Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Friday, January 31, 2014

Cooking the Books

For the second book in my Sydney Dovedale series, THE WICKED WEDDING OF MISS ELLIE VYNE, my sister chose the following recipe (for the Hartley jewels that Ellie is accused of stealing - as if she would!!):

Tomato Jewel Tartlets


4 ounces goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
24 cherry tomatoes


Heat the oven to 400°F.  Stir the goat cheese, parsley, chives, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and lemon zest in a medium bowl. 

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 10-inch square.  Cut into 4 (2 1/2-inch) strips.  Cut each strip into 6 (3x3x3-inch) triangles.  Discard any remaining pastry.  Press the pastry triangles into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 (1 1/2-inch) mini muffin-pan cups.

Bake for 7 minutes.

Cut slits in the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds.  Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese mixture into each tomato.  Place the tomatoes in the centre of the warm pastries and press down lightly.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown


Ellie Vyne never had much sympathy for men, until she temporarily became one. Disguised as the
"count de Bonneville," donning satin breeches and an old-fashioned powdered wig to gamble among Society’s decadent rich, she discovered a surprising fact. Contrary to previous conjecture, the male animal did not necessarily have all the fun. True, they could burp as they chose without reprimand, and sit with their legs in any pose comfortable. But they too had pitfalls to dodge, because the female sex could be just as single-minded in pursuit of sport and just as reticent to take no for an answer.
For instance, the "count" was lucky to get away with his true identity intact—likewise his trousers—since Lady Ophelia Southwold proved herself such an overeager strumpet that evening. While pressing a lavish diamond necklace into the count’s gloved hand in payment for her IOU, the lady also extended a startling offer, whispered so hotly in his ear that the
steam nearly wilted his wig. An offer he was obliged to refuse for reasons obvious only to himself.
It was fortunate Lady Southwold’s fingers never ventured any higher along the count’s breeches, or she would have shared his secret and suffered a nasty shock.
Followed by disappointment of severe magnitude.

Ellie could laugh over the incident now she had safely retreated to a rowdy inn on the outskirts of London. Kneeling on the bed, in the count’s lace-trimmed shirt, she counted out the guineas won after another night of fleecing unsuspecting aristocrats and rich young bucks about Town. She carefully lifted Lady Southwold’s necklace and studied the five enormous diamonds hanging on little clips. Ellie never wore much jewelry, other than the pearls left behind by her mother—and those were elegant and understated. But this necklace was nothing like that. She’d never seen diamonds so large. And heavy. They would surely drag a woman’s shoulders down by the end of an evening. It really was possible to have too much of a good thing.
While this had been a fruitful outing for the charming, elusive "count," when Ellie looked at those ugly diamonds, a shimmer of foreboding lapped at her senses. It ruffled her nerve endings like the tongue of a sly, cooling zephyr. Perhaps tonight had been too
fruitful. It could be time to hang up the count’s breeches before the ruse was discovered. Truthfully, she was surprised she got away with her masquerade as long as she did. It didn’t say much for her looks, Ellie mused, that she was so easily disguised as a man. Or
else it said little for the masculine appearance of today’s aristocratic gentlemen.

Her winnings packed safely away, she peeled the itching theatrical eyebrows carefully off her face, finished a glass of brandy, blew out her candle, and tumbled back across the bed. Sprawled in the moonlight, she yawned heavily, listened to the general ruckus from below, and pondered the strange direction her life had strayed. As the main caretaker of her family since the age of eight, she’d always known something different waited in her future, but she never imagined the road she traveled would be quite like this.
* * * *
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