Showing posts with label Lucy Burdette. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lucy Burdette. Show all posts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Roasted Tomato #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: you may be scratching your head and saying why, why Lucy, do we need to roast tomatoes? We have been waiting all year for fresh tomatoes and we want to eat them exactly as they are. My answer? If you have a garden, or a neighbor who has a garden, or you haunt the local farmers market, you may find yourself with a tumult of tomatoes--way more then you can possibly eat before they start to go bad. And at that moment, you will thank me for this recipe! (Which is really more of a suggestion or a reminder than it is an actual recipe.) Once the tomatoes are roasted, you can freeze them in batches for soups and sauces, where they add a rich deliciousness to the flavor...

Ingredients

A tumult of tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt or garlic as you wish

Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size. Toss them with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt or fresh garlic, as you wish. On a large sheet pan, prepared with oiled parchment paper, lay the tomatoes out.




Roast at 350 until collapsed and beginning to brown. This could take 2 plus hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes. You could add herbs such as thyme or basil, but I would do that later in the cooking process so they don't burn.


That's it! Stir into pasta, or add into soup instead of canned tomatoes, or serve on their own as a delicious side...


Now, did you post an entry to our 7th anniversary contest? It's so easy and the prizes are amazing. Here's the dope...

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

RX: Calling the Cake Doctor! @LucyBurdette


LUCY BURDETTE: My one and only granddaughter Dorothea celebrated her first birthday this past week. Of course, being the first grandchild, she had two parties. I was honored to be invited to make the cake for the first one (at her other grandma's house.) Since there would be something of a crowd attending, I thought a sheet cake would work better than a two-tiered cake. My first thought was my son-in-law's favorite carrot cake, but I was talked down from that and decided to try something new.





Since this was a new recipe, I tried it the day before the party. Here is the vanilla sheet cake, all puffed up and lovely. Phew!




Here it is half an hour later when it had sunk to half it's height. I was in despair. Make a whole new cake? Sigh. I already had two others to make this week. 

Was there a way to save it? Calling the cake doctor! I decided whipped cream and strawberries from our garden and blueberries might do this job.


RX ingredients

Cup of garden fresh strawberries
2 cups organic whipping cream
Two heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blueberries for decoration

Wash and hull the strawberries and cut a handful of them in quarters. Slice the others and set aside. Whip the cream in a food processor with the quartered berries until the cream begins to thicken and the berries have given the cream a light pink color. And the sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff.


I cut my beleaguered cake in half lengthwise. Slathered whipped cream on the first half and layered the other half on top. Frosted the cake with the remaining whipped cream, and decorated with sliced berries and blueberries. I tried spelling out Dorothea's name in blueberries, but sadly it was illegible so I opted to fill the whole cake in. Bonus: this fit in nicely with the Fourth of July holiday!


I will not give you the cake recipe as I will never make this one again! I did get some funny comments from the adults: I love how homemade this looks...What's the custard layer in the middle? (failed cake!) But Dorothea didn't care at all--she was too busy coating herself in red icing from her store-bought "smash cake."

Do you have a cake disaster story that you're willing to share? And don't forget to enter our anniversary contest--details on the sidebar!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It's our 7th Anniversary. Enter our Photo Contest!




Mystery Lovers Kitchen is celebrating its
7th anniversary!

Can you believe it? We've passed our 7 year mark 
and we are heading into our 8th year 
of 
Mystery Lovers Kitchen. 

That's 7 years of sharing our recipes, our lives, our books and giveaways! If you do the multiplication, that's way over 2,000 recipes!

We have grown to 9 authors (10 actual people) and we write lots 
of delicious mysteries for your reading pleasure.

To celebrate, we are having a 7th Anniversary Photo Contest.

* * *


5 people will win a Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag
and the 9 mysteries shown in the prize photo below - one from each of us!
Don't delay, enter today!

Here's how it goes:

1. Take a picture of any one OR MORE of our books (does NOT have to be one shown in the prize package below) in the following categories:
a) with a cat
b) with a dog
c) having summer fun
d) in a library
e) in a bookstore

Whose books?

Why the 9 Mystery Lovers Kitchen authors, of course.

