Tag Archives: Patricia Cornwell

Postmortem

patrica cornwell Postmortem

is the name of a book by Patrica Cornwell and there was a copy in the coffee shop last week, so I took it home for a weekend read.

kisskadee interior

The coach is now in another nook, but around that corner is a bookcase for take one or leave one library. And, yes, MOM, I’ve left plenty.Like I’ll leave this little murder mystery. Eventually.

I’ve read it before, but a good mystery can be read more then once. Patrica Cornwell also has Dr. Kay Scarpetta  (the focus character) be a good enough that she is mentioned on the cover of  a cookbook….

Food to Die For

I’ve mentioned this cookbook before – in

Wednesdays Were Chili Nights and

Fresh Garlic Soup

A little quote from Postmortem:

When all else fails, I cook.

Some people go out after a god-awful day and slam a tennis ball around or jog their joints to pieces on a fitness course. I had a friend in Coral Gables who would escape to the beach with her folding chair and burn off her stress with sun and a slightly pornographic romance she wouldn’t have been caught dead reading in her professional world—she was a district court judge. Many of the cops I know wash away their miseries with beer at the FOP lounge.

I’ve never been particularly athletic, and there wasn’t a decent beach within reasonable driving distance. Getting drunk never solved anything. Cooking was an indulgence I didn’t have time for most days, and though Italian cuisine isn’t my only love, it has always been what I do best.

– Cornwell, Patricia. Postmortem. Impress. 1990. p. 128

This is the other reason I keep going back to Kat Scarpetta. I, too, don’t play tennis or swim or get drunk and I don’t have time for cooking – really cooking , not just throwing something together   –  most days. But if I can knead dough or roll out a pastry or chop some onions and add tomatoes……order returns to the world.

Anyhow, Kay goes on to make a pizza with more topping then I would put on a pie, but that’s just me.I’ve got a few mushrooms, and of course, onions and garlic, and there’s a sausage or two lurking in the freezer….I may have to go to the corner store for mozzarella, in which case it will probably be the pre-shredded stuff…..easy-easy

 

Pizza

Dough:
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cup  bread flour (Of course, I do not make a trip to the store just for this. I’ve used white, wheat and a combination of all three. Bread flour with the higher gluten takes more abuse and makes a very nice crust)
1 packet yeast (I buy in bulk and I have a special yeast measuring spoon, so I have to look up how much that is every-time I write a recipe out. It’s 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup very warm water
1 tablespoon honey (this actually helps with the browning and moisture content of the finished crust – if you don’t have honey, just leave it out. Sugar will make it a weensy bit sweeter but won’t work like honey.But the little dab of honey is really a secret ingredient and makes this dough different then other doughs)
2 tablespoon olive oil (+ more for the pan)

1) In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir in warm water, honey and oil, stirring until mixture begins to leave the sides of the bowl.

2) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Knead for about 10 minutes or until it is soft, smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from sticking.

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel  Let the dough rise for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled.

5) Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface knead to release the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape each into a ball. Cover and let rest while preparing your toppings.

Toppings:

3/4 pound whole milk fresh mozzarella or 3 cups pre-shredded (if you’re not gonna get the fresh stuff – which is just about everywhere these days, unlike in 1990…just get the pre-shredded stuff. If you have fresh, cut it up and place on paper towels to drain. If you use your salad spinner as a colander, you can even give it a spin or two to shake off the excess moisture)

Any or all of the following:

2 Tbls olive oil

4 cloves (or more) of garlic, sliced or diced

2 sausages, whichever you like

2 bell peppers, any color or combination of colors, cut into strips

2 slice onions ( I’ve used red, yellow, white, Vidalia – no bad choices here) slice thin (or chopped if you’d prefer)

1 large Portabello mushroom or other ‘shrooms to equal 1 1/2 cups cut up

a little more olive oil

basil, oregano

salt and black pepper

2 cups red gravy

1/2 cup grated (freshly – use the fine side of the grater!) Parmigiano-Reggiano

  1. Is the mozzarella draining? Start draining.
  2.  Put the olive oil in a pan (big enough to hold your topping) Put in the slice sausage, then onion, then peppers, then mushrooms, then garlic…stir it all around. You want to shake all the raw out, and start the carmelization.
  3. Drain on a paper towel
  4. Preheat oven to 450°.
  5. You can make 2 -12 inch pizzas, or one big pan pizza (10 x 15) or make one pizza and freeze the other half of the dough for later.
  6. Oil you pan, roll, stretch or pat your dough into place
  7. spread dough with sauce (1 cup for each 12 inch pizza – adjust accordingly)
  8. Add toppings
  9. Put mozzarella on top and sprinkle lightly with Parmigiano-Reggiano
  10. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is beginning to brown.
  11. Cut into pieces and mangia tutti!

 

 

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Wednesdays were Chili Nights

and not just in the winter when the cold wind blows. Wednesday nights where chili nights  for my son. I was always trying out chili recipes. A good way to have variation from a basic pantry. This recipe also makes a LOT and it freezes well.

 

Food To Die For

Food To Die For

Chili with Beer, Miami -Style

1 # ground turkey

3 Tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ Cup trimmed white mushrooms

1 ½ up chopped Bell peppers (she uses a mix of different colored Bells – I use what’s on sale – I actually like red or yellow pepper better for this then green)

1 C chopped sweet onions

2 gloves garlic, minced

2 cans (28 oz) chopped tomatoes with diced green chiles

2 cans (16 oz) red kidney beans

2 cans (16 oz) black beans rinsed and well drained ( or any 2 kidney beans – I like pintos and pink beans. Sometimes I cook them up in my crockpot the day before and ignore the cans altogether)

1 bottle beer (12 oz) (or 2 – the cook may need one while everything is simmering)

3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or marjoram.

