Showing posts with label book club selection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book club selection. Show all posts

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Murder with Ganache and Nocciolato Fudge #recipe for #BookClubs #books




LUCY BURDETTE: Welcome to Book Club Week at MLK! I love book clubs--love belonging and love visiting. And I love recommending books for clubs to consider:). This time around I’d like to suggest MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth in the Key West food critic mystery series.

MWG is a cozy mystery starring Hayley Snow, a food critic who lives on a houseboat in Key West. Her extended family is descending on the island like a category 3 hurricane for her best friend's wedding. When her stepbrother disappears into the spring break party scene, she must put the baking of cupcakes and other wedding chores on hold in order to search for her brother. The book features Hemingway cats, and cupcakes, and wedding drama, but in the end it's about finding and embracing family in whatever form they come.
 

If you are going to choose MURDER WITH GANACHE for one of your book club selections this year (and I hope you will--I love this book, and there are so many things to talk about), as the hostess, you must resign yourself to providing something chocolate. 


You might choose hot fudge pie or chocolate cake, both swoon-worthy, but here is an easy alternative. This recipe began as Chocolate Nutella Fudge from the Tasty Kitchen--until I read the list of ingredients on the Nutella package. At that point, thinking there must be something better, I searched for a substitute, and found an organic chocolate-hazelnut spread that is really quite incredible.


Nocciolato Fudge
 

Ingredients

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (make these good quality, as it will show)
1 cup Nocciolato (organic chocolate-hazelnut Spread--I used the whole 9.5 oz jar)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt or pink salt

 

To make the fudge:

Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with two layers of parchment paper, overlap on the sides.

In a stainless steel bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate chips, hazelnut spread, and butter.
 

Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. (The pan should not touch the water.)

Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.



Scrape the mixture into the papered pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with sea salt. (I would have used some of Krista’s pink sea salt if I’d had it on hand--so pretty!)

Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours.
Lift the fudge out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut the fudge into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a pretty plate. Store leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container in the fridge. This can also be made ahead and frozen.

 


As for what to discuss while enjoying the fudge, here are some questions to get things going:

1. Hayley’s mother says that “life develops around the kitchen table” and that “kids need to understand how food connects the people in their lives.” Hayley’s stepmom insists that life develops at work–who cares whether a mother uses a cake mix or serves macaroni from a box? Where would you stand in this argument?

2. Hayley’s parents have a disagreement about social justice on the way to the marina. How do you feel about the homeless people as presented in the book? Have you had any personal experience with homeless folks?

3. When Hayley’s brother Rory gets into trouble, the family struggles with how much to tell the police. They wonder whose side the cops are on. How do you think you might react in a similar situation? Would you trust the police to have your interests at heart?

4. Hayley says “Food meant comfort and love and even peace in my family.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?

5. Hayley tells Rory “I’ve discovered that family has less to do with biology than it does with who cares enough to make the effort.” Does this statement ring true for you? Talk about a person who isn’t a blood relation in your life who feels like family.

6. When spirits are low, Hayley and her mom make comfort food for the extended family–spanakopita and Greek salad and strawberry whipped cream pie. What menu would you design to cheer up a troubled family member or friend?



 If you’d like to read some of the reviews on MURDER WITH GANACHE, you can do that right here. I was completely delighted this spring, when Woman's World magazine selected MURDER WITH GANACHE as a pick for a foodie book club. As you can see in the photo, they also recommended reading with a daiquiri in hand:).  Sounds like a good idea, right? Recipe here.

And, if you think your book club might like signed postcards from the Key West mysteries, leave a comment today with your email.


Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mystery series. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be on bookshelves on December 2. You can preorder it now, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite independent bookstore.

Follow Lucy on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

DEADLY ADVICE, the first advice column mystery (written as Roberta Isleib) is finally available as an ebook.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Club Week: Death in Four Courses by Lucy Burdette #BookClub



LUCY BURDETTE: I hope you all are enjoying book club week in our kitchen--I sure am! Though my hometown book club is on hiatus temporarily, we’ve had a lot of wonderful discussions over the years. 

For a while, we decided that the hostess would choose the book and also provide dinner to other members. My turn came when we discussed Carlos Eire’s WAITING FOR SNOW IN HAVANA. I made an elaborate Cuban meal, including pork roast with black beans and baked bananas. Funny how I remember the details of the food better than the details of the book (although it was an excellent memoir.)


But you shouldn’t have to work that hard as a book club host, so I'm making an easy suggestion for refreshments. I’ve chosen DEATH IN FOUR COURSES for discussion (the second Key West mystery) and Hayley's hot fudge pie to go along with it. If you serve this pie, you will be plied with compliments without spending much time slaving in the kitchen. (And it goes with any beverage--coffee, tea, champagne, wine...)

Now, let me tell you a little about the book...

Not too long after I signed the contract to write the Key West food critic mystery series, I learned that the Key West Literary Seminar would be focusing on food writing in January 2011. The event was called THE HUNGRY MUSE, and it featured foodie luminaries such as Frank Bruni, Madhur Jaffrey, Jonathan Gold, Diana Abu-Jaber, and many more.

I pictured my food critic character, Hayley Snow, covering a similar conference for her online magazine, Key Zest. She would be so thrilled to hear and meet her writing idols. But she would have mixed feelings too, as she tried to land interviews with bigwigs, write snappy but thoughtful articles, all while comparing her abilities and her fledgling career to theirs. And maybe Hayley had invited her well-meaning, foodie mother for the weekend, not realizing quite how vulnerable she’d feel working on this important assignment?

With that background in place, I looked for more ways to ratchet up the tension. Suppose the keynote speaker threatened to divulge some of the other writers’ potentially career-threatening secrets over the weekend? And suppose someone would kill to hide one of those secrets? And then what if a dear friend was implicated in this murder?

And then mix in a ton of food, including a multi-course dinner at Louie’s Backyard, dinner at Santiago’s Bodega, and lunch at La Creperie.

All in all (though I’m biased as the author:), I think DEATH IN FOUR COURSES would provide a book club with lots to chew on. (Sorry couldn’t help myself!) Here are a couple of questions you could use to get discussion going:

1.  The role of food in the families of the conference speakers varies widely. How was food seen in your family? Who cooked the meals and what were they like? How has that history affected your relationship with food today?

2.  Which of the fictional speakers’ books would you be interested in reading? Which might you want to have at your book group meeting–and why?


The entire list of book club discussion questions can be found here.

My friend Linda Juliani gave me this recipe for hot fudge pie and I’ve made it many times. It’s perfectly fast and easy and yet has all the advantages of a homemade dessert, hot out of the oven.

Ingredients

1 stick butter
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
4 Tbsp flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
 dash salt

Melt one stick of butter and 3 squares of unsweetened chocolate together. (Linda uses the microwave–just be sure to cover the bowl as it will splatter. I use the old-fashioned pan on a stove method.) 

Add to the bowl 1 and 1/4 cups sugar and 4 tablespoons flour and a dash of salt. Mix. Then add 3 beaten eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch pie plate and bake at 350 degrees fro 20-25 minutes.
Serve warm with ice cream.

And I'll leave you with my favorite review of DEATH IN FOUR COURSES from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: 

“Near the start of Burdette’s yummy sequel to An Appetite for Murder, Key West food critic Hayley Snow brings her mother down from New Jersey for a visit… Outspoken Mom provides tart commentary as Hayley once again turns sleuth. Anyone who’s ever overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy.”

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. You can follow her on twitter, facebook, and Pinterest. If you'd like to invite her to appear at your book club via skype, email her at LucyBurdette at gmail dot com.