Thursday, May 19, 2016

Anne Boleyn Was Executed On This Day in 1536

Today I'm thinking of Queen Anne Boleyn, whose life was cut short by an awful miscarriage of justice on this day in 1536 when she was executed at the Tower of London. She had been condemned to death for high treason after having been found guilty of adultery, incest and conspiring to kill her husband, King Henry VIII.
Her little girl Princess Elizabeth was left motherless.
The most memorable and convincing portrayal of Anne I've ever seen was in the movie "Anne of the Thousand Days" -- Genevieve Bujold gave a stunning performance. I first saw it in the movies when I was 12, and saw it many times since then. I'm not so sure Richard Burton was the most convincing Henry VIII--I was too hung up on him in the play "Camelot" as King Arthur.
If you're an Anne buff, you'll enjoy The Anne Boleyn Files a website with everything you want to know about Anne, forums, lists of Anne books, Anne merchandise...and more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Here's My #RomanticIdea For Upcoming Blog Exchange and a Ravioli Recipe

I do blog exchanges with a group of author friends, (we do the #EggcerptExchange) and Tina Gayle, the coordinator, is having us write a "Romantic Idea" along with our blog posts. Here's mine:

 Cook an authentic Italian meal: cheese ravioli with homemade marinara sauce, garlic bread, a salad with Italian olive oil, a fine Italian red wine, and a sweet gelato for dessert. Then put on some Sinatra and dance the night away!

I grew up with Sinatra playing on our phonograph and one of my fav albums was Come Dance With Me. Nearly everyone from Hoboken or anywhere near Hoboken has a Sinatra story, here's mine (from Jersey City)--my great grandmother, known as Josie Red, and Frank's mother Dolly were very good friends. Would I have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear their gossip & chat!

Here's a great ravioli (we call them ravvi's for short) and sauce recipe:


2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for the baking sheet

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 large sprigs fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped


For the ravioli: Put the flour in a mound on a clean work surface and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Use your fingers to make a well in the middle of the mound. Crack 2 of the eggs into the well. Add 2 of the egg yolks to the well, followed by the  heavy cream. Use your fingers to break up the eggs and yolks and combine with the cream. Work the flour into the egg mixture by gradually incorporating the flour from the inside of the well. When the flour is completely incorporated, knead the dough vigorously for 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky to knead, dust with 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until you are able to knead it. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, wrap in plastic and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, remaining egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl until combined. Cover and refrigerate.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, sugar and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered, for 30 minutes. Discard the oregano and season with salt and pepper if needed. Cover and reserve.

To make the ravioli: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside. Roll one of the pieces of dough into a 6-by-18-inch rectangle on a lightly-floured work surface (the dough should be very thin). Cut the sheet of dough in half lengthwise to create two 3-by-18-inch sheets.

Brush the entire surface of one of the pasta sheets with the egg wash. Working down the center, spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the ricotta filling into 8 evenly spaced mounds. Gently lay the second pasta sheet over the first, matching up the sides. Gently press between the mounds of cheese to define 8 separate ravioli. Carefully push out air bubbles around the mounds and seal the seams. Trim any jagged edges and discard the scraps. Cut the pasta between each mound, separating the ravioli. Transfer the ravioli to the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining pasta and filling. You should have about 32 ravioli.

Working in 2 to 3 batches so the ravioli don't stick to one another, cook the ravioli in the boiling water until they float to the surface and the dough is cooked through and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the marinara sauce and serve topped with the Parmesan and basil.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

An American Unsolved Mystery--Lizzle Borden

We know the children's rhyme--Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother forty-one. Well, it wasn't that many whacks, and we'll never know if it was Lizzie who killed Andrew and Abby Borden in 1883 in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. But because of crummy weather, I finally got to tour the house--I've been wanting to go there for years! We planned to golf last... Sunday, April 24, but the weather on Cape Cod wasn't cooperating. Fall River is about 45 minutes from the Cape, so I thought I'd take a chance and see if the Lizzie house was open for tours. I doubted it, being a Sunday. But lo & behold, it's open 7 days a week, with tours every hour. We hi-tailed it to Fall River in the rain and found the house after the GPS told us to go down a few one-way streets we couldn't navigate. The house is now a B&B, and there's a more-than-one-year waiting list to stay in the room where Lizzie's stepmother was found dead next to the bed, badly butchered. Her father Andrew's body was found on the couch in the sitting room. Lizzie went to trial and the all-male jury acquitted her in less than an hour. To this day it remains unsolved, as she had no alibi, she hated her stepmother, and--this isn't proven, but it's a theory--her father had sexually abused her and her sister. Lizzie and her sister Emma split the huge inheritance. No alibi, but a motive, maybe? 

Lizzie has a Facebook page, and she's the subject of numerous books and movies. Elizabeth Montgomery starred as Lizzie in a movie 
The Legend of Lizzie Borden and a gown Elizabeth wore in the movie is on display in the house.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I switched over to MSNBC last night just in time to see former Secret Service agent Clint Hill talk about his new book Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. Those of you who have seen the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination, that was Hill who pushed Jackie Kennedy back into the limo when she tried to climb out, and he sprawled across the trunk as the driver sped to Parkland Hospital. (that's the frame below)
I've read one of his other books; he's led an extraordinary life. These guys have an extremely dangerous job.
I can't wait to read it.

View the book on Amazon