Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writing a Wine Lover’s Mystery Takes Some Real Tough Research

Being the Wine Lover’s Mystery author is really tough. The research alone is nearly unbearable. Oh, please. If you know me you are aware that I am being a real smart ass here. Come on, how tough can sipping on some decent wine be? Can you believe I even wrote “sipping,” there? Again, if you know me, you’re probably laughing, and if you don’t, you’re either thinking that I am crazy, or a lush, or both. I’m not. Well, I don’t think I’m a lush. I could be crazy, though. I do write murder mysteries, and my husband has to remind me on occasion that my characters are not real people. I’m not entirely convinced of that.

Writing the Nikki Sands mysteries (the other name for The Wine Lover’s) is a lot of fun--not just because I get to drink wine and figure out what the wine tasting notes are for the parts in the books where I’ve included recipes and wine pairings. But mostly what I enjoy about this series is growing the characters. When I started out the series with Murder Uncorked, Nikki Sands was an actress and a waitress in the evenings who was kind of a Renaissance woman who prided herself on being a student of life—and that included learning everything possible about wines. Her know-all paid off when she impressed the dashing Derek Malveaux (owner of Malveaux Estate Wines) with her extensive knowledge. Now in the 6th book in the series, Nikki has come a long way, except she still seems to have the bad luck of discovering dead bodies wherever she goes.

For this week’s recipe, I decided to post a delicious dessert that I enjoy making (and eating). Hope you will give it a try, and let me know what you think.


Peach Galette


2 cups unbleached

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

7 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces

¼ cup ice water

1 ½ pounds peaches

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon of water

1 tablespoon coarse sugar

¾ pound aged Gouda or Gruyère

To make the dough: In a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Pulse three or four times to blend. Add the butter and pulse a few times, just until evenly distributed and coated with flour. Add the shortening and pulse a few times, until coated with flour. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Drizzle with the ice water while tossing with a fork, just until dough begins to come together in clumps, then knead dough to get it to hold together. Shape into thick round patty, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and slice peaches. Set aside.

Put dough on a lightly floured work surface, top with a fresh sheet of plastic wrap, and let stand for ten minutes to warm slightly. Roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Transfer dough to rimless baking sheet. Trim edges as needed to make 15-inch circle, reserving the trimmings. About two inches from the edge of the dough, arrange the peach slices in a neat ring, overlapping the slices slightly. Fill in center with peaches. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Gently fold the edge of the dough over the peaches to make a wide border. Make sure there aren’t any cracks. Use trimmed dough if needed to patch.

Brush the border with a little egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm with cheese and wine.

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