I am researching for a novel set in the ancient Rome, and I came across a few dishes I want to try. I started with the Roman Libum, a honey cheese cake described by Cato in his collection of simple recipes for farmers.*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used the Belgioioso brand)
1 egg, beaten
enough butter to grease a cookie sheet
½ cup honey
Mix together flour, ricotta, and egg.
Cover them with an aluminum tent. The Romans used a domed clay lid called testo to cover the cooking food. I didn’t have any terracotta pot oven-safe, and so I shaped a dome with the aluminum foil. I baked the cakes for 40 minutes at 425F.
Meanwhile, I melted the honey and then poured it over the cakes, and let them rest in the sweet bath for 30 minutes.
They smelled good and tasted better. First recipe done, so many more to try…
*I found this recipe in The History and Activities of the Roman Empire by Alexandra Fix
Marie’s Journey, the fourth book in The Ginecean Chronicles, and my first young adult title, is out.
The core of this novel was written during Nanowrimo 2012, and since then it has changed title several times. The original idea was to depict what happened between the last two chapters in The Priest, but the character of Marie, a young fathered woman, demanded a different story. So, while I was writing this book, titles changed to reflect the overall atmosphere of the novel. The City of Men became Journey to the City of Men, and finally I surrendered to the evidence that I was never going to center Marie’s story around the City of Men’s wars, and I decided that the best title would be Marie’s Journey.
It has been a while since last time I posted a recipe. This business of publishing books it sure is a time-eating endeavor. So much so that Christmas has arrived and we only put the tree up yesterday. Since the astral bodies had already aligned, we also baked tozzetti e ciambelline to celebrate the occasion. In the process of taking the tree box out of the garage, some cleaning of the aforementioned room also took place. Word written, zero, but the world—aka my house—is definitely a better place because of the ongoing Christmassification.
Also known as Biscottini di Natale around Civitavecchia, the tozzetti shown in the above pic are easy to make and have that wonderful Italian bakery smell I sometimes miss. The recipe is another gift from my mother in law and it was given to her by her mother, who received it from hers. To honor tradition, I will post it as it is, without my usual tinkering.
1/2 kg sugar
4 hg butter
4 hg chocolate chunks (I used dark chocolate, 62% cacao baking chips)
3 hg almonds
5 gr cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanillin sugar (which we forgot to add)
flour as needed (I know…)
Melt the butter. Mix all the ingredients together by hand. Never use an electric mixer. Add enough flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. My daughter says the resulting dough resembles putty. As for the majority of Regional Italian recipes, our grandmas knew what they were doing and had great hopes we would as well, so there was no need to state what they deemed basic culinary knowledge. Once you are satisfied with the dough consistency, take a handful at a time and make flattened logs with it.
Line the logs on a cookie tray covered with parchment paper. Bake them for 30/35 minutes at 350F, or until the edges of the logs look golden.
Let them cool until they harden. Finally, cut the tozzetti. They can be stored in a cookie jar or a Ziploc. Enjoy the Italian bakery aroma around the house!