First Tuesday Recipes for September

Soup, Vegetables, Pot, Cooking, Food

It’s September 1st! You know what that means: we’re one step closer to lower humidity, cooler temperatures, and less weather-induced fury on my part. Today I’m sharing three fall-ish recipes that I hope you’ll try. Let me know what you think. And if you’ve got a recipe you’d like to share, email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to post it!

Before I continue, I’m going to engage in some shameless self-promotion for just a moment. Today I’m being interviewed by Dr. Summer Watson, author, podcaster, filmmaker, coach, and speaker, on her KORE Women podcast. Just click the link and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to have a listen: www.KOREWomen.com/podcast‬

And now for the recipes!

***

Fall Apple Sandwich

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread (you can substitute any bread, but the cinnamon raisin really elevates this sandwich)

2 oz. deli ham or turkey (I prefer the ham)

1 oz. cheddar cheese, sliced thin or shredded

1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly-sliced

butter

 

Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Layer ham, cheese, and apple slices on one piece of bread. Place the other piece of bread on top. Butter the top of the sandwich. Place sandwich, butter side down, on the griddle and butter the bottom slice. Cook until cheese is starting to melt and bread is golden. Flip sandwich and cook until cheese is completely melted. This is delicious with a dollop of your favorite mustard on the side.

 

***

Chicken and Apple Salad

Dressing:

1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. Dijon mustard

4 T. honey

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Salad:

1/4 t. pepper

1/8 t. salt

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast

cooking spray

8 c. salad greens

3/4 c. chopped red pepper

1/2 c. celery, thinly sliced

1/2 c. red onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 1/2 c. Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1/2 c. shredded smoked Gouda cheese

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

 

Make dressing: combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.

Preheat broiler and coat broiler pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken. Broil chicken for about 5 min. per side or until juices run clear. Slice chicken into 1/4″ pieces. Combine chicken, salad greens, red pepper, celery, and onion in a large bowl; toss gently. Whisk dressing again and drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds.

***

Ham and Bean Soup

16 oz. navy beans

ham bone (I wrap mine in cheesecloth so the yucky bits don’t get into the soup)

3 c. diced ham

1/2 t. basil

1 sm. onion, chopped

1/4 t. pepper

2 med. celery stalks, sliced

1 med. carrot, chopped

 

Soak beans in 2 qts. water overnight. Drain water from beans and add another 2 qts. water. Combine beans with all other ingredients except celery and carrots. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours, covered, stirring occasionally. Stir in celery and carrots. Simmer for 30-60 minutes. Remove and discard ham bone before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Maria Grazia Swan

Today I welcome Maria Grazia Swan to Reade and Write. Maria is a mystery author with a novella in the soon-to-be-released collection Summer Snoops Unleashed. I’ve helped the authors of the collection promote it, and there’s one more post featuring two or three other authors coming soon.

Ready to learn more about Maria?

Tell me about your new novella.

Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye could be seen as a short book or a long novella. It’s about 24,000 words and will be released on July 23 as part of the boxed set Summer Snoops Unleashed, as you mentioned. The link to purchase the collection is https://books2read.com/SummerSnoopsUnleashed, and as you can see, for 99¢ readers will have plenty of stories to read. I’m honored to be in the company of such great authors.

Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye is part of my Baker Girls cozy mystery series. As you read this, books 1 and 2 of the series are available only on Amazon, but very soon (in about 10 days) all the books in the series will be available at all major online retailers.

Click this link to find Book 1, Cooks, Crooks and a Corpse, on Amazon.

Click this link to find Book 2, Foods, Fools, and a Dead Psychic, on Amazon.

Here are the covers of the books currently on Amazon:

I’m really excited to be able to share my new covers with you here! Drum roll, please…

Congratulations, Maria! I love the new covers!

