Recipes & Excerpts by Laura Tolomei
Yes, unexpected as it sounded, he loved life with Sean and not just for the sex. His heart warming rituals with wine and cooking, the easy relaxed atmosphere of their weekends, the sunny disposition no matter what, never asking for anything except to be with him, the fun and laughs they shared alone were all part of a magic the blond beauty wielded so effortlessly.
(Excerpt from Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 ReScue series)
I do so love eating and drinking, and so do my characters, especially before or after sex. Of course, being my characters, they have my tastes, particularly in what they love to drink. So here’s a gastronomical tour inside my books–starting with cocktails, I’m posting recipes and related excerpts, in an ideal menu of sensual pleasures. Enjoy!!!
My favorite drink of all, extremely alcoholic, bitter and sour tasting that is best to drink with a full stomach, if you want to keep walking straight afterwards
The name is very Italian, but then the liquors used are very Italian as well. Here's the recipe and excerpt from Re-Scue, Book 1 of the ReScue series.
2 tablespoons gin
2 tablespoons Campari
2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
1 orange twist
Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass; stir gently and garnish with an orange twist. More-formal types prefer it straight up in a Martini glass. My wife likes it topped with Prosecco for something a bit more celebratory
Re-Scue – PG EXCERPT
“This place serves the best vodka lemon of all Atlanta,” Sean assured confidently. But even if it had not, he needed a stiff drink to recover from the emotional turmoil or whatever train had hit him. “High on the vodka please,” he added to the new waiter who had come to take their order.
The young man scribbled something incomprehensible on a dirty pad, then looked at Leon. “And you, sir?”
“Negroni for me.”
After a second equally undecipherable chicken scratch, the waiter moved off, and before Leon trapped him into another risky confrontation, Sean excused himself, hurrying in the direction of the men’s room to ease tension. Damn! To be actually sitting at a secluded table with the most attractive man in the world seemed a dream come true—or a nightmare in disguise if it did not turn out the way his straining erection demanded. Not that he had any choice in the matter. The longer he stuck around Sterling, the deeper he fell into the man’s spell, increasingly harder to ignore or resist to the point he had to leave before he made a stupid pass at his boss and ruined his chances for a decent job forever.
Frustrated, he shook his head to clear it. This reaction was not like him at all, not with gorgeous men obviously expecting something very specific from him. Sex, because that was what most people wanted from him, came easy to Sean, always had since he discovered his orientations. Leon, though, seemed interested in something more, and whatever it was, Sean could not picture him as taking no for an answer. In the end, it would work just as fine. Sean wanted nothing better than to let him do whatever he pleased with his body—a marginal allowance considering he was already fucking with his mind, he and the damnable nagging sensation of knowing him from somewhere else. And everything be damned! Rationalizations included!
Mind made up, he looked at the mirror above the sink one last time, making sure his eyes held no trace of uncertainty, somehow knowing he could not afford to be weak with Leon. Then after washing his hands, he returned to the booth with the drinks already on the table.
“I appreciated your honest answers.” Glass in hand, Leon leaned across the table once Sean sat in front of him. “So I’d like to level with you.”
I love this cocktail. It’s great when you’re very very thirsty. It’ works ‘cause it’s sour. This, too, is another of the drinks I use in my books. Here’s the recipe and two excerpts, one from Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 of the ReScue series, the second from To Seduce A Soulmate, Book 1 of my Soulmate series.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water, plus 8 cups
4 lemons, juiced
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook the sugar until dissolved but the syrup is still clear. Do not cook the sugar until it starts to turn color. Remove from heat and cool.
In a pitcher, combine the syrup, 8 cups water, the lemon juice, vodka and ice and stir to combine. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy!
Tasting Leon’s Mark – PG EXCERPT
Holding a vodka lemon, Sean shrugged. “Don’t know, Jemmy. It’s the third night in a row he goes out.”
“And hasn’t bothered to telling you, right?”
