Today I’m delighted to welcome Devon Delaney. I’m confident you’ll enjoy getting to know her.
Thank you so much for having me! I’d love to answer some questions so that my readers and potential readers may get to know me a bit better. First, let me tell you a bit about my new release.
The latest book in my cooking competition mystery series, Double Chocolate Cookie Murder, deals with the consequences of a character’s past actions. Think of the countless brushes you’ve had with people throughout your life and how the interactions may have affected the path of your life. Throw in the possibility that moment in time will come back to haunt you and you have a snippet of the book’s premise. A cook-off is, of course, central to the mystery. There are milestone family decisions to be made and a murder to be investigated. Come with a full belly when you read the book, only because you will leave hungry if you don’t. Lots of food, fun, and hometown family spirit shape the foundation of my writing and make the task of putting words to paper a joy. My goal is to entertain.
Do you have a pet?
I had a Jack Russell terrier for sixteen years and that’s the breed I chose to feature as my main character’s pet. The active, possessive breed isn’t for everyone, and I pride myself for having let Frosty train me to be a great companion rather than the other way around. Our partnership was one a feel blessed to have had. Now I have an equally wonderful Standard Poodle. How lucky can a girl get?
How long have you loved to cook/bake?
To be honest, I’m not the greatest baker. I do bake a mean cookie. And a great muffin. I don’t love to bake as much as I love to eat baked goods. I have a free-wheeling style in the kitchen and having to measure every single ingredient in order to keep the chemistry perfect stifles my creativity. On the other hand, I have competed in the Pillsbury Bake-off three times. The difference being, at their bake-off the cooks begin with a boxed mix or a prepackaged dinner starter, a good jumping off point. Your creativity and imagination take you to the finish line where you collect a prize or not. That’s the style of cooking I love.
Main courses and side dishes are my forte. I’ve been sous-cheffing since I was about six or seven. My dad had a few recipes he prepared over and over, like Ceasar salad and chicken stir-fry. He was methodical about the prep and instructions, so I felt very comfortable knowing my role, whether it be crack an egg or chop the chicken. Looking back, I built my confidence in the kitchen under his tutelage and spread my wings after I was married and had a captive taste-tester.
Do you follow a recipe?
I prefer not to, but I admit I do occasionally follow a recipe if I’m looking to learn a new technique or a new piece of kitchen equipment, such as my daughter’s Insta-Pot. That’s more of a rarity. Playing a game of “Chopped – Home Edition” each night at five o’clock is more my style. Whatever ingredients my family hasn’t scarfed down over the last twenty-four hours is my springboard to parts unknown on our dinner menu. My goal is to make the dish my own and put the “Devon twist” on the recipe, for better or worse. Making mistakes teaches me as much as finding success, when it comes to creating contest entries. Many a time I take a tried and true recipe of mine and, rather than follow the steps exactly, I substitute new ingredients to test out a new flavor combination.
What’s your favorite meal to prepare?
My favorite dish to prepare is my Grilled Ranch Steak Bruschetta in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh and I’ve purchased a fresh baked country bread. The recipe won me a contest sponsored by Cooking Light magazine:
Ranch Steak Bruschetta Salad (Devon Delaney)
6 tablespoons ranch dressing
1½ tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground coffee
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder
4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (1 inch thick)
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cups loosely packed arugula
12 (1-ounce) slices French bread, toasted
Combine dressing and horseradish in a small bowl; cover and chill.
Combine black pepper, coffee, cumin, and chile powder. Rub both sides of steaks with pepper mixture; let stand 10 minutes. Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium heat. Coat steaks with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan; let stand 7 minutes.
Combine shallots, basil, bell peppers, juice, and tomatoes in a small bowl; toss well.
Arrange 1 cup arugula on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 2 toast slices. Cut steaks diagonally across grain into thin slices. Divide steak evenly among toast slices; top each serving with about 2 tablespoons tomato mixture. Drizzle each serving with about 1 tablespoon dressing mixture. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.
Do you have a dish that’s won multiple contests?
I have used a particular theme a few times but you can’t use the same recipe. Once the recipe is submitted to the contest, whether it wins or loses, the recipe then becomes the sponsors property. Ingenious marketing plan, right? The sponsoring company receives many new recipes for their products from the entrants and it’s a win-win for them. Technically, a recipe can have three major changes from the original to be called a new recipe and that’s not hard to do. So, I have taken a theme, such as a surf and turf burger and made a few significant changes in order to freshen it up.
Have you ever created something you thought would be delicious and it completely flopped?
Simple answer: more than I can count.
Do you prefer the beach or mountains?
Mountains. I’m a hiker and a skier. I did grow up in Long Island, NY so I spent plenty of time at the beach. Too much, my dermatologist would say.
Cats or dogs?
No one else in my family likes cats but I love them. I love dogs. I am an animal nut, actually. We joke about moving to a farm to have lots of animals, but I might be too lazy.
Paperback or ebook?
I have never read an ebook in my life. Can you believe that?
Haha, that’s amazing, Devon.
Sweet or salty?
Popcorn, chips and soy sauce. Can’t get enough! I get a lot of exercise, so my body loves salt. I don’t hate a great piece of chocolate cake, though!
Devon, thanks so much for spending a little time with us today.
Friends, Double Chocolate Cookie Murder is available now. You can learn more about Devon and her fascinating live at her website. http://www.devonpdelaney.com/