"Must read! I absolutely love the Poppy McAllister Mysteries! The stories feature slapstick dialogue and witty characterization as well as darn good Mysteries! In book 3, readers who love culinary cozies will be in heaven. [...] A must read for all cozy fans! The author includes recipes for readers to try at the end of the book." Linda, Goodreads
Published: February 26th, 2019
Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . .
Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.
Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .
Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!
That time I took cooking lessons in Paris
It was always my dream to one day be a professional Pastry Chef. Before I could launch the fantasy into existence that dream took three hits to the gut.
1. Pastry Chefs get up at two am to make the bread. The only way I’m up at two am is if I haven’t gone to bed yet. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to make that a reality day after day.
2. Pastry chefs make the same bread every day. People coming to my bakery would eventually riot. Customer: “Where is the pear and lemon thyme bread you made last week? I want to buy more of that!” Me: “I dunno. I didn’t write the recipe down.”
3. This is a big one - I’m allergic to bread. I’m not gonna lie, this is a hard mountain to scale. This one hurts. If I’d gone to culinary school I might be dead by now. My lack of financial aid may have saved my life. I’m not epi-pen allergic, I’m swell up in gripping pain and stop digesting everything for days allergic. It’s best that you don’t know the finer details.
Even threat of death was not enough to quell my longing to be elbow deep in cream puffs and ganache. I could have shifted my focus to Chef de Cuisine and make quail stuffed with figs and apples or roast crown of pork in a sweet cherry reduction every night. Only I refuse to eat anything I think is gross and I think a lot of things are gross. That cuts out all the seafood, most of the meats, all the game, anything classified as exotic, and half of the dishes on a classic French menu. That’s why I wanted to be a Pastry Chef in the first place - I never met a bread or dessert that I didn’t like.
So, life went a different direction for me and my inner Pastry Chef had to wait for friend’s weddings and birthday parties to be trotted out on display. Until Paris.
On a very special trip to France, I discovered culinary schools offered Pastry Chef classes. I signed up faster than you can say Omelette du fromage.
1. Talking. The French consider cooking a serious artform. And these were serious classes. Fun was not allowed. The classes were unfortunately sold to tourists looking for activities to show in the background of their selfies for social media. And I’m talking tourists from all over the world. While I personally did not break this rule - I was a serious pastry chef student - I suffered the wrath of those who did. Things got so bad in one class that other chefs had to rush in to protect us from the full-on meltdown. Curses were screamed, pans may have been thrown. I think Gordon Ramsey taught people skills here.
2. Pronounce their language wrong. I actually know a fair bit of kitchen French. I’m nearly fluent in menu and many cooking directions are French terms anyway. But my lazy American tongue cannot roll an “R” or wrap itself around the word “moelleux” to sauvez ma vie! I sound like Larry the Cable Guy. “Bon Joowar. Jay pale Franchay ooon puh.”
3. And lastly, insult their heritage. That sounds like I set their flag on fire while hurling insults at their mamans, or defamed the entire French nation and all that they stand for as a people. Which is apparently what I did when I pointed out that madeleines were just muffins baked in a shell pan. I thought I was stating the obvious, but I sent French American relations back two-hundred years. I do not advise this comment if you should ever visit unless you have Liam Neeson on speed dial.
The best thing I brought home from cooking lessons in Paris, is how to make this vicious little pastry that has more pages of troubleshooting than it has ingredients. I’ve made many batches of macarons for gifts, holidays, parties and whenever I’m too happy and need a good cry. The best thing about macarons is they’re gluten free. Take that you vindictive loaf of bread!
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About the author:
Libby Klein dabbles in the position of Vice President of a technology company which mostly involves bossing other people around, making spreadsheets, and taking out the trash. She writes culinary cozy mysteries from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard.
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