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Recipes from The Sugar Plum!
Readers of The Detective's Secret Daughter know that pastry chef Victoria Evans makes all the delectable treats for The Sugar Plum from time-honored recipes. But you don't have to travel to Fitzgerald Bay to get a taste of her authentic Irish cuisine. Below you'll find recipes for Victoria's signature dishes.
Cape Cod Egg Scramble
3 stalks asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 - 2 ounces crab meat
1 tsp. olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 - 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
1 - 2 ounces shredded asiago cheese
Sauté asparagus and crab meat in olive oil on
medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes or until the asparagus begins to get tender. Add eggs and scramble lightly. Spread into a roughly 6-inch contained pile
and turn. Add avocado slices and asiago
cheese. Turn (yes, the cheese will hit
the pan—this is what you want). Let it
sizzle for a minute more, then turn it onto a plate and serve immediately, with
an optional shake of salt as needed.
Irish Soda Bread
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup currants OR 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
Step One: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick baking
spray. In large bowl, whisk together
flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in currants or caraway seeds.
Step Two: In
a smaller bowl, melt butter, then whisk together with egg and buttermilk. Add to flour mixture and stir until dough
form (do not over mix or dough may become tough).
Transfer dough onto prepared cookie sheet and shape into the traditional
sphere. Slice an X on top before placing
in preheated oven. Bake 35 minutes or
until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool.
Ballycastle Sausage Rolls
Grind together in a mortar and pestle 1 tsp each of the following dried herbs: thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary, parsley, sage, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel. (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can try using a coffee grinder, but be sure to wash it out thoroughly before you use it for coffee beans again!)
Brown 2 pounds pork sausage with one diced medium yellow onion. Add the spices to the cooking meat mixture, together with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste).
Puff pastries. Victoria likes to make hers from scratch, but you can save a lot of time and mess by using two boxes of the frozen kind. Thaw to room temperature.
Scoop cooled meat mixture onto puff pastry squares and fold over to make little rectangles (you can use a little water or beaten egg to seal). For an optional glossy crust, brush with beaten egg mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy them while they're hot, or freeze to reheat for meals on the run!Cut-Out Cookies
Victoria's frosted cookies were one of her most beloved-treats, cherished by young and old, and scorned by villainous intruders. The best thing about her recipe is that it's super-easy. The dough doesn't even have to be refrigerated like a lot of cut-out cookie doughs (because who has time to mess with that?--not Victoria!) And while Victoria often makes batches ten times this size, the instructions below should produce two dozen 3-inch cookies (depending on the shapes you use, of course!)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter (two sticks)
Soften butter. This can be achieved by warming it in the microwave in 20-second intervals until soft but not melted (don't let it melt or the dough will be too sticky to work with!)
Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add egg until fluffy. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, and combine with butter mixture. Dough should be stiff. Roll out on lightly-floured surface, but with your favorite cookies cutters, and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool and frost with frosting (recipe below).
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Melt butter and milk together. Add sugar slowly, stirring between additions, until it reaches the desired consistency. Divide between containers and color as desired.
Hint: mix different colors of frosting in zipper bags, then snip off one corner of the bag to pipe frosting neatly onto your cookies. Have fun and enjoy!
Easy Bread and Roll Raising Trick
Place bread or rolls in a dishwasher that's just completed its full cycle (the heated dry phase is best). The dishwasher provides the optimum warm, moist, sanitary environment for bread to raise.
The above top two pictures were taken ten minutes apart. The rolls were placed in the oven while it was still preheating, where they finished raising as they began to bake. In spite of being made of heavy whole grains, they raised perfectly!
Out on a Limb Lasagna
In Out on a Limb, pilot Elise McAlister makes a delicious lasagna that she shares with Cutch McCutcheon. We all know Elise is too busy to slave away in the kitchen all day. If you're a busy cook in need of an easy recipe that tastes like you've been in the kitchen all day, try Elise's super-easy no-boil lasagna!
1 pound ground beef
nine lasagna noodles
24 oz. cottage cheese
2 28-oz. jars spaghetti sauce
8 oz. shredded mozzarella or Italian-blend cheese
Brown ground beef and drain.
In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs.
Add 1 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce to beef.
In a large baking dish (Elise uses a 9x13 that's an extra-deep 2 1/2 inches--the extra depth helps keep the sauce from boiling over) pour 1/2 jar spaghetti sauce and top with three unboiled lasagna noodles. Scoop half the meat mixture on top and spread evenly before adding three more lasagna noodles. Cover with cottage cheese mixture and spread evenly. Add final three noodles and remaining beef mixture.
Cover pan with foil and bake 1 1/2 hours at 400 degrees. Uncover, top evenly with shredded cheese, and bake about ten minutes more, or until cheese has melted. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
Leftovers freeze and reheat well.
Add-ins: Feel free to stir mushrooms into the meat mixture or substitute Italian sausage for all or part of the beef. Jazz up the cheesy layer by swapping out the cottage cheese for ricotta, or stirring in ground Parmesan. You can also add fresh clean spinach leaves in place of the middle layer of noodles for an extra-healthy twist!
Recipe for Bat-Removal
In Danger on Her Doorstep, Maggie and Gideon renovate an old house that holds secrets someone doesn't want them to uncover.
The house also holds bats. Lots of bats. So, how can you get rid of bats humanely? Here's the recipe:
Half a cantaloupe
Large (five-gallon) bucket
Place half a cantaloupe in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket and place in an area of the building where bats have been a problem. Bats are active at night, so the best time to do this is overnight, or when you're going to be away for a day or two. The bat will smell the cantaloupe and fly into the bucket. Because bats require gliding space to take flight, the bat will stay in the bucket, unharmed, until you transport the critter outside to freedom. Enjoy.
Unlimited, but you may want to refresh the cantaloupe periodically.
Pancakes with Bayfield Apple Butter
In Survival Instinct, Scott and Abby enjoy an authentic Bayfield, Wisconsin treat! Does reading about it tickle your tastebuds? Here's how you can whip up some of your own!
For the Pancakes:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk
optional, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pre-heat non-stick skillet to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, mix together dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients, stirring until everything is just combined (overstirring can make the pancakes rubbery!). Ladle into six-inch circles on your skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles form. Flip each cake carefully and brown the other side. Serve them up warm!
For the Bayfield Apple Butter:
Start with fresh apples form Bayfield, Wisconsin (no cheating now--you want this to taste authentic!). Peel, core, and slice until you have about six cups or so. Cook in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally so they do not scorch. Once they start to boil, reduce heat to low and remove the lid to boil off some of the excess liquid. Add two teaspoons cinnmon and half a teaspoon of ground cloves. If you're so inclined, you can add some brown sugar, but that messes with the tart happy flavor. Continue to simmer until it reaches the consistency you prefer, then serve warm over pancakes. This keeps in the fridge for about two weeks, though it will likely be gobbled up before then!