Showing posts with label culinary mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culinary mysteries. Show all posts

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baked Bananas with a Cuban Flair @LucyBurdette

a market in Havana

LUCY BURDETTE: You all are going to be reading a lot of Cuban recipes in the next year. I'll tell you why: The eighth Key West food critic mystery (coming out next summer with Crooked Lane Books,) takes place at a Havana/Key West conference. Hayley Snow's mother, Janet, has been awarded the catering contract and Hayley herself has been pressed into service for the weekend. I've just sent this off to the publisher--whoo hoo--and thought I would celebrate with this easy, sort-of-Cuban side dish.

Often in Cuba and in Cuban restaurants, fried plantains are found on the side of meat and rice dishes. But I discovered a version of this banana recipe in the Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase and loved it.(Confession: I don't love plantains.) And, it's a lot easier than frying individual slices of plantain, important if you are working on a lot of other dishes.


5 to 6 Bananas
Half a stick of butter
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or squeeze a half
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rum
Cinnamon sprinkle if desired

Heat the butter and other ingredients in a small saucepan. Pour over the bananas, that you will have laid out in a 11 x 13 pan. Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes until the butter is bubbling and the bananas are just beginning to brown. That's it!

These were delicious with the pork roast that I'd made but I could see them going with a lot of other main dishes. They look like you've gone to a lot of trouble when they're really easy as pie. (Not piecrust, as Sheila would attest.)

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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Nonna's Sunday Gravy #recipe @ljkarst #giveaway

Lucy Burdette: I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Leslie Karst's new book, Dying for a Taste. I loved it and hope you enjoy it too--along with this amazing-sounding sauce! Welcome Leslie!


Nonna’s Sunday Gravy by Leslie Karst

Nonna Giovanna is the 86-year-old grandmother of my protagonist, Sally Solari. Tiny but feisty, Nonna is never happier than when, having spent the day cooking, she gets to scold guests in her thick Tuscan accent that they need to eat more: Mangia, mangia! Luckily for Sally’s family, however, when it’s Nonna’s mouth-watering Sunday Gravy on the menu, not much scolding is ever necessary.
This hearty, tomato-based stew is called “gravy” by many Italian-American families, as it’s traditionally eaten as two separate courses.

The sauce (i.e., “gravy”) is served over pasta as the primo, or first course:

And the braised meat is served as the secondo, or second course, with a vegetable or salad contorno (side dish):


(The following recipe is excerpted—with slight changes—from those included in Dying for a Taste. But unlike in the book, you get photos of the process, here!)


¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ pounds beef chuck or short ribs (slightly more if bone-in)
1 ½ pounds pork chops or shoulder (slightly more if bone-in)
1 pound sweet Italian sausages
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion (2 med. onions)
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans plum tomatoes
½ bottle hearty red wine (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
salt and black pepper

cooked penne, rigatoni, or spaghetti
grated Parmesan, Romano, or other hard Italian cheese


Cut the beef and pork shoulder into three pieces each and season with salt and pepper.

In batches, so as to not crowd the pot, fry the beef, pork, and sausages over a medium-high heat in half the olive oil (2 tablespoons) until golden brown on all sides. Nonna Giovanna likes to prepare her Sunday gravy in an enameled Dutch oven, but any large, heavy pot will do. (Note that it’s best to avoid cast iron, as the acid in the tomatoes can leach out the iron, imparting a metallic taste to the gravy. As you’ll see from my photos, however, I forgot this important fact, only remembering after the dish had been braising for several hours. Since my pot is well-seasoned, however, the dish tasted fine. But don’t you make the same mistake!) Remove the meat to a large plate once browned.

If needed, add the rest of the olive oil to the pot, and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are just beginning to brown.

Add the can of tomato paste and stir into the onions and garlic, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the paste turns a deep, reddish brown (about 5 minutes).

Add the two cans of tomatoes, with juice, to the pot. Using a fork and sharp knife, cut the largest tomatoes into quarters and the smaller ones in half.

Then add the wine, sugar, and herbs, and stir.

Add the meat (along with any liquid on the plate) back to the pot, and stir to cover the meat. If needed, add water so that the liquid in the pot just covers the meat.

Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When done, the meat should be almost falling apart and the sauce fairly thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the meat from the pot if you are going to serve it as a separate course. If not, you can cut the meat into smaller pieces and mix it into the sauce, being sure to remove any bones.

