Novel Food #13: The Empress of Ice Cream

July 10, 2011 | Filed Under Books, Chocolate Sauce, Food Blogging Events, Novel Food, Sauces | 15 Comments 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, but after reading The Empress of Ice Cream by Anthony Capella, you’ll be screaming for ice cream, too. Actually, I’m screaming for ice cream AND my own personal ice cream maker.


The Empress of Ice Cream is a historical fiction about ice cream and two people caught up in the political climate between France and England in the 1600s and the wills of the two kings. Carlo Demirco is a handsome, Italian ice cream maker at a time when the knowledge to make ice cream is rare and only the privileged are able to taste it. Louise de Keroualle, is a beautiful but poor, French lady-in-waiting. As a gift, French King Louis XIV sends talented Carlo to become the personal ice cream maker to Charles II, King of England. He also sends the striking Louise to become Charles’s mistress. The gesture is actually part of a bribe to form alliances between the two kings.


Who knew that the subject of ice cream combined with 17th century French/English politics would be so fascinating? Louise de Keroualle is a real-life historical figure. Carlo is fictional but his presence occurs at the time when ice cream was first introduced in England.


Told from two perspectives, Carlo and Louise’s, The Empress of Ice Cream is a captivating story with a gratifying ending.   The characters are all very interesting.  Louise is shrewd and a survivor.  Carlo is ambitious, always striving to make the best ice cream.  I loved the vivid book descriptions, not only of the time period and the activity in the courts, but especially of the ice creams that Carlo makes and the people’s reactions after tasting them, especially for the first time.  Here are two of Carlo’s accounts:


"Soon, to the king’s great satisfaction, I was producing ices of a kind that had never been made before — chilled cordials flavoured with orgeat, or milk ices sandwiched between layers of meringue that looked like macaroons, or sorbetti that could be held in the hand within a little lattice goblet made of spun sugar, so that they did not drip on your fine court court clothes as they melted." — page 26


"On another occasion I made him a bowl of cherries which, when examined closely, turned out to be twenty individual cherry cream ices which I had frozen one by one in a mould; while my mandarin sorbets — each one served inside the skin of a recently picked mandarin, the peel apparently unbroken, like a toy ship inside a bottle — were a wonder that the court discussed for days." — page 29


By now, I’m sure you’ve guessed that this is my entry for Novel Food, the culinary/literary blogging event. Today, it’s hosted by Simona of Briciole. I didn’t have time to make ice cream but was able to make something that goes well with ice cream – chocolate sauce. Imagine this warm chocolaty sauce with or without banana and walnuts over your ice cream. Delicious! I think I could have been an apprentice for Carlos and the King would have enjoyed this chocolate sauce. Heck! You’d all enjoy this chocolate sauce.

I will end here with the passage in the book when Carlos first tasted chocolate:


                One night I found the whole kitchen smelling dark and pungent, as if livers were being cooked in a sauce of fortified wine; but this smell had a richness to it that was like no offal I had ever known.  It was coming from a small saucepan on the range, where something thick and brown spat like hot lava as the cook stirred it with a wooden spoon.  ‘Xocalatl,’ the cook said, as he poured the contents of the pan into a small cup for the Grand Duke’s nightcap:  then, seeing my incomprehension, he offered me the end of the spoon to taste.

                That is another memory I have never forgotten, one of a different kind; a heat that filled my mouth and coated my palate, leaving it full of the same rich taste for hours afterwards; bitter and thick, yet strangely warming, like the very opposite of ice.    – page 7







My own personal Ice Cream Maker.


Must be able to make ice cream at my beck and call.


Being good-looking and Italian (like Carlo) won’t hurt.


Accepting applications here and now.




Chocolate sauce to be poured over ice cream




Chocolate sauce with bananas and walnuts




Lee Lee’s Famous Chocolate Sauce for Ice Cream




Servings: 4-6





1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2-2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup water (more or less, as needed to make a stirable consistency)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract





Combine sugar, cocoa, and salt in small saucepan.


