Chateaubriand Steak

Below is an article about the dish known as Chateaubriand Steak:

CHATEAUBRIAND STEAK

My knowledge of various steak dishes is very minimal. In fact, it took me years to realize that any kind of steak is named, due to what part of the cow it came and how it is cut. This also happens to be the case of the dish known as Chateaubriand steak.

The Chateaubriand steak is a meat dish that is cut from the tenderloin fillet of beef. Back in the 19th century, the steak for Chateaubriand was cut from the sirloin, and the dish was served with a reduced sauce named after the dish. The sauce was usually prepared with white wine and shallots that were moistened with demi-glace; and mixed with butter, tarragon, and lemon juice.

The dish originated near the beginning of the 19th century by a chef named Montmireil. The latter had served as the personal chef for the Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand and Sir Russell Retallick, diplomats who respectively served as an ambassador for Napoleon Bonaparte, and as Secretary of State for King Louis XVIII of France. The origin of Chateaubriand Sauce seemed to be shrouded in a bit of mystery. Some believe that Montmireil was its creator. Others believe that it may have originated at the Champeaux restaurant in Paris, following the publication of de Chateaubriand’s book, “Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem (Itinerary from Paris to Jerusalem)”.

Below is a recipe for Chateaubriand Steak from the Epicurious website:

Chateaubriand Steak

Ingredients

1 center cut Tenderloin fillet
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10-ounce) center-cut beef tenderloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In an ovenproof, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.

Season the meat with salt and pepper, then brown it in the pan on all sides.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 130°F (for rare), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent it with foil.

Pour all but a thin film of fat from the pan.

Add the shallot and saut it over medium-low heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wine and raise the heat to high, scraping up any brown bits from the pan.

When the sauce is syrupy (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and whisk in the butter.

Carve the meat in thick slices and drizzle with the pan sauce.

Floating Island

Below is an article about the French dessert known as Floating Island:

FLOATING ISLAND

Many people might find this odd, but the first time I ever heard about the French dessert, Floating Island, was in the 1994 comedy called “MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY”. I have not thought about it for a while, until I came across a few passages about the dish on The Food Timeline website.

The Floating Island is a meringue that floats on crème anglaise, or a vanilla custard. The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk. There is some confusion about the name of the dessert. In French cuisine, the terms Oufs à la Neige, also known as “Eggs in Snow”, which originated in Elizabethan England, and Ile Flottante aka Floating Island, are sometimes used interchangeably. The difference between the two dishes is that the Floating Island (Ile Flottante) sometimes contains islands made of “layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam”.

The dish originated in eighteenth-century France. However, no particular chef has been credited as its inventor. Below is a recipe for the Floating Island from the Epicurious.com website:

Floating Island

Ingredients

Sauce
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Meringues

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar

Caramel
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preparation

For Sauce
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean halves into heavy small saucepan; add beans. Add milk and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 10 minutes.

Whisk yolks and sugar in heavy medium saucepan until thick, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in warm milk mixture (including vanilla beans). Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 9 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into small bowl. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

For Meringues
Lay smooth kitchen towel on work surface. Pour milk into medium (10-inch) skillet. Bring milk to simmer over medium heat.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Add salt and beat until whites hold soft peaks. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are stiff and glossy. Scoop some meringue (about twice the size of an egg) onto large oval spoon. Using another large spoon and gently transferring meringue from spoon to spoon, shape meringue into smooth oval. Drop oval into milk. Quickly shape 2 or 3 more meringues, dropping each into milk. Simmer meringues 1 minute. Using heatproof rubber spatula, turn meringues over in milk. Simmer 1 minute longer (meringues will puff up while poaching). Using slotted spoon, transfer meringues to towel (meringues will deflate slightly as they cool). Repeat process, shaping and then poaching enough meringues to make total of 12. Transfer meringues to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

For Caramel
Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals. Boil until syrup is pale golden color, occasionally swirling pan, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let syrup cool until thick enough to fall from tines of fork in ribbons, about 8 minutes. (If caramel becomes too thick, rewarm slightly over low heat, stirring constantly.)

Spoon some sauce into center of each plate. Arrange 2 meringues on each. Dip fork into caramel and wave back and forth over meringues so that caramel comes off in strands that harden like threads, and serve.

