Friday, October 27, 2017

The Haunted Nutcracker - A Christmas River Scary Story

Dear Readers,

Happy Halloween! Yesterday, I participated in Kathi Daley's Halloween Spooktacular where I shared a short scary story featuring characters from The Christmas River Cozy Mystery Series. I wanted to be sure to post that story here also in case you missed the event! So here it is, just in time for Halloween weekend. Enjoy!

The Haunted Nutcracker


Kara Billings didn’t remember much about her grandfather except that the old man was ornery and hardly said much except to complain about his sore hip.
But there was one thing that Kara’s grandfather said that stuck with her years after he passed away.
“In life, there are some doors you have to kick your way through, girly,” he’d said to her once. “And then there are others that are closed for a reason. Leave those be.”
At the time, Kara didn’t understand what her grandpa meant.
But now as she stood in the corner of her ornament store on a dark and dreary night in November, taking in fearful breaths and trying not to scream, Kara began to understand.

Some doors were indeed better left closed.
***

It had all started a week earlier at the estate sale.
Old Hattie Blaylock, Christmas River’s resident witch, had died of natural causes at her home just after Halloween. The old woman was a recluse and though nobody knew for sure whether she really was a witch, some locals in the quaint mountain town breathed easier when they heard that she had passed on.
One morning shortly after Hattie’s death, Kara was driving to work and saw a cardboard sign.
“HUGE ESTATE SALE! GREAT DEALS!”
Kara, the owner of Christmas River’s most popular ornament store, was never one to pass up a sale. She hooked a fast left, following the cardboard signs all the way to Hattie’s old house, where she found a surprisingly vast array of antique furniture scattered across the dead lawn.

***

Kara had been studying the 3-foot-tall nutcracker standing on a sideboard when she heard a voice.
“Oh, I see you found him.”
Kara looked back to see a stylish woman standing there with a clipboard.
“Beautiful, isn’t he? A classic example of German craftsmanship. It’s an original Gaunerei doll, you know.”
“Oh, really?” Kara said, not knowing what that was, but pretending like she did.
“Yes, absolutely. Hattie’s older brother brought it back from Germany after World War II. It’s a true antique.”
With each passing moment, Kara felt herself more and more transfixed by the wooden sculpture.
The nutcracker was dressed as a soldier and was elaborately painted in rich shades of maroon and gold. Though the passing years had left a layer of dirt on him, his teeth were still white and prominent, and his eyes were--
Kara knew it sounded silly. But she could have sworn that she saw a sadness in the nutcracker’s eyes.
“How much for him?”
The woman consulted her clipboard.
“$345.”
Kara felt her eyes bulge.
“Normally, that is,” the woman said with a slick smile. “But since you’re the first one at the sale today, I can give you a deal. How about $100?”
The next thing Kara knew, she was writing a check and gently placing the nutcracker in the trunk of her car.

***

“Don’t you just love him?”
Kara had positioned the nutcracker to stand at the entrance of her ornament shop and greet the customers. Already, people had started commenting about how great he looked.
“I wish I had one just like him for my pie shop,” Cinnamon said, gazing at the doll. “He could sure help with all those hazelnuts I have to crack for my pies.”
“The sales lady let me have him for a steal,” Kara said, taking a sip of her Pumpkin Maple Latte. “I think it must have been on account of all that witchy business. But personally, I don’t really believe that Hattie was a witch. I mean, not really.”
“Me neither,” Cinnamon said. “Hattie was just an elderly woman who kept to herself. I don’t believe the stories that people told about her.”
Cinnamon glanced at the time.
She wished she could have stayed longer, but she needed to get back to her pie shop. Locals and tourists alike would be wanting pumpkin pecan, cranberry cinnamon, and chocolate hazelnut pies for their November tables.
“I better get going,” Cinnamon said. “See you later, Kara?”
Cinnamon noticed that her best friend was staring at the nutcracker with a faraway look in her eyes.
“Kara?”
“Oh, sorry,” she said, shaking her head. “Yeah, see ya, Cin.”
Kara suddenly felt a little strange.

