Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've Moved!

I just moved my blog to a custom domain... Come check it out and if you like it - why not follow me?

On the Road to Idhua

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feta Nut Balls: A Hynovian Recipe

I promised I'd post the recipe for the Nut and Feta balls I made for the Hynovian Launch Party - and here it is.  One of the guests who asked me for it wanted to know if it was an easy recipe and I immediately said, "Oh, sure, it's easy."  Then I got to thinking about it and realized that my idea of easy might not be someone else's.  However, this recipe is pretty easy - it has a longish list of ingredients and several steps but none of them are difficult.  The main thing you need is a blender.  It took me about an hour to make this - including 30 min of baking time, but I was slowed down by taking pictures.  I hope you all enjoy them.  Let me know how they turn out!

(See the end of the post for a PDF of the recipe without the pictures, if you want to print it out.)

Feta Nut Balls

Makes 12 balls (or more if you make them smaller for an appetizer.)  
Serves 6-8


1 c walnuts
1 c pine nuts
2 c fresh bread crumbs (grind in your blender in small batches)
1/2 c diced onion
1 c shredded raw cheddar (or jack or mild or sharp cheddar cheese would work too)
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (measure before chopping)
1/4 cup mint, chopped (measure before chopping)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c vegetable broth (I made mine with water and 1/2 a bullion cube)

Ingredients gathered together
 1. Make the bread crumbs (small batches in the blender) and place in a large bowl.  In the blender again, roughly chop 1/2 c of the walnuts.  Add to the bread crumbs and repeat with 1/2 c of the pine nuts.  (The pine nuts won't chop much, that's ok.) 

Nuts and bread crumbs
 2. Add to the nuts and bread crumbs: the spices and salt, the cheddar and feta cheeses, the green onions, parsley and mint and 1 Tablespoon of the diced onions.

Into the mixing bowl.
 3. Place the remaining nuts (1/2 each pine and walnuts), the remaining onions and the eggs in the blender and blend until smooth.

Blending the nuts, eggs and onion.
 4. Mix into the cheese and bread crumb mixture.

Combining everything in the mixing bowl.
 5. Preheat your broiler and oil a cookie sheet with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.  Also oil an 8x8 casserole dish with the other 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.

6. Scoop 1/4 c portions of your nut-cheese mixture and form into balls.  Place them on the cookie sheet.

Forming the nut balls
 7. Broil the balls for about five minutes or until the tops start to brown.  Keep a close eye on them, they can start to burn fast.  While they are in the oven, heat the broth (or dissolve the bullion cube in boiling water).

Broil my pretties!
 8. Using two spoons, gently turn the browned nut balls over and broil again to brown the other side.  This will be even quicker - two to three minutes.

Turning them over.
 9. Place the broiled nut balls into the prepared casserole dish and gently pour the broth into the pan.

Pouring broth.
 10. Bake the nut balls for 30 minutes at 350 F.  They can be served hot or room temperature, and they are excellent the next day, reheated.  To reheat add a little liquid to the pan (more broth, or water is fine) cover and bake until hot... or use the microwave for a quick fix!  At the party, I served them with Greek Yogurt as a topper.  You can spice it up with some garlic like I did in the picture below.

Time to eat!
PDF file in Google Docs of the Recipe :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hynovian Launch Party

The Hynovia Launch party was the perfect end of summer evening.  I’d had some trouble coming up with decorations, until I found some lovely Indian bedspreads in golds and reds and browns.  After that it was pretty easy to hang lanterns, pin up my sister’s sari fabric and transform our living room into a cozy salon full of warm late summery/early autumnal colors.  Our usual star lanterns fit right in.  One of my guests even loaned me a lovely Turkish coffee set for decoration:

We didn’t use it – well, except for our littlest guest, Ellie, who discovered that the goblets were fun to teethe on.

The menu came out wonderful – lots of bright flavors – as well as very pretty.  The Nut and Feta balls were a big hit and I have not forgotten that folks wanted the recipe.  I plan to make them again next week and post the recipe and photos up here.

In addition to the feast, we read the Hynovian short story "Azura of Carantia" and my sister did henna tattoos on those who wanted them.

Here are some more photos of the guests, the food and the decorations:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hynovian Recipe: Almond and Walnut Baklava with Rose Water Syrup

The Hynovian Launch Party is tomorrow – I will be posting about it in a couple weeks.  I have been cooking for the last few days and thought I would share a "Hynovian" recipe that will be served at the party.  This recipe is adapted from the Baklava recipe from Turkish Cooking, by Tess Mallos (Periplus, 2005).  If you've never used filo dough, its not as intimidating as it might seem. Remember to let it defrost all the way, and use it quickly once you unwrap it as it dries out. 

