Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming three talented writing friends to Magical Musings, all with wonderful new or upcoming women’s fiction releases that feature some fantastic recipes between their pages, alongside compelling characters and intricate plots. Being a fan of stories that weave food into the narration (you all know this about me already, don’t you?! ), I asked them to give us a few details about their books and to share a recipe with us. They were each kind enough to do so.
Sarah, Kristina and Jael ~ my lovely Mt. Hood Retreat pals! ~ thanks for stopping by. It’s so nice to have you all here!!
The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy (Crown, January 24, 2012) is a novel Tatiana de Rosnay, international bestselling author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept, called, “A beautiful, heart-breaking gem of a novel written just the way I like them, with the past coming back to haunt the present, endearing heroines and a sunny, hopeful ending. You’ll wolf it up in one delicious gulp.” Here’s a little bit about Sarah’s novel (out in just 4 days!!), followed by a special recipe that had my mouth watering:
In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger. Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines can often be blurred. Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
Reba’s Granny’s Blue Ribbon White-Cherry Truffles
An Adams’ family tradition and first-prize winner at the Virginia State Fair
12 1-oz. squares of semisweet chocolate
3 1-oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cherry liqueur
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
2 6-oz. packages of premium white chocolate baking bars
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Red sugar sprinkles
Heat chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in pot over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat. Add liqueur, chopped nuts, and candied cherries. Put a sheet of wax paper over the surface and refrigerate until cold or overnight. Using a melon baller or a rounded teaspoon, scoop out heaping tablespoon from chilled chocolate mixture. Roll into smooth ball between hands. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Keep scooping and rolling until every bit is used up. Melt and stir together white chocolate with oil in a saucepan over low heat. Let stand a minute until cool to the touch. Using two forks, gently dip balls into white chocolate. Transfer to waxed paper to dry. Decorate with red sprinkles. Makes about three dozen truffles or more, depending on the size of your bonbons.
About Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (Kensington, February 28, 2012) by Kristina McMorris , Margaret Dilloway (How to Be an American Housewife) wrote, “An epic romance…I followed [their] fast-paced journey to unexpected places with my breath held and fingers crossed.” And Jenna Blum (Those Who Save Us) said, “Readers of World War II fiction will devour [this] poignant, authentic story…” Read on to learn more about Kristina’s lovely upcoming novel and to try a devilishly good recipe:
In spite of her Julliard ambitions and family’s wishes, violinist Maddie Kern secretly elopes with her Japanese American boyfriend—the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed. When her beloved Lane is evacuated to an internment camp, she dares to remain at his side. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost. Skillfully capturing one of the most controversial episodes in recent American history, Kristina McMorris delivers an authentic, moving testament to love, forgiveness, and the enduring music of the human spirit.
Curry Deviled Eggs
6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled
1 teaspoon curry powder (or wasabi)
1/4 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion
toasted sesame seeds
Cut hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add Miracle Whip, onion, and curry powder; mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the egg-white “boats” with the yolk mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
And the brand new trade paperback edition of The Kitchen Daughter (Gallery Books, December 20, 2011) by Jael McHenry is now out and features a fabulous quote on the cover from O, The Oprah Magazine: “McHenry writes passionately about food…her sharp story has as many layers as a good pâte á choux.” (The hardcover original had been named a “May Must-Read” in Oprah’s Book Club newsletter last spring!) Here’s a little more about Jael’s fantastic debut novel, along with a recipe that I would love somebody to make for me right now:
After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish. A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
2 C flour
2 t sugar
2 t BP
1 t salt
1/3 C shortening
2/3 milk w/1 T vinegar
Cut shortening into dry ingredients. Stir in milk – may take more – dough should be soft and puffy. Knead lightly 20 times. Roll or pat out 1 inch thick. Cut in circles. Bake at 450 for 10 to 12 minutes.
¾ lb sausage
¼ C flour
1-2 C milk
Crumble and brown sausage in large pan. When brown, add flour and stir to coat. Return to heat and add enough milk to cover sausage. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, as gravy thickens. Adjust with add’l milk for desired consistency. Grind on black pepper. Serve.
Thanks, again, for sharing these with us, ladies! And, to everyone: What are some of your favorite novels that have memorable dishes? For me, two other delightful books that sprung immediately to mind were Melissa Senate’s The Love Goddess’ Cooking School and Barbara O’Neal’s How to Bake a Perfect Life. What about for you? And, if you’re a writer, have you ever written a story where food was prominently featured? (If so, you can bet I’d love to read it! )