A Novel Idea About Cooking

By Johannah Bryson, author of Lake Effect

Lake EffectAs a graduate of Culinary School, and having run a successful Personal Chef business for the past six years, I always want to know what kind of foods my characters are eating. One thing you can be sure of in a Johannah Bryson novel, there will be recipes. One or the other of my characters will be into cooking because it is such a passion of mine. Cooking with organic, local foods that are in season is the way to insure your dishes taste fabulous.

With this in mind I’ve been thinking to myself what Shelby (the heroine of my current novel, Lake Effect) might be cooking up for Wyeth now that fall is right on her doorstep. A recent trip up to the beautiful Marblehead area of Lake Erie has given me some great inspiration. So, without further ado, here is Shelby to tell you what she’s making:

Here on Whiskey Island, fall is a pretty special time. Grapes are in season and the vineyards are all very busy bringing in their harvests. I’d love to share with you just one of the many recipes we like to make using the large, seedless red grapes. The quantities are for two but can be easily doubled. Here is what you’ll need:

2 china plates put in your freezer 30 min. ahead
Two stalks of crisp, fresh celery sliced thin and at an angle
The leaves from the celery roughly chopped (optional)
A cup of seedless red grapes, rinsed and cut in half
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Champagne Vinegar
Fleur de Sel or good quality Sea Salt
A half cup of toasted walnuts (optional)
Fresh Goat Cheese (optional)
One fresh lemon

Take your plates from the freezer and arrange the celery, then the grapes, then the leaves, if you’re using them, into even layers on each plate. Sprinkle the vinegar and then some oil lightly over the top of each salad. If you’re using the nuts and cheese, place these on top then sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over top, use a few twists of fresh cracked pepper and finish the entire thing with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Using the nuts and cheese add another layer of flavor, but the salad is refreshing and fabulous without them. Try it both ways! If goat cheese isn’t your thing, substitute some Greek Feta or Bleu Cheese crumbles.

This salad works great as a light lunch, goes very good with Wyeth’s favorite — pumpkin, butternut squash soup — or serves as a terrific palate cleanser in between courses. It’s vegetarian too, but don’t tell Wyeth!

If you’ve read Lake Effect, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you’ve got a question about or would like full recipes for any of the food in the story, drop me a note at johannahbryson@gmail.com. Cheers and Happy Endings.

~ Johannah