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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.

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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!

Follow Lucy on Pinterest.

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Posted on January 1, 2015 - by

Welcoming the Year at the Wiener Dog Parade

There are lots of unusual events that take place on the island of Key West, but perhaps none so silly and fun as the dachshund parade.

This has been occurring on New Year’s Eve day for the past eight years, much to the chagrin of the Key West police, who have plenty on their hands already, getting prepared for New Year’s Eve on Duval Street.

John and I and Tonka attended in 2012, and ended up falling in with the dachshunds and the dachshund wannabes. After seeing the sights, I vowed that we would come in costume next time around.

I was planning to sew a costume like this for Tonka. But then I checked on ebay as time grew short–and became the winning bidder on this costume.

And then I found hats for me and John–a hamburger and a hot dog. Weren’t they such good sports about dressing up as lunch meat? We marched from the Courthouse, up Southard Street to Duval, then right on Duval to Appleruth Lane. (Dachshunds have short legs so it was a short route:).

There were dogs dressed as lobsters….

and dogs with their mothers in funny hats…


 

A

 

And dogs in disguise

 


 


And dogs in blue tutus just like their owners

 


 


And this is my good friend, Officer Steve Torrence, who is also a character in the Key West mysteries. (He’s a good sport even though he isn’t a fan of this parade:).

And here is a family portrait
Leading off the parade were three mounted police and a small van with great speakers that played classics like “Who Let the dogs out?” and “Ain’t Nothing like a hound dog.” A truly amazing way to end 2014…or any year!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uaPs8sxqB0

And if you think this is material I can’t use, you haven’t read the fifth Key West mystery, DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS!

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’re out there doing something fun and even a little bit silly!  xo Lucy and all the Key West gang


Posted on December 27, 2014 - by

Mojitos for the Holiday Season

LUCY BURDETTE: Before visiting Cuba last month, I had never tasted a Mojito, never mind made one. But now it’s my new favorite drink. And I think it would be a perfect holiday libation, what with the red and green coloring–red from the bitters, and green from the mint.


First I’ll take you on a tour of some of the drinks I tasted (all for your benefit of course, in order to bring you home something spectacular.)
Here was the one that was most perfect:


This one was very good too:


This one took the prize for the most bilious color (though I drank it
anyway):

And this was the daiquiri that I was forced to order when the bar was out of mint:

And here’s my recipe:

Ingredients
one lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
4 to 5 sprigs mint per glass
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 2 ounces rum, depending on how strong you want the drink
Club soda
Ice
Bitters

Start by crushing several slices of lime, several slices of lemon, the mint, and 2 teaspoons of sugar in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. Add the rum and stir. Fill the glass with ice. Fill the ice with club soda. Mix and add a splash of bitters on top.

This might be the perfect drink to sip on while reading a Key West mystery!

Cheers! Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Happy New Year!


Posted on December 17, 2014 - by

Cuba: Taking Things for Granted @LucyBurdette

Photo by Raymond L. Blazevic

LUCY BURDETTE: In a year of unusual experiences, we had one more last month, the opportunity to take a trip to Cuba.

In Key West, only ninety miles from Havana, Cuba, we hear a lot about the island. In fact, frequently we read news stories about Cubans who’ve attempted to reach the US in a variety of homemade, unseaworthy vessels— even windsurfers. “Cubans who do not reach the shore (dry land), are returned to Cuba unless they cite fears of persecution. Those Cubans who successfully reach the shore are inspected by Department of Homeland Security and generally permitted to stay in the United States.” (Wikipedia)

Whether it’s fair or not, it saddens me when they take such a risk to attempt to make a new life, get so close, but get sent back to whatever they were running from. Or worse yet, die of exposure or rough seas. At any rate, that line of news has led us to an intense curiosity about Cuba and what life could be like for its inhabitants.


As you may know, Americans are not allowed to visit that nation on our own. However regulations have recently loosened up to allow American tourists to visit as part of an educational group. So when the chance came to travel over with the Florida Keys Tree Institute, we grabbed it.

I thought I’d share just a few things that after this trip, we realize we take for granted in our country:

We can leave the country any time we have the money and a passport.

We can start our own businesses. As Cuba is not a democracy, entrepreneurship is not officially condoned. However, the regulations about running a private business are also loosening, of course with the understanding that the government taxes them heavily. Raoul Castro apparently cares much less about the specifics of what people do than that they pay their taxes. He was aware that things had to change for the island to thrive. But the government still owns many hotels, restaurants, and museums.

We expect good food and good service in a restaurant. We ate several unimpressive meals at a government buffet or restaurant. But when we visited private restaurants, called paladars, the food was immensely superior to the government buffet.

We expect email, and wifi and iPhone service. More about that tomorrow, but though the Cuban folks who could afford it were answering phones and checking email, we had none. Nada, nothing.

We expect roads that can be traveled and trains that run and horses on farms. In Cuba, every kind of transportation shares the road.

Mid-fifties Chrysler

In Havana all the old cars are a big draw, many of them serving as taxis or else as stages for tourist photos –for the right price of course.