***

That night, Kara was carving a wooden dove ornament in the back room of her store when she thought she heard a strange noise coming from the front door.
At first, she thought it was just the wind. It had been awfully windy in Christmas River this November.
But then, she heard the strange noise again.
It sounded like a young boy crying.
Kara got up and walked into the display room. The lights from the many Christmas trees flickered, casting shadows on the walls.
She flipped on the lightswitch and scanned the room, looking for what could have made that strange sound.
Her eyes eventually fell on the nutcracker.
That was odd, she thought.
She could have sworn that she’d set the doll on the right side of the entryway. Not the left side. But there he was, standing where she hadn’t left him.
Kara shook her head.
She hadn’t had dinner yet and hunger was starting to make her see things.
She went over, moved the nutcracker to the right side of the door where he belonged, and then headed into the back room.
She reckoned it was time to go home and get some food and--
Kara stopped dead in her tracks as a loud wail echoed through the store.

Her blood turned to ice.

***

The same thing happened several nights in a row. And each time that Kara tried to find the source of the crying, the sound all but vanished. It left her feeling frightened and desperate.
She thought about getting rid of the nutcracker, but then remembered the money she’d forked over for it.
She couldn’t just throw an original Gaunerei nutcracker away like that.
By the third night, she’d had enough. She placed a few phone calls and the next day, a woman named Evelda Madison arrived at the ornament shop. Evelda was dressed in a long black lace gown and looked exactly how Kara imagined a real psychic would look.
When Evelda was done investigating the shop, the psychic told Kara of her findings.
“You are right about the nutcracker, Kara. It really is haunted.”
Kara felt a little nauseous as the psychic confirmed her worst fears.
“There’s a spirit of a young boy attached to the nutcracker,” Evelda continued. “The doll was his before it was taken away and sold during the war -- just like the estate saleswoman told you. The witch kept the boy’s spirit trapped in this doll, and that’s why he cries.”
Now Kara knew why the nutcracker’s eyes were so sad.
“How do we help him?” Kara asked.
The psychic handed her a small bottle of soil.
“Sprinkle this around him and say ‘you are free’ three times in a row tonight at midnight. This will allow the boy to cross over into the light.”
Kara took the soil, nodded thanks, and then handed the psychic a check for her hourly rate.

***

Kara waited that night in the shop, listening to the sound of the wind howl outside.
The rain had turned to ice and the trees had frozen right in place. Every time the wind blew, their branches groaned and creaked like a sinking ship.
When midnight rolled around, Kara went over to the nutcracker, sprinkled the soil around, and whispered “you are free” three times in a row.
When she finished, she felt the heavy energy of the shop lift.
She let out a sigh of relief, kneeling for a moment to look at the nutcracker. His mouth was hanging open, the way it always was, ready to crack a nut.
“You’re free now, little boy,” she said, putting a hand up to its cheek. “Go your way in peace--”
The nutcracker’s jaw sprang up suddenly without warning.
Then, the lights in the shop went out.
Kara screamed and ran out into the storm.

***

The Next Day…

Cinnamon placed the nutcracker in the display window of her shop. She stepped back to get a better look at him.
No. That wasn’t quite right either.
She’d been having trouble finding just the right place for the old nutcracker.
Maybe by the door, she thought.
She picked him up, and as she did, something floated down to the floor.
It was a golden, weathered sticker that said “Gaunerei, Made in Germany.”
She flipped the nutcracker upside down and was about to re-apply the sticker to its base when she noticed something else.
The sticker had been covering up another one.
The original sticker.
“Holiday Crafts Inc., Product of California, 2008.”
Cinnamon smiled sadly as she put two and two together.
Poor Kara had gotten swindled at the estate sale. Maybe that was why she’d given Cinnamon the nutcracker out of the blue that morning, saying she wanted nothing more to do with it. Kara probably didn’t want it after finding out it was a fake.
But it didn’t matter to Cinnamon whether the nutcracker was an original or not. He had character and spunk and would be a useful addition to her pie shop. She had noticed that his jaw was a little warped and could snap up without warning, but other than that, he did a good job cracking nuts.
Cinnamon set the nutcracker down by the front door and tossed the golden sticker in the trashcan. She backed away to get a good look at it.
Yes, she thought. Now that was the perfect place for him.
She dusted her hands off on her apron and headed back to the kitchen to finish making a batch of chocolate hazelnut pies.