With Jeremy, his friend and confident ever since high school, he had perceived from the start they shared too much not to become close. They had also been lovers for a brief period, but it had not worked out, at least for Sean. To cure his broken heart, Jeremy had moved away from Atlanta, their hometown, to San Francisco without severing the link, rather managing to keep in touch with his ex-lover until Sean returned with full force into his life, now a well-known cover artist living in the heart of Castro. Yet, despite the time and space that had driven them apart, Sean sometimes had the feeling his friend had never outgrown his teenage crush.
“Damn you, Sean. You’re just as gorgeous as you were in high school,” had been Jeremy’s comment after seeing him again, “if not more. Hell, time only made you more handsome.” Another careful look over, before adding, “Exciting and…unavailable,” had been his conclusion on learning of Leon.
Now sitting in the half-lit pub, Jeremy shook his head. “I hate to tell you, but I told you so.”
Though the dim lights made it hard to see, Sean stared at his friend’s eyes, hidden behind John Lennon type glasses on a long, lean face. Time had not fared as well with his ex-lover. Always on the thin side, now he looked skinnier than ever and somehow even taller. Sean shrugged. “He’s a hunter. He needs the chase.”
“I told you, Shauny. You can’t trust married men. It was inevitable he’d look for a woman sooner or later because that’s what he really likes.”
“He likes me.”
“Not enough apparently, if he still needs women.”
No woman, or man for that matter, will ever give him what I can. That sounded like a pitiful female’s desperate cry, even if Sean knew it was true. Naturally, he could not say it…not even to Jeremy. Speaking of Leon, he had left out the bloody sex part that tied them through several lifetimes, too disturbing and incredible to comprehend. Sometimes even Sean had the impression it was just a figment of his imagination until Leon’s strong hands running on his body made it all come alive again. “It’s probably just a phase,” he excused his hunter at last. “Once it’s over, he’ll return to me.”
Jeremy looked skeptical. “Has he ever told you he loved you?”
To Seduce A Soulmate – PG EXCERPT
Vodka lemon in hand, the devil’s favorite drink as Drake learned, they sat on the high stools, the space so tight their legs could not help touching and this probably contributed to the illusion he was alone with the devil, in a place all their own despite the confusion. Another dimension? Then he recalled the same sensation he had perceived at the office just the day before. And the ease with which Martin drew him into his enchanted magic was surprising in itself.
Taking a generous sip of his whisky, the pirate glanced at Martin’s stunning profile and shiny blond hair that lit up the place. He would have liked to run his hand through the thick strands, to feel the texture, but of course, it did not seem appropriate. So he repressed the urge, forcing his mind to focus on more practical subjects. “Why didn’t you tell me you were splitting up?” He fired the question point blank.
Martin’s look showed no surprise as if he expected the inquiry. “Would it have changed something between us?” His Irish tone challenged.
“Of course not, but—“
“Then what would’ve been the point?” He sipped his drink. “I don’t see how it could interest you anyhow.”
“Jenny told me some of the things you told Aline and—“
“They were the exact same ones I told you in that hamburger joint. Nothing less.”
“I didn’t think you’d act on those…” Drake paused to search for a kind word, in spite of his skepticism, “notions.”
Martin flashed angry green eyes at the pirate. “I happen to believe in those…notions.” Turning abruptly to his drink, he gripped the glass. “Besides, I thought we agreed we wouldn’t talk about it anymore.”
“That was your decision. I still don’t understand half of it.”
“Because you don’t want to and talking about it won’t help, just like it didn’t the last time. So I ask you again. What’s the point?”
All right, I admit it, I don’t have any recipe for this. I just made it up, but hen what else can The Demon Waiter serve?
The Demon Waiter – PG EXCERPT
Magically, two glasses full of a red, blue and green liquid appeared on the table, both steaming and hissing with hot vapors.
“Drinks on the house?” Laurent lightened up amused.
“More of a peace offering.” Stretching over the table, Viridial took a sip from his, then opened his mouth to speak.
“My story starts a long time ago when human civilization was just at the beginning.” Viridial’s deep voice managed to cover also the annoying music. “Back when you were building pyramids for tombs—”
“You’re that old?”