Book 3 in the Baker Girls series, Wine, Dine, and Christmas Crimes, is available for pre-order now. Here’s a look at the cover and link to pre-order the book.

https://books2read.com/u/mY1NZV

Back to Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye. I wanted to write a short book for readers not familiar with the Baker Girls series. In this novella I introduce the main characters and the feelings driving their actions. I hope new readers will like the concept and read the rest of the series.

Readers, Maria is giving away two Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye today! All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. I’ll choose the winners tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. EST.

Maria, tell us about your other books. 

Baker Girls is my 3rd series and the first one with a Phoenix/Arizona locale/settings.

My first series is the Mina Calvi Adventure mysteries. Anyone familiar with my books knows I only write about places where I have lived or at least visited personally. The Mina Calvi series has Orange County, California, as background because I lived there while writing most of the books…

…Except for book 3, Italian Summer. I wrote that back home in Italy and it’s 60% autobiographical as it pertains to settings, feelings, and habits. OK, I’m stopping here. You’ll have to read the book to fill the blanks…

My second series is the Lella York suspense series, and those books each have a different setting. Book 1, Gemini Moon: Murder Under the Italian Moon, was based on a real deadly event. A friend of mine was shot by the spouse and her blood spattered on one of my books she had on her desk at the time. It was returned to me years later and I just had to write about the shooting.

Describe yourself in three words

Loyal, passionate, truthful.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write from the heart: readers can tell. And keep in mind no one was born a writer. While some excel at it, it’s a craft. Practice makes perfect. Never give up.

Where can readers find you?

Email: mgsweb1@gmail.com

Website

Twitter

Amazon Author page

BookBub 

Subscribe to my newsletter

And where can readers find your books, besides the links you’ve already provided?

I’ve written short stories and non-fiction in addition to my mysteries. Check out my website for more information on my books.

Maria has graciously provided a recipe from one of her main characters, Monica, a cook who tends to take shortcuts. There are two versions of Pasta Primavera: the regular version and Monica’s shortcut version.

Monica’s Pasta Primavera

(This version works for vegetarians. If you are following a gluten-free diet, substitute gluten-free pasta for regular pasta. You can use your favorite brand. My choice is Barilla. ~Monica)

12 ounces of pasta (I use Barilla thin spaghetti)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

½ pound broccoli, trim thick stems

½ pound cauliflower

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup heavy cream

***

Cook pasta according to directions.

While waiting for water to boil chop broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Once the pasta is in the pot, melt butter in large skillet over low heat, but don’t let it brown. Set aside.

Two minutes before removing the pasta from the boiling pot add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower to the boiling water/pasta.

Drain well pasta and veggies, transfer to the skillet with melted butter, toss well. Add heavy cream and cheese, toss some more and serve.  (4 servings)

Buon appetito!

 

Monica’s One-Pot 15-Minute version…if you dare…serves 2

8 ounces pasta (half a package) (Barilla thin spaghetti cooks in 5-6 minutes al dente)

Salt and pepper as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1-10 ounces package frozen vegetables (I like the Oriental Stir-fry plain, but any frozen vegetables would do)

***

Cook pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, open frozen vegetables, discard wrapping and put vegetables in colander. Let hot water from kitchen faucet run over frozen vegetables. That way they will thaw but remain crisp.

When pasta is done, turn off faucet and pour pasta over vegetables in colander. Drain well.

Quickly return the pot in which the pasta was cooked to the same burner, add butter. Allow it to melt over a low burner but do not allow it to brown.

Pour pasta and vegetables on top of melted butter, add olive oil and toss well.

Serve with grated cheese to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sounds delicious! Thanks for visiting, Maria!

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Food Group

Anyone who knows me well also knows that I consider chocolate to be a food group unto itself.

And as many of you also know, I live near Cape May, New Jersey. Each December, Cape May’s Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) sponsors a spectacular array of events including everything from a Christmas traditions lecture – to evening Yuletide trolley tours to see the lights on the Victorian homes and inns in Cape May – to walking tours of historic Cape May inns – to something called a “Dickens Christmas Extravaganza” – to various and unforgettable food and wine events. If you want to see some of the things the MAC has to offer during the holiday season, you can check out their website here.