Add the water.


Add butter to cocoa mixture.


Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.


Allow to boil for 1 minute, stirring.


Remove from heat.


Add vanilla.


Serve warm over ice cream.


Add sliced bananas and chopped walnuts if you really want a treat!



For Novel Food guidelines, click on the banner above. Check out Bricole, for a lineup of other Novel Food entries.  You’ll find a wonderful list of books and meals inspired by the stories.

Novel Food #8: Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

July 18, 2009 | Filed Under Books, Food Blogging Events, Novel Food | 12 Comments 

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis


"Fall out!  Wipe your masks and fall in!  We are going to do it again!"  Lieutenant Hundley hollers out as she open the door.   With our legs shaking, we march out.

Much later, we march half-time back to camp.  My eyes are swollen, my nose is snotting, my throat is sore, and I still got vomit on my shoes, but I went through my gas drill over and over and over, and I made it.  When I pass her on my way to barracks, Hundley say, "Well done, Private," and gives me a nod.  I can barely open my eyes, but I know she means it.

We got to do it again tomorrow.

But I am not scared.  I am not scared of nothin’ now.  I got blisters on my heels, my hands is cut up, my shoulders are sore from marching with a pack, and I can’t never get enough sleep, but I wouldn’t trade nothin’ for this.  Not a thing.

Didn’t nobody ever tell me I was this tough.  Didn’t nobody ever tell me no girl could work this hard, and nobody never said that work this hard could give you pride.  My nails might not be nice enough for polite folk, and my face might not be clean, but I earned my place in this man’s army.  I earned it.

And ain’t nobody gonna make Marey Lee Boylen go home.

~ Mare’s War  (p. 102)



It’s time for the 8th Novel Food, the culinary/literary blogging event co hosted by Simone of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste.  I recently read Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, a book which I wholeheartedly enjoyed and decided to make my Novel Food choice.

Mare’s War is about two teenagers, Tali and Octavia, who are forced to go on a cross-country road trip with their grandmother.  During the trip, they find out more about their grandmother, who’s called Mare (pronounced like the  French word Mère, which means mother.   She feels she’s too young to be called Grandma.).  The girls are surprised to learn that Mare ran away from home at a young age, lied about her age, and joined the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corp during World War II.

I found it fascinating to learn about this group of women that I never knew existed and how they played an important part in the war.  Both the narration of the young girls and their grandmother mesmerized me from the first page of the book, to the last.  Really good story.  I loved how the book is filled with all types of tidbits — historical, humorous, sad, serious and more.  It left me with a good feeling at the end.

There’s a section in the book, where Mare is in the army and peeling potatoes to make potato salad.  I suppose everyone has made potato salad before but I never did.  The passage in the book inspired me to try it.  Easy!  The ingredients consisted of red potatoes, onions, mayo, egg yolk, vinegar, salt, pepper.

If you’re interested in participating in the next Novel Food, check out the guidelines here.

Thanks for putting this event together, Simone and Lisa.  It’s always fun to read a good book and be inspired to make a dish.

I’ll be back later in the week to post a link to the lineup of other Novel Food participants.  Stay tuned.


Ed. Note:  You can find the first roundup of Novel Food entries at Briciole and the second roundup at  Champaign Taste.  Check them out when you have time, you’ll find a great list of books AND inspired-created meals.



There are potatoes in the mess, and we got to fix potato salad for Sunday dinner.  Potatoes is something I know — Mama made me peel potatoes, snap beans, and mix up biscuits for Sunday dinner back home since I was eight or nine.  I peel potatoes like I was born doing it.

"Marey Lee," Annie say, "now, how do you do that, make the peel all come out in one curl?"

I just grin.  I might not know nothing about nothing in this man’s army, but I sure can handle myself in a kitchen.  Miss Ida should see me now.  "Just hold your knife like this," I say, and all my squad turns toward me.  Sure feels good to teach them something for a change.

