Showing posts with label Barbara Fradkin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbara Fradkin. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Welcome guest author Barbara Fradkin! #bookgiveaway

Barbara Fradkin is a retired child psychologist with a fascination for why we turn bad. Besides her short stories and easy-read short novels, she is best known for her gritty, psychological Inspector Green series, which has received two Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards. She is now embarking on a new mystery suspense series featuring former international aid worker Amanda Doucette, who battles her own traumatic past to help people in trouble. Fire in the Stars is available in September through your favourite bookseller as well as online.

Amanda Doucette, the star of my new mystery suspense series, is a former international aid worker who has never settled down long enough or had the patience to learn to cook anything but the basics. In her travels, however, she has sampled cuisine from around the world and loves new experiences in food as much as in life. In FIRE IN THE STARS, the first book chronicling her adventures, she is in Newfoundland trying to help a fellow aid worker who has gone missing with his young son, and in one scene she finds herself in a spectacular lighthouse restaurant in Saint Anthony at the rugged northern tip of the island. She has teamed up with an off-duty RCMP corporal Chris Tymko who is also a friend of the missing man and equally worried about his state of mind.

Against the backdrop of soaring gray cliffs and crashing ocean surf, they share bowls of the Lightkeeper’s Restaurant’s famous seafood chowder. I myself, in the interests of research, sat at their very table by the window, looking out over those same roiling seas and sampling the same chowder. I can attest that it is delicious. Seafood chowder is a mainstay of Newfoundland and east coast cooking, and can be as variable as the ingredients the cook has on hand. It’s hearty, thick, and puts meat on the bones, and as long as you can lay your hands on some seafood – an easy feat in Newfoundland – and have some root vegetables in your pantry, you are good to go.

Below is the variation on the chowder that Amanda would make, if she ever stayed put near a kitchen long enough to prepare it. Maybe some day …

Classic Newfoundland Seafood Chowder

1 lb. cod
1 lb. medium shrimp
½ lb. scallops
Half dozen clams or mussels in the shell for garnish (optional)
1 cup each of carrots, onions, and celery, all diced
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
¾ cup butter
¾ cup flour
4 cups seafood or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups whole milk
1-2 tsp. savory, finely chopped, fresh if possible
Small bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh sprigs of parsley for garnish

1.      Have all ingredients ready at hand, for you’ll be busy. In a LARGE pot, melt ¼ cup butter and sauté celery, carrots and onions together on medium heat for about 7 minutes.  Add pepper and salt.
2.      Add remaining ½ cup butter, melt, and stir in the ¾ cup flour to make a thick paste. Distribute well and cook briefly, stirring to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn or brown. 

3.     Gradually add the 4 cups of stock, stirring well throughout to ensure it blends and doesn’t lump. I used half chicken and half vegetable stock because prepared fish stock is hard to find. If you’re into making your own fish stock, you’re way ahead of Amanda and me.

4.      Bring the mixture to a soft boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. You will think it is much too thick, but it won’t be. Add diced potatoes and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes depending on the size of the potato and carrot chunks. They shouldn’t be completely cooked.

5.      Add cream and milk gradually, stirring gently, and bring to a very soft simmer. Do not boil, because that may curdle the milk. Add bay leaf and savory, cut or cumbled into small bits.
6.      Cut cod into one-inch chunks and scallops if they are large. Add cod, scallops, and shrimps to the pot and return to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally but carefully so the cod doesn’t break up. Test and add pepper and salt to taste.

7.      Meanwhile, steam clams in butter and ¼ cup of liquid – I used white wine and some of the broth.
8.      Serve chowder with garnish of parsley and clams, add a buttered roll and a glass of wine, and voila! A full meal!

This is a real meal in a bowl and can be made with whatever seafood and vegetables are at hand. A real Newfoundlander might add scrunchions, a delicacy of crisply fried, diced salt pork, as a garnish instead of clams and parsley, but if that’s hard to come by elsewhere than The Rock, you can substitute bacon for (almost) as good an effect. Newfoundlanders traditionally added scrunchion toppings to many of their meals, which were variants of bland white fish and bland white potatoes.

This recipe makes a large pot that probably would feed a dozen, and it’s great for leftovers. It can be halved or doubled without problems. It is adapted from The Wicked Scoff, a food blogger originally from Newfoundland and now living in New England.

Fire in the Stars, the first book in the Amanda Doucette mystery suspense series, will be out in Sept.!  To win a copy, please leave a comment. The winner will receive a copy of Fire in the Stars as soon as it's out!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A honey cake to die for…

A honey cake to die for…

Please welcome our guest today, my good friend,  Barbara Fradkin. Barbara is the author of the award-winning Inspector Michael Green series and has won back to back best novel awards from the Crime Writers of Canada.  Today, she's offering a wonderful dessert for a very special occasion, in her case Rosh Hashanah, but it will make a fabulous end for any meal.  I know from happy experience that Barbara is an excellent cook,  Lucky us!

And now over to Barbara.
It has taken Inspector Green (and his creator) many years to learn to like honey cake. Honey cake is the traditional dessert served at Rosh Hashanah dinner, to welcome in a sweet New Year. The honey cake Mike Green’s mother made using the traditional Eastern European recipe given to her by her neighbours in the immigrant area where they lived, was so sweet and heavy that it plummeted to the nether regions of the intestines where it took a week to digest. It was made with walnuts, raisins, spices, and a strong, bitter honey that permeated everything.

After much cajoling, his wife Sharon persuaded him it didn’t have to be this way. The secret to a light, moist honey cake is threefold; reduce the spices by half, beat the batter continually to incorporate air, and forget the walnuts and raisins.  This is the recipe she, and her creator, came up with after much experimentation. It produces a great cake without too much fiddling.


1 cup white sugar
½ cup oil
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup white or pale honey (“summer” honey)
2 ½ cups white flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly, finely grated orange rind
1 cup orange juice
icing sugar for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour an angel food or bundt cake pan. The key to preparation is to have all ingredients measured and ready to add, so that they can be mixed in without losing the air from the previous mixing. Measure and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices, then set the bowl aside. Measure the orange juice and grate the rind. Measure the honey into a cup with a spout for easy pouring.

Beat oil and sugar together at medium speed, and add the eggs one at a time, beating until frothy. Continue beating while adding the honey gradually until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in orange rind. Alternate dry ingredients and orange juice in thirds, blending between each addition, until the batter is smooth and fluffy. Do not overbeat at this last stage. It will be very soupy. Pour it immediately into the pan, ensuring it’s not more than 2/3 full, as it will rise.  Excess batter can be poured into a loaf pan – a special treat!

Bake for 50-60 minutes, depending on what pan is used. To ensure the insides are cooked, the top should be deep golden to amber. When cool, invert on a plate and sprinkle lightly with icing sugar for effect. The cake is already very sweet, so frosting is not needed.

Here’s to a sweet and happy New Year. Best of all – you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy!

Barbara Fradkin is a retired psychologist and multiple award-winning mystery author whose work with children and families provides much of the insight and inspiration for her stories. She has an affinity for the dark side. She has many short stories including in all the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, but she's best known for her Inspector Green novels which have twice won the Arthur Ellis award for best novel from The Crime Writers of Canada. She recently embarked on a series of easy read mysteries for reluctant readers, featuring handyman, Cedric O'Toole.

 Learn more about Barbara HERE!

 Barbara's latest book is The Whisper of Legends, the ninth Inspector Green novel. 

Good news: You can look for None so Blind, the tenth Inspector Green novel on October 18th!  or