Food by the Book: Murder mystery a delicious summer read

Melony Carey | CNHI OklahomaMozzarella, Spinach and Tomato Croissants.

Jane Steward is the manager of posh Storyton Hall in Ellery Adams’ new paperback, “Murder in the Cookbook Nook” (Kensington, 2021). All she wants is a summer without violence, an easy summer filled with weddings, barbecues and beach reads. Instead, the inn is hosting a cooking challenge for six famous chefs under the direction of social influencer, Mia Mallet.

But someone is trying to sabotage the competition. First a fire and then the murder of an odious, braggart chef threatens to stop the filming. The show goes on, however, with challenges ranging from creating a picnic in honor of Hemingway’s “Moveable Feast” to a three-course meal based on “To Kill a Mockingbird.” All great literary fun leading to a cookbook deal for the winning chef, and contingent, of course, on the hope that no one else is murdered.

Ellery Adams (her pen name) has done it again with this edition of A Book Retreat Mystery. Storyton Hall is the perfect backdrop for the cooking show. The cast of characters is engaging and true-to-life. The cooking challenges and food are divine. This could not be a better or more delicious easy summer read.

For the picnic challenge chefs were to create everything from the picnic basket to the cutlery to the three dishes that would fill the basket. Chef Michel made croissants stuffed with apricot jam, mozzarella, spinach and tomato. Chef Lindsey made a bacon and gruyere quiche. While the book does not include recipes, they can be easily recreated for your next picnic. Follow Ellery Adams on Facebook at

Mozzarella, spinach and tomato croissants


4 croissants

Apricot-raspberry jam, such as Bonne Maman

4 slices fresh mozzarella

Baby spinach leaves

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the middle of each croissant. Spread about a tbsp. or more to taste of the jam in the indentation of each croissant. Top each with cheese slice, some spinach leaves, and tomatoes. Place on cookie sheet and bake about 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Bacon, Mozzarella and Spinach Quiche


1 refrigerated crust

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

4 thick slices mozzarella or gruyere

1 slice thick cut bacon, cooked and diced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced small

Handful of baby spinach, washed and chopped

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375. Place crust in baking dish. Top with Parmesan cheese followed by mozzarella or gruyere. Cook and dice bacon; set aside. Sauté onion and diced pepper in olive oil until transparent and soft. Add spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted. Put vegetables on top of cheese in baking dish. Combine eggs with milk, whisking well, and pour over cheese and vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with bacon. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving. 

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