Thursday, January 6, 2011

Food&Fiction: Lost In a Good Book and Chicken and Mushroom Vol au Vents

I absolutely loved Shades of Grey and thought the first Thursday Next novel, The Eyre Affair, was good so it was no surprise I decided to read the second book in the series. Keep in mind that this review will have spoilers for the first book. There's really no way to review a later book in a series without doing so. So continue at your own risk.

Lost In a Good Book and Chicken and Mushroom Vol au Vents

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"I didn't ask to be a celebrity. I never wanted to appear on The Adrian Lush Show. And lets get one thing straight right now the world would have to be hurtling towards imminent destruction before Id agree to anything as dopey as The Thursday Next Workout Video."
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Title: Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next #2)
Author: Jasper Fforde
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction

Summary: (from Goodreads)
If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective whom Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times calls "part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew and part Dirty Harry" had another think coming. The love of her life has been eradicated by Goliath, everyone's favorite corrupt multinational. To rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of "The Raven." But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens's Great Expectations. As her new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the likes of Kafka, Austen, and Beatrix Potter's Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies weren't enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.
Review: Lost In a Good Book picks up right where The Eyre Affair ended with Thursday Next happily married to Landen and still working as a Literary Detective in SO-17. Because of her fame after the Eyre affair, Next is required to participate in t.v. appearances and struggles with the pressure of being forced to be into the spotlight by Special Ops Public Relations. Next also learns there are serious consequences for leaving one of Goliath Corporation's executives, Jack Schitt, in Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" when her husband is eradicated in order to force her to release Schitt. And to top is all off, someone mysterious person keeps trying kill her.

But that's not the only problems Next is dealing with. As if the threat of being murdered, having her husband eradicated, and being forced to deal with her "adoring" public weren't enough, Next also has to deal with the very real possibility that the world will be consumed in pink gooey slime in a few days. To say Next has a lot on her plate is an understatment.


Full of political mysteries, threatening circumstance, and one Cheshire cat (yes the Cheshire Cat), Lost In a Good Book has a lot going on. As we follow Next on her quest to bring Landen back, we also get to learn a little more about the mysterious world Fforde has created and where our own world exists in relation. I don't want to ruin any of the big surprises, but I will say this book is as chocked full of literary humor and clever delight as The Eyre Affair. The only big difference is this book is not a stand alone novel. The ending leaves us with quite a cliffhanger so you're forewarned.

Rating: 7. Very good

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Thurday's mother is a notoriously bad cook in the series, but she actually manages to make wonderful Chicken Vol au Vents. Of course the meal is eaten by a naughty pet dodo, but that's beside the point. It got me wondering exactly what Vol au Vents were, and how I could make some for myself.

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I got this recipe from Jamie Oliver. I couldn't find Vol au Vent cases anywhere so I just made my own. Oliver didn't say what the white sauce was, so I used equal parts butter and flour to make a roux. Then I slowly whisked in milk until I had a good consistency. Not gonna lie, I did not like the filling at all. It was too bland and the sauce was too heavy. I feel weird admitting this, but I don't want to lie. The Vol au Vents were lovely though and I plan on trying again with a different recipe.

Chicken and Mushroom Vol au Vents

Ingredients:

1 packet (12) Vol au Vent Cases
4 oz Cooked Chicken, flaked and chopped finely
4 oz Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 oz Butter
1/2 pint White Sauce
Salt/Pepper

Directions:

1. Make Vol au Vent cases or cook them according to the instructions on the package if you're lucky enough to find them in the store. When cooked, set aside.

2. Fry the Mushrooms in the Butter until soft. Stir in the Chicken pieces and White Sauce. Season with Salt & Pepper. Bring to the boil and then allow to cool a little. Spoon the mixture into each Vol au Vent case and replace the lids. Serve warm or cold.

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