Serve the gravy over cooked pasta, topped with grated hard Italian cheese. Garnish with more of the chopped herbs, for added color and flavor. (See photos at top of post.)

Buon appetito!

Readers: Does your family sit down together regularly for a traditional meal prepared by your nonna (or abuela, or nana, or babushka)? If so, I’d love to hear about the dishes you eat! Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of DYING FOR A TASTE!

BIO: Leslie Karst is the author of the culinary mystery, Dying for a Taste, the first of the Sally Solari Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books). A former research and appellate attorney, Leslie now spends her days cooking, gardening, reading, cycling, singing alto in the local community chorus, and of course writing. She and her wife, Robin, and their Jack Russell mix, Ziggy, split their time between Santa Cruz, California and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Visit her at Leslie Karst Author for more.


SYNOPSIS: After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California, but soon finds that managing the front of the house is far from her dream job of running her own kitchen.

Then her Aunt Letta is found stabbed to death at Gauguin, Letta’s swank Polynesian-French restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place afloat. When the Gauguin sous chef is accused of the crime, however, Sally must delve into the unfamiliar world of organic food, sustainable farming, and animal rights activists—not to mention a few family secrets—to help clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sugar-free Gluten-free Brownies! from author @DarylWoodGerber

THANKS TO ALL FOR MAKING INHERIT THE WORD a bestseller while it was on the Bookbub special $1.99 sale price!  Yay. My publisher was so excited! And I think a lot of people learned about the rest of the books in the series because of it. Wahoo.

In FUDGING THE BOOKS--which comes out in August--I focus on, you've guessed it, chocolate! I have a number of chocolate-themed recipes in the book: Pirate Booty fudge, Irish cream pie, browned butter chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate macaroons, and more.

But I can't share those until after the book comes out, so I've drummed up new chocolate recipe to share with you.  

Brownies. Not just any brownies.

As I stated last week, my husband has been diagnosed with diabetes. This has been a challenging week, trying to figure out his insulin, trying to figure out what he can and can't eat. He's not much into sweets, usually, which is a good thing, but he does like chocolate!!!

So, while I'm on the chocolate kick, I decided I would make brownies that my husband could eat.

Ahem...however...since I need to eat gluten-free, this became a double challenge. I mean, I needed to taste it, right? I wondered how the texture would be using a sugar substitute and how the flavor would turn out. 

Overall, I'm thrilled with the result. This is a "flourless" brownie. I used cornstarch as the thickener. [If you can't eat corn, try sweet rice flour.] The flavor is great! I think next time I might double the recipe so the brownies will be thicker, but truthfully, these are a nice "thin" morsel of brownie, and for my husband, they turned out to be the perfect size.

Hard to capture the definition. Sorry.
Also, note:  I served the brownies on Father's Day, and they were a tad drier than the first day they were baked. Hmmm. Nobody complained mind you, but I think I would stick a wet piece of paper towel in the storage container to maintain moisture from the get-go.

Other than that, yay!  Success!

Serves 16

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ c. Swerve sugar substitute (you can use Splenda)
8 oz. sugar-free semisweet chocolate – I used Lily’s dark chocolate (there is Hershey’s, if you can find it)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square pan with foil (prefer a metal one), then lightly spray or butter, set aside.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar-free Swerve. Once the sugar-free sugar is incorporated, add the chopped sugar-free chocolate, stirring until smooth.

Remove from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract.

Using a mesh sieve (or a sifter), sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch into the saucepan, then add the salt.

Stir together, then beat the batter vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Beat until the batter is smooth and shiny.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 22-24 minutes (know your oven) or until the brownies are set in the center, taking care not to overbake.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 45 minutes before removing and slicing into 16 squares.

Notes: I think this recipe could be doubled and be just as good. Maybe cook a little longer.

Remembered to take the picture AFTER using the chocolate.
Crinkly paper, but you get the idea.


By the way, if you belong to Goodreads, I have a giveaway going. STIRRING THE PLOT, the 3rd Cookbook Nook Mystery, is up for grabs!  Hope you get in on the action.

And starting next week, EVERY WEEK, I will be offering giveaways on Mystery Lovers Kitchen through the release of FUDGING THE BOOKS. So check in often!

Also I'll be having a release party on Facebook on August 4th, so mark your calendars! Look for the event invitation.

