I'm pleased to welcome Janet Finsilver to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Janet writes the Kelly Jackson Mystery series. Murder at the Mushroom Festival is the fourth book in the series and was released April 17th.
By Janet Finsilver
All of the books in my murder mystery series have special events in them based on real ones that take place in northern California. For the fourth book, Murder at the Mushroom Festival, I decided to use the Mendocino County Mushroom, Beer, and Wine Fest for my model. I read about the different activities and culinary choices and decided to attend several of them.
I participated in a cooking class put on by Assaggiare Mendocino. Chef and proprietor Julia Kendrick Conway provided an opportunity to learn about different types of mushrooms, a foraging walk, and a cooking session. The class met in her lovely home in the redwoods in Fort Bragg.
She had prepared a display with many different types of fungi. Later we used them in the recipes we prepared. Julia explained that for the classes she was required to buy commercially certified mushrooms, and we wouldn’t be using any of the ones we found. The class then went on a walk starting in her backyard and then into the surrounding area.
After the hike, we assembled in her kitchen. Julia had chosen a number of recipes for us. Everyone in class participated in cleaning mushrooms, chopping, and mixing. The mini wood-fired pizzas were my favorite. Julia had chosen local wines to accompany the fabulous food. It was a lot of fun!
I attended a few culinary events and a display at the Ford House Museum in Mendocino, then headed home. As the book began to take shape, a mushroom festival became an integral part of the story. I felt I needed to know a lot more about the fungi and headed back to Mendocino. I enrolled in a mushroom ID class put on by the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Mycologist Mario Abreu taught the class. I had met him when doing research for Murder at the Fortuneteller’s Table, which involves poisonous plants.
I decided to create a contest in the book. Originally I was going to have a prize for the most mushrooms found and one for the widest variety of fungi. Mario created a display of mushrooms he’d found on a couple hour walk near his home. It was on a huge table and the fungi covered it from end to end. I took out the “most mushrooms found” contest in my mystery!
At the end of the class he asked if I’d learned anything helpful for my book. I said yes, but I’d also have to change my opening scene. Mario told the class it’s a myth that you will get poisoned by touching a poisonous mushroom which I had in my opening scene. After some discussion, he agreed an allergic reaction could happen. Chapter one was back in place!
Porcini Crusted Paillard of Chicken
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 half breasts of chicken, sliced in half horizontally and pounded lightly
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until tender and aromatic, but not browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add the wine, simmering until liquid is almost fully reduced, 1-2 minutes. Add the crème fraiche and cook, stirring, until evenly blended. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Put the dried porcini in a spice mill or coffee grinder and reduce to a fine powder. Transfer the powder to a plate. Pat chicken filets dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Coat chicken filets on all sides with porcini powder, patting lightly to remove excess.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat (non stick works particularly well). When hot, add chicken and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the surface is browned and caramelized (the chicken will lift easily when ready to turn), 3-5 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until they spring back to the touch, but are not hard. Remove to a plate and serve with the warm mushroom ragout on the side.
© Assaggiare Mendocino, 2008
Murder at the Mushroom Festival (A Kelly Jackson Mystery) by Janet Finsilver
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Lyrical Underground (April 17, 2018) Paperback: 176 pages
There’s a corpse among the chanterelles!Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson is hosting a cooking class during the Week of the Mushroom festival to attract guests, not drama. But soon after she finishes foraging for an edible mushroom species on sacred Native American land, a local newspaper reporter gets shot dead at the same site. With suspicions spreading like fungi in the quaint Northern Californian community over the culprit’s identity, Kelly and a savvy gang of sleuthing seniors known as the “Silver Sentinels” must uncover the truth about the secluded property before a tricky killer prepares another lethal surprise . . .
About the Author
Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER'S TABLE was released on March 14, 2017.
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