Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Capirotada for Dessert and The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders

Capirotada is Mexican Bread Pudding and traditionally eaten during the Lenten season but I learned about it in The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders. While it officially was written by mystery writer Nancy Pickard, the book was based on the notes of Virginia Rich who passed away after writing three of my favorite mystery books.

Virginia Rich's sleuth was Mrs. Potter, Genia to her friends, and Genia was older than me when I first began reading the culinary mysteries in 1982, The Cooking School Murders, and now I am older than she was in the books. That's how long I've been reading these culinary mysteries!

Rich, a chef and newspaper food writer, is credited with writing the first mystery book in the culinary genre unless we count Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe back in the early 1930s. When she passed away her family found folders of notes for future books, including for The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders. Nancy Pickard was asked to continue this one and went on to write two more Mrs. Potter mysteries. 

I tried the recipe for chili but honestly like my own better. This has been such a cold winter that chili has been almost a weekly staple here.

But for the night I tried this fabulous bread pudding recipe I made my vegetarian tortilla soup.


That's basically where I chop onion, bell pepper, red bell pepper and garlic and saute before stirring in Rancho Gordo chili powder (absolutely fabulous chili powder), cumin, paprika (also Rancho Gordo and so pungent), and oregano (you guessed it, their Mexican oregano, excellent since I used all of the truly superb oregano from Crete that Poppy sent me). I add a box of low sodium vegetable stock, fill it again with water and add, canned tomatoes, some Bob's Red Mill pearl barley, rice, and frozen organic corn and green beans, and sliced frozen okra (that adds such a great consistency to vegetable soups), jar of Trader Joe's Salsa Verde, and as little salt as I can get by with, plus freshly ground pepper, naturally. 

Top with chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeños, and lime juice. I don't even miss the meat but RH prefers meat in his so when I make chili I put plenty of beef or chicken in it.

I made this meal in January while our Christmas trees were still up. I didn't quite make it to February 2nd this year but took the trees down on January 25th. 

And of course the poinsettia was fitting with the dessert of Mexican Bread Pudding where I used my two favorite plates for Mexican food of any kind.


I've had this small tablecloth for decades and remembered to pull it out of my tablecloth closet--yes, I have one where they all hang.

And here is the scrumptious Mexican Bread Pudding that was in the book, where people seemed to eat it even as an entree.

I found other recipes for Capirotada online but the one in this book was the only one I found that used a loaf of raisin bread in the recipe. 

I'll type out Nancy Pickard/Virginia Rich's recipe as it is in the book. I'll be making this again and by the way, the book that takes place in Arizona near the border on Mrs. Potter's cattle ranch is full of interesting characters and I felt that Pickard did a nice job of carrying on Mrs. Potter even though I'm partial to Rich's first three, Nantucket Diet Murders being my favorite.

If you have a favorite culinary mystery author please tell me her or his name!


To one quart boiling water add 2 cups brown sugar, 1 whole clove, 1 stick of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup butter. Simmer until a light syrup forms, then remove the clove and cinnamon.  Cut one loaf of raisin bread into cubes and dry in 250 F. oven until crusty. Rinse one cup of raisins in hot water, then drain. In a large buttered baking dish, continuously layer the bread cubes, raisins, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 pound grated Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup grated longhorn cheese until all ingredients are used. Spoon the hot syrup evenly over the bread mixture. Bake in a preheated 350 F. for 30 minutes. Serve either hot or cold.

From The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders by Nancy Pickard:

Juanita's capirotada could pass for either a dessert or a full meal, depending on one's appetite. Made with half a pound of cheese (a quarter pound each of longhorn and Jack), one whole loaf of raisin bread and a full cup of chopped walnuts, it boasted everything from calcium to fiber, especially when made with multigrain raisin bread instead of ordinary raisin bread. Some people ate it straight, Ricardo liked it with real whipped cream, Lew Porter had preferred ice cream, but Mrs. Potter was always happy to slosh it around in plain old milk.

The recipes in Virginia Rich's Mrs. Potter mystery books always work and I make some from each of them often. I still want to try another one from this book, the Chili Rellenos, because it calls for using a can of condensed milk. I'm trying to picture how that would taste.

What do you think?


  1. To all my blog friends who knew my blog friend Sandra of whereinspirationblooms.com I hope you visit her blog for news that while it breaks our hearts it will also reveal so much of the amazing woman who wrote the loveliest of Sunday posts for so many years. Sandra will be so missed. Please keep Mike in your prayers.
    Thank you.

  2. What an interesting version of bread pudding. The sweetness of the sauce and the raisins combined with the savoury cheese would mean lots of layers of flavor. We love Mexican food and your soup sounds hearty and delicious. This is definitely the season for warming dishes.
    I read Mike's post on FB and on Sandra's blog. She wrote such lovely, thoughtful posts. She will be missed.

  3. I love your Mexican fiesta, dear Dewena! The tablecloth, the plate, the bread pudding, all work for me. I'm inspired to see if I can find the books, I love reading mysteries and I enjoy hunting for them.

  4. You have been cooking quite a bit, Dewena. It all looks really good, but the Capirotada dessert looks amazing. I haven't had chili in such a long time, and yours looks delicious with your own touches. I think chopped scallions make everything taste better. You always set a pretty table first too. I like the festive plates and napkins!


  5. Your cooking always looks so delicious and your tablescapes consistently lovely with pretty tablecloths and nice dishes. Truly a southern lady! My mom (from KY) is still like that in her 80's...always a pretty table and lovely dishes, starched napkins and tablecloth, no matter how casual the meal.

    Your vegetarian tortilla soup sounds super yummy with all those flavors, and nutritious and healthy, too! I've made chicken tortilla soup but not a vegetarian version. I'm going to try yours (sans the okra, lol). I might add a can of white or black beans to the soup.

    I have never heard of that Mexican dessert. Quite interesting with the sweetness of typical bread pudding, but then it has cheese in it. What do you think of that combination?

    I can't recommend any culinary mystery authors to you - that's one genre (mystery) I don't read!

  6. PS - I had no idea Rancho Gordo made spices! I only know them through their beans - which I've purchased. Do you purchase the spices or their website, or are you able to find them in a certain store? Or, maybe Amazon? I will take a look there!

  7. That certainly is a different version of bread pudding :)

    All the best Jan

  8. I love a good chili and love to make it in the winter. This past winter we really did not have a cold winter at all so I think I only made it once. But that Mexican desert looks AMAZING. Yum...

  9. Mmm...your food always looks so good, Dewena. I'm not a chef and when I do cook, the recipes are pretty basic. I wouldn't mind eating at your house though!!

  10. What an exotic bread pudding that is... Dare I try it? I think I must!

  11. I think I read the first book by Virginia Rich at some point, and liked it. I've just ILLed it from my library. Thank you for the reminder!

  12. Dewena, I love that your curiosity for new culinary delights has you cooking up such scrumptious dishes! I had never heard of Capirotada; my knowledge of bread puddings consisted mainly of of English ones. During this time of Lent, this recipe is perfect and pretty. Yes, I'm sure your version of chili is more delicious - you are an expert on that, as I know both you and RH enjoy it, both the veggie and meat types, respectively. Your vegetarian tortilla soup sounds ideal for my busy weekdays, and would make a tasty lunch that could easily be warmed up, in between lessons.

    What adorable plates and charming tablecloth!! Ha! I should have guessed that you have a closet exclusively for hanging your linens! I always learn so much from your savvy southern lady system of doing all domestic things effectively!

    Have a blessed Easter, my friend,