Happy Halloween, Readers!! 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Autumn Apple Green Chile Pie

I bet I can guess what you're thinking right now -- Green chiles... in a pie? Did I read that right? Sounds weird.

But you'd be surprised at how delicious this pie actually is! 

I was lucky enough to live in New Mexico for two years, where warm fall days are filled with the magical smell of chiles roasting. When I lived in Oregon, I was oblivious to the cult of the green chilies and I didn't really like the peppers all that much. These days, I'm a convert and I can't get enough of them. Especially when autumn arrives and the days start turning chile. Haha. (Bad joke.) 

Anyway, I made this pie recently with chiles I picked up in Hatch (the chile capital of the world!) This was inspired by a recipe from the book The New Mexico Farm Table Cookbook. The chiles give the apples a tasty roasted flavor and just a hint of heat. If you can't find freshly-roasted chiles where you are, they are available at Trader Joe's in the frozen section or in cans at the grocery stores. Just be sure to taste the peppers beforehand to gauge their level of heat. Sometimes the labels (usually, mild, hot, and extra hot) are not accurate. 

This pie will also be featured in Meltdown in Christmas River (Book 10), which will finally be out this fall!

Apple Green Chili Pie
(makes one 12-inch pie)

For the Crust   

3 cups flour
9 tablespoons cold butter
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
½ teaspoon of salt (or more, if you like your crust a little saltier)
½ cup of cold water

Mix flour and salt together. Cut butter and vegetable shortening into small pieces, then add to flour mixture. Cut butter and shortening into flour with a pastry cutter until mixture is pebbly. Add water a little at a time until it forms a dough. Split dough into two and roll into balls. Cover in plastic wrap and place in freezer for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roll out one of the dough halves into a disc. Place and form into pie dish. Cut off excess edges and poke crust several times with a fork. Place back in freezer for 10 minutes, then place dish in heated oven for 10 minutes to pre-bake.


For the Filling


6 to 7 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons of mild roasted green chiles, chopped with most of seeds removed (adjust amount depending on heat of chiles.)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup of pecan pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
Vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Pre-heat oven to 375. Add the sliced apples and chopped green chiles to a large saucepan (test the chiles beforehand to gauge heat level -- if too spicy, reduce amount to only 2 tablespoons.) Saute over medium heat for about 12 minutes, adding a little water to pan if necessary, until apples are slightly tender. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and lemon juice to the apples and chiles, and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into pre-baked pie crust. Roll out second ball of dough and make a lattice topping over the filling, weaving strips of dough over and under each other. Beat egg in a small bowl and brush egg wash over lattice topping. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, add the pecans. Toast about 4 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat. 

When pie is ready to serve, sprinkle slices with toasted pecans and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy! 



Happy Fall!! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meg's Christmas in July Reading Deals!

Dear Readers,

I hope all of you have been having a wonderful July so far!! I love July for many reasons... it usually means vacation, it happens to be my birthday month, and it gives me an excuse to bring a little Christmas spirit into the middle of summer! I find the last part in particular quite fun (which shouldn't come as a surprise since I write about a town where it's Christmas year-round!) With some mid-year Christmas spirit in mind, I thought I'd compile a list of my Christmas books for those of you who might not have read my Christmas-themed books. Any of these would make a great Christmas in July read:

MURDER IN CHRISTMAS RIVER (A CHRISTMAS COZY MYSTERY) BOOK 1

The flagship of the 9-book Christmas River Cozy Mystery Series! When a Gingerbread Junction Competition judge ends up dead behind pie baker Cinnamon Peters' shop one snowy evening in December, Cinnamon discovers she has a lot more to worry about than gumdrops and frosting. Over 1,000 reviews on Goodreads!

$2.99 on Amazon through the end of the month!





MAYHEM IN CHRISTMAS RIVER (A CHRISTMAS COZY MYSTERY) BOOK 2

Book 2 in the Christmas River Cozy Mystery Series takes place in the summer, and makes for one explosive Christmas in July read! When a arsonist dressed up as Santa Claus starts burning down Christmas River businesses, Cinnamon Peters finds herself drawn into a mystery full of dark small town secrets.