Krista Davis * Cleo Coyle *  Leslie Budewitz  
Daryl Wood Gerber * Lucy Burdette * Linda Wiken  
Sheila Connolly * Peg Cochran* Victoria Abbott

...do what you gotta do! There's a sweet prize at stake.

2. Submit your picture via the gadget on the left.
Submission period ends midnight July 25th.

3. Share your entry (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or else-wise,
we'll be flexible). 

We'll choose one winner in each category!

5 chances to win! Good luck!




We've posted the link for the contest in the left column
that features our cheerleading picture! 
See it?
Halfway down - below all the congratulations
to those who have won prizes in the past!

Click it!



You can read the RULES below or when you click the link and ENTER a photo, too!

Have fun!


*****

Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen’s
7th Anniversary Photo Contest
OFFICIAL RULES
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty United States (including D.C.) who are at least 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Subject to all applicable federal, state, provincial, and local laws and regulations.

HOW TO ENTER: Contestant (or “Entrant”) will click on “Enter Now”. Contestant will be prompted to authenticate and to supply their contact information, as well as one photo per category, showing a book written by Krista Davis, Cleo Coyle, Leslie, Budewitz, Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames), Lucy Burdette, Linda Wiken (Erika Chase), Sheila Connolly, Peg Cochran, or Victoria Abbott (Mary Jane Maffini) in one of the five categories:

1) with a cat
2) with a dog
3) having summer fun
4) in a library
5) in a bookstore.
a
 The Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. The Contestant is providing their information to the Sponsor and not to Facebook.

NOTE: Your photograph will be posted online into a “Gallery” and viewed by other people, who will vote for their favorites.

CONTEST TIMETABLE: The Contest will run from July 5th through July 25th.

PHOTO GUIDELINES: Photos should be in one of the following formats: ,jpg, ,gif, or ,png; and should be no less than 300dpi in resolution (suggested but not required); and should not exceed a 10 MB file size. Photo must contain a book written by Krista Davis, Cleo Coyle, Leslie, Budewitz, Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames), Lucy Burdette, Linda Wiken (Erika Chase), Sheila Connolly, Peg Cochran, or Victoria Abbott (Mary Jane Maffini).

For all Entries: Entries must not be inappropriate, indecent or obscene, as determined by Sponsor in their sole discretion. Proof of submission or sending is not proof of receipt by Sponsor. Sponsor shall have the right to reject any photo submitted if it does not comply with the published guidelines. Sponsor may use any photo in any media in association with the Contest without attribution or compensation to the Contestant, his or her successors or assigns, or any other entity. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, illegible, or misdirected entries, which are void.

Limit: Each Contestant may enter one photograph in each category. Multiple participants are not permitted to share the same email address. Any attempt by any Contestant to obtain more than the stated number of photo entries by using multiple/different email addresses, identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void that Contestant's entries and that Contestant may be disqualified.

Photographer/Copyright: Entries must be submitted by the original photographer. Do not submit a photo taken by someone other than you. You must be the sole owner of the copyright of any image submitted. Your submission of the photo is your guarantee that you are the author and copyright holder of the photo. In addition, by entering, Contestants represent and warrant that the entries that they submit (i) do not infringe any other person’s or entity’s rights; and (ii) have not been submitted previously in a Contest of any kind.

Ownership/Use Rights: Contestants retain the copyright to their photographs, and all rights thereto, except as follows. By entering the Contest, Contestants agree to have their submitted photograph displayed on the Sponsor’s Contest Website without any fee or other form of compensation, and agree that Sponsor may display winning photos in a photo gallery on their website, in their newsletter, blogs, press releases, and other communication channels at their discretion, and may make and retain copies of the photograph for archival purposes. Photos will be credited to the Contestant named in the entry form. In the event that ownership of any photograph submitted is contested in any manner, Sponsors may disqualify that photograph and discontinue use of the photograph.

JUDGING: From among all submitted entries, a Review Committee as determined by the Sponsor, will select five (5) Grand Prize winners (one photo from each aforementioned category).

PRIZES: There will be five (5) Grand Prizes awarded. Each Grand Prize package will consist of one Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen tote bag and nine paperback books. Approximate retail value (ARV) of each Grand Prize: $80.

Total ARV of all prizes to be awarded is $400.

