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What to Expect When You Finish Writing A Book

September 19th, 2014 by Alice Medrich

My publisher (Artisan Books) is an imprint of Workman Publishing, the folks that brought us What to Expect When You Are Expecting.  Now that’s a book that will never go out of style, right?  The reader hangs on every word for 9 months:  month-by-month it tells the pregnant one what she may or may not be feeling. Way to hedge a bet!  Yet, somehow I never felt like throwing that book out the window, rather than just throwing up.  I kept reading and feeling “normal” and even slightly reassured.  The whole point, yes?

Because my ninth book, Flavor Flours, is finally about to come out, and because I’m bound to get swept up into the excitement of the blessed event, I thought that new cookbook writers might like to know what it may or may not feel like to finish a book for the first time—or the ninth.

When you send back (what you hope are) your final page corrections, you may or may not feel all of the adrenalin rush out of your body.

You may or may not know if what you are feeling is elated or shitty.

You may or may not feel the exact same things when you finish answering all the copy editor questions that come up after you send in your final page corrections.

Even after the book is en route to the printer, you may or may not continue to wake up at night thinking of cool things to add, things you wish you’d thought of earlier.

You may or may not want to publish ever again. 

You may or may not want to prove it by throwing out all of your backup notes, versions, and passes: instead you box them up and put them in the basement for when you die and the Schlesinger Library inquires after your remains.  Yeah, right.

You may or may not have a thousand new book ideas (I know exactly one person who felt that way, once)

You may or may not feel depressed (crabby, angry, frustrated, tired…). A pox on all their houses is exactly what you may or may not feel like saying.

You may or may not continue to create and test new recipes that could have, should have, and would have, gone into the book (because in spite all of the above, you know you still care)

You may or may not have the urge to clean, purge, and organize every nook and cranny of your office, kitchen, fridge, freezer, and pantry.  Don’t worry, even if you do have this urge, you may or may not ever actually act on it.

You may or may not dread the upcoming (and very exciting) book tour that is planned for you—the one that you are so very grateful to have because so few publishers provide such a thing anymore.

You may or may not believe your book is fantastic, even when your co-author, editor, publisher, and publicist know that it is.

You may or may not think you should finally return to blogging because, after all, it’s been soooo darn long, and what would you even write about?

You are certain to forget almost everything I just wrote the moment you see your advance copy—with all of its fingers and toes in place. 

Mine came an hour ago and already I remember (almost) nothing.

 

 

 

Love To Cook, Hate To Bake?

May 19th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

My eighth book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts is just out. You might be thinking, “what, another dessert book, can’t she give it a rest?”
What’s new, fun, and interesting about Sinfully? 
After seven books, I’ve shifted my perspective from baker to cook. I’ve always noticed that people who love (and are good at) baking think and learn differently than people who love (and are good at) cooking.  How many fantastic Top Chef candidates get knocked out of the competition because they can’t make a good dessert?  How many good home cooks put out fabulous, seemingly effortless meals with a store-bought dessert finale? Maybe this is you. Maybe you find baking too finicky or constraining. Maybe you like to taste and adjust as you cook; maybe you hate to follow a recipe exactly, or don’t like to measure precisely.  Maybe your cakes and cookies are more like doorstops and paperweights…
All cooks need simple sensational little desserts up their sleeves: clever easy things to do with fruit or ice cream, or a lightening quick gingerbread, a great little sauce, compote, or pudding, or a easier-than-it-looks soufflé.  We all need recipes that are simple but not simple minded, terrific but not time consuming, compelling but not complicated.
My editor (a very stylish cook who hates to bake) delights in saying that Sinfully is the dessert book with no pastry bags, pastry brushes, rolling pins, offset spatulas, or baking skills!
Visit my brand new and beautiful website (see previous post!) at http://alicemedrich.com/ to learn more about the book or check out my touring schedule. Maybe I will see you this week in Petaluma, San Diego, Westlake Village, New York (in late summer), or elsewhere in the Fall. 

