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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

3,639 replies on “The Bistro”

Do you want the good news or the not so good news? Let’s start with good. I have bought the ingredients for the pie. I shall make a start this afternoon but I need a new pie dish. The less good news is that the physio has banned me from extended typing until the end of the week!
My choices are stick with paper editing of The Cove 2, activate voice recognition on the computer to continue F and C or have a break. I am on a roll so it will have to be a combination of both.

Thanks for the recipe Julie….I want to rush out and make it right now! I laughed when I read…put it in the freezer for 1 day to 3 mths! Ha Ha. But I understand it will last that long. Thanks for the processing tips. My processor doesn’t like large chunks of anything.
Just spent an hour at the physio with Erin, rushed home and made lemon broccoli pasta for lunch as brother is here and now rushing back to physio for me. I am so hungry after cooking and reading recipe that I just want to eat before I leave! It must have taken ages to type out and I very much appreciate it. Perfect for July 4! Happy Fourth of July for tomorrow everyone . Apple pie is a perfect accompaniment.

Ooooh, Anna, you always manage to leave us waiting at the door, out in the cold, hee hee! Can’t wait to see who answers the door.

Here is the pastry recipe. It’s actually the full apple pie recipe – and it was very good. I know it looks long and forbidding, but just take it one step at a time. It was super-easy and worked beautifully. You’ll notice a lot of it seems to hang on getting everything cold enough, and I think that’s the key, so don’t skimp on the chilling times.

I wouldn’t change anything from the filling – a couple of notes about the pie crust. My food processor took much longer to cut up the frozen butter – I either needed to cut the butter into smaller pieces to begin with (I started with 4 pieces for each stick of butter), or add the butter and just a small amount of the flour mixture – say 1 cup. What happened is the butter seemed to whirl around at the top, and the blade was just trying to cut up the flour, which didn’t need it. I ended up taking most of the flour out and doing it again, then putting the flour back and whirling it a couple more times. So if you began with a smaller amount of flour, then added it after you’d got big gravel-sized pieces of butter, you’d be about right. (When I say “flour” here, I mean the mixture of all the dry ingredients that have been resting in the freezer with the butter).

When you go to roll out the pastry, it’s so cold that it took awhile of working it to be able to roll it thin enough – it didn’t hurt the pastry at all – and you might want to just let it sit when you first take it out of the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Crisp-crust cinnamon apple pie
Makes 10-inch pie

Pie Crust
2 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (measure by dipping cup into the flour sack and then sweeping off any excess with a flat knife blade)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, each cut into 4 or 5 pieces, no smaller
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water or iced apple juice

7 large Granny Smith apples (or other tart, firm apple), peeled, cored and sliced about 1/2-inch thick (don’t use Golden Delicious)
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 to 2/3 tightly packed cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons flour

For Assembling Pie:
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk

For the Crust Glaze:
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sugar

1. A day or more ahead, start the pie crust. Take a large plastic bag and measure in all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) and toss them together. Add the butter to the bag and seal it. Put it in the freezer for about 1 hour to 3 months.

2. Turn the contents into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or into a big chilled bowl. Process 2 seconds to break up the butter into slightly smaller chunks. Sprinkle the vinegar or lemon juice and 5 tablespoons ice water over the flour and pulse 4 times. Test the dough to see if it holds together between two fingers. If it’s crumbly, sprinkle another 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 3 times. Test again. It should look lumpy and not thoroughly mixed, but if it holds together when you pinch some between your fingers, it is ready. If working by hand, rub the butter and flour between your fingertips (not your palms, they are too warm and will melt the butter) until the mixture is in big 2-inch flakes. Sprinkle the liquids over the mix and lightly toss with a fork to moisten. Try to hold together. If crumbly, sprinkle in a little more liquid and toss. Don’t beat or stir.
With either method, when the dough still looks rough and lumpy, gather it into a ball. Then divide the dough into 2 balls (one slightly larger than the other), wrap up and refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours.

3. Grease a 10-inch metal pie plate (do not use glass). Generously flour a countertop. Roll out the bigger piece of dough into a big circle that’s about 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour the top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the pin. Fit it into the pie pan, leaving about a 2-inch overhang. (Save scraps for decorating the pie.) Chill 30 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, toss together the apples and lemon juice. Add the other ingredients for the filling (except the 2 tablespoons flour), tasting for sweetness and adjusting as needed. Turn into a sieve and set over the bowl. Leave for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the middle rack of the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.

