Sunday, October 24, 2021

Guest Post by @Ellen Byron: Shrimp, Crab, and Artichoke Cavatelli and #Giveaway


Leslie Karst here, welcoming to the Kitchen today my good pal and fellow Chicks on the Case blogger, the amazing Ellen Byron (aka Maria DiRico). Ellen's celebrating the release this coming Tuesday of the newest adventure in her Catering Hall Mystery series, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder. (Is that a fabulous title, or what?) Congrats, Ellen!

And Ellen will be giving away a copy of her new book to one lucky commentator, below!


I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas. (Halloween, anyone?!) But It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder, my third Catering Hall Mystery, revolves around the holiday season, so bear with me. And who says you have to wait until the holidays to make this tasty dish?

Many Italian Americans celebrate Christmas Eve with what’s known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. No one knows why the meal is called this, but a seafood-based meal may come from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat prior to a feast day.

My Italian family didn’t observe Feast of the Seven Fishes, but I wanted to incorporate it into the plot of my book. And introducing the reader to it necessitated a recipe. I figure a pasta dish incorporating at least two out of the seven fishes is a good foundation upon which to build your own seafood feast.

Note: all the ingredients except for the pasta are made ahead of time and marinated from one hour to overnight for full flavor.




Shrimp, Crab, and Artichoke Cavatelli

(Serves 6-8)


Ingredients:


8 oz. cooked crabmeat, picked clean of shell and cartilage

2 cups cooked shrimp, medium in size (The recipe in the book calls for 1 lb. cooked crabmeat and 1 cup cooked shrimp. I flipped it for this post because crab is so expensive right now.)

4 canned artichokes

Liquid from canned artichokes

1 shallot

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ cup chopped parsley

1 cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tsp. separated

Juice of two lemons

1/8 salt; more to taste if necessary

Ground pepper to taste

½ lb. cavatelli (or similar pasta)



Directions:

Dice the shallot. Add the teaspoon of oil to a skillet or sauté pan and sauté the diced shallot until it is soft. Set aside to cool.



In a large bowl, gently mix the crab, shrimp, garlic, artichokes, lemon juice, parsley, and basil.



In a smaller bowl, whisk the olive oil, artichoke liquid, and salt together. (Sidebar: Guess who left the artichokes out of the instructions in the book? Me! So readers, you’re getting a bonus here.)



Pour the liquid into the shellfish mixture and gently stir to combine. Stir in the cooled shallots. Cover the bowl and refrigerator for at least an hour but preferably overnight.




When you’re ready to prepare the dish for dinner, removed the shellfish mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Follow the directions that accompany your cavatelli or choice of pasta to cook it until it’s al dente.



Drain the pasta and toss with the shellfish mixture. Serve immediately. You can put out salt, pepper, and lemon juice for any guest who wants to add a dash to their meal, but no cheese. Niente formaggio sul pesce, as the Italians say. No cheese on fish.







About Ellen:
Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series, under the name Maria DiRico, and will debut the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries (as Ellen) in June 2022. Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. She blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/



About It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder:
Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .


Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.

Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .

Italian recipes included!


🍗 🌿 🍷

Now for the GIVEAWAY! For a chance to win a copy of It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder, answer this question in the comments: Do you have a traditional dish you serve at the holidays? (And be sure to include your email address!)


44 comments:

  1. For thanksgiving we serve my grandma’s stuffing and gravy.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

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  2. We actually have a lime jello salad that has been in the family forever and it must be made in a vintage Tupperware mold. This staple is served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Brenda, I may want to share that recipe with readers of my new series, the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries!

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  3. When I was growing up, it was always turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas. However, when I was around 8 or 9, Christmas dinner changed. Dad realizing that Mom was missing out on all the fun activities Christmas morning, suggested and it was readily accepted that Christmas day be a more relaxing meal so Mom could enjoy in not only the unwrapping of presents, but the flow of friends that came by. I was a tradition for us that after ample time for family to enjoy their private time, that everyone would go from house to house to see what everyone got and to visit a short bit while enjoying the fun holiday spread of the homemade foods and treats that each family had laid out. So a lot of times our Christmas dinner was sandwiches made with every kind of meats and cheeses with chips and a wide assortment of dips. After enjoying snacking everywhere it was a great meal and us kids thought it was grand. Since my Dad's birthday was December 31st, we had our ham dinner on his birthday a week later.

    Now it's just hubby and I, so holiday meals are what hits our fancy at the time. We have had the traditional meal, fire grilled steaks, tacos and even the meal of sandwiches that always bring back sweet memories of when I was a kid. As we have gotten older, our thought is if we turkey in May, then we have turkey dinner with all the trimmings in May. Why wait for a date on a calendar?

    Cant wait for the opportunity to read "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder". Love the fun cover and the story sounds amazing, but no surprise there considering the author. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. Kay...thank you! And what a beautiful story. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. BTW, I've become a fan of no-work holidays. Sitting around in jammies eating whatever - that's for me!

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  4. Yes, we have some holiday items we usually serve: cornbread dressing/stuffing and a cherry salad.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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    Replies
    1. LOVE cornbread stuffing. Cherry salad sounds interesting. Oooh - recipe?

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  5. Mom's homemade biscuits and my grandma's recipe for green beans with bacon and eggs.
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  6. A fun recipe.
    I always wonder when artichokes are listed in ingredients: marinated or packed in water? That makes a BIG difference.

