I met my husband in culinary school, and we’ve both been in the food business ever since. Our idea of a good time is going out to dinner, throwing an hors d’oeuvres party or spending the whole day cooking for friends. Food is a huge part of our lives, and my favorite dishes always end up in my books. When I was writing Scrumptious, I was on a dumpling kick and my oldest daughter had just discovered she loved them too. Naturally, my chef hero and pastry chef heroine made dumplings, both steamed and fried, just like I do them at home. Also featured in Scrumptious: mocha rum cheesecake, red curry with chicken, sweet and sour peanut sauce and a whole roasted pig. When I’m writing, I think about what I’d like to eat and then I put it in the book. It’s easier for me to write about food I know how to cook, so I use our recipes. For example, I’m pretty sure that mocha rum cheesecake is one of the reasons my in-laws were so happy to have me join the family. Red curry is one of my favorite things to make, even though only one of the kids will eat it. (I do feed the other two something else, I promise.) For any of you who have read Scrumptious and wondered how on earth a pig roast ended up in the book…every year, my husband roasts a pig for the block party. I must have been writing that chapter in June! 🙂
Luscious, my second book, was a slightly different story. The story is set in Verona, Italy, so all the food had to be Italian. Luckily, I’m a sucker for all things noodle – but, wait! The Veneto region is known for risotto, polenta and gnocchi, not pasta. In order to be true to the region, my characters had to eat a few things that aren’t part of our weekly repertoire in the Usen kitchen. However, I still managed to work a few of my favorite dishes into the book. After the birth of our first child, my husband nursed me back to health with the fennel soup Olivia makes when she is rediscovering her cooking mojo. My husband grows heirloom tomatoes, so we eat the grilled bruschetta from the Luscious cooking class with almost every summer meal. Just the thought of tomatoes kissed with basil makes me smile. The tiramisu mentioned in the book is also one of my favorite recipes. After creating that recipe, I no longer had to sneak off to the Olive Garden when I needed a tiramisu fix. I could make my own and cut the piece as big as I wanted – bittersweet, luscious perfection!
Many of the recipes from Luscious will be popping up on my website this month, so if you’re hungry, help yourself. If I post them, they’re my keepers, the recipes I make time and time again, or they are freshly developed to share with my readers. Rest assured, I’ve tested them repeatedly to make sure they’ll work for you too – especially that tiramisu…
Do you have a favorite recipe? A signature dish and a treasured memory to go with it? I would love it if you would share it with me in the comments. Ciao!