Melanzane alla parmigiana
I love this Sicilian recipe–Eggplants with Parmesan Cheese. On my trip in Sicily, I ate it practically every day and would’ve kept eating it had I not had to return back home, in Rome. Anyway, I love it so that I had Sean cook it for Leon, as a way to make up after a very big fight they had and after Sean walked out on Leon, leaving him alone for five days. So here’s the recipe and Tasting Leon’s Mark, Book 2 of the ReScue series.
2 large aubergines
1 tin of tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
plenty of fresh basil
150g mozarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Slice the aubergine (I sliced mine lengthways to make for fewer pieces to fry!). Salt on both sides and leave the slices to stand upright in a colander so that any bitter juices can drain away.
Prepare the tomato sauce – fry onion and garlic until soft but not browned. Add the tin of tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar (and a pinch of dried oregano if desired) and heat the sauce through.
Blot the slices of aubergine with kitchen towel. Mix some plain flour with salt and pepper on a plate and dredge each slice in the seasoned flour (both sides) before frying in the olive oil. (The flour stops the slices from sticking to the pan – makes your life a *lot* easier!) Although some recipies suggest deep-frying, I shallow-fried mine and it worked just fine. Each batch of slices takes about 4 minutes, turning once. Drain the slices well on paper towels and keep warm.
Butter a baking dish (mine was about 30x18cm), sprinkle the bottom with toasted breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Layer the aubergine slices, follwed by the tomato sauce, some fresh basil leaves, mozarella slices and grated parmesan. Repeat these layers to use up all ingredients, finishing with sauce topped with only parmesan.
Cover the dish loosely with alumin
Tasting Leon’s Mark – PG EXCERPT
Sean bent slightly to check the tower-high oven. “It’s an old recipe of my grandmother, Melanzane alla Parmigiana.” He pronounced it with a slight accent. “It’s a wonderful dish she used to cook when she had time to spare.” He opened the oven to take out a baking pan, then evidently satisfied with what he saw, put it back inside. “I had to run all over town to find the right ingredients.” His gaze returned to Leon. “Only some specialized food stores carry fresh, genuine Italian products, like mozzarella cheese and parmesan, which are fundamental for this plate.”
The hunter sipped his wine. “So your grandmother didn’t only teach you the language.”
“No, she taught me the basics of Italian culture, though I remember little. But we used to spend long afternoons together since my mother had to work the entire day to support the family.”
“That’s after your father left you?”
Sean nodded. “She came from Italy to help my mom out. At first, all she could speak was Italian, then she learned a little English, but never really knew it that well.”
Leon turned the glass in his hand. “You know, you should’ve told me sooner about the languages. Where we are, it’s an invaluable skill.”
Sean shrugged, leaning on the peninsula across from Leon. “I didn’t want to brag about it, lover.”
“That wouldn’t qualify as bragging. Hell, there are some people who can’t wait to tell me about their latest bullshit just to show off while you hide an important thing like that?”
The blue eyes flashed in protest. “I wasn’t hiding it. I was waiting for the right time to tell you, only it never came.”
“And I suppose you didn’t even tell John.”
The blond beauty shook his head. “I didn’t see the point of telling him.”
“He made you the artistic consultant of anything that goes out of FDC. I mean, you can practically go over my head, but didn’t think he ought to know?”
“Lover, you and I know exactly why he gave me the title and it has nothing to do with my skills, not the intellectual ones anyway.”
Leon grinned. “You’re becoming an obsession for him. I think he’ll want you to be at the big meeting he’s planning.”
“Me? Why the hell would he want me? I’m certainly not a manager.”
“As you said, he doesn’t give a damn about your skills. He probably wants to see you again and that’s as good a way as any other.”
Sean sipped his wine slowly. “It would be embarrassing, everybody wondering why I’m there. I mean, what could I tell them? That John wanted to admire me in person?”
“I told him it wouldn’t be a good idea, but you know how he is. If he’s made up his mind, nothing’s going to stop him.”
“I trust you’ll be able to handle him.”
The hunter smiled ruefully. “Not when it comes to you, I’m afraid. For everything else, he takes my advice, but if it concerns you…” He shrugged. “He only listens to his dick.”
Sean grinned. “Spoken like a true man.”