$3.99 on Amazon!






THE SILENCE OF THE ELVES (A HOLLY HOPEWELL COZY MYSTERY) BOOK 1

The Devil Wears Prada meets the movie Elf in this cute and cozy Christmas read. When Mrs. Claus banishes elf Holly Hopewell to work in a department store in the small town of Mistletoe, Oregon, Holly finds that not all is as it seems in the small town. Especially when the hated department store owner turns up dead...

.99 cents on Amazon for only one week this July!!





MISCHIEF IN CHRISTMAS RIVER (A CHRISTMAS COZY MYSTERY) BOOK 5


Book 5 in the Christmas River Cozy Mystery series and a true fan favorite. When dogs start disappearing in Christmas River right before Christmas, Cinnamon Peters finds herself on the trail of a serial dog kidnapper. Fully of cozy Christmas spirit, this turned out to be one of my favorite books also!

$3.99 on Amazon!





THE CHRISTMAS RIVER COZY MYSTERIES BOX SET (BOOKS 1-3) PLUS RECIPES!

For the ultimate Christmas in July reading pack, Books 1 - 3 of the Christmas River series feature almost 600 pages of cozy Christmas magic! Includes delicious recipes straight from Cinnamon's kitchen!


$6.99 on Amazon for a limited time! (40% off retail price of buying the books individually!)




Hope you find some good books in there, readers! And if you do enjoy these books, reviews left on Amazon are very much appreciated by the author.

Additionally, look for Book 10 of The Christmas River Cozy Mystery Series -- Meltdown in Christmas River -- later this summer on Amazon!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas in July!!

MM

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ginger's Bewitching Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Happy June, Readers! 

With the recent release of Ginger of the West, I thought I would throw in a fun recipe that wasn't included in the book (but definitely belongs.) It's for a grilled cheese sandwich, and while that might not sound so luxurious to you, believe me -- this is the fanciest grilled cheese you'll ever try! It's something I imagine Ginger offers at her cafe to the many tourists who frequent it during the lunch hour on long summer days at the coast. 

Whenever I announce that I'm making this sandwich, people in my household tend to freak out (in a good way). Make sure to grill up lots of extras!


Bewitching Grilled Cheese Sandwich
 (Makes 8-plus sandwiches depending on size of bread slices)


2 small to medium shallots
5-6 tablespoons white wine (more may be necessary)
5 oz Gruyere
8 oz Brie
8 oz of white cheddar
¾ stick of butter
1 loaf of sliced sourdough bread
1 package of bacon
2 tomatoes, chopped

Peel and chop shallots. Melt ¼ stick of butter in frying pan. When butter is melted, add shallots to pan. Saute until golden brown and the house smells delicious (about 5 minutes or so) Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, remove the rinds of the various cheeses and chop the good parts into cubes. Add cheese cubes to food processor along with 5-6 tablespoons of wine. Blend until it becomes a paste (you may need to add more wine if it gets stuck processing.) Then add cooked shallots to paste. Blend again until shallots are fully incorporated. Set mixture aside. 

Cook bacon according to package. (For bacon that’s crispy and not hard on the teeth, I prefer baking it in the oven as opposed to frying it in a pan.) Drain cooked bacon on paper towels. Set aside. 

Lay out sourdough bread slices, buttering the outside of each slice with softened butter. Spread a healthy layer of the cheese mixture in the middle of the sandwich (the non-buttered sides should face inward), then top with bacon strips and tomatoes. When all sandwiches are assembled, begin frying them on a griddle, two at a time. Cook about two minutes on each side, until the outside is golden brown and the inside is gooey and melted. (Keep a close eye on them because they can burn fast!) Remove from griddle, cut in half, and serve with a glass of white wine.

Be prepared to make many more! 


