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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Food, Glorious Food by Lucy Burdette

Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of eleven mysteries, including TOPPED CHEF, the third Key West food critic mystery--coming May 7. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a past president of Sisters in Crime. You can find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lucyburdette), Twitter (www.twitter.com/lucyburdette), Mystery Lovers Kitchen (www.mysteryloverskitchen.com), and Jungle Red Writers (www.jungleredwriters.com).


Food, Glorious Food by Lucy Burdette

When I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey and Detroit in the fifties and sixties, haute cuisine consisted of adding a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup to the dish in question. Spinach, green beans, chicken-they all got the same treatment.

Red meat selections, on the other hand, were married to Lipton's onion soup (pot roast) or Campbell's alphabet soup (meatloaf.) Just add a crisp, pale wedge of iceberg lettuce dressed with a glob of other-worldly-orange bottled French dressing and voila-fancy company fare.

Oh, we had ethnic dining options too: heat up a can of slimy lo mein noodles and flaccid vegetables and sprinkle with crunchy faux-noodle topping.

With that background, you might wonder about my qualifications to write about a food critic character. Basically, I love to eat. And I love to eat good food--not fussy, just delicious. My husband teases that "Isleib" (my family name) means "is stomach" in German. His other fictionalized translation for my name is "large lunch followed by a restful nap."

I don't think I'd enjoy being a food critic in real life--when I go out to eat, I like to choose what I feel like eating, not what I think other folks want to hear about. And I draw lines where my character Hayley Snow, cannot. For instance, tentacles. Raw fish and meat. Slimy things. Like that:).




In TOPPED CHEF, the third book in the Key West food critic series, Hayley Snow gets roped into being a judge for a reality TV contest. During the contest, three contestants cook their way through a variety of challenges, beginning with presenting their "signature dish."  I had lots of fun imagining how the three chefs would think about food and what they'd prepare. One of them leans toward home-style Southern food (a carping judge calls him "Paula Deen squared"); a second cooks from the tradition of molecular gastronomy; and the third, now that I think about it, is a little lost. Although she did produce some killer key lime cupcakes for the wedding challenge. (Recipes for the cupcakes and the shrimp and grits dish made by the fictional chefs will be posted on www.mysteryloverskitchen.com on May 2 and 9 to celebrate the launch of TOPPED CHEF.



My husband says the shrimp and grits could be the best thing I've ever made.) As usual, I've gone on too long about food and not told you much about the book. Here's the tiniest little snippet to whet your whistle: "Four little judges, judging for TV. One swinging from the mast, and then there were three. Three little judges, tasting wine and roux. One couldn't swim, and then there were two".




Hayley Snow, Topped Chef TOPPED CHEF will be in stores on May 7, but you can pre-order here: http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451239709,00.html?Topped_Chef_Lucy_Burdette And you are invited to "like" Lucy on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lucyburdette) or follow her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/lucyburdette) If you had been persuaded to enter a cooking contest, what would your signature dish be?

15 comments:

Kaye Barley said...

Lucy - Hi! and Welcome Back to Meanderings and Muses. I'm a fan of Hayley's and enjoying my vicarious trips to Key West through this series.

Elaine Klingbeil said...

I don't have any signature dishes, yet. I am doing much more experimenting these days, thanks to all the recipes I have been reading on Facebook. I think it has taken a little fear of not getting things right out of what I try. Someday, maybe I will have a signature dish, someday...

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

My signature dish? I changed a lovely Potatoes Anna recipe to include sweet potatoes instead,,,it was fabulous, but took HOURS and a mandoline. SO--not sure it's worth it.

My signature dish might actually be putting a diet coke in the freezer and knowing exactly the right time to take it out. Not terribly impressive, but delicious nonetheless!

Can't wait for TOPPED CHEF!

Kay Dew Shostak said...

Hey Lucy - So enjoy the Key West books and I especially enjoy that you(and Hayley) don't make food seem like work. Hayley isn't snooty about the food she cooks, or eats, and I appreciate that. And love, love, love the settings.

Krista said...

Terrific post, Lucy! I remember when I thought Chinese food was awful -- because the canned stuff was all we had. Campbell's and Lipton's, thanks for the memories! And I love your clever poem!

~Krista

lil Gluckstern said...

I really like your hayley book, and Topped Chef is already on order from my local. The pictures you have of real food are scrumptious.(I too was raised in canned chow mein with canned noodles :) )

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Oh I love all your comments! Elaine--that's a real contribution from reading all those recipes, just allowing us to loosen up a little in our cooking!

Can't wait to hear what you come up with!

Hank, you crack me up! The diet Coke is perfect:)

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Kay thank you so much xoxoxo

I don't think I could write a character who is snooty about food--I can't relate very well to that. I'll leave that to the real food critics:)

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Krista, my friend, you're the best! I still use Lipton's onion soup in my meatloaf:)

Ill, thank you for the kind words and for pre-ordering! I tell you that shrimp and grits turned out really well. The recipe will be on Mystery Lovers Kitchen on Thursday...

keizerfire said...

Can't wait to try the shrimp & grits! And the book sounds equally lovely.

My signature dish might have to be my dijon horseradish devilled eggs (ask my nephews), or my bacon and chopped brussels sprouts. Two of my favorites!

Kaye Barley said...

I've been trying to think what my "signature dish" might be (other than pound cakes), and I think it might be my Country Pate. Actually, it's Joan Hackett's recipe and was in Gourmet Magazine about a hundred years ago (although I've recently seen a well known chef claim it as his own fairly recently). Instead of liver, it uses Sweet Italian Sausage and Veal and it is to die for. Everyone always asks me to bring it to get-togethers, but it's pretty labor intensive, so it doesn't get made as often as we would all like.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Keizerfire--oh, oh, those recipes sound scrumptious! I could use an egg right now.

Kaye, I bet you ARE popular with that pate--though I would rather have a piece of pound cake than the veal:)

Anonymous said...

My family calls my dessert called Cherries on a Cloud, my signature dessert. I was given the recipe about 35 years ago and have made this dessert with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. as well. With a lovely meringue base, a filling of sweetened whipped (heavy) cream and cream cheese and mini marshmallows added to that layer, the topping can be the canned cherry pie filling or other fruit topping. The only problem with this dessert is that you need to make it in advance as the meringue should be done the night before, or the morning of it being served for dinner that night. This is soooooo good!!!

Cynthia B. in MA

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Cynthia, that sounds quite spectacular! thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

Hi to all Lucy-friends and SinCs... we are waiting with baited breath to read Kaye's Blog Sunday, May 19 on www.crimewriters.blogspot.com Be sure to tune in!!! There's only one Kaye Barley! Thelma straw