The Cop and The King

Homicide detective Nancy Patrick’s hand went involuntarily to the nickel plated Smith & Wesson .357 magnum on her hip as she stared in wonder at the creature in the kitchen.

Since Nancy and her husband, homicide detective Christopher Booth, had become friends with Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson, they had been involved in one adventure after another. Most involved fast cars, criminals, guns, and fighting for their lives. So it was when they arrived in Alaska after A Shooting at Auke Bay.

More pleasant were the adventures that began “when the sun went over the yardarm” at five o’clock daily. It was a time when refreshing cocktails or fine wines were poured. Cocktail hour was always followed by amazing meals. Some as complicated as the kolety, sort of a Russian version of a burger made with pork. It was a welcome departure from the scrambled eggs, ham sandwiches, buckets of chicken, and pizza that had been the staples of the Booth-Patrick household.

Now Nancy was staring at the three king crabs who were staring back at her with their twin eye stalks, which seemed to search the room, moving independently of each other. It was little wonder Nancy was startled by the giant crustaceans. Even for a species known for its large size, these specimens were giants. Each had a carapace of nearly eleven inches in diameter. Their leg spans looked to be six feet. Monsters.

King crab & drawn butter

Later, when the confrontation in the kitchen had passed, Nancy joined the small group in the large sitting room for French 75s, Trent’s signature cocktail. The crabs were cooked quickly in boiling water and served simply with drawn butter. The “Sourdough” Alaskans showed their new “Cheechako” friend, Nancy, how to cut through the shells of the leg segments to extract the long lengths of sweet meat. Dipping it into drawn butter is all that’s necessary for king crab.

What are your thoughts on king crab? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Don’t forget that I’ll be hosting a book release and signing party for A Shooting at Auke Bay on August 3rd at Mexico in Alaska. Let me know if you’d like to be invited. Who knows? You might even meet Trent and Darcey!

Trent’s Riddle: Go to Mexico but Don’t Leave Anchorage

Darcey Anderson was puzzled by the riddle her husband, Trent Marshall, posed as they cruised north on their chartered yacht in A Shooting at Auke Bay.

“I want Mexican food when we get to Anchorage,” she announced.

Trent smiled.

“Then go to Mexico,” he said, “but don’t leave Anchorage.”

“What did he mean?” Darcey asked Robert Monk, the retired Alaska State Trooper commander who had been a friend of Trent’s dad. “Do you know?”

Robert laughed.

“He meant you should meet Maria-Elena,” Robert said.

“Maria-Elena?” Darcey repeated. “Does she have a last name?”

“She does,” Robert replied, “but you don’t need it. Maria-Elena is a legend in Alaska.”

Maria-Elena opened Mexico in Alaska in 1972. From the beginning her restaurant was a favorite of Anchorage diners.

She is known not only for the excellent Mexican food she brought to table but for her kindness and gentle disposition. One couple tells of the time their baby was acting up a bit, complicating their attempt at lunch. Maria-Elena took the baby in her arms and walked around the restaurant, comforting the child, letting the stressed parents enjoy a relaxing meal.

“Let’s go,” Darcey said, after hearing Robert’s answer to Trent’s riddle.

Maria-Elena met them with her usual warm smile. She showed them to an excellent table and personally took their order.

Carne deshebrada taco & tamal

Robert ordered a carne deshebrada, or shredded beef taco, and beef tamal. Darcey ordered lighter fare while staying within the realm of the Mexican kitchen. A chicken salad. Mexican style.

When the large bowl was placed in front of her, Darcey said, “Now that’s a salad!”

Chicken salad, Mexican style.

Robert was very pleased with the taco and spicy tamal placed in front of him. The excellent quality for which Maria-Elena was known.

They left somewhat later, pleased with their meal, taking with them a container of hot salsa and a package of flour tortillas, both made in house.

Even better, Maria-Elena agreed to host a book release and signing party for A Shooting at Auke Bay on August 3rd. Let us know if you’d like to be invited! You might even meet Trent and Darcey!



An Assassin in Alaska; a Cop Left Behind; and Breakfast for Dinner

New Orleans Homicide Detective Jordan Baron tossed the new book, A Shooting at Auke Bay, aside. The book was a good read. A great read! But he wasn’t happy. He called Darcey Anderson.

