by Sandra Murphy
& Sarah Graves
This week, perfect for Valentine’s Day, we have a review of the latest Death by Chocolate mystery by Sarah Graves. We also have a fun chocolate related Valentine’s Day guest post by Sarah. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake. There is also a link to purchase it Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake: A Death by Chocolate Mystery by Sarah Graves
Review by Sandra Murphy
Toby Moran is not a nice guy. He’s the guy who flirts, romances, and sweeps a woman off her feet—and then his real personality shows itself. When the woman breaks up with him, he gets even worse. Still, he manages to find another soon, and the cycle repeats.
When his body is found, it’s no surprise that he’s been murdered. The suspect list is long but spotlights Andy, a member of the Coast Guard and fiancé to Sharon, thanks to a argument he had with Toby in a bar.
Jake and her best friend Ellie, owners of the Chocolate Moose bakery, are involved because it looks like Toby was poisoned. Next to his body is a cup with a moose on it, milkshake dripping. It also has their signature antler sprinkles. The big problem for them is, Andy and Sharon asked Jake and Ellie to make their wedding cake. If Andy is arrested, the wedding will be cancelled, Jake and Ellie won’t have the money to last until tourist season, and Ellie will have to make drastic changes, all of which are totally unacceptable.
This is the second book in the series. Jake and Ellie have been in business for a year now, both loving it.
Jake’s house is as full as ever. Her father and his wife, her son and daughter-in-law plus the baby, are there, plus her husband of course. The friendship between Ellie and Jake is one to envy. Ellie may not look it, but she has an iron will. Jake and Ellie pretty much take turns coming up with crazy ideas.
For sixteen books, Jake remodeled her old house. Readers will be happy to see another side of Jake as she follows her dreams. She still worries about her friends and family, but now while she mixes dough, she hammers nails.
Graves has a unique style of writing as Jake unfolds the tale. After following Jake around the island a few times, readers will feel at home. Be warned, hunger will follow as Ellie bakes snickerdoodles and croissants. She shares the recipe for Ginger Chocolate Biscotti at the back of the book. It only makes a dozen so you might consider doubling the recipe.
Unusual Ways of Consuming Chocolate Eastport-style
By Sarah Graves
With Valentine’s Day just a week away, the stores are filled with bright red, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candies, chocolate-dipped fruits, and other chocolate-y delights meant to ignite the fires of passion. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with any of them – in fact, we love them all year round, not just on The Big Day. But in Eastport, the characters in the Death By Chocolate series have other, more unusual ways of consuming chocolate, too.
In roast venison, for instance. Yes, you read that right; the L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook (Random House, 1983) reissues a recipe for this amazing dish: Roast Leg of Venison with Chocolate Sauce invented by the late, great kitchen genius and cookbook author, Roy A. de Groot in his book A Feast for All Seasons. And while it’s an ambitious dish, re-creating this masterpiece is also a passionate endeavor – just right for the upcoming holiday of love!
The specific details can be found in the L.L. Bean cookbook (or online, if you can’t find a paper copy, or in the great de Groot’s own beautiful and sadly out of print work), and after that the first thing you’ll need, of course, is the leg of venison. But don’t worry, for in Eastport those aren’t hard to find! Hunting season comes around every year, and a lot of people end up “getting their deer” but then not having enough people around to eat all the meat.
Solution: Jake Tiptree and Ellie White, my main characters and the proprietors of The Chocolate Moose, a chocolate-themed bakery in Eastport. Just ask whichever of their neighbors went deer hunting this year to trade venison for cookies, pastries, or eclairs. Usually folks are delighted to exchange a meat treat for a sweet treat, and everyone ends up happy.
Next, you’ll want aromatic spices, red wine, and vegetables for a marinade to steep the venison in rich flavors. Other prep work will follow: larding the meat, for example, means pulling threads of fat through it so that it bastes from within. When Jake and Ellie do this and the rest of the chopping, slicing, mincing, and marinating, they work in Jake’s old-fashioned kitchen in the big old house in Eastport, where there’s usually a blueberry pie cooling on the window sill and a lobster roll waiting, ready to be devoured for lunch!
Once lunch is over, the chocolate sauce is created; not just of chocolate alone but also nuts, raisins, candied fruit, and some vinegar go into the mix. This isn’t the kind of chocolate sauce you put on ice cream, but a much more complex, sophisticated concoction that stands up to a strongly-flavored meat like venison.
And finally, cooking the prepared venison roast means hanging around the kitchen, possibly listening to music and even dancing while tasting the wine and smelling the delicious aromas that come out of the oven. You and your beloved can collaborate on the side dishes, as well: a salad, perhaps, and a loaf of good, crusty French bread? With more wine, of course, and followed by – what else? A chocolate mousse, possibly with a few candied violets tucked into it.
If you and your amour do decide to do this recipe together, one thing is for sure, you will have created a chocolate-themed “food of love” like no other! And maybe – just maybe – you’ll also create the story of a magical Valentine’s Day, one that you and your beloved can someday tell your grandchildren about together.
To enter to win a copy of Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “milkshake,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 16, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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