Joanne Fluke Invites You To Celebrate The Holidays With Hannah Swensen And All The Wonderful Folks Of Lake Eden, At The Annual Cookie Exchange. . . All-New Recipes Included!
It's a picture postcard December in Minnesota, and Main Street is brimming with festive holiday decorations. Best of all, it's time for the annual Holiday Cookie Exchange at the Community Center—catered by none other than The Cookie Jar! Gathered together for the delicious event, the Swensen clan and their friends share their favorite juicy tales of Lake Eden—and their favorite scrumptious cookie and luncheon recipes, including:
Candy Cane Cookies
Heavenly Eggnog Cookies
Merry Berry Cookies
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Regency Ginger Snaps
Razzle Dazzle Champagne Cocktails
. . . plus all the recipes from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder to Carrot Cake Murder. Now you can bring the irresistible flavors of The Cookie Jar into your very own kitchen!
"Joanne Fluke is the doyenne of deadly desserts with her deliciously popular Hannah Swensen series." —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Joanne Fluke is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, Cinnamon Roll Murder, and the book that started it all, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. That first installment in the series premiered as Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery on the Hallmark Movies’ Mysteries Channel. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in Southern California. Please visit her online at www.JoanneFluke.com.
Read an Excerpt
Joanne Fluke's LAKE EDEN COOKBOOK
Hannah Swensen's Recipes from The Cookie Jar
By Joanne Fluke
Copyright © 2011 H. L. Swensen, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHannah Swensen frowned as she turned a slow circle in the center of the kitchen at The Cookie Jar, her bakery and coffee shop in Lake Eden, Minnesota. The timer had just sounded a one-minute warning, the latest batch of cookies was about to come out of the oven, and this had all the earmarks of a baking disaster. Every available surface was filled with various kinds of Christmas cookies.
"There's no more room!" Hannah complained, not expecting an answer since she was the sole occupant of the kitchen. But just then her partner, Lisa Beeseman, came in through the swinging restaurant-type door that separated the kitchen from the coffee shop.
"I can fix that. No problem." Lisa held up two of the giant glass jars they kept behind the counter in the coffee shop to display their daily cookie offerings. "I'll just fill up these jars and you'll have lots of room. And if you need more room than that, I've got three more jars that are running low."
By the time the oven timer sounded for the second time, Lisa had cleared cookies from several tiers of the baker's rack. Hannah filled them up again with trays of fresh, hot cookies, and then she slipped more cookies into the oven. The thing to do while this new batch was baking was to clear more space.
Her mother's cookies were cool, and Hannah arranged them in individual boxes. Delores Swensen was hosting her fourth annual Christmas cookie exchange this afternoon, and Hannah and Lisa were catering the luncheon at the event. Each lady Delores had invited would arrive with a dozen cookies for each of the other ladies attending, plus an extra dozen for charity. That meant everyone went home with a lovely assortment of Christmas cookies and this year's charity, the Winnetka County Children's Home, would have homemade cookies for the children.
Hannah picked up the boxed cookies intending to stash them in her cookie truck to clear even more counter space, but all it took was one step outside to cause her to change her mind. It was the second Wednesday in December, and according to Rayne Phillips at KCOW Radio, Lake Eden, Minnesota's news and weather station, the temperature would dip to minus double-digits today. It seemed that Rayne was right for a change. Turning on her heel, Hannah stepped back into her warm kitchen. The day was cold and blustery, it was already well below zero, and her mother's cookies would freeze in a matter of minutes if she stored them in the back of her cookie truck.
Hannah had just re-stacked the cookie boxes in a safe corner of the kitchen when the phone rang. She grabbed the phone on the wall so that Lisa wouldn't have to leave the customers to answer it. "The Cookie Jar," she said. "Hannah spreading."
"Hello, Hannah. It's Bertie." Hannah could hear the high-pitched whine of hair dryers in the background and she knew that Bertie was calling from her beauty shop, the Cut n' Curl. "You'll be at your mother's cookie exchange, won't you?"
