It's fall in Boulder, Colorado, and the leaves aren't the only things changing. Parker Valentine, owner of Vino Valentine, is finally settling in to her winery and her new relationship with Reid Wallace, a local chef. But their delicate pairing is endangered when Reid's estranged family comes into town to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant.
Reid and his family are immediately at loggerheads, given their often acidic temperaments, but Parker still wants to make a good first impression. However, her efforts might be in vain when Reid's sous chef is found dead in the alley behind the restaurant, and Reid is implicated in the murder. In order to save Reid, Parker will have to find the real killer, even if the truth is difficult to swallow.
Off the Tarts Recipe Testing
As a self-proclaimed food nerd, when my brilliant editor suggested including recipes and wine pairings at the back of my cozy mysteries, I was ecstatic. I would get to try my hand at creating tasty recipes, just like my culinary idol, Ina Garten! Okay, not exactly like her. No one can say “How easy was that?”—and mean it—quite like the Barefoot Contessa. But you get the point; I was excited.
Now, recipe testing definitely comes with its challenges: finessing the proportions of ingredients, learning to actually measure while cooking and articulately describing processes, preparing and eating the same dishes many a time (admittedly, the latter wasn’t all bad). But for the most part it’s been great fun, and in rather unexpected ways.
I’ve added new dishes to my meal rolodex, learning to make things I never would have considered, like mango chutney, homemade ravioli, and chocolate truffles.
Long-neglected kitchen utensils have been given new life, for example my food processor, which I apparently grew very attached to while writing A PAIRING TO DIE FOR because I leveraged it in every recipe. Pease note: other appliances or even **gasp** your hands will work for these, too.
And I’ve gotten the opportunity to dig through family recipes and reminisce, like with the red velvet cupcakes my grandmother used to bake that will appear in Book 3.
But one of the recipes I’m most proud of is for an apple cinnamon tart, which I’m sharing below. I’d never made pastry crust before, relying on store-bought instead, but found it to be so flaky and buttery it was absolutely worth the extra effort. Hope you enjoy!
Cinnamon Apple Tart
(Serves 6 to 8)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, diced
½ cup ice-cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
For the pastry, in a food processor, combine flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Next, add 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) of butter. Pulse again a few times until butter is roughly pea-sized and then, with processor running, add water until the pastry dough comes together. Knead dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
On floured surface, roll pastry dough into a rectangular shape until it’s roughly ¼ inch thick, trimming the sides if needed. Move dough to prepared baking sheet.
In small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Line pastry dough with rows of overlapping slices of apples. Sprinkle sugar-and-cinnamon mixture on top and add remaining cubes of butter uniformly.
Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until pastry and apples are a beautiful golden brown.
Let cool and serve with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.Suggested wine pairing: an effervescent moscato d’Asti with floral aromas and sweet flavors of orange and honey.
Kate Lansing is an award-winning short story author. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple.