Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cooking Up a New Series - Part Three - Fried Catfish

Research for MURDER IN A SHOT GLASS continued with fried catfish (see Part One for the beginning of this thread,  and Part Two for my adventure with hush puppies).  Now, I am a West Coast girl and my favorite fish are probably salmon, trout and tuna, but my husband's taste buds were formed in Alabama, and he remains a loyal catfish fan.

Fortunately, his mother gave me her catfish recipe.  I had my fryer (already hot from cooking hush puppies) and I had the catfish, which had finally thawed completely, thanks to putting the zipper bag from the grocery store in a bowl of cold water.  This is a small town, far from catfish country, so we had to settle for frozen fillets on short notice.

I cut up the fish, salted it, and left it to soak in buttermilk while I assembled the coating.  The recipe said to soak it in a shallow pan, but since it came in a zipper bag I used that.  It seemed to work fine.  All I did was sprinkle the fish with salt, put it back in its bag, and pour the buttermilk in.  I made sure the fish was covered by the buttermilk, squeezed out as much air as I could, and set it back in the bowl so it wouldn't accidentally get bumped, dropped, or otherwise disturbed.

The instructions I had said to fry the fish first, and I suspect some flavors would transfer to the hush puppies as they're cooking.  But I had to wait for the fish to thaw, so I did hush puppies first.  Next time I will allow thawing time - if I can't get fresh, or at least thawed, catfish - and do the fish first.  And yes, there will undoubtedly be a next time, if only to make my husband happy!

Mixing the coating was easy, since I had already made self-rising cornmeal for the hush puppies, and I had been able to buy self-rising flour.

I put the dry ingredients in a large, shallow bowl to give me lots of room to work, and started dredging the soaked fish pieces.

One thing that surprised me was how much the buttermilk clung to the fish when I took it out of the soak.  I guess I'm used to regular milk, which doesn't cling as much.
It did make it easy to coat the fish pieces, however, and they retained their layer of cornmeal nicely.

With the oil at the proper temperature, and the fish soaked and coated with cornmeal, it was time to start frying.  While my recipe called for 370 degree oil, the fryer recommended 340 for fresh fish, and I followed the manufacturer's recommendations.  It only took three or four minutes for the fish to develop a beautiful light gold crust, and float to the top of the pan.  As with the hush puppies, I could only do a few pieces at a time.  But with the timer running to enforce patience, and a stack of dishes to clean up as a distraction, I managed to wait as each piece turned golden and tempting.

Finally, we reached the rewarding end of the experiment: Tasting!  OK, I admit it, we'd been sampling hush puppies as I worked, and had decided on the more-onion option as the preferred version.  Steve, to his credit, had been patient and helpful, and took the pictures that accompany these posts.  He had even managed not to eat all the hush puppies while he waited for the fish.  (Though, in truth, there were so many hush puppies we actually had leftovers - which he ate the next day with the last couple pieces of fish.  Imagine, it was good enough to eat as leftovers!!)

Here's the finished product, in all its glory.  And the recipe for the fish is below the picture.

Next up, banana pudding.  After all, you can't have a good Southern meal without a sweet finish!!

Fried catfish and hush puppies - can't get much more Southern than this!

Fried Catfish

2 1/2 - 3 pounds of catfish fillets
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising corn flour
lemon quarters (optional)

Place fish in a shallow pan and sprinkle with salt.  Pour buttermilk over fish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Combine cornmeal and flour.  Remove fish from buttermilk.  Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture.  Carefully drop fish in deep fat heated to 370 degrees.  Fry until fish float the the top and are golden brown.  Drain well and serve with lemon quarters.  8 servings.

(Note:  I only used 1 pound of fish, since I was feeding two people, and we had a little bit left over.)

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