Adventures of a Bookish Foodie: Cooking for Paranormals is Bloody Hard Business

Several months ago, six authors decided to put together a stew (or is it a roux?) of new paranormal noir novelettes—the spirit of film noir with a paranormal twist. The name of the collection? Dark Secrets.

What does that have to do with food? Well, hey, even faeries have to eat. So here is a three-course meal from some of the authors, paranormal noir style. (Wait, you might say—is that two soup courses? Just roll with it, okay?)

The Appetizer: Faerie Gumbo, by Suzanne Johnson
In my paranormal noir novelette The Consort, the Faerie Winter Princess Tamara and faery-in-hiding Liandra are in New Orleans. The appetizer served in their French Quarter restaurant is gumbo.

Gumbo is all about the roux. Butter, flour, and water, browned to a dark burnt siena color. Cook it too short a time and it’s bland; cook it too long and it’s bitter. Faeries like their roux just right. Lazy people like the author like the slow-cooker version.

1/2 cup vegetable oil or butter
1/2 cup flour
1 c chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 pound andouille (or smoked sausage), sliced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 cups okra, sliced
½ tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
1/2 fryer, cut into pieces, or six chicken thighs, skinned and salted
5 cups chicken broth
1 15-oz can stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup shallots, chopped

Heat oil to high temperature in a large skillet; add flour and whisk until it turns dark brown (if using butter, note that this happens pretty quickly—don’t overcook). Add onion, celery, green pepper and andouille and cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic, okra, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne and black pepper and stir another five minutes. Place in a slow-cooker. Top with the chicken pieces, broth, and stewed tomatoes, and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Stir in green onions and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve alone or over steamed rice. Serves 6.

Main Course: Djinn Stew, by Mina Khan

My story in the DARK SECRETS Anthology is The Djinn in the Mirror, which is a paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother.
The heroine Dahlia, step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, works as a free housekeeper and cook for her step-father’s commune.  She is used to cooking meals that stretch, and stews are definitely part of her repertoire. Once the story is done with, Dahlia reclaims the house as her rightful inheritance and works with her heroic djinn Ashmael to turn it back into a working ranch and farm. Since she has a soft spot for Ash, it’s a given that she’d make a special stew for him reminiscent of his childhood. I’d imagine Moroccan flavors and spices would be pretty close to what he grew up eating.
Of course, Dahlia wouldn’t use frozen meatballs, but for myself and for most modern readers, I think convenience is a big plus. Additionally, my kids will eat anything with meatballs.
Personally I love this stew because the house smells amazing while it’s cooking and in the end you have a warm and comforting meal. As a food writer (my official day job), I try to come up with recipes which are healthy, interesting, and satisfying. I hope y’all enjoy the stew as much as my family does!

Mina’s Moroccan-Inspired Meatball Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods, cracked
5 cloves
6 black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup baby carrots
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups beef broth
Frozen meatballs (as many as you want)
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and minced (optional)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 15.5-ounce canned garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
1 cup whole green or black olives
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish
1/4 cup thinly sliced chives or green onions

Serve over Brown Rice or Couscous with fresh chopped Cilantro and Lemon wedges to squeeze.

1. Heat oil in a large pot or a dutch oven.
2. Add whole spices (cinnamon to peppercorns) and cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add chopped onions, potatoes and carrots and cook until onions are softened.
4. Add in ground spices (turmeric to cumin), cook using bits of broth to keep the spices from sticking (but don't too much liquid at a time because you want to cook the rawness out of the spices)
5. When the spices look cooked, add in remaining broth, meatballs, jalapeno, tomatoes and chickpeas or garbanzos and apricots. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. (Potatoes and carrots should be tender by the end of it)
6. Add in olives and spinach, stir, Add salt to taste. Take off heat and top with fresh cilantro and green onions. Stir before serving over rice or couscous.

Dessert: Megan Hart’s Sweet as Sin Chocolate Muffins
From her paranormal noir novella, Dance with the Devil….because the devil loves him some chocolate!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

Mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, 3/4 cup chocolate chips, cocoa powder and baking soda. Beat egg, yogurt, milk, and vegetable oil separately until smooth. Combine with chocolate mixture and stir until batter is just blended. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

And there you have it—a perfectly paranormal noir meal just in time for fall!

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Dark Secrets:

A Paranormal Noir Anthology
Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden,
Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan

Genre: Paranormal Noir,
Romance, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication:  September 29, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-942840-05-3

Number of pages: Approx. 350
Word Count: Approx. 150,000

Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design

Book Description:

Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.

MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine

Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he's been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won't let him turn it down. He owes her that much … since his partner's a ghost, and he's the one who killed her. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.

FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden

PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and…a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…


When the devil starts the music, you'd better get ready to dance.

Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success...everything she's ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil's bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil's started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.

THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson

Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her? An all-new novella set in the Sentinels of New Orleans multiverse.

HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella

A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.
Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix....With broken vows, anguish and dark secrets between them, Cavan and Nix struggle to find the magic to restore what’s gone terribly wrong... if it ever can be.

THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan, a Djinn World novella

A paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked, sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother....Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl?

About the Authors:

Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than 45 novels that span the categories of horror, suspense, urban fantasy, science fiction, media tie-in, historical, and young adult. She’s also the author of more than 100 short stories.

Twitter: @rachelcaine

Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Twitter: @cynthiaeden

Megan Hart is a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author who writes in many genres including mainstream fiction, erotic fiction, science fiction, romance, fantasy and horror.

Twitter: @megan_hart

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, winner of the 2015 Holt Medallion and the 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner for romantic suspense. Her new Wildlife Wardens romantic suspense series begins in 2016 with Wild Man’s Bluff.

Twitter: @suzanne_johnson

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, the fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms, and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under. The first of the Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Twitter: @jeffekennedy

Award-winning author Mina Khan grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. She is the author of the Djinn World Chronicles, including The Djinn’s Dilemma and A Tale of Two Djinns, as well as Wildfire, a paranormal mystery with cowboys and dragons.

Twitter: @SpiceBites


  1. Congratulations on the release of Dark Secrets! My copy is on order and I look forward to reading it. The Maltese Falcon is my favorite classic film noir movie. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Thanks Sandy and BookLady! I also like "The Maltese Falcon," although I gotta say it was "Key Largo" where Bogart won me over :-)

  3. Happy book release!!! Congratulations on writing such a great novella s " The Consort ";)
    a favourite noir hero or film... hum no i don't have any that i can think of


  4. Looking forward to reading all these!

  5. Maltese Falcon was the first noir film I ever watched and it is still my favorite. Thanks for the yummy recipes too! I'm halfway through Dark Secrets and I'm really enjoying it's!

  6. No favorite for me either but I need to check on Maltese Falcon! Love this post, the recipes are amazing :)

  7. I don't have a favorite one. Thanks for the delicious recipes!

  8. Not that I can think of. Thanks for the recipes!

  9. Maltese Falcon was not a movie I enjoyed. Maybe it was my age or I had different expectations of the movie. Wonder if I should try it again?
    Congrats on the release!!


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