This week's recipe is another veggie delight, the theme of this month's cooking column. Simon Hopkinson focuses on vegetables in The Vegetarian Option (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), his follow-up to the entertaining Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Cookbook columnist Sybil Pratt says, "Whether your leanings are strictly veg or happily omnivorous, Hopkinson’s options will expand your repertoire of delectable meatless dishes." Do vegetarian dishes regularly make the table at your house?
Although the flavors in this dish are those of Spanish paella, the rice I have chosen is Italian carnaroli; other risotto rice may be employed (a simple arborio or vialone nano), but I find carnaroli swells more evenly and tenderly for the stuffing.
These tomatoes may also be served alongside other small dishes as part of a buffet lunch (in which case, one each is sufficient). For a first course, as here, you will need two.
8 firm, ripe medium-small tomatoes
½ small green bell pepper, seeded, pith removed, and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
large pinch of dried chili flakes
handful of Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads, steeped in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little more, if liked
1/3 cup carnaroli rice
Maldon sea salt
Remove the stalks from the tomatoes and then turn them over. Using a small, sharp knife, slice through about a fifth of the way down the tomato, to give little caps. Reserve these for later. Now, using a teaspoon, carefully scoop out all of the tomato innards into a bowl. Place the hollowed-out shells in a roasting dish that will accommodate them snugly.
Put the green bell pepper, garlic, chili, parsley, paprika, and infused saffron (with its water) into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are evenly but coarsely chopped. Now tip in the tomato pulp with a generous 1/3 cup of the olive oil and process further until the entire mixture is a sloppy, seedy, and oily tomato pap, with the other solids now more finely processed and in suspension. Put the rice into the bowl that previously held the tomato pulp. Pour the tomato pap from the food processor over it, mix well, and season with salt to taste. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill the tomatoes with the rice mixture. Don’t be tempted to overfill—there may be a little left over—but do make sure that as much liquid as possible is included, even if it overflows into the dish. Replace the little caps onto the tomatoes and trickle the remaining oil over (plus a little more, if you like).
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning the heat down a touch if the tomatoes are browning too much—but browned and blistered they certainly must be! Taste a little of the rice to make sure it is fully cooked, although it will also continue to swell and tenderize as it cools. Serve at room temperature, for preference, basting well with the juices and oil just before serving.
Reprinted from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson. Copyright (c) 2010. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
BEA may have lasted only two days, but many of the convention's most eager attendees had an event of their own to look forward to after the show closed: the first ever Book Blogger Convention. Organized by several of the most prominent literary bloggers, the event kicked off with a social hour on Thursday after BEA closed. There were nearly 200 registered attendees, and at least 100 others participated in an "Armchair Convention" organized by the bloggers who stayed at home.
Eager to meet my favorite bloggers, I hadn't realized I'd also encounter publicists and authors like Emma Donoghue, Susan Holloway Scott and Glen Plaskin, who attended with his puppy, Lucy, a descendant of the dog he writes about in the upcoming book Katie.
It's clear that savvy publicists and writers are interested in courting bloggers and social media mavens—the question is, has the rest of the world gotten with the program, or will the New York Times still print quotes from authors who categorize them as Terre Haute basement-dwellers? (Sorry, Richard Ford, but no one is going to forget that one.)
It's a busy season for Jennifer Weiner fans. Best Friends Forever came out in paperback May 4, and Fly Away Home, Weiner's newest novel about the family of a philandering politician, is out in hardback on July 13. (Look for a review in our July print edition and on BookPage.com.)
And today Publisher's Marketplace posted Weiner's latest deal—four new books, for publication once a year, again to Atria Books.
Any speculation on what Weiner will tackle next? What's your favorite of her seven published books?
At BEA last week, the BookPage team got to meet a number of notable people. Actor Zach Braff and his brother, author Joshua Braff. Justin Cronin (The Passage), Gail Caldwell (Let’s Take the Long Way Home), Joshilyn Jackson (Backseat Saints) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games). I silently swooned as Trisha and I found ourselves in a hotel elevator with Cory Monteith, star of Glee and total dreamboat. But the crowning glory of the celebrity-spotting week—at least for me—came on Thursday afternoon.
Trisha and I were walking around the Javitz Center, making our way back to the BookPage booth, when I saw him: Pat Conroy, my favorite author, deep in conversation with someone I didn't recognize. Trisha can attest that she has never seen such a high-level freak out from me. I literally stopped in my tracks, paced, stared and obsessed over what to do. Would I go say hi? Would I just watch from afar like a crazy person? Would I pass out? Finally Trisha just told me if I had this chance and didn’t say something, I would regret it forever. So I took a deep breath, walked over and opened with, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but you’re my favorite author, and I just had to come say hi.”
Mr. Conroy smiled, took my hand and said, “Well, thank you so much. Now, what’s your name, darling?” We chatted briefly about his novels, Charleston and how he plans to keep writing as long as people keep reading. His southern drawl was everything I hoped it would be, and I was thrilled—and honored—that someone of his literary stature would take time out of his day to talk with a fan. I thought I loved Pat Conroy before. And now I know it’s the real deal.
Have you gotten the chance to meet your favorite author? If you did, what would you say?
by Adam Ross
Knopf, June 22, 2010
The story is about video game programmer David and his obese wife, Alice, who is highly allergic to peanuts. Though David loves his wife, he often contemplates her death in the day-to-day routine of their marriage, and when she dies on account of her food allergy, David is the primary suspect. Throughout the book, Ross makes reference to Hitchcock films; Escher's Möbius strips; and Sam Sheppard of the highly public murder trial. I'll stop there in my summary, except to say that Mr. Peanut might just keep you up at night. Wrote Stephen King, in what has to be one of Knopf's favorite quotes of the year: "And it induced nightmares, at least in this reader. No mean feat."
