Showing posts with label Final Sail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Final Sail. Show all posts

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to Eat like a Zillionaire by Elaine Viets

Please welcome, our guest blogger, author Elaine Viets!

Conch salad. Shrimp pasta. Pineapple tart.

I ate them all to research “Final Sail,” my new Dead-End Job mystery.

The food was cooked by yacht chef Victoria Allman, a CIA-trained chef – that’s Culinary Institute of America. Victoria and her husband, Capt. Patrick Allman, work on the Cocoa Bean, a luxury yacht docked in Fort Lauderdale.

Final Sail is set aboard a 143-foot yacht. Private eye Helen Hawthorne works undercover as a stewardess, cleaning and serving the owners and their pampered guests, while she tries to catch an emerald smuggler.
Victoria, Patrick and Gina Soacat, the Cocoa Bean’s head stewardess, spent hours telling me about yacht life for the crew and the owners. They insisted on one mystery: They did  not reveal the yacht’s owners.  They said the Cocoa Bean’s owners are considerate and appreciative.

Some yacht crews are not so lucky.

Suppose you stayed up all night cooking for your employers?

They’ve been partying hard and want a feast when they return in the wee hours. You have their food ready. The owners and guests have a few drinks while you did the finishing touches. Then, when the food’s ready to serve, they went to bed. Not even an apology.

I’d pull a tantrum that would shame a two-year-old.           

But for luxury yachts, that’s par for the course.

Chef Victoria Allman, author of two cooking memoirs, Sea Fare and SEAsoned, gave Mystery Lovers' Kitchen these recipes for conch salad and chocolate lime rum cake, so you can eat the same food as a yacht owner. (See the recipes below.)

I’ve added a small taste of Final SailIn this scene, yacht chef Suzanne Schoomer is preparing dinner for six in the wee hours. Helen and Mira are the two stewardesses who will serve the meal for the yacht owners, Beth and Earl, and their guests, Scotty and Pepper.


The late-night feast was ready for the final preparation: the onion rings were battered, the fries cut, and the grease bubbling in the deep fryer. Thick, marbled steaks rubbed with garlic waited for the grill. The lobster and avocado salads chilling in the fridge looked like pink-and-green abstract art.
           Helen’s stomach growled when she saw them. “They’re gorgeous,” she said, shutting the fridge door.
            It was nearly four o’clock when Beth, Earl and their guests returned. The men’s tuxes looked rumpled and Scotty’s jacket was sprinkled with cigar ashes.
            “I’m starved,” Earl said. “When’s dinner?”  He’d untied his bow tie and the ends dangled on his pleated shirt.
            “I want a T-bone,” Scotty said. “Auto-accident rare.”
            “I could eat a horse,” Pepper said.
            “I could do with a nibble,” Beth said. “We’ll have our lobster salads as soon as the steaks are grilled, Mira.”
            “Let’s have a drink while we wait,” Earl said.
            The first round of scotches and champagne disappeared faster than water in the desert. The second went almost as fast. Suzanne was plating the steaks, fries and onions when Beth told the head stew, “It’s four-thirty. We’re tired. We’re going to bed.”
            “No food, then?” Mira asked.
            “No,” Beth said. “Good night.”
            The party rose, yawning and stretching, and strolled off to their staterooms without another look back.
             The two stews had the dining room dusted and sparkling again in twenty minutes.
            “Nobody ate anything?” Helen asked, as she polished the dining room table.
            “Not a crumb,” Mira said. “They had too much to drink. Scotty, for all his talk about wanting a T-bone, was snoring in his chair after his second scotch. Pepper had to wake him up to go to sleep.”
            “They didn’t even apologize,” Helen said.
            “Don’t have to,” Mira said. “They’re guests.”
            “What happens to the food?” Helen asked Suzanne.
            “Would you like a lobster salad or a T-bone?” the chef asked.
            “Can I have both?” Helen asked. She’d nuked leftovers for her dinner. They were delicious leftovers, but that was hours ago. She was hungry.
            “Fries and onion rings, too, if you want,” the chef said.
             She fixed Helen a plate heaped with steak, onion rings and fries, and handed her a lobster salad. “Go eat in the crew mess,” she said. “I have to bake bread and muffins for breakfast.”
            “Aren’t you angry that they didn’t eat your meal after all your work?” Helen asked.
            “It’s part of the job,” she said, and shrugged. “That’s why they pay me so well. Like I said, it’s their money and their food. If they eat it or throw it out, it’s all the same to me.”                                    

To me, cooking is an art, and those vandals threw it away. How would you feel?

You can read the first chapter of “Final Sail” and see the book trailer at 

~ Elaine

Conch Salad

Serves 4

8 cleaned conchs
2 stalks celery
½ white onion
1 green pepper
1 tomato
½ to 1 scotch bonnet, depending on your heat tolerance
1 orange
3 limes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Dice the conch as small as possible (quarter-inch) to avoid a chewy texture. Dice celery, onion, green pepper and tomato to the same small half-inch dice. Mince the scotch bonnet to as small as possible. Add a little at a time to establish your heat limit. Squeeze the citrus over the mix and season with sea salt. Mix well. Taste and adjust the heat by adding more scotch bonnets.  If you add more citrus you will create a more piquant salad. Serve as a salad.

Chocolate Lime Rum Cake

Serves 12

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons lime juice

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/3 cup dark rum
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the sauce:
In a heavy-bottomed small sauce pot, boil sugar and lime juice.  This will change from a clear color to a golden brown.  This is called caramelizing sugar.  The liquid is extremely hot, so do not touch.  Caramelizing happens quickly, when it starts so watch the pan and remove from heat once it is golden brown.  Carefully add the rum and lime juice.  The liquid will sputter and spit, so stand back.  Return to heat and simmer 30 seconds until the sauce is smooth.  Set aside.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 325. Grease one loaf pan. In a bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter.  Remove from heat. Beat in rum, milk and sugar.  Beat in dry ingredients ½ cup at a time, incorporating until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, rotating the pan after half an hour.  Check doneness by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean the cake is finished. 

Using the same toothpick, poke holes every centimeter through the cake top to the bottom of the dish.  If the sauce has thickened with cooling, return to heat for 1 minute.  Spoon sauce evenly over the cake.  It will run down the skewer holes to keep cake moist.  Cool and slice. 

Recipes courtesy Victoria Allman - 
Victoria is the author of Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean
and SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
Available at: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and your local independent bookstore