Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 lb. peeled and diced potatoes (I like to use traditional Idaho russets, but just about any variety of potato will do).
1/2 to 1 head garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
6 T. butter
1/2 to 3/4 C. milk, warmed
1 T. salt (or to taste)
½ t. freshly cracked pepper (or to taste)
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Place potatoes in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add water sufficient to cover them. Put lid on pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, watching to be sure pan doesn’t boil over. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat slightly and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.

Drain cooked potatoes and set aside. Return empty pan to heat and add butter. When butter melts, add garlic. Cook until tender. Return cooked potatoes to pan. Mash or whip with immersion blender until nearly smooth, gradually adding warm milk until potatoes are the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper. Place in warmed serving dish, top with chives if desired. Serve.

Note—some people salt the water the potatoes are boiling in, which raises the temperature of the boiling water and lets the potatoes cook faster. I prefer to add salt at the last, when I have more control over the amount the dish has—I think it leaves the potatoes more tender, too. But either method works.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Bread

1 package yeast
1/4 C. water
2 C. milk (any kind will do nicely—the richness of the dough will increase as you add fat)
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. butter
2 t. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ T. cinnamon
6-7 C. flour, divided use
Cinnamon sugar to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°
Grease two standard loaf pans.

Mix the yeast and water in a medium bowl.
Gently heat the milk, sugar, and butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat until the butter melts; do not boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sift salt, cinnamon, and 3 cups of flour together into a large bowl.
Add the frothy yeast and milk mixture and 2 beaten eggs to the dry ingredients.
Mix until a soft doughy ball forms. Turn dough out on floured board.
Knead until dough is smooth and has the soft and rubbery texture of your earlobe. In the course of this process you could add up to 4 more cups of flour to get a nice, springy dough.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Cover dough and leave to rise for 1 hour.
Knock back and then divide into two balls of dough. Form into loaves, place into loaf pans, and then leave to rise about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Dust the tops with the cinnamon sugar if desired and bake for 35-40 minutes.
If the loaves start to brown too quickly, cover with foil for the remaining cooking time.

Excellent served buttered for breakfast, or as a base for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back in business here...

Okay, trying again...
Looks like there are a lot of folks out there who would prefer to see Ollie's White House Chef recipes all in one place, so I'm resurrecting this blog.

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is a great place for recipes from me and from 5 other mystery writers. Please come visit - and bookmark both sites!

Keep in touch!


Baklava stuffed with almonds, pecans, and pine nuts

1 package fillo dough (Even chefs buy it rather than making it by hand)
1 pound butter, melted.
8 ounces almonds, roughly chopped
4 ounces pecans, roughly chopped
3 ounces pine nuts, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar (for nuts)
2 cups sugar (for syrup)
1 cup water
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Ground cinnamon and powdered sugar to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F

Mix the chopped nuts with I cup of sugar. Set aside.

Remove fillo sheets from package to work surface and unfold. When not handling, keep covered by a damp paper towel or cloth dishtowel. Fillo dries out and becomes unworkable fast.

Cut the sheets in half to fit a 9 X 13 backing dish. Cover the fillo with damp towel again. Working quickly, using a basting brush, paint the bottom of the 9 X 13 pan with melted butter. Remove a sheet of fillo, place it on the bottom of the buttered pan, brush the fillo sheet well with melted butter. Repeat six times.

Sprinkle with a thin layer of chopped nuts and sugar.

Place six more sheets of buttered fillo in the pan, top with chopped nuts and sugar.

Repeat these layers until out of nuts and fillo, finishing with six layers of buttered fillo.

With the sharpest knife possible, cut the layers of fillo and nuts into four to six long rows. (Piece size is a personal preference.) Turn pan and slice the fillo into diamonds by cutting diagonally across the long rows.

Place in oven and cook until golden brown and toasty (about 35-45 minutes).

Remove from oven, cool pan on a rack.

While the pan is cooling, place 2 cups of sugar and a cup of water, plus cloves and cinnamon in a large and heavy saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down slightly and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour boiling syrup gently over fillo and nuts in pan.

Cool completely. To serve, place a doily or paper cutout over a dessert plate. Dust with cinnamon. Move the pattern carefully a half inch to the right and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Remove the pattern. Serve the individual diamonds of baklava on cinnamon and sugar-dusted dessert plates.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Moving On, Please come along...

Hi folks,

I intended this blog to be Ollie's recipe blog. But wouldn't you know it - just as soon as this blog got off the ground, I was invited by the lovely Krista Davis and Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames) to join with them, Cleo Coyle, Jenn McKinlay, and Elizabeth Spann Craig in creating a brand-new group blog that will feature... guess what? Recipes!