“You need help, Darcey,” he pointed out. “You have two California cops joining you in Alaska and some old retired state trooper up there who none of us even know. I don’t get why you don’t want me with you.”

“Because I need you at the Pines, Jordan,” Darcey Anderson replied. “I need you backing up the sheriff to protect my mother, Ivy, and Kelli.”

Darcey’s mother, Betty, Trent’s surrogate mother, Ivy, and Kelli, Trent and Darcey’s three year old daughter, had been sent back to Louisiana after the shooting. Darcey thought they would be safe there.

Jordan still wasn’t happy. He plopped himself down on the large, comfortable couch in the sitting room of the old house and found a movie about the Allies saving a companile during World War II. He didn’t know why the Nazis wanted to destroy a centuries old bell in an Italian church. Pure meanness, he thought. The why didn’t matter. The plot fit his mood.

Betty and Ivy thought serving Jordan a good dinner would make him less disagreeable.

“What’s your favorite meal for dinner, Jordan?” Betty asked.

“Breakfast,” was Jordan’s sarcastic reply.

Betty and Ivy gave each other a knowing look. They had this.

Spinach from Betty’s garden with ham, cheese, and eggs made a sort of faux quiche that was satisfying. Comfort food.

An hour later, Jordan’s belly was full.

He had two motherly women fussing over him.

He was feeling better.

Jordan Baron’s Ham & Spinach Faux Quiche

1/2 onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 ounces fresh baby spinach

1/2 pound ham, minced

4 cloves roasted garlic, minced

4 – 6 slices bread, or enough to cover the bottom of a casserole dish

Spinach & Ham Faux Quiche. Breakfast for dinner!

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a heavy skillet, saute the onions and green onions in the combined butter and olive oil.

When the onions have softened and begun to take on a little color, toss in some of the spinach. A couple of handfuls will probably fill the skillet. Fold the spinach into the onions as it cooks. It will reduce dramatically in size. When the first batch has reduced, add more spinach. It’ll probably take about three batches before all the spinach is cooked down.

Add the ham and roasted garlic. Stir to combine.

Lay slices of bread on the bottom of a casserole dish. Tear one piece of bead into pieces if necessary to cover the entire bottom of the dish.

Spread the spinach and ham mixture evenly over the bread slices.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and dry mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat vigorously. Pour the liquid over the spinach and ham mixture.

Cover generously with the grated cheese.

Bake for about half an hour, or until the cheese is melted and golden.

Jordan wants to know what your favorite breakfast for dinner meal is.

As he would say, “Bon temps”

What’s Different about a 21st Century Burger, Fries, and Hot Dog?

A relative new entry in the upscale fast food market, BurgerFi opened its first restaurant in Florida in 2011, ironically housed in what was once a Burger King.

The company focuses on traditional fast food with all natural ingredients. It also offers a vegetarian burger.

Making burger magic at BurgerFi

BurgerFi’s commitment to the sustainable nature of the 21st century extends to furniture and wall paneling. All are made from recycled products.

The fictional Bay area homicide detective couple Christopher Booth and Nancy Patrick, who we met in Neighbors and Other  Strangers, make their way to Alaska in the upcoming third in the Trent Marshall/Darcey Anderson series, A Shooting at Auke Bay.

In Anchorage, they meet Steve Hamlen, a real person. One of a group of late 20th century pioneers instrumental in bringing advanced telecommunications services to Bush Alaska.

When they decided to have lunch together, Steve suggested they meet at BurgerFi.

A good choice.

Christopher and Nancy both ordered the CEO, a burger made from a combination of wagyu beef and brisket. It comes adorned with only a modest sauce of candied bacon and tomato, made in-house.

It needs nothing more.

The couple agreed it was one of the best burgers either had ever eaten.

They also each ordered a side of fries, hand cut and brought to table perfectly browned. The way hand cut fries should be.

Steve opted for the VegiFi, a vegetarian burger with a patty made of quinoa and hand cut vegetables accompanied by lettuce and Cheddar cheese.