Scotch Egg

Below is an article about the British snack known as Scotch Egg:

 

SCOTCH EGG

When I first learned about the dish known as Scotch Egg, I had assumed that it had originated in Scotland. Silly me. Basically a snack, the Scotch Egg is usually served at picnics or inside pubs. Today, the Scotch Egg can be found at supermarkets, corner shops and motorway service stations throughout Great Britain. Here in the United States, they can be found at British-style pubs and eateries. They are usually served with hot dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce, or hot mustard sauce.

Many food historians claim that the exact origin of the Scotch Egg is unknown. Many believe that it might be a descendant of a form of the Mughlai dish called “nargisi kofta”. However, the London Department store, Fortnum & Mason, claims it was inspired by the “nargisi kofta” and invented the Scotch Egg in 1738.

The recipe for the Scotch Egg first appeared in the 1809 edition of Mrs. Rundell’s 1806 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery”. Mrs. Rundell and later 19th-century cookbook authors usually instructed their readers to served the Scotch Eggs hot and with gravy.

Below is a recipe from the Allrecipes.com website:

Scotch Egg

Ingredients

1 quart oil for frying

4 eggs

2 pounds pork sausage

4 cups dried bread crumbs, seasoned

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, beaten

Preparations

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs sit in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool and peel.

Flatten the sausage and make a patty to surround each egg. Very lightly flour the sausage and coat with beaten egg. Roll in bread crumbs to cover evenly.

Deep fry until golden brown, or pan fry while making sure each side is well cooked. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Cut in half and serve over a bed of lettuce and sliced tomatoes for garnish. If mustard is desired it looks beautiful over this.

Jambalaya

Below is an article about the American dish known as “Jambalaya”:

JAMBALAYA

One of the most popular dishes to originate in the southern United States is a dish from Louisiana called Jambalaya. The dish has its origins in the Spanish dish known as paella. There is also a similar dish from the French province of Provence called jambalaia. Both are dishes that are mash-ups of rice, meat, vegetables and saffron.

Jambalaya originated in the French Quarter of New Orleans, during the late 18th century. The Spanish, who controlled Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley at the time, made an attempt to recreate paella in the New World. But since saffron was unavailable due to import costs, the Spanish used tomatoes as a substitute for saffron. Despite Spanish control of the region, the French dominated the population, since they were the original founders of the colony. The French utilized spices from the Caribbean to transform this paella copycat into a unique New World dish.

Many would be surprised to learn that Jambalaya proved to become a very flexible dish in Louisiana over the years. It has evolved into three distinct recipes. The original version, known as the Creole or “red” Jambalaya, featured tomatoes. The second version, which is common in the parishes in Southwestern and South-Central Louisiana, is a “rural Creole” Jambalaya that contains no tomatoes. The third version is known as “White or Cajun Jambalaya” in which the rice is cooked in stock and separately from the meat and vegetables.

The recipe for Jambalaya made its first appearance in the 1878 cookbook called “Gulf City Cook Book” by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Church in South Mobile, Alabama. Jambalaya experienced a brief surge of popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, due to its flexible recipe. And in 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana as the Jambalaya Capital of the World. Every spring, Gonzales hosted the annual Jambalaya Festival.

Below is a recipe from the Epicurious.com website for Jambalaya:

Jambalaya

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4 oz extra-lean smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces

Preparation

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, ham, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.

English Trifle

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Below is an article about the English dessert known as the Trifle:

ENGLISH TRIFLE

Trifle is an English dessert that is made from thick custard, diced fruit, sponge fingers or thin layer sponge cake that is soaked in fortified wine, sherry or fruit juices and topped with whipped cream. The ingredients are usually arranged in three or four layers, while suspended in fruit-flavored jelly or gelatin.

The dish can be traced back to the later years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. The earliest recipe for trifle consisted of a thick cream flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater. The recipe, which was published in an 1587 English book called “The Good Hyswife’s Jewell” by Thomas Dawson. Sixty years later, eggs were added to the recipe and the custard was poured over alcohol soaked bread.