This recipe is inspired by Ginger of the West: A Witches of Broomfield Bay Mystery, available on Amazon.com. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

5 Things to Know About Ginger of the West

I’m so excited to announce that my latest project, Ginger of the West: A Witches of Broomfield Bay Mystery, will be out this Thursday! This book, which I’ve co-written with Amazon best-selling author Jools Sinclair, is a lighthearted mystery brimming with cozy magic. Since this is a new book and a new series, I thought it would be helpful to do my usual “5 things to know…” post for those who want to know more!

1. What is Ginger of the West about?

Ginger of the West: A Witches of Broomfield Bay Mystery is about a cafe owner named Ginger Westbrook who lives in a small town on the Oregon coast. It has paranormal elements in it, but it also has plenty of cozy elements, too. Here’s the official description: 


A dead mayor.
A wacky aunt.
An uppity millionaire romance author.
And a small town full of explosive secrets…
It’s one headache after another for witch and café owner Ginger Westbrook.
When Mayor Penelope Ashby rolls her car off a driveway and into the ocean, everyone in the small, sleepy seaside town of Broomfield Bay, Oregon is shocked.
Everyone but Ginger’s Aunt Vivian, who “saw” the grisly death coming long before the unlikable mayor plunged into the Pacific.
But when it’s discovered that the death may not have been an accident, accusations start flying and Ginger and Vivian find themselves smack dab in the middle of a modern-day witch hunt.
Strange things are afoot in Broomfield Bay this summer, and it will take all of Ginger’s powers – supernatural and otherwise – to keep the small town’s pitchforks and torches at bay.
Amazon best-selling authors Jools Sinclair and Meg Muldoon join forces in this magical tale. Full of mystery, romance, humor, and chowder, the first book in the Witches of Broomfield Bay Mysteries is this summer’s perfect cozy mystery beach read.


2. Why co-write a series?

Jools Sinclair is a fellow indie author and I'm a huge fan of her best-selling paranormal mysteries, 44. We’ve been talking about co-writing a series about witches for years now, so it’s so exciting to see this work published! This book is a real collaboration -- we’ve both brought our best storytelling talents to the table for this series. You'll see shades of Cinnamon Peters and Abby Craig throughout the book.


3. What makes Ginger of the West different from other witch cozy mysteries out there today?

There are tons of witch cozy mysteries out there these days, but Jools and I like to think of Ginger of the West as being special for several reasons. The book is a true mystery that will leave readers guessing right up until the end. Also, Ginger takes place on the Oregon Coast -- a place that both Jools and I know very well and love. We're both from Oregon, and have both spent lots of time on the coast. I think that comes through really clearly in the book, and makes it a fantastic summer read. The book is also very much a cozy, with lots and lots of mouthwatering food descriptions!!


4. Will there be more in the series?

Ginger Snaps, the second book in the Witches of Broomfield Bay Mystery series, is set to come out this fall. In total, we’re planning on writing 5 books in the series.


5. Are there recipes included in the book?

Yes! In true cozy fashion, we’re including five recipes in this book straight from Ginger’s cafe. These include marionberry scones, ginger lemon bars, and a delicious recipe for salmon chowder.


Ginger of the West will be available on Amazon this Thursday! Jools and I can't wait to share it with you guys!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What I'm Reading This Week

Dear Readers, 

I've been writing cozy mysteries now for a while, but I have always considered myself first and foremost a reader. Like many of you, I love reading and I always have. One of my biggest New Year's Resolutions has been to read more -- I often get caught up in my work and reading is the first thing to get crossed off the list. However, so far this year, I've kept my resolution of reading more (the only one, in fact! :) Three months, nine books, and going strong! It's been so fun to get back to it, and I thought I would have a little feature here on my blog sharing what I'm reading lately. I'd love if you'd comment and tell me what you're reading lately, too! Or if you've read any of these, let me know what you thought of the book! 

Just Read: 

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan


I'm on a bit of Western kick lately. This non-fiction biography is about Edward Curtis, the photographer who spent his life photographing and documenting North American tribes in the early 1900s. I absolutely loved this book and can not recommend it enough, especially if you enjoy reading about the West! I love reading about people who are completely consumed with their art and work. This is also a fascinating look at Native American cultures and how much was lost in the years following Western expansion. An excellent read. 






