The ALL FOUR STARS celebration continues!

Flat Gladys finds a brownie. Yum.

Flat Gladys finds a brownie. Yum.

Hello, friends!

I’ve been remiss at posting links over the last few days thanks to my sister’s wedding. But my Internet friends have been doing an awesome job of celebrating All Four Stars in my absence–and offering giveaways!

I currently have interviews up at the following places. Thank you so much to all of these bloggers for your fantastic questions!

Jessica Spotswood (including an ARC giveaway of All Four Stars and Pennyroyal Academy!)

Leandra Wallace (including a cupcake pin giveaway!)

Smack Dab in the Middle
(Tamera Wissinger)

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (Mindy McGinnis)

EMUsBadgeAnd last, but certainly not least, it’s launch week for All Four Stars at my beloved group blog, Emu’s Debuts! Yesterday, Jeannie Mobley kicked things off with a post about cake (as in “Let Them Eat Cake”–fitting on Bastille Day), and today the Emus are sharing pics and reviews from their adventures with “Flat Gladys,” who has been traveling the country reviewing meals. And more fun is scheduled all week–comment on any post to enter to win a signed copy!

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 6

all four stars tour buttonAnd the tour keeps rolling!

Today you can read another excerpt from All Four Stars at For the Love of Words–it’s the scene where Gladys cookes apam balik, or Malaysian peanut pancake. Yum.

I am also at Word Spelunking (isn’t that the best name for a blog?), where Aeicha has both reviewed the book and interviewed me. We talk a good deal about food. 🙂

And yesterday, this piece went live on the parenting blog Babble: “Delicious Debut: This Book Might Turn Your Kid Into a Foodie. I love that title, and I loved doing the interview with the hilarious Alice Gomstyn. Plus she gave me a chance to shout out some other terrific foodie middle-grade books, including my fellow 2014 debut author Kate Hannigan’s lovely Cupcake Cousins.

There’s also a new review of AFS up by Dre at Sporadic Reads, and plenty more on the way!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to prepping these mini tree-nut tarts for Thursday’s launch party at Books of Wonder in NYC. See you there? 🙂

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 4

all four stars tour buttonHappy July 4 to all who are celebrating!

Today was the fourth stop on the official All Four Stars blog tour, and a great day for recipes. Over at A Baked Creation, Sylvia has created a crème brûlée recipe inspired by the opening scene from the book! Check out her beautiful pictures. As a bonus, it’s flavored with osmanthus (which, I admit I had to look up. It’s a flower that tastes like peach or apricot–yum!).

AND, over at Spirit of Children’s Literature, Katie has concocted a recipe for “Mrs. Anderson’s Aztec Brownies with Caramel Walnut Glaze,” inspired by the experimental brownies that Mrs. Anderson bakes (and Charissa adores) in All Four Stars. These have ancho chile powder and ground ginger in them, and look absolutely amazing!

Foodie Kidlit Friday iconI can’t wait to try these recipes, and will be linking both of them from my own four-star recipes page for the future!

Hope you had a delicious day, and I’ll check back in on Monday with the next stop on the blog tour and the winner of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson!

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 1

First of all, great news: All Four Stars has been named an Amazon Best Book of the Month for July! Many thanks to the editors there who selected it–I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Secondly, the official All Four Stars blog tour has now begun! Hooray!
all four stars tour button

The wonderful Wendy Darling of The Midnight Garden and I have been working hard together behind the scenes to bring you 10 days of fun posts and bonus material leading up to the book’s release on July 10. Today’s post is Gladys Gatsby’s Foodie Tour of NYC,” which will take you all over Manhattan to culinary spots that inspired scenes in All Four Stars! You can also enter quite a nice giveaway of final copies of the book, courtesy of Penguin.