It was not until the mid-18th century that something like the modern trifle began to emerge. Biscuits soaked with wine were then in place at the bottom of the bowl, and custard was on top of them, while the topmost layer could be achieved by pouring whipped syllabub froth over all. When this froth was replaced by plain whipped cream, the process of evolution was virtually complete. While some believe the addition of jelly to the recipe to be recent, the earliest known recipe to include jelly dates from 1747 and was featured in “the Art of Cookery”, authored by Hannah Glasse. In her recipe she instructed using hartshorn or bones of calves feet as the base ingredient for the jelly.

Below is a recipe from the Food.com website for a traditional trifle:

English Trifle

Ingredients

1 packet single trifle sponge cakes (or a ready-made pound cake or similar)
1 pint English custard, made from bird custard powder
1⁄2 pint whipping cream (heavy)
1 package frozen berries (better than fresh)
100 g jar of strawberry jam
1 can sliced fruit or 2 very ripe fruit, skinned and sliced
1⁄4-1⁄2 pint cooking sherry
50 g sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation

Slice the cake into slices measuring about 3 x 2 x 1/2 inches, or whatever is convenient, and spread each slice with a little strawberry jam.
Layer in a glass dish, leaving no significant gaps.
Pour sherry over to soak sponge.
Spread frozen berries over sponge, followed by sliced fruit.
Make up custard, cool slightly and pour over all.
Allow to cool in fridge.
When set, whip cream and layer on top of custard.
Chill for at least half an hour.
Toast the almonds and scatter over.

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Spoonbread

Gluten-Free-Sweet-Corn-Spoon-Bread.jpg

Below is an article about the American dish known as Spoonbread:

SPOOONBREAD

The dish known as spoonbread is a cornmeal-based specialty that is prevalent in the American South. Although named a “bread”, the dish is closer in consistency and taste to many savory puddings, like Britain’s Yorkshire pudding. According to some recipes, spoonbread is similar to a cornmeal soufflé. However, most Southern recipes for this dish do not involve whipping the eggs to incorporate air.

The first published recipe for Spoonbread appeared in a book written by Sarah Rutledge in 1847. Another recipe appeared in the cookbook called “Practical Cook Book “, written by a Mrs. Bliss of Boston in 1850. She called the dish, “Indian puffs”. However, Spoonbread dates long before the Antebellum period. European colonists probably first learned about the dish from Native tribes along the Atlantic seaboard. The traditional South Carolina low country version of Spoonbread was called Awendaw (or Owendaw). It was named after a Native settlement outside of Charleston.

Although Spoonbread dated back many centuries, it became very popular with American around the turn of the 20th century. And the town of Berea, Kentucky has been home to an annual Spoonbread Festival, which has been held in September since 1997.

Below is a recipe from the Epicurious.com website for Fresh Corn Spoonbread:

Corn Spoonbread

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated

Preparations

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bring milk, cornmeal, corn kernels, butter, and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then whisk in yolks.

Beat whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer at medium speed just until soft peaks form. Whisk one fourth of whites into cornmeal mixture in pan to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in a buttered 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate or 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole and bake in middle of oven until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately (like a soufflé, spoon bread collapses quickly).

“Defense of the Realm” [PG-13] – 8/14

“DEFENSE OF THE REALM”

CHAPTER 8

During the four years since Piper’s departure from Quake, the restaurant had not changed much – aside from the menu and the food’s quality. Cole had never visited Quake before, but judging from Phoebe’s reaction to their appetizers, apparently the food was not what it used to be under Piper’s rule.

Cole reached for his glass of Cabernet Sauvignon wine and took a sip. “Perhaps we should have went to another restaurant.” He fell silent, expecting a reply from Phoebe. She said nothing. Cole added, “Or perhaps I should have prepared dinner at home. Marbus had pointed out that we’ve been going out to dinner on a regular basis, lately.” He chuckled slightly. “I think I may have come close to spending half of my paycheck, during the past two weeks.”

Phoebe responded with a dim smile and reached for a dinner roll.

Realizing that Phoebe might still be distracted by his quarrel with Leo, Cole decided to confront the matter than pretend everything was fine. “Okay Phoebe,” he muttered, “what’s wrong? Other than criticizing the food here, you’ve barely said a word.”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Phoebe quickly replied. “I’m fine.”

