Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One Love for Liv Blog Tour and What's Cooking "Wednesday: "Salmon a la Liv"

Today, we have Marianne Arkins visiting with us. She's the author of One Love for Liv, published by Samhain Publishing. At the moment, One Love for Liv is only available as an e-book, and you can buy it here. I've written about Liv in this post already, and it's a wonderful read.

I asked Marianne some questions about the book, which she graciously answered, and since it's also a What's Cooking Wednesday, I decided to tie that in as well. There's a wonderful scene where Liv, a pampered member of Boston society, is left to cook dinner as part of a cleaning/cooking gig that she's pretending to need (long story, and very funny, and you'll just have to get One Love for Liv and read it yourself to understand what led to these circumstances). The recipe is for salmon poached in a dishwasher (yes, you read that right), and the recipe can be found here. Marianne challenged me to make this for What's Cooking Wednesday, and I was planning to take her up on her challenge, but the flu reared its ugly head, so I made up my own recipe, "Salmon a la Liv," which is posted below. Enjoy the following literary and culinary delights!

1. Frank is a neighbor where Liv has her cleaning/cooking gig, and Frank spends the book trying to break bizarre Guinness world records, which is only one of his many quirks. He's absolutely hysterical. Where on earth did you come up with Frank? Was he someone you knew on any level?

Heavens no! LOL… while I was writing One Love For Liv for NaNoWriMo, I got about a third of the way through and was bored. So I took a trip through the NaNo "dares" forum and found a dare that mentioned having a character trying to break a Guinness Book World Record. I took the dare and twisted it around a little because, of course, my character couldn't be trying to break something as basic as… say… longest time jumping rope.

2. If this hits mega-sales will you open up a posh spa in the Boston area, like the one Liv owns, or will you keep writing? And why?

If I opened up a posh spa, it wouldn't be in Boston. Maybe Calistoga in the Napa Valley of California (possibly one of the most beautiful places in the nation), but not Boston. Why would I want to live in or drive to a big, ugly city every day? *G*

I don't think I could stop writing if I tried. But my DH would sure be glad to retire and spend his days fishing. In fact, he asks me if he can retire with every release I have! LOL…

3. Have you ever lived with a ferret? How did you come up with/research Rett (Rett is the pet of Mike, who mistakenly hires Liv for a cooking/cleaning job)?

I wanted to use an unusual pet in the story, and since I already hat a rat in another WIP, I opted for a different rodent. I had a good friend when I lived in California who had two ferrets named Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (despite ownership of them being illegal there and then) and was endlessly amused by them. They're little thieves who only have two speeds, nuclear and sleep, and are always into everything. Cats' curiosity has nothing on a ferret's.

Well... okay, but ferrets smell! Let me put in a plug for guinea pigs in your next one! Or maybe not, since I have guinea pigs in my mystery.

4. Did you know from the outset what the ending would be, or did your characters "tell" you over time? And no, this doesn't have to be a spoiler.

I always know the ending before I write the book. I'd actually written the ending of this story first, based on a writing prompt I'd stumbled across in a writing group at WVU (Writers Village University). For all intents, it really stayed pretty much the same from the moment I wrote it. I love to write my ending first. Yes, I'm weird.

5. I know you're a huge fan of chocolate. Chocolate and romance novels go together naturally - what chocolate would you pick for One Love for Liv?

I actually have a bar of it right now: Lindt 85% dark chocolate…so bitter your lips pucker when you eat it. It's just short of straight cocoa. And, oh yeah, really yummy. Seriously, for chocolate, the darker the better. In my opinion, white "chocolate" should be outlawed. Or, at the very least, renamed.

6. If you could have any parts of Liv's life, which one would you pick?

Hmmm… can I have Mike (the romantic protag)? LOL… Seriously, I'd really love the ability to have an entire health spa at my beck and call. Massages and pedicures and facials, oh my! I could learn to live that way.

Her condo is pretty nice, too.

Well, folks, there you have it. Marianne has also published a variety of heart warming short stories, and you can find out more about her writing at or her blog, Reading, Writing and Stuff That Makes Me Crazy. In the meantime, as I've said before, I'd highly recommend Liv - it's a lovely confection of humor, great characters and a nicely-charged love story.

And now for "Salmon a la Liv":

This recipe is based on a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Mr. Bittman is a food writer for the New York Times and How to Cook Everything, is the closest I have to a cooking bible. He's written several books that are riffs on this theme, and I've often bought How to Cook Everything: The Basics for former students, young relatives, etc., who are starting out in their first taste of adulthood.

I figured this was the perfect recipe for Liv, because it's so easy, even she can't manage to mess it up! The salmon is Bittman's; the sauce is mine.

"Salmon a la Liv"


for the salmon:
1 1/4 lb. piece of salmon fillet
2 heaping TBS salt

for the sauce:
1 large handful of chopped, fresh dill
juice from 1 lime
pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup lowfat yogurt
a pinch of sea salt

whole wheat couscous, made with water, 1 TBS olive oil and a pinch of sea salt (according to package directions)
frozen (or fresh) spinach as a bed for the salmon


1. Place salmon fillet in a saucepan that is large enough for the salmon to lie flat. Cover the salmon with cold water. Add 2 heaping TBS sea salt.

Bring to a boil. Take off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 10 minutes - 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Remove cover and enjoy. You can chill this first, if you wish to.

2. Wash and chop dill. Put in mixing bowl along with other ingredients. Whisk together. Serve over salmon. Note: You can make this SO many ways - with sour cream instead of yogurt. With lemon juice instead of lime. Cumin instead of cayenne. A bit of soy sauce instead of the spices. This is a sauce that is meant to be played with, so play!

3. While the salmon is still sitting, make couscous according to directions (usually a five-minute process) and cook the spinach, again, according to directions.

4. Plate everything together nicely, and you're done! This dinner can be made, start to finish, in as little as 15 minutes, if you have a thin piece of salmon.

So... Marianne, d'ya think Liv can handle this one?

And now please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.


Sister Sassy said...

A dishwasher? Seriously?

I've NEVER made anything fish that hasn't been frozen, quite frankly I'm afraid to try. maybe some day... I should look up your cooking bible.

Jen said...

Sassy - He actually has an entire cookbook on preparing fish. Salmon and tilapia are great places to start - they're less expensive than many other things and they've very forgiving. And Michigan whitefish is easy, too, and I know that's plentiful up where you are - you can just dredge them in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper and pan fry them in a little olive oil. Delish!

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm so sad you didn't make the dishwasher salmon, though I certainly understand!

Could Liv handle it? Maybe... if she hadn't destroyed Mike's stove. *G*

Thanks so much for having me!!

Jen said...

I *do* plan to make the dishwasher salmon - my family is way too intrigued, but I fell asleep from 2:15 - 5:30 yesterday and got up feeling lousy, and no one was up to waiting until 7 or 7:30 for dinner (we're early eaters). Now, have you made the dishwasher salmon? Hmmmm? ;-)

anno said...

Hmmm... I thought that salmon recipe sounded kind of intriguing, too. But yours, Jen, is one I'm more likely to try!

Great questions, and Marianne, I'm with you -- having a spa at my fingertips (!) sounds just perfect.

Jen said...

It's so easy, Anno, and very forgiving. There I was feeling fluish, and having slept for 3 hours, and I had a full dinner on the table within 30 minutes. It rocks.

Marianne Arkins said...


I HAVE tried it... though I didn't use salmon because my family doesn't like it.

It does work! LOL... Just make sure your packets are airtight.

Jen said...

Well, as I said, my boys are way too intrigued for me not to try it, but I want to get rid of this crud, first. Also, they usually don't want more than one "fish night" per week, lol.

Thistlemoon said...

That looks awesome Jen! I love salmon, and the tangy yogurt with the dill makes it all the better!

Momisodes said...

That looks great, and fairly simple. Right up my alley :) I love salmon too.

Luisa Perkins said...

How FUN! Great interview; fabulous post.

Jen said...

Jenn - this is really a "go to" recipe for me - I love it and I love how easy it is. And the natural pairing with spinach is great.

Sandy - if you like salmon, I'd highly recommend this.

Luisa - it was so much fun to put this post together!

thailandchani said...

Yum! That salmon looks really good! When I'm able to actually make this, I'll come back and get the recipe. :)

Madam Crunchypants said...