~ Mare’s War  (p. 77)













Novel Food #7: A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis

March 30, 2009 | Filed Under Books, Eggs, Food Blogging Events, Novel Food | 17 Comments 


When I turn eighteen, I already know what I’m going to do.

First, I’m going to buy a plane ticket to D. C. and go to Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian and leave roses.  They don’t let you walk through it, but somewhere– I don’t know where — I’m going to leave a bouquet and a little note for her.  Julia Child is my patron saint.  She’s the queen of all reasons people can do anything they want in life.  Saint Julia didn’t start cooking until she was practically forty, and she went on to do TV shows and make cookbooks and be this huge part of culinary history.  She never got too fancy, she never freaked out, and she was never afraid to try new things.  I want to be just like her — except maybe get famous faster.

The second thing I’m going to do is buy myself a set of knives.  Pia swears by this set of German steel knives she got when she graduated, but I’ve seen the TV chef Kylie Kwong use a phenomenal-looking ceramic knife on her show on the Discovery Channel.  Either way, knives are what the best chefs have of their very own.

The third thing I’m going to do, after I get back from Washington and get my knives, is… get discovered.  Somehow.  I know I’m going to have to pay my dues, but I’m so ready for my real life to start.  It’s not something I admit to a lot, but my real dream is to be a celebrity chef.  Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t?  And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows?  The field is wide open for stardom.  Every time I watch old episodes of Saint Julia, I imagine that I have my own cooking show.  The way celebrity chefs do it now, I could also have a line of cooking gear, cookbooks, aprons, the works.  People would know my name, ask for my autograph, and try my recipes.  All I have to do is finish my trig homework and get back into the kitchen.

A la Carte



Lainey is a 17-year-old high school student who loves to cook.  She wants to become a  famous chef, with her own cooking show, and has chosen Julia Child as her patron saint.

I enjoyed A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis, who is part of the T & D blogging duo team  of Wish I Were Baking and Hobbits Abroad.

I loved this young character who is really creative, talented with food and knows what she wants to do with her life.  Lainey’s classmates and teachers reap the benefits of her culinary skills.  I wish I’d been that talented when I was her age.  Who knows?  I could have had my own show on the Food Network channel by now. 

All through the book, I kept thinking to myself, why didn’t didn’t I have a younger sibling like that who’d enjoy cooking for me.  I guess it’s too late to ask my parents for one, huh ?

Normally, when I read about a food mentioned in a book that strikes my fancy, I have to look up a recipe for it.   However, in A la Carte, part of the charm of the story is that the story character, Lainey, includes several handwritten recipes from her notebook.  I couldn’t wait to try the Saint Julia’s "Perfectly Hard-Boiled" Egg Salad. 

It was very interesting to make the "perfectly hard-boiled" egg the Julia Child way.  I liked that my egg yolks didn’t turn green.   The recipe called for pimento stuffed green olives.  Since I didn’t have that, I used Greek olives.  I didn’t have a sweet pickle relish or sundried tomato or tapenade.  Instead, I used a few grape cherry tomatoes.  Oh, and I didn’t have shallots so I used red onions, which I like.  So, there were minor substitutions to some of the ingredients but it wasn’t a problem.  I really liked the way the egg salad turned out.  Delicious!

A la Carte is a book for young adults but adults of all ages can enjoy it.  I certainly did. 

This is my entry for the 7th culinary/literary blogging event, Novel Food.   It’s co-hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste.    If you’re interested in reading more about the event and would like to participate in it, go here to read the guidelines.  


Ed Note:  A round of up the Novel Food entries has been posted in two parts.  You can find the one part on Briciole and the second half on Champaign Taste.   There are a lot of fun books and recipes.  Check them out!