He also ordered hand cut onion rings. Huge. Perfectly breaded. Perfectly browned. Onion rings.

After lunch, Steve continued on in real life, pleased with the meal and his new, fictional friends.

Christopher and Nancy returned to their world of fiction, determined to convince the author to set a scene at a BurgerFi.

They thought it would spice up any story.

If you’d like to meet somewhere for lunch with Christopher and Nancy, just leave a comment and we’ll see if we can make the arrangements.

And check out my books! Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/author/parkergordon

Trent Marshall’s Empanadas

When Trent Marshall became interested in cooking, he turned to Ivy Ford, the woman who became his surrogate parent when his mother died young and unexpectedly. (The Empty Mint Mystery) As he became more adept in the kitchen, the natural curiosity that won him a Pulitzer Prize as an investigative reporter led him to want to know about the history of food.

Ivy was an accomplished cook and taught Trent well. From her he learned to prepare traditional Louisiana and other southern dishes. He wanted to know more.

Trent was fascinated to discover how many cultures have a version of the same dish. He also learned that many dishes were created for specific reasons. For instance, the humble meat pie.

Meat pies were traditionally working men’s food. Meat, chicken, vegetables, even fruit could be wrapped in a dough and either fried or baked. The worker would have a filling, nourishing lunch easily transported to the job.

As a Louisiana boy, Trent’s favorite was the Natchitoches meat pie. He had his mother’s recipe, which she had been given by Ivy. He loved those meat pies and made them from time to time. But he never shared the recipe.

He made them for Darcey. She didn’t ask for the recipe. If she ever got around to asking, Trent didn’t know how he would respond.

There are many other versions of the meat pie. In the UK’s Cornwall they are called pasties. They are pierogis in Poland.

Trent decided to try the empanada, the Latin American version of the meat pie.

He used ground pork in his empanadas. Beef or chicken work just as well.

Trent included cornichons in his recipe. The small, sour French pickles add a pleasant acidic quality. Feel free to use any other type of sour pickle or none at all, if you choose.

He also tossed in a little sugar. Ivy puts a pinch of sugar in everything she cooks. She told him sugar makes everything taste brighter.

Trent’s empanadas

You can make your own pie dough or use a good quality, ready made one.

Here, then, is Trent Marshall’s version of the empanada.

Trent Marshall’s Empanadas

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

1 pound ground pork

1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

salt to taste

1/4 cup chopped cornichons

Saute the onion, roasted red pepper, and ground pork in the olive oil.

When the vegetables have softened and the pork is cooked through, add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Remove from the heat and stir in the cornichons.

While the pork mixture cools, roll out the dough. Cut circles about four inches in diameter. Place some of the pork mixture in each circle. Fold one side over to create a half moon shaped pie. With the tines of a fork, crimp the edge of each pie so they hold together.

The empanadas can be baked in a 425 degree oven or deep fried. As the pork is already cooked, it’s only necessary to cook the assembled pies until the dough is browned.

As Trent would say, “Bon temps!”

Sopa de Fideo

May 23, 2019 – I took a break this week from the fictional world of Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson to spend a little time in the real world. While I was here I discovered a new soup that will hereinafter be a permanent part of my culinary repertoire.

Fideo translates literally from Spanish as “noodle.” It’s similar to vermicelli or thin spaghetti. While fideo can sometimes be found in stores offering ingredients for Mexican dishes, either of the better known pastas is an acceptable substitute.

Sopa de fideo appears in Mexican and TexMex cuisine. It also is served in certain provinces of the Philippines. The Filipino connection lends credence to the theory that the dish originated in Spain. It first showed up in the Philippines in the 17th century when the more than 7,600 islands making up the archipelagic nation was a Spanish colony. It might be one of the earliest examples of fusion in the kitchen.

All of the recipes I looked at included the pasta, broken into small pieces, and browned slightly in olive oil. They all included tomatoes. Meat was not included in most of them. Neither were most of them heavily spiced.

Sopa de Fideo

Well, I’m a carnivore. I wanted meat. I included some chorizo. And I like heat in my food. So to “hot it up a little bit,” as my dad would say, I added some crushed red pepper.

The result was terrific! Absolutely terrific!

Here, then, is my take on sopa de fideo.

