Monday, August 16, 2021

Coronation Chicken from the New Key West Food Critic Mystery


What I love most when a cozy mystery series I follow comes out with a new edition is getting to return to a setting I enjoy and catching up with characters who feel like friends. That’s why I was a bit nervous when I learned Lucy Burdette set her new Key West Food Critic Mystery in Scotland instead of the southern-most point of the United States. I enjoyed my visit to Key West a few years ago, and her books allowed me to make return trips without the airfare. I also visited Scotland many, many years ago and enjoyed my time there as well, so I was hopeful. Still, would her characters be as appealing adventuring through the northern United Kingdom as in southern Florida?

I shouldn’t have worried. 

A Scone of Contention was an excellent read. Food critic Hayley Snow brings her love of food, quirky nature, new husband Nathan, her mother-in-law, and her beloved 80-year-old friend Miss Gloria along to Scotland. Oh, did I mention she and Nathan are on their honeymoon? Though it’s crowded for romance, it makes perfect sense with this group of characters.

“The truth is, this vacation can’t come soon enough. I don’t care how many kooky relatives are cramming themselves into our honeymoon or how bad the weather is, or how much golf you have to play. I need a change of scenery. And some time with my new husband.” (Haley said the night before they departed.)

Hayley and her loved ones connect with Nathan’s sister Vera, her husband, and her co-workers. The plan is to explore some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places. These spots are said to be where the veil thins between Heaven and Earth. Some are also the setting for the series Outlander and Game of Thrones. (How Key West-like is that!) 

At a dinner party, one of Vera’s friends claims someone tried to poison her. Then the group witnesses a tourist fall to his death. None of the friends admit to knowing the dead man, but Hayley thinks they’re not telling the whole truth. Soon she’s on the hunt for a killer before he (or she) strikes again. 

Of course, with Hayley being a tried and true foodie, lots of delicious meals and recipes are featured in the book. At first, I wanted to make one of the scone recipes, but the outside temperature near 100 degrees discouraged me from turning on the oven. Instead, I made the recipe for Coronation Chicken. 

Being a dedicated anglophile, I’d heard of this recipe before. Le Cordon Bleu cooking school founder Rosemary Hume created the dish in 1953 to serve at a banquet celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Since the UK was still dealing with post-WWII rationing at that time, this salad features easy-to-get ingredients with an exotic touch of curry. Most recipes for this dish call for mango chutney and diced dried apricots. Burdette switches it up by using apricot jam and diced fresh mango, which to me made it seem more Key West friendly. Also, I’m more likely to have apricot jam in the pantry and mango in my freezer. (The frozen mango worked perfectly. Just let it thaw first.) 

Like the book, the recipe didn’t disappoint either. It made a refreshing chicken salad with an exotic taste from the curry powder, a slight sweetness from the fruit and jam, and some crunch from the almonds. I enjoyed it on its own with crackers on the side and as a sandwich made with hearty multi-grain bread. (In the book's recipe, Burdette serves it on baked potatoes.) 

If you love cozy mysteries, especially ones filled with tasty food, then I highly recommend you jump into this series. I’m already anticipating the next edition! 

Yield: 6 to 8
Author: Linda Ditch
Coronation Chicken

Coronation Chicken

This recipe is adapted from one in the book A Scone of Contention by Lucy Burdette. The dish was originally served at a banquet for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. This version has a Key West twist with the use of fresh mango.


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder (I used McCormick)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used 2 poached boneless-skinless chicken breasts)
  • Diced fresh mango
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the curry powder and onion and cook until the onion starts to soften. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, water, and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to simmer until it has thickened and reduced by about half. Stir in the apricot jam and then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff. Whisk in the mayonnaise and the cooled curry mixture. Fold in the chicken and however much mango and almonds you desire. Season with salt, if necessary.
  3. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It tastes great on top of a green salad, served with crackers, or as a sandwich.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

S'mores Bars


I was so busy earlier this week that I missed National S’mores Day on August 10th. Well, better late than never, right? With the extreme heat and humidity we’re dealing with right now, sitting by a fire to toast marshmallows doesn’t sound appealing. Last year, I came across this recipe for S’mores Bars in an issue of Cook’s Country magazine. It looked delicious and seemed easy to make, so I tore it out and added it to my “recipes to try” pile—then promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks ago, cookbook author David Lebovitz inspired me with his blog post about going through folders filled with recipes he’d saved to try at a future date and never did. Thank goodness it compelled me to go through my stack because I discovered the S’mores Bars recipe again and was motivated to give it a go.

They were delicious. This recipe creates everything you want in a s’more without the flames. These bars have marshmallow cream to make them even gooier. The only downside was the crust seemed to be a bit thick, so next time I’ll cut back on how much I use. The upside is the bars tasted just as good the next day. And the next. This storage-ability makes them perfect for a make-ahead dessert, say for an upcoming Labor Day gathering or a football tailgate.

Happy National S’mores Day...better late than never!

Yield: Makes 16 bars
Author: Linda Ditch
S’mores Bars

S’mores Bars

No campfire required! This tasty treat, adapted from one found in the June/July 2020 issue of Cook’s Country magazine, gives the dessert a summertime feel no matter what the calendar says.


  • 7 whole graham cracker sheets, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 (1.55-ounce) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars
  • 1 (7-ounce) container of marshmallow crème (Fluff)
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, smoothing it into the sides and corners, and leaving some hanging over the edge of the pan. Spray generously with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, finely grind up the graham cracker pieces. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the mixture looks like damp sand. (20 to 25 pulses) Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan and press into a firm, even layer across the bottom. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until the crust is brown around the edges. Cool completely before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
  3. Once the crust is cool, cover it with 5 of the chocolate bars. You will need to break them into pieces to fit into an even layer, with some leftover. Chop the remaining chocolate into small pieces and set them aside.
  4. Using an offset spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, spread the marshmallow cream over the top of the chocolate. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows evenly over the top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the marshmallows are golden brown.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven onto a cooling rack, and then sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the top. Allow the bars to cool for at least 4 hours before cutting.
  6. To serve, lift the bars out of the pan with the foil and set onto a cutting board. Carefully peel back the fool from the marshmallows, using a knife if needed. Spray your knife with non-stick spray, and then cut the bars into 16 pieces. Keep leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.