Here are the rest of the stops scheduled for the tour. I will try to post links here daily, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 1st              The Midnight Garden
Wednesday, July 2nd        The Reading Date
Thursday, July 3rd            For What It’s Worth
Friday, July 4th                 The Spirit of Children’s Literature
                                       A Baked Creation
Monday, July 7th              Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, July 8th             For the Love of Words
Wednesday, July 9th        Finding Bliss in Books
Thursday, July 10th          Candace’s Book Blog

Review stops, July 7th – 10th: CuddlebuggeryGreat ImaginationsLone Star on a LarkLog Cabin LibraryThe Hiding SpotFic TalkCarina’s BooksKaren Brissette @ GoodReadsBook JemsSporadic Reads The Social Potato Reviews

Finally, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Jessica Lawson’s incredible debut novel, The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, right here on this blog!

Four-star recipe: Green tea cupcakes with sesame icing

“Their flavors will send  your taste buds on a trip around the world…the Chinese cake has green tea and sesame seeds...” All Four Stars, page 268

Classy Cakes–the fictitious “dessert bistro” that Gladys is assigned to review in All Four Stars–is famous for its delicious, internationally-inspired cakes. As for how I decided to write about such cakes…well, if you guessed I was inspired by my travels, you’d be correct!

Sesame pops up a lot in Chinese cuisine. Here I am with a giant sesame bread (kind of like a sesame bagel without the hole) in the market in Xian.Giant sesame bread in Xian

And green tea is definitely a popular flavor for sweet things. For instance, check out these green tea oreos…Green tea oreos

…and this green tea Blizzard (yes, there are Dairy Queens in China!).Green tea blizzard in Singapore

So when I wanted to create a “Chinese”-inspired cake, those were the two flavors that jumped to mind. And they’re both strong flavors, so this recipe took a few tries to get balanced. I’ll admit now that it’s probably not for every palate–but my three students (ages 9-13) who tried these swore that they really liked them, so that seems like a pretty good recommendation. (Plus, of course, Gladys and I think they’re great!)

Green tea cupcakes with sesame icing
(makes 9 large or 1 dozen small cupcakes)

Cakes
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1 egg
2/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp almond extract plus 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Icing
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk

Black sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions:
If you are a young chef, ask an adult to work with you on this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line it with cupcake cups.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha green tea powder in a bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and oil together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into muffin wells until they are 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re at high elevation, bake for 17 minutes at 365 degrees).

Let the cupcakes cool completely before removing them from the muffin tin and icing.

To make the icing: Cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the tahini, then gradually beat in the powdered sugar until well-incorporated, alternating with a little milk. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and garnish with black sesame seeds.

Voila! The finished products.

Green tea cupcakes with sesame icing

 

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ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverThis recipe is part of a series inspired by dishes from All Four Starsmy middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. It will be published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Find more recipes on my four-star recipe page!

Four-Star Recipe: Gajar ka halwa

“What’s gajar ka halwa?”  Gladys was intrigued.
“It’s a traditional north Indian pudding made with carrots,” Parm said.

“Carrots?”
“Trust me, it’s the best dessert on earth.” All Four Stars, page 208

Parm Singh is right. Move over, carrot cake–gajar ka halwa is the tastiest sweet dish made with carrots you could possibly imagine!

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The first few times I tried this dessert, at Indian buffet restaurants in America, I had no idea what it was–I just knew that I loved it. Then, when I traveled in India, I had a chance to see some halwa-makers in action. Here’s a picture of my husband on the street in Delhi beside a large vat of the steaming pudding, which sells there for around 50 cents a portion. (And considering that you can often get a full dinner for a dollar in India, that’s quite expensive. Gajar ka halwa is a delicacy!)

Andy eating gajar ka halwa

In India, this dessert is often made with a special red variety of carrot, which doesn’t really affect the flavor, but makes the dish even prettier to look at.

In any case, when I needed to come up with an Indian dessert for All Four Stars that picky Parm would actually like and want to teach Gladys to makegajar ka halwa was the obvious choice! Here’s my version of the recipe.

Notes:
-Traditionally, one would use ghee (clarified butter) as the fat, but don’t worry if you don’t have any on hand–I’ve made it with plain old butter and it has still turned out delicious.

-Also, this recipe contains extra nuts, since Charissa loves them, but if you don’t or are allergic, they are easy to omit.