Potential winners will be notified by an email message to the email address provided at time of entry and will have 48 hours within which to respond, after which time an alternate photo may be selected by the Judges, at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. No cash equivalent for any prize is offered, nor are they transferable to another individual. No substitution for any announced prize will be made except at the Sponsor’s sole discretion who also reserves the right to substitute any listed prize for one of equal or greater value if the designated prize should become unavailable for any reason. Winners are responsible for all taxes and fees associated with prize receipt and/or use.

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT and LIST: Winners will be announced on/about July 26, 2017 at MysteryLoversKitchen.com .

PUBLICITY/PROMOTIONAL USE: Except where prohibited, participation in the Contest constitutes Entrant’s irrevocable consent and release to Sponsor and their agents to use, record, reproduce, publish, display, perform and translate: (1) the name, likeness, voice, quotations, opinions and biographical information of the Winners, including without limitation any photograph or recording, for promotional purposes in any media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration; and (2) the name, likeness, voice and biographical information of the Winners’ child, including without limitation any photograph or recording, for any promotional purpose in any media, worldwide, and/or for any other commercial or non-commercial corporate purpose, including without limitation use on merchandise or for marketing, without attribution or further payment or compensation to the Contestant, his or her successors or assigns or any other entity.

GENERAL RULES: By entering or participating in the Contest, Contestants agree to be bound by these Official Rules. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for electronic hardware, programming or software malfunctions, or failures, or line connections, accessibility or availability, or technical failures of any kind, or unauthorized human intervention, or the incorrect or inaccurate capture of any entry or other information, or for the failure to capture any such information. Sponsor and Facebook, Inc. are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Contest; (4) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Contest or the processing of entries; or 5) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from Contestant’s participation in the Contest or receipt or use or misuse of any prize. Further, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by reason of infection by virus, bugs, worms, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which, in the sole opinion of the Sponsor, may corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsors reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest, and select the winners for the Contest, from the entries received prior to the action taken or in other such manner as deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsors.

By participating, all Contestants hereby waive and release, and agree to hold harmless the Sponsor, Facebook, Inc., and all promotions, and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, distributors, advertising and promotions agencies and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents, from and against, any and all rights, claims and causes of action whatsoever that they may have, or which may arise, against any of them for any liability for any matter, cause or thing whatsoever, including but not limited to any injury, loss, damage, whether direct, compensatory, incidental or consequential, to person, including death and property, arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from their acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prize in the Contest, or their participation in the Contest.

SPONSOR: Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, PO Box 523, Newbern, VA 24126.

VOID WHERE PROHIBITED



This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Swiss Cheese and Mushroom Quiche @LucyBurdette #recipe



LUCY BURDETTE: At our local farmers market in Connecticut, one vendor sells all kinds of mushrooms. I confess that I am a white mushroom consumer, though I have started using baby Bellas to branch out a bit. But this man's mushrooms look so good that I decided to try a recipe that could use one of his more adventurous varieties. He recommended shiitakes. I found a recipe in the Moosewood cookbook for a mushroom Swiss cheese quiche, and then set about tweaking to taste.

Ingredients

One large onion
1/4 pound mushrooms of your choice
Herbs of your choice (I used dill and thyme from our garden)
Four eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
 A couple shakes of Tabasco or cayenne
One crust 

Make the crust and set it aside. My father's recipe is pretty darn foolproof, but I tried the Moosewood version this time--cut 6 tablespoons of butter into a cup and a half of flour. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together in a mass. Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper and plop into the 9-inch pie plate. (Delicious, by the way--and not a grain of salt in it!)

Next up: Grate the cheese. Chop the onions and put these to sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil. Wipe the mushrooms down, slice them, and add them to the sauté pan. Cook until soft and slightly brown. Sprinkle in the herbs of your choice. 


Whisk together the milk, flour, and eggs and mustard – I used the food processor and it couldn't have been easier. Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce.

Layer the ingredients into the crust: Cheese, followed by vegetables and herbs, milk and egg mixture.

Bake at 375 until golden and the center is set.




Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Now a question, do you post reviews and photos of books you've read on Instagram? I hear it's quite a thing these days....

