Posted on November 20, 2014 - by Lucy
CAT HAIKU by Lucy Burdette, in honor of Yoda on Cat Week!
White whiskers on gray
Purr box sputtering to life
What else but Cat Week
Cats are smart and secretive and mysterious and quiet stalkers–and yet so adorable that we forgive them anything. And so they go together with cozies like butter with hot biscuits, or chocolate cake with cold milk, or fresh tomatoes with basil and olive oil… You get the picture!
I’ve had a cat in my life ever since the year I turned 13. I was desperate for a date with Mickey Dolenz for my birthday, but my mother was smart enough to give me a kitten instead. (Yoda, seen above doing his best trick, is our current feline denizen.) All my fictional characters have had cats too–Cassie had Cashbox, and Dr. Rebecca Butterman had Spencer, and Hayley has Evinrude, of course!
|Evinrude posing for DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS|
We each put our own special spin on Cat Week, but to my mind this theme cried out for a fishy recipe. Yoda the cat loves tuna fish, so I thought he would love crab meat too. And that would give me the chance to snap a photo of him eating daintily from a treasured crystal goblet that belonged to my mother. Right?
He’s a cat after all, so this is the closest he came to posing.
Now on to the recipe…
Yoda’s Crab Cakes
One pound crab meat, picked over to remove bits of shell
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Two scallions, finely minced
One half small hot pepper, minced
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon red and black cracked pepper
About 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
One egg, well beaten
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. Murder with Ganache is in stores now.
Death with All the Trimmings will be on bookshelves December 2. Pre-order it here.
Yoda the cat says: “Buy the darn books so she can get off my case and keep me in catnip.”
Posted on November 13, 2014 - by Lucy
|Chicken and Dumplings in Tomatillo Sauce|
When I’m looking over recipes, I seem to vacillate between garden vegetables to decadent cakes, with comfort food in between.
Now that I’m headed toward the launch of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, I’m in the comfort food phase. If you happen to have some frozen green tomatillo sauce, this recipe is so easy. Also easy to whip that sauce up, so if you see tomatillos in the supermarket, grab them! I’ll link to the recipe for the sauce below. This is chicken and dumplings with a Tex-Mex twist–oh my mouth is watering…
Half a cooked chicken deboned and broken into pieces (could also use leftover turkey, about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups salsa Verde, also called tomatillo sauce *See Cook’s note
1/2 cup milk
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
One and a half cups all-purpose flour unbleached
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
One bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced
One handful (about 1/4 cup) fresh cilantro, chopped
To make the chicken, melt the butter in a large saucepan, and stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two longer, being careful not to burn the butter or flour.
Mix in the half cup milk and stir until slightly thickened. Then add the salsa Verde and cook a little longer, until the mixture is bubbling and thick. Add the chicken pieces. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400.
To make the dumplings :
In a medium pan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until steaming. Then stir in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, scallions, and cilantro.
Pour the hot salsa Verde and chicken mixture into a well buttered Pyrex bowl. Drop hunks of dough into the chicken. Cover the casserole and bake until the dumplings are cooked through. This may take 20 to 25 minutes. Keep checking.
*Cook’s note: I’ve made a similar recipe using jarred green salsa and it was salty to the point of being inedible. So, worth it to make the salsa yourself if you can find the tomatillos. Recipe here.
DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out on December 2, just in time for Christmas stockings!
Posted on November 8, 2014 - by Lucy
Blog by Dr. Rebecca Butterman from Roberta Isleib’s (aka Lucy Burdette’s) advice column mysteries
My name is Dr. Rebecca Butterman. I’m a psychologist and I also write an advice column for the brokenhearted readers of Bloom! magazine. Family dysfunction? I know about this both professionally and personally LOL.
And don’t you find that the holiday season sometimes makes problems feel worse? Hollywood movies and Norman Rockwell paintings twist us up by having us believe that everything should be perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and Hanukkah. The holidaze, I like to call them. You pull together full-grown members of a family and put them in close contact for days—they are going to fall back into ugly, old patterns. I promise you that!
Even my friends at our picture-perfect church on the town green aren’t exempt from problems. I found that out recently when our minister called me at midnight to talk about the death and possible murder of another church member. Whoa! And naturally, he wants me to help figure things out.
Some people wonder how I—being a professional—handle my stress. One of my favorite distractions is cooking. It doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as it’s good old-fashioned comfort food.
Here’s my easy recipe for baked apples, which will make your house smell like you’ve scored the best of Christmas. And make your stomach happy and turn your heart in that direction, too.