6. Spread a piece of foil over a cookie sheet. Roll out remaining dough to a circle that’s about 16 inches in diameter. Set on the foil and chill 30 minutes.

7. Turn the drained juices from the filling into a saucepan and boil them into a thick syrup. Scrape back into the apples, tossing them with the 2 tablespoons flour.

8. Take the pastry-lined pie plate, and trim away any overhanging crust, but make sure there is crust on the rim. Line it with foil. Then fill with dried beans or rice to weigh down the crust and keep it from shrinking. Bake 10 minutes, or until the crust is firm and looking a little dry. Lift the pie pan to a counter, and gently remove foil, taking care not to tear the crust. (Do not eat the beans or rice that have been used to line the pan.) Pierce the crust with a fork, brush with the egg white and bake another 5 minutes, or until pale gold and dry looking. Cool.

9. Fill the bottom of the pie shell with apples, mounding them high and pressing out air pockets. Brush the yolk over the rim of baked pastry. Now cover the pie with the big round of pastry. Seal edges together by rolling the top pastry in on itself and pressing it down to the yoked rim crust. There should be a ridge of crust on the rim.

10. Brush beaten egg over the top of the pie. Cut out a few steam holes. Cut out stars or leaves from the dough scrapings and arrange them on the crust but not on the steam holes. Brush with more egg and sprinkle with sugar.

11. Bake pie on a cookie sheet for about 1 hour, or until apples are bubbly and tender when you pierce them through one of the steam holes.

12. Cool the pie on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Well provisioned and finally beginning to thaw, Fox drove slowly and carefully out of town. The straight roads were slippery enough but every roundabout spelled possible disaster as he grimly negotiated the turns. Abbottsby was not prepared for snow and lacked the facilities to clear or grit the roads. The council was bringing in equipment but for now driving was a hazardous activity. Fortunately it was still early and there were very few vehicles around.
“Want me to drive?” Collie asked swallowing the last of her bacon sandwich and wiping her fingers carefully with a wet wipe, essential kit for any mother, taken from a travel pack in her pocket. “I am probably a wee bit more practised in these conditions.”
Toni and her family were ardent skiers. She and her husband David would load the boys in the car, take the Eurostar to France and spend time at the chalet belonging to her David’s family at every opportunity. It was the reason she was well supplied with clothes befitting the current weather conditions, unlike her still suffering senior colleague.
Mentally calculating how much further they had to go and the likely conditions, Fox braked gently and rolled to the kerb.
Collie chuckled. “I love a man with nothing to prove.”
“Nope and I can use both of my hands to eat breakfast. My stomach trumps my ego every time.”
Old Crowley Road was dark and narrow. Collie stopped at the entrance to the tree lined laneway and looked at Fox.
“Shall we risk it? The car has handled herself pretty well so far and the trees have protected the road from some of the snow.”
“If we end up stuck you will have to get out and push, being the only one appropriately dressed for the conditions.”
Toni grinned. “Trust me.”
He did… trust her. Collie was a good partner. She was adventurous but not reckless which complimented Robbie’s more staid and plodding nature. She prodded and he held the reigns and somehow they managed to make it work.
Crawling along the lane they noted fences, stone walls and wrought iron gates that marked the edges of the properties beyond, the buildings themselves set back and hidden by hedges and trees. This was Abbotsby old money, a long way from the new housing estates on the outskirts of town and a whole other universe to the claustrophobic environs of the MIddens. The address on Reggie’s licence had been confirmed as his current place of residence. It was the only property where the gates stood open.
The well maintained drive widened into a pristine expanse of snow encircling a fountain standing grandly before a two story Georgian mansion. There were no lights or other signs of life. Collie made the decision to park where the snow seemed thinnest, away from the drifts at the edges of the roadway.
“I wasn’t able to check for next of kin. Do you think there is anyone home?” she asked.
“Hard to tell.” They both pondered the darkened windows with sinking hearts. Waking people to perform a death notification was not a desired task.
“Do you know what kind of car Mr Dunn drives?” asked Fox, pondering the means by which the victim had made the lengthy journey to town.
Collie knew what her boss was thinking. “I couldn’t find one on the system registered in his name. I can have uniform check the local cab companies. There isn’t any public transport out here or in the Middens. Maybe he got a ride with someone?”
As soon as the engine stopped Fox had felt the temperature in the Land Rover start to plummet. There was no point delaying any longer. He sighed glumly and climbed down into the snow which promptly spilled over the top of his ankle high walking boots. Shivering as the ice melted against his socks and resigned to being ever colder and wetter he led the trudge to the mansion’s front door. A pair of sensor lights sprang into action at their approach. The DI was blinking from the sudden illumination as he stepped up to the porch and pressed the doorbell. Chimes echoed within. The car clock had read five twenty when they pulled up but it still felt like the middle of the night. If anyone was home, Robbie did not expect them to be awake. He waited a minute and pressed the bell again hoping to rouse someone within.