“Don’t get me wrong, sweetie, but I wasn’t happy with his decision to make you artistic consultant. This position jeopardizes your relationship in the team because it places you a step above everyone else. That scene with Michael—”
“He’s a jerk and you know it! But in a way, I’m glad we had it because it made me think long and hard about so many things.”
“Is that why you asked me publicly for a date?”
This is my real passion–whether white, red or rosé, still or sparkling, prosecco, spumante or champagne, I think there isn’t a type of wine i don’t love. True, i prefer the dry kinds over the sweet ones, but if there’s nothing else, i’ll take the sweet kinds, too. Sean Davis is exactly like me–he can’t live without wine. And he educates his lover’s taste to it, because he can’t possibly think of being with someone who doesn’t appreciate it as much as he does.
Re-Scue – PG EXCERPT
“Mr. Sterling, do you think beautiful people always stick together?” Spencer rolled his glass of red wine, chosen by Sean, the only wine expert Leon had ever known. “Sean might get tired of the competition.”
“It’s hard to be competitors when you have different tastes.” Shamelessly, the hunter spared no facts, even the most intimate ones, to keep John hooked on their personal antagonism.
“Come on!” Spencer’s eyes widened. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t go after someone like Sean, even if you’ve never considered fucking men.”
“Just as much as you would,” Leon retorted.
“Touché.” An ironic snarl curved the old man’s lips in a sort of admiring grin. “But for the record, you wouldn’t be the only one in SDM interested in him.” After taking a sip of the ruby liquid, he leveled his gaze with Leon. “Besides your president, who I know for a fact has tried more than once to convince our blond friend to have sex with him, also—”
“Please, do we really have to talk about my personal, and I repeat personal, sex life?” Blushing violently, Sean gulped down a generous amount of wine probably to calm the tension Leon perceived tightening his muscles. And his imperceptible edging nearer seemed a silent request for a protection that made the hunter’s heart go out to him.
Tasting Leon’s Mark – PG EXCERPT
“Care for some white wine, lover? I just opened the bottle.”
“And you were planning to drink in two glasses?” Leon grinned, noticing the two elegant flutes next to the bottle.
Sean poured the chilled wine in both glasses. “I knew you were about to return, even if you’d find the time to get your hands on…” He leaned against Leon to smell him deeply before handing him the full glass. “Brenda.”
“Actually, it wasn’t my doing. She offered to replace you tonight at John’s dinner.”
“Oh, I’d forgotten all about it.” Sean’s sigh of relief was louder than he intended. “I’m sure John was just as thrilled at the switch.”
“He sure was.” Leon grinned sarcasticly. “He hardly spoke two words to her, wanting only to know why you weren’t there.”
Sean shook his head. “Wasn’t he planning to discuss about FDC’s expansion?” And even if he knew the answer, he could not help asking anyway. “What difference would my presence have made?”
“None whatsoever.” Leon paused to take a generous sip. “But you know how much he’s hooked on you.”
Sean shrugged. “Only because I fit his type of idealized beauty. Like you, only certain kinds of people appeal to him.”
Leon’s green eyes blazed in surprise. “I don’t have standards for people.”
“Sure you do, lover.”
“And what would they be?”
Contrary to popular belief, pizza does not have an Italian origin. It was first made in Greece, and only in modern age did the Italians claim it as their own. Thus said, there is one of my characters who looooves pizza, to the point he’d eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s how much Martin adores pizza, and the people who love hi knowi t all too well. So here is the recipe for Pizza alla Margherita, which is the most popular in Italy, and two excerpts from the Soulmate series–To Seduce A Soul Mate Book 1 and The Pirate’s Surrender Book 2.
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup passata
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 12 equal pieces
8 leaves fresh basil
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add salt and 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a clean pizza stone in oven to preheat.
Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. With your fingers and palms, flatten one of the dough rounds into a 10-inch oval about 1/4-inch thick. Spread 1/4 cup of the passata evenly on entire surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch of dough to form edge of pizza. Take one piece of mozzarella, slice into 4 uniform slices and put on top of passata. Rip 2 leaves of basil into smaller pieces and sprinkle on top of mozzarella. Slide pizza directly onto pizza stone and bake 15 to 18 minutes, until edge of pizza is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Repeat with remaining 3 dough balls and serve hot.
