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There’s still a day (and 6 hours) left to enter the giveaway raffle over at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews!

SSR_KnifeofNarcissus4

Here’s the recipe as tweeted:layers

The sauce: crush celery seed, oregano, mint, ginger, coriander, raisins, honey, vinegar, oil, wine. And…this one is going to take 280.

The rest: In a clay baking dish put down layers of bread, cooked chicken breasts, pine nuts, diced onion, sharp cheese, sauce. Cover & bake.

For 6 boneless (raw) chicken breasts I used:

  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 6 tsp oregano
  • 3 TBSP mint (you may prefer less, but I like to go heavy on the mint)
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1-1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 4 tsp vinegar
  • 4 tsp white cooking wine
  • more white cooking wine, because the bottle was right there
  • 2 cups pine nuts (in my opinion, you can’t have too much, for this recipe)
  • 3 rolls of bread with sturdy crust (I used par-baked rolls), sliced lengthwise in thirds
  • 8 thick slices of sharp cheddar (enough to cover the chicken on each layer)
  • 5 chopped shallots
  • pepper for garnish, if desired
  • surprisingly, no fermented fish sauce
  • I forgot the olive oil…probably because it was two in the morning…

herbsshallotsbread and raisins
Pound together the first six ingredients with the honey, vinegar, and wine. I layered the bread, chicken, sauce, shallots, and pine nuts (two layers fit the pot nicely) and cooked in a lidded Romertopf—soaked in water while I was at work, then placed in a cold oven, temperature set to 450F, and baked for about an hour and a quarter. An hour would probably have been enough, but I’m paranoid about cooking chicken thoroughly. After removing it from the oven, I let it sit in the clay baker for another 15 minutes.

Stray observation: I probably should have saved some of the sauce to pour (before cooking) over the top layer of bread, which came out crusty. Another alternative would be to cube the top layer of bread like stuffing (which is essentially what the other layers become). A variant on the recipe calls for layers of cucumbers as well and chilling the casserole and serving it jellied, which is a very different effect. Also one hard that’s to create if you don’t have snow handy in your ancient kitchen.

patinaapiciana_7finalAnd now I’m too sleepy to eat more than a few bites, so I’ll leave you with a picture of the results…

Roman Chicken

Two in the morning and the Chicken à la Apicius is in the oven.

I should probably set the alarm clock.

Chicken tomorrow

Both too late and too frozen! But the experiment will continue tomorrow 🙂

Book 4 release day!

It’s release day for The Knife of Narcissus part 4! We’re past the halfway mark now in Lucius and Trio’s story. At least one big thing will change—but not what Lucius might have wanted….

Reviewers are still on board to follow the serial, I’m happy to say. Check out this brand new review from 3 Chicks After Dark and the review and giveaway from Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews plus a guest post: What does a Roman wear under his toga? The answer may surprise you. But probably not.

Boy Meets Boy Reviews weren’t as excited about this chapter in the serial. I think this is my cue to rub my hands together, cackle, and say, “Just wait and see what happens next…”

Later this evening—if the ingredients ever thaw out—I’ll post pics of Casserole à la Apicius.

3-day Countdown to Book 4!

KoN4coverThe Knife of Narcissus part 4 releases on Monday, and will be available at all the usual places. I’ll be celebrating by making another ancient dish, my favourite Roman main course, Casserole à la Apicius. It goes well with the Apricot Stew side dish. I’m hoping it will also go well with Dogfish Head Brewery’s Ancient Ales. Here’s the recipe in 140:

The sauce: crush celery seed, oregano, mint, ginger, coriander, raisins, honey, vinegar, oil, wine. And…this one is going to take 280.

The rest: In a clay baking dish put down layers of bread, cooked chicken breasts, pine nuts, diced onion, sharp cheese, sauce. Cover & bake.

On Monday evening, I’ll post the expanded version of how the recipe turns out this time around, with pics.

Meanwhile, The Novel Approach has given Parts 1-2 an in-depth—and flattering—review:

“A wonderfully written historical gay romance, the first two books hitting the ground running as they introduce us to a world that’s both colorful and sensual in more ways than one….”

Please click on over and visit the site to see the whole review, and, of course, check out the other reviews to find other interesting books.

What’s a dik-dik?

dik-dik logo

  1. An adorable, impossibly tiny African antelope.
  2. The name of a casual writers collective formed by me and a few friends I’ve been in a writing cricle with for close to half our lives.

When we decided we’d try helping each other with our self-publishing efforts, we needed a name for this enterprise. First we tried combining our initials, then a few other animal-based ideas, then there may have been drinking and curly fries and the conversation wobbled off track.

At some point, someone sent around a picture of a dik-dik, and I for one fell in love with it. We only snickered about the animal’s name for a few minutes (I may have done most of the giggling). We’re still working on a colophon, a logo for the imprint—this is one of my ideas. In 2015, we’d like to make dik-dik books more official, a bona fide publisher for the romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy, and other projects we have in the works.

Dik-dik (male) -Tarangire National Park -TanzaniaAside from the obvious reference that comes to mind when you call your romance and erotica imprint “dik-dik books,” we also just plain like the idea of the little and unassuming but resilient creatures.

The females are larger and louder than the males—they warn the others of danger with their dik dik calls. The males have horns but the females also have tufts of hair on the tops of their heads, so I’ll say that the silhouette in the logo can be either male or female. Dik-dik couples are reputed to be devoted to each other. A nice symbol for romance.

Morning Gruel: Apothermum

ApothermumThe results of the Apothermum recipe. If you missed the tweet, here’s the recipe in 140:

boil spelt grains w/pine nuts & bleached almonds into a pudding; add raisins & sweet wine, sprinkle nuts over, dust w/white pepper

I used 3 TB spelt flour, a half cup each of pine nuts and almonds. I ground the nuts and mixed them and the flour with about 2 cups water, which turned out to be a little too much. Stirred over a low flame at a simmer for about a half hour, then mixed in a cup of raisins and 1/3 cup sweet cooking wine. Stirred and simmered a while longer, adding a little more flour, until it was an acceptable porridge. Spooned into bowl, garnished with raisins and a dusting of white pepper.

Serves 2 Romans, or 4 who only feel snacky.

My sweet tooth wants to drizzle honey over it. If a Roman couldn’t reasonably pour fermented fish sauce over a dish, honey was often the next choice, so I think that’s acceptable. (I paired it with a refreshing cup of posca—water and wine vinegar. I opted out of the option to add honey and coriander to taste and went with the simpler soldier’s version.)

This is far too simple a dish for Cook in Knife of Narcissus to serve. She’d send master Bassus into the kitchen to make it himself.

I’m returning to the ancient Roman recipes today, and will be in the kitchen playing with some simple ones. Eventually I’ll try something elaborate, since, as Martial might sniffingly say,

Knowing how to cook is not enough to be a cook
One cannot have the tastes of a slave
But must possess the palate of a master

I’ll be out back convincing a thousand larks to give up their tongues in the name of fine cuisine.

Rome cooking

To celebrate this week’s release of The Knife of Narcissus book 3 and to continue the musings on food from the Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews guest post, each day I’ll be testing a few ancient recipes then tweeting the recipe for anyone interested in trying the tastes of ancient Rome. Today I started with a basic salad dressing that’s purported to be good for the stomach and digestion. Mixing it with ample vinegar is recommended.

Be sure to click over to the review for a Book 3 giveaway.