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Posted on June 20, 2015 - by

Book Launch Party at RJ Julia Booksellers

yodareadingPlease join us on Thursday July 9 at 7pm to launch FATAL RESERVATIONS at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison CT. Cake! Wine! Books!

Call 203-245-3959 to reserve your place.


Posted on June 8, 2015 - by

Don’t be Afraid by Miss Gloria

(Every once in a while we invite the characters from the Key West mysteries to share a post. Today Hayley Snow’s roommate, Miss Gloria, has something to say…)

photo by Carol Tedesco

by Miss Gloria from the Lucy Burdette Key West food critic mysteries

I have a new job, did I mention that? Probably not, as I don’t remember things exactly the way I used to LOL. Anyway Key West has a beautiful, historical cemetery containing tons of fascinating stories of former islanders, and beautiful carved stones and crypts, too. So I’ve volunteered to be trained as a cemetery tour guide.

Photo by Carol Tedesco

My adorable roommate, food critic Hayley Snow, is not a fan of my new activity. Honestly? I think she’s terrified that all that death will rub off on me and I’ll and end up in one of those tombs instead of being on the outside telling their stories. But as I tell Hayley, we need to remind ourselves about our history, about the interesting people that came before us. We’ll want some little old ladies remembering us in the decades to come, won’t we?

Anyway, I’m not superstitious. And besides, often the people we should be afraid of are the live ones, not the dead. I should warn you we are bound to find some things in this cemetery that might not belong there.

You’ll be able to read all about that in our July book, FATAL RESERVATIONS. You can pre-order that story right here.

Photo by Carol Tedesco

What do you think about cemeteries? Do you love them or do they freak you out?

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

 


Posted on May 25, 2015 - by

Mrs. Renhart has her say on Houseboat Row

(Every once in a while we invite one of the characters from the Key West mysteries to post a blog. This time Hayley Snow’s next door neighbor insisted it was her turn to speak out…)

MRS. RENHART: I have to admit it, I’m a little bit lonely. Even though I thought moving to Key West and living on a houseboat would make all the difference. Doesn’t it sound like a fairy tale? Oh for sure, getting Schnootie the schnauzer has helped a lot. But my husband isn’t what you call chatty. Or even much fun.

Oh let’s face it, he’s a good provider but a great, big grump.
Houseboat Row by Karen Beauprie

Ever since that young Hayley Snow moved in next door with Miss Gloria, it looks like they have a party all the time. It’s a constant parade of visitors over there, including Hayley’s family and a lot of friends.

And instead of looking tired and haggard, Miss Gloria seems to really enjoy the company. And my gosh, the food that comes out of that tiny little kitchen. All the people they have over, you’d think they’d invite the neighbors once in while, wouldn’t you?

Miss Gloria has a new job too, as a guide in the cemetery. And so those crazy cats have a lot more time alone, and I swear they torment my poor Schnootie every chance they get. And I swear I even saw a little white kitten on their houseboat. And is it possible there was a man skulking in one of the back rooms, too? How many people and animals can they cram into that little space?

I swear I’m going to keep my eye on things and if they get out of control, well, I’ll just have to say something.

The question is to whom?

Fatal Reservations will hit bookshelves on July 7, but we invite you to pre-order!


Posted on May 6, 2015 - by

What I’m Writing @LucyBurdette

 

LUCY BURDETTE: You wouldn’t believe the things I do in the name of research. Last fall, we arrived in Key West earlier than usual–October–so I could observe the wildest festival of the year–Fantasy Fest. Even after the week was over, I couldn’t pretend to understand the grand appeal of walking up and down Duval Street basically naked except for creative body paint. But hey, it makes for a fabulous backdrop–though sorting through what can go into a cozy mystery from this week of events was a bit challenging.

But John and I promptly signed up to train as Fantasy Fest parade ambassadors, and I ordered tutus in several colors (the men got camo tutus, including Tonka,) and made appointments for face-painting for the Zombie bike ride.

So that’s the book I’m writing now! Without further ado, here’s the opening for KILLER TAKEOUT, coming to bookshelves next April:

–>

KILLER TAKEOUT: Chapter One
Resident islanders couldn’t remember a hotter Key West summer. Not only hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, they agreed, but hot enough to crisp bacon, too. So far, the advent of fall was bringing no relief. Today’s temperature registered 93° and climbing–fierce-hot for October, with the humidity dense like steam from my grandmother’s kettle. And the local news anchor promised it would get hotter as the week continued, along with the party on Duval Street.

 

Me? I’d rather eat canned sardines from China then march down Key West’s Duval Street wearing not much more than body paint. But 100,000 out-of-town revelers didn’t agree. They were arriving on the island this week to do just that—or watch it happen—during Fantasy Fest, the celebration taking place during the ten days leading up to Halloween, including a slew of adult-themed costume parties culminating in a massive and rowdy parade.

 

Worse of all, the Weather Channel was tracking the path of a tropical storm in the Eastern Caribbean. They had already begun to mutter semi-hysterical recommendations: Visitors should prepare to head up the Keys to the mainland and take refuge in a safer area. But based on the crowds I’d seen, no one was listening. These hordes weren’t leaving until the event was over. Besides, with a four-hour drive to Miami on a good traffic day, getting all those people out would be like trying to squeeze ketchup back into a bottle. Might as well party.
Since no right-minded local resident would attempt to get near a restaurant this week, I had fewer food critic duties at my workplace, the style magazine, Key Zest. I was looking forward to covering some of the tamer Fantasy Fest events for the magazine, including the Zombie bike ride, the locals’ parade, and a pet masquerade contest. And since restaurants are my beat, I’d promised my bosses an article on reliable takeout food too. If that didn’t keep me busy enough, my own mother, Janet Snow, and Sam, her fiance, were arriving for the week to visit with my dear friend Connie’s new baby, and then get themselves hitched on the beach.

 

In a weak moment, I’d allowed Miss Gloria, my geriatric houseboat-mate, to talk me into being trained as a Fantasy Fest parade ambassador. Our job would be to help patrol the sidewalks, which would be lined with costumed and tipsy revelers scrambling for the colored glass bead necklaces thrown off the floats.

 

“If we aren’t going to go to the foam party, or the Adam and Eve bash, or the Tighty Whitey party, we should at least attend the parade,” Miss Gloria said.

 

I closed my eyes to ward off the image of my elderly friend at any of those events.

 

“And if we’re working as ambassadors, we’ll be stationed inside the crowd control barricades. We’ll have the best seat in the house. Get it? Seat.” She broke into helpless giggles.


            At the time, the idea seemed palatable. Barely.

Meanwhile, FATAL RESERVATIONS will be on bookshelves July 7. But you can pre-order it now!

Posted on February 15, 2015 - by

Here’s What They’re Saying About DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS

Burdette infuses the mystery with Key West spirit and holiday fun along with delicious food references and recipes. This strong series continues a unique blend of island mayhem and sparkling characters surrounding a layered mystery. Fans of Julie Hyzy and Laura Childs may also enjoy.
— Amy Alessio, Booklist December 2114

From Fresh Fiction: DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is just sheer fun. This is my first time reading the Lucy Burdette series, but I’ve already downloaded the first book to my Kindle as I want to visit more with the quirky and oh-so-likeable characters. The twists and turns keep the reader guessing until the very end as Lucy Burdette serves up a spectacular mystery.

A contemporary comedy of manners sprinkled with gastronomical glitter, delectable danger and good will, Death with All the Trimmings is delightful. Phil Jason, Florida Weekly

Burdette successfully blends murder with menus, furthers Hayley’s development and paints a loving portrait of Key West’s wackiness, including the town’s annual Dachshund Parade and the appearance of a Chihuahua flash mob. Her mix of food, felonies and fun is a tasty seasonal treat. Jay Strafford, The Richmond Times Dispatch

As the beleaguered chef in “Death with All the Trimmings” tells her staff: “Never forget the people who will be eating the dishes we prepare. They are what matters — they are eating the products of our care and love. If we cook with that in mind, our customers will feel it in their hearts.” Change this language to reflect novel-writing, and this is what Burdette does — she creates a product of care and love for her readers.  JennyKales.wordpress.com

“Like a spiked glass of eggnog or s’mores over a cold night’s cozy fire, Death with All the Trimmings is a holiday treat that any book lover should be pleased to find stuffed in their stocking or neatly wrapped beneath the tree.” Florida Book Review 
“Hayley may be a foodie, but she’s no snob: Burdette treats readers to mouthwatering descriptions of both elegant restaurant meals and take-out Cuban sandwiches. Burdette also includes recipes for six dishes featured in the story, including Scarlett O’Hara Cupcakes and spaghetti Bolognese. Juicy, entertaining and twisty without being gruesome, this is a perfect seasonal treat for readers who love both a turkey dinner and a good mystery.” —Katie Noah Gibson, Shelf Awareness, and blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

I love when a book keeps me on edge and this one had me going right to the end. This fast paced and action-filled drama quickly became a page-turner, as I had to know what happens next. All the main characters had a role in this latest caper as Hayley’s search for the culprit hits a little bit closer to home. The author does a wonderful job in bringing Key West alive through her and Hayley’s eyes that puts me smack dab in the middle of all the action. This was a great read boasting great conversations, a lovable cast of characters, a feel-good atmosphere, and a warm and friendly place to visit and I can’t wait to see what Hayley and her friends next adventures are in this delightfully charming and entertaining series.  Dru’s Book Musings