Edited by the legendary Gary Fisketjon (who has worked with Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Donna Tartt and many others), Mr. Peanut is part marital drama and part police procedural, and as the opening paragraph demonstrates, it will hook you from page one. We'll be running a review of the novel and a Q&A with Ross in the July edition of BookPage, but based on the excerpt below, will you pick up Mr. Peanut?
When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn’t kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God. At a picnic on the beach, a storm front moved in. David and Alice collected their chairs, blankets, and booze, and when the lightning flashed, David imagined his wife lit up, her skeleton distinctly visible as in a children’s cartoon, Alice then collapsing into a smoking pile of ash. He watched her walk quickly across the sand, the tallest object in the wide-open space. She even stopped to observe the piling clouds. “Some storm,” she said. He tempted fate by hubris. In his mind he declared: I, David Pepin, am wiser and more knowing than God, and I, David Pepin, know that God shall not, at this very moment, on this very beach, Jones Beach, strike my wife down. God did not. David knew more.
I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! Anyone finish a good book?
As always, we're highlighting a lot of new content on BookPage.com, from summer romance novels, to kid thrillers to nonfiction page-turners. A few of my picks:
A small-town kid takes on a big-time case in Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, John Grisham's first book for middle-grade readers—and book one in a planned series—will no doubt have wide appeal. Precocious tween bookworms will admire Theodore Boone, a 13-year-old wannabe lawyer, and reluctant readers will keep flipping the pages due to an action-packed plot.
William Rosen tells a story of inventions in The Most Powerful Idea in the World
William Rosen’s The Most Powerful Idea in the World tells the story of how steam power became the catalyst for England’s Industrial Revolution. And a convoluted tale it is, involving the country’s wealth of natural resources (coal, iron, copper and water for powering machines and transporting goods), the comparatively high literacy rate that enabled common folk to educate themselves in science and technology, a patent system that protected the rights of inventors and gave them economic incentive to both create and refine devices, and a population large and wealthy enough to form a profitable market for products the new industries turned out.
Maggie Pouncey writes of a father's surprising legacy in Perfect Reader
“It was after her father’s death Flora returned to Darwin.” With this simple (and pleasingly Victorian) sentence, Maggie Pouncey launches the tangled doings of her accomplished debut novel, Perfect Reader.
Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe, a debut novel about a pastor's wife-turned-aspiring Hollywood actress, is filled with such precision and grace that author Jenny Hollowell seems like a veteran, according to BookPage reviewer Kari Edgens.
The novel comes out a week from today, but you can get a preview now in the book trailer below, which includes an excerpt from chapter 43 (don't let that number scare you off; the novel's 256 pages):
Also take a look at Edgens' review of this "engrossing read on the obsessive nature of celebrity."
Will you read Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe? Can you recommend any other book trailers?
One of the biggest deals of the year was announced last week at BEA. Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series has been capturing the imaginations of millions since 1980. We interviewed Auel in 2002 about Shelters of Stone, the fifth book in the series, and ever since have been receiving questions about when, oh when, Auel would release the sixth and final book. The answer: March 2011. Here's the deal as announced by Publisher's Marketplace:
THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, continuing the story of Ayla, her mate and their little daughter, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers; rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity, and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today's news, to Bantam Dell.
This expanded version of the popular feature from the print edition of BookPage shares the release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in June. Which June release are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments.
The Passage By Justin Cronin
The buzz book of the summer, this is the beginning of a trilogy set in a bleak future. Read our interview with Cronin.
The Lion By Nelson DeMille
Grand Central, $27.99
Special agent John Corey returns to track—and kill—a Libyan terrorist (known as “The Lion”) in DeMille’s sequel to The Lion’s Game.
Death Echo By Elizabeth Lowell
Two special ops agents are drawn together as they investigate a global conspiracy.
Uncharted TerriTORI By Tori Spelling
More candid reflections on celebrity life in Hollywood from wife, mother and TV fixture Tori Spelling.
Imperial Bedrooms By Bret Easton Ellis
The author of Less than Zero returns with another chilling take on American life—about a screenwriter who must confront personal demons.
Frankenstein: Lost Souls By Dean Koontz
Koontz's take on one of the classic scary stories of all time is haunting, timely and fierce.
Sizzling Sixteen By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s, $27.99
Evanovich’s 16th novel featuring spunky New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is sure to be another sassy, sizzling romp.
Family Ties By Danielle Steel
A woman fights to escape a sociopath who has her under his control in Steel's thrilling new novel.
Sena Jeter Naslund is not the type of author who does the same thing twice. She's told the story of Moby Dick from the woman's point of view (Ahab's Wife); portrayed race relations in the Civil Rights Era South (Four Spirits); and channeled a queen's point-of-view to tell Marie Antoinette's tragic tale (Abundance).
Her new book, Adam & Eve (Morrow), which is being published on September 28, is another departure. Set in the near future—2020—it tells the story of Lucy, a young widow whose astrophysicist husband has entrusted her with a major secret. There is life in outer space, and just before Thom died he had come up with the evidence to prove it. Lucy is the only one who knows, and she has the evidence on a flash drive she wears around her neck. The repercussions from this ripple out, affecting three religions and endangering Lucy's own life, as Naslund explores the explosive intersection of religion, tolerance and science.