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Posted on November 26, 2018 - by

A Fictional Key West Thanksgiving and Cover Reveal: A DEADLY FEAST

LUCY BURDETTE: The day before Thanksgiving, when many of us were up to our ears in menu planning or pie crust rolling or sitting in traffic on the way to grandma’s house or (lord help us) the grocery store, I wondered what I could post that might be entertaining without being demanding. And it occurred to me that you might enjoy a few snippets from A DEADLY FEAST, the 9th Key West mystery, coming next May–because it’s set at Thanksgiving. On Monday we chatted about our menus and guest lists, today you’ll hear about Hayley’s!

Here’s the final artwork–isn’t it pretty? And I love that Jenn’s quote is on the cover…In this story, Hayley is helping to investigate the death of one of the customers from a food tour. Chef Martha Hubbard worries that someone sabotaged her key lime pie.

Here’s a little snippet describing the meal she’s making to teach a class on Thanksgiving sides:

Bill opened the door to the cooler and gestured at the shelves, overflowing with turkeys, sacks of Brussels sprouts, slabs of bacon, onions in net bags, and more.
“She’s teaching a class on Thanksgiving side dishes,” he said. “My favorite is the brown-butter rosemary yeast rolls.”
My stomach let out a loud rumble and they both laughed.
“You’re welcome to join this class, on the house. She’s including a tutorial on gravy from scratch,” said Eden. “And her side dishes are like nothing you’ve ever seen on dinner tables. She likes to put a Thai spin on old classics, like sweet potatoes with charred poblanos or Brussels sprouts with Thai chilies and caramelized shallots. I can’t wait for the habanero candy!”
I’d begun to salivate at the sound of those recipes, almost drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs. 

Hayley visits Martha’s kitchen again the next day (or is it two days later?) to follow up on some new information:

She dumped a blue ceramic bowl of dough onto her floured counter. Then she began to knead it, stopping at every turn to sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves on top and knead those into the mixture.
“What are you making?” I asked.
“Rosemary garlic brown-butter rolls,” she said. “I let them take the second rise in the fridge. Then I bake them before dinner and slather them with more garlic butter right before bringing them to the table. Guests go mad for them.”
“Sounds fabulous,” I said. “What else is on your menu?”
“Smoked turkey with a honey vinegar glaze and red-eye gravy, confetti succotash, mashed potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream, and scallions, the usual,” she said, finally cracking a smile.
“I’m practically drooling,” I said. “You take Thanksgiving to a new level.”

And this is what Hayley’s family is serving, after grace is said by Miss Gloria, with an emphasis on her gratitude for friends and family:

I helped them ferry all the dishes out to the sideboard in the dining room—the turkey, gravy, Sam’s cornbread stuffing, pumpkin biscuits, pasta with sage and roasted squash, green beans almandine, and an enormous salad topped with walnuts, dried cherries, mango, and goat cheese. Then my mother invited everyone to grab a plate and fill it.

A DEADLY FEAST blurb: Before Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow’s family descends on the island for Thanksgiving, she has one last assignment–a review of a seafood tasting tour conducted by her friend Analise Smith. But when one of the tourists collapses on the last stop, Analise begs her to investigate before the police destroy her business and shut down the local Key West eateries on her tour. Pressure mounts when Analise calls a second time to request that Hayley meet with Chef Martha Hubbard, who prepared key lime pies for the tasting tour and is terrified that someone poisoned her pies to ruin her reputation. Chefs all around town are preparing their versions of a Thanksgiving feast, but with a murderer on the loose, will Hayley and her friends have anything left to be thankful for?

Available for pre-order from Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you buy your books.


Posted on November 25, 2018 - by

Pimento Cheddar Scones #recipe @Lucyburdette


LUCY BURDETTE: As soon as the crisp days of fall arrived, I developed a craving for pimento cheddar scones. We all know that cravings are best indulged–lightly that is!

I decided that these would be a perfect addition to a Thanksgiving menu, but they’d also go well with turkey soup for an easy supper after the holiday. They freeze well, too–what are you waiting for?

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute white whole wheat)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder (I use low sodium)
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ tsp. cayenne or to taste

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped pimentos, drained

Preheat the oven to 425. Mix together the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your food processor until it resembles coarse meal. Blend or pulse in the cheese. Stir together the egg and milk and add this to the other ingredients. Mix until combined. Pulse the pimentos lightly into the dough, just enough to spread them around. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute until everything holds together.

