Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finding his inner Rachel Ray: Guest Author Bruce Judisch

** Congratulations to our book giveaway winner: JANET E! ** Weds. April 17th 7:25 AM

Today, I'm thrilled to host a second gentleman guest (I must purchase some manly aprons!), a wonderful author I met in a San Antonio Christian writers' group. I've recently read two of his books and highly recommend them. Everyone wave their wooden spoons, please, in a hearty Authors' Galley welcome for  Bruce Judisch!

Okay, here’s what happened.  The wife of my youth in whom I rejoice, Jeannie, picked up a tidbit on Rachel Ray called “Drunken Spaghetti.”  There are truly lots of reasons to rejoice over Jeannie; the fact that she watches Rachel Ray is just one of them.  But I digress…

Naturally, I thought, “What better candidate than ‘Drunken Spaghetti’ for the blog of a Christian author!”  (Shame on me.)  But, getting the go-ahead from Candace , here we go:


·    Salt
·    1 pound spaghetti
·    1 bunch Tuscan or flat kale, stripped and shredded 1/2 inch
·    1 bottle red zinfandel or Barolo wine
·    3 tablespoons olive oil
·    1 red onion, finely chopped
·    4 cloves garlic, chopped
·    1 teaspoon dried chili
·    1 teaspoon sugar
·    1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
·    Grated Pecorino cheese

My older daughter, Kim, a ceramicist, made the canisters in the background.  They’re really cool, but optional to the recipe.

Jeannie watched Rachel separate the kale leaves from the stalks…spines…inner-stringy-part-that-you-don’t-want-to-eat (whatever you call them).  Rachel made it look easy.  Jeannie described the process to me, and I tried it.  Patience exhausted, Jeannie offered to ‘help’.  I took pictures.


Bring large pot of water to boil for pasta. Salt water and add spaghetti and kale, boil 5 minutes and drain. Return pot to stove, add wine and reduce over high heat for 2 - 3 minutes. Once boiling, add in the pasta and kale and cook until most of the liquid evaporates over medium-high heat, tossing frequently with tongs.

Hint:  The wooden spoon worked just as well as tongs.  (Apologies, Rachel…)  We used whole wheat pasta, which was good, but made the dish pretty robust.  If you like a lighter pasta experience, forget the health thing and go with regular spaghetti.

 Meanwhile in a skillet heat 3 turns of the pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and chili flakes, salt and pepper, cook till tender 7-10 minutes.

Notice those are Jeannie’s hands doing the important stuff.  I’m still taking pictures…

Sprinkle with sugar. Add some of the wine sauce to deglaze the pan, then scrape into pot to combine with pasta. Toss with walnuts and some cheese and serve.

Okay, so I don’t have a picture of that part.  I was too busy stealing tastes.  Wooden spoons connecting with the back of the hand hurt, by the way.

Serves 4 (or one r-e-a-l-l-y appreciative husband; can you blame me for stealing tastes?)

Finally,  I got my chance to contribute to a great dinner! (My hand in the photo!  My hand!)

So, if you’d like a more concise—but less entertaining—explanation, here’s the link to Rachel’s page.  She won’t mind: Rachel Ray Pasta Recipe

And here is an excerpt from my novel Katia that also includes food: the story's young heroine, Maddy, narrates as she, Oscar, and Katia dine in a restaurant near the top of the 1200 foot Fernsehturm tower in Berlin, Germay. Note: Katia is a diabetic:

My entrée of veal roulade in mushroom sauce with apple-honey cabbage and potato dumplings was as heavenly as the view. Tante Katia picked at a tasty looking dish of duck smoked over tea, and served on a bed of Asian vegetables and basmati rice. Oskar selected Geschmorte Ochsenbacke with a cream of celery and pearl onion sauce. I instantly regretted it when I asked him what that was.

Braised ox cheeks? Great choice, Oskar. She’ll never kiss you now.

For dessert, I zeroed in on the house specialty: the Cup TV Tower, a chocolate ice-cream sundae with coconut cream and passion fruit sauce. Oskar selected the assorted French cheese plate with figs and little slices of nut bread. It came with port wine, which I think is what tipped the scales for him. When Tante Katia ordered hot poached chocolate cake with mango, we both looked at her. I was about to say something about sugar, but a twitch of her jaw invited me to mind my own business.

((You all really want to read the rest of this scene.  Trust me. ))

 A spirited American exchange student. A sixty-year-old invalid. A riveting Cold War secret.  Spunky Maddy McAllister, a twenty-one-year-old exchange student in Berlin, Germany, has a journalism career to launch. Stalwart Katia Mahler, a sixty-year-old invalid from the former East Berlin, has a story to tell. Cultures and generations clash as the young American and the German matron strive to understand each other's present and past. Maddy learns more than a personal history; Katia receives more than a memoir.


