Evelyn Chartres Author
Evelyn Chartres – Author (Nom de Plume)

Baked Camembert

A quick and easy treat that is sure to please. This recipe features Camembert, garlic, and a onion jam (or similar) to create a ready-made cheese fondue.

This dish can be enjoyed with toasted baguettes, Grissols (Melba toast), bread sticks, and/or crackers. Guests can either scoop the cheese directly, or provide spoons for an easier serving.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (225 g) of Camembert
  • 2 cloves (5-10 g) of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) of Herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of onion jam

Instructions

  1. (Optional) Place the cheese in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, it will make it easier to cut into the cheese later.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  3. Remove the cheese from it’s packaging. Peel away the top part of the rind, while cutting in towards the centre. When you are done, the top part of the rind should be completely removed with a an indentation in the middle.
  4. Using a paring knife, cut into the cheese in a grid pattern, be sure not the pierce the rind.
  5. Peel then finely mince the garlic cloves. Rub the cloves into the cheese while making sure some are embedded within the earlier cuts.
  6. Pour olive oil onto the cheese, then top with herbes.
  7. Place atop a sheet of tin foil, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and add the onion jam. Return to the oven, for another 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. Serve with toasted baguettes, or ready-made Grissols (Melba toast) and enjoy!

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VII

Drusilla turned out to be a snap to find. All Clara had to do was stumble across the wildest party. Her target craved to be at the centre of attention and this baby vamp loved nothing more than to be treated like a goddess.

While this flaw made finding her opponent easy, it came at the expense of dealing with a wall of human flesh. People naturally congregated around Drusilla which made most ranged attacks messy.

Nonetheless, the hunter moved deeper into this clip-joint while heading towards the bar. This manoeuvre would give her time to familiarise herself with the surroundings and devise a plan.

From the corner of her eye, Clara saw Drusilla busily petting a young man. Chances were that this boy would end up as her late-night snack. She wondered if this situation could be leveraged to her advantage.

Clara found the bar, then plopped down onto a barstool while crying quietly. In a place this lively, she was bound to get some attention, which was precisely what she needed.

Right on cue, a tough looking bimbo sat down on the adjacent stool then ordered a drink. It took no time at all for him to home in on her. While not the youngest woman around, men knew how to spot an opportunity.

“You okay, miss?” the man inquired.

“Said it would last forever,” Clara said while her voice was on the edge of cracking.

She extended the last word to coincide with the beginning of a wail. Very childlike, but effective in manipulating those with an ounce of empathy. Clara was certain that this one would do fine.

“Excuse me?” the man replied.

She saw his entire demeanour change, then thought bingo! A positive sign that he was buying her load of baloney.

Clara broke into a shower of tears, sobbing uncontrollably while she fell into his arms. For a moment, the two were locked in an uncomfortable embrace until he realised there was no escape. Defeated, the bimbo wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to comfort her. Now it was his turn to make the next move.

“There now,” the bimbo said.

Clara toned down her crying and sobbed as though she were holding back biblical floodwaters. His hold softened once he accepted his fate.

“Now what were you saying?” the man finally asked.

“Came here with a friend,” Clara said with puffy red cheeks and a shaky voice. “Said he would always be there for me.”

Clara made sure the statements appeared to be somewhat incoherent and disjointed. Men rarely expected the lesser sex to handle such situations with a level head.

“Then what happened?” the man asked before throwing in, “My name is Victor.”

He was looking to establish a rapport even if it threw her off. Clara pulled away and wiped the tears from her face. To cry with that much intensity took a lot out of a girl, especially when forced!

“Clara,” she managed to say.

Clara then set her eyes on Drusilla’s little pet. Her eyes narrowed in a way that would impress upon Victor just how close he was to seeing Mount Vesuvius blow its top.

Victor looked in that direction and connected the dots. Since she had practically drawn him a map, this was hardly the demonstration of a razor sharp wit! Nonetheless, they were on the same page.

The bimbo turned around and ordered a stiff drink. Before Victor’s lips could touch the glass, Clara snatched it away then downed it in one shot. God, she needed that! Sure it was not very ladylike, and it tasted like coffin varnish, but it lent credibility to her being an emotional wreck.

To sweeten the deal Clara said, “That bastard!”

