Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Mastering the Art of French Murder: The Round-Up

It's time to round up the delicious dishes everyone made for our April/May pick, Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge. Whether we were enthusiastic about the book, or less so, we all still found some good inspiration by channeling our inner Julia Childs! 

Camilla of Culinary Cam said, "I wasn't sure what to expect when Deb picked this book. But it was the perfect mix of three of my favorite genres: historical fiction, foodie reads, and cozy mysteries. Set in Paris, this post-World War II story centers on Tabitha Knight, a recent transplant from Detroit, who lives across the street from Julia Child, yes, that Julia!" For her dish, Cam decided to tackle Julia's mayonnaise problem, saying, "Homemade mayonnaise is very different from the kind you find on the shelf of a grocery store. For one, homemade mayo is not white. It's creamy, almost yellow. Its flavor is subtle; the mere fact that is has flavor sets it apart from the grocery store variety!..." Luckily Camilla's mayo was a success!

Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm enjoyed the book saying, "I just finished reading a fun murder mystery starring chef, Julia Child. The novel was purely fiction but portrayed the chef as a good friend of the protagonist in the story." Wendy mastered the art of French Hot Chocolate finding that "Drinking this cup of hot chocolate is like drinking a melted chocolate bar. It is dense and thick, like pudding that has yet to set. It is definitely comfort food, bringing back memories of scraping out the pot in which my mom made pudding and eating it before placing it in the sink for cleaning. It even started to form a skin as it cooled."

Claudia of Honey From Rock said, "I loved this truly enjoyable read, both from the mystery perspective as well as the enticing food and wine discussions." Her dish? Claudia said, "As usual with our Book Club, we take inspiration from the current reading selection, prepare a dish and post it. Mine had to be Julia's Ham with Madeira Sauce. Especially since I had a few slices left of a very good ham (organic, hormone free, humanely raised) that called for a delicious upgrade!  The cooking choices often seem so limited with ham."

Marg of The Intrepid Reader & Baker said, "When this book was announced as the current choice for Cook the Books, I was very pleased. I have been reading this author for years, following her through various identities and sub genres. I was also keen to read this because I loved the idea of having Julia Child as one of the characters." Marg went for classic Julia saying, "When it came to deciding which recipe to cook, there were so many options. I did consider trying to make mayonnaise, which I have never done before, and I considered making the omelette which Julia tried so hard to teach to Tabitha in the book. I still intend to try to do both, but in the end I decided on a classic French recipe, Boeuf Bourguignon."

*Picture borrowed from

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures found the book okay saying, "The “cozy mystery” follows Tabitha, a (fictional) neighbor of Julia Child, as she embarks on a mission to solve a murder.  There’s lots of great Julia Child food mentioned, but overall the story is a little campy. It’s a nice little beach read." For her dish Amy boldly went for Spinach & Ham Soufflé saying, "The soufflé was a challenge, but a great one, and successful!  Especially since I realized that what I’ve always called a round casserole dish is actually a soufflé dish - perfect! The soufflé both rose to great heights, was delicious and light as a feather, silky smooth to boot!  A success in my book!"

Simona of briciole said, "In post-war Paris, a woman is found murdered in the basement of the building where Paul and Julia Child live, and the murder weapon is a knife from Julia's kitchen. If this brief introduction sounds intriguing, you'll probably enjoy the book. I'm afraid I didn't find the novel believable."  For her contribution, Simona made Mixed Vegetables with Thyme saying, "The narrator, a young woman named Tabitha, lives with her grandfather not far from the Childs and befriends Julia. He grows a variety of herbs (erbe aromatiche) in his greenhouse... Thyme is probably my favorite herb and I use it with abandon, most recently on the first summer vegetables that have made their appearance at the farmers' market.Usually, I strip the leaves, but sometimes I add the sprigs (rametti) whole, and remove the almost bare stems at the end, before serving. The tenderest ones blend with the vegetables and are undetectable when eating."

Debra of Eliot's Eats said, "So I usually don’t like mysteries and I really, really don’t care for cozies. Maybe that’s why I forgot about reading this Cook the Books selection until May 29! In my head, I thought I had another month. Luckily, the ebook was immediately available from the library. Luckily, it’s a quick read." Debra also tackled the mayonnaise problem and made Julia's Blender Mayonnaise saying, "Of course, there’s an abundance of food in the novel and the standbys are mentioned like Julia’s revelation with Sole meunière, roasted chicken, a croissants. I just kept going back the her mayo crisis. In the first chapter, she wanted to make a mayo sauce with lots of herbs and toss it with pasta. That sounded perfect to me."

Finally, at Kahakai Kitchen, I was very late to the party (Bad Host!) but I did end up enjoying the book ( cozy mysteries, post-WWII France and Julia Child are all favorites of mine! I will read the next book in the series that just published in April soon. As time caught me, for my dish I ended up revisiting Julia's (Hot or Cold) Cream of Cucumber Soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As it can be enjoyed either hot or cold, it's a great tradition into summer soup. 

I think I got all of the entires posted, but if I missed anyone, please let me know. Thank you all for your delicious and inspired dishes! I'll now turn it over to Claudia from Honey From Rock for our June/July selection, Family Tree, by Susan Wiggs.

Happy Reading, Cooking & Eating!

Deb of Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Our June/July Pick: Family Tree

 Oh boy!  We're into Summer already!  And, time for a new pick at Cook the Books Club.  It's Family Tree, by Susan Wiggs.  As I mentioned when the initial announcement was made for our upcoming selections, I hadn't read this book for quite awhile.  I knew it was a great read, and had put it on my list of book possibilities for Cook The Books Club.  Now I'm looking forward to re-reading this novel with you all.

Thus we'll go with the the Publishers to sum things up: 

"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past--and the promise of the future. Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she's pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn't the only thing she's lost. 

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm. Family Tree is the story of one woman's triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember."

So, we've got all the bases tagged here, food, good writing and an engaging storyline.  I hope you will join the party.  If you're new, we read the book selection, cook up something inspired by our reading and post about it.  Please share your link here in the comments below.