Monday, August 8, 2022

Pimento Cheese Recipe is A Dish to Die For (Review)

My fellow cozy mystery readers need to mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 9th. That’s when Lucy Burdette releases her latest edition of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries, A Dish to Die For, and it’s the best one yet. 

Actually, a better idea is to preorder your copy NOW!

In A Dish to Die For, magazine food critic Hayley Snow heads to a neighboring town with a friend to enjoy lunch on a beach away from the negativity she senses in post-Covid-pandemic Key West. However, her husband Nathan’s dog, Ziggy, digs up the body of GG Garcia, a rabble-rousing Key West developer. GG was best known for over-development of the fragile Keys, womanizing, and not following city rules. In other words, the man had enemies.

I’ve enjoyed all of Burdette’s Key West mysteries, but this one was my favorite by far. Her characters, especially Hayley, develop and mature with each edition. Hayley’s relationship with her husband feels authentic and not overly lovey-dovey the way books often portray marriage. And while trying to solve the murder, Hayley has to face a complicated but timely issue (I won’t say what since I don’t want to give anything away). This is handled in a genuine but also caring manner. 

What I also loved about this book was the clever way clues to solving the murder were found in something many home cooks have in their kitchens—those spiral-bound cookbooks produced by local non-profits. You know the ones I mean? They’re put together by church groups, a local children’s charity, or a family wanting to save cherished recipes. 

These cookbooks are full of recipes not from professional chefs or food writers but instead from home cooks. The dishes inside are hits at the family dinner table, holiday gatherings, or a neighborhood cookout. The simplicity of the recipes makes them perfect for home cooks. This is one of my favorites, from a Mennonite family who had a restaurant in their Missouri farmhouse. 

Photo courtesy of Lucy Burdette.

The spiral-bound cookbooks featured in A Dish to Die For are ones produced by the Woman’s Club of Key West, an actual organization in existence since 1915. The group meets in the Hellings House on busy Duval Street, which is available for private event rentals. The building is a setting in this book, and I suggest you visit the Woman’s Club website to see interior and exterior photos. 

Image from Key West Woman's Club Website

Burdette’s use of real Key West locations—and sometimes real people—is another thing I love about her work. I have a list of places to check out on my next Key West visit, all from the pages of her books. 

I also love that she includes recipes for dishes talked about in the story. There are several I want to try from this book, but the first I made was one for pimento cheese spread. I grew up eating it spread on celery and in sandwiches. This recipe is part of a three-layer finger sandwich that also includes a cucumber watercress filling and a curried egg salad filling.

I made some changes from the original pimento cheese recipe: I used yellow instead of white cheddar. And instead of sautéing the scallions in butter, I added them straight to the mixture for a more robust flavor. 

If you’ve only eaten pimento cheese found in the grocery store, you’re missing out! This recipe is the best I’ve had and is so easy to assemble. 

The pimento cheese and A Dish to Die For are big hits in my household. My mom is reading the book and keeps reminding me not to give anything away before she finishes. 

***Hey, thanks for reading! If you've enjoyed my posts or tried one of my recipes, you can support my writing efforts through Buy Me a Coffee...or tea...or flavored fizzy water. Your donation will be greatly appreciated, especially now as I deal with a chronic autoimmune disease that flared back up again. The button is located on the right-hand side of this page or you can follow the link here. If you can't donate, that's okay, too. Either way, thank you so much for reading my stuff!  

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