The six of us will blog one day a week (I'm Tuesday) and we'll invite guest bloggers to join us on Sunday.

Last week was our preview week, and this week the fun really begins. Join us, and leave a comment on our blog to be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. Doesn't that sound tempting? Take a look:

See you there!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen news!

Note from Julie:

If you love recipes, if you love books, if you love talking about cooking and reading, please visit the brand-new blog "MYSTERY LOVERS' KITCHEN." We went live today (I post on Tuesdays, so my first recipe will appear tomorrow) and this promises to be a fabulous site. We will have new posts every single day!

We have Krista Davis, Avery Aames, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Cleo Coyle, and Jenn McKinlay. Oh, and me, too.

This is preview week, and we'll make all sorts of announcements soon. We're also preparing to announce our first contest. So don't miss a moment of fun.

For now, I'll keep this blog live with Ollie's recipes, but stay tuned for updates.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recipes and news

You love recipes, right? Kitchen tips, food discussions, all of that...

Stay tuned here for some big news coming soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The winner of the first Presidential Trivia contest from Julie Hyzy's blog is:

Jen McElroy!

(sound of applause)

She and other contest entrants were correct in naming Theodore Roosevelt as the source of the quote in question.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crisp Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some folks enjoy warm, soft chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, and I confess to having a weakness for them myself.

These cookies, however, are just a little different. Crisp and full-bodied, they always help take the edge off -- whether I'm hunting down suspects, or fighting off Peter Everett Sargeant's nasty barbs in the White House ;-)


2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten until yellow
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
¾ cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 six ounce package milk chocolate chips
1 3 ounce bar dark chocolate, diced into chunks
1 six ounce package of white chocolate chips

Parchment paper to cover cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 350° F

In a medium bowl sift together dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, cream softened butter and sugars. Stir in vanilla until smooth. Stir in egg until smooth. Add dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, stirring to incorporate. Dough will be soft and uniform. Stir in chocolates.

Shape into in quarter-sized balls. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets, in widely spaced rows of three—this batter will spread during cooking! Bake until cookies are browned and flat, roughly 15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets. Remove cooled cookies from parchment paper and store in a tin.

(Hint—these are excellent crumbled and served over ice cream)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Win books by Julie Hyzy!

(Originally announced on

Contest - Presidential Trivia.

Everyone who answers correctly will have their names put in a hat. At the end of June, one name will be drawn. He/she will receive his/her choice of one of Julie Hyzy's books.

Choices are:
Artistic License (trade pb)
Deadly Blessings (trade pb)
Deadly Interest (hardcover)
Dead Ringer - written with Michael A. Black (hardcover)
These Guns For Hire - (hardcover anthology. Julie's short story from this volume won a Derringer Award)
State of the Onion (mass market pb)
Hail to the Chef (mass market pb)

To which of our presidents is this quote attributed?:

"Far better it is to dare mighty things - to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure - than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

If you type your reply in the "Comments" section, everyone will see your answer.

So, instead, please visit my website: www (dot) julieahyzy (dot) com and send it to me via e-mail from there.
Thanks and good luck!

Henry’s Famous Hash Browns (With fresh chives and fresh thyme)

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 potatoes, peeled and grated
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, rinsed and stems removed (Use 1/2 tsp powdered if fresh is not available)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives (green onions will do in a pinch)
1/3 tsp salt (or to taste)
Fresh chive stalks and thyme branch for garnish (optional)

Place olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Heat over medium heat.

Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl. Place grated potato mixture in a potato ricer and use the ricer to squeeze any superfluous water out of the potatoes (This makes them crispy.). (If you don’t have a ricer, press the grated potatoes between sheets of paper towels and press to remove excess moisture).

When oil is heated to a shimmer, pour potato mixture into skillet and mash it down to a thinnish pancake using a spatula. Cook until bottom layer is browned and crispy (about 4 minutes). Turn over and cook other side until browned and crispy (about 3 minutes). Place onto warmed plate or platter and serve garnished with sprigs of fresh thyme and chives tied together with a knotted chive leaf.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Virginia Ham and Spinach Omelet

So close to Virginia... where we love our hams!