For many of the past years, we haven’t had the time to enjoy MAC holiday events. But my husband and I were finally able to attend the Chocolate Lovers’ Feast at The Blue Rose Inn about a week and a half ago. For about 90 minutes, we sat in one of the small Victorian dining rooms at the Inn and enjoyed learning about chocolate and sampling gourmet treats made with chocolate the restaurant sources from Europe.

I thought the menu would make a good blog post, so I’m sharing it with you here. Most of the seven courses featured a different type of chocolate, classified by both cocoa content and the plantation where the chocolate originated in France.

First, a look at the menu:

So here’s what the first course looked like:

It was one of the most unusual ways I’ve ever seen chocolate presented–with both sweet and savory elements included. Each of two crispy pieces of Honey & Chocolate Porter crostini were topped with a drizzle of Concord grape jam, watercress, three dollops of mascarpone, duck prosciutto, and dark (72% cocoa) chocolate shavings.

In a thousand years I would never think to put those ingredients together, but somehow they worked. I was impressed.

Second course:

Of the seven courses, this was my favorite. It was a white chocolate and Bailey’s Irish Cream pot de creme with a frothy topping of milk and tiny crumbles of dark chocolate cookies. We ate it with dainty little spoons that forced us to take small bites to savor and enjoy the dessert. If I had been at home, I’m embarrassed to say that I would have eaten the pot de creme in two bites, licked out the bowl, and gone for seconds.

Third course:

The mascarpone at The Blue Rose Inn is made in-house, as is everything else in the scratch kitchen. On its own, it is sublime. When combined with milk chocolate (47% cocoa) and made into a cheesecake that is paired with Bourbon cherries and a creme Anglaise, it is nothing short of heavenly. There was a kerfuffle at a nearby table because one of the guests didn’t want cherries soaked in alcohol; I would gladly have eaten her portion. Those little crumbles you see in the photo are bits of the cocoa Amaretti crust.

Fourth course:

Palate cleansers are not a thing at my house. If someone asked for a palate cleanser, I would laugh at them. But as part of a chocolatey Victorian experience, it is a must. And this sorbet, made with white chocolate and citrus, was perfect. It was tangy and not too sweet. I don’t know why I expected a sorbet to be room temperature, but it wasn’t. The rest of you probably would have known that already, but I can be a bit dense sometimes.

Fifth course:

This is going to sound like Francophobic vitriol and I hereby apologize to everyone in France, but I do not care for macarons. I know, Mon dieu! But it is the truth. This was one course I did not enjoy. The macarons I have tasted lack strength of flavor, and this one was no different (please note, these should not be confused with macaroons, which I could eat all day). And of all the nuts on earth, peanuts are perhaps my least favorite, so the macaron paired with frozen peanut semifreddo was lackluster. I could see, though, that I was one of the only ones in the room who did not find the dish delectable. P.S. the cranberry coulis was delicious and I would top every Thanksgiving food with it if I could.

Sixth course:

This was an interesting addition to the feast. I know coffee and chocolate are traditional pairings, and I also know that a bit of strong coffee or espresso will bring out the chocolate flavor of a dessert. But I don’t add coffee to my chocolate desserts for a reason: I do not like the taste of strong coffee (I have coffee on most days, and I add enough sugar and half-and-half so that it tastes something like ice cream). This offering was not what I would have chosen, as the coffee was pretty strong. But the cake itself was dense and tasty and the mascarpone, as I already mentioned, was wonderful.