Barbara you have inspired me. I suddenly realised when you said you were amazed about how writers give so much information about characters without being obvious about it, that this is what I aspire to do and maybe I am getting there. I have been holding back on my editing of book two. It seems such a big task and I am not sure if it is right….well of course it is not right yet. It is a big effort and needs pulling together and reworking to link it to book three but I can do it. I bought a ream of paper and I am printing it all out and putting it in a file as we speak. I shall get the job done. And write Snowbound as some fun while I do it!
Thank you Barbara and than you all for keeping me going.

Hmmmm – every time I try to reply to a post, rather than just put something new at the bottom of the page, it takes me to page 1! This site has ghosts, I think, hahaha. So glad to have another episode of Snowbound to read! I’m saving it for this afternoon, when I’ll need a break. Loving it so far…

Oh Julie you had me in hysterics with the other meaning of pastie. We thought he would get funny looks even without that. He had a whole speech going in case the wrong people stopped in front of his sign.
“If you don’t know what it means then you aren’t the person for me…move along now, nothing to see here….just a hungry man!”
Send me the pastry recipe please Julie. I have made pasties before but always keen for a new pastry idea. The best pastry I had was actually the stuff mum made from a packet when we were kids. It was excellent…or maybe just the memory is but I have never been able to replicate it. Mum wasn’t a great cook but her apple pie and onion pie were awesome.
Stayed up late watching our election results while writing. Ugh….status quo returned most likely. I won’t bore you with the details. Have woken late to a frosty Sunday morning but the sun is shining. Whatever else it is glorious.
Bath was one of my Favourite places in England Barbara. How nice we have both been there. Thanks for the kind words about the story. I see it like a movie. The challenge is to write down the relevant bits so we are both watching the same film. I am trying to get better at just sketching the scene outline so you can fill in as much detail as possible yourself.

Bath is one of my favorite places, too, of course, since there’s a huge Jane Austen presence there. I’ve been there once, but it was before Jane Austen was on my radar, so I NEED to go back, hahaha. I have, however, drunk the waters, and marveled at the museum of the actual baths… I thought it was a really pretty place.

Anna – the pastry recipe is coming. It’s extremely easy, but time consuming – you need to start 3 days ahead of time, but a lot of the time is spent waiting for it to have been in the freezer or fridge long enough. Actual “work” time is about 20 minutes… You COULD do it all in one day if you got up early in the morning, but I’m lazy, so I do one step a day. I need to dig it out and type it up – I found it in a magazine, and tried it because it’s big promise was that you could make an apple pie without a soggy bottom crust, and that even after a day in the fridge, the bottom crust wouldn’t be soggy. And it was true – it was the best pastry I’d ever had. I used it to make my cheese pie for the historic food course I’m taking, and it was so delicious and flaky, and it held up for four days in the fridge! (very rich pie that we could only have a little at a time).

I almost went for the Cornish pasties, but Vern doesn’t like them quite as much as a good pork pie – delicious! I have a wonderful pastry recipe, and a newfound interest in pies in general after the raised pie at our Jane Austen do – I think I’ll try my hand at a small one with meat. Vern has that wonderful quality of never remembering something that he’s done or had in the past, so he was pleasantly surprised to find that there was “all meat” in those pies. Our “pot pies” have varying amounts of veggies and broth and a tiny amount of meat in them, so he hadn’t known what to expect. Maybe I should try the pasties on him again, as he didn’t remember ever having a meat pie before…

How much info you gave us in a short space. That amazes me about writers. They are able to tell us so much about the characters without it appearing as LOOK HERE. needed info. Can’t wait to find out more about the victim.
My mouth watered when there was talk of Cornish pasties. I had read about them and heard them spoken of on British TV shows. I remember enjoying one in Bath, England. So good. We bought extras to eat later on the bus before reaching our hotel for the night. We put one in the fridge and went out to the evening activities. It was our midnight snack when the group returned. A quick zap in the microwave and it was ready.
There is a British shop in Aiken, SC less than 25 miles from here. I have brought some wonderful things there. I think I see a ride over to The British Shop in my future. Thanks for the Cornish pie reminder Julie.
Anna, Did I laugh at the thought of Pete at the airport with his sign. What a great sense of humor.

