LOUISE PENNY’S

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Postcards from Three Pines: The Madness of Crowds

The pandemic!! And the only good thing is that it’s allowing me to focus on writing. Not sure if I’ll include the pandemic or not. I think though I’ll call it The Madness of Crowds. It’s terrifying what otherwise rational, even kindly people can do when co-opted.
Ok. Back to experimenting with pan bakes!
Hope you’re doing ok. Keep safe.

Love,
Louise

AN EXCERPT FROM THE MADNESS OF CROWDS

Armand Gamache would never forget when the Premier of Québec, a personal friend, had called him with the news that they had a vaccine. The man was in tears, barely able to get the words out.
As he’d hung up, Armand had felt light-headed. He could feel a sort of hysteria welling up. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before. Not on this scale. It wasn’t just relief, it felt like a rebirth. Though not everyone, and not everything, would be resurrected.
When the pandemic was finally, officially, declared over, the little village of Three Pines where the Gamaches lived had gathered on the village green where the names of the dead had been read out. Loved ones had planted trees in the clearing above the chapel. It would be called, from that day on, the New Forest.
Then, to great ceremony, Myrna had unlocked her bookstore. And Sarah had opened the doors to her boulangerie. Monsieur Béliveau put the Ouvert sign in front of his general store, and a cheer rose up as Olivier and Gabri unlocked their bistro.
Banks of barbecues on the village green grilled burgers and hot dogs and steaks and a cedar-plank salmon. Sarah’s cakes and pies and butter tarts were placed on a long table while Billy Williams helped Clara Morrow lug over buckets of her homemade lemonade.
There were games for the children and, later, a bonfire and dancing on the village green.
Friends and neighbors hugged, and even kissed. Though it felt strange, and even slightly naughty. Some still preferred to bump elbows. Others continued to carry their masks. Like a rosary, or rabbit’s foot, or a St. Christopher medal, promising safe passage.
When Ruth coughed, everyone stepped away, though they probably would have anyway.

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Postcards from Three Pines: All The Devils Are Here

Bonjour from Paris! Here to research Paris for All The Devils Are Here. Since I don’t really know it well I brought my research team with me. Little devils!! Guy, Walter and Kirk. Soooo fun. Oh, here’s a photo I look at often as writing – the National archives, in the Marais.
I can now see Armand, Reine- Marie, young Armand. Zora. Stephen. They’re walking the streets with me.
Wish you were here too.

Love,
Louise

AN EXCERPT FROM ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

Reine-Marie Gamache slipped her arm through her husband’s as they walked along rue des Archives to the bus stop on rue des Quatre-Fils.
Armand had suggested he flag down a taxi to take them from their apartment in the Marais to the restaurant, but Reine-Marie preferred the bus. It was a route she knew well. One that always confirmed for her that she was in Paris.
“Do you remember the first time we took this bus?” she asked.
He heard her words but was thinking about the first time ReineMarie had taken his arm. Like this.
It was their third date, and they were walking along the slippery winter sidewalk in Montréal after dinner.
He’d reached out for her, to keep her steady, just as Reine-Marie had reached for him.
To keep him steady.
She’d put her arm through his. So that their fates would be intertwined. If one lost their balance, the other would right them. Or they’d fall together.
“You had on that blue cape your mother loaned you,” he said, remembering that chilly night.
“I had on the polka dot dress I’d borrowed from my sister,” she said, remembering that warm day.
“It was winter,” he said.
“It was the height of summer.”
“Ah, yes,” he said into the evening air. “I remember it well.”
“You nut,” she laughed, recognizing the reference.
He smiled. And squeezed her arm. As they passed men and women, young and old, lovers and strangers, strolling like them along rue des Quatre-Fils.

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Postcards from Three Pines: A Better Man

Writing A Better Man, but also taking photos, to show TV people what homes in Three Pines might look like. Hope they get it right! They visited from UK and of course there was a storm.
Oh, also went on tour. Here’s a shot from the stage at one event for Kingdom. Very exciting!
Hope you’re well.