2 T. extra virgin olive oil (divided use)
1/2 C. raw spinach leaves, well rinsed in water with a 2 T. of vinegar in it, then rinsed again, drained, and dried (the vinegar rinse should take care of the threat of bacterial contamination)
1 T. minced onion
4 ounces good Virginia ham, diced
3 eggs
2 T. plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
Couple of dashes Tabasco pepper sauce or other hot sauce
1/3 cup cheese of choice, grated (Asiago, cheddar, Swiss, Monterrey jack, pepper jack, etc., or any mixture of these is fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 8-inch seasoned cast-iron skillet or good quality omelet pan on stovetop over medium heat. Add 1 T. of olive oil to pan. Add ham, spinach, and onion to the hot oil.

Stir until ham warms through, spinach wilts, and onion turns clear. Remove mixture from pan and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, tarragon, and hot sauce. Place skillet back on stove. Add 1 T. olive oil to skillet and spread to cover entire surface. Pour egg mixture into oiled pan. Cook until bottom is set, then flip egg mixture in pan (If this isn’t something you do regularly and you don’t want to destroy your kitchen attempting it, you can also pull the cooked egg to the center of the pan, and rotate the remaining liquid egg in the pan to cover the oiled surface. Either way, the eggs are cooked through, without leaving an overcooked and tough brown layer on the bottom of the omelet.) Top the cooking eggs with the warm ham, spinach, and onion mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese over top, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook just until the cheese melts. Take off cover. Fold omelet in half.

Serve immediately on warmed plate.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Honey Almond Scones

Honey Almond Scones
This recipe is also from State of the Onion, and it's one of my personal favorites. What's nice is that, except for the buttermilk, I usually have all these ingredients on hand in my kitchen all the time.


1/4 C. buttermilk or plain yogurt
3/4 C. honey
2 eggs
1/4 t. almond extract
3 C. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. butter
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. finely chopped almonds

3 T. butter, melted
1 T. hot water
1 t. vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
1 C. confectioner’s sugar

Heat oven to 375°F.

Grease scone pan or place parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.Add honey to buttermilk, stir, then beat in the eggs.Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Add sugar, and almonds. Toss to coat.Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a ball forms. Turn out dough onto a floured board. Knead 5 to 6 times to make sure it is well mixed.

If using scone pan, spoon dough into the pan, spreading evenly among the indentations. If using baking sheet, roll dough into a ball and flatten it some. Cut into 8 wedges.

Bake for 25 minutes or until medium golden brown.Cool on a wire rack.

In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, vanilla, almond extract, and hot water. Add confectioner’s sugar. Stir. If glaze is too thick to pour, add more hot water, a teaspoonful at a time, until the glaze has the consistency of thick syrup. Spoon the glaze over the warm scones.

Extra hint:
If you don't have a scone pan, and the batter proves too unwieldy to cut into those 8 wedges (it's a pretty sticky batter), you can use a mini-muffin pan. I love this option because then the scones come out a little bit smaller. Like two-bite-sized. I spray or otherwise grease the mini-muffin pan, and fill each about 3/4 full. I also cut down the baking time a bit... keep an eye on them. Take a look after about 10 minutes, then turn the pan. Let them bake a bit longer until golden brown. I think I had my last batch in for about 17 minutes and they came out perfectly.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Fresh Berries

This is a wonderful Angel Food cake. Delicious and light. The chocolate makes it special. When you're slicing, you'll want to use a serrated knife. Angel Food cakes are notoriously hard to slice. I have to confess that the last time I made this one, I wound up with quite a few smooshy pieces. They were still delicious ... they just looked a little funny.

Thank goodness I was serving family and friends and not President Campbell! It's a good thing that for big state dinners and small First Family gatherings, we have Marcel, our pastry chef, on staff. He's the real expert when it comes to dessert!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Fresh Berries

12 jumbo egg whites, or egg whites equal to 2 cups (this can be accomplished with 16 large eggs, or even meringue powder, if you don’t want to deal with so many leftover egg yolks—but egg yolks make fabulous puddings, a nice Lord Baltimore cake, or custard sauce, so Marcel never minds having leftovers.)

4 T. Dutch processed cocoa powder
¼ cup boiling water
2 T. vanilla extract
2 C. sugar, divided use
1 cup cake flour, well sifted or pulsed in a food processor
½ t. salt
2 t. cream of tartar
Confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder for garnish
1 pint fresh berries, rinsed, drained, and chilled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine boiling water, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Stir until smooth and glossy. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, or in food processor bowl, whisk or pulse together cake flour, 1 cup sugar, and salt. Set aside.

In a large clean bowl (the slightest bit of fat will keep your egg whites from whipping properly), beat the egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Continue beating until egg whites form soft peaks. Gradually add 1C. sugar until stiff peaks form.

