Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simply Sara and Magic Red Pepper Sauce

Not sure where to start.

I'll start with the book. Simply Sara arrived via FedEx this morning. She's lovely. And Shiny.

There are some things you should know about this book.

1.) Simply Sara is a slimmer volume than Plain Jayne. Don't think that you're getting less book, though. Sara is actually about 5,000 words longer. She's just formatted for print in such a way that she uses less paper.

2.) Ergo, Sara is quite eco-friendly. Which will make Sonnet's parents happy. You'll find out why when you read the book.

3.) Do me a favor. Please. Pretty please. Do not flip to the back to read the ending. Please. Don't do it. You know who you are. I've done this myself - things get dicey and you want to know that the author is going to land this plane on the tarmac, not the middle of the Indian ocean.

You have to trust me. The plane lands. It's a surprise. It's a good surprise. This is not Hamlet. There are no bodies being dragged off the stage. I'm just as invested in the happiness of my characters as you are. Probably more. One night Danny came home to find me having an absolute meltdown because of what Sara (who technically is not a real person) was going through.

But you know what? A week later in the writing game, things turned around. Sara winds up very happy, and she does so in a manner that completely surprised me. I wish that same surprise for you. So keep your fingers from flipping back there. Nothing good can come of it. And the witty acknowledgements are in the front, so you really have no excuse.

4. You can download the first chapter here.

5. You can view the super cute book trailer here.

6. You can also mark your calender for the first official book signing at Barnes & Noble in Eugene, which is October 3rd at 4pm.

Moving on.

I'm now working on a book about Jayne and Sara's dear friend, Gemma. Ah, Gemma, who cooks like an angel and accessorizes in a way that Michael Kors would approve of. Gemma who has a job many would dream of. Gemma who cannot, it seems, get a decent date.

There's more to the story than that, and my agent and I are shaping and discoursing over it, but I think it's going to be amazing.

And not just because, well, it's Gemma, and we get to hang out in the kitchen with her. Though that is one very good reason.

In the chapter I'm working on, she makes herself dinner. I want to sit at her feet in the kitchen, sneaking bites whenever she gets distracted. The first item I included was a red pepper sauce.

The sauce is inspired by the Pioneer Woman's Red Pepper sauce. Now, I love her, and I loved the sauce, but I had a hunch it could go places. Yummy places.

So I experimented,

You want this sauce. Trust me.

What you need:

Pasta of choice (I like campanelle and farfalle at the moment)
4 large red peppers
1/2 an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Creme Fraiche
Heavy Cream
Red pepper flakes
Some sugar
Some salt
Some milk
Grated Parmesan cheese (Pecorino Romano works too)

Note: This recipe is not particularly...precise. But we're not baking here. It's okay to make things the way you want them in a sauce like this.

1. Roast the peppers. This can take a bit, so bring a book, or your phone, or your child, or something. I stick mine on a baking sheet covered with foil and place them under the broiler, top rack of my oven. Once the tops get nice and blackened, pull out the sheet and turn them. Keep doing this until they're completely black and blistered. Stick them (using tongs), into a plastic ziplock bag and let them sweat for a while.

2. While they're sweating, chop the onion and garlic. Saute them in a medium saucepan in some olive oil, over medium-ish heat. Throw in some red pepper flakes. I just shook it a couple times - if you like things spicier, go for it. You're eating it. Cook until the onions are golden but not dry. Remove from heat.

3. Pull out your blender. Hopefully, your peppers are cool enough to handle by now. If not, you can work on the first one while you stick the others in the fridge to take the edge off. Remove the blackened skin and inside seeds, but don't worry about having little tiny bits of burn in there. It's okay. Stick your finished peppers in your blender. Add the onion mixture and puree.

4. When the pepper and onion mixture is quite smooth, transfer it back to the sauce pan. Add a couple dollops of creme fraiche (so good!). Oh, and if your blender is like mine and it's hard to get every last bit out, pour in a bit of milk. Like, 1/4 cup or so. Swish it around, pour it into your pot. Add some heavy cream. Stir. Reheat it.

5. Taste it. At this point, I added some salt and about 1/2 tsp or so of sugar to bring out the sweetness of the peppers. Maybe even a whole teaspoon. Not a lot, but enough.

6. Let it sit on the burner on low while you cook the pasta. Serve with grated cheese and snipped arugula over the top. You could also put some extra creme fraiche on the top, if you were feeling a bit underweight.

7. Now, if you're eating this with a man, I totally recommend a pork & portobello mushroom sausage that's at Costco. I'm sorry, I can't tell you want kind it is, specifically. There's also provolone in it too, I think. It's good. You can fry it up (don't need oil, it has plenty of its own fat) while the pasta is cooking, cut into half-rounds. Give it a good rinse when it's done, though. It's not low-fat, but rinsing it will take the edge off. Once you've drained and rinsed the pasta, throw in the sausage and pour the sauce over it.

Seriously. It's magical, and very very flavorful.

Getting sleepy. If you make the pasta, let me know, k?


  1. I hope I get a chance to read it! I loved Plain Jayne! And I NEVER read the ending first! In fact I rarely even read the back of the book if I know it's one I want to read because I don't want to ruin any surprises.

    Michelle V

  2. You may have hijacked my dinner plans for this weekend. I was going to whip up some fettucini alfredy, but now I might have to make that red pepper sauce...

  3. Oh, yes. And I've pre-ordered my copy of Simply Sara. :)

  4. Glad you've pre-ordered! And yes, ditch the fettuccine. You really need this sauce.

  5. Cream and peppers eh? Intriguing.

  6. How exciting, all this Sara stuff! Are you excited?


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