Almond and Walnut Baklava with Rose Water Syrup

Makes 35 small squares

Oven to 325° - Baking time 1 hour


Assembled Ingredients
1 package (18 sheets) filo dough, defrosted. (I used The Fillo Factory’s organic whole wheat filo dough.)
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups finally chopped almonds
1 cup finally chopped walnuts
½ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ cups water
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup honey
1 strip of lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
½ tsp rose water

Preheat the oven to 325°.  Brush a little butter on the sides and bottom of a 9” x 13” baking pan.

Mix the chopped nuts, cinnamon and sugar for the filling and set near your pan.

Mixing the nuts, sugar and cinnamon.
Open out your defrosted filo dough and fold over the top sheet.  Lift into the pan and brush with butter.  Repeat with five more sheets.

Sprinkle with ⅓ of the nut and sugar mixture and cover with a folded sheet of filo.  Brush with butter and layer with two more sheets, brushing the butter between the sheets.

Filling the Baklava
Repeat with another ⅓ of the filling and three more sheets.  Cover with the last ⅓ of the nuts and finish the pastry with the remaining six sheets of filo, brushing with butter between each folded sheet.

With a sharp knife cut the uncooked baklava into 35 squares – five cuts across the length of the pan and seven across the width.  Sprinkle with a little water to keep the edges from curling up while baking.

Ready to bake
Bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes.  Then rotate your pan and move up to a higher shelf for another 30 minutes.

While the baklava is baking make the syrup.  Heat the sugar and water in a small pan until boiling, stirring occasionally.  Add the honey, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the rose water.  Strain into a measuring cup or small pitcher and allow to cool.

Adding the rose water
Pour the cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava.  

Pouring the syrup
Let stand for several hours at least before re-cutting and serving.  I garnished mine with miniature rose petals from my patio garden. Enjoy!

Ready to Party!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I'm having one of those weeks where you just have to keep lurching forward carrying one bag too many in hopes that the bus will be two minutes late, rather than two minutes early (so that you can still make it to your next appointment), but all you really want to do is lie on a beach somewhere, or maybe have a movie marathon, or something, anything, instead of everything on your to-do list.

After next week I have a week vacation from writing - not from work sadly - but still.  At the moment I can't tell if I am having writing fatigue or just deadline fatigue (though I suspect the latter.) 

So really, this is a very boring post, but also a very real one.  Some weeks you're just slogging.  This is one of those weeks. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: The Gray Wolf Throne

The Gray Wolf Throne
Seven Realms: Book 3

Cinda Williams Chima
Hyperion, 2011

I enjoyed this installment of the Seven Realms series very much.  The pace was fast and exciting and the nuances of the characters continued to develop in interesting ways.  I particularly like the way that Chima is exploring the issue of Princess Raisa being pulled in all sorts of directions by both her friends and her enemies.  Chima has done a good job of showing how sometimes friends with agendas can be as challenging as enemies.

Raisa really grows into her own in this book, making decisions against the council of people around her – but not rashly.  She considers different opinions, makes her choice and stands for it, while trying to be diplomatic.  There are also some extremely satisfying moments, such as when she tells on particular suitor exactly what he can do with his arrogant and distasteful proposal.

The next volume The Crimson Crown is due out this October and I am excited to see where the story will go next.  I am hoping to get more of a sense of the wizards and their council as they are the group whom I understand the least and, perhaps, mistrust the most because of the Bayar family’s ambitions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Launch Party Preview: Mezze

Well, I may still be trying to edit the story for the Hynovian Launch Party in September, but the menu was easy!  The setting is sort of fantasy Byzantine/Mediterranean so I have made a mezze menu drawn on Greek, Turkish and Lebanese recipes.  Here is your preview... (Subject to change – depending on ingredients and time, etc.)  I  also might have henna tattoos - so make sure your costumes has short sleeves or isn't some priceless heirloom if you are interested in one.


Grilled Marinated Mushrooms with Tahini Sauce
Feta, Pine Nut and Walnut Balls
Kababs with Spiced Seitan, Summer Squash and Onions 
Herbed Lentil Salad 
Pita Bread
Feta-Lemon Spread
Artichoke and Marinated Mozzarella Salad
Cauliflower Salad
Braised Green Beans 
Chilled Melon
Dried Poached Apricots stuffed with Cream Cheese
Almond and Rose Baklava

And to drink:
Iced Mint Tea
Iced Spiced Grape Juice
Iced Lemonade with Mint and Rose Water

Of course if it’s freezing and pouring rain I may change some of those cold drinks and dishes to hot, but I’m hoping for a warm evening.