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Posts Tagged ‘historical details’

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Aliter Dulcia • Fruit Pudding

  • 1/2 lb. fresh, green angelica stalks, or 1 large fennel bulb, or 4 apples
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • ample ginger or cinnamon for sprinkling

To prepare angelica: Bring a large pot of water to a boil then cook the stems over a medium heat until tender (about 5 minutes). Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Peel off the skin and long stringy parts on the outside of the stalks.

Alternatively: Try this recipe with a fennel bulb or apples.

Grate the main ingredient. Use a food processor if you have one—just consider it having a servant in your ancient kitchen. (I invested in a little 4-cup one just for Roman cooking, and it hasn’t let me down.) Spoon into a baking dish or loaf pan. Pour milk over it. When it is completely saturated, place in the oven at 350°F/170°C for an hour until baked but not dried out—it should be creamy, but not soupy.

Remove from the oven and pour honey over the pudding, poking it so the honey sinks in.

Sprinkle with ginger or cinnamon and serve.

Makes 2-3 servings

fennel bulb grated fennel

The dessert recipes tend to take longer to prepare than the main dishes. No wonder ancient Romans usually just picked them up at the local pub.

This dessert was mild in flavour but delicious (my garden-grown fennel has a stronger flavour than this bulb from the store). I enjoyed the texture and I found myself craving more the next day. The dessert recipes tend to take longer to prepare for a smaller quantity than the main dishes—no wonder ancient Romans usually just picked them up at the local pub—but I’d make this again, and will try it with apples. Someday I’ll try it with angelica too, which is what might have been intended in the original recipe, but fennel is a plausible ancient substitute. Ancient cooks would have had many variations on recipes depending on available ingredients!

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Ready for drizzling with honey and sprinkling with cinnamon

Ready for drizzling with honey and with sprinkling cinnamon

Dulcia

  • 1 cup mixed spelt and oat flour
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sweet raisin wine (or grape juice concentrate)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • olive oil for frying
  • honey for drizzling
  • more cinnamon for sprinkling

saturnaliacookery_63Grind together 1/2 tsp cinnamon, the almond and pine nuts, and the minced rosemary. Mix with wine (or grape juice concentrate). Whisk the eggs and mix them well with the flour to form a porridge.

Scald (but do not boil) the milk over a moderate flame; remove from heat and allow to cool a minute. Mix milk into the batter, then spread batter out in a flat, lightly oiled pan. When cool, spoon out bite-size pieces and pan-fry them in high-quality oil (the oil should be hot enough that the dough immediately begins to fry when dropped into the pan, but should not be allowed to smoke/burn). Fry to a dark golden brown. Drain the excess oil off by placing each fried piece on a cloth. Drizzle with plenty of honey, sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon, and serve warm.

Makes about a dozen.

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Knife of Narcissus 7 coverWhew! Made it to the end!

If you haven’t read the series yet, there’s a chance to win all 7 parts, plus the Saturnalia novella, on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. This installment’s guest post is about the Roman holiday of Saturnalia: the festival of, well, carousing.

I may have caroused a little bit too hard today in celebration; tomorrow I’ll be recovering; and then Wednesday…back to writing!

Read an excerpt from Book 7 . . .

(more…)

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The Knife of Narcissus part 6 releases next Monday and will be available at all the usual places. Once again there will be a guest post, review, and giveaway at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews.

This installment’s guest post is on Roman Emperors—the crazy kind. (Yes, there were non-crazy ones, too, but it was hard to find them in the crowd of complete nutters.)

Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews - KoN 6

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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…

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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.

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I was ridiculously charmed by this typo in the online transcription of a 1919 Loeb Classical Library edition of Martial’s epigrams at Archive.org:

“That Martial was capable of a very sincere and lusting friendship is shown by many of his epigrams.”

Indeed it is.

As the rest of the Loeb introduction mentions, we don’t know much about what the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis got up to between the collapse of Nero’s court and his acceptance into the favour of the Flavian imperial dynasty—well, other than what he complains about in his poems, such as his lousy walk-up living space. That allows for a lot of leeway for him to make a guest appearance in The Knife of Narcissus starting in Book 3, the new installment that releases on Monday.

Martial’s poems show up before he does, as graffiti in public spaces and copied into various unauthorised editions; then the poet himself arrives, selling the equivalent of holiday greeting cards and busking in the marketplace. As one of ancient Rome’s raunchiest poets, he’s a perfect fit for Lucius’s taste in literature, even though he doesn’t turn out to be the sort of person Lucius expected him to be.

Martial left behind an enormous output, and one of the most fun (and sometimes outright funny) parts of my research was finding poems to fit the various parts of the story; then translating them to use as-is or with tweaks to suit the scene (we’ll assume Martial wrote a few first drafts). And if I needed a new turn of phrase for an age-old act, Martial was a good place to look for creatively inspiring wording.

Pliny the Younger, one of Martial’s illustrious patrons, called him “a man of genius, of subtle and quick intelligence, and one who in his writings showed the greatest wit and pungency, and just as much fairness….But it’s likely his writings will not last. Maybe they will not—but he wrote them as if they would.”

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