Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quality time with Queenie and a giveaway: author Louisa Edwards on her best meal ever, and how to win a signed copy of her new novel!

Loyal Queenie readers know her simply as "Louisa." She's a respected contemporary romance novelist, an accomplished cook, and, most importantly, she's my best friend! Louisa Edwards lives in Ohio with her husband (and two ridiculously adorable dogs, with whom I am certifiably obsessed), where she writes her fabulous novels and cooks in her enviably well-equipped kitchen.

The first book in Louisa's Recipe for Love trilogy, entitled Can't Stand the Heat, debuted last fall to excellent reviews, and the second book (On the Steamy Side - my personal favorite so far) came out in March!

When she's not guest posting here or scribbling furiously away on her next novel, Louisa can be found over at her blog, her website, and her always-witty Twitter feed. (She sometimes posts pictures of Hunter and Oscar, said dogs, on Twitter, which is reason enough to follow her.)

Today, along with her interview, Louisa has a giveaway for you! Read her interview for the details, and follow her instructions to be entered to win a whole bunch of loot. (A signed, hardcover copy of On the Steamy Side, a Recipe for Love apron, and a set of spatulas!)

How and from whom did you learn to cook?

Both of my parents are fantastic, adventurous cooks so we grew up trying lots of different cuisines and ingredients in my house. I moved to NYC after college and got out of the habit of cooking for myself, what with all the fabulous restaurants around, and my kitchen being about the size of a bathtub, but once we moved to a small town in Ohio? If I want something fabulous to eat here, I have to make it myself. So I settled down to figure out how to do that, and realized I loved it!

Do you consider yourself a baker, a cook, or a hybrid? Why?

I find baking very therapeutic and comforting, but I'd be more apt to call myself a cook, since it's what I do far more frequently. Plus, I've grown to love the freedom and creativity inherent in cooking, while I'm not truly comfortable enough with the science of baking to deviate from the recipe, usually.

If you could prepare any meal in the world, what would the menu be, and who would you invite to join you?

This is a tough one! Breakfast is my favorite meal, and my favorite thing is to cook with other people, all pitching in together, so I guess I'd have to invite my favorite cooks to help me come up with a magnificent brunch: my parents, my husband (he makes a mean omelet), my best friend, Meg (some of you know her as Queenie!), and maybe Eric Ripert (for the pretty) and Anthony Bourdain (for the stories.) We'd make cornmeal bacon waffles, Ruth Reichl's buttery pancakes, skinny French omelets filled with roasted potatoes, melted leeks, and sauteed mushrooms, country ham biscuits with red-eye gravy, and a big, gorgeous minted fruit salad. And mimosas! Heavy on the bubbly.

Is there something you love to eat that you never make at home? Where do you get your fix?

I love Japanese food, specifically chirashi, that beautiful jewel-box of fragrant, sticky sushi rice dotted with perfectly fresh, silky fish. There really isn't anyplace in my town where I can satisfy that craving, but whenever I travel, it's always in the back of my head as a major food priority. Most recently, I had an amazing chirashi at Ozumo, looking out over the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Pick your poison.

If I could get away with drinking nothing but champagne for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy girl. I'd miss bourbon and gin, but somehow, I'd struggle through.

Describe the best meal you've ever eaten. Where were you? Who prepared it? And what made it so special?

This is next to impossible, but since I'm here with Queenie, it automatically puts me in mind of two dinners we've had together. And I bet she knows exactly which ones before I even say! The first was a transcendent meal in Paris at a tiny neighborhood bistro called Camille--pichets of house red, perfectly crisped duck breast, juicy lamb chops, and the hands-down best steak tartare I've ever tasted.

The other, slightly more dear to my heart because of the aforementioned cooking-together principle, was a night last summer when Meg and I tried our hands at banh mi for the first time. We'd made Julia's terrine of pork and veal a few days earlier, as well as some chicken liver pate that we tarted up with a shot of cinnamon. Those things went into the split loaves of crusty bread, along with an amazingly savory ground pork concoction with peanuts, fish sauce, and shallots.

Other condiments included chopped lemongrass, cilantro, and mint, grated fresh ginger, thinly sliced green onions, cucumber, and jalapenos, more fish sauce (because who can ever have enough of that stuff?) and sriracha. Oh em gee, they were divine! A harmonious symphony of French and Vietnamese flavors, hot sour salty sweet goodness! We ate them on the deck behind my house in the fading summer light, and I will never forget a moment of that meal.

What's for dinner tonight chez toi?

It just so happens that I stuck a side of salmon in to cure with sugar and salt, fresh dill, and lemon zest a few days ago, so tonight we're having gravlax! I'm itching to try an Eric Ripert recipe from his book A Return to Cooking: Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur. We'll be using gravlax instead, and I don't have any lemon confit on hand, but I bet our version will still be pretty tasty.

What about you? What's on your dinner table? Answer in the comments below (Don't forget to include your email address!) for a chance to win a signed special hardcover edition of my newest Recipe for Love novel, On the Steamy Side, a Recipe for Love apron, and a set of red rubber spatulas!


TestBlog said...

Tonight's dinner chez moi is uninteresting leftovers (grilled jalapeno chicken sausage & peppers). Desserts & appetizers are my favorite things to cook and later this week I'm going to attempt homemade Thin Mint ice cream!

Michelle (MG) Braden said...

I think I will be making roasted garlic, sauteed onion, goat's cheese and chorizo pizza for the adults, cheese (yes, how exciting) for the kids.I will also be making bread (just because we need some - I am also more of a cook than a baker) and if I have time I am going to make Nigella Lawson's chocolate pudding because I'm craving it http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail.aspx?rid=161

Peach said...

I am more of a cook than a baker too, though I do love to bake bread. Tonight is chicken with caramelized shallots.

runner10 said...

I am so hungry after reading your blog.
I am thinking about a last blast of winter food tonight. Vegetable soup sounds good.

Kristen Painter said...

Because of the current diet, nothing interesting on my table, but I've been itching to make ravioli with a gorganzola, walnut, ricotta filling in a sage and butter sauce.

And now, I must find a diet friendly snack or die.

RADgirl said...

Grilled asparagus and a bruschetta of roma tomatos, chopped garlic, and olive oil on toasted whole gran bread. And all of this on my diet plan. Hope I win! :)

Linda Henderson said...

Well, it's only me so I had leftover red beans and rice and I polished off my chocolate covered strawberries that my daughter brought me yesterday as a belated Mothers Day gift, she had to work that day. I like to cook, but I usually only cook big meals when my daughters come over with their families. I would love to win your book.

seriousreader at live dot com

purplelover04 said...

i made bake chicken with brown rice and green beans.

Purple_lover_04 at msn dot com

Patti said...

Since today is my birthday, I got to pick dinner and hubs (who is an amazing cook) made it: authentic home-made tacos, black beans with mexican rice, and flan instead of birthday cake. Absolutely delish!

pspinney at cox dot net

Meg Blocker said...

Hey, folks!

The winner has been chosen! Head on over here to find out if it's you!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin