If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, does the same hold true if the man happens to be a bloodsucking fiend? Maybe not if you’re trying to get to his heart with a stake. On the other hand, if your weapon of choice is a steak, you stand a far better chance by taking the gastric route. And if you’re going to do that you might as well come prepared.
Love at First Bite: The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook by Michelle Roy Kelly and Andrea Norville is a fun, if somewhat scattered, tome. Besides recipes, it also offers vampire trivia and lore (“Tasty Tidbits”), suggestions for party themes, and a list of fangtastic (yes, I just said that) movies. The recipes themselves are a bit of a grab-bag ranging from thematically appropriate (Gran Stackhouse’s Pecan Pie) to wacky (Blacula’s Borscht) to just plain confusing (Corpulent Canape). While the vamps represented are pretty wide ranging, though leaning heavily toward Dracula, Twilight, and Anne Rice, the book’s claim of being the “complete” vampire lover’s cookbook is something of a misnomer. Really, if you’re going to include Bunnicula, Boris Karloff, and fruit bats (seriously?) there should at least be some acknowledgment of fanged hotties like Mick St. John (Moonlight), John Mitchell (Being Human UK), and The Vampire Diaries’s Salvatore brothers. Much as Count Duckula amused me as a kid he’s hardly a vampire icon (or the stuff of fantasies). The recipe associations are also frequently uninspired, an example being Spike’s Sweet Potato Fries. Shouldn’t Spicy Buffalo Wings or Blooming Onion have been the obvious choices seeing as how Blondie Bear himself specifically mentions them in Buffy as favored snacks? Swing and a miss.
But I started off by talking about cooking, and that’s what this book is really all about (vampires merely serving as motivation to get you into the kitchen). Of course I had to try out the goodies within and, in an effort to keep on theme, I ended up making Blood Bowl (p. 47), Blood Oranges and My Darling Clementines (p. 10), and Gran Stackhouse’s Pecan Pie (p. 220; see recipe below). I really wanted to try out Blood Sausages with Cabbage and Apple (p. 187, from the chapter titled “’Organ’ Ick Foods”) but you’d be amazed how difficult it is to find blood sausage these days (then again, you probably wouldn’t).
Blood Bowl: Not one I’d try again. The seasoning was harsh and the broth was watery (my man was only willing to scarf down half a bowl, which is a complete fail when it comes to a declared carnivore like him). By the next day, the flavors had mellowed and improved, but not enough to make it worth another go. It was also disappointingly orange-brown in color rather than the rich red you’d expect from something called Blood Bowl. Maybe including the chili paste the recipe called for, which I couldn’t find anywhere, would have enhanced the color, but then I think it would have been unbearably spicy (and I’m pretty tolerant of heat). Pass.
Blood Oranges and My Darling Clementines: A super simple recipe that looks gorgeous and tastes delicious. Make sure you get good quality rosewater to avoid ruining the dish with the chemical taste of artificial rose flavoring. As long as there are blood oranges available I could have this composed salad every day.
Gran Stackhouse’s Pecan Pie: I hate that the recipe uses a store-bought pie shell (as if Sookie’s Gran would ever stoop to such shortcuts!), but otherwise it was sticky-sweet indulgence. I can see why this pie inspired Sookie to run to Bill and burn off those extra calories. Use a deep-dish crust or else you’ll have filling left over. It also took longer to bake than the recipe states.
All right, so you might not be able to win over the heart of a hottie vampire with the recipes from this book, but you can cook up one hell of a Halloween party or theme dinner. You might even be inspired to reenact that scene between Sookie and Bill. And after all, what is a cookbook other than a promise of something delicious?
Gran Stackhouse’s Pecan Pie
1 pre-made pie crust
3 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 ¼ cups pecan halves
Fit crust into a 9” pie pan. Heat oven to 400F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the corn syrup, salt, vanilla, brown sugar, and melted butter, blending well. Stir in pecan halves or pieces.
Pour the pecan mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
Bake pie at 400F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes longer. If the crust becomes too dark, cover the edge with a protective pie shield or fashion a ring of foil to lightly cover the pastry edge. When the pie is finished, the edge of the filling should be slightly puffed and firm, and the center should move only slightly.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Aspasia Bissas is the author of three blogs, including the all-vampire Blood Lines (where you can find an in-depth review of Love at First Bite); was featured in Truly, Madly Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion; and is currently working on a vampire novel of her own. Follow her on Twitter @bloodandpoppies.