Sopa de Fideo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound fideo, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti, broken into small pieces

1 pound chorizo

2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cups chicken stock, or more as needed

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

salt to taste

In a stock pot or large, heavy sauce pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the fideo in the hot oil. Watch it carefully. When it begins to take on a little color, add the chorizo.

When the chorizo begins to brown a bit, add all the other ingredients.

Let the soup simmer for about twenty minutes. Add more chicken stock if needed.

Bon temps!


Betty Anderson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

Darcey Anderson’s mother, Betty, still lives on her family’s ancestral home, the Pines, in North Louisiana’s Sabine Parish. Bordering on Texas, it’s a part of the country with a fascinating history, a region controlled by Spain longer than by France.

Later it was the northern section of the Neutral Strip, a lawless land governed by neither Spain nor the United States. You had to be tough to survive and prosper in the Neutral Strip. Betty’s family, the Belmonts, were tough. Darcey’s father, William Anderson, was equally strong. Darcey comes from good stock.

William was fond of spicy food. The hotter the better was his philosophy. Betty came to share her husband’s taste and was happy to prepare meals to suit. It was the food Darcey ate as she was growing up.

Like many country women, Betty keeps a garden. She raises the usual produce. Collards. Onions. Carrots. Jalapenos. Horseradish root. Yes. Horseradish root. A few gardeners in the parish raise jalapenos or other peppers. Betty is probably the only one growing horseradish root. And it is one of her favorite ingredients.

After she lost her husband, Betty assuaged her grief and occupied her time by joining several clubs in the small town near the Pines.

“You’ll join any club that will let you be president, Mom,” Darcey teased.

Betty laughed and said her daughter was right.

Betty especially liked the Red Hat organization when it came along. Under their rules, if you form a chapter you get to be queen for life. Betty immediately formed a club.

Like many who live alone and lead busy lives, Betty likes to prepare dishes that will give her multiple meals. She often uses a slow cooker when she will be gone for several hours. With the slow cooker, dinner will be ready when she gets home.

Knowing she would be in town most of the day, Betty put a beef chuck roast in the slow cooker. When she got home, it would be fork tender and delicious.

She wanted a sauce to accompany it. Something spicy. She had some horseradish root harvested the previous fall and, thanks to a warm winter, a few jalapenos recently picked. She decided on a jalapeno-horseradish butter.

Roast beef with Betty Anerson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

With the roast in the slow cooker beginning its day long adventure, she put a head of garlic and a jalapeno in the oven to roast while she got dressed. She would make up the sauce when she got home.

Betty Anderson’s Jalapeno-Horseradish Butter

1 head garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 jalapeno

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

salt to taste

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 400. Cut the tip of the head just enough to expose the ends of the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place it on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Lay a jalapeno alongside the garlic. Roast for about forty minutes.

To prepare the spicy butter, squeeze five garlic cloves out of their skins. Save the remainder of the garlic for use another day. Add the roasted cloves to the softened butter.

Mince the roasted jalapeno and add it, along with the grated horseradish root, to the butter. Toss in the lemon zest and salt to taste.

e garlic, minced jalapeno, grated horseradish, lemon zest, and butter well. You can put the mixture in a food processor or blender, if you wish, for a smoother sauce.

To serve, place a dollop of the seasoned butter on a slice of hot roast beef. Allow the butter to melt, letting the seasonings seep into the meat.

Y’all come see us!









Pork Tenderloin with a Spicy Sauce

April 26, 2019 – I love pork. The tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts. What am I saying? I can’t think of anything pork that I don’t love! Well, trotters don’t really do much for me, but other than that I love pork.

I also enjoy experimenting with sauces. I like to include ingredients that would be unexpected. That would not ordinarily be thought of in the company of the other ingredients. And I like my sauces on the spicy side. Way over on the spicy side. This one will be as spicy as you want to make it.

I had a pork tenderloin. It was .93 pound. The cooking time in my recipe is based on a tenderloin of that size. You can adjust the time accordingly to match the weight of the tenderloin you are preparing.

First, a marinade. I decided to marinate my pork in the refrigerator over night.

