Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen

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The millions of fans who read Patricia Cornwell's bestsellers know that her popular character, Kay Scarpetta, loves to unwind in the kitchen. Book after book finds her tapping into her Italian heritage to create delicious meals for herself and her friends.Brimming with full-color photographs and inspired by dozens of food scenes in Kay's kitchen and favorite restaurants, Food to Die For is a cookbook tailor-made for Scarpetta fans. Among the ...

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The millions of fans who read Patricia Cornwell's bestsellers know that her popular character, Kay Scarpetta, loves to unwind in the kitchen. Book after book finds her tapping into her Italian heritage to create delicious meals for herself and her friends.Brimming with full-color photographs and inspired by dozens of food scenes in Kay's kitchen and favorite restaurants, Food to Die For is a cookbook tailor-made for Scarpetta fans. Among the criminally good recipes:

* Miami-Style Chili with Beer (All That Remains)
* Grilled Grouper with Butter and Key Lime Juice (Cruel and Unusual)
* Jack Daniel's Chocolate Pecan Pie (The Body Farm)

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
As her millions of fans know, after a god-awful day at the morgue, the chief medical examiner of Virginia takes up the knife -- the chef's knife, that is. As Kay Scarpetta explained first in Patricia Cornwell's Postmortem, "When all else fails, I cook."

True to her heritage, Kay first turns to all things Italian -- homemade pizza, pasta, lasagna, fresh garlic soup, and grilled polenta with mushrooms -- but her palate's not limited to northern Italy. She cooked up New York steaks with a red wine marinade for a police reporter in All That Remains, enjoyed baby back ribs and Jack Daniel's chocolate-pecan pie while investigating the Temple Gault murders in The Body Farm, and tried to get Marino to eat more healthfully with a fresh fruit salad in Cause of Death.

But Food to Die For is not limited to food Kay Scarpetta would cook and enjoy. Writes Cornwell in the introduction: "Many of my readers think I am Scarpetta. But I am all of my characters. So I can cook like Lucy and Marino, too. If you're not in the mood for homemade chicken soup with bay leaves and a lots of sherry, then how about a breakfast bagel loaded with prosciutto, Swiss cheese, and slices of Vidalia onion?" Accordingly, Lucy's and Marino's recipes are included too, along with Cornwell's own signature dish, a rich beef stew that she delivers to such friends as Ruth and Billy Graham and Senator Orrin Hatch.

Food to Die For is thoughtfully organized, with two tables of contents: one with recipes arranged by book (this is the order the book follows), and another organized by courses. Each recipe is accompanied by a generous excerpt from the Cornwell mystery in which it is mentioned. (Ginger Curwen)

Publishers Weekly
How better to unwind from prodding the dead all day than to feed living, breathing friends and relatives? Bestselling mystery author Patricia Cornwell's Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen offers favorite recipes from the intrepid medical examiner (Cornwell's series heroine), Scarpetta's colleagues Marino and Rose, niece Lucy and various restaurants. Marlene Brown, Cornwell presents dishes from her mystery titles, preceded by brief relevant excerpts from each one. Italian sausage pizza from Postmortem is followed by 28 more feasts, including Pollo al Limone (shared by Scarpetta and Wesley Benton as they tracked a New York serial killer on Christmas) and Marino's Breakfast Bagel Sandwich from Point of Origin. Sections on olive oil, pasta and tomatoes, lists of the contents of Kay's pantry and freezer and 40 full-color photographs vivify her culinary secrets. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425193624
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Series: Kay Scarpetta Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia  Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell's most recent bestsellers include Red Mist, Port Mortuary, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed. Her earlier works include Postmortem—the only novel to win five major crime awards in a single year—and Cruel and Unusual, which won Britain’s prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 1993. Dr. Kay Scarpetta herself won the 1999 Sherlock Award for the best detective created by an American author.
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    1. Also Known As:
      Patricia Daniels Cornwell (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Boston, MA and New York, NY
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Davidson College, 1979; King College
    2. Website:


Serves 4

In one of her frequent attempts to prod Marino into improving his diet, Kay devises this beautiful fruit salad for his breakfast one morning. When Marino says with disgust, "This ain't food. And what the hell are these little green slices with black things?" Kay patiently replies, "The kiwi fruit I told you to get. I'm sure you must have had it before." Marino brightens up when Kay produces bagels from her freezer and cream cheese. As usual, he's had a long night, so he is relieved when Kay pours caffeine-laden Guatemalan coffee, just the way he likes it. You might choose café au lait or a flavored tea instead.