Saint Julia’s "Perfectly Hard-Boiled" Egg Salad

A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis


4 Hard-Boiled Eggs**

2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise

5 or 6 Pimento-stuffed Green Olives, chopped (or 2 Tbsp. olive Tapenade)

1 small Shallot (optional), finely chopped

1 tsp. Dijon Mustard

1/8 tsp. Paprika

1 Tbsp. Sweet Pickle Relish (or Sundried tomato or Tapenade)

1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley.   Finely chopped * (or cilantro)

To taste:  Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of each)

Peel your eggs – in the sink, to keep the shells close to the disposal.  Carefully take out your yolks, and set the whites aside.  Add to your yolks the mayonnaise, your chopped olives, shallots, the mustard, paprika, and pickle.  Then chop your whites, and add to mixture.  Add parsley, salt, and a litte fresh ground black pepper to taste.

*You can use cilantro and sundried tomatoes as a variation.  Some people like their bread cold for cool egg salad — For a fresh egg salad, you might use warm rolls.  Yum.

** Saint Julia’s notes on boiling eggs are easy.  All you have to do is make sure your eggs are covered at least an inch deep in cold water in the pot, so make your pot deep, not flat and wide.  Boil for exactly 17 minutes.  Transfer the boiled eggs to ice water immediately to chill for 2 minutes.  Take them back into the boiling water for 10 seconds:  This will make sure your yolks aren’t green and that the eggs won’t stick to the shells.  Now move them back into the cold, and let them sit — if you can — for 15 minutes.  If you can’t, it doesn’t matter, but cold eggs peel better.












Novel Food: Brasilian Carrot Cake

December 21, 2008 | Filed Under Baking, Books, Brazil Cuisine, Cakes, Food Blogging Events, Novel Food | 16 Comments 



This is an my unofficial entry to the literary/culinary blogging event called Novel Food, where we can prepare and blog about a dish that has a connection to a published literary work.  The wonderful Simone (of Briciole) and Lisa (of Champaign Taste) co-host this event, which is in its sixth season.  I say that it’s an unofficial entry since I’m a bit late in submitting my entry.  However it was a recipe I’d planned on posting for quite some time.   Thanks, Simone for including my late entry.  :-)

I’d seen this cake recipe about a year ago on Tapioca Flour (obrigada/thanks Valentina!) and saved it with the intention of making it immediately.  I never got the chance.

This Brasilian Carrot Cake post was inspired by one of my favorite romance stories, Crush by Crystal Hubbard.  It’s about a heart throb rock star who rescues a headstrong girl from a near fatal accident at his concert and they fall in love.  The heroine is half Brazilian and she mentions her Brazilian grandmother’s cooking and several Brazilian dishes throught the book. 

In a previous Novel Food event, I prepared a dish (Leftovers with Dendi Oil) mentioned in the book.  The Brasilian Carrot Cake is not mentioned in the book.  However, it is something I see the heroine enjoying, something that perhaps her grandmother made for her.  Or, something that she may have unsuccessfully tried to make for her rock star boyfriend and then ended up ordering a dessert from a Brazilian restaurant to make up for her baking blunders.  LOL!

I also wanted to make this cake in celebration of some good news I received about author Crystal Hubbard.  She recently completed a very tough but successful round of chemotherapy treatment.  Yay!  So, I celebrate the good news with two of my favorite romance characters and a slice of Brasilian Carrot Cake.  Congrats Crystal!


Ed. Note:  Something interesting about the Brasilian Carrot Cake is that Valentina pointed out that it’s a ‘national passion’, a national institution.  In the comments section, she also mentions that the taste of this particular carrot cake is very diiferent from European-style carrot cakes.  After tasting it, I can also add that it tastes much different from American carrot cake, too.

The chocolate icing might sound unusual but it actually tastes perfect with this cake.  Absolutely perfect.

Also, I forgot to mention that I’m still looking for my own rock star.  As before, interested parties can apply here (on this blog).

The roundup of Novel Food entries have been posted.  They are in two parts and you can find them at Briciole and Champaign Taste.  Check them out, there’s nothing better than finding a good read and recipe!

