Thursday, October 8, 2015

Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib #recipe #confession

LUCY BURDETTE: All this week I'm celebrating the publication of ASKING FOR MURDER, my third advice column mystery, as an ebook. These books (written as Roberta Isleib), star a clinical psychologist who also writes an advice column. The character, Rebecca Butterman, is close to my heart, as she does the kind of psychotherapy work that I used to do. She's also a very good home cook--in ASKING FOR MURDER, she makes a wonderful meal for a man she is sort-of dating, a good friend, and a murder suspect whom she wants to grill. Cooking not only helps her think, it shows people she cares about how much she loves them, and gives her something to do while grilling bad guys. So her spaghetti carbonara is what I wanted to make for you today:

 "I diced the pancetta and scraped it into the frying pan, then began to mince an onion, the first Vidalia of the season. The hot oil would bring out the sweetness—a luscious contrast to the salty Italian bacon and cheese." 

Are you swooning?

Unfortunately, this summer I've suffered with several serious bouts of vertigo and nausea, and finally had the problem diagnosed as Meniere's disease. This involves too much fluid in the inner ear. 

First line of treatment? A diuretic and LOW SALT DIET. Goodbye spaghetti carbonara! Goodbye olives and bloody Marys with the glass rimmed in salt! So long soy sauce and Chinese food. The list goes on and on. In fact, once you start reading labels (which I have to), you will be astonished and appalled at how much sodium gets packed into food. And as my brother said when I told him about this development: "But I love sodium! Sodium makes food taste good."

Sigh. But the symptoms are awful, so I have no choice. I will have to be cooking differently. And I thought there might be others of you who need to reduce salt in your diet for various reasons, and might find what I learn to be useful.

I'll start with the first thing I made--I needed protein and potassium and good easy food fast. So I made this:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie


1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen (I had frozen from the garden)
1 banana
1 cup plain yogurt or milk or some of each
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups of ice

Add the ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. That's it! 

Something delicious and nutritious to sip on while reading Asking For Murder, which you can download right here.

-- Marilyn Dahl, Shelf-Awareness

It's springtime in Connecticut and psychotherapist Dr. Rebecca Butterman's fancy has turned to hamburgers...and murder, in Asking for Murder, the best entry of this series to date.

Jennifer Monahan Winberry, The Mystery Reader

Roberta Isleib's new novel Asking for Murder is a unique mix of murder mystery and psychological exploration. The characters are believable, likeable, and easy to relate to. The prose flows well and the dialogue is intelligent. I couldn't put this book down.

-- Jennifer Melville, Story Circle Book Reviews

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West foodie mysteries. KILLER TAKEOUT is coming next April, but is available for pre-order today

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cherry Banana Coconut Loaf #recipe from @DarylWoodGerber

I'm not sure why I made this recipe. It's delicious, so I'm glad I did, but I'm not sure what prompted me to put all these things together. I think it started when I realized I had flaked coconut in the cupboard and some ripe bananas on the counter. Those two together made sense: coconut banana bread. But then I opened the refrigerator door and saw maraschino cherries, the kind you use for sundaes and Shirley Temple drinks, and I thought, "Hm, fun. Sort of fruit cake but not."

So using my banana bread recipe, I started switching things up. Of course, I made this version gluten-free so I could taste it, but I'm sure it would work out quite well using regular flour. [See my note below*]

What was the most fun was making a mock trifle the next day. Why did I do that? Because I saw whipped cream in the refrigerator! And my sweet tooth kicked into high gear.  Note to self: stop opening the refrigerator door!!  LOL

So enjoy my experiment. It is so easy!


1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ cup flaked coconut
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 maraschino cherries, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup mashed bananas (2 bananas)

1 teaspoon almond extract


Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cherries.

In a large mixing bowl, whip eggs. Add sugar and melted butter. Beat well. Stir in mashed bananas and the almond extract.

