Another Death. Is It Murder? Darcey Considered It While Making Stuffed King Crab (Part Two)

Back in New Orleans Darcey searched the online Anchorage paper every morning. While they were still in Alaska a woman in one of the city’s hospitals was killed by an overdose of pain killer. It might have been an accident. But it was suspicious because the dead woman was scheduled to be the key witness in the upcoming trial of another woman, a notorious criminal.

Two weeks after their return from Anchorage, a second article appeared.

Another patient died in the same hospital as the first. Killed by an overdose of intravenous pain killer. John Manetti, however, had been terminally ill. Was his death a suicide? Could this really have been a rare coincidence?

She would show the article to Trent as she had the first. He didn’t believe in coincidence. But a terminally ill patient dying in a hospital in which another patient had been murdered, and by the same method, might not be a coincidence. But the latest victim might have got the idea from the murder. Not a coincidence but perhaps a copy cat.

Meanwhile, it was time to get busy in the kitchen. They had brought king crab south with them and she knew it was best to use it quickly.

Darcey Anderson’s Stuffed King Crab

2 king crab legs

1/4 cup butter

1/2 onion, minced

1 rib celery, minced

1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons green onion, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon white wine

1 cup bread crumbs, divided

1 egg, beaten

Stuffed King Crab

salt & pepper to taste

Break the crab legs into sections. Cut the shells with scissors, leaving a finger-sized opening the length of each section. Remove the meat from each section and mince it. Set the shells aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery, and red pepper until they are soft and starting to take on color. Add the green onion and parsley. Cook a minute or two longer. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the bottom.

Remove from the heat. Mix in the crab and 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Add the beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Stuff the leg sections with the crab salad. Place cut sides up in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle generously with additional bread crumbs.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the bread crumbs are browned, about ten or fifteen minutes.

As Darcey would say in New Orleans, “Bon temps!”


Murder and Oyster Stew on a Cold Alaska Winter Day (Part One)

Darcey laid the newspaper aside and stared out the large windows at the snow-covered view from their penthouse on the edge of Bootlegger’s Cove in Anchorage. The article she had read had her considering its meaning.

A patient at the city’s largest hospital had died from an overdose of fentanyl. Debbie Ziering recently underwent gallbladder surgery, a relatively minor but very painful procedure. But that wasn’t what attracted Darcey’s attention.

Ziering had been the only eye witness in the trial that resulted in the conviction of Aurora Henning for multiple heinous crimes. Darcey didn’t know Henning but had seen her. It was hard to miss the woman, Darcey thought, since she played the role of the popinjay. Her arrogance was, at the least, offensive.

The entire city, it seemed, had breathed a sigh of relief at the woman’s conviction. Her lawyers had already filed an appeal. Now if that motion was granted the star witness would no longer be available. It was possible the charges would be dismissed and Henning would again be free to threaten the peace of the city.

She would show the article to Trent when he got home. But first, it was time to make oyster stew.

Darcey’s Oyster Stew

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 green onions, chopped

Darcey’s Oyster Stew

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons white wine

3 tablespoons flour

oysters (2 8 – 10 ounce jars, drained with liquid reserved)

milk

1 cup heavy cream

Worcestershire

cayenne, salt, & coarsely ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy stock pot or large sauce pan, saute the green onions and parsley over medium heat in one tablespoon of melted butter and one tablespoon of olive oil until the vegetables are soft and taking on color.

Deglaze the pot with the wine. Let the wine simmer until it is almost completely reduced.

Melt the remaining three tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and stir to make a white sqauce. When the white sauce has reached the desired consistensy, mix the reserved oyster liquid with enough milk to make two cups. Pour into the pot and add the oysters. Cook briefly, only until the oysters have begun to curl.

Add the heavy cream and several dashes of Worcestershire. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Heat thoroughly for a few minutes but don’t let the liquid come to a boil.

Stay warm!

Wilderness Danger & Darcey’s Oyster Casserole

Three people sat in the long station wagon.

