Wednesday, 24 September 2014

TLC Book Tour: Angel Killer

Angel Killer
A Jessica Blackwood Novel
by Andrew Mayne

Paperback, 352 pages

I will freely admit to being a mystery/suspense/thriller/detective novel addict. If there is a crime to be solved, especially murder, I am up for the challenge.

And there are so many spins on crime fiction, it boggles the imagination. And just when I thought I had seen it all? World renowned illusionist Andrew Mayne comes out with a smart, dynamic investigator who just happens to have a serious background in magic. One that she tries to forget - until up against a brilliant, and evil, illusionist of crime.

I love this premise and Mayne pulls it off beautifully. Angel Killer is to be the first in a series of Jessica Blackwood novels and now is the time to start reading.

Intriguing, refreshing, intelligent, dark, and fun. Everything you want it to be.

From the Back Flap:

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as “Warlock,” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica’s carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can’t, she may become his next victim.

Wildly innovative, highly-visual with a little bit of mischief thrown in, Andrew Mayne is at the forefront of the next generation of magic. Star of A&E's Don't Trust Andrew Mayne, he’s performed his unique brand of illusion on five continents, his YouTube videos have millions of views and he’s cultivated thousands of fans for his magic, books and podcasts calling themselves ‘Mayniacs’.

Find Andrew Mayne on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and his website.

Find his books at any of these retailers:

Sunday, 21 September 2014

125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes

125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes
Quick, Easy, Fun Ideas
by Julie Hasson
Paperback, 192 pages

"Anything is good if it is made of chocolate"
Jo Brand

There are few treats that capture one's attention as immediately and fully as chocolate. And chocolate chips are a baker's necessity, part of any stocked cabinet. (Except, in some cases, when other family members find them and eat them out of the jar. Best to hide them in this case. Perhaps behind the prunes.)

Julie Hasson, author of 6 cookbooks and writer for numerous cooking magazines, has put together the quintessential cookbook of our favourite pantry staple. 125 tried and true recipes that can be made simply and easily at home - from chocolate chips!

Many are great for spending time in the kitchen with the kids, and others offer simple yet delicious desserts for entertaining. Or even for those days you just want to treat yourself!

Recipes include:

Cookies-and-Cream Shake, Chocolate Caramel Cream Shake, Chocolatini

Chocolate Chip Hotcakes, Chocolate Cherry Chip Granola, Apricot Chip Scones

Chocolate Espresso Lava Cake, Chocolate Mousse Cake, Coconut Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip Meringues, The Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookie, Oat Bars

Frozen Desserts
Coconut Chip Sorbet, Mississippi Mud Pie, Banana Chip Foster, Affogato

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Muffins, High-Octane Espresso Chip Morning Muffins

Pies, Tarts and Puddings
Chocolate Chip Brownie Tart, Banana Fanna Pie, Chocolate Tiramisu.

And much more!

Frozen Cappuccino, page 118, frozen desserts


One day my mother called to rave about a sorbet she had had. She went on to describe its flavor, aroma and texture. I never got to taste that sorbet, but I developed this one based entirely upon her colorful description. It is truly heavenly.

This dessert looks great served in espresso cups. Place espresso cups in the freezer for 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the dessert. Remove the cups from the freezer and fill with a scoop of frozen cappuccino. A chocolate chip cookie would make a perfect accompaniment to the sorbet.

•    Ice cream maker

1 cup    unsweetened Dutch-process     250 mL
    cocoa powder, sifted  
3⁄4 cup    superfine sugar    175 mL
1⁄2 tsp    ground cinnamon    2 mL
2 cups    hot freshly brewed coffee    500 mL
1⁄2 cup    semisweet chocolate chips    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    whipping (35%) cream    125 mL
1 tbsp    gold rum    15 mL
1 tsp    grated orange zest    5 mL
1 tsp    vanilla    5 mL
1⁄3 cup    miniature semisweet     75 mL
    chocolate chips
1.    In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon.
2.    In a large bowl or pitcher, combine hot coffee, chocolate chips, cream, rum, orange zest and vanilla. Whisk in cocoa mixture until smooth.
3.    Refrigerate mixture until cold. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. When mixture is thick, add miniature chocolate chips. Continue freezing until very thick and frozen.
4.    Serve immediately or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Courtesy of 125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes: Quick, Easy, Fun Ideas by Julie Hasson 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Chocolate Mousse-Filled Cupcakes, page 56, cakes


These cupcakes are a grown-up version of the store-bought treats beloved by children. Devil’s food cupcakes are filled with a luscious chocolate mousse center and topped with a coating of chocolate ganache.