The sauce I made was uncooked. It took no more than ten minutes or so to put it together. I also made it the day before. When it came time to prepare the meal, there was very little work to do.

Be careful to avoid overcooking pork. While it’s delicious when properly cooked, it can become dry and tasteless if it’s overdone.

And yes, I know it’s not a good picture. I’m using it anyway because it is such a great dish.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauce

1 pork tenderloin

Marinade: 2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Marinate the tenderloin for several hours.

Sauce: 1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 1/4 teaspoon horseradish (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons sour cream

To cook the tenderloin: 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a heavy skillet. You want a tablespoon or so. No more. Just enough to keep the tenderloin from sticking. Brown the pork over medium heat for about four minutes. Turn it over and brown the other side for about three minutes.

Place the tenderloin in an open, oven proof dish and roast for about fourteen minutes. Let it rest for five to ten minutes after removing it from the oven. Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook from its own internal heat for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.

Slice the tenderloin thinly on the diagonal. Drizzle some of the sauce over the meat before serving.

Bon temps!

Roasted Onions

February 22, 2019 – This one is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to write it up. Almost.

I planned on roasting a chicken and was thinking of an accompaniment that wouldn’t require too much effort. Somewhere I read about roasting whole onions in their skin. Sounded like it was worth a try.

I chose fairly large, red onions. Using a fork, I poked holes around each onion so it wouldn’t explode.

I put the onions around the chicken and slid bird and vegetables together into a pre-heated 425 oven. For the size of the chicken, one hour at that temperature was perfect.

When the onions are done, cut them in half. Add a little butter with salt and pepper to taste. I also added a little file’ just because. It added a subtle, exotic flavor. That’s completely optional unless, of course, you’re from Louisiana and believe that file’ can go with anything.

Roasted onions accompanying a roast chicken.

So here’s the recipe, if it can really be called a recipe.

Roasted Onions

1 large onion per person, unpeeled

2 tablespoons butter per onion

salt & pepper to taste

File’ (optional)

Using a fork, poke holes all around the onions so they don’t explode.

Place them around the chicken or whatever meat you’re preparing. Let them roast alongside the meat.

When done, slice the onions in half. Let a tablespoon of butter melt on each half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A dusting of file’ is optional.

Bon temps!


Folsom Palace Asian Bistro

February 6, 2019 – I have always thought serendipity provides spice to life. In that vein, sometimes you stumble into a small restaurant that turns out to be a jewel. Such is the case with Folsom Palace Asian Bistro in El Dorado Hills, the second in a small, locally owned chain.

Chef Bill Zheng opened the first Folsom Palace in, of all places, Folsom several years ago. In August of last year, he added a second location in El Dorado Hills.

Bright and colorful paper lanterns add an Asian-inspired feel.

My assistant and I had several errands to tend. I normally take a short break from work and don’t go out for lunch. But it had been raining for several days. It was still cold but that doesn’t mean much to an Alaska-raised guy. The sun was bright. It was the first nice day in a week. We were already out so I suggested that we have lunch.

I didn’t have any place particular in mind. We went about our business and, in the course of doing so, saw this small restaurant, with the now several months old Grand Opening sign still hanging from the awning over the sidewalk. It looked like a friendly enough place. We decided to give it a try.

Smart move.

We found room happily buzzing with several diners and an open kitchen in the background. The multi-colored paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling provided a bright, Asian-inspired atmosphere. Both the hostess who tended us and the manager who stopped by our table were friendly, efficient, and welcoming.

And then there was the food!

My assistant has a fondness for pork-stuffed steamed buns. She had mentioned them many times. And there they were on the menu! She couldn’t resist.

Pork-stuffed steamed buns.

I opted for a lunch special, which began with a passable hot and sour soup. For the main course, I chose Sichuan Prawns. The large shrimp came cooked in a slightly spicy sauce with mild red peppers, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger. In a nod toward fusion, slices of chayote were included in the mix. A generous helping of fried rice accompanied the entrée and was made even better by mixing it with some of the sauce.

Sichuan prawns.

Brightly colored decorations, a friendly staff, and food that was not only delicious but fit the bright mood of the day. Folsom Palace Asian Bistro deserves a return visit!