Love,
Louise

AN EXCERPT FROM A BETTER MAN

All sorts of things woke up in the spring. With the warmer weather. Bears. Chipmunks. Skunks and racoons. And rivers.
They came to life.
There were few things more powerful, or destructive, or terrifying, than a hungry bear or a river in full flood.
Gamache knew exactly where the river was heading. While he’d never been along this road before, he knew the area. They weren’t all that far from his own village.
Which meant the roar they heard was the Rivière Bella Bella, heading straight into Three Pines.
He took out his phone to call Reine-Marie, to warn her and find out how things were, but Cameron was right. There was no signal.
He clicked the phone off, put it back in his pocket, and turned to look up the muddy road.
“Come on,” he said, and started the climb.

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Postcards from Three Pines: Kingdom of the Blind

Hi there! Am writing from my book festival tour of Australia. Doing events in the day and writing Kingdom of the Blind early in the morning, and on flights. Met this little rescue Roo. I now donate to the cause. Stops in Perth. Adelaide. Fabulous, dynamic places. Love Australia! Then home to sweet boy Bishop.heart image

AN EXCERPT FROM KINGDOM OF THE BLIND

Myrna sat back in her chair, trying to remember.
She’d been in her bookstore the morning before when the mail arrived.
She’d poured a mug of strong tea and sat in the comfortable armchair with the indentation that fit her body like a mold.
The woodstove was on, and beyond her window was a brilliant winter day. The sky was a deep perfect blue, and the sun bounced off the snow-covered lawns, the road, the ice rink, and the snowmen on the village green. The whole village gleamed.
It was the sort of day that drew you outside. Even though you knew better. And once you were outside, the cold gripped you, burning your lungs, soldering your nostrils together with every breath. It brought tears to your eyes. Freezing the lashes so that you had to pry your lids apart.
And yet, gasping for breath, you still stood there. Just a little longer. To be part of such a day. Before retreating back inside to the hearth and hot chocolate, or tea, or strong, rich café au lait.
And the mail.

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The Madness of Crowds: Langoustines with Carrot Juice

“The langoustines are excellent,” said Vincent Gilbert, as they took their seats by the window.
On a clear day there was a splendid view of the village below and the hills beyond, rolling into Vermont. But the falling snow both obscured and softened it, giving the landscape a dreamlike quality.
To Dr. Gilbert, looking at the vista behind his companion, it was like something out of a storybook. Peaceful, calm.

Madness of crowds Nature of feast

Langoustines with carrot juice

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 24 langoustines
  • 300 mL (1 ¼ cups) carrot juice
  • 4 mini green onions
  • One small carrot, julienned
  • One leek white, julienned
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 240 mL (1 cup) 35% cream
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1) Shell the langoustines. Set aside.
2) Cook the green onions in boiling salted water. Keep warm.
3) Combine the carrot juice, lemon juice, julienne of carrots and leeks in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Add the langoustines and let simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.
5) Divide the vegetables and langoustines evenly among the plates. Keep warm.
6) Add the cream to the pan and reduce by half until you have a smooth sauce.
7) Check the seasoning.
8) Pour the sauce over the langoustines.
9) Decorate with green onions and a basil leaf. Serve immediately.

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All the Devils Are Here: Tartelettes au Citron

“They opened the brown paper bag and ate their tartelettes au citron in front of The Gates of Hell. Stephen talked about the remarkable work while brushing powdery icing sugar off Armand’s sweater.”

all the devils are here tartelettes au citron

Tartelettes au Citron

Makes one 26 cm (10 ½ in.) tart or 4 8 cm (3 in.) diameter tarts
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Crust

  • 250 mL (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp.) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 90 mL (6 tbsp.) salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 tablespoons) water

Lemon filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 160 mL (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 240ml (1 cup) milk
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • Grated zest of two lemons

DIRECTIONS:

Preparation of the dough

1) Combine the flour, sugar, salt, butter and egg in the bowl of a food processor.
2) Pulse until the texture is powdery.
3) Add water until a ball of dough forms, neither grainy nor sticky.
4) Remove dough from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap.
5) Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
6) Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)
7) Butter and flour a pie pan
8) Roll out the dough and place it in the pan. Remove excess dough.
9) Cover the dough with aluminum foil and cover with peas to prevent the dough from puffing up during baking.
10) Bake for 20 minutes until almost done.
11) Remove peas and aluminum foil. Set aside.

To prepare the lemon filling

1) Gather all lemon filling ingredients in a bowl.
2) Using a whisk, blend for one minute.
3) Then over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler), cook, whisking constantly, until the cream begins to thicken.
4) Pour this mixture into the bottom of the pre-baked pie and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cream is set.
5) Remove to a rack to cool.
6) Serve at room temperature.