If the man felt offended in any way, he hid it well. Instead, he ordered another two shots. The bimbo downed one for the road and took a long hard look at Drusilla’s pet. He was clearly working up the courage to play his role in her plan.

“Is that him?” Victor asked.

“Yes,” Clara confirmed before a stream of tears started up again.

Now Victor was left with a choice: either face the emotional wreck named Clara or go after the patsy blamed for hurting her feelings. The latter offered a far greater payoff; so without much fanfare, the bimbo ventured out into the crowd. Clara feigned an attempt to stop him, but his resolve was steeled.

Now that her plan was set in motion, it was high-time she got in position. Clara rolled down the rosary, placing it around her hand and left the crucifix hanging freely.

For a moment, she gazed at Victor’s remaining shot then smiled. The hunter crushed one of her pearl earrings over the glass. She then reached into her purse and pulled out a small silvery object. With a drink in hand, Clara made her way through the crowd, following in Victor’s wake.

By the time she neared the scene, Victor had already arrived and confronted the patsy. The expressed confusion only served to infuriate Victor which quickly escalated matters.

Clara heard the familiar sound of a punch making contact, followed by the crowd’s inevitable reaction. In that moment, Clara learned that Victor was not one to fool around.

Perhaps he had been a palooka? Nothing like a former boxer to make things interesting!

For now, Drusilla remained at the centre of a gawking crowd who enjoyed this fresh bit of entertainment. This was her chance!

“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum,” Clara recited in silence.

Clara entered the makeshift ring, ignoring the men while walking casually towards the creature. If people had not been aware of her presence a moment ago, they were about to be.

“Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus,” Clara recited the second verse.

The words rolled off her tongue, the effect of having spent hours reciting the prayer over her rosary. Bonus, there would be no kneeling tonight!

“Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,” Clara said the third verse.

Clara then pounded back her drink and felt her tongue burn. When she was no more than a step away, Clara slipped the silvery object between her fingers then snapped it open. With a quick flick of her wrist, a bright flame came about.

“Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,” Clara recited and could hear the verse reverberate in her mind.

The prayer was as yet incomplete since one word remained. Clara spat out the fluid, forming a slew of droplets, sailing effortlessly towards Drusilla. However, the real show began once the liquid came in contact with the naked flame. The candle-sized flame erupted into a fireball which enveloped the creature’s head.

Drusilla may have been unaware of the impending attack, but the zippo certainly got her attention. The timing had not been planned, but was nonetheless beneficial. In that moment when the flame flashed over, Drusilla had been facing Clara.

The creature screamed while flames enveloped her. The sound was hard to describe, but it reminded Clara of a child running her nails across slate. It had certainly been loud enough to stop the band cold.

Clara kept her distance while fire consumed Drusilla’s hair. The heat was so intense that she wondered if it had been fashioned with embalming fluid. When the time was right, Clara attacked with a quick and precise jab across Drusilla’s jaw.

“Amen!” Clara exclaimed, releasing that word for all the world to hear.

In that moment, Clara realised just how alone she was. Well not literally since the crowd was there, however everyone at the party seemed to be converging on her. As a distraction Clara grabbed her pearl necklace and tore it from her neck. While pearls went flying through the air, she exposed the blade of her crucifix.

Despite the distraction, it seemed likely that she would not have the time to land a killing blow.

“Fuck!” Clara exclaimed feeling robbed of her already hollow victory.

That is, until the world paused, literally; even the pearls were suspended in mid-air. Clara felt as though she were seeing the world through a stereoscope. Most disturbing was the absence of sound, Clara never realised how loud this party had been until it all stopped.

“That’s an interesting development,” Clara said and found the words reassuring.

Clara did not dare hesitate. She plunged the blade into Drusilla’s spine. The blade penetrated just below the base of Drusilla’s skull, effectively paralysing her lower body. With any luck, the damage might even be permanent. For now, her biggest threat had been neutralised.

Out from her purse came her derringer which she held close to her body to prevent her being disarmed early in the game. She looked about, able to take in this tapestry of horror and noticed that one-third of the room was made up of their kind. Did that mean the rest of the guests were food? The idea of a place with so many of those things made her skin crawl. How could there be so many?

“You Bitch,” Drusilla said from the depths of Clara’s mind.