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Chocolate Cake! @LucyBurdette



LUCY BURDETTE: About a month ago, I did a talk and signing with my friends Barbara Ross and Liz Mugavero. Barb's husband was coming along, and it was his birthday. I thought he deserved a cake for being a good sport. I asked what kind he would like, he answered (quickly!): Chocolate with White icing. I've made plenty of chocolate cakes for my family, but never were they iced in white. Here was an opportunity to try a different chocolate cake along with the different icing. I found this recipe on Pinterest from a blog called "add a pinch". It was described as the best chocolate cake ever. 





I made adjustments for a lower sodium cake as you'll see below and also left out the suggested espresso powder, as I didn't have any on hand. It was very good, and tall, and probably a tad less rich than my usual. 

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, good quality
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (to reduce the sodium content in the cake, I used 1 teaspoon regular baking soda and 1 teaspoon no sodium baking soda)
2 teaspoons low-sodium baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Two eggs
1/2 cup unflavored, preferably organic, vegetable oil like canola
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup water, boiling

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the pans by buttering well, adding a circle of parchment paper and buttering that as well. Pulse the dry ingredients together in a food processor or KitchenAid mixer. Then add the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix that in well with the dry ingredients. Boil the water and add it to the cake mixture, taking care not to splatter outside your machine!



Distribute the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes and then remove them from the pans and cool completely before frosting. You can make the cake a day ahead of time, just cover it well until ready to frost.



For the white icing: 




2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
Milk, as needed for thinning




Beat the butter until soft and thick. Beat the vanilla in. Gradually beat in the confectioner sugar until the frosting is the consistency and sweetness that you prefer.
Birthday boy





My family is so crazy about the chocolate frosting that I usually make, so I tried this cake with that icing too. I found the vanilla buttercream overly sweet, but the birthday boy and guests loved it. A good choice if you don't want a double chocolate cake. The super-serious chocolate eaters in my family still think this cake is the best ever though...




Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Around Our Kitchen Table: What Do Our Characters Eat?

Summer is all but upon us, and these days that often means farmers' markets are opening up. (Most of you are probably way ahead of us in chilly Massachusetts.) It's been a delight to watch people rediscover fresh local food.

But some of us grew up with a different food focus: the joys of frozen food, mass-produced bread, TV dinners, and so on. All things designed to save time for the working mother. How can we object to that? Sadly, mothers back then sacrificed flavor and nutrition for speed.

So you can say that we have come full circle, from wholesome local food to commercially prepared fast food for the microwave, and back again.

Last month we discussed here why and how we use food in our books. I think we all agreed that eating together brings us closer to friends and family. But how do we choose those foods for our characters? Based on modern trends? Or based on what we grew up with and remember, consciously or subconsciously? What do our characters eat, and what does it tell the reader about them?

Does your protagonist like to cook? Or just can't be bothered? (Too busy solving crimes, of course.) When she cooks, is it comfort food? Is she trying to impress someone? Does she like to experiment, and fly without a parachute (er, recipe)? Or does she stick to safe familiar dishes? Or would she rather just find a restaurant? We all eat, but what we eat can help us tell a story.


SHEILA: This subject came to mind because I was editing my next book (shameless plug: A Late Frost, Orchard Mystery #11, coming in November), and my main characters have been so busy (getting married and taking a honeymoon) that they haven't had time to cook or even shop, and they're scraping the bottom of the freezer to feed themselves and whoever else drops in to talk about murder. (They do, however, drink a lot of coffee!) At one point Meg threatened to feed new husband Seth a meal made up of frozen ham, cherries and peanut butter, because that was all she could find in the house.

Early on in the series I did create an alternative: I added a local foods restaurant in my fictional town of Granford, so there's always somewhere to go if Meg and Seth need a good and creative meal. My other series characters? They're just not interested in cooking. (Now, why did I do that?) But they do enjoy eating!



LESLIE: My characters all seem to be obsessed with food, although in a future Spice Shop Mystery, we'll discover that one of the Flick Chicks is a secret crackers-and-cheese-for-dinner type. 

My Food Lovers' Village Mysteries each involve a festival, and the recipes let the readers recreate the festival food at home. Treble at the Jam Fest, #4, officially releases this week, and it's set at a jazz festival. There's a gala in the Merc's courtyard and a picnic before an outdoor concert, each featuring food I love. Erin's family gathers every Sunday at the Orchard, the family homestead, for brunch or dinner, and I've tucked in a couple of those recipes as well. Like all amateur sleuths, Erin has a busy life, and I admit, she eats a lot of festival and family leftovers! But in each book, I try to let her cook a good meal at home. In this one, it's enchiladas, a recipe I shared last week.   