"I'll be there. Lisa and I are catering the luncheon."
"Perfect! I was wondering if you'd share something with me."
"Share what, Bertie?"
Hannah began to smile. To her, share meant dividing something tangible into pieces, and she couldn't help forming a mental picture of Bertie grasping one side of a printed recipe while she held on to the other and awaited the signal to tear it in half. Of course that's not what Bertie meant, and Hannah didn't mind giving out her recipes to anyone who asked. The chances of Bertie refusing to order something Hannah sold at The Cookie Jar just because she could go home and bake it herself were negligible. "Which recipe would you like?" she asked.
"The one for that appetizer you made for the film shoot. It was on a round cracker and you said it had cream cheese in it."
"Cream Cheese Puffs?"
"That's it. I'd like that one. You said it was easy."
"It is, but you have to serve it hot out of the oven."
"I can do that. Will you bring the recipe to your mother's luncheon?"
"Sure," Hannah promised. "I'll see you there, Bertie."
"Marge and Dad are here early," Lisa announced, entering the kitchen only seconds after Hannah had hung up the phone. "I came to relieve you so that you can make the morning deliveries."
"That's great. This last batch of cookies has five minutes to go. Do you want me to stay until they're out?"
"You go. I'll take care of it."
"Okay." Hannah retrieved the steno pad they kept by the phone, flipped to the right page, and jotted a note about the recipe Bertie wanted.
"Another cookie order?" Lisa guessed.
"No, it's a list of all the recipes I have to print out before we go to Mother's cookie exchange. Everybody wants something."
"Like who? And what do they want?"
"Like Carrie Rhodes. She's supposed to bring a pie to a Christmas party and she needs a recipe. I'm going to bring all of my pie recipes so she can choose. And then there's Mother. She wants a recipe for shrimp bisque that she can make in a crockpot."
"Your mother's going to cook?" Lisa looked horrified.
"I doubt it. She'll probably ask me to mix it up so all she'll have to do is plug in the slow cooker. They're having a potluck at the hospital, and shrimp bisque is Doc's favorite soup."
"Who else is on your list?"
"Claire. She wants to make homemade candy for the church Christmas packages."
"But Grandma Knudson makes great candy! Why doesn't Claire just ask her for recipes?"
"She did, but Claire read them and she said they all mentioned stages like soft ball, and hard ball, and crack. Grandma told her not to worry about it, that all Claire had to do was use a candy thermometer, but Claire just started learning how to cook and she didn't think she could handle anything that complicated."
"Okay. I guess that makes sense." Lisa pointed to a name on Hannah's list. "Rose McDermott wants a cake recipe? And she bakes some of the best cakes in town?"
"She told me she's looking for something new. Almost everyone Mother invited wants me to bring some type of recipe."
"Then you'd better go home right after you make the deliveries and start printing out those recipes. Print out enough sets for everyone there. That way you won't have to do it again the next time they ask you."
"Good idea. But can you get along without me for a couple of hours?"
"Of course I can. I already told Herb I'd need some help, and he's going to move all our supplies to the community center kitchen. And Andrea's doing the tables, so we don't have to worry about that. The pies are all ready, and you made the chicken salad this morning. What else is there?"
"The champagne cocktails, but I'll bring everything I need for those."
"Then we're all set." Lisa glanced over as the oven timer gave a one-minute warning. "Did you print out the luncheon menu so I can put one by each place setting?"
"They're in a blue folder on the passenger seat of your car. You really ought to lock it, Lisa. Your husband's going to give you a ticket."
Lisa laughed. Everyone in town knew that Herb took his job as the Lake Eden marshal, the only law enforcement officer hired directly by the mayor, very seriously.
The timer started to ring for the second time and Lisa hurried to the oven. But she looked up as Hannah slipped into her parka and picked up the stack of cookie boxes set aside for delivery. "Your recipes are really popular, Hannah. Doesn't that make you happy?"