Since there was not much left of Drusilla’s face, Clara would have been more surprised to hear her speak. The mixture of burning alcohol laced with holy water had somehow aggravated the damage. If Clara ever made it out alive, she would be sure to add that trick to her playbook.

Clara turned to face the thing, finding her crumpled on the floor. To her right, Victor and Drusilla’s pet were now bloodied from exchanging jabs. That paled in comparison to the look on their faces, a mix of shock and awe. Of all times, she wished for a camera!

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Clara and a Beer

A gal has to look out for herself after all.

This weekend, pour yourself a drink and grab a copy of my Dark Fantasy novel the Van Helsing Paradox! Explore the life and times of a femme fatal hunter. Watch her grow, serve in the Great War, and hunt things that go bump in the night

What are you waiting for? Get it now!

Synopsis for the Van Helsing Paradox:

Clara Grey’s parents once said that the world was a dark and dangerous place. There was more truth than fiction to those words. There were things that lurked in the shadows which defied the laws of nature: perversions that fed on the dead, terrorised the living, or escaped the chill touch of the grave.

Clara is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. As keepers of the arcane, her order takes an active role to counter these threats. The life of a hunter can be short, and many disappear before their training is completed. So, what does it take to succeed against all odds?

Explore Clara’s origin, a child born before the dawn of the twentieth century. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.

Throughout her tale, keep in mind that no matter the threat, a gal has to look out for herself after all.

The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts V and VI

“Horsefeathers,” Clara said under her breath.

All the signs were there, so how had she missed them? There were no doubts the concierge was one of them, making it a foregone conclusion that there were others on staff as well. The latter was obvious considering how the lobby boys seemed afraid she would set them aflame.

So this must be a haven for their kind. Hunters like her probably ended end up on the menu once their suspicions were aroused. No wonder Drusilla decided to make a stop here.

“Fine place to end up,” Clara said while trying to work out a solution. “Served up like a thanksgiving turkey at a five-star hotel,” she added, none too amused.

Clara stopped once she heard the familiar clicking sound, one that might prove to be her salvation. When she looked in that direction, Clara saw familiar brass and glass contraptions busily spewing out stock market updates.

“Could it be?” Clara wondered in hopes that she might be right.

On her way to the hotel, she noticed they had sentinels posted atop the perimeter walls. Clara had initially dismissed their presence as some misplaced adherence to historical anachronisms. But given the revelation that this was not a normal hotel, Clara figured they might be automatons used to protect the grounds. If that were true, then Georgians must be involved.

On a hope and a prayer, Clara casually made her way through the crowd towards the ticker tapes. That was the easy part, since men naturally ceded their place once women came into the picture. To think people said chivalry was dead!

She found that these devices were anchored to the marble top, not that anyone would dream of stealing one, at least not here. These marvels of technology were connected to a teletype line and received stock updates from their particular markets. Fortunately for her, one of the machines was beginning to show signs of ink fade.

She gave a quick glance to the immediate area and noticed sliding panels below the marble tops. Clara knelt down, found some ink, and proceeded to place it by the faltering machine. First, she removed the glass, then the inkwell’s cover. Next, she applied liberal amounts of fresh ink while simultaneously pressing down on a button just to the side.

To anyone who observed (not likely since the men were probably fixated on her ass), Clara appeared to be doing nothing more than routine maintenance. But a hidden function had been triggered within the device which forced it to read from an alternate channel. To Clara’s satisfaction, the machine generated a series of glyphs.

Once the symbols began to repeat, she ripped the ticker tape then replaced the ink and cover. Without a second glance, she walked away from the crowd intent on finding a potential escape.

* * * *

When Clara neared a ladies room, she feigned a quick pace to appear as though nature was calling. She then darted inside, hurried into a stall, and sat down prior to looking at the three-foot length of ticker tape. Three feet of stock updates could make or break fortunes, but tonight it might save her life.

Right before the glyphs, she saw a four, one and four printed. Clara assumed it to be the point of origin for the portal. A reference to anything, but in this case, was probably a room number. A shame there were only three floors that she knew of. So that meant there was a fourth floor hidden from the public.

“Not much of an escape plan,” Clara muttered.

