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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Broiled Yellowtail Snapper, a la Melissa Clark #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Coming from the "fish stick generation," fish is something I don't have complete confidence in cooking. Shrimp I can do. Crab cakes sure. But fish? Not so much. Especially when Key West restaurants do it so well. 

But when our neighbor gave us fresh yellowtail  snapper (caught by his son that very morning,) and when Melissa Clark offered a tasty sounding recipe in the New York Times that also looked easy, how could I resist? This is a flexible recipe so ingredients can be adjusted according to your taste.


 1 pound or so white fish
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
2 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 to 1 inch fresh ginger, grated 
 Grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the curry powder, fresh garlic, and ginger, and heat for a minute or two until the flavors are combined. Stir in the zest. 

Place the fish fillets on a small, rimmed baking sheet. (I covered mine with foil first.) Heat the oven to broil. 

Spread the sauce and its butter over the fish, and broil until done, or just flaky. Probably not much more than five minutes. 

Serve with lemon wedges, rice, and a vegetable or salad. I still say Seven Fish restaurant in Key West does fish better than I could imagine cooking myself, but this was pretty darn tasty. 

And  just for fun, here's a snippet from AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, when Hayley is writing her first-ever review, of Seven Fish restaurant. Funnily enough, she doesn't even mention the dish I order almost every time (yellowtail snapper in a light Thai curry sauce):

“The best starter isn’t on the regular menu, though it’s almost always offered: Sautéed grouper roll. (Or mahi mahi if the ban on fishing grouper holds.) Prepare your taste buds for a mélange of sweet, fresh fish, buttery avocado, and sauce-absorbing rice, all wrapped in a crispy tissue of seaweed. Incredible! The fish tacos are almost as good—under no circumstances neglect the spicy cole slaw that comes on the side. If you need to eliminate some choices, the crab cake has a larger ratio of cake to crab than this reviewer prefers, and salads are above average but skippable if you’re saving room for dessert.
Above all, do save room for dessert! Like the strawberry whipped cream pie, a tangle of sweet berries sunken into a bed of rich whipped cream complemented by the exquisite surprise of a chocolate graham cracker crust. If bananas flambé isn’t a choice you’d usually make, make an exception. The key lime cheesecake is rich and creamy, but a little short on lime.
As for main courses—“

Then I went on to describe Seven Fish’s main dishes in the twenty-five words I had left. I recommended the sea scallops over mashed potatoes, issued a richness alert on the gnocchi dressed with mellow blue cheese and sautéed fish, and began to tackle my mixed feelings about ordering meatloaf or chicken in a restaurant featuring “fish” in the name.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Many people probably don't know that Mother's Day was founded in Philadelphia, by Anna Marie Jarvis. Although Miss Jarvis was born in West Virginia in 1864, she left to work briefly in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then she joined her brother in Philadelphia, where she worked for a reputable life insurance company (and became their first female literary and advertising editor). Her mother joined her there in 1904, but lived only another year.

In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial ceremony in West Virginia to honor her mother, as well as all mothers, and that is counted as the date of the first official observance of Mother's Day.

I wouldn't have known any of this, but I spent several years walking past the sign in Center City Philadelphia.

Ladies, did your mother teach you to cook? Did you cook a meal as a treat for her? Or did you cook side by side in the kitchen?

SHEILA CONNOLLY: I give great credit to my mother for introducing me to fresh vegetables in my childhood (at a time when frozen vegetables were becoming popular). I thought artichokes and asparagus were wonderful things, and you could even eat them with your fingers. I wasn't as enthusiastic about avocados. I was cooking simple meals before my teens, but the first full meal I remember cooking for my mother was Thanksgiving 1967--I'd watched her cook a turkey for plenty of years by then.

LESLIE: Sheila, what a great picture of you and your mother! Mine was not much of a cook. I realize now that my father's schedule played a role -- he was a traveling salesman, gone from Monday morning to Friday afternoon, meaning dinner Friday was always some version of a casserole, what she with her Minnesota upbringing called "hot dish." Ground beef, onions, macaroni, a can of tomato soup -- you get the idea. 

