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!


Alleyway Grille

Trent Marshall was still in New Orleans when Tom Brennan called.

They had become friends when Trent and Darcey began spending part of the year in Anchorage after A Shooting at Auke Bay. Like Trent, Tom and his wife, Marnie, had been newspaper reporters. While Trent followed his career as an investigative reporter by seeking adventure, Tom became a best-selling author, penning a series of books on true crime in Alaska.

“Hey, Trent,” Tom began the call. “There’s a new restaurant we have to try when you guys get back to Anchorage.”

“Sounds good to me, Tom,” Trent replied. “I’ll be there next week. Darcey will be flying up with her mother and Ivy the following week. Kelli travels better when Betty and Ivy are with her.” Betty was Darcey’s mother. Ivy was the older black woman who became Trent’s surrogate mother when his own parent died suddenly. Trent and Darcey’s daughter Kelli considered both women to be her “Mamaws.”

The Alleyway Grille is in a small building in midtown Anchorage that is a food legend in the city. Dick Sanchis opened the first Arctic Roadrunner in 1964. It soon became the premier local fast food restaurant with Sanchis known as “Your Local Burgerman.” A second, larger Roadrunner on the Old Seward Highway followed and continues as a popular Anchorage eatery.

When Sanchis passed away, his will specified that the original Roadrunner be closed. Fortunately, along came Alan Hammond, a veteran of the kitchen at Chilkoot Charlie’s. Hammond opened the Alleyway Grille in the original Roadrunner building. It was a good day for Anchorage foodies.

Hammond’s years managing ‘Koot’s kitchen might explain the 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. hours of operation. The Alleyway’s menu has been described as “upscale bar food.” The hours would indicate the restaurant welcomes the crowd hungry after the bars close.

Trent met Tom and Marnie for lunch at the Alleyway. If it was good, he’d come back with Darcey later.

He ordered the Cubano, a hearty sandwich of smoked pork belly, corned beef, onion, and Swiss cheese with Dijon mustard on a Hoagie roll. The combination of taste sensations created a synaptic event on his tongue.

“This,” Trent proclaimed, “is a good sandwich.”

Tom said his club sandwich also was very good. A more traditional offering with ham, bacon, chicken, lettuce, tomato, and pickles, it was brightened by the inclusion of AWG sauce. The house-made sauce, the diners were told, is a southern-inspired spicy aioli with a noticeable hint of cayenne.

Marnie proclaimed her simple BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) satisfyingly tasty.

The Alleyway Grille

All three sandwiches were accompanied by hand-cut fries, perfectly browned. Trent and his real life friends agreed the fries were the perfect sides for sandwiches that would bring them back for more.

Noting the children’s menu, Trent vowed to bring his whole family when he came back. As he looked over the extensive menu, the decision to be made was breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

The answer, he thought, was “Yes!”



Lobster, Chicken, and Clean Justice

Something was bothering homicide detective Christopher Booth. Something he saw at the hospital. There was reason to believe a serial killer was at work. Four patients had died under mysterious circumstances. Circumstances suggesting foul play.

Murder.

It was true that one of the victims was a government bureaucrat charged with taking bribes to issue permits for questionable projects. The other three were just people who were having a rough time of it.

Whatever it was that Christopher saw lingered tantalizingly at the outer edge of his memory. He decided to drop it. It would, he knew from experience, likely bounce up again in perhaps a more recognizable form.

Christopher and his wife, Nancy Patrick, also a homicide detective, were escaping the Bay area to join their friends Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson in Anchorage. They were packed and ready. While their luggage held clothing that allowed them to dress in layers responsive to the unpredictable Alaska weather, Christopher was wearing huaraches, the comfortable old shoes he liked to wear when flying.

He called Trent from the airport.

“Hey, buddy,” Trent said. “I was just washing up before going to help Darcey in the kitchen. We plan to do you justice for dinner and justice starts with clean hands.”

Trent said he had a very fine Jamaican rum waiting on his bar to whet their appetites before dinner.

As the wheels were retracted after take off, Christopher settled back in his seat with the thought of a pleasant nap in mind. Suddenly his eyes popped open. Trent’s innocent comments raised the image Christopher had seen in the hospital. He knew who the hospital murderer was.

Christopher rushed off the airplane as soon as it landed in Anchorage to call his colleague.

“Roger, the killer is the maintenance man,” he said.

“Are you sure?” Roger questioned. “How do you know?”

“The way he washes his hands,” Christopher said.

Roger laughed.

“You call that evidence?” he asked.

“No,” Christopher said. “I call it probable cause to look into the man’s background. I saw him washing his hands while you and I were talking. Your back was to him so you couldn’t see what he was doing. He spent a good five minutes washing his hands. He paid particular attention to his nails.”

“So what?” Roger exclaimed, sounding a big exasperated. “So he’s a clean maintenance man. Good for him.”

“Roger, maintenance men don’t wash their hands like that. But doctors do,” Christopher said. “Trust me on this. See what you can find out about the man. I’ll bet you will find he has a medical background. He’s not who he pretends to be.

The weather was turning cool in Anchorage. The four friends sat inside with a gentle blaze in the fireplace sipping the Jamaican rum Trent provided. There was still enough evening light to allow them to enjoy the magnificent view of Cook Inlet, Mount Susitna, and the distant Alaska Range from the penthouse windows.

Chicken-Lobster Emince in an Orange-Cream Sauce


Trent and Darcey had prepared a chicken and lobster emince in an orange- cream sauce. An emince is cooked meat, poutry, or even seafood, thinly sliced and served in a sauce. It is sometimes made with leftovers, turning them into elegant meals. Christopher thought he had found a new favorite meal.

Christopher Booth’s Chicken and Lobster Emince in an Orange-Cream Sauce

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup fresh tarragon, or to taste

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Triple Sec (or other orange flavored liqueur)

1 chicken breast, cooked & thinly sliced

12 ounces lobster tail meat, shelled, cooked, & thinly sliced

salt & white pepper to taste

rice

Heat the butter and olive oil together.

Saute the shallot until it is soft.

Pour in the white wine. Simmer until it is reduced to about a quarter of a cup. It will take ten to fifteen minutes.

Toss in the tarragon and add the heavy cream. Simmer the sauce until it is reduced by half. Add the Triple Sec. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or two longer to allow the liqueur to permeate the sauce.

Stir in the chicken and lobster.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Serve over rice.

“Good morning, Roger,” Christopher answered the call.

“I don’t know how you did it,” Christopher’s colleague said, “but you were right. The maintenance man is our guy.”

“What did you find out?”

“He’s been working here for almost a year under the name Dylan Burns. His real name is Franco Liston. And you were right. He was a doctor in Arizona. The hospital there began having a similar series of murders. Liston was suspected but he disappeared before he could be arrested,” Roger explained.

“It’s a bit weird,” Christopher said.

“Yeah, he’s set himself up as judge, jury, and executioner,” Roger said. “The biggest problem, however, is that some of the people who have died are perfectly innocent. Liston gets it in his mind that they’re not good people and decides to deliver his own brand of justice.”

“Well, he’s out of business now,” Christopher observed.

“Thanks for your help,” Roger said. “Now go enjoy your vacation.”

Christopher thought that was good advice. He dragged himself out of bed and set out for the kitchen. The memory of the delicious chicken and lobster emince from the night before lingered on his tongue. He was anxious to see what breakfast delights awaited.

Bon temps!