The cupcakes will keep for up to 1 day, but they are best eaten the day they are made.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    Two muffin pans, greased or lined with paper liners
•    Baking sheet, lined with foil or parchment paper

11⁄2 cups    all-purpose flour    375 mL
3⁄4 cup    unsweetened Dutch-process     175 mL
    cocoa powder  
1 tsp    baking soda    5 mL
1 tsp    baking powder    5 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
2     eggs    2
13⁄4 cups    granulated sugar    425 mL
1⁄2 cup    vegetable oil    125 mL
1 tsp    vanilla    5 mL
11⁄4 cups    strong brewed coffee,     300 mL
    at room temperature  
1⁄3 cup    semisweet chocolate chips    75 mL
1 tbsp    strong brewed coffee    15 mL
3⁄4 cup    whipping (35%) cream    175 mL
1 tbsp    confectioner’s (icing) sugar    15 mL
2⁄3 cup    whipping (35%) cream    150 mL
1 cup    semisweet chocolate chips    250 mL

1.    In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2.    In a large bowl, using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until creamy. Add flour mixture, beating just until combined. Beat in coffee until smooth. Do not overbeat.
3.    Fill prepared muffin cups with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 24 minutes, until cupcakes are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on racks.
4.    Filling: In a microwave-safe dish, combine chocolate chips and coffee. Microwave on High for 21⁄2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is shiny and almost melted. Stir until smooth. Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool slightly.
5.    In a large bowl, using electric mixer, whip cream and confectioner’s sugar until almost stiff peaks. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating just until incorporated. Finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula.
6.    Using a sharp paring knife, gently cut a 3⁄4-inch (2 cm) cone from the bottom of each cupcake and trim point off cone. Using a small spoon, fill each hole with chocolate cream filling and replace reserved cones. Place on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate while preparing glaze.
7.    Glaze: In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave cream on High until it starts to simmer, about 40 seconds. Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted and shiny. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Dip tops of each filled cupcake in chocolate glaze. Place dipped cupcakes on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Courtesy of 125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes: Quick, Easy, Fun Ideas by Julie Hasson 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Chocolate Tiramisu, page 163, puddings


The name of this fabulous Italian dessert means “pick-me-up.” Be forewarned: once you make this dessert for guests, you will forever be known for it. My sister-in-law Meredith loves this dessert so much that she had me make giant ones for her wedding reception.

This dessert is best made 1 day before serving.

•    13- by 9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish or large bowl

2    packages (each 8 oz/250 g)     2
    cream cheese or mascarpone   
2 cups    confectioner’s (icing) sugar,     500 mL
21⁄3 cups    whipping (35%) cream    575 mL
1 cup    hot strong brewed coffee    250 mL
3⁄4 cup    semisweet chocolate chips    175 mL
1⁄4 cup    dark rum    50 mL
48    crisp ladyfingers, divided    48
    Unsweetened cocoa powder

1.    In a large bowl, using electric mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth. Add confectioner’s sugar, whipping until creamy and smooth. With machine on low, gradually add cream in a steady stream. Whip mixture on high speed until it reaches soft peaks.
2.    In a medium bowl, whisk together hot coffee, chocolate chips and rum until smooth. Dip half of the ladyfingers in coffee mixture and place in an even layer in bottom of baking dish. Spread half of the cream mixture over ladyfingers. Dip remaining ladyfingers in coffee mixture and place over cream mixture. Spread remaining cream mixture over ladyfingers, smoothing top.
3.    Cover and refrigerate tiramisu overnight. Just before serving, lightly dust top with unsweetened cocoa powder.

Courtesy of 125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes: Quick, Easy, Fun Ideas by Julie Hasson 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

150 Best Dips and Salsas: Plus Recipes for Chips, Flatbreads and More

150 Best Dips and Salsas
Plus Recipes for Chips, Flatbreads and More
by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman
Paperback, 192 pages

I am a condiment junkie. I live for sauces, dips, spreads, pickles; all the accessories that make the meal (or appetizer, or snack...)

And I love that there is a book dedicated to dips and salsas. Clearly they were thinking of me when they wrote it. 

I also love that they give you interesting ideas and recipes to use as the vehicles for said dips and salsas. Arepas, blini, vegetable crisps... There are enough different kinds of recipes in this book that you can entertain anyone at any time of year. Vegan to meaty, summer to winter, worldly to local. New concept to old fashioned.

What more could you ask for?

From the publishers:

 Mouthwatering recipes to get any special occasion off to a memorable start.

Dips and salsas are the most sociable of recipes that are great catalysts for getting a party off to a good start because they encourage guests to congregate by scooping and munching.

Most of these recipes can be prepared ahead of time, and they will appeal to a wide variety of tastes and will satisfy many different dietary preferences, from the strict vegans to wide-ranging omnivores. The authors provide a wonderful rainbow of textures and flavors, from salty and sweet to spicy and sour.