 I'm still laughing at the image of Bruce stealing tastes, getting smacked. But you gotta love a man who does the dishes, right? A big thank you to both Bruce and his lovely wife, Jeannie for inviting us into their kitchen. And now, Bruce has generously offered a signed copy of Katia as a book giveaway. Leave a comment (with e-mail address) below, and you'll be included in a (Random.Org) drawing. The winner will be announced and contacted by e-mail on Wednesday April 17th. 

Happy reading and . . . Bon Appetit!


Kelly said...

Great column today. I loved watching the process of Drunken Spagetti and it sounds delicious. I am definately going to have to give it a try, but may need your wife's help with the kale. I have not had it before so I would have no idea what I am doing. I cannot wait to read your book, it sounds fantastic. Have a great day!

Library Lady said...

The recipe looks delicious and I would love to win the book for my church library.
Thanks for the opportunity to do so.
Janet E.

MaryAnn said...

My computer got funky, so I didn't pay close attention to the recipe, but the book sounds good.
We're enjoying (enduring) a snow day here is Southern MN, so I get to spend time reading Trauma Plan!

CandaceCalvert said...

Welcome back, Kelly! (Great choice of apron, I must say). I'm curious about this recipe myself since I haven't had the best luck with kale. Maybe the wine breaks it down and sweetens it a bit, Bruce? I love the idea of walnuts in the sauce--so different, and added protein too.

Lisa Medeiros said...

Oh I have never heard of this author but it sounds like a must read! ;)

CandaceCalvert said...

Hi Janet!

Katia is a wonderful book; reminded me of "Sarah's Key"--compelling, poignant, heartening. I'm hooked on Bruce's work. And now his recipes, too.

CandaceCalvert said...

Hi Mary Ann! So glad to "see" you here. Can't believe all that late snow. Trauma Plan is set in San Antonio where Bruce lives--hope you enjoy the story!

CandaceCalvert said...

Lisa, you will NOT be disappointed. Bruce is an amazing storteller, and the mix of contemporary and historical threads is so compelling. Katia is a must read.

Kelli Jo said...

Sounds like a VERY interesting read, especially for this History Major! Sounds like Bruce and his wife had (have) fun in the kitchen!! :)

Bruce Judisch said...

My goodness, am I behind the curve on responding to comments! I just got home from work, honest. I'll break these up into separate comments so I don't get confused...

Kelly, yup it was very good. As I noted in the text, though, we used whole wheat pasta which added a bit of weight to the dining experience. Next time we'll probably give it a go with regular pasta. Jeannie says you just hold the kale by the bottom of the spine and, pinching down on the leaves, run your fingers up the spine, which tears the leaves loose. You have to be careful toward the top so you don't snap it off and end up throwing the top of the spine in with the leaves...uh huh...that's why Jeannie did it. :-)

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy "Katia." (Secret: I got all 13 of my grandchildren's names into the book in one form or other.) :-)

Bruce Judisch said...

Hi, Janet, and thanks for commenting. Hope you win the book *and* try the recipe. :-)

Bruce Judisch said...

MayAnn, I don't know if it's the same thing I saw, but on my browser I have a lot of code characters interjected too (Sorry, Candace).

Snow! We're in the 70s in San Antonio today. But Jeannie and I are transplanted Yankees (Ohio), so we miss the snow. And Trauma Plan is a great way to spend a cold day. Anything Candace writes is a great way to spend *any* day.

Bruce Judisch said...

Oh, and Candace, I didn't notice any bitterness with the kale at all. Par boiling, then mixing in with the spaghetti cooking in the reduced wine must've done the trick. It turned out really well.

Bruce Judisch said...

Lisa, I hear there are benefits to being relatively obscure as an author (you know, no rabid fans pounding at the door, annoying media requests for interviews, interfering requests for autographs at the grocery store--stuff like that), but I've yet to appreciate them. :-) I hope you're able to read Katia. (Secret: Much of Oskar's account of the fall of the Berlin Wall is from what I witnessed first hand--and I cheated and wrote my family briefly in as a cameo.)

Bruce Judisch said...

Killi Jo, history major! We're kindred spirits--although my undergrad minor was in history. I was living in the UK, and instead of looking at photos of historical places in Olde England, my professor chartered a bus and we went there to see it first hand. Now that's a fun history course! :-) You might like the sequel to Katia as well, as it's steeped in the Kindertransport in 1939-1941.

And yes, Jeannie and I enjoy the kitchen. I have my strengths (and contrary to my tongue-in-cheek article on "Drunken Spaghetti," they don't *only* involve doing the dishes...) and Jeannie has hers. Much like with the rest of our 40+-year marriage, we complement in several ways. ;-)

karenk said...

loved this posting, recipe & pictures....thanks for sharing. and thanks for the chance to read your novel, bruce ;)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Gram said...

Love the recipe. Thanks. The book sounds like a good read. I will look for it if I do not win a copy. Dee
grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

Bruce Judisch said...

Karen, glad you stopped by! :-) Yup, the recipe was fun--as was writing the book. (Secret: I wrote the first draft of Katia in just 30 days. Of course, it took a year of editing to make it readable, but still...)