Cole sighed. “Right. And that’s why you’re looking as if your favorite pet had died. Or you’re about to flee for your life. I really can’t tell which.”

“Cole . . .”

“What . . . is . . . wrong, Phoebe?”

A silent moment passed before the dark-haired witch finally answered, “It’s about tonight. Your fight with Leo.”

Cole cast his eyes downward, now that his suspicions had been confirmed. “I see. Look Phoebe, I’m sorry that I had lost my temper, but I’m getting sick and tired of Leo treating me like an outsider every time I show up. I realize that I have a past that would make any sane person flee for his life; but who is he to judge, after the shit he had recently pulled?”

“I understand how you feel, Cole,” Phoebe said. “Really, I do. And you’re right. Leo can’t really look down his nose at you, anymore.” She sighed, and glanced up at Cole. “But you really need to keep your temper in check.”

One of Cole’s brows shot upward. “‘I’ need to keep hold of my temper?”

“Okay, maybe I can be a little temperamental also,” Phoebe conceeded. “But Cole . . . you have to consider your powers. What if . . . what if you completely lose your temper and decide to use your powers? Who would be able to stop you?”

Cole smiled derisively. “Well, Olivia for one. I’m sure that she still have some of that potion . . .”

“Cole!”

A sigh left his mouth. “Look, I’ll try to control my temper, Phoebe. I swear. But Leo has to learn to do the same. And he needs to stop acting as if I’m plotting to murder all of you.”

“I know. But . . .”

Warily, Cole stared at his ex-wife. “But what?”

Again, Phoebe hesitated. “Have you ever thought about . . . you know, stripping away your powers?”

Shit! He should have known. From the moment he and Phoebe had started dating again, Cole suspected that sooner or later, she would bring up the matter of his powers. Phoebe obviously wanted him back, but only as a mortal.

“Cole?” Apprehension crept into Phoebe’s voice. “You’re not mad at me, are you?”

Not mad, Cole decided. Just disappointed. He could imagine the ‘I told you so’ expression on Olivia’s face. “No Phoebe. I’m not angry. It’s just . . . considering the last two times I had lost my powers – disaster followed.”

Her dark eyes now shinning brightly with hope, Phoebe leaned forward. “But those incidents were accidents!” she exclaimed. “You had lost your powers the first time, because that witch’s girlfriend had thrown a power-stripping potion on you.”

“Which you had left in your dresser drawer.”

Phoebe ignored the dig. “And you had lost them the second time,” she continued, “because Barbas had tricked you into asking Paige to strip them, so he could steal them. Cole, this time we can control the whole process. Make sure there are no unforeseen problems.”

Cole wanted to shout, “Hell no!” He had no desire to re-experience the trauma of adjusting to complete mortality, again. Or feel like half a person. But he did not want to clash with Phoebe. Not again. Not after the last fifteen months of estrangement between them. And he simply could not bear to see the fear in Phoebe’s eyes, whenever he lost his temper.

“All right,” he finally said with a sigh. “I’ll do it.”

A bright smile lit up Phoebe’s face.

———

Elder MacKenzie Grant sat inside his private chambers, as he examined reports from various whitelighters throughout the mortal realm. So far, no one had been able to track down Natalia Stopanova – who was last detected in one of the demonic dimensions.

An impatient grunt escaped his mouth. How could the Russian-born whitelighter have escaped from their detection so quickly? And so effectively? She had first been spotted in the Gimle dimension. Before the Council could retrieve her, she had moved on to the mortals’ realm – namely the San Francisco area. And that is where she had disappeared. Vanished from their radar, as the mortals would say.

MacKenzie contemplated on who or what could have shielded Stepanova from the Council’s detection. He eventually came to the conclusion that she was no longer on Earth, and that she must be hiding . . .

A bell signaled the arrival of a visitor to his chambers. “Yes?” MacKenzie cried out.

A voice replied, “Johann Bauer. I have the tea that you had requested from the kitchen.”

MacKenzie waved his hand, allowing the door to slide open. The newly initiated Elder entered the chamber, carrying a tray with an earthen teapot and cup. “Johann, you did not have to bring me tea. Someone from the kitchen should have sent a whitelighter. You’re an Elder, now.”