All the recipes are made with fresh ingredients. Here is just a small sampling of the delightful dips:

    Canary Island Red Pepper Mojo, Greek-Style Eggplant Dip, Easy Tahini Dip, Guacamole, Pepper-Spiked Plantain Dip, Creamy Roquefort Dip, Egg and Olive Spread, Caramelized Red Onion Dip, Green Olive Tapenade, Walnut Hummus.

And a few of the sublime salsas:

    Roasted Corn Salsa, Pineapple Mango Salsa, Pepper Confetti Salsa, Navy Bean Salsa, Bloody Mary Salsa, Fresh Salsa Verde, Apple and Dried Cranberry Salsa, Classic Mango Salsa, Warm Banana Salsa, Jicama Salsa, Spicy Nectarine Salsa.

The authors also provide a wealth of serving ideas and compatible companions to their dips and salsas from dippers such Green Plantain Chips and rice crackers, to cucumber slices and crostini and more. 

Sumptuous Spinach and Artichoke Dip, page 42, vegetarian
Spinach and artichoke dip has become a classic. Serve with toast points, crostini, tostadas or tortilla chips, or sliced baguette.

•    Small (maximum 31⁄2 quart) slow cooker

1 cup    shredded mozzarella cheese    250 mL
8 oz    cream cheese, cubed    250 g
1⁄4 cup    freshly grated Parmesan cheese     60 mL
1    clove garlic, minced    1
1⁄4 tsp    freshly ground black pepper    1 mL
1    can (14 oz/398 mL) artichokes, drained     1
    and finely chopped
1 lb    fresh spinach, stems removed, or     500 g
    1 package (10 oz/300 g) spinach
    leaves, thawed if frozen (see Tips)

In slow cooker stoneware, combine cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, pepper, artichokes and spinach. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours, until hot and bubbly. Stir well and serve.

If you are using fresh spinach leaves in this recipe, take care to wash them thoroughly, as they can be quite gritty. To wash spinach: Fill a clean sink with lukewarm water. Remove the tough stems and submerge the tender leaves in the water, swishing to remove the grit. Rinse thoroughly in a colander under cold running water, checking carefully to ensure that no sand remains. If you are using frozen spinach in this recipe, thaw and squeeze the excess moisture out before adding to the slow cooker.
If you prefer a smoother dip, place spinach and artichokes in a food processor, in separate batches, and pulse until desired degree of fineness is achieved. Then combine with remaining ingredients in slow cooker stoneware.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Vegetarian Friendly

Courtesy of 150 Best Dips & Salsas by Judith Finlayson & Jordan Wagman 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Tuna Tapenade, page 78, seafood
Known as Provençal caviar, tapenade is a flavorful mixture of capers, olives and anchovies, among other ingredients. Here, the addition of tuna lightens up the result. Serve this with carrot or celery sticks, sliced cucumber, crackers or Basic Crostini (page 176). It also makes a delicious filling for hard-cooked eggs.

           Food processor

1          can (6 oz/170 g) tuna, preferably        1
            Italian, packed in olive oil, drained
            (see Tip)
4          anchovy fillets 4
2 tbsp  drained capers 30 mL
1 tbsp  freshly squeezed lemon juice  15 mL
1          clove garlic, coarsely chopped            1
10        pitted black olives       10
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil    60 mL

In food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, garlic and olives until ingredients are combined but still chunky, about 10 times. Add olive oil and pulse until blended, about 5 times. Spoon into a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days.

Italian (or Spanish) tuna packed in olive oil is more moist and flavorful than the paler versions packed in water.

Makes about 3⁄4 cup (175 mL)

Courtesy of 150 Best Dips & Salsas by Judith Finlayson & Jordan Wagman 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Champagne and Raspberry Dip, page 153, desserts
Each bite is like a delightful sip of a Kir Royale. Serve this dip next to a bowl of fresh strawberries for dipping and a glass of Champagne for an excellent brunch or dessert offering.

•    Blender

1⁄2 cup    Champagne or Prosecco    125 mL
    (see Tips)
1 tbsp    granulated sugar (see Tips)    15 mL
1⁄2 cup    golden or red raspberries    125 mL
1 tsp    apricot jam    5 mL
1    fresh basil leaf     1
1⁄2 cup    whipped cream    125 mL

1.    In a saucepan, bring Champagne and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until reduced by three-quarters, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add raspberries, jam and basil leaf. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender and purée until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
2.    Fold whipped cream, one-third at a time, into raspberry mixture and serve immediately.

If Champagne or Prosecco are not available or to your liking, feel free to substitute your favorite white wine.
If you are a vegetarian, use unbleached organic sugar to ensure it has not been filtered through bone char.

Vegetarian Friendly

Makes about 11⁄2 cups (375 mL)

Courtesy of 150 Best Dips & Salsas by Judith Finlayson & Jordan Wagman 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.