Tell us a little about Tragic Magic, your latest release, as well as the recipes you’ve included in the book.
Tragic Magic is the 7th installment in my Scrapbook Mystery series featuring scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand. When asked to convert an old mansion into Medusa Manor, a new haunted house attraction in New Orleans, Carmela is amped and ready to design spooky set decorations. But her first evening on the job yields a flaming body hurled from the third-floor tower! Of course, this being New Orleans, there’s also lots of eating involved, so I include such recipes as andouille sausage gumbo, parmesan shrimp bake, Southern coffee cookies, and deep fried strawberries.
Great restaurants, of course. Commander’s Palace, Antoine’s, the Praline Connection, and a tiny little neighborhood joint called Frankie and Johnny’s.
As far as foods go, I can’t get enough of the fried oysters, stuffed artichokes, jambalaya, etouffee, and beignets from Café du Monde. And Hurricanes (oh wait, that’s a drink! And a strong one at that).
Who does most of the cooking at your house? With your busy schedule, how do you find time to cook?
I do the cooking and there’s never any time. So my husband and I do lots of baked chicken as well as stews and chowders that can be tossed together early and simmered all day.
What’s your favorite food to cook with?
Fresh Long Island duckling. I fill the body cavity with white wine, wrap it loosely in foil, then let it slow cook on the outdoor grill. The wine rids the duck of fat and the whole thing steams from the inside, much like the Chinese technique. So a nice, tender, flavorful bird.
Do you have any fond food memories from growing up?
I grew up with a stay-at-home mom, so every day she made cookies, brownies, banana bread, apple pie or chocolate cake. And always from scratch – the real deal. Hard to find anyone who does that now. And when my Aunt Lucille died recently, all we talked about at her funeral was her carrot cake and cream cheese icing. I hope there’s a Pillsbury Bake-Off in heaven!
What’s your idea of a perfect meal? Is it one you cook yourself or one you enjoy at a restaurant?
Definitely at a restaurant. I’m a foie gras and Champagne lover so that’s always my starter. Then I love tasting menus. I had one the other night with quivering, almost-raw diver scallops, shrimp mousse, tuna tartare, and a couple of hand-made ravioli stuffed with buffalo mozzarella. Fantastic!
The Tea Shop Mysteries and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries are in the culinary genre, so the main characters are always cooking like crazy. Theodosia, my tea shop protagonist is constantly sipping new teas and creating tasty new tea sandwiches and savories. In between kicking dead bodies out of the way, the ladies in my Cackleberry Club Mysteries are whipping up café specials like Eggs in Purgatory, Slumbering Volcanoes, and Fatal Frittata.
I just finished The Teaberry Strangler, which comes out next March. That book features some very tea shop oriented recipes – pecan pie muffins, butterscotch scones, almond Devonshire cream, Hawaiian tea sandwiches, pimento and walnut tea sandwiches. Like that.
Do you have a favorite recipe to share with us?
Try this Chocolate Sour Cream Scone Recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup butter
1 beaten egg yolk
8 oz. sour cream
½ cup miniature chocolate chips
Mix together flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter. Add egg yolk and sour cream and mix. Add chocolate chips and stir until soft. Spoon dough (about 2 Tbsp worth for each scone) onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Thanks so much for visiting the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, Laura!