Recipes from the Perilous Potluck

On Sunday we had a library program in which we invited patrons to create a dish featured in a mystery novel and bring it to share. The program was a delicious success! For those of you that didn’t make it, here’s a sampling for the recipes & mysteries featured:


Uncle Tom’s Butterscotch Brownies

From Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed by Nancy Atherton
Makes 16 Brownies

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter 9″ square cake pan. Mix all ingredients well. Spread in cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. let cool 10-15 minutes. Cut into 2″ squares.


Meatballs in Tomato-Garlic Sauce

from The Perils of Paella by Nancy Fairbanks
Serves 8-10

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef (Courtney used ground turkey)
  • 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground  nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup parsley leaves, minced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can whole tomatoes with juice (33 1/2 oz)
  • 1 tsp. oregano, dried and crumbled

In a 9″ cast-iron skillet, cook onion and green pepper over moderate to low heat, stirring occasionally, in 2 tbs olive oil until vegetables are softened. Cool mixture.
In a large bowl combine the onion mixture with ground meats, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg and parsley. Form level tbs. of mixture into balls. In skillet heat 1 tbs. olive oil over moderate to high heat until hot (not smoking ) and brown meatballs in batches, shaking skillet frequently so they keep their shape, and adding 3 tbs more oil as necessary.
Transfer browned meatballs with slotted spoons to a bowl.
In a 6 qt. pot, cook garlic cloves in 2 tbs olive oil over moderate to low heat, stirring about 15 seconds. Add can of tomatoes and oregano and simmer, breaking up tomatoes.
Add meatballs and simmer, covered, occasionally stirring gently, 25 minutes or until meatball are tender and sauce is slightly thickened.
Serve meatballs with toothpicks, or use slotted spoon to move meatballs to heated serving dish.
Boil sauce gently, stirring until thickened.
Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over meatballs.


Penny-Prick Potato Casserole

from Sticks & Scones by Diane Mott Davidson

  • 6 medium potatoes (or 12 small-2 lb, 9 oz), peeled
  • (Recommended: Yukon Gold)
  • 1 small garlic bulb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk, approximately
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Fontina cheese
  • ⅓ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9- x 13-inch pan.
Bring a large quantity of salted water to a boil. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and cook until done, about 40 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, cut a piece of foil into an 8-inch square. Quickly rinse the garlic bulb under cold running water and pat it dry. Place the bulb in the middle of the foil square and carefully pour the olive oil over it. Bring up the corners of the foil and twist to make a closed packet. Put the foil packet with the garlic inside into the oven and bake about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cloves are soft but not brown. Carefully open the package, remove the garlic bulb with tongs so it can cool, and reserve the olive oil.
When the garlic cloves are cool, remove them from their skins. Using a small food processor, process the garlic until it is a paste.
Drain the potatoes and place them in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the garlic, reserved olive oil, butter, milk, cream, cheeses, salt, and pepper. Beat until creamy and well combined. If the mixture seems dry, add a little milk. Scrape the potato mixture into the prepared pan. (If you are not going to bake the casserole immediately, allow it to cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (10 or 15 minutes longer if the casserole has been refrigerated). The casserole should be hot through and slightly browned. Test for doneness by scooping out a small spoonful from the middle of the casserole and tasting it.


Queen of Scots Shortbread

from Sticks & Scones by Diane Mott Davidson
makes 16 scones

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is very creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat well, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Sift the flours with the baking powder and salt, then add them to the butter mixture, beating only until well combined.
With floured fingers, gently pat the dough into two ungreased 8-inch round cake pans. Using the floured tines of a fork, score the shortbreads into eighths. Press the tines around the edges of each shortbread to resemble fluting, and prick the shortbread with a decorative design, if desired.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edge of the shortbread is just beginning to brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes on a rack. While the shortbread is still warm, gently cut through the marked-off wedges. Using a pointed metal spatula or pie server, carefully lever out the shortbread wedges and allow them to cool completely on a rack.


The Whole Enchilada Pie

from Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson
8 servings

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/3 c. bottled picante sauce
  • 16 oz can refried beans
  • 10 oz can enchilada sauce-red or green
  • 1 c. sliced,pitted ripe olives
  • 1 t. salt
  • 6 c. crushed corn chips
  • 3 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • Garnish: chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced lettuce, chopped green onions, avocado slices, sour cream

Preheat oven to 375º.Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish, In a large skillet, brown meat and onion and garlic. Add next 5 ingredients, reduce heat. Stir and cook until heated through. Remove from heat. Place 1 c of chips in bottom of dish. Put half the meat mixture over chips. Top with another cup of chips and half the cheese. Put in the rest of the meat mixture, rest of chips and rest of cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes. Garnish before serving.


Double Shot Chocolate Cake

from Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson

  • 10 ounces unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (recommended brand: Godiva dark)
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-fine granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-style cocoa (recommended brand: Hershey’s Premium European-Style)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Butter a 10-by-1 1/2-inch heavy-duty round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment cut to fit. Butter the parchment. Set aside.
Fill a 16-by-11-inch roasting pan with 1 inch of hot water, place the roasting pan on a baking sheet, and put it into the oven.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter with the chocolate. When the ingredients are melted, remove the pan from the heat to cool slightly. Sift the sugar with the cocoa twice, then whisk it into the melted chocolate mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are foamy. Add the vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Blend with a spatula until very well mixed.
Carefully pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Gently place the cake pan in the water-filled roasting pan.
Bake about 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake begins to shrink slightly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, then invert carefully and peel off the paper. Allow to cool completely.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream or best quality vanilla ice cream


Theodosia’s Tea Scones

from Scones and Bones by Laura Childs
Makes 8 scones

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl, add orange juice and milk. Mix into a dough, then add raisins. Place 9 scoops onto a greased baking sheet, bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve hot with plenty of butter and jam.

Thanks to all of our participants for their delicious contributions and fantastic reading suggestions!

~Courtney

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