It was 1959. The father, mother, and young son were on the Alaska Highway. Somewhere in the wilderness of British Columbia. Or maybe the Yukon. It was hard to tell. They were in that section that wove in and out of the two provinces.

The Alaska Highway was all wilderness in 1959. A long gravel road that wound through the woods and mountains of western Canada.

A trailer, built by the father, was attached to their vehicle. Everything they owned had been loaded into it.

Up until a few minutes earlier, they were proceeding north to Alaska. Proceeding slowly. But proceeding. Then came the frightening screech and their vehicle came to a sudden stop. The father crawled under the car. When he emerged minutes later, he didn’t have good news. It looked, he said, as though the damage was serious.

Now they sat in the stalled vehicle wondering what to do. They knew there were no facilities for either people or vehicles within miles. Even if there was they had no way to get there. To strike out walking through the wilderness could have serious consequences.

Then came the noise. A rumbling, rattling, rustling noise.

The father and mother looked at each other. They tried to keep their son from seeing the concern in their eyes. What could it be? Could this day get any worse?

A grader came around a bend in the road. A crew leveling the gravel highway. The same grader that threw up the rock which damaged the young family’s vehicle.

One man was in the cab of the grader followed by two others in a pick up truck. They rolled to a stop near the young family’s stalled car. The highway crew was appalled when they realized they were the cause of the damage to the vehicle.

All the men worked together to unhitch the trailer. They used a chain to connect the car to the grader. The young family crowded into the cab of the pick up truck with one of the highway crew. The other members of the crew followed, slowly pulling the car along.

The young family soon found themselves in the highway crew’s camp, consisting of several Quonset huts. The crew lived in the uniquely rounded structures with their families. One of them invited them in for dinner and gave them beds in which to spend the night.

Darcey’s Oyster Casserole

When they awoke the next morning, they discovered the camp mechanics had worked all night. Their vehicle was repaired. The crew had driven back to reattach the family’s trailer. All was in place for them to be on their way.

The Canadians refused payment of any kind. Except for four relatively fresh tomatoes the father’s aunt had given them when they stopped by her house four days earlier. Fresh vegetables were hard to come by in the wilderness.

“And that’s why Robert likes Canadians,” Darcey said. “Did he ever tell you that story?”

It was a warm but stormy December evening in New Orleans. Trent and Darcey sat in the parlor of their home on Governor Nicholls Street in the Veuix Carre sipping flutes of Prosecco as they watched the rain pour down and the lightening flash.

“No, he never told me that one,” Trent replied.

Darcey smiled as she drained her glass.

“Let’s have dinner,” she said.

Darcey’s Oyster Casserole

1/2 cup butter

1 cup green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

1 quart oysters, (reserve juice)

1/2 cup parsley

2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

bread crumbs (Darcey favors Panko)

In a heavy skillet, saute the green onion in the butter. When soft, add the Worcestershire and oysters. Cook until the oysters begin to curl.

Add the parsley, pickled jalapenos, and cheese. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted. If the mixture gets too thick, thin it with some of the reserved oyster liquid.

Spoon the mixture into a buttered, oven-proof baking dish. Cover with bread crumbs.

Cook in a 350 oven until the casserole is bubbly . It should take about fifteen minutes. If the bread crumbs aren’t brown, zap the dish under the broiler for a minute or two.

As they say in New Orleans, “Bon temps!”




There Can Never Be Too Much Good in a Ribeye with Sauteed Zucchini But Can There Be Too Much in People? (Part One)

“Good morning, Mr. Candy,” Darcey said as she walked past the large, colorful house three blocks from her own home in New Orleans’ Vieux Carre.

“Good morning, Darcey,” the old man replied. Mr. Candy sat in his wheel chair on the front porch each day. He always seemed glad to see them. He seemed especially fond of Kelli, Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson’s three year old daughter and she of him. Even now she went running up to the old man to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, a gesture that always seemed to delight him.

Kelli looked anxiously at the front door. Sure enough the old man’s daughter, Lottie, appeared. She had inculcated in Kelli an expectation of a warm plate of freshly-baked cookies to show up about this time. The child wasn’t disappointed.