I told Pete about the pasties Peg and he got all excited. “Do you think someone would bring some down to me’ he said. I could meet them at Reagan airport with a sign saying pies and pasties here please! Maybe we will just come up there one day. You will have to tell us where to shop.
Snowbound has passed 10000 words…definitely heading for novella or novel status. Hopefully all your questions will be answered Julie….mine too!

That’s what I meant Peg. Looks like I need to head in your direction for my meat pie! We have a famous pastry shop in our town so we are spoilt for pies and pasties. My husband loves a Cornish pastie. We haven’t found them as commonplace in the States or Canada. They are available in Whistler….maybe because of all the Australians. Or maybe we look in the wrong places. Now I have a craving……

Yum yum yum. We love pies…they don’t seem to be such a big thing in North America. Enjoy dinner Julie.
Louise’s newsletter is out for those who haven’t received it by email!

Anna, by pies I think you mean meat pies, rather than dessert pies? Pot pies and especially Cornish pasties are popular here in southwest Wisconsin due to our lead mining history. Also shepherd’s pie….

Brrrrr – now I’m feeling cold on this hot day, hahaha. I could do with a bacon buttie myself! But I’m in for a treat tonight – I stopped at The British Pantry today on my way home (a store that sells British grocery items) to stock up on pickled onions, which are not available anywhere else around here. They have fresh pastries baked on the premises, and so we will be having pork pie, beef and onion pie and for dessert, apple tarts tonight. I love their meat pies!

Ooops – meant to say something more about the story, but hit the post button too soon! Love it so far – very intriguing – why is Reggie dressed down? Or is he? Maybe the address is an old one… So happy to see Fox and Collie again!

Can’t remember the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Nancy Drew or any of that crowd aging out either…..and summer seemed to last forever. Strangely I can’t suspend reality that much in my books….time still flows albeit a bit slower. I think Louise is the same. I do remember her talking about it once.

I’m saving the story for later, because I’m off in a few minutes – but wanted to jump in here and say wouldn’t it be fun to have a series of books based on Beauvoir and Annie? Maybe if Armand ever really retires… I wonder if Louise plans on aging people much? I know that Poirot didn’t really age – he was already “retired” from the Belgian police when he started working for Agatha Christie – and he went on for many years at about the same age… I’ve got no problem with that, hahaha.

Thanks Cathryne. Writing for you guys gives me a goal. Really glad you like it. It will be fun to find out who did what. I shall edit and write. Maybe that’s what I am meant to do…like Dickens I shall write my stories as serials?
I like your thoughts on Beauvoir! So many exciting possibilities. It would be good to see Annie and how she develops.
I hope your responsibilities aren’t too onerous Cathryne. It was so nice to see you. I do miss you and I know the others do too. Feel free to send an email to me or to Julie. Our emails are on the previous page, or the one before that, if you feel comfortable to do so. I would hate for the Bistro to go dark half way through the story and not be able to tell you how it ended!

Anna, you had me at the title: Snowbound.
I’m already pulled into the story and wishing I could reach in to give Fox some warm gloves!
More, more, more, please.
I must go and attend to responsibilities but I wanted to say hello and thanks for the taster, I’m ready for another course.

Enjoying the character speculation involving Gamache and all. Now that someone has brought up Beauvoir, I feel like he would be an inspired choice for Therese Brunell’s job, but someday well in the future. Think what an advantage Annie would be, too!


