Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Goat Cheese and Mixed Mushroom Bruschetta from Murder Uncorked

Having the girls over for some good conversation and wine?  Try this tasty appetizer, it is guarenteed to be a hit!

5 ounces Portobello mushrooms

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms

2 ounces oyster mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 shallots

2 minced cloves of garlic

¼ cup of chicken broth

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

Salt and red pepper flakes

12 slices rustic baguette: sourdough, Italian, even whole grain for the health conscious

4 ounces goat cheese

2 ripe red tomatoes, cored and diced

Chop the mushrooms. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the shallots and garlic and mix for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat a bit. Mix everything for about 8 minutes. Add chicken broth, white wine, and dried seasonings and cook until liquid is evaporated. Season with salt for taste. Pre heat broiler. Spread the bread slices with goat cheese and spoon the mushroom mixture evenly over the bread. Place the tomatoes on top. Broil for 4 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to brown. Serves Six

Goes great with Saddleback Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, it contains a citrus and hibiscus nose with a wonderful gold/green color. This wine is crisp, with a clean acid balance and light sweet oak.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  Cheers, Michele

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recipe from Happy Hour- Kat’s Fettuccine, Goat cheese and Pancetta

You can find more than recipes in my book Happy Hour, there's an interview with myself, and book club questions. 

Kat’s Fettuccine, Goat cheese and Pancetta

1 cup dry white wine

2 Tbs. minced shallots

5 oz goat cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinch crushed red chili flakes

½ lb. dried fettuccine

½ cup chopped pancetta or bacon (you can also use chicken or shrimp)

2 Tbs. olive oil

4 oz. fresh baby spinach

2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

In a medium saucepan combine the white wine, shallots. Over high heat, reduce the liquid b half, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the goat cheese until the mixture is smooth, season with ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and the red chili flakes, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just cooked, 9 to 11 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and set aside.

Heat 1 tbs. of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat brown up pancetta or bacon (if bacon there is no need to use the olive oil until you add the spinach). Add the remaining 1 tbs. olive oil and the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the goat cheese sauce, add the spinach and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and serve in warm bowls, topped with basil.

This recipe would pair nicely with a pinot noir or lighter syrah. If you prefer a white wine chardonnay would work well.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Riding the Trail with Professionals Choice

Trail riding is often not viewed with the same respect as “real” horse events like dressage or jumping. But I use trail riding as a great training tool. I have both an eventer and a reiner, and these horses are shown often. Like any high demand schedule for both humans and horses, the pace of intensive showing and training makes them prone to burn out. My favorite option to enable them to relax and reconnect with their inner horse, is taking them out on the trail. Trail riding is a great way for any horse to adapt to strange noises like cracking twigs, the birds and mystery critters lurking in bushes. A truly well trained or “broke” horse should be able to go out on trail either by itself or as part of a large group. All horses need a break from the monotony of the same repetitive tasks and life in the corral. The trail outing presents all new smells, sounds, and sights; lots of things to really pick up those ears. The different footing and terrain feels good on the feet and captures the attention span. Trail rides can be tailored for any mood or riding skill level. Often, we take the babies out on trail after they have been ridden for 2 months simply to expose them as early as possible to life outside of the arena. Bring a bunch of friends for a low key walk-filled ride and chat. Go by yourself to do different pace intervals and to meditate. Check out Jenny Lance’s newsletter (one of our endorsers) at http://www.livetoridehorses.com/newsletters.htm for more ideas on making trail riding tailored to you. You can also check out their clinic schedule at http://www.livetoridehorses.com/.

Thanks for reading, Cassie

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Recipe From My New Book Happy Hour

Happy Hour is about every woman and that group of friends in her life ~ her "go to girls" The friends that she can turn to who "get it." The ones who are there for you no matter what. The ones who laugh with you and cry with you. The ones that will always be there. These are the women of Napa Valley.

Danielle’s Mexican Style Quiche served with Champagne or margaritas if preferred

Pastry dough

1 large garlic clove

¾ teaspoon salt

1 lb poblano chilies (about 4 large), roasted and peeled

6 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

½ lb Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated (2 ½ to 3 cups)

Special equipment: a 9-inch (2-inch deep) round fluted tart pan with removable bottom; pie weights or raw rice

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375

Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Fit dough into tart pan, without stretching, letting excess dough hang over edge. Fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until pastry is set and pale golden along rim, 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until deep golden brown all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Put tart pan in a shallow baking pan. Leave oven on

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt using side of a large knife.

Discard seeds, ribs, and stems from chilies, then pat dry if necessary and cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together eggs, milk, crema, onion, garlic paste, and pepper in a large bowl until just combined, then pour into baked tart shell.

Sprinkle cheese and chilies over custard and bake until custard is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. (Center will jiggle slightly; filling will continue to set as it cools.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Great Recipe from one of the Wine Lover's Mystery Series

Reading making you hungry?  Try out another recipe, you can find this one in Murder Uncorked. Not quite as quick and easy as the last recipe I posted but equally as delicious!

Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde

2 pork tenderloins

1 8-ounce jar of salsa verde (Herdez is a good one)

1 package of Lawry’s taco seasoning

3 large cloves of garlic

2 seeded, drained, and chopped canned chipotle peppers (these are spicy so be careful if you don’t care for spicy)

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

½ cup red wine

Salt to taste

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

Mix together all of the ingredients except for garlic, onion, and 1 cup of orange juice, half the salsa verde jar, and pork, in a large Zip lock bag. Place the pork in the bag and marinate overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425. Remove pork season with salt and pepper. Heat oil very hot and sear pork in a large, ovenproof sauté, pan until brown on all sides. Sauté onion and garlic with roast. Place pan in the preheated oven with another cup of the orange juice poured over the meat and into the pan, along with rest of the salsa jar, and roast for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, basting and turning the roast halfway through. Be careful not to overcook. It’s also important to keep basting with the juices. Remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes to distribute juices and complete cooking. Serves 8.

Goes good St. Supéry’s Red Meritage, it exhibits deep red and purple hues. The aromas are bright, ripe, and forward with a strong concentration of ripe blackberry and anise, with vanilla and oak integration. The flavors are long and round, finishing firm yet elegant tannins.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tequila and a Mystery Title Anyone?

You know you're a mystery author when your assistant walks into your office and you're saying out loud, "I have to figure out how to kill this guy," and she replies, "Do I have to clean it up?" My response to that was, "It depends on how messy it is." Thank God my wide-eyed, very efficient assistant (a.k.a) Cassie understands my eccentricities and has said on more than one occasion, "At least you're never boring to work for."

I am still trying to figure out how to kill this character off and now I am in a real dilemma (not the killing off part--that should come fairly easy once I put my mind to it)--the title. I am horrible, terrible, awful (yes, I suck at titles). I need help. Now I know a bunch of you e-mailed me about the name of my victim (the nun) for book 7, but I hate to tell you that I realized after a week or so that there is one more book that must be written in the Nikki Sands' series before I can write the one where the nun meets her maker. I'm hoping all of you who helped me out with character names for the nun (I will announce the winner next week as I have the book outlined and started), will now help me out with a title for the "real" next Nikki Sands Mystery. Here are the key elements:

1. Takes place in Puerto Vallarta during the holidays
2. Far more tequila in this book than wine
3. And of course, Nikki comes across a dead guy (who made a scene in a cantina)

Any ideas? IE: Drowned by Don Julio (told you I'm not good with titles).

Winner will get a jar of my homemade arbol chile salsa, a kudos in the intro and a free copy of the book when it comes out in November.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Favorite Celeb

Some of you may have read this last year when I posted it, but I'm digging it back out because I was just listening to "If I was a Rich Girl," by my favorite celeb and then I remembered this post.  And then, I also remembered that I really needed to write a new blog post but the day is getting away from me, so I'm reposting. C'est la vie.

I know that I'm a bit "eclectic." I suppose that is a nicer term than weird, but I'm a writer and many of us (I think) are a tad "eclectic." For example, on my bedside table you will find my Mother Mary and Baby Jesus paperweight (my middle child bought me for Mother's Day at the swap meet last year), the little Buddha set in jade (got them at one of those tables on a corner in NYC), there is a little change thing in the shape of a pretty butterfly, and another one of a frog, then on the lower shelf are my kitty Tigger's ashes, and then there is my Gwen Stefani Bratz doll (she does not share Tigger's shelf) Yes--you read that correctly. All of it. Go ahead, go back and re-read and shake your head at me.

I love Gwen. What can I say? I think she's rad. I know rad is so old school, but I am old school.I would love to be Gwen even if only for a day. Why? Well then I would be maried to Gavin Rossdale and I would look great with red lipstick on (which I so look like hell with red lipstick on) . I could also pull off the platinum blonde hair and I'd have a rockin body--oh and my bank account would reflect a whole lot more than it does now. I don't think Gwen is afraid to answer the phone because the cable company wants their cash. Plus, I would be mega talented. Did I mention Gavin Rossdale? That is not to put down my husband, who I am positive would not mind one bit being married to Gwen Stefani.

When did this love affair of mine start with Gwen? Well, I honestly wasn't like this major fan until about three years ago when a good friend of ours called and said he had tickets for her pre-concert for family and friends (in the 4th row). I was in--free night out, 4th row tickets--yeah. Then Gwen hit the stage and I was like, "Oh my God." That chick (and I mean chick in every positive sense of the word) is awesome. She puts on a show like nobody's business, and to me she embodies WOMAN. She's strong, tough and she's also feminine. All I can say is that when I'm feeling a bit low, I pick up my Gwen doll and get my Gwen on. I even bought her L.A.M.B. perfume, which smells amazing. My daughter and I love to blast "I'm Just a Girl" on our way out to the horses. It's our theme song. I know, I'm teaching my daughter great things.

So, there you have it. My favorite celeb. Now I want to know who your favorite celeb.