Flatten the dough into a disk and cut it into six pieces. Place the sections on an oiled pan or parchment paper and bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. (Try not to overcook or the scones will be dry.)

Happy Thanksgiving! May your table be loaded with delicious food and surrounded by the people you love…

Death on the Menu, the 8th Key West food critic mystery, is available now from Crooked Lane Books. You can order it wherever books are sold!


Posted on September 3, 2018 - by

Channeling my Inner Hemingway

LUCY BURDETTE: Death on the Menu is in bookstores! Finally! One of the things I had to do while writing this book was to channel Hemingway

What does that mean? I’ll tell you…but a little background first. Sometimes I go in directions I never imagine when I’m writing, and end up adding a subplot that I certainly didn’t plan. For example, in DEATH ON THE MENU, food critic Hayley Snow is checking out a suspect and discovers that he is a Hemingway wannabe.

And then while googling and studying up on Hemingway, I learned that there actually was a contest for “Really Bad Hemingway” in which contestants submitted a page of bad Hemingway-esque writing and prizes were awarded. So then of course I had to write a page that this character had supposedly written.

Here’s how it went, starting with Hayley chatting with her suspect:

“Fun fact: did you know there is a contest for bad imitations of Hemingway’s writing?”

I shook my head.

“You should Google it—there are some snippets posted online and they’re a hoot. I entered a couple of years ago and got an honorable mention.”

“You entered a bad Hemingway contest? Do tell!”

He laughed. “Of course I have it memorized for moments like this. I called it ‘A Farewell to Harm,’ and it went like so:

He had hired the guide again after one too many women gone wrong. ‘You drink too much,’ the woman said. ‘You stink of beer and fish.’
The man and the guide had been at sea for hours, and reeled in two marlin. Both of them were big as Spanish bulls and that strong too; heaving silver bodies, that glinted in the sunlight and left the man and the guide breathless.
‘Let’s have a drink,’ the fishing guide said, though he knew the man’s history. ‘One drink won’t hurt you.’
‘OK, but only if it’s rum and beer. And only if you pour the rum slowly so the foam resembles the beach at low tide.’
‘Not until five. The tide won’t run out until five PM,’ the fishing guide said. ‘That’s when you see the foam.’”

By the end of Rusty’s recitation, I was laughing too hard to speak.

Lucy again: Are you a fan of Hemingway’s writing? why or why not?

About the book: Lucy Burdette, Death on the Menu from Crooked Lane Books
Food critic Hayley Snow is thrilled to be working at a three-day international conference at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. But things get off to a bad start when Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal (which belongs to Cuba and is on display for this weekend only) disappears. And they only get worse when a body is discovered in the storeroom.Hayley must spring into action before the killer adds another victim to his menu.

Posted on August 31, 2018 - by

The Chugs of Key West

LUCY BURDETTEAbout 10 years ago my sister and her husband were visiting us in Key West, but had taken two days to camp on the nearby Dry Tortugas National Park. My sister called me from the boat on the way back. 


“You’d better get over to the dock quickly,” she said, “we picked up a group of Cuban refugees.” 

Photo from Wikipedia

We hurried over. The refugees were huddled on the bow of the boat, faces impassive, dressed in clothing and blankets loaned by the staff of the Yankee Freedom. Who knows how long they’d been at sea, and on what craft? And it was chilly! A group of their relatives had gotten the word about their rescue and gathered on the dock. The tears and the joy were amazing to witness.

Since Key West is only ninety miles from Havana, we hear a lot about the island and many Key Westers have an intense curiosity about Cuba and what life might be like for its inhabitants. Up until 2014, when the wet-foot, dry-foot policy (in which Cubans who reached the US were allowed to stay,) changed in the Obama era, frequently we heard news stories about Cubans who attempted to reach the US in a variety of homemade, unseaworthy vessels— even windsurfers—with some disastrous results. Many of these crafts are on display at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden on Stock Island. I’ll show you a few–hope you get a sense of the shakiness!

When I wove some of that backstory and conflict into DEATH ON THE MENU, I had no idea that immigration would become such a national hot button issue. But whatever a person might think about the special Cuban  policy that was in place for years, it seemed to me that it would be hard not to be moved by the dangerous attempts immigrants made crossing the Straits of Florida. 

