Tasty Tuesday is here, bringing a delicious recipe for a tart that features both pineapple and cranberries. Rachel Miles is known for her scrumptious historical romances, and now you get to taste one of the fabulous treats highlighted in her novel, Tempting the Earl. Take it away, Rachel!
In Tempting the Earl, a long separated married couple must discover whether their relationship is worth saving, while they work together to identify a spy. Because it’s the holiday season, food plays an important role, both in teaching the couple about each other and in bringing them to their happily ever after.
When crafty Olivia Levesford, Lady Walgrave, discovers a way out of her marriage, her husband Harrison returns to his estate after an absence of six years. Though Olivia has been an able estate manager, if she is not his wife, then one of his first obligations will be to learn how to manage his properties.
Harrison’s first mistake seems like an innocuous one. He changes the menu for the week’s meals, eliminating something called a Crown Jewel Tart because it uses pineapple—a very expensive ingredient during the period.
But Olivia’s mad chef brooks no control, and Harrison must very humbly apologize or (Olivia threatens) risk having to cook all the meals himself.
Here’s a snippet from that scene:
“Have I told you, dear ones, about the day I first wore a hat?” The chef—Gilbert Douglas Stanley III—waved his arms, a spatula in one hand. “It was unfortunately cold that day in Queen Catherine’s court when I was called upon to make my famous Crown Jewel Tart. I could only find a straw hat—because of course one must keep one’s head covered to avoid the cold that causes consumption. We knew it was the cold that killed the poor footman—God rest his soul—so untimely a death, it was.”
Harrison watched the chef with a sort of morbid awe. Stanley had wrapped a wool throw around his head, making him look like a mad peasant escaped from bedlam.
Harrison felt the heat of the kitchen, but the chef seemed unfazed, warming his hands in front of the oven door. When he saw Olivia, the man twisted, jumped, then pounced as if he were a giant predator waiting for a mouse.
“Mr. Stanley, I must apologize.” Olivia approached Stanley slowly, as one would a rabid dog or a lion in the wild. “I had no intention of altering your menu in the slightest. You are, as always, our impresario of taste.”
“Then how did it come to be changed?” One edge of the wool flopped in front of his left eye, but he didn’t move it, merely tilted his head to regard her with his right. He looked like a giant, ill-dressed, one-eyed owl.
“My friend wrote on the menu, because he was imagining how his own cook might prepare a menu close to yours. He made alterations because his cook is less skilled and his audience is less adventurous. But he didn’t realize the menu as he adapted it would be returned to you.”
“Is that true?” Stanley pointed at Harrison with one crooked finger.
“Lady Walgrave is far too generous.” Harrison held his hands out apologetically. “I might have hoped my cook could approximate your dishes, but the truth is no one who is not a master of the culinary arts could even hope to approach the originality of your design.”
For a moment Harrison feared he might have misstepped. The tall man, scowling, turned away from Harrison and Olivia in a slow circle, his arms outstretched above his head. But then when his back was fully toward them, he leapt to face them again, smiling madly. “Apology accepted! Now to make my famous Crown Jewel Tart!”
Running across the kitchen, the chef grabbed a bowl of flour from the arms of one of the kitchen maids and held it out of her reach. “No, no, no. My dear, you cannot simply throw the butter and the flour together. The marriage of the ingredients must be harmonious, or my famous Crown Jewel Tart cannot be delightful. No, my dears, we must compose it happily of happy ingredients!” He wagged a long finger at a maid who stifled her laughter behind her apron.
“Do we know that the chickens were happy when they laid these eggs, dear ones? And were Eliza and Beth happy when they churned the butter?”
“Yes.” The maids spoke in a giggly chorus.
“But what do we know of the mill? Was the grain crushed with the appropriate weight? Was the grinding of the grain evenly fine? No?” Stanley’s voice was melodic. “My dears, listen: For my famous Crown Jewel Tart, you must use only the flour that has been milled in the morning by a fresh horse, and one who has been fed an apple before he begins so that he starts his work with a sweet taste in his mouth.”
Harrison leaned into Olivia’s ear. “Is he mad?”
“Quite,” she whispered back.
The Crown Jewel Tart was created with period-appropriate ingredients for Tempting the Earl by my dear friend (and master chef) Paul Wackym of Wackym’s Kitchen.
¾ cup whole milk
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
4 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces (approx. 1 cup) dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup chopped black walnuts, toasted
12 ounces fresh fen berries (cranberries)
1 pineapple, cored, sliced about as thick as your thumb
4 ¾ ounces (approx. 1 cup) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 ¾ ounces (approx. ¾ cup) sugar
3 whole eggs
½ cup rapeseed (canola) oil
Boil (but do not scald) milk.
Stir in cornmeal.
Set aside for 30 minutes
In a 12” iron skillet, melt the butter.
Add dark brown sugar, salt, orange juice, and orange zest.
Simmer until the crystals melt.
Sprinkle with the walnuts, then top with the fenberries.
Place pineapple rings attractively atop the nuts and berries.
In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt
In a second bowl, whisk briskly the sugar and eggs, then add the oil
Add in mixture of cornmeal and milk
Slowly add dry ingredients until blended into a batter.
Warm oven to 350*
Pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the skillet.
Set a platter on top of the skillet and carefully invert the cake. Serve.
Rachael Miles writes witty, sexy romance novels set in the British Regency. Her latest book–Tempting the Earl–was named one of Amazon’s Editor’s Best Books for November 2016 as well as an RT Book Reviews Top Pick.
Miles’ debut series The Muses’ Salon (published with Kensington Zebra Shout) has been praised in Publisher’s Weekly, RT Book Reviews, and Booklist. “Impeccably researched and beautifully crafted,” Miles’ ‘cozily scrumptious historical’ novels have been compared to those of Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney.
A native Texan transplanted to upstate NY, Miles (a former professor of book history and nineteenth-century literature) lives in the woods with her indulgent husband, three rescued dogs, an ancient cat, and a herd of deer who love her vegetable garden.
For more information on Rachael or for links to buy her books, check out her website – rachaelmiles.com
Tempting the Earl
A double life…
Olivia Walgrave is finished with being a countess. Writing under a pen name, her controversial column for the scandal sheets provides her with some income and far more excitement than managing a country estate. Besides, in the three years since the wars have ended, her dashing husband hasn’t spent one night under their roof. So Olivia has prepared a plan, and an annulment. All she needs is his consent…
Lord Harrison Walgrave let his father coerce him into marriage—but his devotion is to his Parliamentary career—and his secret work for the Home Office. Yet now, with freedom in his grasp, he finds he cannot so easily release his wife. Seeing her stirs a hunger no other woman has reached. A distraction now, when he is a breath away from revealing a ring of traitors, could be deadly. Still, wherever his investigations lead, the thought of Olivia lingers. It might be obsession. It might be treason. But the only way to escape the temptation is to succumb…
Wow to both the story and the tart! Both sound wonderful. Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your scrumptious recipe with us! Maybe a special holiday treat for some of you?
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