Detective Inspector Robbie Fox stomped his feet and wondered, not for the first time, whether it was actually possible to get frostbite in Britain despite wearing his best walking boots. His wife, Caroline, had bought them for Christmas five years ago and up until now they had served him well in most of the weather Abbottsby could muster but they had never met snow before. Seriously, it was hardly the Scottish HIghlands but this morning it may as well of been.
The Inspector cast envious glances at the fur-topped apres boots sported by his DS, the ever practical Toni Collie, who was conversing happily with the local pathologist. She looked ever so warm in her hooded ski jacket and waterproof gloves as she chatted to young Dr Morgan Ngige. Fox shoved his own aching fingers deeper in o the pockets of his Barbour jacket and sniffed loudly. The cold was making his nose drip in a very unattractive manner. He dragged a handkerchief out and wiped the offending nostril quickly before returning his hand, and the hanky, to his pocket.
Toni strode over to his side and looked at her boss with concern.
“What on earth are you doing out in this weather without gloves?”
“I had gloves. They are in the Rover.”
“Is it locked? Give me your keys and I’ll fetch them for you,” Collie offered, holding out a hand snuggly wrapped in ski gloves.
Fox winced. “Thanks but there’s no point. They got wet when I was clearing snow off the windshield. I was too tired to put the car away in the garage last night. No-one told me this was going to happen.”
Collie wasn’t sure if he meant the murder or the snow storm but she suspected both. The DI’s old leather gloves were barely adequate for a normal winter and they were definitely not appropriate in the current conditions. Best they get on with things she decided and get back to somewhere warm.
“Adult male in his mid fifties. Driver’s licence gives his name as Reginald Dunn with an address on Old Crowley Road.”
Fox raised an eyebrow and looked over at the corpse. Collie knew what he was thinking.
“I know. His appearance doesn’t really match the address. The overcoat he is wearing is shiny and worn and his shoes have been resoled.”
“A rich eccentric in well loved clothes he can’t bear to part with?” supposed Fox although he didn’t believe it.
“Even so, what is he doing in the Middens and who would want to stab old Reggie and leave him to bleed to death in the street? If he was a twenty something looking to score drugs or do a dodgy deal then I could understand it. My guess is someone twigged that he was dressing down and we will find this is a robbery gone wrong.”
They both glanced around as if the answer was to be found in the surrounding landscape. The Middens was the local name for the old worker’s cottages that lapped at the edges of the nearby council estate. The area was dank and crumbling and not a place the police entered happily. There were no front yards, just overflowing bins and rusting cars, although the worst was hidden under a clean new blanket of snow so that the street looked almost presentable. There were no working street lamps in the near vicinity but the crime scene manager had organised portable floods so there was just one pool of light illuminating the scene like a stage in a darkened theatre.
“Anything helpful to be found or do we have to wait for the sun to come up and the snow to melt?”
“First on scene say the body was covered in snow and there were no footprints nearby. None. They couldn’t even tell which direction Reggie was coming from. No weapon has been found but we are looking.”
“What time did it start snowing?”
“The patrol officers tell me it began a couple of hours before midnight and it was still falling heavily when the call came in. We are lucky it has eased up. They are trying to get a tent up over the body but the van carrying it slid into a ditch on the way here. In the meantime DC Boddin is overseeing the search and we are waiting on extra bodies for the door to door.”
Police were rarely welcome in The Middens and there would not be a warm hello and a cup of tea for anyone knocking on doors and rousing the citizens before daybreak in this neighbourhood. Fox was not keen to be around when that started. He doubted they would get any useful information, they would be lucky to get a civil word.
“Does Ngige have a time of death?”
“A little tricky with the frosty coating but he thinks it was probably around the same time the snow started falling. In fact he measured the snow depth on the back of the corpse and compared it to what was on the ground nearby and they were consistent. Six hours ago is a rough guess.”
“Not a lot we can do here. What say you and I take a trip to Crowley Road?” ventured Fox, thinking longingly of the heated seats in the Land Rover and the 24 hour cafe on the main road which served surprisingly decent coffee and excellent bacon butties.

Ohboyohboyohboy! I would LOVE to read more of Fox and Collie! We’re here if you need any “early readers” or proof-readers, Anna! (jumping up and down).

If you have unusually cold weather for any length of time, just leave the water on at a trickle – the movement also stops it from freezing until it gets REALLY cold – think rivers – they do freeze, but not at the same temperatures as ponds.

Another thing that Canadians do is not have much of the pipes on outside walls of the house – of course, the water must come INTO the house from outside, but you shouldn’t run them inside on the outer walls, which can get very cold. My parents, living in Fort Erie, where it didn’t get very cold very often, and in an old house, had all their upstairs bathroom plumbing on the outside wall, and very little insulation in their house, so it would freeze often until they started leaving the water on at a trickle almost all the time in winter.

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