I knew it might be considered risky to weave this subject into a cozy mystery, but it felt more impossible not to do so. Despite our differences in politics, I think we need to remember that the policies that governments make affect real people with sometimes heart-breaking results. 

across from the Statue of Liberty

When it came time to choose a dedication for this book, this is the only thing that came to mind:


Where did your family come from and how did they get to the US? 


Posted on August 26, 2018 - by

Mojito Cake #recipe #booklaunch @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: In the eighth Key West mystery, Hayley and her mother Janet are catering a Key West/Havana conference at the Truman Little White House. This is the dessert they serve for the final dinner. And it is the perfect recipe to celebrate the arrival of DEATH ON THE MENU!

The basis of this recipe came from a cookbook called Cuba! – Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen. I love lime cake and yellow cake and whipped cream, so you can imagine that this recipe was irresistible. I know Mojitos require rum, and yet I am not a big fan of alcohol-flavored desserts. So I chose to leave the rum extract out of the cake, and instead add a teaspoon of rum. This gives it a little soupçon of flavor without overwhelming the cake. I also reduced the salt in the batter and the rum in the frosting. You can adjust the rum upward to a tablespoon if you choose.

 

Ingredients for the cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder (low-sodium works fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Two sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
Four eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Half cup whole milk
1 teaspoon rum

For the lime mint syrup

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon dark rum

Thin slices of lime, or lime zest, or mint leaves, for decoration

Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by buttering them and lining with parchment paper. Butter the paper too. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients for the cake together and set this aside. In your KitchenAid, food processor, or with an electric beater, beat the butter well with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla extract, the lime zest, and the rum. Fold in the dry ingredients, don’t overmix. Stir in the milk.

Divide the batter into the two prepared pans and bake about 30 minutes until the cakes spring back when touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove them from the pans and cool completely.

For the lime mint syrup, heat the sugar and water in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in the mint leaves. Let them steep for 10 minutes, then strain them out and stir in the lime juice. Paint this glaze onto each layer of cake with a pastry brush.

Whip the cream and sugar until stiff, and stir in the rum. Drop half of the whipped cream onto the first layer. Place the second layer on top and spread the remainder of the cream over that. Decorate with thin slices of lime or mint leaves as desired.

Death on the Menu, the 8th Key West food critic mystery, hit bookstores on August 7 from Crooked Lane Books. You can buy it in hardcover, e-book or audio book, wherever books are sold.


Posted on July 5, 2018 - by

FOR BOOK CLUBS: Death on the Menu

Food critic Hayley Snow is attending a three-day international conference at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Things get off to a bad start when Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal (which belongs to Cuba and is on display for this weekend only) disappears. And they only get worse when a body is discovered in the storeroom. Hayley must spring into action before the killer adds another victim to his menu.

The book features some history, especially that of Harry Truman’s Little White House, and the conundrum of Cuba/US relations, and Hemingway, and lots of food, but in the end it’s always about families. Hayley Snow’s family is front and center, of course, but also the Cuban families that have been torn apart by acrid relations between Cuba and the US. Lots to talk about in this book, and here are some questions to get you started…

Book Club questions for DEATH ON THE MENU by Lucy Burdette

1. Much of the action in this eighth Key West mystery is set at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. In the course of the book, some of the history of this structure is woven into the story. How do you feel about the presence of history in your mystery fiction, especially if it isn’t billed as historical mystery? What did you learn about Harry Truman as you read?

2. Hayley says: “In my mother’s family, lovingly prepared food meant comfort and care and even hope. A warm snickerdoodle cookie, for instance—maybe with a little chai spice added in for mystery—was a declaration of heartfelt affection. Great meals couldn’t save my mother’s marriage to my father because he didn’t speak her language. For him, food was fuel—the dinner table merely a quick stop at the human gas station.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?

3. Hayley compares the work of her Tarot-card-reading friend Lorenzo to that of a therapist, or even a cop: So many problems are presented to him over the course of a work day, that he can’t help but absorb some negative energy along the way. And even Hayley turns to him as a kind of therapist. Have you ever had your cards read, or perhaps your palm? How do you feel about the work of fortune-tellers in general, and Lorenzo in particular?

4. One of the serious issues raised in this mystery involves the immigration of Cuban citizens to the US, and the former US policy called “wet-foot, dry-foot.” What was your reaction to this part of the story—particularly hearing about the Cuban chugs, and Gabriel’s family story?