And she pops into Le Panier, the French bakery, a little more often than is probably good for her, but the croissants and gossip are too tasty a combination to resist. Some of my local readers have given me heat for inventing a bakery our town doesn't actually have, but you know, I think it's a blessing, because there are no calories on the page!


LUCY: My Key West series character Hayley Snow loves her job as a food critic for the style magazine, Key Zest. She loves tasting all the flavors of the restaurants in the city, and loves telling people her opinions so they can spend their hard-earned dollars well. Here's what she says about this in DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS: 


“The part of my job that feeds my soul is writing about food. Teasing out what makes one meal good, but another magical. Discovering a new chef or a new dish and describing my find to the world—or at least to other food-addled diners who’d go out of their way for something special. For me, the cooking itself was not so much the miracle. It was all about the eating. And then choosing the words that brought that food to life on the page.”

But is she also a fabulous cook, which she learned from her mother, Janet. And by book 8, which I'm working on now, Janet has developed a catering business in Key West--meaning Hayley is often pressed into service. This new book (due out sometime in the summer 2018) takes place at a Cuban–American conference in town. I'm having so much fun deciding what they will serve. Mini Cuban sandwiches? Top secret recipe for flan? Traditional beef stew or ropas Viejas? You'll be seeing all of these recipes over the next several months, as Hayley and Janet make them!




DARYL:  Well, my two current protagonists are studies in contrasts! In my new French Bistro Mystery series, (set in Napa Valley) of course Mimi Rousseau cooks. She fell in love with food when she discovered the five mother sauces of France. In high school, she made her friends taste test everything. At 18, rather than go to college, she moved to San Francisco and became a sous-chef, then a full-fledged chef. She adores food and knows how to create simple as well as difficult dishes. Her favorite foods? Steak au poivre and créme brûlée. She also enjoys a delicious glass of chardonnay or cabernet. 

In my Cookbook Nook Mysteries, however, Jenna Hart, a former advertising executive, never really learned to cook. Her mother did it all. When Jenna moves to Crystal Cove to help her eccentric aunt open a culinary bookshop and cafe, she's game...mostly because she is a foodie. She adores food. She's been to almost every Bobby Flay restaurant. She enjoys a good barbecue. She relishes putting the "idea of a meal" together. In the first book, she starts to learn to cook (with the help of friends) by trying out five-ingredient recipes. By the third book, she graduates to ten-ingredient recipes. If she's honest, she adores fudge and cookies--in particular, wedding cookies. [That recipe is in the first book in the series.]




KRISTA: I was amused when some of the first reviews for my Domestic Diva Mysteries called Sophie Winston a caterer. While Sophie does like to cook and entertain family and friends, she's a professional event planner who hires caterers. Her clients usually tell her what they want to serve or work it out with the caterer. 

Of course, there's another diva in town—Natasha. And Natasha doesn't try to keep up with the trends, she tries to stay ahead of them! That can be problematic for me, but I subscribe to a number of trendy online newsletters about food so I can keep up with Natasha. Her ideas (hot chili pepper brownies) aren't always well received by friends and family, which irritates her no end. Everyone wants to gather around the table in Sophie's homey kitchen for comfort food like mashed potatoes and ribs. Their friend Bernie sometimes brings a special cake or appetizer from his restaurant.

In my real life, I was once an assistant manager of a huge convention hotel and the biggest perk of the job was the food. I was thoroughly spoiled. And that's how it is at the Sugar Maple Inn for Holly Miller. She does very little cooking or baking because the private kitchen has a magic refrigerator. Part of the day's leftovers go into it, so whenever she's hungry, the magic refrigerator holds special surprises, no cooking necessary. One of the other perks of her job is a chocolate croissant, hot tea, and dog and cat treats in bed first thing in the morning five days a week. On the two days when Mr. Huckle is off, she has to go all the way downstairs for her first meal of the day, usually something decadent like Eggs Benedict or pancakes with freshly picked local blackberries. It's a ruff life.

