Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cooking Up a New Series - Part Seven - Sweet Potato Casserole

You can tell it's Southern cooking by the parrot!
All of my Southern cooking is an experiment, and some of the results are better than others.  For instance, the problem with the hush puppies (see Part Two).  I had to thicken the batter, and I didn't make notes of my changes so I haven't been able to post a recipe yet.  On the other hand, the fried cornbread came out well and I was pleased with the results (in Part Six).

My first attempt at sweet potato casserole falls in the "less successful" category.  It was tasty, but it wasn't what my expert taste-tester expected and it needs some work.

But I'm not proud - I'm happy to share the tasty failures, too!

Mis en place for sweet potato casserole
The bowl at left is cornmeal for fried cornbread
There are a few tricks I've stolen from cooking shows over the years, and one is the concept of mis en place.  It's a French phrase that means (more or less) "everything in place."

You know how it is when you watch one of those shows, and they have little dishes of every ingredient already measured and ready in a tiny glass bowl?  They never waste camera time measuring, and it's also a great way to determine that you have every ingredient.

In fact as I was setting up for this recipe I discovered that I didn't have miniature marshmallows.  Fortunately the grocery store is only three blocks away.  On a cooking show there would be an able assistant, ready to run do the chef's bidding at any moment.  For me that was the amazing husband/photographer/Official Taster, who ran to the store for marshmallows as I started cooking.

Because the Official Taster prefers yams, that is what I actually used.  Most any variety of sweet potato or yam will work, but that may be part of what went wrong with mine.  I will need to experiment with either different tubers.  But once they were peeled and chopped I put them on to boil until tender.

While the yams simmered, I took a few minutes to clean up the kitchen.  I have discovered that this kind of cooking -  with new recipes and sometimes unfamiliar ingredients - can create a lot of havoc in my kitchen, and lead to many piles of dirty dishes.  Since I have an older house, built at the end of WWII, it doesn't have a dishwasher.  Someday, I have promised myself, we will remodel the kitchen.  Someday!

Bubble, bubble
Sweet potato trouble!

After a few minutes at a slow boil, the yams were fork-tender and ready to mash.  The recipe called for three cups of mashed sweet potato, which seemed like a lot for two people, so I used two small yams and cut the rest of the ingredients in half.  It was plenty, and we even had leftovers.

Once the yams were tender, I drained them in a colander and returned them to the pan to mash them.  I have an ancient hand masher, which was all I needed to smash the yams without completely destroying the texture.
An old-fashioned hand masher works just fine!

However, I think I may have over cooked the yams.  The consistency, as you will soon see, was thinner than I would have liked.  The Official Taster also said it should have been more like dense mashed potatoes than the dish I produced.  Thus the label of Tasty Failure.

But I digress...

 The yams were mashed, ready to be mixed, and here is where the mis en place shines!

Once the yams were mashed, I added the remaining ingredients,

Sugar ...


Butter ...

Milk ...

Eggs and vanilla,
and poured the resulting mash into a baking pan.
Tasty, but way too soupy!

This is when we realized the mixture wasn't as thick as we thought it should be.  There wasn't a lot I could do at this point, so I forged ahead with the topping

A chef's trick, right in my own kitchen
A second mis en place was ready with flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and chopped nuts.  In a concession to the Official Taster I omitted coconut.  Not pictured are the miniature marshmallows my dedicated assistant fetched from the store while the yams were simmering and I was cleaning up the mess from peeling and chopping.

I mixed the nuts, brown sugar and flour into the melted butter, and then added the miniature marshmallows.

I spread the topping over the mashed yams in the baking dish, and it was ready for the oven.

After baking, the casserole was a beautiful, bubbly brown on top, with puffs of golden melted marshmallows. It smelled great, and tasted fine, but it wasn't exactly ready for its close-up.  Here's hoping I can do a better job next time, and show you a finished product that will make your mouth water!

But for the record, here is a plate of the finished casserole.  Too soft to hold its shape, it probably belongs in a small bowl rather than on a plate - it was more like a pudding than a casserole, and it's quite sweet, too.

Stay tuned for more Southern cooking adventures soon!!  Maybe I'll get the pictures for that banana pudding ...

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups boiled and  mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Add sugar, milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla to mashed sweet potatoes.  Place in an oven-proof casserole and top with a mixture of

1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts, pecans preferred, but walnuts also work
1 cup coconut (optional, according to the Official Taster)
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Bake at 350 degrees until brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes

No comments:

Post a Comment