We expect doctors to make a lot more money than waiters. In Cuba, everyone is paid the same salary regardless of their job—an amount that is roughly twenty-five dollars per month. Of course, underneath the surface is a thriving black market and system of barter. The folks who work in the tourist industry and have access to tips do much better. (And by way, we expect the same money to be used for everyone–not so in Cuba, where tourists must use a special money called “Cucs”.)

We expect Hemingway’s home to be in Key West! But one of my highlights was visiting Finca Vigia,

photo from Wikipedia

his Cuban oasis outside the city of Havana, where he lived for  twenty years with his fourth wife, Mary. The house is now a museum. The weather was rainy so they were not willing to open the doors and windows to risk damage to the history they are working hard to preserve. We were able to peer into the window and see the typewriter on which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Also his private bathroom where he weighed himself daily and recorded the results on the wall… His fishing boat, the Pilar, was there, too.

Photo by John Brady

Hmmm, do we expect our capital city to be in good order? The city of Havana is a complicated place, gorgeous facades still stand but many are crumbling into ruins. Many also are being restored.


We expect art to be on walls in museums. One of our last stops brought us to the neighborhood of Jose Fuster, whose ceramic work pays homage to Barcelona architect Antonio Gaudi. He has gradually replaced the facades of the homes in the area with the most fantastical ceramic murals. We were enchanted!

Batista’s Gold Phone

I won’t try to summarize the politics and history of this island–I’m sure I could not do justice to the complications of the Spanish American war (which name our guide noted should have included Cuba, as it was fought there,) Batista’s reign of terror, the Revolution, the US embargo, the emergence of the Soviet Union, the effects of the collapse of the socialist countries, the entrance of Venezuela into the picture. There is a lot of chatter about when or if the embargo will be lifted, and how a country which is way behind in terms of infrastructure and technology could handle the influx of tourists.


I can say that my impression of Cuba as a land where people are suffering and waiting their chance to escape a communist dictator has many more shades of gray than expected. But I   can also say that the people were thrilled to hear Obama’s speech on immigration while we were visiting, especially this line: “We were all immigrants once.”

And I’ll end with our fabulous guide Renier’s steady refrain over the week: “In Cuba, everything is possible, but nothing is guaranteed.” (Kind of like life, right?)

 



Posted on December 7, 2014 - by

Festive Coconut Shrimp for a Book Launch #recipe @LucyBurdette @penguincozies

LUCY BURDETTE: I am so excited about DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS hitting shelves this week! So of course, I spent a long time thinking about what recipe would be festive enough for the launch of a brand new book.

First I looked at the recipes in the back of the book. But you’d already seen Chef Edel’s cheesy polenta with spring vegetables and Parmesan crisps, as well as the decadent Key lime parfaits, and Hayley’s mom’s spaghetti Bolognese recipe. Obviously, a recipe for hot dog casserole was not up to the big day, LOL.  (Though I did get some fan mail last week in which a reader told me her husband had already made that dish and the whole family gave it a thumbs up!)

Then it hit me – coconut shrimp! In the fifth Key West mystery, Hayley’s mom is working as a caterer at Small Chef at Large for the winter season. (Based on the real-life Jennifer Cornell.) During one of the scenes, they are preparing coconut shrimp for a wedding:

My mother, swathed in a white apron, stood before an eight-burner gas range, fishing shrimp out of boiling oil and placing them on paper towels to drain.
“It smells wonderful in here,” I said. “What’s on the docket tonight?”
“It’s a wedding at the Oldest House on Duval Street,” Mom said. “The bride is a woman after my own heart—after choosing her man, she’s focused her heart and pocketbook on the menu.” Mom clapped her hands. All business.
“Will you taste this sauce, honey?” she asked, clip-clopping across the kitchen in her green clogs to grab two bowls of dipping sauce. “Jennifer usually serves the coconut shrimp with mango chutney, but I was thinking something a little more spicy and Asian might be a fabulous contrast.”
She handed me a small plate containing a piping-hot shrimp coated in a crispy coconut crust.


 

So here’s my attempt to replicate that recipe and celebrate the new book.

Ingredients (dinner for two people, hors d’oeuvres for four)

1/4 pound large Key West pink shrimp, peeled and deveined (You may leave the tails on for a little extra visual oomph)

1/2 cup flour

One egg, beaten

1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut, with more as needed

Vegetable oil (I use canola)

Prepare the shrimp by washing and peeling and deveining, and then pat them dry. Prepare three shallow bowls, one for the flour, one for the beaten egg, and the third for the coconut. (If you notice in the photo with the raw shrimp, the ones on top are Argentine pinks, while on the bottom are the Key West local pinks. We preferred those!)

Dip the shrimp in flour, then egg, and finally coconut, and set them on a plate until you have prepared all of them.

Now heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. When the oil is hot, fry them several at a time until they are crispy and brown. This will only take a few minutes.

I served the shrimp with two sauces, one simple mango chutney from a jar.

The other, a combination of 2 tablespoons of Thai sweet chili sauce mixed with 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade.

If you plan to serve these for dinner, add white rice and a green salad.

DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS can be found wherever books are sold.

And big congrats to my Mystery Lovers Kitchen blog sisters, Krista Davis for THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER and Cleo Coyle for ONCE UPON A GRIND!

DON’T FORGET: Mysteries make great stocking stuffers!



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