Tag Archives: cooking

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook – a review

When an email dropped into my box asking if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook it is true to say that I was rather overly excited. As you’ll know if you read my blog I am a huge fan of crime fiction. As you may not know although it’s still true, I am also a lover of a good cookbook. Notice I don’t say a lover of cooking. Don’t get me wrong when I’ve got the time I really enjoy cooking and I try as often as I can to make something new out of the very large collection of cookbooks I already own. Yet it’s more than that. I like reading cookbooks just as much as fiction sometimes. I love it when I get a new book that isn’t just recipes (although these have their place) but is also more than that. I like those that include history of the people behind the books, the chef’s perspective and what the recipes mean to them.

Therefore it is quite possible that this is my most favourite book in the world (it’s only downside being I’m a vegetarian and the book is American so clearly there is a lot of meat. Luckily Mr F is very far from a vegetarian and is pretty handy in the kitchen himself so all recipes will get some use!)

The book combines some great sounding recipes with some interesting crime facts. Did you know for example that Miss Marple drank 143 cups of tea during her stories. All the recipes are provided by authors, including some of my favourites such as Harlen Coben (myron’s crabmeat dip) and Lee Child (a pot of coffee so not the trickiest of recipes but easy to get wrong) The book is split into sections making it easy to follow, and as well as appetisers and mains there is even a section of drinks at the back.

Obviously as this is an american book there are alot of bits that we don’t have over here, however that’s the joy of the internet. If you can’t find them in the supermarket you know you’ll be able to source an alternative. The recipes are all reasonably simple, and many have a short list of ingredients which makes them nice and easy to follow.

Of course the proof of a good cook book is in the eating. So i wanted to try some recipes before reviewing. My attempts started well with Scott Turow’s ‘Innocent Frittata’ which was very tasty, and Alan Orloff’s ‘Killer Tofu’ which went well with a stir fry. However things went downhill when I attempted Linda Stasi’s baked cheesecake. I was heading to some friends for Sunday dinner so thought I’d enlist their help in testing a recipe and the cheesecake seemed to fit the bill. Unfortunately I’d never made a baked cheesecake before, and I don’t think I’ll be trying again in a hurry. Admittedly part of the problem was that I burnt it, one minute it looked liked a souffle that was about to explode, the next it was like I was building a scale model of the grand canyon, all brown and sunken. My friends being the true friends they are, valiantly battled on, scraping the burnt bits off and trying not to crack their teeth on the base but the remaining was truly dreadful, more scrambled egg than cheesecake. It was that bad even the dogs turned their noses up at it. Yet one bad cheesecake does not a bad book make.

The book is a beautiful thing, with lots of pictures and quotes from authors which makes it a pleasure to read. I love the style of the book with each recipe being introduced by the author saying where the recipe comes from. The Harrogate crime festival even gets a mention under Joseph Finder’s apple crumble. I would highly recommend this book for all fans of crime fiction, whether cooks or not, the only problem being I’ve now got a load of new authors to add to my to read list.

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Food to die for

As you might know I am a huge book lover (in terms of numbers of books not my size) However what you may not be so aware of is that my slightly obsessive book collecting goes beyond crime novels, I also have quite a substantial collection of cookery books. Of course these are not just for reading, a fact which I suspect makes Mr F rather wish I stuck to crime books as he has to try the results of my cookery experiments. However for someone who includes Lancashire black pudding on his list of favourite foods I’m pretty certain any of my concoctions are a step up.

For obvious reasons (i.e me being a vegetarian) most of the books I own are non meat related although I do have a few themed ones and a smattering of celebrity. One of my latest acquisitions was Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’. Unfortunately my only trial out of this so far was not a particular success. The naan breads I attempted would have worked much better as small missiles than as edible curry accompaniments. Yet I suspect that it was my execution of the instructions that was at fault rather than the recipe. Therefore I was very excited this week when a friend brought me a ticket to see Paul on tour at the Barbican.

This wasn’t our first food related outing to this venue. Many years ago me and same friend went to see the student TV staple, Ready steady cook. This was at the height of its fame (is it still on?) and for those of you who haven’t heard of it the idea was that two people made something edible out of a few tins of tomatoes and a watermelon then the audience voted. Whilst it may not sound much now, this was 20 years ago when daytime television consisted of ‘This morning’ and endless repeats of Columbo. Plus I suspect the excitement of red tomatoes or green peppers was no doubt heighted by the consumption of a few pints. However now slightly older and a great deal more sober, we had no idea what to expect from Paul.

Luckily it was a good night and he turned out to be very entertaining with a mix of demonstrations and chat. We were sat right near the back, which I suspect was a good thing judging by the number of hormonal woman of a certain age that made up the audience. Any closer and there was probably a significant danger of being hit over the head by flying pants.

Sadly he didn’t demonstrate the art of making naan bread, although there was a very nice seeded loaf I’d like to try next. So like with everything I’ll just have to keep practicing, and buying new books in the belief that I am a good cook. In the meantime Mr F will just have to keep trying my attempts and pretending they are edible.

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