A former teacher, Lynette Sofras gave up her career in education a few years ago in order to focus on her writing and thus fulfil her childhood dream. She writes contemporary women's fiction, usually involving romance, and often with suspense or a supernatural twist. Lynette currently lives in an early Victorian cottage (the inspiration for Cocktails and Lies) in a picturesque Surrey village. Learn more about Lynette and her books at her website.
In my latest story, Cocktails and Lies, Hannah comes across some old letters to her grandmother written before World War II. She later discovers that her grandmother harboured a life-long fascination with the 1920s and 30s—the art deco period, collecting objects d’art and wearing fashions adapted from that era well into the forties and fifties. Hannah imagines her at elegant parties sipping cocktails, laughing and carefree. It was, after all, according to Noël Coward, The Age of Cocktails and Laughter.
These delicious little cheese savories would go down well at any cocktail party and are easy and fun to make.
Mini Cheese and Spinach Triangles
This recipe makes between 30 and 40, depending on the size. Quantities and varieties of cheese can be altered to suit availability or your own tastes. The spinach is also optional.
8 oz. (220 grams) package of ready-made phyllo (filo) dough
8-10 oz. (250-300 grams) carton cottage cheese
approx. 1 lb. (400 grams) feta cheese, crumbled
1 T. grated Parmesan
2 T. grated strong cheddar
4 oz. (100 grams) frozen leaf spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove as much liquid as possible and finely chopped
1/4 cup cream with 1 tablespoon sifted flour added and well mixed
Grated black pepper
Combine all the cheeses, add the cream and flour mixture and combine well. Sprinkle in the leaf spinach and a good grating of black pepper. Add one beaten egg and mix again.
Cut the sheets of filo pastry into long, equal strips (width approx. 8 cm), brushing each with beaten egg. Place a spoonful of filling on the shorter end and fold over diagonally to form a triangle. Fold the triangle over straight and then diagonally once again. Continue folding over and over, keeping the triangular shape with the filling completely enclosed. Trim or tuck any excess neatly over the finished triangle. The egg wash will help it stick to itself.
Place pies on baking sheets, brush with egg and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden in colour, in a moderate oven (325-350°F, 175°C)
Cocktails and Lies
When Hannah’s house is burgled, she gains as much as she loses: she meets Jan, her reserved Dutch neighbour and successful antiques dealer, and Callum, the detective in charge of the case, then finds some hidden letters to her dead grandmother that take her on an emotional journey of discovery.
As Hannah juggles the attentions of the two men now firmly in her life, she works to uncover the secrets of the past, only to find these encroach on the present in unexpected ways.
And then there are the two men in her life, both vying for her attention, both hiding things from her and each other. What does Callum really know about Jan? What is Jan hiding from everyone? And what did her grandmother—whose house it once was—hide from the world?
As if Hannah doesn’t have enough mysteries to solve, her best friend Rachel enlists her help in solving her marital crisis, while her pleasure-seeking mother seems intent on finding her a husband.
With so many skeletons rattling the door of Hannah’s house, can she unravel these mysterious threads and reveal the truth, changing her life forever?
Fun fact: The song mentioned in the story is ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ written by Noël Coward and Philip Braham. It was recorded by several famous artists over the years, but the version recorded by Suede in 1998 is a personal favourite. You can see on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8s7WFwVlKE.