This recipe serves two, but it’s easy to double or triple it up.
Two of your favorite apples (I like Mcintosh or Macoun)
2 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Half a teaspoon cinnamon
Core the apples, making sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom. In a small bowl, mix the butter, oats, sugar, and cinnamon well. Divide the mixture into two parts and stuff into the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes in a 350 oven, until the filling is crispy and bubbling, and the apples soft. You can add ice cream or whipped cream if you wish, but I find these apples are perfect by themselves.
The first advice column mystery, DEADLY ADVICE, is also available as an ebook. And Lucy Burdette’s fifth Key West mystery, DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be in bookstores December 2. You can preorder it now!
More breaking news! If you *forgot* to buy your ebook copy of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, it’s on sale for $1.99 through the weekend!
Posted on October 10, 2014 - by Lucy
|Capital Reef National Park|
LUCY BURDETTE: Earlier this summer, my husband and I attended a family wedding outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. We decided we should take a few extra days to cruise through Utah and see a couple of the wonderful national parks in that state. I, of course, was in charge of where to eat.
Here are a couple of pictures of the amazing scenery that we saw the first is a photo of Capital Reef National Park, while the second is Bryce Canyon.
|Hell’s Backbone Grill|
In between our two days of driving and gawking, we stopped for a night in Boulder, Utah, to eat at the legendary Hell’s Backbone Grill. I made reservations months in advance for dinner. They serve exactly the kind of food I like, delicious but not fussy. I ordered a spicy meatloaf and John had a chicken quesadilla casserole that was hot, cheesy, and addictive.
Of course we had to have breakfast there the next morning. I chose blue cornmeal pancakes, which they served with cinnamon butter and syrup. The pancakes were sprinkled with little purple flowers.
As you can see, the recipe has lingered in the back of my mind until I finally had to make it for you. Oh, and we ordered a box lunch to take with us the next day too. Three meals in less than 20 hours – that’s a great restaurant.
1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or milk with 1 Tbsp vinegar added)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing griddle
2 cups blueberries
For the cinnamon butter, this is more than enough for 2 people, increase as needed: 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix well.
Stir together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until mostly combined.
Heat the pan or griddle and melt some butter to cover. Add the wet batter to the pan and drop blueberries into each pancake. Cook over medium heat until bubbles pop, then flip the pancakes over and cook the other side, 1 to 2 minutes.
Keep the finished pancakes in a warm (200) oven until all the batter is cooked. Serve with a small scoop of cinnamon butter plus real maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Bob’s Red Mill blue cornmeal was the only brand of blue cornmeal I found, and it was quite coarse. If you prefer pancakes that aren’t quite as grainy, I would increase the amount of flour to 1 cup, and decrease the cornmeal to 1 cup.
PS, they freeze well if you have too many. Then pop them in the microwave or the toaster as you need them!
MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out in December.
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Posted on September 28, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: At least once a year, we have Book Club Week at one of my group blogs, Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I love book clubs–love belonging and love visiting. And I love recommending books for clubs to consider:). This time around I suggested MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth in the Key West food critic mystery series.
As you probably already know, MWG is a cozy mystery starring Hayley Snow, a food critic who lives on a houseboat in Key West. Her extended family is descending on the island like a category 3 hurricane for her best friend’s wedding. When her stepbrother disappears into the spring break party scene, she must put the baking of cupcakes and other wedding chores on hold in order to search for her brother. The book features Hemingway cats, and cupcakes, and wedding drama, but in the end it’s about finding and embracing family in whatever form they come.
If you are going to choose MURDER WITH GANACHE for one of your book club selections this year (and I hope you will–I love this book, and there are so many things to talk about), as the hostess, you must resign yourself to providing something chocolate.
You might choose hot fudge pie or chocolate cake, both swoon-worthy, but here is an easy alternative. This recipe began as Chocolate Nutella Fudge from the Tasty Kitchen–until I read the list of ingredients on the Nutella package. At that point, thinking there must be something better, I searched for a substitute, and found an organic chocolate-hazelnut spread that is really quite incredible.
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (make these good quality, as it will show)
1 cup Nocciolato (organic chocolate-hazelnut Spread–I used the whole 9.5 oz jar)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt or pink salt
To make the fudge:
Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with two layers of parchment paper, overlap on the sides.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. (The pan should not touch the water.)
Scrape the mixture into the papered pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with sea salt. (I would have used some of Krista’s pink sea salt if I’d had it on hand–so pretty!)
Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours. Lift the fudge out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut the fudge into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a pretty plate. Store leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container in the fridge. This can also be made ahead and frozen.