“Hello, Darcey,” Lottie said, brightly. “And I know what you want, young lady!” She held out the tray of cookies to Kelli.

“You can have two cookies, Kelli,” Darcey said.

“Looks like you’ve been doing some shopping, Darcey,” Lottie said.

“Yes. We’re headed to Alaska next week. There were a few things we needed for our trip.”

“Can I help you with those packages?” Lottie asked.

“No, thanks. I can handle’em. We don’t have far to go.”

“Well, anytime you need someone to look after Kelli, don’t hesitate to call on us,” Lottie continued. “You know we just love her to pieces.”

Lottie was always so friendly, so helpful, Darcey thought later as she chopped zucchini and onion in the kitchen of their home on Governor Nicholls street. Sometimes she wondered if the woman was too sweet. There were strange things going on in New Orleans. Things that made one suspicious of what at other times would be ordinary common courtesy.

Darcey was preparing sautéed zucchini and onions to accompany the ribeyes she had bought for dinner. Her mother, Betty, and Ivy Ford, Trent’s surrogate mother, would be there for dinner. The three women and Kelli would fly out of New Orleans for Anchorage.

Darcey Anderson’s Sauteed Zucchini and Onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ounce zucchini (about half a pound), sliced lengthwise & then crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 onion, chopped

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

salt & white pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet, heat the butter and olive oil.

Saute the zucchini, onion, and mushrooms in the hot oil and butter until they soften and begin to brown. It should probably take three to five minutes.

A ribeye resting on a bed of sautéed zucchini, onion, & mushrooms.

Add the wine and soy sauce along with salt and white pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are well browned, two or three minutes longer.

Serve as a bed for your favorite steak.

As we say in New Orleans, Bon Temps!


Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

October 22, 2018 – Like me, Darcey Anderson, my fictional character in The Empty Mint Mystery and the soon to be released Neighbors and Other Strangers, was born in northwest Louisiana.  As a child, she ate the food prevalent in that part of the world.  Fried chicken.  Pork chops.  Fried catfish.  Black-eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread.

The dishes of south Louisiana also found their way to the Anderson table.  Gumbo.  Red beans and rice.  Jambalaya.  Crawfish etouffee. Oyster and shrimp po’ boys.

When I was still a boy, my parents moved us to Alaska.  There we remained faithful to the southern food we loved but we also quickly began to enjoy the bountiful seafood of the Northland.  Salmon.  Halibut.  King crab.

Darcey was introduced to new foods when she attended the Interior Design School in London and, after graduation, moved to San Francisco.  Like me, she never lost her love of southern food but enthusiastically embraced the dishes of the other cultures with which she came in contact.

San Francisco’s most iconic dish, of course, is cioppino, that delightful seafood stew created by Italian fishermen many decades ago.  You can find Darcey’s cioppino recipe posted on my author’s blog, gordonparkerbooks.com/blog/.

On this evening, Darcey was also thinking Italian.  But pork, not seafood.  More specifically, a sausage ragout.  A spicy stew with hot and sweet sausages, hot and sweet peppers.  And to bind it all together with a touch of silkiness, a little cream cheese swirled into the finished product.

This is excellent served with the pasta of your choice.  Darcey prefers rotini.

Note:  Darcey Anderson might be a fictional character but her sausage ragout is for real!

Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout

3 links sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices

3 links hot Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, minced (or any hot pepper)

2 roasted red peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-1/2 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup parsley, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup cream cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet or braising pan.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, put in  the sausages.  Stirring occasionally, let the sausage cook until all the pieces are nicely browned.

Add the onion and jalapeno.  Cook until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to take on color, about five minutes.

Toss in the roasted red peppers and garlic.  Stir to combine all the ingredients.  Continue cooking for another three or four minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes and red wine along with the parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let the ragout simmer on moderately low heat for about half an hour.

Sausage Ragout

Taking the pan off the heat, swirl in the cream cheese, continuing to stir until it has melted and is combined with the finished ragout.