Thursday, March 22, 2012

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christine Frost, Author of Dark Lady of Doona

“…I’m Cecilia, wife of Angus Craig, Callum’s steward.  Angus and I worked in the household one of Queen Mary’s ladies, but with the trouble, Angus felt we would be safer elsewhere. ” The scent of oatcakes cooking filled the kitchen.  Meanwhile, she began to stir an iron pot above the fire. “Leeks in butter sauce to top them,” she said with a smile.

I’m currently working on my second novel, which is set in medieval Ireland. Dark Lady of Doona will be published later this year. Grace O’Malley was a formidable woman who led her own fleet of ships, traveled widely, and remained a well-known pirate to the end of her days during tumultuous times in Ireland. She even met with Queen Elizabeth in an attempt to secure her territory and the freedom of relatives who were held prisoner by a notorious governor who was nicknamed “The Flail of Connaught.” 

This is my second work of historical fiction. I love doing the research for these novels. I read many history books as I write, and seek to learn as much as I can about the time and place in which my stories are set. Learning about the cuisine of the time is one way for me to connect with my characters. I searched for recipes of the Elizabethan era and tried to create dishes as they would have been made back then. Occasionally, I discover a new favorite meal. Oatcakes were popular in this time, and leeks were also commonly used. In the excerpt above, Grace O’Malley is in Scotland to hire mercenaries to join her husband’s army on the west coast of Ireland. 

After writing about oatcakes and leeks, I had to try them. So I embarked on an experiment, and according to my husband, it was a big hit. “Kind of like a savory oatmeal cookie,” he commented. So here’s my spin on it, with the modern touches that worked well as I developed the recipe. 

Oatcakes topped with herbed goat cheese and leeks

Goat Cheese Spread
7 oz. goat cheese
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Approx. 1/2 to 1 tsp. lemon juice, to taste
Blend in food processor, keep at room temperature until serving time. 

Braised Leeks
6 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and cut into small rings
4 tbl. butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Melt butter in deep skillet, add leeks and cook over moderate heat for five minutes, until they soften. Add broth and Herbes de Provence, and braise, stirring occasionally as it reduces, for at least five minutes, until sauce thickens and leeks are soft. 

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease large baking sheet with butter. In large mixing bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add shortening and mix using hands until mixture is coarse and well-blended. Add buttermilk and stir dough. Transfer to floured surface, roll it out into quarter-inch thickness. Cut into rounds.
Bake oatcakes until golden, for about 12 minutes, turning once midway through.
Preparation: Top each oatcake with goat cheese spread and leeks. 

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Christine!

You can find Christine at:
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Twitter @Shahrazad1001

1 comment:

  1. It's been 2 busy years for Author Christine Frost since she visited BWATE; she sent along this update for her readers:

    My short story "Moonfall" was published in the Shadows of a Fading World anthology in January 2014, which features stories about dying worlds in the fantasy genre. The novelette Captured Possessions was also published in January 2014, and is inspired by research done for Dark Lady of Doona. Lastly, my third novel, Whiskey and Rue, is due out by the end of 2014.