Mystery writer Davidson creates recipes to die for


When a woman at a cosmetics counter confided to culinary mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson, "I could write a mystery novel about what goes on around here," Ms. Davidson knew she had found a job for fictional caterer Goldy Bear Schulz.

In Ms. Davidson's new book, "Killer Pancake" (Bantam, $19.95), the fourth in the Goldy series, the chef-sleuth vows to track down the killer of a cosmetics saleswoman.

Ms. Davidson, who has a degree in art history from Johns Hopkins University, creates her own recipes for the books. Here are two from "Killer Pancake":

Low-fat fettuccine Alfredo with asparagus

Serves 4

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2 1/2 cups diagonally sliced asparagus with tight tips (rough ends of stalks removed)

1 teaspoon (about 2 cloves) mashed and chopped baked garlic (see note)

1/3 cup nonfat dry milk

1 1/2 cups skim milk, or more as needed

1 1/2 tablespoons instant-blending flour, such as Wondra

2 tablespoons light process cream cheese product (not nonfat)

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

9 ounces cholesterol-free fettuccine

1/2 cup chopped arugula

Heat a medium-size nonstick saute pan. Remove from the heat and spray with vegetable oil spray. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until limp, about 5 or 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and the garlic, cover the pan, turn off the heat. (The steam from the onion will cook the asparagus.)

In a large skillet, combine the dry milk and skim milk and whisk until blended. Add the flour, stir, and cook over medium heat until thickened. In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce to the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Return this mixture to the hot sauce. Add the Parmesan and stir until melted. Keep hot. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin it out with small amounts of skim milk. The consistency should be like cream, not gravy.

Cook the fettuccine in boiling water according to the package directions until it is al dente; drain. Add the hot pasta and the garlic and the vegetables to the sauce in the skillet. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve garnished with chopped arugula.

Note: To bake the garlic, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a whole head of garlic in a small baking pan. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the head of garlic; add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Bake the garlic, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for 45 to 60 minutes or until the cloves are soft. The cloves will slip right out of their skins to be mashed, chopped or served whole.

Killer pancakes

Serves 4

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 egg whites

1 16-ounce can juice-packed fruit cocktail, drained and juice reserved

maple syrup or chopped fresh strawberries macerated with a little sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 nonstick cookie sheets with vegetable oil and set aside. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Beat in the juice. Gradually add the dry mixture, stirring until well blended. Fold in the fruit cocktail.

Using a 1/8 -cup (2 tablespoon) measure, scoop dollops of pancake batter onto the sprayed pans, leaving at least 2 inches between the pancakes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh strawberries or other fruit.

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