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Since I write Scottish medieval romances with a splash of the paranormal, my characters would celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain, instead of Halloween. It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from this Celtic feast day.
The veil is thin between the realms at this time of year. In addition, the ancestors are honored and remembered. A special plate is set out for those spirits that still wander the earthly plane.
Samhain comes from two words meaning “summer’s end.” At the end of October, the dark half of the year swings open. The harvest has been gathered and everyone prepares for winter’s deep sleep.
In DRAGON KNIGHT’S SWORD, my hero, Duncan MacKay, has a fondest for Damson Tarts. I’ve included a recipe that has been tweaked from medieval times.
As an additional treat, I’m giving away an autographed copy of DRAGON KNIGHT’S SWORD and swag. Leave a comment telling me one of your favorite Halloween memories, or special treats. I’ll choose one random winner on Tuesday, November 1st.
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Excerpt from DRAGON KNIGHT'S SWORD:
His stomach growled as he sought out the kitchens, nodding to a passing guard. There was no need to change his tunic if he was not going into the Great Hall.
The smell of baking hit him as he rounded the long corridor to the kitchens. Closing his eyes, he inhaled the aroma. “Damson tarts.”
The plum and currant tarts were a favorite of his and he smiled inwardly knowing Moira had not only prepared them for the feast of Samhain, but for him, too. Samhain was fast approaching, but still over ten days out.
His stomach rumbled, and he quickened his pace.
Duncan’s heart slammed inside his chest at the vision before his eyes when he entered the kitchens. One of the tables was laden with many tarts, but it was the scene in the corner by the fire that undid him. He leaned against the wall for support and gazed on the sight.
Brigid was slumped in a chair, plum juice staining her hands and mouth. In her lap curled up against her was Nell—both sound asleep. A slight snore escaped from Brigid, causing Duncan to smile.
PLUM TART (DAMSON TART)
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Combine the flour, almonds, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.
Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.
Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer tart to flat plate.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
***Damson: A small fruit with vibrant, dark blue skin and a strong sour flavor. Damsons are similar to plums. They have a large stone (pit) and are often juicy, but tend not to be eaten raw due to the tartness of their flesh.