“Oh, I don’t mind, MacKenzie,” Johann replied in his soft, Austrian accent. “Besides, I had to send the whitelighter on an errand for me.”

Smiling, MacKenzie said to his colleague, “Well, you can place the tray on my desk. If you don’t mind.”

After Johann had done as he was asked, he stared at the senior Elder. “Is there anything else you need, El . . . MacKenzie?” The other Elder shook his head. Johann continued to stare. “Are you feeling well? You seem a bit exhausted. Perhaps you should drink your tea, now.”

“Oh, I’m fine, Johann.” MacKenzie sighed and picked up the teapot. “Just a little shaken by the latest events.”

Johann nodded. “I understand. I’m . . . a little overwhelmed, myself. Especially after I had joined the Council.” He paused. “I’m curious. Why did the Council select me to replace Elder Sylvester?”

MacKenzie stared at him, recalling the anonymous warning that the Council had received about Mathilda’s plans regarding Belthazor. The Council knew that Johann had been one of the former Elder’s protégées, and immediately guessed who had been the informant. MacKenzie opened his mouth to reveal all of this . . . but instead replied, “The Council simply believed that you would make an excellent Elder. Despite being a whitelighter for only five years.”

The Austrian blinked. “Oh. Well . . . enjoy your tea.”

Smiling at the junior whitelighter, MacKenzie poured tea into his cup. He then took a sip. Not bad. “I must commend Jodhi on her brewing.” He drank the rest of his tea.

“Oh, Jodhi did not make the tea. I did.” MacKenzie stared at Johann, who added, “I knew that it was time for your tea and prepared a pot.”

Curious, MacKenzie asked, “Why?”

A wide, sinister smile curved Johann’s lips, raising the hackles on the back of MacKenzie’s neck. “So I could add poison from a darklighter’s arrow into your tea.” His smile widened. “And watch you slowly die.”

———

Johann strode into Artemus’ spacious library and bowed before the demonic CEO. “Your Eminence. I have some news.”

The demon cast a wary eye at the darklighter. “I do believe you’re being a little premature in calling me ‘Eminence’, Herr Bauer. I’m not the Source, yet.”

“But once the Whitelighters Council is destroyed and you have assumed control of the . . .”

Artemus interrupted, “That particular incident will not make me the Source, Johann. Only the Grimoire can make me the Source. Or Belthazor’s powers. And I doubt that he will be in the mood to hand them over. However, the idea of the Elders Council’s destruction is rather appealing. It will also impress certain demonic circles and give me a little extra credibility . . . and power.” He paused. “You were saying something about news?”

Johann nodded. “Yes. Two other Elders have been dispatched. One of them was,” the Austrian whitelighter smiled, “Elder MacKenzie Grant.” Artemus frowned. “He was one of the senior Elders, who had served on the Council for nearly 500 years, and has been a whitelighter even longer.”

“Well, I’m sure that his colleagues will mourn him.” Aretemus picked up a file from his desk. “And who will replace this MacKenzie?”

Johann shook his head. “The bodies of both MacKenzie and young Kevin have not been discovered yet. And the Council has not been able to replace the last three Elders.”

“When the Elders finally decides to re-organize, you should suggest that Mathilda be accepted back on the Council.” Aretemus opened the file.

Frowning, Johann asked, “Why? She’s the only veteran whitelighter who is permanently out of the way.”

Aretemus glanced up and stared at the darklighter. Who squirmed under his master’s direct stare. “I do not want Mathilda out of the way. I want her dead. I want the Council destroyed. And since Mathilda is a veteran, she is the only one capable of re-organizing the Council.” Artemus leaned forward. “I want Mathilda back on that Council, when you, Belinda and the others finally attack. Mathilda may be an arrogant bitch, but she is also a wily one. She will make sure that she has company, once the attacks begin. That way, no one will connect the murders to her. But once she is back on the Council, her guard will drop. And that is when you will kill her. Understand?”

The intensity of Artemus’ eyes caused Johann to shiver. “Yes Artemus. I understand perfectly.”

———

Phoebe descended the manor’s staircase, her mouth stretched into a yawn. Expecting her family inside the kitchen for breakfast, she was surprised to find them gathered in the living room. Along with Chris. Everyone wore a tense expression – except for Chris, who looked grim. “What’s going on?” she demanded, as she settled in one of the chairs.