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A Better Man: Ginger Garlic Chicken Soup

“The incident room in Three Pines was filled with the aroma of wet socks, sweat, cilantro, and lime. Olivier and Gabri moved aside the firefighting equipment and set out the ginger-garlic chicken soup, sandwiches, and drinks…”

Ginger garlic soup

Ginger Garlic Chicken Soup

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 30 mL (2 tbsp.) olive oil
  • One medium leek, sliced
  • 240 mL (1 cup) diced carrot
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • One raw chicken breast, diced
  • 1ml (1/4 tsp.) cumin
  • 15ml (1 tbsp.) grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 l (6 cups) chicken broth
  • 240ml (1 cup) fresh or frozen peas
  • 50g (2 cups) chopped arugula
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1) Heat oil in a saucepan, add leek, carrot, bell pepper and let cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
2) Add the chicken, cumin, ginger, garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
3) Add the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) Add the peas.
5) Just before serving, pour the soup into the bowls and place the arugula on top.

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Kingdom of the Blind: Beef Stew and Warm Apple Crisp with Thick Cream

“They’d taken Benedict home then. To the Gamache home.
Now, all showered and in warm clothes, they’d joined the others in a meal of beef stew and warm apple crisp with thick cream. Comfort foods that rarely failed in their one great task.”

kingdom of the blind beef stew

Beef Stew

Serves 6
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: Approximately 1 1/2 hours

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) beef stew, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes
  • 1 onion, cut into thin rings
  • 15 g (1 tbsp.) butter
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp.) olive oil
  • 30 g (4 tbsp.) flour
  • 250 mL (1 cup) red wine
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) veal stock or meat broth
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • ½ kale, core removed, thinly sliced
  • 10 medium potatoes, cut into cubes
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a casserole dish, over medium heat, brown the meat and onion in the butter and oil for 5 minutes.
2) Sprinkle with flour and mix. Pour in the red wine and veal stock.
Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
3) Then add celery, carrot and cabbage on top. Cover again and cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Apple Crisp with Thick Cream

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 675 g (1 1/2 lbs) Cortland or McIntosh apples, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 150g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 90g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, tempered
  • 55g (1/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 250 g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • A pinch of salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a square pan of about 17 cm (7″).
2) In a bowl, mix the apples with half the brown sugar. Place in pan.
3) In the same bowl, mix remaining brown sugar with butter, flour, oats and salt. Cover the apples with the crisp.
4) Bake for 35 minutes or until crisp is golden and apples are cooked.
5) Serve warm, pouring heavy cream over the crisp.

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Glass Houses: Shepherd’s Pie

“Getting up to prepare the shepherd’s pie, comfort food for their dinner, Gabri suspected his guests would find very little peace in whatever Gamache discovered. And probably no comfort in the food.
As the kitchen filled with the aromas of sautéing garlic and onions and gravy and ground meat browning, he thought about the four friends and the close bond they shared. It had been obvious from that first visit, years earlier…”

glass houses shepherds pie

Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1kg (2lb1/4) ground lamb
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 15ml (1 tbsp.) tomato purée
  • 15ml (1 tbsp.) Worcestershire sauce
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 175g (1 cup) frozen corn
  • Salt and pepper

Mashed potato filling

  • 750g (11/2 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 60g (2oz) butter
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) milk
  • 120g (4oz) cheddar cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 375°F (180°C)
2) In a frying pan, heat olive oil to brown the chopped onion. Add ground meat until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.
3) Add a little oil to the same pan and fry the leek for 5 minutes over low heat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce.
4) Return the meat to the pan and stir. Pour in the wine and simmer for a few minutes until the wine reduces. Add the chicken broth, thyme, rosemary and corn and simmer for 15 minutes to concentrate the sauce. Adjust the seasoning and let cool.
5) Prepare the garnish. Cook the potatoes in salted water. Drain and mashed potato.
6) Add butter, milk, salt, pepper and half the cheese. Mix and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
7) Place the lamb mixture in a baking dish measuring approximately 20 cm x 30 cm (8″ x 12″). Spread mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
8) Bake for 20 minutes or until shepherd’s pie is gratinated. Serve hot.

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