Friday, March 20, 2015

Murder on the Menu: A Tasty Giveaway

Next week will bring the much-anticipated release of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White. Since food and dining have often been employed as plot devices in crime fiction, and few people know how to whip up sustaining yarns better that the numerous folk who make this genre so delicious, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea to ask a few of those writers to contribute their favorite recipes for publication. Something similar, in fact, was done back in 1989 when a hardcover volume titled Plots and Pans: Recipes and Antidotes from the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Nancy and Jean Francis Webb, reached bookstores. Illustrated by Gahan Wilson, and with an introduction by Isaac Asimov, Plots and Pans featured meal suggestions from Stanley Ellin, Ellis Peters, Gregory Mcdonald, Dorothy Gilman, Stephen King, Len Deighton, and a smörgåsbord of others. (You can study the book cover here.)

This new, 176-page illustrated work, prepared by Quirk Books, features more than 100 “wickedly good recipes” from such famous fictionists as Raymond Benson, Alafair Burke, Lee Child, David Morrell, Gillian Flynn, Bill Pronzini, S.J. Rozan, Sue Grafton, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Gary Phillips, Sara Paretsky, and--with a perfect name for this endeavor--Thomas H. Cook. The dishes range from breakfast favorites to soups, salads, dinner entrées, libations, and desserts (with James Patterson’s “Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake” being an example of that last course). As White explains in her introduction, proceeds from sales of the cookbook will go to the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), which sponsors the annual Edgar Awards.

To whet your appetite for the release of this work, The Rap Sheet has arranged with Quirk to give away three copies of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing for one of those, simply e-mail your name and postal address to And be sure to write “Cookbook Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted between now and midnight next Friday, March 27. The three winners will be chosen completely at random, and their names listed on this page the following day.

Sorry, but at the publisher’s request, this contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.

Are you still ambivalent about entering this drawing? Do you need a bit of encouragement? Below you’ll find an excerpt from the book, provided exclusively to The Rap Sheet. It’s a morning-meal concoction perfected by Ben H. Winters, the Edgar-winning author of last year’s World of Trouble and two previous pre-apocalyptic thrillers.


Detective Palace’s Three-Egg Omelet

Hank Palace, the hero of my novel The Last Policeman, is a young detective trying to solve a murder in a society in bad decline. With the apocalypse less than a year away, it’s getting mighty tricky to get a good restaurant meal. Hank’s whole modus operandi is to keep his head down and do his job, regardless of what’s going on out in the panicky world; it’s lucky for him that the folks at his favorite local diner feel the same way. He has been eating at the Somerset since he was in high school, and all that time he’s been served by the same waitress, Ruth-Ann. Ruth-Ann teases Hank because he always gets the same darn thing, the three-egg omelet. But hey, an omelet is delicious and quick to eat, so you’ve got time left over to sip coffee and develop theories of the investigation.

That’s just how Hank Palace is: he likes his routine; he likes things to persist in the way they always have been. Sure, the world is about to end--but I’d like the three-egg omelet, please.

Serve with whole wheat toast (heavily buttered) and coffee (black and hot). Ruth-Ann usually serves a little bowl of fruit with it, but Palace never eats it.

3 eggs

A couple pats of butter
3 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper

A sprig of parsley

1. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. (Unless you’ve got a diner-style griddle, or one of those things you put over your stovetop to make it into a diner-style griddle.)

2. Get the butter melting in the pan. Pour the milk into the eggs, add salt and pepper to taste, and whisk. Whisk some more. Put your back into it.

3. When the pan is hot enough--i.e., when you flick some water in there and it hisses back at you--pour in the eggs. Leave them alone for about a minute, or a little less, until the bottom starts to set.

4. Use a spatula to push one edge of the omelet toward the middle of the pan, simultaneously tilting it to let the liquid part come in underneath it. Keep doing this until there’s no more liquid. Flip it over (use two spatulas if you have to) and cook for another five seconds, until it looks cooked.

5. Now you could add fillings, like grated cheese or cooked mushrooms or, I don’t know, green pepper or some such. Palace likes just the eggs.

6. Ease half the omelet off the pan and fold the other half on top of it. Garnish with the parsley.

(Excerpted from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.)

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