To Seduce A Soul Mate – PG EXCERPT
They walked in silence, both following their own thoughts. Inside, the waiter brought them to a far-off booth, half hidden from sight and left them with the menus. Aline glanced at it briefly before telling Drake she would have a small pizza. “Just extra cheese, nothing else.” Leaving it to him to order for both of them, she leaned back on the seat.
After the waiter left with their order, her gaze traveled to the nearby tables. “Martin loves pizza. He could eat it three times a day without getting tired of it.” She took a sip of water. “I’ve always wondered where he put it since he never seemed to gain any weight.”
“Some people have all the luck.” Suppressing a grin, Drake pictured the devil’s lean, naked body.
“And he certainly does. I knew it was too good to be true, but I believed him when he told me he wanted to change.”
“What do you mean?”
The Pirate’s Surrender – PG EXCERPT
“How about I heat up a pizza?”
“You’ve got pizza?”
“Just the frozen kind, if it doesn’t bother you.” A recent purchase, it was all in Martin’s favor. Before the devil, he never thought of keeping them in his freezer.
“Bother me?” Martin practically jumped up. “I love them!”
Laughing, Drake got up, too, and went to the kitchen, located next to his bedroom. The house was all on one floor—large living room and kitchen, two medium-sized bedrooms, a huge bathroom and a small yard in the back. More than enough for two people and Drake could hardly wait for the day Martin would become its second tenant.
“Returning to my ass-fucking boss, you’re absolutely right. I have an agenda of my own, though I’m biding my time until he falls apart, ‘cause he can’t handle it for sure.” Plopping down on a chair, Martin watched Drake busy heating up the oven. “The pressure’s getting to him, I can feel it. Already he’s not making as many contracts as when he first started.”
“Isn’t that inevitable?” Going to the freezer, Drake pulled two pizzas out. “I mean he probably went through all the major Atlanta companies wanting to make a video clip of some sort. Now he’s got less uncharted territory in which to move.” After placing the pizzas inside the oven, he grabbed two beers out of the fridge, setting one in front of the devil. “I think you guys should broaden your field. There must be plenty of clients outside the greater-Atlanta area, like in Athens or Helen—”
“You really think Channel Eight’s future is out there?”
Dinner in Sendar
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but everyone in the Virtus Saga is vegetarian. No one eats meat, only vegetables, cheeses, legumes, eggs and breads. So I can’t possibly post the many recipes, but here’s a romantic excerpt, a testimony of the growing feelings between Chris and Ylianor, taken from the 4th Book of the saga.
The Leader – PG ROMANTIC EXCERPT
“That’s what Arthur did with us last year,” Chris cut in, gesturing at Duncan, then at Ylianor. But something about her caught his eyes because he pulled to him the cheese platter and fixed her. “Would you like some to finish up?”
Actually, Lady Caldwell’s plate was still half-full, contrary to those of others, already half, if not entirely, empty. And no, she had not gone for seconds either.
“Up to your usual tricks, Princess?” The leader’s gaze strayed to her plate, too, and there was a note of concern in his voice.
“I’ll take care of her,” Chris offered immediately, with the knife poised over the cheese platter.
“Yes, please.” Ylianor sent him a radiant smile—and by the gods, it was Charles smiling at him. “I’d like a piece of—”
“I know exactly what you want, sleeping beauty.” After carefully selecting one, Chris sliced a piece and handed it to her at knife’s point.
She did not just take it. Oddly, she also ran a finger on the blade, only for a quick second, before swinging her gaze back to Chris. “Thank you, Demon.”
The look he sent her confirmed in James’s heart this was no convenience pledge, no last-minute scramble to comply with tradition. No, there was something deeper between the two of them, not anything like what his son shared with the leader—that was a one of a kind, which made Chris’s heart stand still. Yet there was a strong connection in development with the woman his son had chosen, and James was only glad he was so lucky to have found not one, but two people who would surely stand by him.
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