Reading with a Side of…

Welcome back to Reading with a Side of… I knew I was going to pick this month’s book as soon as I saw it and I knew exactly what recipe would perfectly complement the Victorian mystery.  I hope y’all think the pair is as perfect as I think it is.

The Book:

Stalking Jack the Ripper has the distinction of being the first novel published under James Patterson’s new label “Jimmy Paterson” books.  The novel by debut author, Kerri Maniscalco, is the perfect mystery for anyone interested in the gruesome killings that haunted Victorian England and tells the tale of  Audrey Rose Wadsworth the ideal image of a proper lady.    Audrey is always polite.  Audrey is always proper.  Audrey is just the daughter a nobleman when want except Audrey has a habit that is…unsavory.  In secret, Audrey has been studying forensic science.  She adores her lessons in her uncles creepy laboratory and she is beginning to adore Cresswell, her uncle’s student.  However, everything changes when Audrey joins the investigation of a string of ghastly murders that our rocking the streets of London.  Can Audrey find the murderer and help make London’s street safe?

I’m not a big fan of mysteries but this one drew me in.  Audrey was the perfect sassy English heroine.  She was smart, took care of herself, and didn’t let the menfolk boss her around. Cresswell was her perfect Mr. Darcy foil.  He was charming without intending to be and romanced her through his sarcasm.  This is what I love about a good Victorian England book.  The only issue I had with the book was that I felt the mystery was a little obvious and I wasn’t at all surprised when the murderer was revealed.  However, as with many mysteries, the answer to the puzzle is not the point of the story.  The point of the story is the journey and this was a well writing and engaging journey.

Maniscalco beautifully crafted a image of Victorian England filled with Julian Fellowes-worthy characters that make “Stalking Jack the Ripper” a must read for fans of YA mysteries.

The Recipe:
Obviously, the perfect food to go along with a story from Victorian England is a traditional English Trifle.  If we want a really English recipe we have to go to my personally favorite British chef, Jamie Oliver.  I found this recipe on his website and you can (and should) access the site here.

Mrs Oliver’s Massive Retro Trifle


8 trifle sponges , or 1 Swiss roll, sliced
1 punnet strawberries , hulled and sliced
1 small wineglass Cointreau
135 g pack strawberry jelly
2 pints milk
4 teaspoons caster sugar
35 g sachet strawberry blancmange
450 g tinned mandarin segments , drained
135 g packet orange jelly
30 g custard powder , enough to make 600ml
300 ml double cream
good-quality chocolate , for grating

1 orange , zest of


  1. Lay out the sponges or Swiss roll on the bottom of a large glass bowl. Scatter over the strawberries and drizzle with the Cointreau.
  2. Tear up the strawberry jelly squares, put them in a jug and add 300ml boiling water. Stir until dissolved, then add 300ml cold water. Pour over the sponge, place in the fridge and allow to set.
  3. Pour a little milk into a bowl with 2 teaspoons of sugar and the blancmange and mix until dissolved. Bring 600ml milk just to the boil then add to the blancmange mix. Stir and return to the pan, whisking as you bring it back to the boil. Pour the blancmange into the bowl and allow to cool, whisking occasionally, then pour over the set strawberry jelly. Allow the blancmange layer to set in the fridge, then scatter over the mandarin.
  4. Make the orange jelly the same way as the strawberry and allow to cool before pouring over the mandarins. Set in the fridge. Once set, make the custard using the remaining milk and sugar and the custard powder. Allow it to cool and pour it over the orange jelly. (If you want to add extra layers of blancmange and custard, go for it!)
  5. Whip the double cream until you get soft peaks, then spread it over the top layer of custard. Sprinkle the trifle with the grated chocolate and orange zest before serving.


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