Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Food & Drink Month: Q&A with Gina Calanni

I can't believe it's the final day of this Food & Drink feature month but what a fun, crazy month it has been.  My final guest today is Gina Calanni, author of the Home for the Holidays and Ice Cream Dreams series.  

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
This is so perfect to fill out right now as this morning, I was going through some papers and found the original email from my editor at Carina UK when they offered me the book deal for my first book How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie. What a lovely moment for me. I had gone through the various agents and publishers correspondence and had decided to go a different route with my writing when this fantastic email popped up and changed everything for me.

Where did the idea for your Home for the Holidays series come from?  
I came about the first book based off of a long drive to my mother’s house. There are a lot of barren country roads and along one of them is a pecan farm. I thought about the idea of this girl being on a journey to get pecans from this particular farm and what types of setbacks that could occur with this adventure or the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

I see your new series is also food related, set in an Ice Cream Company, what is it that attracts you to writing about food?
Well, I really enjoy food. ;) Honestly, though I think food connects us to so many moments in our lives. Celebrations, birthdays, anniversary, first dates, last dates, single dates, girlfriends, children, parents, any and all of these moments being together sitting down enjoying something delicious while diving into each other is something I think we can all connect with. 

Describe your cooking style, follow recipes religiously or wing it and see how it turns out?
When baking I follow the recipe for the most part to the t- actually I take that back….I sub and mix up my baking as well as my cooking. For instance for baking, I will sub in pumpkin or flax seeds for eggs and I’ve been known to replace part of the flour for protein powder. With cooking there is no rhyme or reason other than I just go with the flow and season as I go.

If you were going to apply to be a contestant on a cooking show, would it be Masterchef or Great British Bake Off?  
Ooh, that would be quite intimidating for either but I would go with the Great British Bake Off, that sounds like a lot of fun and I enjoy reading about it online, so imagine me actually there in person! Too hilarious. 

You're planning a dinner party, which 5 people (dead or alive) would you invite?  
Ooh, I would have an all ladies writing party with Kierney Scott, Mika Jolie, Engy Neville, Darcie Boleyn, and Rebecca Raisin- I think we would have the best time ever. Wine, cheeses, olives, breads, cakes, pies, it would be a truly delicious evening!

It's your last day on earth, what 3 course meal would you choose?
I would start with chips and queso with a ton of fresh and pickled jalapenos, then I would switch it up to an amazing Greek salad, and finish with Dulce de Leche cheesecake and of course lots of red wine.

What's your favourite dish to cook?  
I love to bake and this is my favorite apple pie recipe from How to Bake the Perfect Apple Pie

Pastry for 2 crusts (recipe here)
8 cups sliced, peeled assorted baking apples - about 3 lbs. (Granny Smith)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter 
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon milk

1. In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice.
2. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to apples and toss well to coat.

3. Fill pastry lined 9 inch pie pan with apple mixture. Dot with butter.

4. Place second crust on top of pie filling, cut slits in top of crust to vent. Seal the edges of the crust with a fork or by hand.

5. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and milk. Brush mixture over top crust.

6. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.

7. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 40-45 minutes more or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

And now for a few quickfire questions to finish ;-)

Gordon Ramsay or Marco Pierre White?  Gordon Ramsay
Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry? Marry Berry (though Paul does have a stunning set of eyes).
Sweet or Savoury? Savoury
Steak or Lobster? Neither (I’m a veg)
Profiteroles or Crumble? Crumble
Smoothie or Prosecco? Prosecco

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