Add the gluten-free flour mixture and stir.

Pour into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Let stand for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan.

If desired, serve with a vanilla frosting. Yum!

* If you don't need to eat gluten-free, substitute the GF flour with regular flour and omit the xanthin gum.


Bake as above and then...

Cut a few slices into bite-sized pieces.

Layer with whipped cream in a pretty serving dish.

 Top with a cherry and serve!

Savor the mystery!

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Zucchini, Rice and Cheese Gratin

By Leslie Budewitz

One of my favorite food blogs is Deb Pererlman’s Smitten Kitchen. Perelman lives and cooks in a NY apartment with a small kitchen—no gourmet showrooms or palatial spaces with room for every kitchen appliance imaginable. Her recipes are much-tested and easy to follow, and beautifully photographed, step-by-step. And while she does occasionally offer a combo I can resist—you will never catch me frying an egg on top of anything—most of her food is easy to imagine making myself. (The perfect Manhattan? Yes!)

And she knows the classics. She’ll play with them, or as with this dish, serve it fairly straight. The original recipe comes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II.

We used the creaky, old full-sized food processor to grate the zucchini—it’s messy, leaving a pool of green liquid wherever it sits, but it makes quick work of the job with no scraped knuckles! We let the grated zucchini sit about 20 minutes, while we readied everything else, and got about a cup of liquid, which we supplemented with vegetable broth. We parboiled the rice and it came out perfectly; many comments say that’s not necessary, and next time, I’ll try the suggestion of simply letting it sit for five minutes, covered, in hot water, then draining it.

We used vegetable broth; chicken broth would also taste good. The original recipe calls for milk, which would be too rich for my taste, but is worth a try.

Perelman suggests baking in two one-quart dishes and freezing one; we have not tried that yet.

The salt: Our kitchen cabinets have become a storehouse for varieties of salt: Fleur de sel from the Camargue region of France, two varieties of gray Celtic sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, truffle salt, and who knows what else. (The refrigerator corollary: We once had nine varieties of mustard, but are now down to four. Bummer. I feel a mustard spree coming on.) But when we tried the Great Paddlefish Roe experiment, we used up all the kosher salt in the house, and somehow didn’t replace it. So when I saw Diamond, the brand Perelman recommended, in the grocery store, I bought a lifetime supply for 3.89. Actually, I doubt it will last more than a decade or so, barring any more paddlefish experiments.

This dish is the perfect accompaniment for Krista’s Parmesan Baked Chicken Breasts.

Zucchini, Rice and Cheese Gratin 

2-1/2 pounds zucchini
2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup plain, uncooked white rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Broth or milk
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray or butter for dish

Prepare zucchini: Wash zucchini and trim ends. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Coarsely grate and place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt. Let drain for 20-30 minutes.

 Save drained liquid.  Squeeze a handful of the zucchini and taste; if you think it’s too salty, rinse and drain again, but don’t save the liquid this time. Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls, gently, collecting any juices in the bowl of drained liquid. (Perelman says blot dry on paper towels; I didn’t and all was well.)

Prepare rice: Boil for exactly 5 minutes in salted water. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare remaining ingredients: In a large frying pan, saute the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.

Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic; add a few twists of pepper, and salt to taste. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Assemble dish: Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. Add broth or milk to bring the amount up to 2 1/2 cups.  Stir the liquid into the zucchini-onion mixture. Bring to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.

Stir in the par-cooked rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Spray or butter a 2 or 3 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons cheese and one tablespoon olive oil. (I think this could also be prepared and baked in a cast iron pan or other oven-proof skillet.)

Bake in upper third of oven until bubbling and browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. (If yours begins to brown too quickly, you can cover it with foil until the last 5 minutes.) The rice should absorb all the liquid. Let rest five minutes; any extra liquid bubbling around the edges should be absorbed as it rests. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

From the cover of BUTTER OFF DEAD: As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.