Parm Singh’s Favorite Gajar Ka Halwa
(makes 4 cups)

Nut-and-raisin topping:
1 Tbsp ghee or butter
2 Tbsp cashews
2 Tbsp almonds (sliced, slivered, or chopped)
2 Tbsp raisins

Carrot pudding:
4 Tbsp ghee or butter
11 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 cups milk (at least 1%, and the higher in fat the better)
1/2 cup sugar (plus more to taste)
1 tsp ground cardamom

Instructions:
If you are a young chef, ask an adult to work with you on this recipe.

In a large, deep skillet (preferably nonstick), melt 1 Tbsp ghee or butter over medium heat. Add the cashews and almonds and toast until the nuts are golden-brown and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the raisins for the last minute and cook, stirring, until they are plumped but not burnt. Remove the nuts and raisins into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp ghee or butter in the skillet. Sautee the shredded carrots in the fat for 3-5 minutes. Add the milk, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the milk is all evaporated, about one hour.

Stir in the sugar and cardamom and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the sugar is melted and well-incorporated. Taste and add more sugar as desired. Before serving, stir in the nuts and raisins, or reserve as topping.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold in small bowls (a little goes a long way).

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ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverThis recipe is part of a series inspired by dishes from All Four Starsmy middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. It will be published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Find more recipes on my four-star recipe page!

Four-Star Recipe: Tree-Nut Tarts

“Omigosh, wasn’t Saturday so fun? I keep thinking about that tree-nut tart. Do you think you could find a recipe for it?” All Four Stars, page 263

Why yes, Charissa–there is such a recipe!

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Charissa Bentley, one of the main characters in All Four Stars, loves desserts and nuts, so it’s no surprise that this dish from Classy Cakes quickly becomes one of her favorites. A twist on pecan pie, the tree-nut tart contain a variety of nuts as well as ground almonds in the crust. (Learn more about the differences between pies and tarts.)

To get the traditional straight-sided tart shape, you’ll need a springform pan–either the standard size (for one big tart) or four smaller pans (which I used to make the tarts pictured). However, if you only have a pie pan, that should work, too.

Note: If you want to be all posh like Allison Sconestein-Alforno (pastry chef at Classy Cakes in All Four Stars), you can seek out fancy nut varieties to include in your tarts–her menu boasts a mix of black walnuts, Marcona almonds, and DuChilly hazelnuts for the filling. But regular old nuts from the grocery store will work just fine, too, as long as you have a good mix.

Classy Cakes’s Tree-Nut Tarts
(serves 8)

Almond-spiked crust:
½ cup almonds
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour, or a combination)
¼ tsp salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract (or use all vanilla extract)

Tree-nut filling:
2 cups of mixed tree nuts of your choice (such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and/or pecans)
2 large eggs
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:
If you are a young chef, ask an adult to work with you on this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease one large springform pan (for tart version), four small springform pans (for small tarts), or a pie pan (for pie version) with oil or cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse the almonds and sugar together until they form a coarse meal. Add flour and salt and pulse to blend. With the motor running, add the butter a few pieces at a time and process until well blended.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolk and extracts until combined. With the processor motor running, add this mixture to the food processor. Process until a sand-like mixture forms (about 1 minute).

Turn the mixture out into the prepared tart (or pie) pan or pans, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Place pan(s) on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the crust is no longer raw.

Meanwhile, make the tree-nut filling. In a food processor, pulse the nuts together a few times until they are chopped to the size you prefer.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, oil or butter, salt, and vanilla extract together. Pour the nuts into the liquid mixture and stir until combined.

Remove the tart crust from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the nut mixture evenly in the crust. Bake until the tart no longer jiggles in the middle when shaken, 25-30 minutes.

If using a springform pan, cool tart on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then gently remove the sides of the pan. If using a pie pan, let cool to desired temperature.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverThis recipe is part of a series inspired by dishes from All Four Starsmy middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. It will be published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Find more recipes on my four-star recipe page!