Currently Reading: 

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus


As I said, I'm on a bit of a Western kick! This one is particularly fun for me because I live less than a mile away from the haunted hotel that this book is about -- The Julia Staab Mansion, which is now the La Posada Hotel here in Santa Fe. I'm enjoying this book so far. I'm reading it partly as research for a Santa Fe-based mystery series I'm planning on releasing in 2018. 










Jammed by Deany Ray


I was hooked by this cute cover! I enjoy reading a lot of different kinds of books, but sometimes I enjoy reading books in my own genre, too. I liked the opening line of this one: "What does it mean that the highlights of your workday are a cookie and the chance to slip out early?" Been there! :)










In Reading Queue: 

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

I love reading mysteries based in Los Angeles, and for some reason, I particularly love reading them in the spring. I got to meet Michael Connelly at Bouchercon this past September (actually, it was more like I took my friend's picture with him and nervously smiled while hoping I didn't mess up the photo. :) I've read some of the Lincoln Lawyer series, and I've seen the Amazon television show for the Bosch novels, but haven't actually read them for myself. I'm excited to finally start on this series! Especially with season 3 of Bosch coming out this April. 





What are you reading these days? Post in the comments below. I'd love to hear about your own reading lists! 

MM

Ginger of the West's Tomato Tart

Dear Readers,

Happy Spring! Hooray for making it through the winter! (At least on the calendar anyway :) I just wanted to let you know that Ginger of the West: A Witches of Broomfield Bay Cozy Mystery -- the paranormal cozy that I've been working on with best-selling author Jools Sinclair -- is coming out in early April. Yippee!! This book has been so fun to work on with Jools, and I'm so excited that the first installment is finally coming out. In honor of its spring release, I asked Jools to share a recipe on my blog here. She went with a drool-worthy recipe that we mention in the book: a Tomato Tart that Ginger, the main character, makes for her crazy witchy aunt, Aunt Viv. This tart has become one of my very favorite meals, and it's perfect for the warmer days ahead. So without further ado, here's the recipe with a little introduction by Jools!

Jools Sinclair Says:

Ginger knows that there is true magic in excellent food prepared with fresh ingredients and lots of love, so it’s no wonder that this rich and soul-satisfying French Tomato Tart recipe is one of her must-make-often dishes. It’s also one of Aunt Viv’s favorites, and she reminds Ginger of that by returning the empty tart pan as soon as every last bit of the buttery crust has disappeared, in hopes that another tart will soon be on its way.


In a perfect world, you’d always use your own tomatoes growing outside in the garden, but if you don’t live in that kind of world or it’s simply off season, no biggie. Just make sure the tomatoes you do purchase are chemical-free and flavorful.


This recipe is featured (and was found on) David Lebovitz’ blog, who in turn got it from Kate Hill. It’s highly recommended to add a glass or two of your favorite rose, and to sit in some sunshine when consuming.


Bon Appetit!

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart



Tart Filling


One unbaked tart dough (see recipe below)
Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
two generous tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives, chervil, or tarragon
8 ounces (250g) fresh or slightly aged goat cheese, sliced into rounds
Optional: 1 1/2 tablespoons flavorful honey


Tart Dough


1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
4 1/2 ounces (125g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons cold water


1. Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.


2. Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg mixture, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of ice water.


3. Gather the dough into a ball and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding additional flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.


4. Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides, roll the dough around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations.


If making a freestyle tart, simply transfer the dough to a prepared baking sheet; no need to make indentations with your fingers.


5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). See note below.


6. Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart dough and let it sit a few minutes to dry out.


7. Slice the tomatoes and arrange them over the mustard in a single, even layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.


8. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs, then arrange the slices of goat cheese on top. Add some more fresh herbs, then drizzle with some honey, if using.
(If baking a free-form tart, gather the edges when you’re done, to envelope the filling.)


9. Bake the tart for 30 minutes or so, until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.


*You might wish to check the tart midway through baking and turn it down a bit in case the top is getting too dark, before the crust and tomatoes appear to be cooked.


***If you wish to make a free-style tart, roll the dough out to about 14-inches across, then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Assemble the tart, leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border, which you’ll then fold up to enclose the tart.


Enjoy! 

Jools & MM :)