As for what to discuss while enjoying the fudge, here are some questions to get things going:
1. Hayley’s mother says that “life develops around the kitchen table” and that “kids need to understand how food connects the people in their lives.” Hayley’s stepmom insists that life develops at work–who cares whether a mother uses a cake mix or serves macaroni from a box? Where would you stand in this argument?
2. Hayley’s parents have a disagreement about social justice on the way to the marina. How do you feel about the homeless people as presented in the book? Have you had any personal experience with homeless folks?
3. When Hayley’s brother Rory gets into trouble, the family struggles with how much to tell the police. They wonder whose side the cops are on. How do you think you might react in a similar situation? Would you trust the police to have your interests at heart?
4. Hayley says “Food meant comfort and love and even peace in my family.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?
5. Hayley tells Rory “I’ve discovered that family has less to do with biology than it does with who cares enough to make the effort.” Does this statement ring true for you? Talk about a person who isn’t a blood relation in your life who feels like family.
6. When spirits are low, Hayley and her mom make comfort food for the extended family–spanakopita and Greek salad and strawberry whipped cream pie. What menu would you design to cheer up a troubled family member or friend?
If you’d like to read some of the reviews on MURDER WITH GANACHE, you can do that right here. I was completely delighted this spring, when Woman’s World magazine selected MURDER WITH GANACHE as a pick for a foodie book club. As you can see in the photo, they also recommended reading with a daiquiri in hand:). Sounds like a good idea, right? Recipe here.
And, if you think your book club might like signed postcards from the Key West mysteries, leave a comment today with your email.
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mystery series. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be on bookshelves on December 2. You can preorder it now, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite independent bookstore.
Posted on September 20, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: We’ve had a big problem in our house this summer: way too many green beans.
Of course I put the problem out to my Facebook friends. And got some amazing recipe suggestions back, ranging from Asian style to good old-fashioned southern green beans cooked a long time with bacon (I think that might have been Kathy Reel,) and, I was reminded about how delicious pickled green beans are.
One of the best Bloody Marys I was ever served used green beans as the stirrer for the drink. (I like interesting items in my Bloody Marys, especially olives, pepperoncini, and pickled green beans or okra. The night I got one with a shrimp on a skewer, I thought maybe they had gone off the deep end.)
This recipe for pickled dilly green beans is an easy one, but the results need to be stored in the refrigerator. If you want to put some by for the winter months, you would need to cook the jars of beans in a boiling water bath. Don’t fool around with this, as I would hate to see friends done in by botulism!
4 1/2 cups of green beans
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
5 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Four large heads of dill
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Two cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or two hot peppers
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan and simmer until the ingredients are well combined. Nestle the dill sprigs, the peppercorns, the garlic cloves, and the red pepper into clean quart canning jars.
Wash the green beans, clip off the ends, and blanch them about three minutes in boiling water. When they are still green and firm, dump them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When the beans are cool, arrange them in the canning jars. Divide the hot vinegar mixture between the two jars and seal the lids. Refrigerate.
Posted on September 4, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: Even Kenny Chesney said it when he performed at a free concert at the Hogs Breath Saloon two years ago: It’s hard to choose healthy foods in Key West! (Actually, I don’t think it’s only Key West–it’s eating out everywhere.)
Anyway, there’s a new restaurant in town that used to be the Paradise Cafe, where we bought our Cafe Con Leche in the morning and our Cuban mix sandwiches at lunch. It’s now called Paseo.
Hayley Snow reviews this restaurant in MURDER WITH GANACHE (2/2014). Of course she has to order a little of everything, including the fat and juicy Caribbean roll and the roast pork dinner. But I always enjoy the Caribbean salad so I decided to try making the dish myself. It’s not only colorful and healthy and easy–it’s delicious!
Caribbean Salad a la Paseo
2-3 skinned chicken filets
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp soy sauce
Red cabbage, shredded
Cooked beets, slivered
Cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Mix together the sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce, and marinate the chicken filets in a glass bowl–an hour at least or even overnight. Grill the chicken until just done and set aside.
Wash and dry the lettuce, tear into pieces, and put a nice amount on each plate as the bottom layer. (I included some arugula and red leaf lettuce, but Paseo uses romaine.) Cut about a quarter of the red cabbage into slivers and layer than in next. Cut cooked beets into matchsticks and put them on top. Tomatoes and avocado are not part of the Paseo dish, but I added some around the edges. Cut the chicken into strips and place them on top of the salad.
Vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon French mustard (don’t use the yellow stuff!), 3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine or balsamic), 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil, splash of water. Whisk it all together until emulsified, taste to see if it needs salt.