"Yes, and no."
"Because I've got so many recipes to print. And that means I'll have to run out to the mall on my way home to buy more paper and ink cartridges."
"Ready or not, here they come!" Hannah said, giving a relieved sigh. She'd just dipped the rim of the last champagne flute in red decorator sugar when she'd heard the sound of women's voices and the clatter of high heels on the stairs.
"We're ready." Lisa answered, removing a baked brie from the oven. She carried it to the counter they'd designated as their staging area and placed it next to a second baked brie and several baskets of assorted crackers. "Do you want me to put the appetizers out on the table now?"
"Yes. They'll need something to munch on while I mix the cocktails. Do you have the individual appetizer knives?"
"They're on the table."
Hannah glanced over at the long table in the banquet room. Before she'd gone upstairs to wait for their mother to arrive, Hannah's sister Andrea had decorated it with a red and green tablecloth, several small Christmas trees with colored lights, and some stylized gold deer that were frozen in the act of browsing on faux evergreen and holly centerpieces. The appetizer knives were there, one at each place setting.
Bertie Straub was the first one to enter the room, and she rushed over to Hannah. "Did you bring my recipe, Hannah?"
"Yes, and I also brought the recipe for the appetizer we're having today," Hannah answered, gesturing toward the small card table she'd set up in the corner. "I'll pass them out just as soon as I serve the Razzle Dazzle Champagne Cocktails."
"That sounds heavenly," Bertie declared. "Addie Borgia had to tell me all about her grandson's wedding while I colored her hair this morning, and she's told me the exact same stories three times before!"
Hannah hurried to the kitchen when Bertie left to stack her boxes of cookies on the long table against the wall. She found Lisa assembling several pans of biscuits. "Those should be wonderful," she said, eyeing the melted butter in the bottom of the pan.
"They will be. It's Marge's recipe, but she gave Herb the credit. She loved calling them Herb's Herb Biscuits." Lisa gave a little smile when she mentioned her mother-in-law's name. "Marge is wearing the new beaded sweater Herb and I got her for her birthday. Does your mother have a new outfit?"
"Do bears ... uh ... growl in the woods?" Hannah sanitized the popular saying for her young partner. "I'm sure Mother will have a new outfit. She always does."
"Welcome, ladies!" Hannah watched as her mother took her position at the head of the table. "I'm so glad you could come to our annual cookie exchange. Please find your place card and be seated. I understand my daughter, Hannah, will be making champagne cocktails for those of us who want to indulge and faux champagne cocktails for those who don't. And while we're waiting for our libations, let's take a look at the appetizer and beverage recipes that Hannah has printed out for us. And then we'll start in on this lovely baked brie."
That was Hannah's cue to carry out the champagne flutes rimmed in red sugar and play her part as the bartender. She picked up the tray, took a deep breath, and walked out to pour the bubbly.
CREAM CHEESE PUFFS
Hannah's Note: If you're not going to serve these right away, you can mix up the cream cheese part and refrigerate it until it's time to spread it on the crackers.
8-ounce package cream cheese (the firm kind, not the whipped) 2 Tablespoons (1/8 cup) mayonnaise (We used Hellmann's) 3 Tablespoons minced green onion OR 3 Tablespoons minced dried onion OR 3 Tablespoons minced shallots 1 beaten egg
A box of salted crackers (We used Ritz Crackers and they were great!)
Unwrap the cream cheese and put it in a microwave-safe bowl. Nuke it on HIGH for 30 seconds, or until it begins to soften.
Mix in the mayonnaise and stir until the mixture is smooth.
Mix in the onion. (If you use green onion instead of shallots or dried onion, you can use up to one inch of the stem.)
Mix in the beaten egg.
Lay out the crackers on a broiler pan, salt side up. (We used a disposable broiler pan so we could trash it at Granny's Attic and we wouldn't have to carry it back to The Cookie Jar.)
Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the crackers in a circle that reaches the edges of the crackers. If you don't cover the crackers completely, they tend to burn under the broiler. Use about 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture per cracker and mound it slightly in the center.
Position the rack approximately three inches below the coil of the broiler and turn it on HIGH. Wait until the coil gets hot and then put in the cheese puffs. Broil the crackers (with the oven door open to the first latch so the broiler doesn't kick on and off) until the cream cheese puffs up and is just starting to turn golden. This should take about 90 seconds if the rack is correctly positioned. Remove them from the oven immediately.
Let them cool for a minute or two, so your guests won't burn their tongues. Then transfer the Cream Cheese Puffs to a platter and serve.
Yield: Approximately 2 dozen hot and yummy hors d'oeuvres.
Another Note from Hannah: I haven't actually tried this, but I'm willing to bet a dozen of my best cookies that you could also add a quarter cup chopped smoked salmon to the cream cheese mixture.
• Razzle Dazzle Baked Brie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle position.
1 cup salted cashews, finely chopped (measure after chopping) 2 large eggs 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (that's 1/8 cup) 1 small wheel of Brie with rind all over it (I used a 13-ounce baby Brie that was approximately 5 inches in diameter.) ¼ to 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (I used Knott's Berry Farm)
a basket of assorted crackers small appetizer knives and spoons for serving
Chop the salted cashews in a food processor or by hand. The pieces should be no larger than coarse grains of sand.
Place the finely chopped cashews in a glass pie plate sprayed with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray. (A flat-bottomed, oven-safe dish with sides will also work just as long as it's several inches larger than your wheel of Brie.)
Whisk the eggs and the heavy cream (that's whipping cream) together in a small bowl until they're thoroughly blended. Pour the resulting mixture into a second shallow dish or bowl (or pie plate).
Unwrap your wheel of Brie. Leave the rind on. You need the rind intact so that the cheese will hold its shape.
Dip the bottom of the Brie into the egg and cream mixture. Then pick it up by its sides and set it in the finely chopped cashews. Move it around a little so that the nuts will adhere to the egg and cream mixture.
Lift the Brie and take it back to the dish with the egg and cream mixture. Tip the cheese on its side and roll it in the mixture until the sides are coated with egg and cream.
Carry the Brie to the dish with the finely chopped nuts and roll it around in there so that the nuts adhere to the sides. You can press the nuts on with your hands to make them stick even better. When you're through, position your Brie in the center of the dish with the chopped cashews, the bottom side down and the top side (without any nuts) up.
Heat the raspberry jam for 5 to 10 seconds in the microwave on HIGH until it's easily spreadable. Then spoon it on top of the Brie, right in the middle. Use a rubber spatula or a frosting knife to spread it out to the edges.
Use a small spoon or your impeccably clean fingers to scoop up some chopped cashews and sprinkle them on top of the raspberry jam. Put on as many as you like as long as a bit of the red raspberry color shows through.
Leave the rest of the chopped cashews right there in the pie plate or ovenware dish.
Bake your Razzle Dazzle Baked Brie at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is beginning to melt inside.
Hannah's Note: I've also made this with other double and triple cream cheeses and with other flavors of jam. Mother loves it with apricot jam and Andrea is crazy about Brie with peach jam.
FAKE ORANGE JULIUS
3 cups orange juice (you'll need 6 cups in all) 1 envelope dry Dream Whip (the kind that makes 2 cups) 1 package dry vanilla pudding mix (the kind that makes 2 cups) 3 more cups orange juice
Pour the 3 cups of orange juice into a blender. Add the envelope of dry Dream Whip and the dry pudding mix. Blend for one minute on LOW and then for another minute on MEDIUM speed.
Excerpted from Joanne Fluke's LAKE EDEN COOKBOOK by Joanne Fluke Copyright © 2011 by H. L. Swensen, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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