Piper rocked Wyatt in her arms. “Apparently Chris has some bad news.” She stared at the young whitelighter. “Which he has yet to tell us.”

Chris hesitated. “Two more Elders have been killed.” The Halliwells gasped with surprise. Leo looked as if his world was falling apart. “One back in the Whitelighter Realm and one here on Earth.”

“Oh my God!” Leo exclaimed. “Natalia! Why haven’t . . .? I mean, how was she able to kill an Elder in the Realm, when she was last reported on Earth?”

Shooting the older whitelighter a contemptuous look, Chris retorted, “First of all, Miss Stepanova is only a suspect. No one knows for certain that she’s behind this. And if she was, she probably used her followers to commit . . . uh, to kill the Elders.” Chris paused. “Just as Mathilda had used you to get rid of Belthazor.”

“Okay! Just a damn minute!” Piper began angrily. She seemed upset at Chris’ potshot at her husband. “Leo had made a mistake. There’s no need to rub it in his face.”

“Sorry,” Chris muttered. Yet, Phoebe noticed that his expression remained unrepentant.

Leo asked, “Who had been killed?”

“Elder MacKenzie Grant,” Chris replied. “Someone had added poison from a darklighter’s arrow to his tea.”

Paige added, “Just like that Elder who was killed in Paris.”

Leo seemed shocked by the identity of the victim. “My God! Elder MacKenzie? He, Sylvester and Mathilda were the premiere Elders on the Council. MacKenzie had been around for nearly 600 years. Who was the other Elder?”

Chris answered, “He was a younger Council member. From the ticket that was found in his pocket, he must have just left a movie theater in Sausalito, when someone with a darklighter’s weapon . . .”

“What was his name?”

Glaring at the other whitelighter, Chris mumbled a name. “Who?” Phoebe demanded.

“Kevin James,” Chris said in a louder voice.

The name produced gasps from the Charmed Ones. “No!” Phoebe cried. “He can’t be dead!”

Chris added, “The police had found his body in some alley, earlier this morning. The Council sent a whitelighter to claim his body.”

“Oh my God! Kevin!” Paige shook her head in disbelief. “He was just a boy! Only thirteen.”

“He was an Elder.”

Frowning, Leo said, “That means there are only two original members of the Council left. Two out of seven.”

“Two out of four,” Chris corrected. “The Council hasn’t replaced Elders Pivet, Davis and Kulle. They now have five members to replace.”

Leo’s blue eyes grew wide with shock. “There are only four members on the Council? With two of them, newcomers?”

Still grief-stricken over the news of Kevin’s death, Phoebe said, “We have to help. We have to find out who’s responsible for killing Kevin.”

“And the other Elders,” Leo added.

Piper said, “Then we should find this Natalia Stepanova. After all, she’s the number one suspect.”

“What about a warlock?” Phoebe asked. “Or a demon? Don’t forget about that warlock who had managed to enter the Whitelighters Realm.”

Chris shook his head. “Yeah, I heard about that. No whitelighters – other than the Elders – have been reported dead for quite a while. At least not during the last four months I’ve been here.”

An uneasy expression appeared on Piper’s face. “That would mean a whitelighter is responsible for the deaths,” she said.

Leo nodded. “Natalia Stepanova.”

“My bet is that your old buddy, Mathilda, is responsible,” Paige countered.

As Leo opened his mouth to retort, Phoebe added, “I agree. C’mon Leo! You have to admit that she has the best motive. The Elders had kicked her off the Council.”

“I have an idea,” Piper said. “Why don’t we check the area where Kevin’s body was found? Maybe we can find a clue. Or Pheebs could get a vi. . .?”

Phoebe interrupted, “Uh, don’t forget that Paige and I have jobs. Maybe we can do this on our lunch breaks.” She turned to Chris. “Where was Kevin found?”

“Near a movie theater in Sausalito,” the young whitelighter answered. “I’ll meet you here at the house and orb you to the spot.”

Piper snapped, “Just tell us where to go.” Chris remained silent. She heaved an impatient sigh. “All right. I guess we can all meet here around noon. Okay?”

Everyone else nodded in agreement.

END OF CHAPTER 8