4/21/2011

May 6 Release : Keeping House

News to share!  I'm very excited about my upcoming release with Breathless Press, Keeping House.  Keeping House is the first in a series about four brothers called Truth or Dare.  This book is available May 6, 2011.  I"m working on edits for the second book in the series, Telling the Truth, which should be released at the end of June.  Things are rolling along quickly after that for the Blakes as the third book, Giving Up, is due out in August. The fourth book, Taking the Dare, is in the drafting stage.

Keeping House

Mischa knew his brothers were up to something. 
He didn't know it would lead him to Donovan Holloway and change his carefree lifestyle forever.


Donovan Holloway, advertising executive, newly made vice president of the company where he's worked for twenty years, grew up in a free love hippie commune, taking care of the parents who should have been taking care of him. He's worked hard to put himself through school and achieve the American dream. All he's ever wanted was a normal family life—house in the suburbs, two cars, two kids, a shaggy dog. A family to come home to—to care for, and to care for him.

Mischa Blake is the green eyed, liberally-pierced, black-haired, Mohawk-wearing spoiled youngest son of a Hollywood producer and his actress wife. Mischa has made a terrible mistake. In a fit of childish pique, he's accepted a dare from his older brothers. The dare? Live on his own, supporting himself completely for a year without accessing his trust fund. No problem. Except Mischa has never worked a day in his life, hasn't finished college, and has absolutely no skills that he can bring to the table. 

So when he sees Donovan's ad for a housekeeper/gardener, he has nothing to lose by applying, because really...how hard can it be?



EXCERPT



"So, tell me why you want to work for me." That should give him pause.

"I don’t. My brothers dared me to get a job, and it’s been a lot harder than I expected. I just came from a McDonalds where the manager had a guy with a BS cleaning the toilets and an MBA flipping burgers. The economy sucks." Mischa sounded dejected. 

"Ahh." He wanted a job on a dare? What the hell? Who told a prospective employer they didn’t want to work for them? "Let me tell you a little about the parameters of the job.”

Mischa gazed at him quietly, waiting. Maybe the daunting aspects of the task would send the kid the way of the first applicant. "You’ll be responsible for preparing meals. I eat breakfast at six, daily, take a boxed lunch to work, and expect a minimum of a three course dinner. Sometimes I have guests, and occasionally dinner parties." He didn’t really, but threw out the possibility anyway. For a moment, he was distracted by the amusing vision of a room full of elegantly clad clients and coworkers staring in horror as a Goth-garbed Mischa, hair spiked and piercings glittering in the candlelight announced that dinner was served. 

"Got it. Cooking. I can do that." Mischa seemed to be trying to convince himself as much as Donovan of that fact. 

"You’ll have to do the shopping. I don’t have time for things like that. Then there’s the cleaning. I expect the house to be spotless at all times." He assiduously ignored the fact that the house was currently anything but clean. 

Mischa wasn’t inclined to be so kind, though. He glanced pointedly around the kitchen, at the stack of dirty dishes in the sink, the debris from several takeout meals on the counter tops, and the unpacked boxes of kitchenware. "Ok. Clean. I can do that."

"I need the house put together, too. The boxes," he waved around, "unpacked and stuff put away. The walls painted, furniture ordered and assembled and put in place."

Mischa looked shocked. "You trust me to decorate your house?"

"No. I have the plans here." He thumped the red leather-bound album that held the dream house drawings he’d labored on over the years on the marble counter. "I need my housekeeper to coordinate the workmen, decorators, deliveries and so on."

More nods. "I can do that."

Donovan stared helplessly at the kid. Stop calling him kid. It’s too pervy. What else? "References? Do you have references?"

Mischa bent over and the tight black t-shirt rode up as the skinny jeans inched down. Damn. All that creamy white flesh, hairless and smooth tempted him to reach out and touch, to examine the texture and resiliency. He wondered if there were any more shiny piercings hidden under that severe black garb. 

"Hey," Mischa was waving a handful of papers in front of his face, and Donovan flushed slightly. Could Mischa tell he’d been staring inappropriately at his exposed skin? 

"I’ll, ahh, I’ll keep these. I need to call on them later." He searched desperately for something, anything to turn the kid-man off the idea of working for him. Recalling the indignation and vitriol of the second applicant, he took a shot in the dark and threw it out there. "I’m gay."

No response. 

"I said I’m gay, a homosexual, a flamer."

No response. Just inquiring green eyes locked on his face. Someone must have told the kid–man that eye contact was important. 

"I sleep with other men?" Shit now he was making statements as questions. 

The pierced brow rose slightly at that in an enigmatic gesture, but no response was forthcoming. 

"This is a live in position. You don’t mind working for and living with a gay man?”

Finally, Mischa smiled. Donovan’s heart lurched at the sexy sweetness of that smile. The tiny silver hoop in his lower lip glinted seductively. Wonder how that piercing would feel when he pressed his lips to Mischa’s? It certainly drew attention to the swollen plumpness of the full red lower lip. Yeah—he really needed to get laid this weekend.

"No. I don’t mind working for a gay man, as long as you don’t mind hiring one." Mischa’s smile was now a broad grin, and he settled back more comfortably on the barstool, as though he were suddenly making himself at home. 

Sudden sympathy overrode Donovan’s concerns. Why not give the kid a chance? If Martin Weston hadn’t hired him to work in the copy room at his company all those years ago despite his being an underage gay hippie he wouldn’t be where he was today. He’d probably regret this, but it looked like the skater-Goth-boy/man had talked himself into a job. And the corporate advertising executive was sentencing himself to a series of cold showers. 

4/19/2011

Cardamom Pound Cake with Ginger Pear Sauce

After all the homey, nostalgic recipes I've been making of late, I got a request from a vip for something a bit more... and this is what we came up with as a result.  



Cardamom Pound Cake With Ginger Pear Sauce and Vanilla

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Equipment: a 12-cup bundt pan; a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar in mixer at medium speed, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in lemon juice until combined well. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top. Gently rap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.

Ginger Pear Sauce:

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Peel and slice (or chop) 3 pears, (We used I Asian pear, 1 Bosc and 1 D’Anjou)
In a large skillet, dissolve sugar in water.  Stir in ginger.  Add a bit of cornstarch if you prefer a thicker sauce.  Add pear slices. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until tender. 

Spoon warm sauce over sliced cake.

Beat the cream with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract using whisk attachment of mixer until it just holds stiff peaks.

Spoon whipped cream over pear sauce. 



4/17/2011

Apple Spice Dump Cake

Apple Spice Dump Cake

Okay, this one of those throw it together quick recipes that makes a nice homey dessert.  I make my own pie filling, but you can use canned as the recipe says. Not sure if this is from Allrecipes.com or Taste of Home magazine, originally, so I’ll give both of them a nod here.   It smells awesome baking and reminds me of my Memere, whose kitchen was always scented with cinnamon and vanilla and other things to make a kids mouth water.  
           
INGREDIENTS:

1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix (or white, or yellow)
2 (21 ounce) cans apple pie filling (5 cups of pie filling about what you’d use to make a 9 inch pie)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans


DIRECTIONS:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Pour the cans of apple pie filling into a 9 x 13 inch rectangular pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sugar. Sprinkle mixture over pie filling.
4. Pour the dry box of cake mix over apples. Dot with butter and scatter nuts on top.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour, until cake is brown on top and bubbling on the sides. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping.

Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955