Blood oranges are an exotic variety of orange with a raspberry red interior and a reddish orange blush on the skin. Their flavor is rich and intense, like raspberry and orange combined, and they make a very attractive addition to salads and fruit compotes. Look for them in better markets that carry exotic produce.

4 blood oranges or navel oranges
3/4 cup red or green seedless grapes, halved
3 kiwi fruit, peeled, halved crosswise, and sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries

Blood Orange Dressing:
2 tablespoons blood orange juice or orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grated blood orange or navel orange zest
1 teaspoon honey
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

  1. Reserve one of the oranges for the dressing. Peel the remaining oranges and slice thinly. Arrange the orange slices on 4 salad plates. Top with the grapes, kiwi fruit, and berries.
  2. For the dressing: In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the orange juice, olive oil, orange zest, and honey; shake well. Drizzle the dressing over the salads and garnish with mint leaves.
Serves 8

On a balmy Halloween day, Kay puts on a pot of her homemade stew, which simmers throughout the afternoon in anticipation of a dinner with Marino. This is actually an adaptation of one of my own signature dishes -- a rich, generous stew of vegetables, veal or beef chunks, garlic, Italian seasonings, and a lot of Gallo red Burgundy wine. I say adaptation because my stew never turns out exactly the same way twice, since the choice of meat and vegetables is different every time. I love to make a pot of this richly satisfying stew for friends; often creating a gift basket with a loaf of homemade bread and a bottle of good French Burgundy. To me, nothing is more special than a gift made with your own hands -- it's a direct expression of the heart. I've even flown this stew, packed in dry ice, in my helicopter so friends, including Ruth and Billy Graham and Senator Orrin Hatch. (It didn't make it past Senate security initially, and when it did, Senator Hatch called and said, “I only got one bite -- my staff ate it all.")

The secret to the deep, earthy flavors that develop in this stew comes from the careful browning of the meat cubes and the vegetables. Dredging the meat in flour encourages a nice brown crust and also helps thicken the stew later on. So don't skimp on the browning steps; keep cooking and stirring until you have achieved a nice deep golden brown color on the meat and the vegetables.

Allow yourself a leisurely afternoon to make this stew, and you will be rewarded with a highly soul-satisfying meal in a bowl. The ingredient list for this wonderful stew may seem daunting, but all of the elements of this stew are simple to prepare. In preparation for this dish, spend a quick half hour doing the ingredient chopping at the beginning; then it's a simple matter of adding everything at the appropriate time. As Kay does on this Indian summer day, you may want to serve the stew with Braided Country Bread.

2 pounds boneless veal shoulder or boneless beef round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Vidalia or yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups red Burgundy wine
2 cups homemade beef stock or canned beef broth
1 cup V-8 juice
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (3 cups)
1 can (13-3/4 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and halved
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup diced peeled potato
1 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen peas
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Place the veal cubes in a large self-sealing bag with the flour. Seal the bag and shake well to coat the meat with the flour. In a 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat cubes on all sides, turning frequently, about 10 minutes, or until meat is a deep golden brown. Make sure that the pan is always hot enough to sizzle the meat and the vegetables, but not so hot that they burn and stick to the pan. Remove meat from the pan.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Transfer the onion mixture to a dish. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan; add the carrots and celery and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes until deep golden brown.
  3. Return the meat and onion mixture to the pan. Add one cup of the red wine, the beef stock, and V-8 juice, scraping up the crusty browned bits of meat and vegetables from the bottom of the pan so they can meld with the liquid. Stir in the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper until well blended. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Stir in the remaining 1 cup wine, the mushrooms, artichoke hearts, asparagus, potato, and peas. Simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours longer, or until the meat is very tender.
  5. Taste for seasoning and remove the bay leaves. Ladle the stew into shallow serving bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.
Makes one 9-inch pie