But boy, could she bake. My father once told me "If you want to learn to make cake, watch your Aunt Peggy. But for pie, watch your mother." And he was right. (That's her cookbook and rolling pin, now at home in my kitchen.)

At Christmas, following her German heritage, she baked literally a dozen varieties of cookies, taking gift plates all over town. I just finished writing the 5th Food Lovers' Village Mystery, set at Christmas, and it was great fun to channel her when Erin and her friends hold a cookie exchange. (Mr. Right enjoyed testing a few Christmas cookie recipes in April, too!)

DARYL:  Sheila, my mother learned to cook after college. I remember finding letters from her to her grandmother (still have them) boasting that she'd learned to make meat loaf and green jello with fruit inside. [Her meat loaf was great; the jello...I'll pass!]  After that, however, she became a whiz. She was very bright. She could follow a recipe. She had just never learned to cook as a girl because her mother did it all. I fashioned my character Jenna, in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, after my mother (as far as that trait was concerned). I'm sharing a photo of my mother and my sister, at Christmas. My mom loved to entertain guests, and Christmas was her favorite time. She set out ham and cheese and crackers and then threw together some terrific appetizers. No one went home disappointed. Did she teach me to cook? A bit. I make a mean spaghetti that is her recipe and a great margarita!  LOL. But honestly I learned to cook when my parents divorced, and Mom went to work, and someone had to get food on the table. I became quite good at steak and mac-n-cheese. I could throw together a salad. And I made chocolate chip cream pies to sell to the neighborhood. Happy mother's day to all. May you love them fully if they are still alive; may you remember them fondly if they have passed on, as mine has. 

MARY JANE aka Victoria Abbott  I love these stories of your mothers and your early cooking. Until I was married, I could only make tuna sandwiches and coffee.  My mother was a gifted cook and I wish I had a picture of her in the kitchen, but then she wouldn't have been wearing one of her glam hats. Here we are on Mothers' Day, a million years ago.

 My mother-in-law and Victoria's other grandmother, a girl from the mountains in the north of Italy, went on to become  brilliant in the kitchen and once cooked a meal for the Queen. 

When they would visit us at the same time, they could get into the kitchen and cook AT each other, competitively.  I would just hide out on the sofa reading (and worrying about shrapnel) and enjoy the results.  Victoria and I channeled her Maffini grandmother (who is still alive at 95) and her auntie into our Signora Panetone character. "Eat! What's the matter? You don't like it.  Many of the recipes from both sides are still family favorites.  Mothers' Day always makes me happy/sad.  I hope you all enjoy the day with the mums who are still with you and the happy memories of the ones who aren't.

LUCY: They cooked a meal for the queen?? Wow, MJ, my mother's cooking wouldn't have made it past the back gate LOL. To be fair, it was the 50's, and Mom worked full time and raised four kids. She loved to eat, and made sure we all got fed, but she didn't love to cook. We were all about cans of vegetables, roasts, and potatoes. And Leslie, the same casserole recipe that your mother used! She had some high points in her repertoire, usually involving a great buffet of little sandwiches, fruit, and cookies. And she went all out for Christmas cookies too.

 My hat's off to all these mothers who raised amazing daughters!

Linda:  I'm sensing a bit of a trend here. I don't think my Mom enjoyed cooking although I never asked her. She just made sure we were fed when we needed to be. Sunday after church it was always a roast with mashed potatoes and canned green peas. Most weeknight meals included the necessary potatoes, veggie, often canned cream corn or for a treat -- niblets, and some meat. Unless there was fish. My Dad loved to fish and growing up on the B.C. coast, there were plenty of salmon in those days to oblige him.

Where Mom really shined was Christmas. She'd bake amazing-smelling Swedish cookies and breads in preparation and then on Christmas Eve, our meal would be potatoes, peas, and a Scandinavian delicacy (depending on who you ask -- don't ask my sister!) called Lutefisk. I remember it all with fondness.