5. Hemingway plays a small but significant part in this book, though Hayley admits she is hardly a student of his writing. And Dana Sebek has a view of the writer that is quite different from that of his adoring fans—in a nutshell, she says people admire the lore that has grown up around the man, more than his actual prose. Have you read Hemingway’s work? Are you a fan? Why or why not?


Posted on June 10, 2018 - by

Easy Yellow Cake for a Working Day

LUCY BURDETTE: I wanted to make a cake for a small dinner party, but I didn’t have a lot of time. (Big deadline looming for food critic mystery number nine.) I Googled “easy yellow cake” and came across the recipe on which this cake is based. It was simple, because everything gets added into the food processor in turn– No sifting, no separating of eggs, no alternating liquids with dry. And it was very good, light but dense. Maybe not my favorite yellow cake for all time, but very good!

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temp

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 teaspoons low sodium baking powder

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by buttering well and then flouring lightly.

Combine the butter and sugar in the food processor and beat until pale yellow. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mixed that minimally. Beat in the milk and vanilla, again don’t overbeat.

 

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly.

Then cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then remove from the pans to cool completely.

Frost as desired– My desire was whipped cream and sliced strawberries, but chocolate or mocha butter cream would be wonderful as well.

(Sorry about the photo–we were quite a ways into the cake when I remembered!)

Death on the Menu, the 8th Key West food critic mystery, will hit bookstores on August 7 from Crooked Lane Books.

Here’s a pre-order the book link from Amazon–and here’s a link to preorder a hard copy from RJ Julia in CT, where you’ll be able to get a signed copy.

Or you can order it from Books and Books in Key West, or call Suzanne Orchard at Key West Island Bookstore ((305) 294-2904)–she’ll be delighted to order you a copy!

Or really, wherever books are sold…

 


Posted on June 3, 2018 - by

Booked for Lunch! at the South Windsor Library

Please join me and the staff of the South Windsor Public Library in Windsor CT on October 2 at 12:30 for lunch and book chatter!


Posted on June 2, 2018 - by

Death on the Menu: Coming soon!

66 days to be exact! While I’ve been tapping my fingers and toes waiting, some pretty thrilling feedback has been rolling in:

I love this series! You’ve revitalized my love of cozy mysteries.” Laurell K. Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author

Burdette’s loving descriptions of food and the appended recipes are an added fillip for readers who enjoy some history and romance with their mysteries.”—Kirkus Reviews

Hayley Snow is one of my favorite amateur sleuths… This was a fabulous peril in paradise read that I simply could not put down.”—Jenn McKinlay, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Cupcake Bakery mysteries

A travel guide woven through a page-turner of a mystery, Death on the Menu is a love letter to Key West.” —Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake mysteries

In her latest Key West Food Critic Mystery, Death on the Menu, Lucy Burdette skillfully balances a well-crafted plot with a vivid portrayal of Key West.”—Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author of the County Cork mysteries

You can pre-order the book wherever books are sold–it will be out as an ebook, hardcover, and audio book!


Posted on May 16, 2018 - by

Mango Lassi Recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: While in India for two weeks, we ate lots and lots of wonderful Indian food, most of it very spicy. Not necessarily hot–unless you asked for that, but definitely spicy. A man we met explained it this way: Indians don’t like plain food. That was certainly our experience! (We did not eat street food or uncooked vegetables–did not want to risk the dreaded Delhi belly.)

One day I noticed that two of the other travelers in our group – both originally from England – were sipping tall white drinks at both lunch and dinner. They explained that this was a yogurt drink called a lassi, good for calming stomachs that might be a little bit distressed by traveling and unfamiliar flavors.

So I tried one and was instantly hooked. Apparently there are salty lassies as well as sweet, which can contain fruit, especially mango. I only tried the plain one as we were being very cautious about eating fruit too. But I determined I would make one and share it when I got home. So here is the simple recipe for a mango lassi.

Ingredients

One ripe mango
About 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
Sprinkle of cardamom
Ice cubes

Peel and pit the mango and whirl it in your blender or food processor until puréed. Then add the yogurt and whirl that in too. If it’s too thick to drink, add a couple of ice cubes and grind them up with the yogurt/mango mixture. Or you can just add the ice cubes to the glass. Sprinkle with a little cardamom and enjoy!

Are you a fan of Indian food? Or an adventurous eater?

 



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