She looked over the glyphs to see if any were familiar and found two that were. The first was not an option, recognising it as the symbol for the goddess Selene. Clara doubted she would enjoy that particular destination and wondered why it was an option at all. Could this have been a rare example of Georgian humour?

The second symbol was more of a concern. Familiar only because she found it and variations of it under the ziggurat. Trying to find refuge at their equivalent of the Holy See? Clara had no hope of finding allies there.

“Just ducky,” Clara said while considering what to do next.

The proof of her knowledge on the portal could be flushed away, but misdirection seemed to be the best course of action. Clara pulled out her lipstick and circled one of the other destinations. Even if she had no clue where it ended up, they might assume otherwise. That meant the staff would dedicate resources to defend the portal which would weaken their security elsewhere.

When she returned her lipstick to the purse, Clara dropped the ticker tape. For now, it appeared as though she was being careless, understandable given the situation.

Before leaving, Clara looked into the mirror, breathed in deeply, and forced herself to tear up. Time to let loose her tears and fool anyone who caught sight of her. Now they would think she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Let them underestimate me,” Clara said.

She then recited a prayer while walking through the East wing, it was the hunter’s equivalent of the Last Rights. May as well make this trip worthwhile because Clara doubted she would leave through the front doors intact.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part IV

Max, the night concierge, kept busy by reading the local paper. News never changed, especially the local rag, since the truth was bad for business.

From the corner of his eye, he spotted a keen woman heading towards the fountain. When she stopped to take in the view of the cherubs feeding their eternal pond, his eyes focused on her.

She had all the signs of someone afflicted with the malady called life, an unfortunate condition that invariably led to death. Despite her terminal prognosis, she appeared to be fit, at least as judged by the toned muscles in her getaway sticks and bare-arms.

When this dame turned around, he saw a hint of worry in her eyes. She looked around as though searching for someone. Max even noted how her heart rate rose to match her anxiety.

When she was about ready to give into hysterics, the woman’s eyes floated over to Max. Upon seeing the presence of staff who could assist, she approached his desk and he noted the sensual sway of her hips.

“Oh, where is she,” Clara murmured while looking over her shoulder.

“Where is whom madam?” Max asked.

The poor dear’s heart was very much at a gallop by now. With curiosity renewed, he hoped this event might temporarily relieve his boredom.

“I was supposed to meet Betty here an hour ago,” Clara said all worried. “But I fell asleep and woke up too late,” she added while her voice was on the cusp of cracking.

The concierge had no desire to deal with the waterworks. After having lived for over a thousand years, this type of melodrama wore thin. Max’s only interest was to get her out of his hair.

“Betty?” Max asked to see if she could come up with a family name.

“Jones. Betty Jones,” Clara replied.

With hope renewed, her voice perked up, but Max quirked an eyebrow. That was not a name that should have rolled off her tongue.

Her eyes were hard to read but he could tell this was not some dumb dora. Years of life and experience shone through clearly enough. Was this one playing him? This was not Betty’s conventional fare. How did these two know each other?

It was during his slew of questions that he noticed something peculiar. To think he nearly missed the clues! Max was now standing a foot away from the counter as though her very presence could harm him.

He could overcome that fear if need be, and even vacation at Sancta Sedes while sucking the life out of the Pope. But this remained a potent clue that there was a hunter in their midst.

“I believe I saw the young miss heading towards the East wing,” Max said wholeheartedly.

At this point, it simplified matters to tell her the truth. It would get her out of the way, so he could get on the blower to coordinate a response.

“Really?” Clara asked excitedly.

The girl relaxed and even her heart slowed. A clear sign that she was well trained and could wreak havoc. A hunter of this calibre on the loose was bad news.

“Thank you!” Clara exclaimed. With a warm smile, she added, “I could kiss you!”

“That’s quite alright my dear,” Max said with a nod. “Now, be sure to head in that direction and you are bound to come across her,” he added while pointing out the way.

“Thank you,” Clara said excitedly.

She walked away with a light seductive sway. It was as though she were inviting him to follow, or was that a dare?

Max could not help it. He was in awe of just how manipulative this one was. With this distraction out of the way, he picked up the receiver and waited for Mavis to answer.

“Operator,” Mavis said.

Tonight Mavis would be the vital link to contain this evening’s complication.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!