‘Zombie Candy’ by Frederick Lee Brooke – Zombie Candy Pizza by Me (review & a recipe)
In conjunction with Novel Publicity and it’s Whirl-Wind Tour, I am reviewing ‘Zombie Candy’, An Annie Ogden Mystery. Honoring the flavor of the book, and the cilantro free-zone for the author, Fredrick Lee Brooke, I created a pizza I am naming Zombie Candy Pizza.. don’t worry no brains OR Cilantro were made during the creation of this dish!
I know what you are thinking, of course I am reviewing this book, it has Zombie’s in the title, well before we go on, I want to make something clear, this is not a zombie book in the sense of what many of my blog readers expect. Yet, as I sit here and type that this is not a post apocalyptic tale of survival, I realize this is a story of survival just not one after a zombie apocalypse. Then I start typing, this is not a tale about the crazed undead running around obsessed with eating brains and I realize, wait, it is about obsession. In Zombie Candy there is a lot of focused and mindless obsession sprinkled throughout the novel. But I will repeat, though this book is not about Zombies it includes the obsession of zombies in today’s pop-culture as a plot device.
Let’s talk about titles, a title can make or break a book. This title is going to get Frederick sales because people like me are going to buy it. When we read it we will be a bit confused, but most of us will finish it and we will go on to recommend it to everyone, including and even especially to those who are followers of the zombie pop-culture movement. “But wait,” you are saying, “If it is not a zombie story, why am I going to want to read this?” Well let me tell you, it made me laugh at myself a bit because since it is a tale involving obsession and this one part is exploring the obsession of one individuals own zombie movies in particular, it is definitely worth the read.
OK, that is not enough? Frederick Lee Brooke has obsession down! Not just in his characters, but I am betting he has a bit of an obsessive personality, especially after reading the first Annie Ogden Mystery, his obsession of which caused me frustration. I was reading it because it was labeled as a mystery when it was more of a thriller, there was no mystery for the reader just the characters involved. The character development is very in-depth and therefore took up a lot of the novel. Was it badly written? No it was not a mystery and I got hung up on that one thing, hence my own obsession.
But we are talking about Zombie Candy, I already know who Annie Ogden is, her character and her personality. Do you need to read the first one before this? No, he includes enough development that we understand her, and her own obsessions. (seeing a theme here?) This was not an unusual story. Wife is has a dog of a husband. She hires private investigators to find out the dirt. Wife finds dirt out, wife decided to get revenge before serving him with divorce papers, yada-yada. The difference and what makes this an exceptional version of this story arc, is it’s intricacy and fearless reach outwards to the almost fantastical edge of crazy town obsession!
The main character is Annie’s best friend from college, Candice is someone who has pretty low self-esteem due to her weight and her husbands commentary over it. After the first book, Annie took classes at a PI firm and in the beginning of the novel is having dinner with Candice and her husband Larry’s. Candice is also a chef who teaches classes on cooking hence the weight gain. We open up with Larry being a verbal and psychological abusive jerk to his wife to the point of pinching her perceived fat roll.
So we open with Candice obviously upset, but she is upset with more than his actions towards her, but what she has found in his suitcase. In this brief episode at the dinner table we get a taste test for the flavor of the whole novel. Larry’s obsessive personality is introduced with his need to sprinkle cilantro on everything, Candice’s with cooking and the subsequent weight she has put on because this and Annie’s own compulsion and obsession over the happiness of all around her, especially her friends.
As the tale progresses each of these obsessions become bigger and more outrageous. We discover that Larry’s obsession with zombie movies is as bad as his obsession with sex and women. Candice ends up transferring her obsession with her weight into losing it and getting back at Larry before divorcing him by going on to what seems to be a further and further off-the-deep end aggressive attempt to gain control back over her life. Annie’s own obsession with making people happy instead of focusing on her own happiness becomes more prevalent and even begins to be resolved near the end.
In the end the obsessions above continue to grow and rise, much like a great dough recipe with Fredrick Lee Brooke kneading each person’s experiences till everything is just right. Throw in a delightful trip to a village in the Tuscany district in Italy and you have a complete dish! Serve it up finished with the lives of everyone changed for ever as the prefect ingredients. The sauce? All that zombie goodness and sauce is what makes or breaks a good Italian dish. Now just throw it in the oven and see how much a well cooked up zombie can changes your life too. Zombie Candy? Well read the book and see! I give this book a 4 out of 5 set of moose tracks! My obsession with zombies in this paragraph…?
Now for the best part! This is one of my famous Review & a Recipe! How could I pass it up with a book that not only has a chef for one of the main characters, but also a whole bunch of recipes gifted in the end of the book! In honor of one of Candice’s dishes she teaches her class to make, inspired by the local pizzeria in the village, and to all the complexity of a story served up with the beginnings of simplicity, I give you:
Zombie Candy Pizza (no cilantro allowed)
(Apple, Pancetta & Gouda Cheese Pizza)
Original idea from How Sweet it Is with her Whole Wheat version and American style bacon.
- 1 pound of pizza dough (homemade or bought fresh from the deli)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 rounds of Pancetta chopped into ¼ inch size pieced. (you can use regular bacon but throw in a pot of boiling water first to get the smokey flavor out)
- 1 large granny smith apple, thinly sliced
- 7 oz. of Gouda cheese, grated
- 1 oz. of smoked Gouda (if you choose not to use this grate a half a pound of regular bacon or if you use regular style bacon you can just do half a pound of Gouda)
- 1/4 cup freshly & finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 9-10 fresh sage leaves, chiffonaded (see the instructions here)
- 1-2 TBSP of honey
- nutmeg, cinnamon, fine grain sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450º F with pizza stone in the oven (preheat baking pan if you don’t have a pizza stone). In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute with a little salt a pepper for 4-5 minutes to allow them to soften and as they start to caramelize, add the garlic and cook for an additional one minute and no more! Remove from pan and set aside until ready to use.
In the same pan turn the heat down to medium and add your chopped Pancetta, tossing a bit till you have cooked enough of the fat so it no longer sticks. Push the bacon to one side of the pan, now we are going to make the candy for the pizza.
Tip the pan to he side, bacon at the top, so the fat pools, carefully add the honey to the hot fat and carefully and quickly replace the pan to the stove top and toss the bacon till it is crisped and candied. Remove from pan with a fork, drain on either a paper bag or wire rack over paper towels but not on the paper towels directly as it will stick to the paper.
Hand stretch (or roll if you prefer a thinner crust) the dough into desired shape to fit your stone. Sprinkle some cornmeal on the pizza stone (or preheated baking sheet), brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a VERY VERY small bit of nutmeg and cinnamon (I have it blended for when I make pie, so I have a spice bottle ready with the blend. You can just dust with each carefully with a per-measured 1/8th tsp so you do not over do it)carefully place the dough on the hot stone and bake for 2-3 minutes just to get a good par-bake on it. Remove from oven using a pizza peel.
Mix the the remaining honey with 1 TBSP olive oil and brush over entire pizza crust, including the edge. Layer on half of the Gouda followed by half of the apples. Then add all but either your ounce of smoked Gouda or an ounce of the ½ pound of regular Gouda and then apples. Next, add your onion/garlic mix. Last, top with Parmesan, then the Pancetta, the chiffonaded sage. Bake fo and touch the top with the smoked Gouda or the last remaining ounce of regular Gouda another 12-15 minute.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee- slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
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