Hello and welcome to Romance Recipes! Every Thursday and Friday I will introduce you to a new author and a new recipe! Two of my favorite things! Today I am bringing you author, Susan Blexrud, and her recipe for Riz a L’Orientale (vegetarian rice bowl) along with an introduction to her upcoming release, His Fantasy Maid. Please join me in welcoming Susan and savor her recipe for Riz a L’Orientale as you read about her upcoming book!
Julia Child, My Hero!
A few years ago, when the movie Julie & Julia debuted, I rushed to the theatre the weekend it opened. I loved the movie, though I wasn’t inspired to run out and buy a set of French knives…or bone a duck. I didn’t think about kicking my cooking up a notch (nod to Emeril), until this past fall when I got a raving urge to read the book, Julie & Julia, after watching a TV news feature about Julia Childs. I had assumed that the story of how Julia Childs became one of the world’s most renowned chefs was within the pages of Julie Powell’s book, but I found that Julie’s book was just half the story, with only a few tidbits about Julia Child. Well, my appetite was whetted but hardly satisfied, so I picked up My Life in France by Julia Child, and then my niece gave me Dearie, Julia Childs’ new biography, for Christmas. Add to that my son’s Christmas present of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I was well on my way to a Julia bonanza.
To say that Julia Child led an interesting and diverse life is a gross understatement. She is a testament to the adage, “it’s never too late to live your dream,” because she didn’t begin to develop her calling in life until she was in her late 30s, living in Paris with her husband, Paul. The fact that she was 6’3” tall with the appetite of a grizzly bear worked to her advantage. With all that space to spread out the calories, she could pretty much eat anything and everything she wanted. Don’t we wish we had that problem? Another incentive for Julia was that Paul was a gourmand, and because she loved him dearly, she wanted to please him.
Now I suppose would be the appropriate time to admit that I lost my love for cooking some 20 years ago. Through my 20s and 30s, I’d loved to cook, but when I found myself in my early 40s with two small children (yes, I had them late), an invalid mother who craved pot roast, and a marathon-running husband who liked to carbo-load, the dinner menus became a real challenge. With tastes that ran the gamut (throw in some peanut butter for the kids and stir fry for me), I was guaranteed that SOMEONE would be unhappy with dinner; hence, the end of my love affair with cooking.
But today, I can confidently announce that Julia Child has restored my gastronomical interest. And since 2013 is the 100th anniversary of her birth (she died in the early 1990s), I am celebrating this year by cooking one recipe each month from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
So far, I’ve made Quiche Aux Fruits de Mer (fabulous), Biscuits de Fromage (they spread all over the pan in a buttery mess), and Riz L’Orientale (easy and delicious). I will not be murdering a lobster or launching a quest for bone marrow…just so you know. April will probably be my month for Coquilles St. Jacques, depending on the availability of good scallops.
I suppose it’s only natural that my revitalized interest in cooking should show up in my writing. My newest release for Crimson Romance, His Fantasy Maid, will debut May 20. My handsome protagonist, Jake Sinclair, is a lawyer by trade, but like me, he’s cooking his way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Riz a L’Orientale (vegetarian rice bowl)
For 4 servings
4 cups hot steamed rice
1 cup diced eggplant sautéed in oil and garlic
1/3 cup chopped walnut meats
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
1 omelette, cut into strips
With the hot rice in a roomy saucepan, deftly fluff in the onions, eggplant, walnuts, and cherry tomatoes. Season carefully to taste and turn into warm bowls. Decorate with omelette strips and sprinkle with parsley.
Pass chopsticks to your guests.
On the eve of Jake Sinclair’s bachelor party, his best man surprises him with a fantasy maid named Amy. Scantily clad, she cleans his house and jump starts his heart. She’s beautiful, smart, and compassionate. Why is a woman like this working as a fantasy maid? A few days later, with thoughts still distracted by the enigmatic Amy, Jake crashes his car and wakes in the hospital emergency room where his fantasy maid is now wearing scrubs and wielding a stethoscope. Is she an apparition, or is his fantasy maid a doctor?
Jake’s expecting me at his apartment at seven. He’s making some dish from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That’s another thing I’ve just learned about him. He likes to cook. Instead of tackling the monumental task of cooking his way through the whole book in a year, like in Julie & Julia, he’s doing one recipe a month. I’m the happy guinea pig. And how appropriate that the recipes are French!
My heart’s thrumming like the plucked strings of a guitar when Jake opens his front door. He pulls me into his arms and nuzzles my ear. Then he holds me at arm’s length.
“Is there rain in the forecast?” He peers out the door to the clear blue sky. “Why the trench coat?”
I ease past him and stop in the center of the living room and turn. “You said you were cooking French tonight, right?” I begin to unbelt my coat.
“Uh, yeah?” His voice rises on the second word.
“I thought a little French preamble might heighten the effect. You know what they say about gourmet cooking, it’s half about the food and the other half is presentation.” I slowly open my coat to unveil Amy Maitland, French fantasy maid.
Okay, here’s the outfit: black bustier with white lace trim and fake lace stays, a ruffled thong for the bottom half, thigh high fishnet hose with little bows at the top, a tiny red, heart-shaped apron that reads “At Your Service,” and to top it off, a black satin ribbon around my neck.
Jake coughs, and I notice the front of his pants start to tent. It’s nice to know I have all of his attention.
I close the space between us and run my hands up his hard chest and then down over his waist where I place my open palm lightly over the bulge behind his zipper. The bulge grows and nudges my hand. “Just consider me the aperitif.”
He drags in a breath and manages, “No, Amy, you’re all five courses.”
His eyes grow dark and he sweeps me into his arms. As a doctor, I want to protest that while his ribs have knitted, he shouldn’t overdo it. But tonight, I’m not a doctor. I’m a fantasy maid. And I’m already tingling all over. When Jake ducks his head and slides his tongue along my dangerously pushed-up breasts and into my cleavage, I swallow and feel myself start to pant. Now I fully understand the old romance novel cliché, ‘heaving bosoms,’ because mine are clearly straining to spill out of my bustier and capture both his undivided attention and his mouth. Lovely aromas of wine and herbs are wafting from the kitchen, but my gastric juices have migrated south. I’m focused on the chef; his erotic, all-male scent is making my temperature rise. Right now, I don’t care if I ever eat again.
Jake puts me down and taps my nose. His slow smile and the fingertip he runs along the ruffled edge of my bustier tell me he knows exactly what I need. “Let me put the kitchen on simmer.”
“Simmer’s good.” My voice sounds hoarse. I’m about to boil over and he’s barely touched me. I want him to feel the same way.
I slither up behind him and slide my hands around his waist and down his thighs while he turns down the heat…in the kitchen.
Thanks for having me at Romance Recipes, Jennifer! I love to hear from readers. Please visit me…
Coming May 20 from Crimson Romance…His Fantasy Maid
Thank you for joining us for another Romance Recipes! I hope you’ll stop by next week to meet another author, try a new recipe and pick up a new book!