The Tiny House Foodie visits The Queen Mary


The Austrian and I had a lovely time on board the RMS Queen Mary for a foodie fiction event featuring a novel by Patricia V. Davis and a recipe I created called Shrimp Rohini that was inspired by Patricia’s novel.  Todd Henderson, Executive Chef of the RMS Queen Mary, created my recipe for the crowd along with another recipe from sailing days of the Queen Mary.  I enjoyed meeting so many amazing people on the ship and made a lot of new friends.  It was a spectacular event and we enjoyed our travels from here in Virginia to Baltimore out to LA, then down to Long Beach where the QM is docked.  We loved everything about our stateroom and our time aboard this remarkable vessel.  We continued down the coast to San Diego and enjoyed the sand and surf before our flight home.  It was a remarkable trip, one I’d do again in a heartbeat.  The highlight for me was meeting Patricia in person as we’ve been online friends for years.

Traveling Foodie

We are having a fantastic time in California and are looking forward to the event on the RMS Queen Mary where my recipe will be demonstrated before a crowd by the Chef of the Queen Mary, along from a recipe from her sailing days.  This is part of a book event featuring my dear friend, Patricia V. Davis.The fun is the 6th but we are already here soaking in sunshine, delicious California produce, and unwinding a bit.

We are enjoying the hospitality of a lovely AirBNB host.  We walked to the market this morning for a few groceries and walked back.  We asked our host if it would be ok to cook in her kitchen and she readily agreed.  My Austrian cracked open a beautiful fresh coconut and we drank the refreshing juice and munched on coconut as I whipped up some yummy omlettes.  We have plenty for a few meals even though we will eat out and enjoy the local cuisine.  We had a delicious Mexican meal yesterday along with some seafood, and we haven’t been hungry enough today to budge from our comfy spot here on the porch.

We are having a lovely time!  Yum!!  Enjoy the journey!  -Carmen

I’m going to meet the Queen!

Years ago I sailed right past the RMS Queen Mary and thought how fun it would be to get to go aboard and explore.  That little dream from long ago is coming true this month!  I’m going to meet the QUEEN!  The RMS Queen Mary that is.  I’m totally stoked!

I got to know Patricia V. Davis years back on a blog platform and we became long distance friends.  When her latest book Cooking for Ghosts came out, I was so excited to read it.  It’s not every day that you get to read a book written by a good friend and I knew her work well enough to know that it would be an excellent book, and guess what?  It did not disappoint!

Patricia wrote this book with mouth-watering references to delicious food in the (fictional) Secret Spice Cafe and one dish in particular really stood out.  I gave it some thought and did some experimenting and eventually created a recipe for this fictional dish “Shrimp Rohini” and shared it with Patricia.

Fast forward to July, 2017 and I’ll be leaving the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and hoping a flight to Long Beach, California where I will meet Patricia and a number of our mutual friends on the Queen Mary, where the novel is set.  PLUS, the official Chef of the Queen Mary will be creating my recipe for Shrimp Rohini in front of the audience, and we’ll all get to taste it.  PLUS (as if that weren’t enough) Chef will also create one of the dishes from the early days when the RMS Queen Mary was sailing the high seas.  It’s going to be so much fun and I’m ridiculously excited about the whole thing.

Several of our mutual friends will be along for the event as well, so I know it’s going to be an amazing adventure.  I plan to be tweeting along the way, so be sure to look me up on Twitter as Chef Carmen @tinyhousefoodie for all the details.  Our event is part of the Queen Mary Salon Series and if you are in the neighborhood, please drop by and introduce yourself.  Our first 25 quests will get a free copy of the book!  How cool is that?!  Details here.Shrimp Rohini Event Brightened

THF Meets the Author

Stay Tuned,


Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

I recently read Cooking for Ghosts by bestselling author Patricia V. Davis, and fell in love with the food mentioned in the book.  In particular… the cupcakes.  I’ve had a weakness for cupcakes (aka cuppy cakes) for years, and that hasn’t changed.  So when I’m reading along and Angela mentions “Jack-O’-Lantern Spice” cupcakes, and the “Hazelnut Ganache-filled” cupcakes, along with a lot of other yummy pastries and treats… well, I knew I will be craving those flavors until I get in the kitchen, make a little mess, and put the last icing swirl on a batch of cupcakes.  Ms. Davis also mentions a Devil’s Chocolate Decadence which I also imagined as a cupcake, and she mentions the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Tart… which inspired me to add a fresh berry cupcake to this little collection as well.  So here’s how I made four cupcakes inspired by the book, Cooking for Ghosts.  And if you haven’t read it yet, here is a LINK so you can get your copy on the way.  I’ll wait.

