29 February 2012

Vulture Pizza

"I would much rather work with you.  When I work with Miguel, all he does is slack off.  Plus, He's always making vulture pies"  Vulture pies are pizzas so bad they're suitable only for vultures or employees.

from The Night She Disappeared by  April Henry

One of my closest friends loves true crime fiction, especially books about serial killers. Over the years she's pressed me to read books about Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and the nightmare inducing, Jeffrey Dahmer, my response has always been the same, 'hell no!'

I like happy endings, sexy vampires, angsty werewolves, cozy mysteries and the occasional zombie infestation. But stories about something real, monsters who look like people but walk among us, picking out their next feast from among their neighbors and coworkers, shudder, those stories are not for me.

But there was something about the setup for this story that made me think I might just want to read this book. It has teens who work in a fast food setting (I worked at a restaurant whose claim to fame was flame broiled burgers, so already I've got a built in sense of kinship with the characters), the teens aren't all the best of friends and one of them goes missing after making a delivery (a close friend of mine used to deliver sandwiches and he used to tell me some pretty strange tales of the people he met on his nightly travels, sometimes I'd worry that even though he's six plus feet of urban cowboy, what if one of his customers had a gun or a boomerang, okay, maybe not a boomerang, that'd be strange and ridiculous, still it seemed dangerous).

Plus, I figured if the book got too intense, I could just slam it shut and shove it into my NEVER TO BE READ SHELF (this shelf is more of a corner, with a stack of out of date encyclopedias, a book about sugar free desserts, David Hasselhoff's memoir, you know books that have somehow wandered into your home, never to be opened).

Well, after I started, I found it very hard to stop reading.

If you read the synopsis you already know what's going on in the beginning of the book. So let me tell you a little about what happens next.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, I knew this going in, but didn't realize it would also be told from the point of view of Kayla (the kidnapped girl) and The Man (the dude who kidnaps her). Just a note on The Man, hearing his thoughts is like taking a giant breath, in through your nose, in a boys locker room on a hot day, shocking and nausea inducing, definitely not for the faint of heart.

The same for Kayla, in fact, part way through the book, I almost set it aside because it was too personal, too upsetting and altogether too realistic, but since it is early in the day, I figured I could finish the book with plenty of buffer time before bed to read and watch happier things (Spongebob, here I come!).

But with the ending the way it was, I actually didn't need my happy place buffer. I feel okay, satisfied even.

Anyways, about the characters, a small warning, Gabie irritated me and sometimes I thought that a a month or six of talk therapy with a licensed psychologist would have done her a world of good. The girl swings from quiet, shy reserve to uninhibited, naked swims in frigid rivers craziness and frankly, her wild mood swings were more alarming than endearing to me. This current drama with the kidnapping sent her for a loop (a fruit loop, my grandma would say, don't know why she said that and it doesn't make a lot of sense now).

But, Drew, he's my favorite. His mom's an addict and his homelife isn't much to dream about, his job at Pete's pizza isn't for spending money, it's to buy food, utilities and rent. Unlike Gabie, whose parents are both trauma surgeons, he doesn't have a car and a nice house, so when she offers him the use of her car to make deliveries, thus enabling him to keep his hours, he's happy but surprised. He and Gabie are not close, she's a serious Honor Roll student and he's a pot dealing, C average student, in other words, a loser.

The interactions between Drew and Gabie are intense. These are two people drawn together by tragic circumstances and a shared belief, that Gabie was the kidnapper's intended target and that Kayla is not dead.

The police in the book seem to mostly follow up dead and unlikely leads, the story follows the investigations, including the interrogation of someone whose been implicated in Kayla's disappearance based on an anonymous tip. The contrast between the investigation, Drew and Gabie's research and Kayla and the Man's horrible interactions really gave a sense of urgency to the story.

I can't really say anymore about the book without giving away too much.

I'll just end with, read this book, you'll be hooked from page one.

If you feel the need to nosh while reading about all this pizza-serial-killer-drama, try this recipe;

For the Dough, based on a recipe from Steamy Kitchen (check it out here no knead dough )which is based on a recipe by Jim Lahey, the king of no knead pizzas

3 cups flour (I used all purpose)
1/2 rounded teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cups cool water.


1.  Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl.  Add the water and using your hands mix up into a sorta raggy dough.

2.  Put the raggy dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set somewhere cool overnight.

 3.  Go to bed, dream about George Clooney stopping by to eat bon bons and watch reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with you.  When you wake up in the morning your dough will look puffy and bloated.

4. Stretch the dough out into vaguely pizza'ish shapes and top with your favorite pizza bits*.

Anchovies, Doctor Sexy's favorite pizza topping.

5.  Bake  at 450 for ten minutes, depending on how many toppings and how thin your dough is, you might need to bake for five to ten minutes more.

6.  Enjoy!

* Okay, so the original recipe has you putting the dough on a kitchen towel and a few other things, that I totally skip.  I know, I know, I shouldn't do that, but I'm a big time procrastinator and have just never gotten around to following each and every step of this recipe.  So, anyways, do what your heart tells you.

04 February 2012

Martian Manhunters Favorite Cheesecake

Now that there's an Avengers movie coming out (Yay!) I'm wondering if there will ever be a Justice League movie (fingers crossed).  Imagine it, there's a Superman reboot coming next year, if the movie peoples followed the same formula as the Avengers we could see a Wonderwoman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and maybe even an Aquaman movie.  CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT?!

Anyways, John Jones, the human incarnation (avatar, whatever) of Martian Manhunter loves oreos, so after I made this cheesecake I thought, 'bet Martian Manhunter would love this!'

I don't think you need me to tell you how incredibly delicious these are.  I have to say that this is the best cheesecake I've ever had.  Just a word of warning, my son and hubby tried a piece before the bars had cooled in the fridge and they didn't like them AT ALL.  Turns out, warm cheesecake is kinda gross.  Toss these into the fridge for a few hours (I know it's hard to wait, but there's no way around it this time, believe me on this one).

Martian Manhunter's Oreo Cheesecake
adapted from a recipe at Annie's Eats here; oreo cheesecake brownies

For the crust:
One Box of Famous Chocolate Wafers
2 tbsp. butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. sour cream, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
15 Oreo cookies, broken in half and quarters


1.  Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil or if you're super lazy like me, spray it liberally with cooking spray.

2. To make the crust, place the chocolate wafers and melted butter in the bowl of a food processor.  Process, pulsing, until the cookies are finely ground.  Taste it, taste again just to confirm that, yes, it really is that scrumptious, then transfer the crumbly goodness to your prepared baking dish.

3.  Press the crumbs down until you have an even layer.

4.  Add the cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or plop it into a bowl and use your hand held electric mixer on low.  Beat  until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the sugar until well combined.  Blend in the sour cream, vanilla and salt.  Beat in the egg and egg yolk on medium-high speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Stir in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula.

Be careful, if the oreos are too crushed your cheesecake will turn gray and will have a weird gritty texture, you'll have to eat that one by yourself, probably in a dark closet with a flashlight and make a second one for friends and family.

5.  Pour the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust, smoothing the top with a spatula.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cheesecake is set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 1 hour to room temperature.  Cover the pan and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.

To cut the bars, pull the cake from the pan by lifting the foil up out of the pan or cut them out one by one if you didn't use foil.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.