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The mysteries are malicious. The recipes are delicious. John Klopfenstein, Criminal Defense Attorney ~ Carmel/Salinas, California
My son Jory and I had a great time collaborating on this book. I wrote the mysteries and he provided the recipes. Together we created some murderous titles for the recipes and decided which types of food would best fit the various mystery stories.
Some of my stories were influenced by being a gangster’s daughter.
Really. My father was a gangster.
He was a bookie, owned a gambling ‘place’ and when he was ready to move on, he and his partner opened a restaurant and bar at the heart of Main Street in Buffalo, New York.
The head of one of the big crime families lived in Buffalo. Odd as it may seem, Buffalo was home to many members of that family in the middle of the twentieth century. There are books about them, telling who they were and what they controlled—from Buffalo to Niagara Falls.
My father knew some of them, I have been told. He was invited to share their goods, their ill gained fortunes and business opportunities. He always refused, and I’m grateful for his wisdom and choice. For some reason they left him alone to forge his own gains.
He did not have or carry a gun. In fact, even though his wife, my mother (who I once called his gun moll in a story I wrote) could be nasty, he was never unkind to her or me. He was generous, and I learned a lot about generosity through his actions.
My boyfriend at the time, his friends and I would stop in at the restaurant. They would even go on their own, knowing my dad loved to have them visit.
What stories he told them! Ones he wouldn’t tell a daughter, he told them and, eventually, his grandson. Who, of course, told me.
I watched my father as he found his way, lost it and then found it again.
Through it all, I always knew I was loved. How lucky I was!
My two sons, his grandsons, also knew he loved them. They were more than special to him; he adored them.
He loved owning and hanging out at his restaurant, The Spaghetti House, and he enjoyed cooking as much as serving drinks and talking to people.
Some people sat at the bar, others in leather booths where meals were served. Passersby stopped to talk with him. Looking back, I know that, for my father, it was the best of times. Food, friendship and family were at the heart of his life.
Remembering my father, and picturing him at a restaurant he owned is what initially inspired me to write stories that took place in a restaurant. I’m a mystery writer, so they had to be about murder, mayhem and, I thought, a fun bit of madness.
Loving short stories, I decided to write a series of short mysteries, all taking place in a restaurant called Manhattan Shadow.
I’m a New Yorker at heart and have lived there for many years, so New York was perfect as the restaurant’s location and the center of the stories’ criminal organization.
.Zero the Bookie is fashioned after my father. He also appears in my Sleuths Mystery Series along with Dick and Dora Zimmerman, reminiscent of the Thin Man characters.
The idea of adding recipes made good sense, since my father was a chef and the stories were set in a mob-owned restaurant. Then, Level Best Books, our publisher, suggested putting a recipe before each story.
I agreed. “Great idea. My son is a fabulous cook; he can create the recipes. Plus, we’ll give them names to fit the stories.
Indeed, we did. For example, “Chicken Piccata Caper,” “The Sacrificial Lamb,” “The Quiche (Kiss) of Death.” Near the end we added, “A Deadly Delicious Dessert.”
It will perhaps seem strange to some readers that those desserts are ‘donuts,’ but those donuts belong to a very important memory. When my father and mother came to visit us after we moved to Long Island, my father brought along a small donut-making machine.
I wisely disappeared from the anticipated mess.
Oh, how his grandsons loved making the donuts, adding different frostings and sprinkles and devouring them. The three of them had such fun! The experiences of those times have long belonged to my son, Jory. I believe they inspired his joy of cooking.
Here are Jory’s thoughts concerning his love of both cooking and his family ties: “Some of my earliest memories about my grandfather include making donuts with him in the kitchen of our house. I remember his kindness, patience, and love for the process as well as the end result. It gave me a lifetime passion for cooking, and a desire to learn the best techniques. It did, of course, also have the effect of creating a lifetime love affair with donuts (come on, they are nature’s perfect food). As I grew older, there were many shared meals and stories that gave me a true appreciation of my grandfather as a person.
“In my family, today, we truly look forward to our evening meals. I have three kids (2 girls, 9 and 7, and a boy 3); my grandfather would have adored them. What I cook allows my children to get know my grandfather through every bite of the cuisine he created. I hope the recipes in my mother’s books inspire good memories and experiences in others, too.”
As I considered mystery stories for the book, I thought about places familiar to me or where I like to spend time.
The story, “He’s A Dead Duck,” was a reminder of a duck pond we lived near on Long Island, years ago. I loved the idea of creating a story beginning with a duck recipe. “The Chicken Piccata Caper” was the easiest; I always ask Jory to make that delicious recipe for me when I visit. There’s a story centered in a coffee shop: I meet friends there several times a week to take a writing/computer break.
“Malled to Death” is a result of my seeing a mall at death’s door, most stores gone, when I was back east last year.
Never a dull moment in this entertaining and intriguing collection of underworld stories featuring a mob boss with plenty of axes to grind. Fascinating tales told by a talented author. As an added bonus: delicious recipes for the gourmet mobster in all of us. ~ Lida Sideris, author of the Southern California Mystery series
This is a collection of murder mystery stories linked by two main characters, Poppa and the Boss and at times joined by the Senior Sleuths, Dick and Dora Zimmerman and their friend, Zero the Bookie. How they get involved is often a mystery.
Poppa is head Chef for a successful restaurant, Manhattan Shadow, owned by the Boss, a powerful mobster determined to maintain control and power in his territory.
To refuse to work for him would be considered an insult. Not a good thing for Poppa’s wellbeing.
There are silent implications if one should become disloyal. There are consequences implied one doesn’t want to experience.
In the restaurants private dining room murder is often planned for all sorts of irrational reasons that seem very rational to the Boss: including power, greed, control, revenge and of course money.
The stories Poppa could tell…and does.
But who is he telling?
That’s also part of the mystery.
Of course the Senior Sleuths and Zero know.
Read an Excerpt
“He’s Head Chef at Manhattan Shadow.”
“I bet murder is on the menu.”
Such comments were often overheard when discussing plans to have dinner there.
Those making jokes had no idea how true it was.
Murder appeared with different ingredients, flavored with deadly seasonings and hard-to-swallow offerings by The Mob Boss, who found a perverse pleasure in serving it.
Many wrongly assumed Poppa was part of the criminal organization.
Life handed him an unusual opportunity he could not deny. It was a choice he made for his family and himself. Growing up poor colors one’s decisions as an adult.
Poppa was nine when he began to help his mother cook. By the age of twelve he prepared more than half the meals for his parents and two younger sisters. His mother was delighted to give up cooking. While he cooked, she read stories to his sisters and fantasized about one day writing a book for children. When she told her husband, he laughed. “Who would want to read anything you write?”
Years later he would be gone. She’d remember that ugly smirk and those nasty words, and prove him wrong. She’d write several children’s books, even one about a boy who grew up to be a successful chef.
Poppa’s success would happen through a series of unexpected circumstances. At seventeen he was offered an opportunity, the first of several to come. Opportunities he didn’t dare refuse.
“Poppa, you’re a good kid.” The man across the hall from his family had known him since he was an infant.
“I need someone to drop off and pick up papers and money for my boss. I can’t do it anymore, since my stroke. I told him he could trust you. You interested?”
It was the beginning. One word, yes, changing his circumstances forever.
“Mom, I got a job.”
She hugged him and never asked, “Doing what?” She knew her neighborhood.
She was well aware of the type of people living and working in its shadows—the barely surviving underbelly of society.
They lived in a fourth-floor walk-up, in a tenement on the lower east side of New York. It was blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge, near Delancey, Clinton and Orchard Streets. Bordered by The Henry Street Settlement, China Town and Little Italy, where much of the food, clothes and household supplies were purchased off pushcarts.
Goods sat in bins and hung from ropes stretched across the worn walkways. The vendors, most often men equally worn, had come to America in hopes of a better life. It didn’t work out that way for some.
“Here’s today’s leftovers.” Poppa’s father tossed them on to the table.
His father sold fruits and vegetables from one such pushcart. Each day he left early, coming home near sundown. Sometimes he ate with them, but more often, after he brought home the leftovers, he went out to a local bar and drank his dinner.
His mother once told him, “Poppa, he’s not a mean drunk. He’s simply disappointed with his life.”
His father dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of Orchard Street at the age of 46. His pushcart was quickly stolen.
Poppa’s job and the money he earned was now more important than ever. Once The Mob Boss saw he was reliable, kept his mouth shut and stayed out of trouble, his earnings increased.
Here is a deadly delicious recipe from The Gourmet Gangster
Cauliflower Rice and Fresh Italian Bread
Chicken Piccata is a classic recipe filled with an amazing lemon butter flavor. Place the Piccata over the fresh cauliflower rice (or standard rice, if you prefer) and let the sauce coat the rice for the ideal bite. Use the bread to soak up any extra sauce. The meal is the perfect complement to the crisp, clean taste of the Sauvignon Blanc.
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (The thinner the cutlet the better, as it will cook easier and more evenly. If you have thicker breasts, use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound thin/flatten out.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter. When butter starts again to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Add seasoning to taste and return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc.
About the Authors:
She currently resides in Carmel, California and can be reached at: MarciagRosen@gmail.com
Books by M. Glenda Rosen (aka Marcia Rosen)
The Gourmet Gangster, Mysteries and Menus by The Family (Marcia and Son Jory Rosen)
The Senior Sleuths Mysteries: Dead In Seat 4-A
The Senior Sleuths Mysteries: Dead In Bed
The Senior Sleuths Mysteries: Dead In THAT Beach House (2020)
Dying To Be Beautiful: Without A Head
Dying To Be Beautiful: Fashion Queen Dying To Be Beautiful: Fake Beauty Dying To Be Beautiful: Fat Free
My Memoir Workbook
The Woman’s Business Therapist:Eliminate the MindBlocks & RoadBlocks to Success
Jory Rosen has been in the advertising and marketing business for over 30 years and is the owner of the J. Rosen Group, a full-service international advertising, branding and direct marketing agency.
For over two decades, Jory Rosen has set the tone for strong, innovative, and successful campaigns, while providing a flexibility and level of personal client service rarely seen in the industry has extensive experience in all areas of advertising, direct response and marketing including sales, production direct mail, email, web, TV, radio, alternative media and more. In addition, with over 150 campaigns under the belt, there is a strong track record of success.
Jory’s passions are his family, cooking and wine. Jory worked as a cooking demonstrator for many years in NYC and now takes the show on the road by doing cooking demonstrations for his kid’s schools and classrooms. He often cooks meals with his kids and loves seeing their reactions to new recipes and meals.
They live in Los Angeles, California.
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Gourmet-Gangster-Mysteries-Menus-ebook/dp/B07ZQYFL4N/
The book is $0.99.
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