I have a new series coming out called the Pen & Ink Mysteries. By day, Florrie Fox manages Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. By night, she creates her own intricately detailed coloring books for adults, filling the pages with objects that catch her eye. But she also loves to bake. In the first book she bakes muffins, quick bread, and a strawberry cream torte. Luckily for her, there's a romance brewing and the fellow who has his eye on her is the son of a chef. I have a feeling she'll be eating pretty well!



LINDAMy Dinner Club Mysteries are just that -- the Culinary Capers Dinner Club meets monthly, rotating houses and hosts. The host chooses the cookbook (real ones that you can pick up at your local bookstore if you like the sound of their dishes) and the main course, then the others choose a side dish from that book. My protagonist, J.J. Tanner, is the newbie to the group, having joined within the past year. Her good friend persuaded, despite the fact that J.J.'s total involvement with cooking has been enjoying the photos in the many, many cookbooks she buys. What can I say...it's a relatively inexpensive vice.
       Now that the stakes, or steaks, are raised, she has to up her game. She's getting more daring about her choices with each book but she sticks fairly close to the recipe. What she's loving is that the others are actually enjoying what she cooks! She also loves eating and experimenting with new dishes and flavors. Eating out is also high on her list of good things in life.
       I find she challenges me to get more interested in and creative about my own cooking, so that's a very big plus in my life. I guess you could say that J.J. eats with her eyes first.



Click to learn more.
CLEO: When my husband and I created the Coffeehouse Mystery series, back in 2002, we agreed that our amateur sleuth (Clare Cosi) should reflect our own backgrounds, including our love of food. Like Clare, Marc and I grew up in Western Pennsylvania in families that were big on love but short on money. We were thrifty, but we loved to cook and eat! Also like Clare, we moved from our little towns to New York City. 

In the Coffeehouse Mysteries, Clare does her best to juggle the demands of running a busy coffee shop while mothering a quirky young staff of baristas. (It's no wonder she cooks for comfort!) Clare's time in the kitchen also brings back fond memories of her beloved grandmother who taught her to cook--and I can relate to that, having learned from my mom and Aunt Mary, who were born in Italy. 


I'll just add that Marc and I get a big kick out of making food part of our mystery plotting. In our recent release, Dead Cold Brew, Clare’s Cannoli Cream Cupcakes and Mason Jar Cold Brew Coffee each played a part in the murder mystery storyline. Clare even re-creates a dish she inhales at New York's famous 21 Club, where she goes to pursue a lead--no, "The Donald" was not there that night, but we enjoyed taking our readers to that legendary restaurant, including the historic secret room inside it. There are many more foods and drinks featured throughout Dead Cold Brew, which you can see in the recipe guide here


Coffeehouse Mysteries #15 and #16
Food also played an important role in our previous Coffeehouse Mystery, Dead to the Last Drop. At one point in the book, Clare worked with her daughter, Joy, a culinary school graduate, to overhaul an entire menu at the new Washington, D.C., branch of their business. And those recipes reflect some of our favorites, including an easy "cake pan" cheesecake, adapted from a recipe that continually sold out when it was served at a New York graduate school. (Learn more in the recipe guide here.) Like our culinary sleuth, Marc and I truly enjoy researching, cooking, and (especially) eating the foods and drinks we feature in our mysteries, including our new Coffeehouse Mystery (#17), coming next year!



PEG: In my very first series, Gourmet De-Lite, Gigi Fitzgerald has a business providing gourmet diet meals to a select group of clients.  Her theory is that food can be delicious and low calorie at the same time!  She cooks the same way for herself although her culinary world is turned upside down in Iced to Death when her sister Pia, with her penchant for Twinkies and take-out pizza, arrives in town for a visit .

In my Cranberry Cove series, Monica Albertson is helping her brother on his cranberry farm by baking lots of cranberry goodies for the farm store.  She's a whiz at making light-as-a-feather muffins, delectable scones and decadent cookies.  Her cooking tends to be basic--well grilled steaks, homemade soups and roasts.

In my Farmer's Daughter series, Shelby McDonald runs a small boutique farm.  She serves fresh produce grown on the farm in the summer and her own canned and preserved items in the winter.  She's a good cook who can take a basic dish, add a distinct twist to it and take it to a new level.  

I love to cook, too, and I love that I get to write food and recipes into my books! 


We hope you enjoy the food in our books. If you've tried one of our characters' recipes, tell us about it in the comments!