16th Century Virtual Potluck & The Serpent and the Pearl

Posted by Heather on Sep 16, 2013 in FOODIE ADVICE, GUEST POSTS |

SerpentPearl_CV.inddToday, a handful of food-loving readers have gathered together to celebrate the latest release by Kate Quinn, THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL. One of the three protagonists was a chef! (Be still my beating heart.) A chef who gushed over the odors of foods and the rhythm of 16th century kitchens, specialty dishes, and the carefully guarded family recipes she recreated. In other words, MUSIC TO MY EARS. So we bloggers read the novel (I gobbled it up) and chose a dish we wanted to recreate, then we all linked to one another to share our dishes with you! Peruse the links below and offer your own cooking wisdom.

My Thoughts on the Book

Kate’s latest release is a fast-paced, riveting read that transports you to 16th century Italy and the intriguing time of the Borgias. I must admit, this era doesn’t draw me in naturally. I prefer my historical fiction to be set in a later era, in general, unless a book is stellar. I should have known better! Quinn’s other novels set in ancient Rome have all enthralled me, and I’m happy to say this book was no different. Her crackling wit, sensual detailing, and deft hand with political intrigue (in a very lively way laced with murder and mayhem),  kept me up turning pages for four straight nights, late into the night, until I devoured the whole novel. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Bring on the Food

Hop around! Check out the other recipes linked below, as well as those I made—Cream of Asparagus Soup with Beef Broth and a creamy puddling-like dessert, Zabaglione. And above all, don’t miss this wonderful book. I truly loved it.


Kate Quinn: Hot Sops with Cherries

Chelsea: Spit-roasted duck, milk snow, and peach crostata

Theresa: Fresh Cheese & onion Tourte

Lori: Capon with garlic,coriander, white wine, and baked apples

Christiane: Elderflower Frittelle and Sugared Biscotti

Deana: Shoulder of Boar


Cream of Asparagus Soup with Beef Broth


2 Tab butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2 C beef broth

1 lb asparagus

2/3 C fresh cream


  • Melt butter in pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion & celery and sauté until translucent. (7 min)
  • Clean and cut asparagus ends off and chop remainder.
  • Add beef broth to pan, bringing to a boil.
  • Add asparagus.
  • Cover & simmer 5 min.
  • Blend with a blender. (Immersion blenders make it too stringy and gooey so I would avoid those if you can.)
  • Add cream, whisk together, and serve.

********My kids didn’t love this recipe, but my husband and I did! Just be sure to puree it well into a veloute as the French would say (or velvety texture). And serve it with some crusty, delicious bread.



4 egg yolks

4 ts sugar

4 tab Marsala wine


  • Whisk all ingredients together over a double boiler until thick like pudding.
  • Take off and on heat while cooking so eggs don’t scramble.
  • Serve warm.

*Alternative Option

********My family didn’t love the regular version because of the strong taste of alcohol. (I did, but it didn’t sit well with a 4 & 6 yo or my husband.) So I made an alternate version with chocolate. You do the same exact thing as listed above EXCEPT, you melt some chocolate in heavy cream and fold it into the egg mixture. I spooned this into custard dishes, tossed in some raspberries and blueberries and refrigerated it. Everyone loved it! It came out like a decadent, homemade chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Zabaglione 

**Do everything above AND–

1/8 C whipping cream

1/4 C semisweet chocolate chips

  • Melt chocolate in the cream over med-low heat, stirring often until smooth.
  • Fold into egg mixture over the double boiler.
  • Divide into custard dishes. Throw in berries. Refrigerate for an hour. EAT!






Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines
Sep 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

I have a feeling that my family would have the same response to the zabaglione, especially our seven year-old. Actually, I take it back. She’s have the only issue. My husband would inhale the dish. I loved the book as well.

Kate Quinn
Sep 16, 2013 at 10:37 am

Chocolate zabaglione – fabulous! I think Carmelina would have been really bummed if she’d known she hadn’t been born in the era of chocolate. Thanks so much for joining us on this virtual potluck, Heather!

Sep 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

Kate, what Carmelina would do if she had met chocolate…

Island Vittles
Sep 16, 2013 at 11:08 am

I love the modern interpretation of your Zabaglione! Going to have to try that this weekend! Theresa

Judith Starkston
Sep 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

I’m in the middle of Kate’s book and I’m loving it. The food descriptions are especially well done and yummy in my imagination. Glad to see some of you have done the hard work of translating that imaginative feast into real recipes. I’m going to give them a try.

Sep 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I love the idea of the chocolate Zabaglione and I adore asparagus soup! Both recipes look great.

Chelsea M-C
Sep 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Great recipes! I had been eyeing that soup, and will have to give it a go now! :)

Sep 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm

What great fun. Like you, I love the booze in zabaglione but then I am really a grown up (and love it with strawberries or raspberries). The asparagus soup sounds delish with beef. I think it would off-set the asparagus beautifully. Scappi was a genius. Great to meet you virtually.

Sep 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Mmmm, I NEED that chocolate zabaglione – sounds just fantastic!

Sep 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Sara, I’m so excited to find you! I’ve never seen your website before, but OH all of those glorious recipes! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Kate Quinn
Sep 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Heather, I think Carmelina would go into a creative fever if she discovered chocolate – she probably wouldn’t sleep for a week, she’d be so busy making up recipes! There is a scene in “The Lion and the Rose,” coming up next, where she and Bartolomeo have a creative session with potatoes, however, which were just starting to make their way to Italy. (Historically Scappi never did much with potatoes. But I couldn’t resist the chance to imply that my Dynamic Duo invented the french fry!)

Beth F
Sep 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Oh I think I need to read this book. :)) Your recipes look wonderful and I can’t wait to check out the others that were inspired by this book. Cooking in the 16th century would certainly be a challenge; it can be difficult to regulate the temperature of a fireplace.

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll)
Sep 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

This is a bit early in my taste for historicals, too, but I might have to give it a shot. I do enjoy books set in Italy. And food books, of course.

Love your chocolate version of Zabaglione, especially with berries. MMMMM!

Sep 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

What fun to have a virtual potluck! I’m a sucker for foodie fiction. Thanks for spotlighting this book. The recipes sound yummy!

JoAnn @Lakeside Musing
Sep 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I love foodie fiction,too. Your virtual potluck is such a great idea.
Zabaglione… yum!

Diane (bookchickdi)
Sep 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm

What a fun way to celebrate a book’s publication! I saw this book at BEA, and the cover is so striking, It really catches the eye.

Sep 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Thanks for letting me know about the book. Fun post

Sep 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

What a creative idea! The recipes look wonderful – if a little above my “empty nest” cooking style. I may borrow your idea of the virtual pot luck to share with my sister. Thanks for sharing.

Kerry Ann
Sep 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

The cover of that book is gorgeous! I think I’d have to try the Zabaglione with the wine, of course…but chocolate is hard to pass up…perhaps both?



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