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 bay leaves (surprisingly, 2 little bay leaves add a lot. You’ll miss them if you leave it out)

1 ½ Tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

Coarsely grated extras sharp cheese

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pan (Dutch oven or in French Doufeu)
    This is the le cruset pan I have that is cast iron with enamel. Mine is in a green that has been discontinued.

    This is the le cruset pan I have that is cast iron with enamel. Mine is in a green that has been discontinued.

    This is the color of my pan - I got it from a warehouse on a sale on a clearance - that's 3 levels of discount and it's still the most money I have spent on a pan.  And I do not chintz on cookware.

    This is the color of my pan – I got it from a warehouse on a sale on a clearance – that’s 3 levels of discount and it’s still the most money I have spent on a pan. And I do not chintz on cookware.

    brown the ground meat in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Drain the meat well and wipe out the pan

  2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoon of oil, over med high heat. Add mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes, until bell peppers are tender.
  3. Stir back in the turkey, tomatoes and their juices, the beans, beer, and everything else before the cheese.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low (pleasant intermittent burpling noises) and simmer, for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste and correct for seasoning. Remove the bay leaves.
  7. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with cheese.
  8. This is more flavorful and fragrant then hot spicy – have your favorite hot sauce for the heat seekers.
  9. Serves 8 -10. It also freezes beautifully.

Adapted from Patricia Cornwall and Marlene Brown. Food to Die For. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 2001. pp. 58-9.

As for the cheese that goes on top of this chili, we usually used some form of Cheddar.

Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar Cheese

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Fresh Garlic Soup

This is the sort of thing that could be meatless or not, it all depends on the broth you use. In most Italian soup, you actually use water, because the flavor comes from all the things you put into the pot.

This isn’t  a strictly  Italian soup, but comes from the cookbook Food To Die For which is more or less a companion cookbook for the  Kay Scarpetta mystery series by Patrica Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta cooks Italian.

Patrica Cornwell

Patrica Cornwell

Now, there’s nothing I like better then a good mystery, especially for a Friday night. Give me a problem, some fast paced sleuthing and then: TA DA DAA: Problem Solved.  A nice break from work, a little vacation to someone else’ s world and then back to reality, all the loose ends neatly tied up. The best mysteries involve some personality, and Kay Scarpetta turns to the kitchen when things get rough, which makes her my kind of person.

Food To Die For

Food To Die For

This is a cookbook that my son gave me more then 10 years ago, and I actually cook from it quite a bit.

Cornwell  has a really nice pizza – and one should have a repertoire of pizza recipes, because one is never enough, and there’s even a grilled pizza recipe that I haven’t tried yet…maybe this summer is the grilled pizza summer…  There is also a chili that was one of the go-tos for Wednesday Chili Nights. Wait till Wednesday.

Last month, at the Rhode Island Flower Show, when I wasn’t chatting up the Fabulous Beekman Boys or Roger Swain from the Victory Garden.

Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent and Josh

Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent and Josh

I purchased a bag of heirloom garlics from the Landreth Seed Company booth .

Landreth Catalogue 2013_lg

There keeping their prices at 2013 levels – same catalog good for this year too!

After the woman behind the booth told me it was culinary garlic, maybe 3 0r 4 times….I assured her I had every intention of eating it and not planting, but it wasn’t until I said,”Who plants garlic in the Spring?” she knew my intentions and rang up my purchase. Then I realized if you don’t grow garlic round here, maybe you would try to plant it in the spring. I just need to eat it.

garlic line drawing

William Woodville, Medical Botany, 1793.

Fresh Garlic Soup

10 or so cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

Olive oil

Carrots – one or 2 depending on their size – grated

2 cups stock*(potato peel broth, chicken stock, beef stock – or even water – whatever is in your pantry)

Chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 egg (she uses 3 egg yolks and makes twice as much as this)

Splash of wine/sherry/beer/vinegar +sugar +water

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigianino- Reggiano cheese

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Salt and fresh ground pepper

2 slices good bread (by good bread I mean something not so WONDERful that has nothing to add to the bowl)

  1. Two circles of olive oil around your pan, over medium heat add carrots and garlic. Stand there stirring for the 3-4 minutes for it to be tender but not brown.
  2. Add stock, thyme and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer COVERED for about half an hour.
  4. Turn off the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Moosh things around. (She tosses it into a food processor…you know where I stand on that. If I need garlic soup, I’m in no good place to face a sink full of dishes.)
  5. If you’ve got an alcoholic flavor component, splash it in now
  6. In a small bowl which together 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the egg. Add the grated cheese and mix together a little more.
  7. Gradually add ¼ cup of the hot soup to the egg/cheese/oil mixture and then add it back to the pot.
  8. Heat soup medium high, again stirring, stirring, stirring until it thickens, 8 – 10 minutes (I think). Don’t let it boil or it will curdle.
  9. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Toast the bread and put a slice in each bowl. Pour the soup over. (If it curdles, you can still eat the soup. Toast and butter the bread and put it on top of the soup….let it sop up for a minute or two while inhaling and saying grace and you’ve got a peasant dish fit for royalty.)

Adapted from Patricia Cornwall and Marlene Brown. Food To Die For. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 2001. pp.78-9.

The COMPLETE Book of Garlic - on my list...

The COMPLETE Book of Garlic – on my list…

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