The pace of the book keeps readers moving from one event to the next without any lag time to get bored. It is a delightfully fulfilling read, although you might end it hungry.  Story Circle Book Reviews

Although the series is technically a “cozy” — no foul language or explicit sex, killings that take place offstage — the Burdette books have a sophisticated tone that separate them from the pack. She includes subplots, such as editor Wally coping with his mother’s cancer, that never overshadow the mystery, but deepen our affection for the wonderful cast of characters who surround Hayley.” Joe Meyers,  CT Post


Posted on February 10, 2015 - by

Road Signs

LUCY BURDETTE: I can’t resist one last travel blog–I swear I won’t become one of those boorish relations who shows interminable slides! But the road signs in Australia are so interesting–and graphic…

Drive on left in Australia.

never too old to try it! Even with hubby giving helpful tips

Kangaroo crossing.

We might have seen an endangered bandicoot, but he was too fast to capture on film.

We did however see an endangered tiger quoll

and then drank his beer to support his future

Wood hens on road. Mutton birds on road.

Endangered woodhen

We did see them both  but the mutton birds fly in at night to land on the beach and find their nests. We watched in awe!

They really mean it this time: Unstable cliffs you may fall and die

twelve apostles, great ocean road

Dangers everywhere.

Sometimes it’s better just to focus on the cute animals…

Nothing is quite ever what it seems–this one I just liked–true for life in general…


And here’s an article on the pros and cons of visiting Australia and New Zealand, with tips!


Posted on February 9, 2015 - by

Eight Rules for finding Decent Food–almost anywhere! @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE:  Food matters deeply to my food critic character.  And to me too! If either of us get too hungry, we’re miserable–a poor state to travel in. After three weeks in Australia, we came up with these suggestions for finding good food on the road…
Mex and Co in Manly

1. Go where the lines are. We found this little Mexican place in Manly when we looked in the window and saw baskets of homemade tortilla chips and margaritas in mason jars. And then I remembered I’d seen it recommended on Yelp by a California girl–who would know better? We weren’t able to get in that night but believe me we showed up 15 minutes before opening the next night.

2. Which brings me to the law of converging suggestions. Try Yelp or Tripadvisor, but it helps if more than one person recommends, and also if you can get a sense of what kind of eater they are.


3. When desperate for something not too foreign or in doubt about the choices, go to the museum cafe.

Here are my hummus and olives from the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Sydney Harbor

4.  Steer away from tourist traps on the main drag. Be leery of these recommendations. (For instance, I would never start with a restaurant right on Duval, though of course there are exceptions!)

But sometimes the food can be sacrificed if the view is good enough (e.g., the cafe outside the Opera House), even if the folks at the next table are a little annoying…

Parma at the Royal Mail on Spencer

5.  Try the local specialties. Parma turns out to be fried chicken with ham and cheese and tomato sauce baked on, which is a regional specialty in Melbourne. And we were crazy for the homemade curried mustard, too, at The Royal Mail on Spencer in Melbourne.

6.  Eat what’s local and fresh. (This was a flower bed planted with lettuce in Sydney!)

7. Ask people who live there. We went to Little Creatures in Melbourne on our nephew’s recommendation.

And then ran into the chef and waitress from the restaurant we’d visited the night before–we struck gold with their recommendations of roasted corn, pulled pork,

Little Creatures in Melbourne

and these decadent salted caramel-stuffed donuts–served warm with ice cream:).

Cait with Lucy

8. If you’re in a city, look for a foodie walking tour. In Adelaide, John and I booked places for a tour called Feast on Foot. Cait, a lively city resident, took us to six of her favorite spots where we tasted falafel and dolmades, duck tacos,

duck taco  at Mall Food

spoonfuls of incredible salted caramel, pork bbq buns, cupcakes and more.

And she gave us city history and a tour of street art, too–the best way to see Adelaide!

And here’s an article on the pros and cons of visiting Australia and New Zealand, with tips!


Posted on January 22, 2015 - by

Hot Pepper Jelly Cheese Puffs

LUCY BURDETTE:  I have a new obsession in Key West–this is hot pepper jelly made by the Pickle Baron, a local company here on the island. They also make bacon jam (bacon jam!!), and all kinds of pickles.

one of the Pickle Barons

John and I put the jelly on our sandwiches all week–it has just the right smoky heat to raise cold cuts to the next level. Then I remembered of my favorite hors d’oeuvre–a recipe for hot pepper jelly cheese puffs that I got years ago from my good friend Cathy Crook.

These puffs are positively decadent and delicious. There’s one drawback: They look like little thumbprint jam cookies so it takes a while for the party guests to catch on that you’re talking cheese, not sugar. Once a few people taste them, however, word spreads like wildfire and the plate will be snatched clean. So gobble a couple before you put them out.

