28 March 2015

Weekend Cooking: The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White

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Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate WhiteAs much as I love pop culture, art, and literary themed cookbooks, I generally accept that they're going to be fun to look through and read but not particularly useful in the kitchen. It was in that spirit that I accepted a review copy of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White.

Well mark me as totally wrong! This cookbook not only is a joy to read but is a welcome addition to my kitchen shelf. If you're a fan of mysteries, a lover of tried-and-true family recipes, or just looking for an everyday cookbook, then put the MWA Cookbook on your wish list.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the book is the noir/mystery theme: the colors are browns and blacks and the icons are cleavers and skulls. I love how each chapter opens with an old-fashioned manual typewriter with a message still in it (see the scan below).

The end papers list the dozens of mystery writers who contributed to the book, starting, in alphabetical order, with Beth Amos (who contributed a holiday grogg recipe, perfect for her bartender protagonist) and ending with Angela Zeman (who completes her grappa-soaked cherries recipe by telling the cook to take a bow). Here are some of my favorite authors to show you the range of recipes:
  • Alafair Burke: Ellie Hatcher's Rum Soaked Nutella French Toast
  • Harlan Coben: Myron's Crabmeat Dip
  • Mary Higgins Clark: Mary's Celebratory Giants Game Night Chili
  • Lydsay Faye: Valentine Wilde's Chicken Fricassee
  • Lisa Scotttoline: A Tomato Sauce for all Seasons
  • Joseph Finder: Doreen's Apple Crumble
  • Lee Child: Coffee, Pot of One
Each recipe comes with a story. Some are about that author's detective, some are personal stories, and all are worth taking the time to read. Because these are real recipes made by real people (not famous chefs or recipe developers), they all look dead (ha!) simple to make and have universal appeal. A few are gluten free and many are vegetarian, but most are just basic delicious-sounding dishes.

Oh, and while you're waiting for your dinner to finish cooking, don't forget to read the introduction and the sidebars, which talk about poisons, forensics, classic detectives, red herrings, and other fun topics that fit the theme of mysteries and murder.

Even better, all proceeds from the book go back the Mystery Writers of America, which works to promote "higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write in the genre." Anyone can join the group, which sponsors the Edgar Awards. For more information, be sure to visit their website.

Award-winning author Sandra Brown, known for her stand-alone romantic thrillers, contributed the following appetizer/snack recipe. I think I'm going to have to try it. I'm so dang curious. What do you think? I may cut the recipe in half for a test run.

Mystery Crackers
Yield: about 40 servings
  • 1⅓ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cayenne (depending on how spicy you want them)
  • 1 (1-pound) box Premium saltines (all four sleeves)
1. Combine oil, dressing mix, and pepper

2. Empty crackers into a 2-gallon ziplock bag and pour oil mixture over them. Seal and toss to coat crackers.

3. Over the next 6 to 8 hours, toss periodically until all the oil is absorbed into the crackers. Despite the oil, they'll retain their crunch and won't get soggy. I don't know how it works. It's a mystery!

Brown says she keeps "them in the fridge of my office for snacking. If I'm in a lull, I can nibble a few to 'spice things up!' "

Published by Quirk Books, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781594747571
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 3/28/15, 6:53 AM  

The recipes you listed look pretty good to me! especially the french toast....

Tina 3/28/15, 7:52 AM  

ooooo, I am on the list for that on Goodreads for a giveaway. I hope I win, looks cool.

Louise 3/28/15, 7:53 AM  

What an odd theme for a cookbook. Usually you can see how someone would get an idea for a cookbook, this one has me a little puzzled. As does that mystery cracker recipe. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough. Although I did some experimenting of my own this week.

Anonymous,  3/28/15, 8:39 AM  

How fun! I swear I always think there just can't be any new ideas in cookbooks and yet, something unique will pop up!

bermudaonion 3/28/15, 9:04 AM  

I've flipped through this book and have been impressed. It sounds like I need to spend some time digging into it!

Kay 3/28/15, 9:22 AM  

I've been seeing this cookbook all over the place this week. And, as mysteries are my thing, I think I'll need to have it. Soon.

Those crackers seem strange. At first I thought, too much oil! But with all the crackers in a box, that's quite a few. Anyway, I'd enjoy seeing who contributed and reading the mystery stuff as much as the recipes I'm sure. Thanks for sharing about it!

Katherine P 3/28/15, 10:02 AM  

I love the idea of a cookbook with recipes from my favorite mystery authors. The crackers sound delicious. I've had something similar but I think everything I've had involves baking.

Claudia 3/28/15, 1:08 PM  

Oh no, another cookbook, but one right up my alley. Got to have it! I've added one - Donna Leon with her tantalizing Italian food.

Alba Forcadell 3/28/15, 2:03 PM  

Just discovered your blog! I love cooking and baking and sharing it in my blog. Looking forward to more!

Roberta Gibson 3/28/15, 10:11 PM  

What a great new way to "investigate" both potential new mysteries to read and new recipes to try.

Thanks to Tina for letting us know about the GoodReads Giveaway. I'm definitely putting it on my TBR list.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 3/29/15, 11:39 AM  

I linked the wrong post! Good grief. The right one is under it... I actually forgot I had this one to link until I seen that you reviewed the same book! LOL

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/29/15, 12:13 PM  

Those crackers are a mystery. I love books like this, and this one looks like fun to read and cook from.

Margot 3/29/15, 1:33 PM  

As a big mystery fan, I think I NEED this book! I do like reading these specialty cookbooks too. I'm surprised you found it good enough to make it onto your kitchen shelves. The cracker recipe is so different that it makes me want to try it. I think I'll do a half recipe too.

Carole 3/29/15, 3:24 PM  

sorry I'm late to the party this week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Carol 3/30/15, 4:31 PM  

I think I need to put this one on my wishlist.

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