featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Cloris is taking the day off. In her place we have guest author Peg Cochran, author of the Berkley Prime Crime Gourmet De-Lite mystery series. Allergic To Death, the first book in the series, will be an August release. Peg also writes as Meg London, and the first in her Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series from Berkely Prime Crime, Murder Unmentionable, debuts in September. She also has an e-book available from Amazon, Confession Is Murder. Learn more about Peg and her books on her web sites: www.pegcochran.com and www.meglondon.com. -- AP

I love to cook, and I love to travel. I’ve done tons of the former and have been fortunate enough to do a fair amount of the latter—visiting many parts of Southeast Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Unfortunately it has been awhile since I’ve been able to get away…so whenever I need to appease my wanderlust without actually going anywhere, I cruise the “ethnic” foods aisle in my local grocery store. Ours is quite large with sections for Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, German, Dutch, French and English food. (Of course our local grocery store does put American staples like pasta and tomato sauce in the ethnic food section!)

My character in my Gourmet De-Lite series, Gigi Fitzgerald, prepares diet gourmet food for a select group of clients. I’ve been on a quest for some “lighter” (read lower calorie) summer fare myself, and I’ve been trying a number of different sauces and marinades in order to convert plain chicken breasts or thighs into something a little more exciting. I’ve tried the Korean barbecue sauce “bulgogi” which is traditionally used on beef, but I found it added a delicious note to chicken—rich, sweet and spicy. Another favorite is Gochujang sauce—also Korean—which is savory, sweet and spicy all at the same time. Gochujang has been made in Korea since hot peppers were introduced into Korea from Japan in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It can be used as a marinade, a dip or a sauce. Annie Chun is one brand and they call it the “go with everything sauce.” I like it on chicken thighs which I then grill so the skin gets nice and crispy.

I fell in love with chicken satay when I was in Malaysia. It’s marinated grilled chicken with a spicy peanut sauce. Sambel Oelek, ground fresh chili paste, is indispensible in my sauce—giving it the hot chili kick that goes so well with the mellow peanut flavor. But be careful! A little goes a long, long way! Another favorite is Thai sweet chili sauce—mixed with low fat mayonnaise, it makes a wonderful dip for cold shrimp. Also discovered in the ethnic foods aisle—sriracha—ripe chilies ground to a paste with added garlic, sugar and vinegar. A dash mixed with ketchup is great to spice up a hamburger. Or try a dash on a hot dog or in soups and sauces.

Next time you’re up for an adventure—but without leaving home—check out the ethnic food section of your local market. Or, if you have one, peruse the aisles of an Asian or Indian market. It’s great fun to try something new.

Following is my favorite recipe for chicken satay (there are as many variations as there are cooks!) You’ll find other low calorie recipes in the first book in my Gourmet De-Lite series, ALLERGIC TO DEATH, which debuts on August 7 from Berkley Prime Crime.

Chicken Satay

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup sherry
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Place all of the above in a zip lock baggie. Add chicken breasts and marinate for two hours or so.

Slice three chicken breasts in half horizontally (the chicken goes further that way and you actually cut calories without realizing it!) then into strips that are suitable for skewering.

You can use metal skewers or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes. If you are serving this as an appetizer, use smaller strips and only one per skewer. If it’s going to be your main course, you can put several strips on a skewer.

Grill several minutes per side, until meat has turned opaque and has turned golden brown (165 degrees on a thermometer).

Serve with peanut sauce below.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
½ cup smooth peanut butter
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp red chili paste such as sambal oelek or sriracha
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup hot water
Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

Combine all of the above ingredients except hot water and chopped peanuts in a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in hot water to thin sauce as necessary. Garnish with chopped peanuts.

If you are serving this as an appetizer at a cocktail party, for a spectacular presentation, cut a cantaloupe in half and place cut side down on a platter. Use bamboo skewers for your satay, and stick skewers into cantaloupe half (it will somewhat resemble a porcupine when you are done!)

Allergic to Death blurb:

Business is looking up for Gigi's Gourmet De-Lite, thanks to her newest client, restaurant reviewer Martha Bernhardt. Martha has the clout to put Gigi's personal meal plans on everyone's lips. But instead of dropping a few pounds, Martha drops dead from a severe peanut allergy...right after eating one of Gigi's signature dishes.

When the distractingly debonair Detective Mertz identifies traces of peanut oil in Martha's last meal, Gigi suddenly finds her diet catering business on the chopping block. Now she'll have to track down who tampered with her recipe before her own goose is cooked.

Thanks for joining us today, Peg, and best of luck with both your new series.
-- AP


Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks for the recipe, Peg! Your book is going on my TBR pile.

Kathleen Kaska said...

Yum! The recipe is sounds so mouthwatering, but simple to make. I love the cover of Allergic to Death. Gigi sounds like a lot of fun, too. I'm packing for a trip in a few weeks and I think I'll take Gigi along.

Peg Cochran said...

I think you'll enjoy the chicken, and it's perfect for these hot August days!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

YAY PEG! SO excited to read this..congratulations! Let me know whatever I can do--but I'm already cheering and applauding..


Kaye George said...

Sounds like a wonderful new series--of course! Peg and I are crit partners from waaay back and I'm SO happy to see her reaching publication!!!

Lucy Burdette said...

Oh Peg, this looks so good. I'm going to try it for guests this weekend! Happy book launch--can't wait for my copy to arrive....

Fred said...

It is a de-lite-ful new series. I've read an advance copy and loved it. Let's not forget the 4-legged slueth on the cover, Reg.

Cindy Sample said...

Nothing better than a series that includes recipes, especially lo-cal ones. Unfortunately I'll have to find someone else to do the prep work since I seem to be allergic to cooking. Can't wait to read both of your new series. Congratulations.

Peg Cochran said...

You're right, Fred! Reg steals the show. And he'll be back with a bigger role in Steamed to Death.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Can't wait to read your new mystery. Sounds yummy. So does the chicken satay recipe.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

I'm a foodie-holic, too. Love ethnic foods and am working on my first novel, which is also based on a murder complicated/caused by an allergy. So glad to hear about your upcoming work! Look forward to finding it today!! TBR!