Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interview w/ Meg Benjamin--food, man candy and a gigglesnort!

Sous chef Darcy Cunningham is less than entranced with small-town Konigsburg’s obsession with barbecue. But her future career as a chef de cuisine requires expanding her culinary horizons, so she talks the Barbecue King, a.k.a. Harris Temple, into taking her on as his apprentice.

However, learning Harris’s professional secrets wasn’t supposed to include falling for his spicy blend of smoky sexiness and laid-back charm.

Chico Burnside specializes in flying under Konigsburg’s small-town radar, but lately life has been going a little too smoothly, even for him. Hoping to shake things up a bit, he talks Harris into teaming up for Konigsburg’s first barbecue cook-off. But once shy scientist Andy Wells catches his eye, Chico’s got more on his mind than brisket. Like enticing her out of her shell to show her just how tenderly a big guy can love.

As the competition ignites, so does the romance. Until a natural disaster threatens to derail Konigsburg’s dream team before the grills even get good and warmed up.

Amazon | All RomanceGoodreads

Morning Meg! Welcome to herding cats! Since it's a bit chilly hear still I thought we'd settle down with some hot tea or a mug of Nutella hot chocolate and some fresh muffins. So com on back to the kitchen and we'll chat in there...

Alright, if you were running out of the grocery store had only 10 seconds to hook someone what would you tell them about Darcy, Harris and their story?
Well, first of all it’s Darcy, Harris, Andy and Chico—two couples, no waiting! And the thing that brings them all together is barbecue, which is almost a religion in Texas. The couples aren’t people you’d expect to end up with each other (Darcy’s a big-time sous chef and Harris has his own backwoods barbecue business; Chico is a bouncer with hidden talents and Andy’s a shy scientist), but the lure of cooking ‘cue is hard to resist. 
Ooo nice! Two for the price of one! I'm all for that. Can you tell us 3 fun/sexy behind the scenes facts about Hungry Heart
  • Most barbecue takes several hours to cook but needs people to stay close by, which means couples have lots of time for…ahem…other activities before they have to add more wood to the fire. So to speak.
  • Chico’s been around in the last four Konigsburg books—so often that readers have actually sent in suggestions for possible hook-ups.
  • I took all the details for the big barbecue contest from real contest anecdotes, including the smoker that almost blew up.
LOL oops! That would be quite the scene! I'm a total quote-whore. What was your favorite quote that just made you swoon or had you gigglesnorting or sighing in girly bliss?
Okay, I need to set this up by saying that Harris’s professional name is the Barbecue King, and this is right after he and Darcy do the deed for the first time.
“That was…memorable. Really memorable.” She blew out a warm breath against his chest as his muscles relaxed.

“Well, sweetheart,” he murmured. “They don’t call me the King for nothing.”

That time she did punch him.
LOL that's pretty cute. So what was your favorite thing or moment with Darcy? What about Harris?
I think it’s the same for both of them—the moment when they both actually break down and admit they love each other. Darcy’s a tough broad sous chef who thinks she always needs to be looking for a new job/step up the professional ladder. Harris is a laid-back pit boss who never takes anything seriously until he comes close to losing everything he has. It takes a lot for those two to turn loose of all their fears and preconceptions and commit to each other.
Aw yeah that's always a great moment. And on the subject of food...what's your favorite recipe? 
I wish I had a barbecue recipe to share, but it’s still winter in Colorado and it’s hard to get into a BBQ frame of mind! So let’s try this instead. I’m trying to have more fish in my diet these days, so here’s a quick way to fix salmon that’s really yum.
Baked Mayonnaise Salmon (makes 4 servings)

2 T mayonnaise
1 T fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, tarragon, thyme, whatever you’ve got), minced
½ c panko breadcrumbs
1 T butter
salt and pepper
4 pieces of salmon filet
Lemon wedges

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Melt butter in sauté pan and brown panko crumbs. Toss with herbs and salt and pepper.
  • Place salmon on foil-covered baking pan skin side down. Salt and pepper salmon.
  • Spread mayonnaise on salmon. Top with panko mixture (press into mayonnaise to keep them in place).
  • Bake salmon 8-10 minutes or until done to taste. Serve with lemon wedges.
Oh I know a few people that would love that! Alright how about a couple quickies before you head out?

Favorite Man Candy? Pictures are welcome!
Timothy Olyphant as Raylon Givens. Rowr.  
Yard gnomes or pink flamingos?
Probably flamingos. Love the funk!
Best "burning soup" moment?
You can’t really cook dry beans at altitude (I live outside Denver at around 5600 ft.)—you need a pressure cooker. I once made black bean soup in my slow cooker (after soaking the beans overnight). All day long the smell was driving me to distraction. Hubs came home and I poured out a couple of bowls, salivating all the way. And the beans were still crunchy. I still remember hubs’s slightly puzzled look as he tried to figure out if this was some new foodie thing—hard beans. *bwaha oh that is too funny! And had no idea!*
I'm completely obsessed with?
Right now it’s cheese. I’m researching a book where the heroine is a cheese maker, and the whole process just seems fascinating. Also really, really tricky, which probably rules it out for me.
Best food ever?
Oh man, it’s always changing b/c Denver is a great restaurant town. But maybe the migas scramble at the Black Pearl brunch. Give me a mimosa and turn me loose—just scrumptious. 
Oh yum! Before you head out... what's up next for you? 
I’ve got some books set in Colorado that I’m hoping to contract. I’m still fond of Texas, but I’d like to tell some stories from around these parts too!
Aw yeah that would be fun to write one closer to where you are. Best of luck! And thanks so much for coming by Meg! I'm so looking forward to meeting this group of characters! 

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Alright yall. Feel free to leave Meg some comment love or questions!

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