Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday & a Teaser ~ Neil Plakcy

Every Tuesday we'll welcome an Author who will share a foodie type post
with a recipe or two and some book promo !
Today please help me welcome Neil Plakcy...
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Eat Like a Hawaiian

When I first met Kimo Kanapa’aka, the hero of my Mahu Investigations, he was a single guy, like I was. He was gay, like me, and about my age, and he ate the way I did. He had a hibachi on his balcony that he used to grill chicken breasts, vegetables, and the occasional burger. He ate what he wanted, when he wanted.

That’s about where our similarities ended. He was a mixed-race homicide detective in Honolulu with a big family, a competitive athlete who’d spent a season on the pro surfing circuit. I’m a writer and college professor, my heritage is Russian and Jewish, I’m an only child, and the closest I come to athletics is regular dog-walking.

One thing Kimo and I share is a love of food. So when I began telling Kimo’s stories, I couldn’t help adding a culinary element into the mix, especially the unique and evocative cuisine of the Aloha State. I made his mother a great cook, so that there would always be delicious food when he visited his parents. And I tried to include the variety of dining, from the fast-food Zippy’s to high-style restaurants with equally high prices.

Hawai’i is a mix of cultures, and each ethnic group has contributed to the dinner table. In the first  book, Mahu, Kimo goes home for a family luau, where “We had every kind of food imaginable. Chicken long rice, poi, shark-fin soup, sweet and sour spareribs, Portuguese sausage and beans. And desserts, pineapple like crazy, ten different types of crack seed, malasadas, mango ice cream.”

Kalua pig, roasted in an in-ground oven called an imu, is a luau specialty. Kimo is part Hawaiian, part Japanese, and part haole, or white. All those cuisings show up throughout the series. He has a Chinese godfather, and friends descended from the Portuguese immigrants who came to the islands, mostly from the Azores, to work on plantations. He falls in love with a man who’s part Korean and part Italian, adding even more to the mix.

As Kimo matured, his eating habits changed, the way mine did. No more bachelor meals; he’s got a partner, a teenaged foster son and a golden retriever to feed. Now he’s more likely to bring home a pizza, let his partner grill burgers in the back yard or dine out, though his family is still throwing those extravagant luaus. Every time I write one of them, my mouth waters and I long to hop on a plane and fly to Honolulu to join them.

Instead I console myself with these cookies, which I bake in bulk for readings and book events. The coconut and the macadamia nuts are my tribute to Kimo and to my love for Hawai’i.

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Chocolate Chip Coconut Macadamia Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup flake coconut
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bring eggs to room temperature, and put butter out to soften.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk.
  3. Pour both types of sugar into a large bowl, then blend at medium speed until they are combined. (I use my standing mixer, but you can use a hand mixer as well.)
  4. Add the butter and mix until you have a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and mix at low to medium speed until blended.
  5. Add the flour mix, two cups of chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts and blend at a low speed until mixed.
  6. Roll small balls with your fingers and drop onto a cookie sheet, leaving enough room to expand. (I use a Silpat non-stick silicone baking sheet over my cookie sheet so the cookies don’t stick and cleanup is easy. I suggest using non-stick spray or parchment paper if you don’t have a Silpat.)
  7. Stud the cookies with the remaining chocolate chips – usually three or four to a cookie. I like the way the cookies look with the chips on top. Sometimes I use colored or flavored chips for the studding.
  8. Bake about 20 minutes until golden. I like my cookies not quite done, so I watch carefully and pull them out as soon as they turn. I lift them off with a spatula and put them on cooling racks as soon as they’re set.
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The Beautiful tropical island of O'ahu is filled with predators, from high flying owls to bottom-dwelling criminals.  When the body of an island patrician is found in a warehouse fire, tracking his killers will bring openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa'aka into contact with many of those predators, natural and otherwise.  Kimo and his detective partner Ray Donne dig deep into the history of Hawai'i as the islands were teetering on the brink of statehood in order to understand the victim, his killer, and their motives.
At the same time, Kimo and his partner, fire investigator Mike Riccardi, decide to become foster parents for a homeless teen who witnessed the crime and prepare to become dads themselves.
Here's the buy link:
Excerpt  – The Fire
It was a cool, breezy morning in early March, and I rolled up the flaps on my Jeep for the drive down to the airport. Despite its name, which implied an unspoiled tropical atoll, Lagoon Drive was littered with abandoned warehouses, used car operations and small import-export businesses. A dozen sharp-edged wind turbines roosted along the roof line of a building at the far end of the drive like hungry vultures.
A herd of fire department vehicles clustered ahead of me—three fire engines, a ladder truck, and a couple of SUVs driven by higher brass. The strobing lights were enough to give you an epileptic fit. There were two squad cars as well, the officers directing traffic and securing the area.
I parked my Jeep beside a barbed-wire fence as a plane took off from the reef runway, shaking the air. The ground was barren and sandy; even weeds seemed to have a hard time living in the desolate landscape. And yet, in the other direction I could see a vast expanse of shimmering water and the dark green sentinel of Diamond Head in the distance.
I saw Mike in his yellow fire suit and waved at him. He walked over, shrugging off the oilskin hood. “Two story wood-frame building,” he said. “Went up like kindling, especially after the run of dry weather we’ve had lately.”
“Too early to tell. No obvious incendiary devices. I’ll have to analyze the fire load and the spread pattern before I can make a determination. But you know that already.”
“It’s always nice to hear you explain it one more time. How about the body?”
“How about it?”
“You know what I mean.”
“First responders saw a body of an older male on the floor of the building when they entered. He burned to a crisp before they could extinguish the flames, though. I don’t know how much you’ll get out of the ME.”
“What a great start to the morning. Neither of us have much to work with.”
“I’ve got to get back inside. I’ll talk to you later.”
He turned and walked back toward what remained of the building. The air was heavy with ash, smoke and the distinctive smell of charred human flesh. I pulled out my digital camera and started taking pictures while I waited for Ray to show up.
A couple of abandoned warehouses, wood-framed with sheet metal exteriors, sat in the area around the burned building. One brick warehouse still held the original owner’s name and the date 1884 engraved over the lintel, though all its windows were boarded up.
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Author Bio:
Neil Plakcy is the author of the Mahu Investigations, about openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa'aka, as well as the Have Body, Will Guard adventure romance series and the Golden Retriever Mysteries.
He is an assistant professor of English at Broward College in South Florida, and former president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  He has been a construction manager, a computer game producer, and a second-place finisher on Jeopardy!
Character-driven mystery, romance and mainstream novels


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