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Cupcakes:
3 fresh large eggs
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of strong black coffee (cool)

Go ahead and mix all that until the eggs are fully incorporated… then add one Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix.  Shhhh… that’s our little secret.  (Pay no attention to the directions on the packet!)  Nobody has to know how ridiculously quick and easy this cake comes together.  Take a moment to imagine Angela slaving away in the kitchen of the Secret Spice Cafe to make her cakes, sifting every last granule of flour and whipping the eggs to white fluffy peaks…. sounds delicious, right?  (We’ll be done before she is!)  Hehe!  Watch the batter closely and stop the machine when the batter looks like this… still kind of lumpy.  And start filling those cupcake liners.

If you use an ice cream scoop, it goes quickly and it is not difficult to keep the size consistent.  Fill them between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way full, as you see here. (And if you store your liners properly, they won’t wrinkle up like these did – oops!)

Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to start with, then keep a close eye on them.  At the point that you can touch them lightly and they spring back, they’re done.  My handsome husband prefers the clean toothpick test, and that’s also fine.  The important thing is to get them out of the oven before they start drying out.  The applesauce and oil make this recipe moist, but even that won’t be enough if they are over baked, or left out to dry on the counter.  Not to worry, these cupcakes are going to be pampered every moment of their SHORT lives!

While that cake is in the oven, it is possible to start the Ridiculously Easy Buttercream! So here goes… pull one pound of fresh sweet cream butter (salted) straight out of the fridge and cut it into chunks.

Pile that straight into the Kitchen Aid and get it going on a low speed as the chunks will want to fly out.  As soon as the butter has quit flying, turn up the speed.  And don’t worry… it really doesn’t take it long to go from this:

…to this light and fluffy cloud of butter.  Gently add one pound of powdered sugar a bit at a time, and wait for it to return to this lovely fluffy texture.  Add a teaspoon of good quality vanilla.

It really is that simple.  This buttercream it lovely, light, and airy, and not too sweet.  If you accidentally add a bit too much powdered sugar, no worries, just add a teaspoon of water at a time until it’s the consistency you like.

Now here is where it gets fun.

I have a real weakness for Nutella!  And so when I saw “Hazelnut Ganache-filled Cupcakes” in Cooking for Ghosts… I reached for the Nutella.  It’s delicious and all the work is already done for you!  Mmmm.

Here’s the secret: begin by cutting a little cone shape out of the top of each cupcake.

 Then fill the divot with Nutella.  I used a pastry bag to pipe it in place, it is fast and easy.

 Just like that, and done!

Then put the little cones of cake back on the tops of the cupcakes.  This makes them look like they have little pointed heads.

Here’s how I made the icing for these Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes.  Curious?  Take out your Nutella container, spoon a big healthy dollop of Nutella right into the buttercream.  That was easy, right?  Now stir with your spatula.  Just a few stirs, you want to leave lots of yummy stripes in the buttercream so *just barely* stir together the Nutella and the buttercream.  What could be easier?

How much Nutella specifically?  (I knew you would ask.) I used half of the buttercream recipe I listed above, and stirred in about 2/3 of a cup of Nutella into that very loosely.  (Hang on to the rest of that buttercream, I’ve got other plans for that!)

Here’s the easy way to fill the pastry bag.  Find a glass that is the right size, fold the tip up at the bottom, and put it in the glass, wrapping the ends of the bag down over the side of the glass.  If you don’t have a pastry bag on hand, just use the end of a sturdy plastic bag that you do have.

Fill the bag with icing.  Then once you have the icing bowl out of your hands, pull the bag out of the glass, close the top to avoid adding air bubbles, then give it a twist to close the bag completely.  Tie it closed with a twist tie if you want to.  Trim off the tip of the bag with a scissors and you’re good to go.

Keep your thumb tight against your hand to keep icing from coming out the back of the bag.

Then carefully pipe the icing around the sides of the cone and finish with a little swirl at the top.  If the cupcakes will be sitting out for very long, then be sure to cover as much of the cake as possible to keep them from drying out.

Here they are, my Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes inspired by the book Cooking For Ghosts by the delicious Patricia V. Davis.  Tada!

 Now… isn’t it about time for our book club meeting?
I’m ready.
Book club was never so delicious!