HOT PEPPER JELLY CHEESE PUFFS

1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
Hot pepper jelly

Mix the first 3 ingredients until they hold together in a ball–either by hand or using food processor. Wrap in parchment paper or Saran wrap and chill 1/2 hour.

Roll into small balls (no bigger than an inch thick.) Bake at 400 degrees for five minutes. Remove them from the oven and make depressions in the top of the puffs with the back of a spoon.

Fill with Pickle Baron’s Habanero hot pepper jelly (or other jelly, or mild pepper jelly if you can’t take the heat.)

Return puffs to the oven and bake until golden. (5-7 more minutes.)

And watch them disappear off the plate!

 

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries:

DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is here now!

Follow Lucy on Pinterest.

Or Twitter.

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Posted on January 15, 2015 - by

Gingerbread Roll-Up Cake #recipe

 

LUCY BURDETTE: Say it’s the pit of winter and the short days and cold temps are bringing you down. Nothing cheers me up like a new dessert:). So I started to think about my favorite gingerbread recipe which I found many years ago in Moosewood’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook. Three things made it special: fresh ginger, molasses, and honey.

Could I transform this into a rolled cake stuffed with cinnamon-scented whipped cream that would appear fancier than gingerbread and fit for a party or a special family meal? Taste testers said I did–here’s the new recipe:

Ingredients for the Cake:

4 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1-2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Whipped cream filling:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease a 15 X 10 inch baking pan, then line it with parchment paper; butter the paper and set aside.

Saute the grated ginger in the butter. Cool.

Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Separate the whites from the yolks.

With your stand mixer or mixer, beat egg yolks on high speed until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Beat in molasses, honey, vanilla, and butter. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, mustard and cinnamon,) and beat these until well combined.

In a small bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and continue beating on high until soft peaks form. Fold the whites into yolk mixture.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake in a 375 pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Prepare a clean dish towel by sprinkling powdered sugar over it.

Turn the cake onto the towel, peel off the parchment, and roll the cake up in the towel.

(You are rolling the towel right in with the cake–which I found fun and amazing…)
Cool completely.

In a mixing bowel or cuisinart, combine the cream and vanilla and beat. When this begins to thicken, add cinnamon and sugar to taste, then beat until thick.

Unroll cake and spread the filling to within 1/2 inch from the edges.

Roll up the cake again. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve the cake slices with dollops of leftover whipped cream—or in the case of my family, with ice cream AND whipped cream. (ALWAYS ice cream, and preferably chocolate:).

DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is in stores now!


Posted on January 8, 2015 - by

The Many Layers of Baklava #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Our daughter and son-in-law visited Turkey this fall and look at what they brought back to us: samples of one of my favorite desserts, baklava. Isn’t that the best gift ever? Those tasty nuggets inspired me to try making it–again.

Quite a few years ago, I was asked to help our son’s elementary school class make baklava. (They must have been studying food from various countries around the world.) Though I’ve always been a fan of this pastry, I had never had the nerve to try making it myself. Believe me, if a group of schoolkids could make it, anyone can:). The only problem we had was discovering occasional brush bristles in the finished pastry–this I blame on poor quality pastry brushes and intense paint strokes…

Ingredients

1 pound package of phyllo dough, thawed overnight, then brought to room temperature

1 pound walnuts or mixture of pistachios and walnuts (I used 1/3 salted pistachios and 2/3 walnuts)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 sticks unsalted butter, melted

12 ounces honey

Chop the walnuts and pistachios finely in a food processor and then add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to combine these.  Set this aside.

Remove the phyllo dough from the package and unroll it on a clean counter. Butter a 13 x 9″ baking dish and layer in 8 of the phyllo sheets, one at a time, buttering each sheet with a pastry brush dipped in the melted butter.

As you work, cover the remaining sheets of phyllo with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. (Don’t sweat any little tears–they won’t show up in the end.)

Pour 1 cup of the nut mixture over the eight layers of phyllo and spread this evenly to the edges. Continue to layer eight more sheets of dough, painting each with melted butter.

Spread another cup of the nut mixture over the top. Repeat the layers and the nut mixture until all the nuts are used, ending with phyllo.

With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamond shapes. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until golden.

Remove the dish from the oven and drizzle honey over the dough until it does not absorb any further. To the left is the honeyed pastry before it has soaked in. (I used a full one pound jar of local honey.) Then sprinkle with some ground up pistachios if you like that look. (I did.)

Let cool and sit for six hours or overnight, then serve at room temperature, well wrapped. Oh the agony of waiting! But it’s worth it. My guests told me this was the best baklava they had ever eaten. My hub and I had to agree.

These little squares could make a splendid addition to an party cookie platter!

 

Question:  How is a good mystery like a piece of baklava?

Answer: Many layers!

DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is here now!

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