Showing posts with label Leann Sweeney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leann Sweeney. Show all posts

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Was the Best Meal You Ever Ate?

Instead of one guest blogger, today a number of our friends are chiming in about memorable meals.

Courtesy of Lorna Barrett
Afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada.  It was perfect.  The food was perfect, the tea was hot, and the ambiance was sublime.  I can't wait to go back.

Tea sandwiches (cucumber and goat cheese (forgot which kind), salmon sandwiches, egg salad, and ham with mango chutney).  The BEST scones in the world.  The raisins had been soaked in jasmine tea.  And incredible chocolate desserts and tarts.  Yum!

Hands down, the best meal ever was at a company Christmas party. This wasn't any old Christmas party; this particular party was held at my husband's (former) employer's home. This gentleman happened to be good
friends with one of the top chefs in the area and the chef came to the house and cooked the best food I've ever eaten in my life. We ate on china and drank out of wine glasses he brought in, and were served by waitstaff handpicked for the occasion. An amazing meal.

Restaurant Jean-Georges at 1 Central Park West, New York City. Unbelievably delicious!

I’ve bitten off my share of the Big Apple, enjoyed amazing meals in Paris, Rome, London, New Orleans, and San Francisco, but none of the noshes I’ve nibbled have compared to my late aunt Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner. Born in Italy, she brought her love of food to America, along with her giant bread board and fluted pastry wheel, and every November, she helped us all celebrate out blessings by serving foods from both lands. Mary’s incomparable Italian wedding zuppa with homemade mini-meatballs; her hand-rolled gnocchi; and her fragrant stuffing with Italian chestnuts joined a thirty-five pound turkey and it’s more familiar trimmings of mashed potatoes, gravy, and buttered green beans to make a meal I long to enjoy again. I can recreate these dishes, but they will never be quite the same as when my beloved aunt made them with her own two hands. As far as restaurant meals go, I've enjoyed so many that it's nearly impossible to narrow the field. Among the most memorable, however, was a dinner I savored one spring in Anchorage, Alaska, when Simon and Seafort’s kitchen served me the best dang salmon I ever tasted.

Always the best meal ever was at my grandmother's house on Christmas and I still serve it today to my family.  It's roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and string beans (sliced then by the end of a potato peeler) cooked in salt/butter water.  Apple pie with ice cream or icebox sugar cookies for dessert.  Granted, I have to make everything gluten-free for me now, but I still serve the family "the meal" and everyone looks forward to it.  Yum.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

There have been so to choose?  I think I'd have to nominate my first dinner in Paris:  boeuf bourgignon, followed by tarte Tatin for dessert, in a small bistro on the Left Bank (no, I'm not making this up).  I was a very conservative eater until my early twenties, and French food changed all that, fast.

I knew my palate had finally grown up when I found myself enjoying a country pate with whole-grain mustard and cornichons--and I had refused to eat liver, mustard or pickles at all up until then.

Gorgonzola stuffed gnocchi in a hole in the wall restaurant in Florence, Italy with tiramisu and espresso for dessert. Oh, and the carafe of house wine (red) that went with was delightful, too. Sigh...Jenn

I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in Paris. But I couldn't possibly narrow it down to ONE best meal, no matter if it's in the US, Europe, or wherever I've been. I've been fortunate over the years to travel widely and enjoy it and have dined well so many times I've lost count. Calories be damned. :)

Some of the best meals I've ever eaten, I cooked. (My grandfather was a chef and my grandmother was a baker). Because of my health problems, I don't cook much anymore but a few of my faves are the Chicken Fricasse (sp?) from McCall's Cooking School made with cream and topped with herbed biscuits (McCall's Cooking School is 3 huge 3 ring binders of  recipes I collected back in the 70s. I am missing some of them as it was one of those "recipes of the month deals" and I quit collecting too early--grrr). I also have the family recipe for Sauerbraten, red cabbage and German potato salad, finished off with strudel. These recipes were handed down from my grandfather (born in Germany). We often have it on Christmas as it a pretty labor intensive meal and I can get some help in the "German" kitchen from my grown kids. That's probably my favorite.

Now it's your turn!  What was the best meal you ever had and where was it?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Characters Must Eat!

A very warm welcome to our guest today, Leann Sweeney. Leann writes the Cats in Trouble mysteries which have thrilled cat lovers everywhere. The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse was the #1 bestseller on the Independent Mystery Bookseller's List when it debuted and made several top twenty lists for 2009 at bookstores across the country. Leann lives in Texas with husband Mike, her three cats, and Rosie--the smart, retrieving, golf-ball chasing, busy-busy-busy mini-labradoodle.

Our Characters Must Eat!

By Leann Sweeney

I recall listening to an editor speak at a conference more than a decade ago, well before I was published, and her saying, "Don't forget that your characters need to eat." Then, when I took a class with Elizabeth George a few years later, one of our exercises was to describe what was in the refrigerator of the character we were writing about. Yes, food is important in our books.In my first series, the Yellow Rose Mysteries, the heroine's sister is a health food devotee. And she's always trying to foist her preferences on Abby Rose. Abby prefers frozen pizza. But when I was invited to a book club meeting where the members were discussing the first Yellow Rose book, Pick Your Poison, I was confronted with just how important food was—even if it remains part of the setting. See, the book club members decided to make all the food that I'd mentioned in the book for our meeting.
I was stunned, first of all, by the amount of food. And also that I didn't remember writing about most of it. But those book lovers did. In that particular mystery, there is a funeral, and I'd forgotten how important funeral food is. Even though Abby Rose is on hiatus and I am currently writing the Cats in Trouble Series—where Jillian Hart drinks lots of sweet tea and coffee—I thought I'd share the recipe for the potato salad that appears in my first book. The book club ladies couldn't find a recipe for Dill and Sour Cream Potato Salad. One woman made one up and it wasn't half bad. But she should have called me. I know the real ingredients since I've been making this for years out of necessity. I'm allergic to eggs and there's no mayo in this one!

Dill and Sour Cream Potato Salad

4 c. diced cooked potatoes
1 c. sliced celery
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 T. vinegar
3 T. Canola oil
¼ tsp. seasoned salt
¼ tsp. seasoned pepper
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped, or ½ tsp dried dillweed
¾ c. sour cream—light is fine, not sure about fat-free
½ c. chopped green and red peppers
Additional sprigs of dill and tomato wedges for garnish

Combine potato, celery and green onion. Mix next 5 ingredients, pour over potatoes and toss very gently. Refrigerate several hours. Mix in sour cream and bell peppers. Garnish if desired.

This is a great summer recipe, one that can be made ahead of time and is super easy!

Have you entered the June contest at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen?

Avery Aames is celebrating the upcoming release of The Long Quiche Goodbye.

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.