Archive for the ‘Mystery Writers of America Cookbook’ Category

TastreOfMurder1A few weeks ago I reviewed the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For edited by Kate White. As I ,mentioned, I was surprised about the number of mystery related cookbooks that have been published. Two that whet my appetite were A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers and A second Helping of Murder edited by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezhal. Although not as good as the Mystery Writers Cookbook, they are still interesting. Once again, it reinforced the fact that I’ve just touched the surface of mystery authors. The majority of contributors were authors I’ve never read nor heard of.

Both A Taste of Murder and Second Helpings have snappy section headings such as Choose Your Poison, Pasta Mortem, Just Desserts (an obvious one), Murder Most Fowl and Tough Cookies. Both books have their share of authors I’ve read: Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker, Joanne Fluke (cute cooking mysteries), Dick Francis, Peter Robinson and April Henry to name a few. But the majority of contributors I’d never heard of. There was scant information about the authors, especially when compared to the Mystery Writers Cookbook. More information would have been nice in order to determine which authors might be of interest. There were also several extended narratives, such as Breakfast With David Dodge or Tea With Dame Agatha or Anthony Bourdain’s How to Cook Pasta Without Getting Whacked.

As far as the recipes go, some were great and some not so great, but that’s the truth in any cookbook and everyone’s palate is different. My favorites in A Taste of Murder were: Connie Shelton’s Green Chile Stew (I really like her Vacation books), Death By Chocolate and Annette Meyer’s Apricot Dessert for those who really can’t cook.

T. Jefferson Parker’s Triggerman’s Rattlesnake was probably the oddest recipe.TasteOfMurder2

Robert Parker was, at the time A Taste of Murder was published, writing his own cookbook, so his contribution consisted of Susan Silverman’s Boiled Water (whimsical? Not so much! Better he should have declined, in my opinion. One day I should outline my opinion of Parker, from what little I’ve read about him.)

Kinsey Millhone’s Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich were in both the Mystery Writers Cookbook and A Taste of Murder. (I’m sure a little research could have come up with a different recipe. She does have other food in her repertoire!)

Without a doubt, my favorite recipe in Second Helpings was my namesake’s, Ed Goldberg’s Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms. Now I know, if I ever write the mystery that’s hidden within me, I’m going to have to use a pen name. Archer Mayer’s The Gunther really turned my stomach and if that’s what Joe Gunther eats, I’m surprised he’s survived 25+ books. I’m glad that man’s best friend has not been forgotten. Patricia Guiver (who I’ve never read) contributed Watson’s Favorite Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits. I’m seriously thinking of trying that recipe.

MysteryWritersCookbookSo, my thoughts on A Taste of Murder and Second Helpings? These books are part conversation pieces, part cookbook. If I get two or three recipes I like out of any cookbook, I feel it was worthwhile. You’ll surely find some recipes you’d like to try. I wish these books, however, had more information on the authors and their mystery books, so I can decide whether I want to read them. In this aspect, as well as the whimsical nature and artwork, the Mystery Writers Cookbook surpassed A Taste of Murder and Second Helpings.

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MysteryWritersCookbookI’m a mystery fan and cooking fan, otherwise I wouldn’t be reading The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For, right? So, I thought I’d have a passing knowledge of the writers in this book. Well…let me tell you, there are more well known mystery writers than I had a passing knowledge of. Sure, some of my favorites are included in this book, such as Thomas H. Cook, Sue Grafton, Laura Lippman, Louise Penny and Karin Slaughter. But there are a heck of a lot more that I haven’t heard of, such as Beth Amos, Alison Gaylin, Rita Lakin and L. J. Sellers…which of course, now adds to my mystery reading list.

Some people have called me obsessive. When I get ahold of something, I don’t let go until I’ve exhausted the topic (for those of you who read this, you might have gotten a sense of that from all the pulp mysteries I’ve written about). And, I could have sworn I’ve previously read a cookbook with recipes by mystery writers. But looking through my looseleaf binder of recipes, I couldn’t find it. So, I used my resources to try to find it and lo and behold, mystery author/character cookbooks are a hot topic (no pun intended). There’s a Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook, a Murder She Wrote Cookbook, a Cop Cookbook. There’s The Cat Who Cookbook by Julie Murphy, a Food to Die For cookbook by Patricia Cornwell, and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, which I’m putting on my reading list. Of course, none of these are the cookbook I was thinking of. So, I’ve requested A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers, A Second Helping of Murder: More Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers and Writers’ Favorite Recipes because I’m hoping one of these is the cookbook I was thinking of. I vaguely remember an Ed McBain recipe in the book.

Finally, my thoughts on The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. It’s definitely worth looking at. If you’re not a sophisticated chef (which I’m not), the cookbook is great because all the recipes are easy, such as Bill Pronzini’s Nameless’s Italian Garlic Bread and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone’s Famous Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich. The recipes run the daily eating range from breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert with a section on drinks. There are also recipes that sound intriguing such as Karen Harper’s Zucchini Bread, Brad Meltzer’s Italian Chicken, Greg Herren’s Greg’s New Orleans Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Bill Fitzhugh’s Spicy Beans.

To spice up the book (yes, pun intended), each section begins with a photo of an old fashioned typewriter with a page from a manuscript.  Interspersed with the recipes are pages about various authors’ writing such as PD James using poison as a means of murder, Nero Wolfe on Food, Poe Waxes Poetic on Food, and Lee Child’s Recipe for a Delicious Best Seller.

Since the recipes are based on mystery characters who like cooking or recipes mentioned in books, there’s a short intro preceding each recipe telling the reader what book or character it comes from. There’s a short author bio at the end of each recipe.

This book has everything a mystery lover, cooking aficionado would want. Information, recipes, pictures and more. Be sure to get a copy for your bookshelf.

P.S. I also found a new blog to subscribe to…Mystery Fanfare by Janet Rudolph, which is where I found the names of all these cookbooks.

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