I don't know if my eyes could handle an entire ebook, but now that you've plugged this one so many times, I'm thinking I'm gonna have to find out...

But I won't be trying the Salmon. Not a fan.

Jen said...

Chani, it's really easy and healthy. ;-)

Ella - I believe One Love for Liv is coming out in book form soon - check with Marianne about that. I agree with you on e-books. And yes, the recipe definitely doesn't work if you don't like salmon/fish. ;-)

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Great interview and great recipe. We don't really get good salmon here; very depressing in fact as I love it.

Marianne Arkins said...

FYI... "One Love For Liv" will be out in print around next Christmas...


Dru said...

Great interview. The salmon looks good even though I'm not a fan.

Anonymous said...

I totally want to read the book now. And Hans makes something very similar to this only he makes it papillote style (spelling?) wrapped in tinfoil in the oven and it's so good. I'm sending this to his e-mail right now so we can try it.

Jen said...

Michelle, any firm-fleshed fillet would work for this recipe.

Lilac - definitely read the book! Yay! It's wonderful.

Marianne - thanks for the info - I wasn't sure when it would be out.

Dru - I'm glad you liked the interview!

Anonymous said...

Great interview and fascinating idea for a salmon recipe! I wonder what would happen if my husband came home and found the dishwasher full of fish? I can't wait to read "One Love for Liv..."

Jen said...

A dishwasher full of fish would certainly be a surprise, alright, Rebecca. And truly, the book is a delight.

darlene said...

wow...lokks great...too bad i don't like fish.....:-)

Jen said...

Well, thanks for stopping by in any case, Darlene! ;-)

Shan said...

Great post, from start to finish.

Jen said...

Thanks, Shan, and I hope your DH had a great b'day! Did you make him ALL those dishes? ;-)

Alex Elliot said...

I will definitely file this recipe. I really am not a big fish person but I would like to eat more it. My boys and husband really like it.

glamah16 said...

I miss salmon. CS doesnt care for it, but I love especially with dill ,like yours. Will have to make when he's gone on those long trips.

Unknown said...

Salmon poached in a dishwasher? It certainly looks yummy. I'll have to try it, but probalby not in the dishwasher. LOL

Great interview!

Ben said...

Oh how delicious that looks! I need to eat fish more often. I have to teach J that fish is good for us! Hehehe


La delirante said...

I love salmon :) Thanks for sharing this nice recipe :) Once I tried to prepare a salmon recipe but I didn't manage to obtain a good result :(

Jen said...

Alex - what's great about this, is that it's so easy, that you can even make it for them, and then have a salad or whatever yourself that night.

Glamah - definitely try it when certain someone's out of town. It's great.

Ben - maybe this will help convince J?

Ashley - this one isn't done in the dishwasher - just a pan. ;-)

Wendy - that's what I love about this - it's moist and tender every time. But that's to Mark Bittman's credit, not mine. ;-)

Grimm said...

I may have to keep my away away from here, she is always getting me to try new dishes.

However, I gotta say, that dish does look pretty delicious.

Jen said...

Grimm, with the dill sauce and the other things, it really isn't that "fishy" - it's worth a try!

Flower Child said...

I love Mark Bittman - oddly enough I don't own his book. My go-to bible is The New Best Recipe. But I will put Mark's book on my birthday wish list.

I love salmon - it is very forgiving, very flavorful (even without sauce) and so very good for you too!

Jen said...

Flower Child, I think of How to Cook Everything as the Joy of Cooking for the 21st Century. It's that kind of book. While I think Lukins and Rosso did a good job with that in the New Basics cookbook, they were so 80s-fussy and this one is so much more straightforward. Just my .02!

Heather said...

That creamy dill sauce is gorgeous.

Jen said...

Thanks, Heather!

1stopmom said...

My husband love to try new fish recipes. I will pass it on to him. Have a great weekend!

Blog hopping on by.....

ShannanB said...

That book sounds great! I am def. going to check it out. How cool that you got to do the interview.

Blog Hopping~
Shannan aka Mommy Bits

Anonymous said...

The book sounds intriguing and the salmon looks yummy!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love the sauce for this salmon dish. I am always looking for intiguing ways to prepare the salmon that my daughter loves. She could eat an entire salmon alone:D