Lastly, in addition to Valentina’s site, you can also find the original recipe and lovely photo of the cake on Ana’s blog (Kitchen Space).  The recipe for this cake comes from her grandmother, Anna.  Thanks, Ana for sharing the recipe with us, all. 



Crush by Crystal Hubbard




Brasilian Carrot Cake

Tapioca Flour


Main Ingredients

4 medium carrots, peeled and grated

3 medium eggs

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder


Chocolate Icing

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons milk

8 tablespoons sugar


Grease a bundt pan and reserve.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (Paz note:  That’s about 350°F)


Take the grated carrot, the eggs, the vegetable oil and sugar and put it all in the blender.

Whiz it long enough to blend it all together but being careful not to over do it otherwise it might alter the consistency or  even the colour of the cake.  Pour the mixture in a mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes.  Leave it to cool on a rack.

Meanwhile put all the icing ingredients in a saucepan and stir it until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened.  Pour it over the cake whilst still hot.  **Please note that the cup measurement used is 250ml.













Novel Food #3: Leftovers with Dendi Oil (Palm Oil)

March 23, 2008 | Filed Under Books, Food Blogging Events, Novel Food | 11 Comments 







Miranda withdrew from the fridge clutching a small bowl of day-old rice, a grilled chicken breast, half a Vidalia onion, a green net bag holding a few grape tomatoes and a tiny tin of sliced black olives.  She set the items on the counterop next to the stove.  "I could order in Chinese.  There’s a place near here that stays open until three on the weekends, or I could throw something together.  I think."

"Bernard said you didn’t cook," Lucas smiled.

"Chopping and re-heating is not cooking."

"What can I do to help?"

[…]  He leaned in close to her to scrape his garlic into a skillet where Miranda had started the rice dancing in hot vegetable oil with a dash of dendi, the bright orange oil extracted from the African palm of northern Brazil.

"My Avó Marie Estrella used dendi the way Italian cooks use olive oil, " Miranda told Lucas, who had begun slicing the chicken breast into strips.  "She was a very good cook.  That gene bypassed me and went to my sister, Calista.  I got my other grandmother’s cooking ability.  Grandma Ilene’s food was just awful.  She thought she was the best cook in the world, though."

[…]  Lucas ate heartily.  This was truly the best meal he’d ever had, and it was only leftovers.



This entry is for the literary/culinary blogging event, Novel Food, which is hosted by Simona of Briciole and  Lisa of Champaign Taste.  Participants are asked to post their literary-inspired culinary creations.

The above excerpt comes from one of my favorite stories, CRUSH by Crystal Hubbard.  It’s about a rock star, Lucas, who rescues a girl, Miranda, from being crushed when she attends his concert.  Since the book is a romance, you can imagine what happens afterwards — they fall in love, of course.  😉 

Miranda is half Brazilian and in the book, she mentions her Brazilian grandmother’s cooking skills and she attempts to cook Brazilian cuisine.  A familiar ingredient she uses is palm oil, a vegetable cooking oil used in Brazil and many other tropical countries.  High in beta-carotene, it gives off a reddish color.  It is very tasty and can be used as a preservative.  However it is high in cholesterol, so it’s a good idea to use it sparingly.

The heroine’s use of palm oil reminded me of when I grew up in Africa as a young girl.  We had different trees in the back yard, mango trees, guava trees and a great big, tall palm tree.  I remember palm oil being used a lot in the kitchen.

Like Miranda, I also had leftovers in my fridge — rice, eggs instead of chicken, mixed vegetables, tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes and Spanish olives instead of black olives.  I also had onions and garlic.  And what do you know, I had palm oil, too.  So, I decided to make my own leftovers concoction with the special ingredient — palm oil — to tie it all together.  I heated everything together in a skillet, added salt and pepper and served immediately.  Mmmm…  Not bad at all.  Now I’m going look for a hungry, hot, fine-looking rock star to feed.  Let’s see, who can I find?   😉

Oh, and Happy Easter!



Ed Note:  Interested rock stars may apply here (on this blog).











← Previous PageNext Page →