Seventh and final course:

The Blue Rose Inn was brilliant to send us off with a holiday classic–hot chocolate. It was the perfect way to fend off the afternoon chill and the wind that greeted us when we left to return to our normal lives. And this hot chocolate was something special. Made with dark (72% cocoa) chocolate and topped with Chantilly cream, it wasn’t too hot, too cold, too sweet, or too strong. It was, in a word, perfect. I have used sweetened whipped cream a million times in my own kitchen and never knew there was another name for it. From now on I shall call it “Chantilly Cream” and make people think I was trained in Paris. And the meringue and ginger cookie that accompanied the drink? Magnifique.

I should note that on the way home, my husband and I each got a free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from the gas station/convenience store down the road from our house. We didn’t eat them that day, but they’re gone now and they were delicious, too. To be honest, they’re really more our speed. But our afternoon in Cape May was a great memory and we’re glad we experienced it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my brief culinary adventure. Next week I’m going to take you on a vicarious wine dinner that we also enjoyed as part of the Cape May MAC festivities.

Until next time,

Amy

The Holidays are Upon Us…

…so what better way to celebrate than talking about FOOD?

It doesn’t matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other holiday at this time of year. We happen to celebrate Christmas at our house, but it doesn’t matter what you celebrate or where in the world you live. Part of what makes the holidays special is the food that we eat during our celebrations. I love learning about the ways different cultures celebrate, and a big part of a culture is its food.

Cooking is a passion of mine, and I especially like to cook during the holidays. Each year I have a repertoire of recipes that I haul out, and each year I try to add a few new things. This year, in an attempt to bring more of an international flavor to our holiday season, I made a batch of cookies called “Austrian Chocolate Balls.” Now, I don’t know how chocolate balls came about or what’s Austrian about them, but I’ll tell you this: they were a big hit and now I want to go to Austria even more than I did before I made the cookies.

Anyone else eat stollen at Christmastime? My mom’s side of the family is German, and stollen is a German sweet bread filled with dried fruits. My aunt makes it every year. I think it’s actually called “Christmas stollen” or “Christstollen,” but we take the simple route and just call it stollen. I like it best when it’s toasted and slathered with butter.

I also make Russian tea cakes. There are about a million other names for the same recipe (including “Spanish Wedding Cookies,” “Mexican Wedding Cakes,” “Snowballs,” “Ponda Polvas,” etc.), but I find “Russian tea cakes” to be the most exotic and exciting. Fortunately or not, I am the only one in my household that really likes them (everyone says they’re too dry…um, hello? That’s why we have eggnog), so I usually eat more than my fair share of them during the holidays. I could just stop making them, but why?

In a nod to the country of France, every Christmas Eve I melt a round of brie and top it with raspberry preserves, apricot preserves, or other sweet mixture. I don’t know how French the toppings are, but I feel beaucoup francais when eating my brie on December 24th. Do I even have to note that it’s wrapped in puff pastry? I think not.

There are so many foods out there that the rest of the world associates with Christmas, Hanuakkah, and Kwanzaa, and I’d love to learn more about them. I recently took out a library book called Holidays of the World: Cookbook for Students. It’s an overwhelming list of foods and recipes that are prepared for countless holidays, all over the world, all year ’round. I have enjoyed looking through it, though I am finding it almost too exhaustive.

There are other foods I make at Christmastime, of course, that are tradition and I have no idea where the recipes originate. One is my grandmother’s party mix. It has two pounds of butter in it.

Yes, you read that right. Here’s a picture:

party mix

Another is crab bisque, and caramel-fudge shortbread, and pumpkin roll, and mulled cider, and cutout cookies, and lots and lots of other delicious and heavy-on-the-saturated-fat foods that I associate with Christmas. And I know they’re not good for us–that’s why I don’t cook like this during the rest of the year.

And the best part of making all those things? Sharing them. Are there any special foods you associate with the holidays this time of year? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Here are examples of some of the recipes I’ve listed above:

http://germanfood.about.com/od/baking/r/weihstollen.htm

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/austrian-chocolate-balls/

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/russian-tea-cakes/3af8664b-6c3e-4022-b686-cd961521e59b

http://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/entertaining/baked-brie-with-raspberry-preserves-recipe