Jewel Bay, Montana, is the Food Lovers’ Village that gives this cozy mystery series its name, but the small town is known for something in addition to its culinary expertise: its burgeoning music scene. While Jewel Bay still has a ways to go before becoming the Nashville of the North, it is home to several fine musicians and teachers, all of whom are set to be showcased at the upcoming annual Jazz Festival. Stars come from far and wide to perform at the festival, including Gerry Martin, the internationally renowned and award-winning jazz guitarist.
Our heroine, Erin Murphy, is less interested in the music than in the clientele it draws to her family store, the Merc (short for Glacier Mercantile). Once the town’s only general store, the Merc had to be refashioned after competition from modern supermarkets threatened to put it out of business. Erin’s business savvy along with her mother’s exquisite palate and cooking skills have turned the Merc into a showcase for local artisans, culinary or otherwise.
Erin is highly anticipating the kind of well-heeled crowd the jazz festival will draw, with their disposable income and vacation splurge mindset. What she does not anticipate is finding herself at the site of Gerry’s murder soon after he plummets to his death on the eve of the festival.
Erin soon discovers that not a lot of people cared for Gerry and that it’s awfully convenient for many that he’s no longer in the picture. But even as she investigates, she has to contend with a whole lot of personal turmoil: her mother has big news, her sister is hiding something, and her boyfriend’s best friend is newly in town with a secret mission of his own. And through it all, a murderer lurks, one who will stop at nothing to make sure that Erin doesn’t uncover the truth behind Gerry’s death.
Treble at the Jam Fest is jam-packed with delectable food descriptions and has a wonderful recipe section at the end that chattily describes ten of the recipes mentioned in the novel. I decided to try out this breakfast treat:
3 or 4 strips of bacon
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon vegetable oil (such as canola)
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 green onions
¼ to ½ bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or other herbs, chopped
¼ to ½ cup cheddar or other firm cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
salsa or sriracha (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the bacon. Bake for 20 minutes; flip the strips and bake another 5-10 minutes. Remove from tray onto paper towels and let cool until you can break or snip into bite-sized pieces.
Chop the vegetables and grate the cheese. Crack eggs into a small bowl; add the oil and baking soda and stir with a fork or small whisk until fully mixed. Season with salt and pepper.
Spray muffin tins lightly with cooking spray (or wipe with oil or butter, if you prefer). Divide bacon and vegetables into the cups; add the cheese. Pour in the egg batter. Don't fill to the top; they will puff up beautifully, and may spill over if too full.
Bake 20-25 minutes. Insert a knife or a tester stick to check for doneness; it should come out clean. Muffins will pop out neatly. Eat immediately.
So, dear reader, I’m fairly certain the recipe means baking powder throughout—instead of soda—and for the salsa or sriracha to be an optional topping once the muffins are ready to be eaten. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this method of cooking bacon; if I won’t need the grease for frying, I much prefer the microwave method as it’s faster and cleaner and the bacon comes out perfectly crispy.
That said, I really enjoyed being given the option to personalize the recipe with a selection of herbs and cheeses of my choice, especially since my kitchen always seems to have leftovers of both. I used cilantro and oregano instead of parsley and a Swiss/gruyere mix instead of cheddar. And while these added my own jazzy touches to the flavor profile, it’s really the bell pepper and green onion that were integral to the composition of this very yummy dish.
These omelet muffins were delicious little hand-held treats, and while mine came out kinda flat, they were so very tasty. These are great to serve at a brunch party where guests might not want to balance a plate of eggs, but they might be a little too time and labor intensive for more day-to-day situations. Definitely the kind of thing you’d whip up to impress your friends, though!
Next week, we travel east to ghost hunt in upstate New York and try out a more traditional muffin recipe. Do join me!
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.
Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.