I've grown into cooking over the last few years, much as my character, J.J. Tanner has. Although I think she's better at it!

Here's to all our Mom's be they with us in person or in memory. We cherish them. 

Krista: Like Roberta, I'm very interested in hearing the story about cooking for the Queen!

Food and cooking were a very big deal in my family. I remember my father telling my mother that I would never learn to cook if she didn't start teaching me. My mom was a devoted follower of Julia Child and bought all her cookbooks. I didn't start cooking much, though, until I lived on my own.

Someone once said to me that my house was like the United Nations because celebrations
were full of friends from all over the world. My mom and her friends cooked and baked and took great pride in their dishes. They were truly the original domestic divas.

I am very blessed to still have my mom with me. These days I do the cooking and baking, and she seems pretty happy about that. 

To all the moms who are with us, and those whom we remember with such love, Happy Mother's Day!

Peg:  Such fun hearing these stories about your mothers!  My father was very much a meat and salad sort of person (no potatoes even--I think he invented the low carb diet)  but he did love the dishes my mother made that came from her mother--goulash, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage (my grandmother was Hungarian.) Dessert was something we only had on special occasions so she didn't do much baking.  



If you have a favorite memory of your mother
we'd love to hear it!

Leave us a comment and we'll choose a winner
(by random number generator)
of two Mystery Lovers' Kitchen recipe packets--
one for you and one for your mother
(or to give as a gift in her memory).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Banana Cake with Maple Frosting #recipe @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Last week, we ended up with three bunches of bananas on the counter—John bought two before he noticed that I’d come home with another. Naturally they all began to ripen at the same time. We like bananas, but not that well! Then visions of banana cake with frosting containing maple syrup came bounding into my mind. Not a bad outcome! So I went on the hunt...

The bones of the cake I borrowed from The Gunny Sack, though their icing sounded too sweet and I wanted to use real syrup, not maple flavoring. So I cut the butter and the sugar in the frosting in half.

Baking soda is a challenge for bakers and eaters who need to watch their sodium—over 1200 mg in one teaspoon. I used the no sodium kind, which simply doesn’t work as well, even when doubled. However flat the cake turned out, the taste was still delicious! Next time I might bake it in a smaller pan…or even walk on the wild side and try low sodium baking powder, which is much more successful.

Banana Cake

4 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (2 and ½ in my case)

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda, 2 if using low sodium

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar


With your mixer (handheld or Kitchenaid) beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat the sugars in, followed by the eggs and mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) and beat briefly.

Pour the batter into a greased pan (9 by 13 is what I used) and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the icing, beat together cream cheese and butter for 1 minute.

Add maple syrup and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Taste for maple intensity.

Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each cup. Frost the cake when cool. Hey, this could work for mother's day!

oh yummy!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Around Our Kitchen Table: Food and Mysteries #giveaway

LUCY: I was reading the first book in Daryl's new series, A DEADLY ECLAIR, (yes, I got lucky and snagged an early copy!), and I started thinking it would be interesting to talk about how and why we use food in our mysteries. Writing the Key West food critic series has really tweaked my interest in food and cooking because I have to think the way that my character, food critic Hayley Snow, thinks. She uses food as a way to connect with people, and to calm herself down, and to seduce the folks she’s trying to get information from that may solve the mysteries.

I like what Hayley wrote for the magazine she works for, Key Zest, at the end of DEATH IN FOUR COURSES: “I’d summed up by saying how important it was to remember that while food did mean life and death in its most elemental form, most often we in the food writing industry were talking about food as the pleasure of connections. When we wrote about simmering a stew or a sauce for hours or days, we were really talking about how much we owed to the folks who came before us and the importance of cherishing their memory. And how much we yearned to give to the people in our present who’d be gathered around our table. We were writing about food as family history, and love, and hope, and sometimes a little splash of guilt.

MLK ladies, I'd love to hear about the role food plays in your books!

SHEILA: I was a big fan of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books from the beginning of my mystery-collecting career. The idea of a sleuth who sat eating wonderful food while solving mysteries in his own mind was very appealing. I even have a copy of The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and I've used several favorite recipes many times.

