Friday, July 9, 2010


I baked my first scone just a few years ago, and I am sorry I waited so long! They are moist and delicious, as Dr. Kingston knows. He gets his, however, on the outside. I prefer the convenience, savings and flavor from home baked. Besides, the bakeries here don't sell them!

"Shortly thereafter, the meeting was adjourned and Kingston served tea in china cups accompanied by scones from a local patisserie."

I adapted my basic scone recipe from one I found at I omitted the currants in their recipe and made these plain. They are delicious that way, with jam if you like. You may also add in 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite mix-in. I once made these as Chocolate Cherry Scones by adding equal amounts of chocolate chips and dried cherries.

  • 2 cups flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle on top before baking


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball.

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: The Trail of the Wild Rose

Retired botany professor Dr. Lawrence Kingston is called upon by a colleague to lend his expertise to Thames Valley police investigating a vehicular assault which seems related to a recent overseas plant-hunting expedition. This is author Anthony Eglin's fourth novel in the English Garden Mysteries series. It was my first time reading this series.

I found the story to go rather slowly. We hear quite a lot about botany, and the history of roses over the centuries. The action unwinds over weeks to the point that I lost all track of how much time had passed in the tale. Dr. Kingston often does things he knows better not to do, but seems to not be able to help himself. Some of the dialogue seemed stiff, to me. And there seemed to be an unusually high percentage of people he comes across who are house-sitting, or having their houses minded. Is it that common in the 21st-century UK? I wondered.

Overall, this was a light read, enjoyable if you love gardens or descriptions of the English countryside.

Memorable Morsels:

Eglin doesn't disappoint in the culinary realm.

  • Proper English breakfast: bacon, eggs, sausage, grilled tomatoes, toast, marmalade, tea
  • Roast Aylesbury duckling
  • Truffles, duck confit and foie gras
  • Tea and scones
  • Sorrel soup, roast guinea fowl with port gravy and celeraic, chilled gooseberry fool
  • Melton Mowbray pork pie
  • Scottish salmon fillet, confit of fennel, new potatoes and lemon butter
  • Breakfast of kippers, toast with marmalade and a pot of Earl Grey tea.
  • Salad Nicoise, medium-rare entrecĂ´te, strawberries with Jersey cream
  • Steak and ale pie
  • Veal, ham and egg pie, and a jar of pickled onions
Links to Investigate Further:

Buy the book: The Trail of the Wild Rose: An English Garden Mystery (English Garden Mysteries)

The Final Analysis:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Book Review: A Test of Wills

When I read and reviewed The Red Door, I mentioned that I wanted to go back and start the Inspector Ian Rutledge series at the beginning. And I could barely wait to do it! I was drawn to the way the author, Charles Todd, has written these period mysteries in the style of the best of the real Golden Age authors.

This first installment did not disappoint. We go back to the beginning, back to Inspector Ian Rutledge's first days returned to Scotland Yard after the Great War. A case comes in, a case which no one would want. A great war hero is circumstantially implicated, and the Palace will be looking for a scapegoat. A certain person at the Yard seems to have it in for Rutledge, and sends him off, omitting to acquaint him with some of the pertinent details of the case.

We accompany him, and witness his tenacious determination to solve this case. Rutledge is a tortured soul, suffering from post-traumatic stress. All of the psychological and physical ugliness is laid bare for us through him, as it never was done by any of the contemporary Golden Age authors. Dorothy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey sometimes gave us an inkling, but the overall treatment of the Great War by writers of the post-war period was to avoid any mention of horrors. It was all God, country, and the old regiment, hurrah!

Todd does us a service in reminding us that war is hell, and those coming home from it were in a particular hell of their own.

Memorable Morsels:

There's a bit more for a foodie to sink his teeth into in this installment.
  • Wild strawberry jam (9)
  • Roast mutton (90)
  • Caramel flan (92)
  • Thick beef sandwiches, coffee, sponge cake (222)
Links to Investigate Further:

Buy the book: A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)
Authors' Page on Wikipedia
Authors' Website
Authors' Page on LibraryThing

Final Analysis: