Monday, September 17, 2012

Sink Your Teeth Into This...

I’m surfacing. Finally. Please excuse the flour dust and my apron.
Because I’m a little left of insane at times, I decided I needed a change from my normal writing routine. As June keeps harping I am such a foodie that I should be writing a cookbook. Since I was spinning my wheels in other areas, I took up the challenge and joined her and Stephanie Berg in assembling a cookbook. The first one is different from the others I have planned. More on that in a moment.  This one is A Vampire Cooks: 40 Recipes to Sink Your Teeth Into.

I love writing about vampires. Since vampires have problems eating, I had to think about what they would like to serve their mortal friends. The recipes are light on a variety of colors: red predominates.

But why write a cookbook at all? Because I am not just a foodie. I grew up in a family of foodies. A little background: I’m of Italian descent. My father’s family was from Calabria and Abruzzi. My mother’s family is Sicilian. With that kind of background there were always a lot of family events growing up – holidays, birthdays, religious milestones – and they all involved food. Lots of food. This doesn’t count the spur of the moment visits by family and friends (most who were Italian), which entailed more food. This scenario is not so different from what a lot of people experience. Now these larger events often meant both sides of the family would be together in the same house at the same time. No problem. Where some families would talk about current events  my family talked about – food. Not just how to prepare it or where to buy it, but about the food business.

My father had a pretty exclusive restaurant.  I grew up there. By the time I was 9 I knew how to devein shrimp, write menus and make French Onion soup. In quantity. When I was older, he had changed venues (long story about the building) and now had an Italian take out and pizza shop. I could toss pizza with the best of them. My father had one sister and two brothers. The sister married and had a family and cooked a lot. One brother who lived nearby decided to open his own pizza shop. His sons pretty much run them now and he oversees things.  The other brother had a restaurant in New York City. On my mother’s side, her mother had a pizza shop (think we had a monopoly here?) and my mom’s sister also worked there. Since my grandmother would occasionally keep an eye on the grandchildren, we all grew up assembling pizza boxes, making sausage, making pizza sauce and leaning how to sweep out the pizza ovens. As soon as we were tall enough to see in the ovens, we would get the peel and check for doneness and yell to an adult to remove the pizza.

Current events at the dinner table?  Not here. It was about pizza ovens, recipes, the competition and exchanging trade secrets. The Abruzzi/Calabrese side vs the Sicilian. It was never dull.

I plan on talking more about my family, and food in the future cookbooks I have planned. How could I not? The next two deal with biscotti, and Christmas Eve.  For now, since I’m in the mood for soup, I’ll leave you with one of the recipes from A Vampire Cooks.

Manhattan Clam Chowder.
Very different from its heavier New England cousin, this soup has a red and flavorful broth.
  • 3 (6.5 ounce each) cans minced clams
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  1. Drain clams and reserve liquid. Set clams aside.
  2. Add enough water to reserved liquid to equal 3 cups.
  3. In a large saucepan, pour clam juice and water mixture, tomatoes and their liquid, onion, potatoes, celery and carrots and spices. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat. Add clams. Heat thoroughly.

Serves 6


  1. This recipe looks mighty tasty, Tara. Can't wait to try it. Speaking of tasty, A Vampire Cooks is just filled with de-lish recipes and fun ideas. Congratulations on your newest Vampy release.

  2. Thanks, J.D. The vamps in my books just deal with their food issues, but it seems the heroines are always whining...