Thanks much!

Bruce Judisch said...

Gram, thanks so much. Katia is Jeannie's favorite one of my books, so far (not that there are that many yet...). It's available in Kindle format, as well. (Secret: The image of the Berlin Wall on the cover was from my collection of shots taken in 1985. On the back cover where the OakTara logo is, I was actually in the pic, but they Photoshopped me out. Still trying to imagine why they wouldn't want me in the cover photo. Maybe they don't think I look as good as Candace's cover models? Go figure...) :-)

Connie said...

Bruce, Nice to meet you in Graham. Katia is in our library but got snatched before I could read it. Will get it later unless I win it. Love Rachael Ray and watched her do the drunken spaghetti. I haven't gotten brave enough for Kale yet. Another southern green, collards, is best broken down that way too.

Anne Payne said...

This sounds like something even I could make and have it turn out tasting good :) I agree about the pasta choice. We enjoy whole wheat but it is heavy.

Bruce, I would love to read your book! It sounds wonderful. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

homesteading at charter dot net

CandaceCalvert said...

I'm really enjoying your comments AND I'm hooked on Bruce's little added "secrets" in his responses--what a fun time in the cyber kitchen!

Bruce Judisch said...

Hi, Connie! Graham was a blast. I'm glad you found Candace's website/blog. Were you already familiar with her writing, or was it from the slide I included in my presentation? I hope whoever is reading it from your library enjoys it. A church librarian I know in Maine puts little cards in their books on which the reader can leave a comment on their impression when they've finished it. *There's* an idea! :-) (Secret: Two very minor characters in Katia end up being the main characters in the sequel, For Maria. The names are derivations of two of my granddaughters, and, after immersing myself for so long in writing both of those books, I have to pause before I address either of my granddaughter namesakes to make sure I'm calling them the right name. You don't want an author for a grandpa...) :-)

Bruce Judisch said...

Anne, I'm sure yours would turn out delicious. Let me know if you need a dishwasher. :-)

And hope you get the chance to read Katia. :-) (Secret: The main character, Madeline "Maddy" McAllister, originally had the surname "McCann" [my younger daughter's married name]. When I posted my intent on an online author's forum, a subscriber in Europe reminded me of the poor little Madeline McCann who was kidnapped a few years ago, and that my choice of names could be hurtful. I was horrified at my near faux pas--but grateful the author clued me in. I changed her surname to McAllister after a good friend of mine who was also in Berlin.)

Michelle Prince Morgan said...

A man that does dishes, please someone train my hubby. Looks great and the book sounds heavenly.

Bruce Judisch said...

Michelle, as my guy card appears to be in serious jeopardy, I wonder if I should start the rumor that the dish washing was staged. Yeah, that's it...staged...never happened...that's somebody else's hand wearing my watch...really. :-)

The book was fun to write; hope it's fun to read. (Secret: There's a poster I mention in the book that was on the wall of a Christian counselor's office. That's true. I really saw the poster on the wall of a Christian counselor's office and I never forgot it. It fits the theme perfectly. What do you think, Candace?) :-)

CandaceCalvert said...

What do I think, Bruce? I think you're an all around amazing guy and a terrific author--I'm still impressed that you can write so well from women characters' points of view. I'm thinking that you pick Jeannie's brain more than a bit, just the way I enlist my husband when I must "think like a guy" for my stories.

Lueyes said...

This sounds good and a new way to incorporate kale into your diet. Thanks for the recipe; I am going to try it.

Bruce Judisch said...

Candace, oh you're so right about Jeannie's involvement in my writing. I really enjoyed writing from a 21-year-old female's POV (which could be a little disconcerting...), but many more times than once I'd ask Jeannie, "Would a woman think this?" (Response: "Umm, probably not. A guy would think that a woman would think this." [yikes!]) Or when I described what Katia was wearing, this was a definite sanity-check with Jeannie.

Lueyes, thanks for stopping by and commenting. We've had little experience with kale, too (I guess there are several types of kale), but this was fortunately a good experience. It was a really nice add to the pasta.

Bruce Judisch said...

Congrats, Janet! I'll get your book out in the mail tomorrow. It'll go book rate, so it may take the better part of a week to get there. Please let me know when it does arrive and that it's in good shape.

Cheers! Bruce

Barb Bezanson Wrought said...

I remember seeing Rachael Ray with this recipe a few years ago on her 30-minute meals TV show. I like the way Bruce wrote about it. Would love to read his book. I really enjoy books about secrets from years ago. Sounds very good!!

Bruce Judisch said...

Hi, Barb! The cooking spot was a lot of fun to write. And the bruises on the back of my hand from the wooden spoon have all but faded completely! :-)

If you get a chance to read "Katia," I hope you enjoy it. (Secret--or maybe not so secret--I'm a seat-of-the pants writer, so I honestly had no idea the twists were going to happen until I got to that part of the story. It's so neat when the characters write the story--takes a lot of pressure off the author.) :-)