On the tail end of Calhoun's mouthwatering menu of barbecue specialties are the inevitable desserts. [Calhoun's Restaurant, where Kay went to dinner in The Body Farm, is located in West Knoxville, Tennessee.] If you've ever played the dinner party game of planning the last menu of your life, here's a to-die-for dessert you will want to consider. This unbelievably delicious pecan pie is studded throughout with chocolate and laced with Tennessee whiskey. Serve it warm, cut into modest-sized pieces, and savor every bite. After that, there's no place to go but straight to heaven.

Make-ahead Tip: If you are preparing the pie a day ahead, cool the pie on a rack for 1 hour after baking, then cover and refrigerate. For the best flavor, let the refrigerated pie stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Shortcut Tip: If you don't have time to make the pie crust, use a half package of store-bought refrigerated pie crusts. Just unfold one of the crusts into the pie plate, trim, and flute the edge as directed in step 1.

Pastry dough for one 9-inch pie
3 extra-large eggs
2 extra-large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup Jack Daniel's or whiskey
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate morsels
1-1/4 cups pecan halves or pieces
Vanilla ice cream for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Ease the pastry dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim and flute the edge of the dough, if desired, or trim the dough even with the plate edge. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the corn syrup, melted butter, and Jack Daniel's until well blended.
  3. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the chocolate pieces over the bottom of the pastry crust. Pour in the pie filling. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the pecans over the filling. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate pieces over, then top with the remaining 3/4 cup pecans.
  4. Bake the pie for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set in the center. Turn off the oven; leave the pie in the oven, with the door closed, for 15 minutes longer to crisp the top. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours. To serve, cut into small wedges and top with vanilla ice cream.
Copyright © 2001 by Cornwell Enterprises, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2001

    Eat Well on Your Way to the Solution!

    This book will be primarily of interest to those who have read and enjoyed the Kay Scarpetta novels, like to cook from scratch, and do not know much about how to make high quality Italian pasta dishes. I suggest you buy the book for yourself and try it out before giving it as a gift. For many people, this will not be an appropriate choice because of aversions to the death and danger themes in the novels, their own cooking interests, or their current level of cooking knowledge. For example, if I gave this book to my favorite Italian aunt, she would chase me out of the house with a pan in her hand, feeling that I had insulted her wonderful cooking! If you are like me, you enjoy the stories about Ms. Patricia Cornwell¿s fictional heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia. While trying to save the lives of Virginia¿s citizens, her own life and those of her friends and family are often at risk. Where Shakespeare had his clowns and fools to relieve the tension, food helps in these novels. ¿After Scarpetta puts her hands on death all day, she needs to come home to abundant beauty, wine, and delicious food with family and friends.¿ Ms. Cornwell reports that ¿like Scarpetta, I cook intuitively and sometimes whimsically.¿ For example, she found that pizza crust turns out better with olive oil and honey. As a result, she thinks that ¿people should approach cooking with the heart and not as technicians.¿ ¿Many of my signature dishes, such as my Scarpetta Stew, never come out the same way twice.¿ ¿But I am all of my characters, so I can cook like Lucy and Marino, too.¿ The restaurant recipes come from actual restaurants mentioned in the books. In some cases, the restaurants made up the recipes to respond to requests from patrons who are Cornwell fans. You get the addresses for the restaurants, as well, in case you would like to visit any of them. This unique cookbook combines several interesting and tasty elements: Excerpts from 11 of her novels referencing food (Postmortem, Body of Evidence, All that Remains, Cruel and Unusual, The Body Farm, From Potter¿s Field, Cause of Death, Unnatural Exposure, Point of Origin, Black Notice, and The Last Precinct); recipes of dishes mentioned in those books cooked by Dr. Scarpetta, her family or friends, and the restaurants the fictional characters visit; sidebars on how to prepare and store many basic Italian and French food ingredients and sauces; and gorgeous full-color photographs of each dish displayed on beautiful colored plates and printed on fine quality glossy paper. Almost all of the dishes can either be prepared quickly or by using advance preparation, completed quickly. So they are good for a person who wants a tasty meal after working all day. As an example of how this works together, each book¿s section opens with two pages of quotes. Unnatural Exposure includes the quote, ¿A shadow passed over her face as she opened a jar of horseradish.¿ This section has Kay¿s Stew with Red Wine and Garlic (containing many more ingredients than I would ever have thought of for a stew) which she served Marino for Halloween dinner. This is followed by a lengthy sidebar about tomatoes, describing varieties, buying, storing, and preparing them. Next, is Jumbo Shrimp with Bev¿s Kicked by a Horse Cocktail Sauce which Kay had during a dinner with Wesley. Bev is the woman who helped Kay pick out the seafood at the store. There¿s also Bev¿s Lump Crab Cakes. The final recipe is Lila¿s Clam Stew (a recipe Lila was selling on the street for 25 cents before dying of smallpox). So the book has a strong literary flavor, as well as a distinct preference for vivid Continental tastes. The earliest recipes are almost all southern Italian, but then move into northern Italy, and later branch out into some basic French dishes (such as onion soup and Béchamel sauce). There¿s an English breakfast, a little standard American food, and a few Southern