    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    Replies
    1. Good point, Libby. I use artichokes packed in water and use that water in the recipe. But I'm a fan of experimentation. I think marinated artichokes would be another way to go and just as good. I have to try that next time.

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  7. Yummy! Welcome to the blog, dear Ellen.

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  8. Homemade cranberry orange relish.
    terry0743@aol.com

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  9. Nope no traditional dish. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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  10. I am from Chile, but live in the US since I was 15, of ITALIAN descent (Bernucci). Two dishes come to mind: Walnut cake without flour(ground walnuts)...several layers...delicious. We also make Floating Islands dessert...a vanilla custard pudding with floating meringue scoops and topped with caramel sauce dripped over the 'islands'. These are my childhood special fond memories, enjoyed with 50+ noisy Italian relatives ;-) Now we have finicky grandchildren here in the US and these items are not 'tolerated', so we celebrate with Bulgarian dishes that our daughter-in-law prepares...like Moussaka, turkey stuffed with sauerkraut, and Russian salad. All delicious...the best part is enjoying each other's love and wit. Thank you for sharing your writing talents. So excited to read "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder"!!!!! lanu11@hotmail.com

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    1. Oh, wow. I can't begin to tell you how delicious this all sounds!!

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    2. This recipe is very close to the Floating islands dessert we make. DECADENT:-)
      https://cafejohnsonia.com/2012/07/julia-childs-floating-islands-recipe.html

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  11. I was reviewing the comments and wondered how you make a turkey stuffed with sauerkraut and a Russian salad. My family always had the traditional turkey dinner at Thanksgiving and Ham at Christmas and pretty much stick with those yearly meals. I am definitely going on a google search for "Grandpalanu's" interesting recipes. I love this site, so many great ideas all the time. Thank you all!!
    lindalou64(@)live(dot)com

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    1. Hi Linda, I am just a fan, and don't have a website with recipes, but the turkey is stuffed with sauerkraut, rice and sausage. Otherwise the turkey is roasted as usual. Great combination of flavors. This Google page has several recipes you can look at: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=turkey+stuffed+with+sauerkraut&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 Russian salad is a cold potato salad with lots of ingredients...we eat it as snacks also...this recipe is similar to what we make, but you can improvise:https://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/russian-potato-salad/
      I hope this makes for a fun research for you, and that you actually try them and like them. Thank you!!!

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  12. So excited to read this book!!! Love the book cover!! For years my family will make sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows and pecans for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Thank you for the chance!!

    jarjm1980(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. We used to always have ham at Christmas because we got a ham for Christmas at work. When that stopped, we now have pork schnitzel and spaetzel.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Friends, I have to go out for a few hours, but I'll be back later and reading all these wonderful comments - you are all making me REALLY hungry, lol!

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  15. I always make my Grandma's broccoli and corn casserole. It's delicious.
    clugston.kathy@yahoo.com

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  16. My Grammy's creamed onions. Oh, how I adore those!

    Thanks so much for visiting the Kitchen today, Ellen, and so excited about the new book! xoxo

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    1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Leslie. And creamed onions sound DELICIOUS.

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  17. It's not the holidays without cranberries, sweet potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie for me.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  18. Hello. I always make homemade mac and cheese because my sons love it. And always chocolate chip cookies and thumbprints. :-)
    Denise
    dlc1228@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Homemade mac and cheese is a personal fave. :-)

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  19. Broccoli salad is my go to! tWarner419@aol.com

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  20. Oh yum. I want to try. And thanks for the chance!

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  21. Since I was a child in the 1950's we've had Christmas Candy made by my Mom. It's a marvelous chocolatey truffle-shaped candy that starts with 8 cups of chopped pecans & only gets better going forward! Mom passed away in 2013 so our daughter now makes the candy every Christmas. lnchudej@yahoo.com

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    1. That sounds delicious! I wonder where she found the recipe.

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  22. It is not Christmas without two Puerto Rican dishes I grew up with. One is pasteles which looks kind of like a tamale. The other is arroz con gandules which is rice with pigeon peas. cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  23. For us it has always been turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, salad and peas! lindaherold999(@)gmail(dot)com

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  24. Our holiday meals include sticky rice with chinese sausage, mushrooms and green onions at Thanksgiving and chow mein at Christmas.
    wskwared(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  25. Our family mixes tradition w/international/ethnic food.My Cajun dad had to have gumbo first before both the holiday meals,& ever since the early 90s I make Double Layer pumpkin cheesecake for T'Day. Xmas is usually ham and sometimes turkey too, & for some of the many desserts Mom & I included Mexican Wedding cookies (aka Pecan Frosties,also known in New Orleans as cocoons) and I make a Trifle, taught to me in the 80's by Dad's former secretary/family friend who married a guy from Liverpool. When my Mexican-American sister-in-law's mom was alive we often rec'd homemade tamales from Lubbock,TX.My Sicilian mother's family didn't do the Seven Fishes either,but she often made garlicky Italian pork roast, braciole or lasagna for Xmas-or-New Year's Eve. And being originally from NOLA, we all subscribe to chefs Nick Stellino & Lidia Bastianch's idea that cheese makes everything better, including some seafood dishes! I love artichokes and often make a spinach-artichoke side(w/a bit of jalapenos)during holidays or when it suits my fancy! Thanks for the recipe, Ellen! lola777_22 at hotmail dot com.

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