Sunday, August 14, 2016

Welcome guest author Barbara Fradkin! #bookgiveaway

Barbara Fradkin is a retired child psychologist with a fascination for why we turn bad. Besides her short stories and easy-read short novels, she is best known for her gritty, psychological Inspector Green series, which has received two Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards. She is now embarking on a new mystery suspense series featuring former international aid worker Amanda Doucette, who battles her own traumatic past to help people in trouble. Fire in the Stars is available in September through your favourite bookseller as well as online.

Amanda Doucette, the star of my new mystery suspense series, is a former international aid worker who has never settled down long enough or had the patience to learn to cook anything but the basics. In her travels, however, she has sampled cuisine from around the world and loves new experiences in food as much as in life. In FIRE IN THE STARS, the first book chronicling her adventures, she is in Newfoundland trying to help a fellow aid worker who has gone missing with his young son, and in one scene she finds herself in a spectacular lighthouse restaurant in Saint Anthony at the rugged northern tip of the island. She has teamed up with an off-duty RCMP corporal Chris Tymko who is also a friend of the missing man and equally worried about his state of mind.

Against the backdrop of soaring gray cliffs and crashing ocean surf, they share bowls of the Lightkeeper’s Restaurant’s famous seafood chowder. I myself, in the interests of research, sat at their very table by the window, looking out over those same roiling seas and sampling the same chowder. I can attest that it is delicious. Seafood chowder is a mainstay of Newfoundland and east coast cooking, and can be as variable as the ingredients the cook has on hand. It’s hearty, thick, and puts meat on the bones, and as long as you can lay your hands on some seafood – an easy feat in Newfoundland – and have some root vegetables in your pantry, you are good to go.

Below is the variation on the chowder that Amanda would make, if she ever stayed put near a kitchen long enough to prepare it. Maybe some day …

Classic Newfoundland Seafood Chowder

1 lb. cod
1 lb. medium shrimp
½ lb. scallops
Half dozen clams or mussels in the shell for garnish (optional)
1 cup each of carrots, onions, and celery, all diced
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
¾ cup butter
¾ cup flour
4 cups seafood or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups whole milk
1-2 tsp. savory, finely chopped, fresh if possible
Small bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh sprigs of parsley for garnish

1.      Have all ingredients ready at hand, for you’ll be busy. In a LARGE pot, melt ¼ cup butter and sauté celery, carrots and onions together on medium heat for about 7 minutes.  Add pepper and salt.
2.      Add remaining ½ cup butter, melt, and stir in the ¾ cup flour to make a thick paste. Distribute well and cook briefly, stirring to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn or brown. 

3.     Gradually add the 4 cups of stock, stirring well throughout to ensure it blends and doesn’t lump. I used half chicken and half vegetable stock because prepared fish stock is hard to find. If you’re into making your own fish stock, you’re way ahead of Amanda and me.

4.      Bring the mixture to a soft boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. You will think it is much too thick, but it won’t be. Add diced potatoes and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes depending on the size of the potato and carrot chunks. They shouldn’t be completely cooked.

5.      Add cream and milk gradually, stirring gently, and bring to a very soft simmer. Do not boil, because that may curdle the milk. Add bay leaf and savory, cut or cumbled into small bits.
6.      Cut cod into one-inch chunks and scallops if they are large. Add cod, scallops, and shrimps to the pot and return to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally but carefully so the cod doesn’t break up. Test and add pepper and salt to taste.

7.      Meanwhile, steam clams in butter and ¼ cup of liquid – I used white wine and some of the broth.
8.      Serve chowder with garnish of parsley and clams, add a buttered roll and a glass of wine, and voila! A full meal!

This is a real meal in a bowl and can be made with whatever seafood and vegetables are at hand. A real Newfoundlander might add scrunchions, a delicacy of crisply fried, diced salt pork, as a garnish instead of clams and parsley, but if that’s hard to come by elsewhere than The Rock, you can substitute bacon for (almost) as good an effect. Newfoundlanders traditionally added scrunchion toppings to many of their meals, which were variants of bland white fish and bland white potatoes.

This recipe makes a large pot that probably would feed a dozen, and it’s great for leftovers. It can be halved or doubled without problems. It is adapted from The Wicked Scoff, a food blogger originally from Newfoundland and now living in New England.

Fire in the Stars, the first book in the Amanda Doucette mystery suspense series, will be out in Sept.!  To win a copy, please leave a comment. The winner will receive a copy of Fire in the Stars as soon as it's out!


  1. I will have to try this receipe! My Dad is from Nova Scotia (now in Ontario) and loves chowder! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of your book-it sounds great!

    1. I hope you like the chowder, and good luck with the contest, Karen!

  2. Wonderful chowder recipe; and the book sounds amazing!

  3. The chowder looks delicious and the mystery intriguing. Thank you for the chance to win. Dmskrug3 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  4. I love eating seafood chowder and this recipe sounds delicious. Congratulations on the new Amanda Doucette series. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Fire in the Stars. grace dot koshida at gmail dot com

  5. Chowder sounds wonderful as does your new series/book!