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2004

    Great food, but expensive!!!!

    I gave this 5 stars because everything I have made from this cookbook is great, but it is very expensive to make! We really like the chili!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2003

    Simply Wonderful

    Patricia Cornwell has done it again with "Food To Die For". From the Italian sausage pizza in "Postmortem" to "The Last Precinct"'s Key Lime merigue pie; each recipe embodies Scarpetta's love of cooking. The recipes are fun to make and enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2002

    A great book for the cook or the collector.

    The cookbook is great expecially if you have read the Cornwell mysteries as you will have surely read the detailed cooking activities of Kay Scarpetta. During the time she is cooking her pizza you can almost smell it on the grill. I make pizza no other way to this day. The stew receipe is excellent, but just a hint, use a good red wine, if you wouldn't drink it, don't use it in your stew. Definitely a good book & collection of receipes for the price.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Enticing cookbook

    This is a very special and unique cookbook. Many of the recipes are based on a dish that can be found in the Kay Scarpetta novels. As fans of the series know, the chief medical examiner of Virginia likes to relax by cooking in her very fancy kitchen and the results are always mouth watering. Her creator also likes to cook and the recipes that can be found in this book are easy to follow and the results are undeniably good. <P> The table of contents is broken down in two ways. The first one is by the book the dish appears in and the second is by the different courses which include soups, appetizers, side dishes, dinner entries and desserts. This beautifully illustrated cookbook will be appreciated by anyone who likes to cook not just Scarpetta readers and is the perfect gift for the holiday season. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2013

    Excellent cookbook. I now want it on my iPad!

    Excellent cookbook. I now want it on my iPad!

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  • Posted January 2, 2013

    Well written recipes that are easy to recreate.  Tasty too!

    Well written recipes that are easy to recreate.  Tasty too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I've had this cookbook for a number of years. Many of the recipe

    I've had this cookbook for a number of years. Many of the recipes have become classics in my home--Miami Style Chili with Beer, Wild Rice with Cashews, Lasagne con Funghi e Carcofi--every thing in the book has been a meal to remember. I wish that she would update the book with some new recipes--Scarpetta still has a lot of cooking left in her! I will agree with some of the other comments about n=many of the recipes--they aren't cheap to make but certainly well worth the effort. I've found that making appropriate substitutions can help control cost. I've also learned that the palates of &quot;uncircumsied Phillistines are not usually appreciative of such gourmet fare; know who you're cooking for before you begin!

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  • Posted June 30, 2010

    Great Book!

    I bought this book to add to my collection of cookbooks and I can tell you honestly... From all the cookbooks I have this is one of the few I keep coming back to. The entree recipes are excellent. Easy to read and common ingredients. Also, try the Pizza, it's really to die for.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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