Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries. She loves to read, cook, and travel. Learn more about Amy and her books at her website. more about Amy and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and gain access to The Secret Room on her website where you’ll find . Everyone who signs up for the newsletter gains access to The Secret Room on Amy’s website, where they’ll find a free cookbook of family favorites and lots of other fun and free stuff.
I love to eat.
This is quite possibly the reason one of the secondary characters in my Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery Series is a chef. I didn’t make her the main character because there are so many really good culinary cozies out there, but I couldn’t bring myself to write a cozy series that didn’t include food in some way.
The main character of the series is Lilly Carlsen. Noley, my chef, is Lilly’s best friend and begins the series as honorary aunt to Lilly’s children (you’ll have to read the books if you want to know why she’s no longer the kids’ honorary aunt). It’s because of Noley’s influence in her young life that Lilly’s daughter Laurel is enrolled in a culinary arts program and in my newest release, Fowl Play, is poised to take her studies even further.
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s no wonder that the characters in my series eat well. And far be it from me to tempt readers with descriptions of meals without providing at least a few recipes in the back of every book.
While I’m writing each book, I make a list of all the foods I mention. When it comes time to write the recipes in the back, I have a process that I go through to choose the best recipes to share.
First, they have to be easy to make. Second, the ingredients have to be readily available. And third, they have to be something I’ve tried and liked.
Even after I’ve taken certain recipes out of the running because they don’t meet my requirements, I’m usually still left with a list of good recipes to share, and since I only share three recipes in each Juniper Junction book, I usually end up choosing them by picking out of a hat.
What do I do with the ones I don’t use? Well, that’s a good question. So far, nothing.
And that’s where you come in.
What do you think I should do? I could put the occasional recipe in my newsletter, or I could bundle them into a cookbook to give away to readers, or I could print them on notecards that I give away at signing events, or...what? I’d love to hear your ideas. You could let me know in the comments section below, or you could email or DM me on social media through my website.
You knew I couldn’t let this post end without sharing a recipe, didn’t you? Interestingly, this one isn’t mentioned in any of my Juniper Junction books—it’s just one I love and it’s perfect for fall.
Maple Crème Brûlée
2 c. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean*
4 large egg yolks
6 T. maple syrup
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (you can substitute maple extract)
4 tsp. white, brown, or demerara sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place the heavy cream in a medium saucepan.
Set vanilla bean on a flat surface and, using a sharp knife, open the bean by slicing it the long way (lengthwise). Try not to cut all the way through the bean—you only want to cut the top. If you do cut through it’s no big deal, but it’s easier if you don’t.
Using your fingers, gently pull apart the sides of the bean as much as you can so it lies open. Using the knife’s edge, run the knife down the length of the bean to scrape out as many of the seeds as possible. This whole process is much easier than it sounds! If you want a demo, click here.
Add the seeds to the heavy cream. It works best to put the knife in there and stir it around to get the seeds off. Then add the vanilla bean to the saucepan, too.
Bring the heavy cream and the vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer over medium-high heat. This doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it. Don’t let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean pod.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add the warm heavy cream to the egg mixture, one-half cup at a time, whisking well between each addition. Strain through a sieve into another bowl.
Place four 6-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan or 13x9” baking dish. Divide custard evenly among ramekins. CAREFULLY pour boiling water into the pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with foil and CAREFULLY transfer it to the oven.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until custard is set but still slightly jiggly in the middle. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and allow to come to room temperature, then chill them for 2-8 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the white, brown, or demerara sugar over the top of each custard. Using a kitchen blow torch, which is about the coolest thing I have in my kitchen, caramelize the sugar (this only takes about 10 seconds). If you don’t have a kitchen blow torch, putting the custards under the broiler for a couple minutes does the same job (it’s just not nearly as much fun). Allow the sugar to harden for about 5 minutes. Serve and wait for your guests to swoon.
A Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery, Book 6
Lilly Carlsen hates the idea of anyone spending Thanksgiving alone, so she invites four near-strangers to the feast. But if she’d known two of her guests would later wind up murdered, she would have eaten dinner by herself with all the shades pulled down.
And if she had dreamed she would become a suspect after finding the first body, she might have skipped Thanksgiving altogether.
When the first murder occurs, it’s Lilly who finds the body, and the suspicions of the officer in charge of the case fall squarely on her shoulders. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, there’s another murder, this one much closer to home.
Lilly’s got a lot on her plate.
There’s plenty of motive to go around this Thanksgiving, and if Lilly can’t clear her name and figure out who’s responsible for the murders, she risks spending the holidays behind bars … or worse.
Thanks very much for hosting me here today, Lois. I hope you and your readers enjoy the recipe. We love it!
Thank you for the review and the recipe looks delicious email@example.com
I hope you give it a try, Deborah. Thank you for stopping by!
OOHHH!!!! A cookbook!!!
Definitely a cookbook but with a short story too, maybe all electronic and sell via a platform like Book Funnel.
Thanks for the vote, Jann! I haven't kept a running list of the recipes I haven't used, so I have to go back and read the books to know what to put in the cookbook! I think a cookbook might be the way to go, though. I'm glad you stopped by! Email me at the address in the post if you try the maple creme brulee and let me know what you think.
Cookbook seems to be the consensus. I'll have to get to work! I'm toying with the idea of a novella instead of a short story—maybe tell the story of how Lilly met Noley? I'm not sure. I'm glad you mentioned BookFunnel because that's exactly how I would distribute it. Glad you stopped by!
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