Tuesday, May 21, 2019

CHAI ANOTHER DAY - Agave Lime Chile Shrimp

LESLIE:  “At five-thirty, I asked Sandra to handle closing, grabbed my dog and cherries, and headed home. Flick Chicks is as much about friendship and food as the movies, and when the week starts with murder, I need my girlfriends more than ever.

I also needed to make sure the menu was lined up. Laurel had promised a salad and herbed cheese breadsticks—if she was firing up her commercial ovens despite the heat, why not take full advantage? For a main course, I’d planned one of our Twenty-Minute Dinners, though it was more like a fiver—Agave Lime Chili Shrimp. Shrimp are a recreational catch in Washington, not a commercial fishery, but Nate had taken me out early in the summer and we’d thrown a couple of pots over the side. Mmm, good. And I had the perfect dark chili powder to add flavor without too much heat.

My thoughts veered back to the murder investigation. Had Aimee told the detectives about the proviso in the will? If she hadn’t, should I? It supplied no motive that I could see, but as Tracy had said, anything unusual in the vicinity of the victim is worth probing. And surfaces can be deceiving.”

From CHAI ANOTHER DAY, coming June 11. (Pre-order links, reviews, and a longer excerpt on my website.) 

In the Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Pepper and her crew create “Twenty-Minute Dinners” using ingredients readily found in the Market, including a spice or two. They print them up and set racks of these recipes and others on displays throughout the store. As Pepper says in this excerpt, this one only takes about five minutes to prepare—give the shrimp a few minutes to marinate while you throw a salad together and slice a chewy loaf of French bread.

I’ve learned from readers over the years that many of you don’t tolerate “hot” spices well. Others have had bad experiences with a brother-in-law whose specialty is too-hot chili (he drinks too much beer to notice) or other over-spiced food, and shy away from peppers. Like me, Pepper understands the reluctance to try spices that have given you trouble, but unless one really does disturb your digestion, we both want to encourage readers and eaters to try a little of any spice they fear. Start small—this recipe is perfect for that, with only half a teaspoon of chili powder for half a pound of shrimp. You can cut that in half and adjust to your own taste, if necessary. The point isn't heat, it's flavor---and peppers add great flavor to cooling foods, when used properly. 

Agave syrup is easily found in liquor stores or specialty grocers.

These shrimp make a tasty appetizer—think of them as an updated shrimp cocktail—or main course.

Agave Lime Chile Shrimp

8 ounces cooked shrimp, tail on (roughly 16 shrimp)
2 tablespoons agave nectar or syrup
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
lime wedges, for serving

Place the shrimp in a large serving bowl. In a small bowl, mix the agave, lime juice, and chili powder; season with salt and black pepper to your taste.

Pour mixture over the shrimp and gently toss. Allow to marinate at room temperature.

Add a few lime wedges to the bowl for garnish, or create individual servings, each garnished with a lime wedge.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4–6 as an appetizer.

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books, June 2019): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

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  1. Loved the excerpt! Does agave syrup make it sweet? Is there a substitute I'm more likely to have on hand?

    1. Pat, it does add a touch of sweetness that nicely balances the lime and chili. You could try a mild honey -- warm it if you need to to get it very liquid.

    2. Oh, and thanks -- glad you like the excerpts!

  2. Such elegant simplicity!