Cooking the Books: Death of a Blueberry Tart by Lee Hollis
Hayley Powell is finally married to fellow reporter Bruce Linney, but the impromptu nature of their wedding means that they haven’t actually planned for what comes next. Even as they’re adjusting to living together in Hayley’s house and dealing with Bruce’s on-going allergic reaction to her cat Blueberry, they’re budgeting money and time off for a proper honeymoon: a weeklong cruise to the Bahamas that they’re very much looking forward to.
But then, Hayley’s mom, Sheila, makes an unexpected visit back to their town of Bar Harbor, Maine. While mother and daughter don’t always get along smoothly, Hayley is grateful when Sheila offers to house sit for them while they’re away on their cruise. All plans are off, however, when Sheila discovers the corpse of her high school rival, Caskie Lemon-Hogg, and promptly falls under suspicion of murder.
Caskie had something of a reputation in town—both for the excellent blueberry pies she baked as well as for being a homewrecker. A public altercation between Caskie and Sheila at a high school reunion just days prior—where Sheila certainly didn’t do herself any favors—makes it look like Sheila has plenty of reason to want to murder Caskie. Of course, Hayley knows that her mom, exasperating as she can be, is innocent and sets about as usual with her best friends, Liddy and Mona, to find the real killer. To her exasperation, her mother also gathers her own best friends, Liddy’s mom and Mona’s mom, to race their daughters to the truth.
It’s honestly hilarious to see how alike the mothers and daughters are as Hayley finds herself in the unusual position of admonishing someone else for amateur sleuthing hijinks. The murder mystery plot was also quite clever, and the pages seemed to almost turn themselves as I raced along with the detecting trios to the end. I also felt that the little interludes of Hayley’s food and cocktails columns were especially well-written in this installment, giving a nostalgic look back at Hayley’s teen and pre-teen years.
There were 14 recipes included here, all blueberry related, and I decided to try the following:
Blueberry Cream Cheese Bread
2 cups fresh blueberries
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, toss the blueberries with two tablespoons flour, then set aside.
In a stand mixer cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg.
In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly mix it into the wet batter until combined. Fold in your blueberries with a spatula.
Pour the batter into two greased 9 x 5 bread pans and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let rest for ten minutes, then flip the bread out onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
This was a super easy recipe that made two large loaves of dense, moist, delicious blueberry cream cheese bread! One of the loaves did break apart when I was taking them out of their pans to cool, but since my usually picky children fell on these like starved raptors, I wasn’t at all worried about presentation seeing as how my kids cared not one whit what the bread looked like before it entered their mouths. I was actually really glad that the recipe yields two loaves, as they did not last long at all in my home. That said, the bread does slice and present really beautifully. If you don’t have enough rapacious eaters in your home to benefit from these, the extra loaf makes a fabulous gift.
Next week, we travel south along the coast to make a dish dear to my Marylander heart while seeking out a missing person and solving a brutal murder. Do join me!