And I'll be doing a giveaway August 3rd via my newsletter to someone (or a few someones) who are signed up to receive it! Don't delay. Sign up.

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Fruit Tart

Happy almost Fourth of July! If you're anything like me, you like to have something sweet and festive around for the holiday. This tart recipe looks like it's intensive, with lots of steps, but it's not hard at all. I've given options for both regular and gluten-free crust. That's the only thing that matters when it comes to dietary issues.
After that, it's time to enjoy the flavors of summer! And your independence. 

Did you know (fourth of July fun facts):

...that John Adams wrote home to Abigail on the 3rd of July that this day, July 2nd, will go down in history...but it wasn't until July 4th that congress accepted Jefferson's proposal. a bizarre twist of fate, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th.

...the fourth of July was being celebrated as early as 1777, but it wasn't an official holiday until 1870.

...the fourth of July is the biggest hot dog consuming day, with over 155 million being eaten for celebrations.

...this one for Sheila...which I'm sure she knows, history buff that she is...the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846, for fear of cracking it further. Therefore, on July 4th, it is tapped 13 times to signify it is time to ring the bells of freedom across the country.



For the crust (***regular or gluten-free option):
1 stick cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
1/4 cup sugar (*I used raw sugar)
1 1/4 cup regular or gluten-free flour, plus extra for rolling dough (depending on your dietary needs!)
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water (I used 4)

For the tart:
1 1/4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar (*I used raw sugar)
4 tablespoons cornstarch 

Jam Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup apricot jam or strawberry jam
1 tablespoon water


3 cups fruit including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and more…raspberries kiwifruit, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, etc., depending on your preference

Special equipment needed:
1 pound dried beans or rice
Parchment paper
10-inch tart pan


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the dough:
Put the butter, sugar, flour OR gluten-free flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy consistency. Add half of the water and pulse the food processor 2 to 3 times. The dough should start to come together. If desired, add the remaining water. (I did!) Check the consistency by clenching a small handful in your fist. If the dough stays together it is the proper consistency. If not, pulse the dough with a little more water. When the dough has reached the right consistency, set it on parchment paper that has been dusted with flour (or gluten-free flour, depending on your needs!) Dust with more flour (or GF flour). Top with another piece of parchment paper. Flatten slightly using the heel of your hand. Put the entire thing into a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready:  Set the dough, including parchment paper, on a clean work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness between the paper. Peel off the parchment paper and roll the dough gently into a tube. Then lay the dough in the tart pan, unrolling as you go. Push the dough into the sides of the tart pan. Roll dough over the top edge of the tart pan, then cut the extra dough from the pan. (You need this extra bit because the dough will shrink when it bakes.) Cover the dough with parchment paper and gently poke holes in the paper. Fill the tart shell with the dried beans or rice and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove the parchment and beans/rice and bake for 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove the tart shell from the oven and cool. The dough should be golden and crisp.

For the custard:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together.

Add the cornstarch to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.

Next, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla to a boil, just until the edges bubble. Remove from heat and add slowly to the egg mixture. Now pour the egg-milk mixture into a FRESH medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. Whisk for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat. Pour into a clean bowl and VERY IMPORTANT cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature.

To construct the tart:
Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds on medium-high. Brush half of the jam over the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry (about 20 minutes). 

Remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan by placing your hand under the pan and gently pushing the tart straight up. Neat trick: the fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. Set the tart pan on a flat surface and the tart ring in the sink.
If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto your platter. But this isn’t necessary.
Next, spread the cooled to room temperature pastry cream onto the bottom of the tart shell. Place fruit on top of cream or in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Using the remaining jam, brush the fruit with a glaze.

Refrigerate the tart, but bring to room temperature before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Serves about 6-8 people.


On Killer Characters blog, which a number of us participate on, we are having the Cozy Days of Summer Giveaway, where each day you can enter to win a book or more. Check it out and leave a comment with your email! Click the picture to follow the link:


For STIRRING THE PLOT, which comes out September 30th, I'm going to be doing a number of giveaways. Books, mugs, stuffed kittens!  Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter and "like" me on Facebook, where information about the giveaways will appear.  Look for pictures of Tigger, the ginger cat in the series, celebrating ala Halloween!


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
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Days of Wine and Roquefort 
is out!
order here

Inherit the Word
  is out!
                                    order here

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