Showing posts with label #bookclub. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #bookclub. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2016

Honeymoon Duck Confit

This could be a dish to serve to a book club if you make it ahead and then shred the duck and use it in a salad or pasta. But it’s also something Meg and Seth might eat on their honeymoon in Seeds of Deception, when they visit some rather nice places (before the dead body complicates things).

This recipe takes three days.

Don’t panic—most of that is just waiting.

In June, when I was in Ireland, I stumbled on Fields Market’s prepared food section. I’ve already raved about Fields, and although in general I’m not a big fan of pre-made entrees, a package of Confit of Duck caught my eye. I will eat almost anything that is made from duck, but it’s hard to find in our area, and when you do, it’s usually frozen and/or tough. But at Fields, a package with two (non-frozen) duck thighs/legs was only 5 euros, so I figured, what the heck? 

I bought it. And a couple of days later I went back and bought another package—it was that good. All I needed to do was to preheat the oven and slide the container in (after tossing the completely unnecessary plastic packet of orange sauce), then drain off the excess duck fat halfway through (yes, duck is fatty—deal with it). The duck was flavorful and tender. I loved it--all four times I ate it.

But three thousand miles from Fields, could I replicate it at home? I’d always heard that a confit involved long cooking and a lot of fat. Both true, but not really a problem (okay, don’t eat confit every day of the week if you’re worried about fat—save it for a treat). The recipe is simple. The only difficulty is coming up with a container of duck fat.

Which I had! A treasured container of the precious stuff, that I’d been saving for a special occasion. The occasion had arrived!


(this recipe is adapted from Ireland: The Taste & the Country, Mike Bunn, 2000 edition. But that one made enough for six people, using only duck legs, so I adapted it and modified some of the proportions of the ingredients)

Serves 2


2 leg/thigh portions of duck
1/2 cup duck fat (may substitute pork fat, but not bacon)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns


Day 1:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a deep roasting tray, melt the fat. Add the vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns.

Add the duck legs. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

Cook for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the fat is not bubbling (i.e., the oven is not too hot).

Day 2:

Cool overnight, then place in the refrigerator for 2 days (covered). Note: the cooked duck will keep in the fat for up to 10 days.

Day 3:

To serve, remove the duck pieces from the fat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the duck pieces skin side down in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Serve hot.

While you are savoring the flavorful duck, here are some Book Club Questions to consider:

A lot has been happening in the Orchard Mysteries lately. Meg and Seth got married in A Gala Event, and they’re taking a honeymoon in the latest book, Seeds of Deception. But any time major changes take place in our characters’ lives, we writers wonder how our readers will react.

--Cozies are often closely tied to their small town setting. Is it all right to take them out of town now and then? Or do readers miss the regular cast of familiar characters?

--Marriage is a life-changing event. Does having the long-standing protagonists in a series marry (or at least move in together) change the story significantly? For better or for worse?

--Since this is a mystery, there’s a body—but in this case it turns up in Meg’s parents’ back yard. Should Meg and new husband Seth get involved in trying to solve it, in a place that they barely know and where they have no connections? (Imagine poor Seth getting chummy with his new in-laws while trying to solve a murder.)

--Do you enjoy learning more about Meg’s past? Her parents have appeared more than once in earlier books, but the new book takes place in their territory (in New Jersey), and involves elements from their past that even Meg didn’t know about. What kind of balance do you like to see between getting to know the characters better and solving the crime?

--Are Meg and Seth workaholics? They seem to have forgotten to plan a honeymoon, and then plotted one on the spur of the moment. Is that emotionally believable? What does it tell you about their relationship?

Since Meg and Seth have managed to survive a visit to the inlaws complete with a corpse, I'm giving away copies of A Gala Event (when the wedding takes place) and Seeds of Deception (with its rather unusual honeymoon). Leave a comment by Sunday night and I'll pick one winner for the pair.

Seeds of Deception will be released October 4th. Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Zesty Citrus Salsa #bookclub week #bookgiveaway #LWiken

The first series I wrote was as Erika Chase and it features the sleuthing of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society, a mystery book club. It has seven members, all mystery savvy when it comes to solving crimes between the pages and in the town. And, at the end of each book is a reading list from each members with suggestions of titles and authors you might like to try.

My new series, written by the real me, is also about a club, the Culinary Capers, a dinner club although it’s also a cookbook club since the members agree on a cookbook for each month’s meal and choose their recipes out of it.

I seem to be drawn to clubs. Book clubs in particular. I belong to a very gregarious group of readers with a varied list of books for consumption each year, along with a spa weekend and a pool party – books are discussed at all these events! As the owner of a mystery bookstore in a past life, I often would visit book clubs and share new authors with them. As a writer, I’m delighted to keep meeting with book clubs but now the focus is on my books. 

One thing every book club I know, fictional and real, has in common besides the reading, of course, is food. My real book club calls for wine and chocolate to be served at every meeting. For the Ashton Corners gang, it's cheese straws. And the Culinary Capers club, well they enjoy a full course meal!

Here’s an easy recipe that's a favorite stand-by because it goes so well with so many food groups. I'm talking about Citrus Salsa and I pair it with crackers, tortillas, French loaf, pita...see what I mean? Nothing like salsa and pita when you're talking plots.

You'll find some more sharing going on at the end of this recipe.

Citrus Salsa
1 pink grapefruit
1 medium sized navel orange 
2 limes
a pinch of Himalayan salt
1 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
¼ c. salsa verde -- found on the shelves of most grocery stores or make your own

(Note: you can have fun and switch up the colors by using plain grapefruit and a blood orange)

Start with the citrus fruits. Cut them into segments, disposing of the white pithy parts.  Using a large bowl so you catch any escaping juice, remove the segments from the membranes, cut them into bite-sized portions, and add to the bowl. Squeeze what remains to get even more of the juice. 

Add the Himalayan salt, cilanto and salsa verde, stirring until totally mixed. 

Refrigerate until needed. Then dish out, add a variety of carbs, and enjoy!

To continue the sharing, I’m having a draw for the first book of each series  --  A Killer Read by Erika Chase, and Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken. Because, it’s always good to start at the beginning of a series. Just leave a comment about your favorite book club, real or fictional.

The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is now available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book. Recipes included!

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.