I bet even Kenny Chesney would love this!
TOPPED CHEF is on bookshelves on now, followed by MURDER WITH GANACHE. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is coming December 2 with more Key West adventures and food..
Posted on August 11, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: As many of you already know, I have a particular fondness for Key lime pie, as it became the murder weapon in the first food critic mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Naturally Hayley Snow is suspected when the victim turns out to be her ex-boyfriend’s new squeeze.
“Are the cops looking at any other suspects?” I asked.
“Not that they’ve mentioned. You are in the unfortunate position of having a decent motive and no alibi. And you’re a cook with more than a passing knowledge of key lime pie.”
So what do we do now?” I asked. “I swear I never touched the girl. Or fed her any poison. I’ve never even made a key lime pie. To be honest, I’m totally freaked out by the idea of meringue.”
So you can understand that when the Key West Citizen publicized a booksigning last winter for THE ULTIMATE KEY LIME PIE COOKBOOK, we had to go meet David Sloan and buy a couple of signed books. I told him about how I love food and recipes and he was happy to share a pie from the cookbook. He offers hundreds of options for combinations of crusts, fillings, sauces, and toppings, but I’ve chosen a traditional crust with a classic filling.
TRADITIONAL GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine the crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter until crumbs are coated. Press evenly into a nine-inch pie pan. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before filling.
CLASSIC KEY LIME FILLING
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup Key lime juice
Preheat the oven to 350. combine eggs and milk and mix well. Slowly mix in the Key lime juice. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, then chill until firm.
Serve topped with whipped cream or meringue and enjoy your little taste of Key West!
Posted on December 31, 2012 - by Lucy
Happy New Year Friends!
I had a wonderful tour of the cats inhabiting the grounds of the Hemingway House this week, thanks to my new friend Donna, and today my husband and I marched in the Dachshund Parade along with Tonka, who is by no means a wiener dog.
It’s always fun to find out what’s new in town. I adore the cafe con leche from the Cuban Coffee Queen, paired here with a glazed donut from the new donut shop next to the movie theatre.
Speaking of food, I’ve done lots of good cooking and eating over the last couple of months. Recipes for the best bloody Mary, an easy and tasty 15-bean soup, a gorgeous pomegranate, olive and walnut salad, and pesto pizza, are all posted over at Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Lots more to come, as I’ll be the regular Thursday correspondent on that site. Also busy with my fabulous friends at Jungle Red Writers–and starting work on the fourth food critic mystery. But more about that soon–I just wanted to wish you much happiness and many good books in the new year!
Love from Lucy
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of TOPPED CHEF, which will hit bookshelves on May 7:
Posted on September 28, 2012 - by Lucy
I’m delighted about the reviews that have been coming in for DEATH IN FOUR COURSES.
Here’s one from Phil Jason in the Florida Weekly: “I’ll say it unashamedly: “Death in Four Courses” is mouthwatering. Hay- ley Snow is delicious. This humor- seasoned food for thought will tickle your mental taste buds.”
And from Booklist: “This enjoyable mystery series, with its attractive tropical setting, is also seasoned by the appealing characters and meals. The novel, done in the style of the Joanne Fluke series, is sure to attract food-fiction fans and will also appeal to Key West readers, although the combination of the two here is unique.” Booklist
And from Story Circle Book Reviews: “By the second book, Hayley has settled into her role more, though we rarely see her at her computer and we agonize with her over looming deadlines. Then magically she turns in that stunning article. Would that it were that way in real life. Still Hayley and the series show growth, and I’m eagerly looking forward to Topped Chef, next up in the Hayley Snow series.
From Shirrel Rhoades in the Key West Citizen: “The Food Critic series may feature Key West cuisine but I’d compare these tasty books to Chinese food: After reading one, in a half hour you’ll be wanting to read another.”
And I have new recipes up on Mystery Lovers Kitchen–fried okra from me, and recipes for roach poison and cough remedy from my grandmother’s recipe box: here’s a photo of the recipe for poison, in my grandmother’s handwriting. I can’t help saying that the handwriting was on the wall that I’d become a mystery writer–way back in my gene pool:).
And here’s Screw the Roux stew, which is one of the dishes Hayley makes in DEATH IN FOUR COURSES. I guarantee this will turn out to be a family favorite.
And last but not least, Back to School Hotdog Casserole: (embarrassing to admit, but this one actually appeared in a cookbook!)
As always, happy reading and I will so appreciate anything you do to help spread the word about the food critic mysteries!