Sunday, April 18, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Tony Perona!

Julie here:
It is my great pleasure to welcome Tony Perona to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Tony and I have been friends for years and have bolstered and cheered one another through the many ups and downs we've experienced in our publishing lives. And, being (or having been) band parents we share plenty of kid-related chitchat, too. Tony is the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter President and he is doing an awesome job of making the chapter vital to its members. I'm just delighted to have him here. Please welcome our guest blogger, Tony Perona!

Hi! I’m Tony Perona, author of the Nick Bertetto mystery series. Nick is a stay-at-home dad/freelance investigative reporter who has a knack for solving mysteries that have a supernatural element. Since Nick stays at home, he does a lot of cooking for his family, and that comes out in the books. While these aren’t culinary mysteries and I don’t include recipes, I do often talk about what Nick is cooking.

I come from a long line of great cooks and learned to be comfortable in the kitchen early in life. Mom had three boys, and lacking a girl, decided to teach all of us to cook. (Note: my middle brother says the lessons didn’t take with him, and that would be true. My youngest brother, however, is an excellent cook.) Mom taught us to make foods she learned from her mom, which were mostly French and Czechoslovakian dishes, but she also learned Italian cooking because that’s my dad’s heritage and those are the dishes he loved. Italian is definitely my favorite cuisine, although I enjoy a wide variety of ethnic dishes. Like Nick, I was a stay-at-home dad and did most of the cooking for my family.

This dish is from the first book, Second Advent. Nick, who is of Italian descent (like you wouldn’t know from the Bertetto name), is visiting his father and wants to prepare something for him that his mom used to make, since Nick’s mom had passed away a couple of years before the book begins and Nick’s dad doesn’t cook. The recipe can be cut in half (I do that now that my wife and I are empty nesters) but it can also be doubled to feed a lot more. I hope you enjoy it. I occasionally blog about food and include recipes at my website (, so come over and visit and see what I’m cooking. And please don’t be put off by the sinister photo of me on the site—my wife says, “who would trust a recipe from you when you look like that?”—just remember it’s a publicity photo. Julie Hyzy will tell you I’m really a nice guy…

Italian Sausage & Peppers


1 T olive oil

4 Italian sausage links (about a pound or more)

1 large bell pepper, cut into thin slices

1 small zucchini or yellow squash, cut into rounds

2 15-oz cans of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (I like Red Gold brand)

1 medium onion, cut into rings or half rings

½ cup red wine

Cooked rice

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook on all sides until brown, about 10 minutes or so. Remove the sausage from the pan. Add the pepper, the onion, and the zucchini and sauté until done, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the sausage back in and add the wine and tomatoes. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or so. Be sure to taste the tomato mixture and adjust the seasoning to your preference.

I like to serve the Italian sausages separately and plate the tomato/vegetable mixture over cooked brown rice. A salad is all you need to complete the meal. And wine, of course. (You did open a bottle of red just for this meal, didn’t you? Why not drink it, too?)

Buon appetito!


Julie here again...

Tony's first two books in the Nick Bertetto series were cozies. Tony's newest, however, Saintly Remains, is not. I ordered my copy and it just came in, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but having read the first two books in the series (which were great!) and reviews (such as the one below), have me eager to get started:

"... engaging characters and timely plot make Perona's third mystery (after Second Advent and Angels Whisper) a compelling read." ~ Library Journal


  1. I love sausage and can't wait to try this! And I really appreciate a man who cooks (my husband is a wonderful cook). Is Nick in Saintly Remains or is it a standalone?

  2. Of course I *had* to go check out the sinister photo. You look quite handsome, but there is that little similarity to Tony Perkins in Psycho! It suggests that Saintly Remains will be nicely spooky.

    Your recipe sounds wonderful. I just discovered some terrific Italian sausage in my natural foods store, so I'll definitely be trying this dish.

    Thanks for joining us today, Tony!

    ~ Krista

  3. Oh, yum yum! Thanks for sharing this wonderful sounding recipe! And your books sound pretty wonderful, too!

  4. Welcome to the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Tony! Thanks for sharing that great recipe. I'm always looking for recipes that include squash as an ingredient. And congrats on the great review from Library Journal!


    Mystery Writing is Murder

  5. I was wondering what to make for dinner tonight! Thanks for the delicious recipe. Your books sound intriguing. I’ve put SECOND ADVENT on my to-buy list.


  6. This dish looks wonderful, Tony. I'll be making it for sure. Looking forward to reading your books too. I love the idea of the Italian connection. MJ

  7. I figure anything with sausage in it has got to be fantastic. Adding onions and peppers only ups the ante! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks ladies for introducing me to another great "new to me" author. Can't wait to check out these books. The recipe sounds good too.

    Thoughts in Progress

  9. Tony, your books (and your recipes) sound terrific. I'm going to try a veggie version with Boca Italian sausage. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Tony-

    This looks fantastic (we are sausage lovers) and so do your books. Can't wait to try your recipe!
    Thanks for joining us today!

  11. Hey Tony,

    Glad you're able to join us today at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Love the recipe and I can't wait to try it!


  12. Thanks, everyone, for the great comments. Deb, my main character Nick Bertetto is in Saintly Remains, but it's a much darker book that the first two in the series, and so I couldn't describe it as a cozy.

    Mary, please let me know how it comes out with the veggie sausage. I never thought of trying it as a vegetarian dish.

    And thanks again for making me feel so welcome!

  13. Tony, what a fabulous recipe and a lovely story about your mom teaching all of you to cook. Love that. I taught my son and it is one of our great bonds. ~Avery

  14. Hi Tony - I'm chiming in late because I'm a New York night owl by nature (just getting revved up when the sun goes down, lol). I'm also of Italian heritage, so you know I'm all about the sausage and peppers...and the vino, of course! I'm so glad to hear about your series and looking forward to meeting Nick in the pages of your mysteries. LOVE your cover on Saintly Remains :-)

    Buono fortuna!

  15. Grazie, Cleo. When I'm in NYC I try to get to Little Italy for an authentic Italian dinner, even though there's not much left of Little Italy anymore. Do you ever go? If so, what restaurant would you recommend the next time I'm there?

    And Avery, I know your son will always appreciate that you taught him to cook. Good for you!

  16. Tony - just saw your's my answer...

    You're right about Little Itlay - not much left. My husband and I go to family run Italian restaurants here in Queens, NYC, but if I were visiting NYC for a vacation, I would not miss the little bit of atmosphere that still exists in Little Italy.

    There are still caffes (with outdoor tables) and restaurants on Mulberry. SPQR and Pellegrino's are two you can check out on the Web (menus, prices and reviews). Both are in the heart of Little Italy on Mulberry Street.

    Another fun way to handle dinner in this area is to go to Chinatown for dinner and then visit a Mulberry Street caffe afterward for espresso and cannoli. (I hope that's helpful... :-)