Remove1 C. of egg mixture from large bowl and fold gently into cocoa mixture bowl.

In large bowl, take remaining egg mixture and incorporate flour mixture into it by gently sifting 1/3 cup of the flour onto surface of beaten eggs, and folding them together. Don’t overwork this batter or it will loose its incorporated air. Work gently but efficiently and quickly.

Gently fold cocoa mixture into egg batter.

Spoon or pour batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Run a knife through the batter in a circular motion to eliminate any large air pockets. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Do not open oven door during the first thirty minutes of baking. Top of cake will crack—this is part of its charm. Cake is done when surface springs back when gently touched or toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and invert pan.

Let cool completely—at least two hours at room temperature.

Remove cake from pan by running a sharp knife around sides and center of tube pan to release from sides, then remove cake from pan. If cake has removable tube, run knife around bottom of cake pan before removing.

Dust cake and berries with confectioner’s sugar. To serve, place cake slice on individual plate dusted with coca powder and confectioner’s sugar. Heap berries to side of cake. Dust with more confectioner’s sugar. Serve.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bucky's Brussels Sprouts

Bucky’s Brussels Sprouts
(this recipe was referred to, but not included in State of the Onion)

These cheesy herbed appetizers will change the mind of any hater of Brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brussels sprouts:25 fresh Brussels sprouts
4 quarts boiling water
1 tsp salt
2 quarts ice water

Blanch the Brussels sprouts for roughly 4 minutes each by dropping the sprouts 5-6 at a time into a 6 quart pan filled with boiling salted water. After four minutes, remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon, dropping them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Continue until all the sprouts have been blanched. Remove the sprouts from the ice water and let them dry.

Cut off stems from Brussels sprouts. Cut each Brussels sprout in half, beginning at the stem end and cutting down to the top of each sprout. Use a small melon ball to remove the middles of the sprouts. You can reserve these centers for a later use (they are great in soups and casseroles), or toss them. Lay the halved Brussels sprouts on their cut sides down on a paper towel covered surface and allow them to drain while you make the filling (below).

Arrange the drained sprouts rounded sides down on a large cookie sheet. You should end up with a tray full of hollowed out Brussels sprouts, hollowed side up. They are now ready to stuff.

4 oz. good feta (goat) cheese at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, softened.
2 TBSP fresh dill, chopped (or 1 TBSP dried dill)
2 cloves garlic mashed and minced (or to taste)
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 TBSP of olive oil

Mix together ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.


Place a heaping tablespoon full of filling into each hollowed out Brussels sprout. Place the tray of filled Brussels sprouts into the preheated oven. Cook until filling is melted and sprouts are warmed through—about 12-15 minutes. Turn on broiler, cook until cheese filling bubbles and begins to brown—about 1-2 minutes.Remove from oven and serve warm.

In this recipe, I substituted Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese for the feta and it worked out marvelously. My family and I don't particularly care for Brussels sprouts but these were a hit. I've made them three times so far, and they keep asking for me to make them again.

Let me know if you like these. I'll be sure to pass along your comments to Bucky!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Brand New Blog with Recipes

Hi there!
Olivia Paras here. But you can call me Ollie. If you've read any of the White House Chef Mysteries, written by Julie Hyzy, then you know I'm the (fictional) first female Executive Chef in the White House. We have a *real* female Executive Chef in the White House right now. Her name is Cristeta Comerford and, from all reports, she's doing marvelously. Any similarities between Cristeta and me are purely coincidental. I'm proud of my fictional adventures, just as I'm sure she's proud of the incredible role she plays in the First Family's life.

So far there are two books chronicling my story. The first is State of the Onion where I whack a White House intruder in the head with a frying pan and get myself involved in an international crisis. The second, Hail to the Chef, came out in December 2008. In that book, I'm in trouble, yet again. This time with bombs ;-)

The third book is due out in January, 2010, and I'll talk more about that one as we get closer to publication date.

For now, I want to introduce ... RECIPES!

Lots of readers have asked to have the recipes from the books available online. This way they can be printed out and taken to the grocery store, or placed on the counter as the food is being prepared. So here they are! (Or... will be. Soon.)

I like the fact that the recipes I've included in the books are simple ones. Quick and easy recipes are the ones that usually become family favorites.

Stay tuned. The next post will be a recipe from State of the Onion. In the meantime, please feel free to comment and let me know if there are any suggestions or ideas you have to make this site better!

Happy cooking,