LOUISE PENNY’S

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Recipe - Book 8: The Beautiful Mystery

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY: CHEESE AND LEEK DISH WITH A CRUNCHY CRUMBLE TOP

Two monks came out of the kitchens carrying bowls of small new potatoes, drizzled with butter and chives. Broccoli and sweet squash and casseroles followed. Cutting boards with warm baguettes dotted the long refectory table and platters of cheeses and butter were silently passed up and down the long benches of monks.

The monks, though, took very little. Passing the bowls and bread, but only taking enough to be symbolic.

They had no appetite.

This left Beauvoir in a quandary. He wanted to drop huge spoonfuls of everything onto his plate until he could no longer see above it. He wanted to make an altar of the food, then eat it. All.

When the first casserole, a fragrant cheese and leek dish with a crunchy crumble top, came by he paused, looking at the modest amounts everyone else had taken.

Then he took the biggest scoop he could manage and plopped it onto his plate.

—The Beautiful Mystery

CHEESE AND LEEK DISH WITH A CRUNCHY CRUMBLE TOP
Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium leeks (about 1 pound/450 g)
  • 1 cup (3 oz/90 g) grated Cantal, Swiss, or Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup (120 ml) chicken broth
  • ¼ cup (62 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cup coarsely crumbled day-old white bread
  • ½ cup (1 oz/30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).

2. Trim the dark green parts and root end from the leeks, leaving just the white and light green parts behind. Halve the leeks lengthwise, then cut each half across into 2-inch (5-cm) or so pieces. Wash thoroughly and drain. Arrange about half the leeks in an even layer in 9 x 9-inch (22 x 22-cm) baking dish. Scatter the Cantal cheese over the leeks. Top with the remaining leeks.

3. Pour the broth and cream over the leeks. Season with the salt and pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the leeks are tender, about 40 minutes.

4. Pulse the crumbled bread, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a food processor just until the bread cubes are broken up and the cheese and oil are blended through. (The pieces of bread should still be quite large.) Taste and add a pinch more of salt and/or pepper if you think it needs it.

5. Uncover the baking dish, sprinkle the bread mixture over the leeks and bake, uncovered, until the leeks are very tender, the liquid is bubbling and the crumbs are browned, about 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

If your leeks are particularly thick, woody, or out of season, we recommend blanching them before arranging on the dish.

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Recipe - Book 7: A Trick of the Light

A TRICK OF THE LIGHT: GRILLED GARLIC SHRIMP AND QUINOA-MANGO SALAD

“People don’t change,” said Beauvoir, squashing his burger and watching the juices ooze out.

Chief Justice Pineault and Suzanne had left, walking over to the B and B. And now, finally, Inspector Beauvoir could discuss murder, in peace.

“You think not?” asked Gamache. On his plate were grilled garlic shrimp and quinoa-mango salad. The barbeque was working overtime for the hungry lunch crowd, producing char-grilled steaks and burgers, shrimp, and salmon.

“They might seem to,” said Beauvoir, picking his burger up, “but if you were a nasty piece of work growing up, you’ll be an asshole as an adult and you’ll die pissed off.

He took a bite. Where once this burger, with bacon and mushrooms, caramelized onions, and melting blue cheese, would have sent him into raptures, now it left him feeling slightly queasy. Still, he forced himself to eat, to appease Gamache . . . .

Across the table Chief Inspector Gamache took a forkful of grilled garlic shrimp and the quinoa-mango salad with genuine enjoyment . . . .

This was Beauvoir’s favorite part of an investigation. Not the food, though in Three Pines that was never a hardship. He could remember other cases, in other places, when he and the Chief had gone days with barely anything to eat, or shared cold canned peas and Spam. Even that, he had to admit, had been fun. In retrospect.

But this little village produced bodies and gourmet meals in equal proportion.

—A Trick of the Light

GRILLED GARLIC SHRIMP AND QUINOA-MANGO SALAD
Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound (450 g) medium shrimp (about 24 per pound/half kilo), shelled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or a blend of 1 tablespoon each olive and sesame oil)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup (128 g) quinoa
  • 1¼ cups (300 ml) cold water
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or scallions
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pit removed, and flesh cut into ¾ x ¼-inch (2 x .5-cm) matchsticks
  • ¼ cup (23 g) toasted sliced almonds *
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Toss the shrimp, minced garlic, olive oil, (or olive oil sesame oil blend, if using) together in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss again. The shrimp may be marinated up to several hours before cooking. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold running water for at least 3 minutes. Drain. Bring the 1¼ cups water and a large pinch of sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the quinoa and return to a boil. Stir once thoroughly, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pan and cook for 18 minutes.

3. While the quinoa is cooking, stir the lime juice, cilantro or scallions, and the 2 tablespoons of sesame or olive oil together in a serving bowl. Add the mango and let stand, tossing once or twice while the shrimp cook.

4. When the quinoa is cooked, remove it from the heat and uncover it. Fluff a few times with a fork.

5. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 8 short (5- to 6-inch/13- to 15-cm) skewers. Preheat a grill pan or large heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal for either type of pan) over medium-high heat. Lay the shrimp into the hot pan and cook, turning once, until they are cooked through, about 4 minutes.

6. Stir the still-warm quinoa into the dressed mango and toss well. Add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Pile some of the salad in the center of four salad plates. Scatter the almonds over the salad, and arrange the shrimp skewers around the salad. Pass extra lime wedges if you like.

* To toast sliced almonds: Preheat an oven to 350°F (177°C). Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet and bake, stirring around once, until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

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