My New Website

May 19th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

The title of this post suggests that I have redesigned or remodeled my old website.  That would be nice.  But the reality is that this is my very first website and it is now live. Finally. It took as long to design and launch as it me took to write an entire book, which I also did in the meanwhile (see right and my next post). The site is quite pretty (as is the book) which I feel ok about saying, since I did not design it myself. I am grateful to The Engine Room and Doug Ridgeway for that. I am pleased. I am also thrilled to cross it off my interminable to do list.

Even if you are not interested in my bio, book tour itinerary, list of books, video course, vintage and current media or video clips…You will find lovely photos and favorite recipes, and I will be adding more of both (especially from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts) anon. Since I am a complete newbie when it comes to websites, your comments are welcome. Come on now, take a look!

Sinfully Easy

January 11th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

Everyone needs a sinfully easy dessert list.  What would be on yours?
I was invited to a dinner party set for the day after I would return from a trip. When I offered to bring dessert my hosts were okay with that. When I said it would be something super quick and easy, they were okay with that too.  I made Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés and EVERYONE was extremely okay with that! The soufflés—always effortlessly impressive—were fantastic, even though the oven was accidentally turned off during the first half of the baking. Talk about sinfully easy and forgiving!
The recipe is from my book, Bittersweet, but you’ll find loads more sinfully easy desserts in a new book coming this May:
 Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes by Alice Medrich.

Sinfully Easy is loaded with recipes that don’t require baking and plenty of easy ideas for dessert that—unlike the chocolate soufflé—actually sound like they are quick and easy.  You’ll find fun things to do with vanilla ice cream or fresh cheeses or strawberries; modern fruit desserts, new granitas, ice creams made without an ice cream machine, creamy dreamy puddings etc. But you will also find recipes— for soufflés and tarts and pies and even a torte or two— that you might not expect in a book meant for cooks in a hurry, cooks with small kitchens, beginners, or self proclaimed bake-ophobes, not to mention great cooks who just don’t like to make dessert!  
I know I’m stubborn.  I am certain that if people knew how easy it is to make say, sour cream Soufflés laced with chocolate, or a chocolate tweed torte, or a lemon or blueberry tart, they would add it to their personal “Sinfully Easy” dessert list along with all of the more obvious things. The recipes in Sinfully Easy are simple but clear and complete enough so that anyone can be successful making them, and none require a rolling pin, pastry brush, loads of counter space, or a million steps.  No rocket science, just great desserts.  I revised and streamlined some favorite recipes too: Did you know that you could make a classic Queen of Sheba Torte in one bowl without separating the eggs? Did you know that you could mix a delicious plain vanilla butter cake, or Fresh Ginger Gingerbread, or even an incredibly buttery spicy Linzer Torte in a food processor?  I do and you can.
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts comes out in May.  Meanwhile try the chocolate soufflésthat I made while jet lagged and add them to your sinfully easy dessert list.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE SOUFFLES
Adapted from Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

Ingredients:
Butter and sugar for the ramekins

8 ounces bittersweet 70% chocolate

1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 large egg white, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) sugar

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, whipped crème fraiche, or a combination

Special Equipment:

Seven to eight 4-5 oz ramekins

If you are baking the soufflés right away, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter the ramekins lightly but thoroughly and coat them with sugar (see tip).

Place chocolate, butter, and milk in a large stainless steel bowl set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the bowl from the water bath and whisk in the egg yolks. (Don’t worry if the mixture stiffens slightly or is less than perfectly smooth at this point). Set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean dry mixer bowl at medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar and continue to beat, at high speed, until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it and then fold in the remaining egg whites. 

Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins, filling each 3/4 or more full. (Soufflés may be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to two days. Bake directly from the refrigerator)

Place the soufflés on a cookie sheet. Bake until they rise and crack on top and a wooden skewer plunged into the center emerges slightly moist and gooey, 14-16 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sieve a little powdered sugar over the top and serve the soufflés immediately. Pass a bowl of whipped cream to top the soufflés.

Serves 7 to 8.

Tip: The best way to sugar the cups is to butter all of them first, then add a couple tablespoons (a handful) of sugar to one ramekin. Shake and turn the ramekin sideways and then rotate it until coated.  Pour excess sugar into the next cup, tapping it to dislodge loose sugar.  Repeat with the remaining ramekins.  Add more sugar if necessary.