Monday, April 8, 2024

Our April/May Pick: Mastering the Art of French Murder

For the April / May 2024 edition of our book club, I selected Mastering the Art of French Murder (An American in Paris Mystery #1) by Colleen Cambridge (April 2023). I love a cozy mystery and especially foodie cozies, plus, I confess that I have a book box for this book, so I get to open some mystery gifts while I read it. 

From the Publisher:

As Postwar Paris rediscovers its joie de vivre, Tabitha Knight, who recently arrived from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather, is on her own journey of discovery. Paris isn’t just the City of Light; it’s the city of history, romance, stunning architecture . . . and food. Thanks to her neighbor and friend Julia Child, another ex-pat who’s fallen head over heels for Paris, Tabitha is learning how to cook for her Grandp√®re and Oncle Rafe.

Between tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market, and eagerly sampling the results of Julia’s studies at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Tabitha’s sojourn is proving thoroughly delightful. That is, until the cold December day they return to Julia’s building and learn that a body has been found in the cellar. Tabitha recognizes the victim as a woman she’d met only the night before, at a party given by Julia’s sister, Dort. The murder weapon found nearby is recognizable too—a knife from Julia’s kitchen.

Tabitha is eager to help the investigation but is shocked when Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket. Is this murder a case of international intrigue, or something far more personal? From the shadows of the Tour Eiffel at midnight to the tiny third-floor Child kitchen to the grungy streets of Montmartre, Tabitha navigates through the city hoping to find the real killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison . . . or worse. 

“Part historical fiction, part mystery, Mastering the Art of French Murder is totally delectable entertainment.” –The Washington Post

“Enchanting…Cambridge captures Child’s distinct voice and energy so perfectly. Expect to leave this vacation hoping for a return trip.” –Publishers Weekly 

I hope you are ready to journey off to France with me! I look forward to seeing what we all make!

Deadline for contributing your post is Friday, May 31, 2024

Comment below with your link or email me at

Kahakai Kitchen 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Relish: The Roundup

It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club February-March edition for which we read Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. 
As I've done in the past, I will present our club members' contributions as a menu organized in courses. For each dish, I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a quote from it, a taste: follow the link and read the author's take of the book and how the reading inspired the cooking. 

Cook the Books Club's Relish-Inspired Menu 

Chai Latte 

Sweet Potato Sushi    

"Mom's Pesto" Cream Tortellini

Skillet-cooked Asparagus with Eggs

"The Best" Chocolate Chip Cookies I
Oatmeal Crispies
Assortment of Cookies
"The Best" Chocolate Chip Cookies II

Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the menu.

This is one of the more enjoyable memoirs I've read. As a cartoonist, Knisley writes about her childhood in graphic novel format, which lends itself to this foodie memoir. At the ends of chapters, she adds graphic recipes which are informative and visually appealing... In the book, the author includes a recipe for the 'spice tea' her mother used to make. I made my own tweaks to the recipe, omitting the black tea in favor of espresso and adding brown sugar right away instead of adding honey later. The result is a sweet, spicy syrup that’s perfect for a morning latte."

"Vegetable Sushi containing Sweet Potato Fries, Avocado, and Cucumber makes a wonderful appetizer, snack, or light meal. The star of this sushi is the sweet potato fry that you roll up with cucumber and avocado. Knisley gives you step-by-step instructions for this sushi in comic-book fashion... I used equal parts of flour and water... These fries were delicious and I was a little worried that I would not have enough for the sushi as we kept snacking on them beforehand. I don't think that I have read a comic book since I was 9 or 10 years old... I had fun reading a comic again, especially since it contained recipes."

"I love Knisley's illustrations--they really capture the essence of the food and the colors are so appealing... I have been craving pesto so I decided to make her 'Mom's Pesto' recipe in the book. Knisley gives a host of ideas for using the pesto but I decided to make it into a slightly creamy sauce for cheese tortellini... I used the recipe sketch in the book as a guide even though pesto is pretty common and easy to make... To me, getting the balance of salt and olive oil right and using the freshest basil possible is what makes for good pesto."

"One of the mentions I was inspired to try was her mom's Stacked Enchiladas (P. 141) with homemade mole, fresh queso fresco, green salsa and black beans. Which I did. We enjoyed it, quite delicious! Here comes the 'however' they were not as advertised in my online search, easier than the traditional sort. Too much fussing about for me. So, a few nights later I thought, since there were more tortillas and black beans, I'd try an Enchilada Casserole, for an easier prep., and liked it even better, for that. To go with it, we had Mexican Rice, a very good thing to do with left-over rice, as an alternative to Fried Rice, my usual go to. That turned out perfect."

Simona of briciole (your host) prepared Skillet-Cooked Asparagus with Eggs

"I was inspired by her mother's garden bounty to prepare asparagus, whose season has recently started here... In recent years, I've cooked asparagus many times, always in the oven, usually topped with sesame seeds. I somehow forgot my desire to eat asparagus with eggs until a recipe for asparagus cooked in a skillet in a recent Saveur newsletter made me want not only to try the method but also to finally put an egg on top."

"Ah! It's Valentine's Day, and what says love better than cookies? I've just finished my reread of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley, and it's time to try Lucy's The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies... Could these be the world's best chocolate chip cookies?"  
Simona's answer: each reader is invited to answer for themselves :)  

"Some of these family favorites became part of my own cooking routines. Others turned out to be so laborious as not to be embarked on and remained preserved in the library alone.  Among the keepers however were mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip crispy cookies which are always a hit with family and friends... I gravitated immediately to the chapter entitled 'Cookies are all about comfort – sometimes something simple can comfort the most', and to her recipe for 'the best chocolate chip cookies'.  With all due respect, I beg to differ that her cookies are the best. That honor goes to my mom."

Marg of The Intrepid Reader baked an assortment of Cookies

"The thing that pleased me most as I was reading was how much it made me smile... Now, I was somewhat determined to not cook something sweet to share with this review, but ... that's what ended up happening. I had asked my husband what he wanted to bake one weekend recently, and he said cookies. I had a new cookie recipe to try! So it was meant to be."

"One can’t help but smile a bit after reading every single page... I was drawn (pun intended) to a few of her recipes. We’re always on the lookout for a new “best” chocolate chip cookie recipe so I tried that first... The salt sprinkle is the SECRET WEAPON!!!! You know those chocolate chip cookies that have the crispy edges but are soft and tender (and delicious). These are those cookies. Truly best cookies ever and I have posted that claim before. I think this time it stands."

A great Thank you! to everyone who joined in this edition of Cook the Books.

I believe all the submissions I have received are presented in the roundup. If you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.

And now, I’ll pass the baton to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen who is hosting the August-September edition in which we are reading the novel Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge.

Arrivederci a presto!

Simona, of briciole