When I was writing Love is a Four Legged Word, I had a lot of fun blithely making up recipes for my chef heroine Maddy Cartwright to cook over the course of the novel. Recipes included brownies, pie and muffins for humans as well as home-baked snacks for dogs. Then, after the manuscript had been bought by Berkley Sensation and was on its way to becoming a book, I had the idea of putting the recipes for Maddy’s creations on my website. Easier said than done! I had created those recipes for use in a work of fiction. Now I had to bring them to life! In my “day job” as a magazine editor I’m used to briefing a team of food editors and stylists to come up with the goods and top photographers to shoot the resulting recipes. Uh,uh. For this project, with a budget of zero dollars to pay expensive food editors, it was all up to me!
I started with the triple-chocolate brownies that so tempt my cholesterol-conscious hero, Tom O’Brien. May I admit that the thorough testing I gave this recipe resulted in a two notch expansion of my belt? They are decadently wicked and totally in demand by my teenager’s friends. The healthy “pupcakes” so loved by my canine hero Brutus were no temptation to me – though they looked good enough for human consumption. But they were wolfed down by my panel of canine taste testers – an instant success. (Both recipes are on my web site.)
Next I decided to try the pear and pecan pie with honey glaze that Maddy is testing during a pivotal chapter in the book – the first kiss between her and Tom. I tried a pear pie with a shortcrust pastry. Okay, but nothing out of the ordinary. Would an ambitious young chef make something so pedestrian? And where did the honey glaze fit in? The pie had to have honey as an ingredient because Tom is surprised by the sweet taste of honey when he kisses Maddy. Finally I decided to make an easy, open tart using frozen puff pastry sheets that involved minimum effort. The honey gives a delicious edge to the somewhat bland taste of pears. But the pecans still had to go somewhere. After some experimenting, a crushed pecan toffee sprinkled over the top seemed to work and was absolutely delicious. I served the final effort with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert when friends came over for dinner. They liked it so much they asked for the recipe. So I figured that was the version, Honey-Kissed Pear and Pecan Pie, to put on the website. Phew! I don’t think I could have peeled any more pears…
I’ve still got several more Love is a Four-Legged Word recipes to devise and put on my website. Needless to say for the book I’m writing now, I’m making certain that I only feature recipes that I’m absolutely certain I know how to cook!