In a way the Orchard Mysteries are the polar opposite. My protagonist Meg Corey moves to an unfamiliar town and finds a body in her back yard--not the best way to meet your new neighbors! But a major theme of the series is community, and that means bringing people together over food. Meg even helps friends launch a restaurant in her town! And since she grows apples, I've used quite a few of the apple recipes I've collected over the years in the books. 

Clearly food matters. It's something we share, especially when we are celebrating important events or holidays. Eating together with friends and family is one of the joys of life.

LESLIE: It really is all about community, isn’t it? My main characters are retailers who love to cook. Food is their business, and their passion. In the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Erin is committed to raising awareness about local food. Food anchors gatherings with her extended family, and the festivals that are a village mainstay. In the Spice Shop Mysteries, we explore one of the great public markets—Pike Place in Seattle—with Pepper, and learn a lot about herbs and spices. Both women love putting good food in customers’ hands, to enhance their knowledge and pleasure. As sleuths, their occupations give them an entree to the investigation. Erin finds a clue in an old recipe. Pepper uses a delivery as an opportunity to confront a reluctant witness. The amateur sleuth has access to conversations and secrets that law enforcement doesn’t have—and nothing opens those doors like huckleberry jam or a fragrant box of spice tea. 

I’ve said this before, but I believe the role of the amateur sleuth is to restore the social order after the disruption that murder or other crime creates. What does that better than food?

LINDA:  My series features the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, so food is at the core of both the series and their monthly dinners. The group uses real cookbooks anyone can find in bookstores, so I must be sure not to have anyone poisoned! 

Besides bringing them together in a ritual of friendship, it has allowed my protagonist, J.J. Tanner, who is an event planner, to quickly find a place in her new town. She readily admits she's not a seasoned cook however, she has a great passion for cookbooks, with color photos. And she tries hard to improve her skills both in the kitchen, and when scouring the clues for a murderer. And the Culinary Capers gang is more than willing to help on both fronts.

CLEO: Marc and I live in the borough of Queens, New York, one of the most ethnically diverse plots of land on the planet. We may not speak the same languages as our neighbors, or wear the same kinds of clothing, but we absolutely enjoy each other’s foods—from Salvadoran pupusas served out of a family-run truck to the colorful chiffon cakes of a Filipino bakery and the savory kebabs of a Bosnian diner. 

In our Coffeehouse Mystery Holiday Grind, our amateur sleuth Clare expressed our philosophy this way: “A diversity of cultures meant a diversity of foods. Eat with tolerance, I say!” 

Like Clare, we believe food can serve as the most basic first step toward cultural understanding. It's one reason we enjoy putting a diversity of foods in our mysteries: from the bright purple Filipino ube cake (and our favorite carnita recipe) in A Brew to a Kill to the Bosnian burger (pljeskavica) and “poor man’s caviar” in Once Upon a Grind

We loved writing about coffee hunter Matt’s Ugandan chicken stew in Billionaire Blend as much as culinary student Joy’s mini tarte Tatin’s in Dead to the Last Drop—not to mention her mother's cannoli cream cupcakes in Dead Cold Brew“Food is our common ground, a universal experience,” said James Beard. Marc and I agree. We also love to eat, of course, and now we have an excuse. Research! May you, too, eat with curiosity, wonder, and joy!

KRISTA: That's a lovely quote, Lucy. For those who aren't writers, I'll explain that when you start out, all kinds of people spout writing rules at you. I remember someone telling me never to set a scene at a table when people were eating. Now I love to tell new writers to learn the rules and break them appropriately!

The gang in the Domestic Diva Mysteries often discuss murder over food. In my personal life, a lot of the most interesting discussions with friends and family (though happily not about murder) take place around the table, so why wouldn't that happen in mysteries? Do the sleuths always have to be on the run? Of course not. 

Plus, food always shows up at the celebrations of life. Whether it's a birthday or graduation, holiday or job promotion, we celebrate with food. It only stands to reason that our characters would do the same.

And like Lucy, I love it when my sleuths can use food as a bribe. What better way to interrogate, er, meet the new neighbors?

DARYL:  Krista, I remember hearing those same rules. 'No discussions over food and tables!' So I was avid about creating scenes which included food to be about the preparation of food. Moving about the kitchen. Slicing, dicing. Handling hot objects. Not sitting. But people in foodie mysteries seem to gravitate to the table or to the counter or the food stand.  I will say that when I was writing the Cheese Shop Mysteries, I had to learn so much about cheese, that I was often keeping my characters at the cheese counter to taste, share, and discuss. I had to learn to move them about the shop and out of the shop into town and "real life." It was a challenge. Now that I'm writing the French Bistro Mysteries, I have to remind myself to move the characters out of the bistro kitchen. It's a challenge—I love a kitchen!—but I love a challenge.

PEG: My two most recent series--Cranberry Cove and Farmer's Daughter mysteries--represent food at its most elemental--growing it! And obviously growing it and cooking it go hand-in-hand so my characters also spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Sharing a meal brings people together and it gives my characters an opportunity to gather a diverse group around their tables.

Readers: We'd love to hear--why do you read culinary mysteries? Leave us a comment with your email and you'll be entered in a drawing for Peg's absolutely, brand-new mystery, DEAD AND BERRIED!

Join us at the table!
Leave your comment below...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Dip #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I love salty chips and dips--good old Ruffles and Lipton onion soup dip to me are heaven! But they do not love me. So when it was my turn to bring a nibble to a party, I started thinking about whipping up something slightly sweet instead of savory. I wanted a dip that would go with Stacy's sugar cinnamon chips (my new addiction.) This couldn't be easier and better and yet, everyone liked it!


8 ounces whipped cream cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain yogurt
5 to 6 ripe strawberries, finally chopped
Honey, about one tsp or to taste

Chips and fruit for dippingMix the cream cheese with the yogurt and stir in the chopped strawberries. Taste, and add honey according to your sweet tooth. My strawberries were not completely ripe and sweet so, I added a teaspoon. 

Serve the dip with cinnamon sugar chips or plain crackers or fruit such as strawberries halves and chunks of pineapple.

And it's so easy, you have time left over to read--or write. And I am writing a brand new Key West food critic mystery...hooray!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Almond Raspberry Cupcakes for #Easter #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Doesn't it seem as though Easter used to be a much bigger deal? When I was growing up, we dressed up in new dresses and hats, went to church, and then had a hunt for baskets and a big family dinner. These days, we are pared down to a sunrise service on the beach (lovely) and something tasty for dinner. But what?

I know you probably realize that I love everything almond, baked goods that is. So when I saw an article in the New York Times by Melissa Clark about almond cupcakes, my antennae quivered. This looked like a perfect spring or Easter dessert. Of course I changed a few things, as I love raspberry jam more than cherry or chocolate. (I know, heresy.)

They came out light and adorable and I share them with you. Don't skimp on the quality of the raspberry jam – this is the future of the cupcakes!


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Three-quarter cup almond flour
Three-quarter cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two large eggs
Few drops almond extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder (low-sodium if you need it)
Two egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
Raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a muffin/cupcake tin with paper liners or butter. (Melissa Clark greased her muffin tin--that has always resulted in a big mess for me!)

Mix the almond flour, confectioners sugar, and salt. Beat in the eggs and almond extract. Pulse in the butter, cornstarch, and baking powder.

Whip the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff. Fold one third of the egg whites into the almond flour bowl. Mix this gently, and then fold in the remainder of the egg whites until no white streaks remain.

Distribute the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven. Drop a generous dollop of the jam in the center of each cupcake, and return the pan to the oven. Bake another 8 to 10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Here's how it looks...

Beating eggs into flour mixture

whipping egg whites with sugar

folding in the whites

adding jam to partially baked cupcakes

almost there!

Happy Easter, Key West style!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!