Monday, September 19, 2016

Key West-themed Dinner for #bookclub week #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Today I have the honor of kicking off Book Club Week in our kitchen. I do so love introducing readers and book groups to my Key West series. As I was mulling over what book to choose and food to suggest, I received an email from a Connecticut acquaintance. She told me that her book group was reading AN APPETITE FOR MURDER and wondered if I could "visit" by Face Time? Of course I could! I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the group, and the Key West decorations, and the hostess's menu. I thought it would be fun to show you what they did. Luckily, Cindy Cartier, the hostess, agreed!

It makes sense to choose the first book in a series if many of the members aren't familiar with the series, which is what Cindy did. I asked her a few questions about the evening--you will really enjoy reading what she cooked up--she's amazing!

Lucy: How did you choose AN APPETITE FOR MURDER?  

The book club (Cindy is 3rd from left)

CINDY: I LOVE culinary mysteries because I LOVE food!! Growing up in an Italian household, I truly benefited from standing at the apron strings of my mother who excelled at both cooking and baking.  There was always something cooking on the stove and baking in the oven. I also love to read murder mysteries.  Having a demanding career (I am an attorney/partner at my own law firm) and juggling children 14, 5 and 2 (yes, I am changing diapers at 50 - more later,) when I can escape with a good book, it is truly a treat.  So, when I started looking up books for our meeting, I came across your books and loved the character and location. It being summer, I thought this would be a nice escape for everyone as well.  I had no idea that you lived so close to us - a real bonus!!

LUCY: Tell us about the fabulous menu and decorations that you cooked up!

Lucy's Leaning Tower of Eggplant
CINDY: As I love food (did I say that), I also enjoy watching Giada on the cooking channel - in fact, I have her on in the background as I am chasing my little ones - she reminds me so much of my mom (who I lost too young - she was 43 when she passed) and it makes me feel a little connection to her.  So, Giada had an episode where she cooked a meal for her book club around the theme of the book.  So, me channeling Giada, I wanted to do the same.  I did go a little overboard with the food, decorations and drink - but I also love to entertain and share my love of food (I do so love food).   I had the members bring some appetizers (fruit platter including pineapples and coconut; various dips with a Caribbean theme), drinks (Mojitos, Hemingway Cocktails - apparently he loved to drink these and Smore Martinis), and dessert including a key lime pie of course and a key lime dip with fruit.   

Decorations included a hot pink/lime green theme. I haven't been to Key West yet, but from the description in your book and others who have described the area, I imagined bright colors.  I included plates, napkins, etc. keeping with this theme.  I also had jelly beans (pink/green) in large glasses on the table, drink glasses with straws in the same color theme, flowers, etc. In addition to appetizers, drinks and dessert, menu was as follows:

1. Key West Chicken - I combined a few recipes
2. Caribbean Rice
3. Eggplant Towers from your book, but I grilled eggplant instead of frying. (I had a health moment.)
4. Watermelon/Arugula salad
5. Tossed salad

Recipe - Caribbean Rice:

•    2 cups long-grain rice
•    14 ozs unsweetened coconut milk
•    2 garlic cloves (minced)
•    11/2 tsps sea salt
•    1/2 tsp allspice
•    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
•    1 tbsp butter
•    1 1/2 cups yellow, orange, red and purple bell peppers (diced)
•    1/2 cup diced red onions
•    15 ozs pineapple (canned, tidbits, drained and juice reserved)
•    41/2 ozs Old El Paso™ chopped green chiles
•    1/4 cup jalapeno chilies (Old El Paso Sliced, diced)
•    1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1.    Add the rice, coconut milk, garlic cloves, salt, allspice, cayenne, and reserved pineapple juice to a medium sauce pot. Use the coconut milk can to add 14 ounces water to the rice. Stir well. Set over medium heat and cover. Bring to a boil, then stir and lower the heat. Cover and allow the rice to cook until the liquid is absorbed and air holes form in the surface of the rice, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.

2.    Meanwhile, add the butter to a large deep skillet and set over medium heat. Add the diced bell peppers and onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, to just barely soften. Then remove from heat and add the pineapple tidbits, Old El Paso Green Chiles and Sliced Jalapeños to the skillet.

3.    Once the rice is tender and fluffy, dump it into the skillet and toss well to combine. Toss in the fresh chopped cilantro. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm as a side dish, or serve with shrimp of chicken on top!

Yoda recommends the book too
LUCY: Thanks again to all of your book club members for reading AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. And thanks to Cindy for her fabulous celebration suggestions!

If your group would like to discuss AN APPETITE FOR MURDER at one of your meetings, here are some questions to get you started. Also feel free to contact me about "appearing" at one of your book club events. LucyBurdette at gmail dot come 

(Note to self: Review the book before you talk to the ladies so you know the answers to their questions LOL!)

And here are a few other book club posts to consider if you've already done AN APPETITE FOR MURDER:

DEATH IN FOUR COURSES plus chocolate fudge pie

MURDER WITH GANACHE plus nocciolato fudge


  1. Wow! What a wonderful book club. I'd love to join them.
    And your links, Lucy, reminded me of two of your decadent desserts I need to make.

  2. Me too, Libby! What a great book club. Such fun. Giada would be so proud of Cindy!

  3. Fabulous book club and fabulous post, Lucy! XO

  4. What a fun book club to attend. Hooray! ~ Daryl

  5. It's amazing how much they did!!! It looks like it was a blast!!! I loved an Appetite for Murder,and I loved all the other books in the series.

  6. Great post about an amazing book club. Cheers, Roberta, for sharing with us!

  7. Thank you for sharing! Looks like a ton of fun and great FOOD!

  8. thanks for all the lovely comments! Happy reading and eating:)