. I often put a diced radish in this salad too.

Backstory:

Here’s a story about a girl named Bushra. She was 16 at the time that I wrote this, and made the best damn chickpea salad that she sold at her Syrian food stall at the local farmers market. Well, second best. Smirk.

I didn’t want to ask her for the recipe: a magician never reveals their tricks, right? So, I set out to re-create it myself. I have a pretty good palate and can pick out a lot of flavours. That, combined with some internet searches for somewhat similar recipes, gave me a good base to start with.

I like to take what appeals to me from each recipe, combine it all together, and add my own “bit of this and a bit of that.”

The end product (in my totally un-biased opinion, of course), was simply Wow. Now you be the judge! Let me know if you’v e tried it and added anything different so that I can try it, too! This time, I added in some celery and green peppers and probably put double the cilantro. Yum.