Author Archives: Dolores Davis

Chapter 1

Cover of Black Angel

Magdalena D’Alessandro arrived early to remove the card from the extravagant wreath that lay on Angelina’s casket. She read the sentiment then placed it in her purse knowing it would anger her father that ‘The Organization’ sent flowers to her younger sister’s funeral. His fragile health needed no additional shock. After taking a front row seat, Magdalena could only guess about the arrangements for the Catholic services.

Her father had not included her in the planning of her sister’s funeral. In this small California cemetery in Westwood, arrangements had been made to partitioned off an area along a wall of crypts then set with rows of chairs to create a temporary chapel. Magdalena sat looking up at the huge photograph of her sister that loomed before her casket. A small bronze plaque marked her short life, Angelina D’Alessandro 1965 – 1983.  Not much of a student, but an exceptional equestrian, she looked like royalty on her $20,000 mount, Immigrant Song. Magdalena looked away from the imposing photo with a saddened face. When she turned to look up at the wall of crypts, she gathered Papa wanted Angie to be laid to rest in grandeur because near the ceiling, a bronze door hung open exposing a void. Sitting on the uncomfortable folding chair, she gazed forward, not wanting to observe the gloom around her. Magdalena slipped off her glasses and looked at her father with compassion.

Dominic D’Alessandro had insisted Angie be interred in this hidden and prestigious cemetery where many of Hollywood’s elite were buried. When the chapel filled, a priest entered in a white robe to deliver High Mass. He cleared his throat for silence among the assembly. A long, droning sermon followed, as her father’s body trembled and his face ran with tears. Magdalena worried throughout the service that her father might sink into another stroke. After his first episode, she was told to keep him quiet and away from emotional matters. His doctor didn’t know they rarely spoke anymore.

When the mass ended, everyone seemed to be holding their breath as people awaited the final grimness. The men and women all looked up. How often was someone one encrypted, and was that even the term? A mechanical groan came from the large hoist that held Angie’s coffin as it rose to the dark opening above. The device stopped with a jerk like an ill-controlled robot. A wrenching screech from the casket being pushed into the abyss unsettled the crowd. When the bronze door shut, the harsh sound sent the final message that vivacious, talented and high-spirited Angie was entombed.

Crying and sobbing sounds were heard from both men and women. Magdalena couldn’t remember when she last cried, having learned long ago to curb that emotion, but she continued to have trouble with bile rising up her digestive track. Swallowing hard, and for diversion, she turned to see who had attended. She had no idea who had been notified of her sister’s death, as her father had not included her in the funeral arrangements. He had grown increasingly hostile toward her after overhearing her conversation with Jimmy Sciacca. She had explained to Sciacca that she would be taking over her father’s legal practice.

After that, her father’s disdain seemed to close a chapter on their lives. I pray to God Papa’s scorn for me will one day end.

She turned to see their household help seated in the row behind. Gino, the groundskeeper, held his sister’s hand. Maria, the cook cried uncontrollably as she had been closest to Angie. From the time Angie was seven-years-old, she and Maria had spent hours in the kitchen together, baking biscotti and Angie’s favorite chocolate chip cookies. Looking back, Maria had been a surrogate mother to her. How strong Maria’s protest had been against Angie’s trip to Hawaii where she met her mysterious death.  But Angie had begged Papa to go and, as usual, got her way.

Magdalena acknowledged Alberto, her father’s chauffeur, and his spouse, Rosella, the housekeeper. They sat in silence. Alberto is such a loyal aide to Papa. God must have sent him.  

Magdalena caught the eye of Angie’s equestrian trainer, several of her riding mates and their parents, all with tear-stained faces. Sitting alone, tanned and tow-headed, she recognized Lance, her father’s first physical therapist, and her first date. They exchanged polite nods. Farther back sat Jimmy Sciacca, the Organization’s Boss, Joseph Cozza and his brother Vinnie, Sciacca’s trusted subordinates.  She would thank them for flying in from Las Vegas but out of her father’s view.

Magdalena rose and turned to Alberto, “Please drive my father and the family home.” Magdalena now referred to the household help as family. It seemed appropriate since they were like a surrogate family with only she and her father left in the big house. She kissed her father on his forehead. He ignored her. His face was dark and held a grief-stricken pall when he turned his chair around. Looking straight ahead he engaged the switch on his electric wheelchair to exit down the aisle. Dutifully, Alberto followed him out to the car.

Walking toward the back of the chapel, Magdalena released a long sigh. Always trying to cope with her father’s rejection and knowing that the limited love they once shared was gone devastated her. This blow, coupled with managing the detritus of Angelina’s affairs, had worn her thin. Her father had arranged for the funeral, leaning heavily on his private investigator, but she had to deal with the Hawaiian police report and death certificate, Angie’s belongings, her horses and her personal effects. She also knew she had to move forward with plans to become the family provider. After her father’s last stroke he could no longer practice law. In a recent telephone conversation with the Sciacca, she had to explain that sad fact. Now she would represent clients of the Organization, as Magdalena had begun to refer to the Mafia Family.

She walked to the back of the chapel and approached Sciacca. He embraced her. “What can I do for my goddaughter? I am so sorry you have lost your only sister.” Magdalena nearly broke into tears at his fatherly embrace, something she hadn’t experienced in years. “That’s kind of you, Mr. Sciacca. I’m sure time will help,” was all she could think to say.

She turned to handsomely groomed Joseph standing attentively, palms extended allowing her the choice of coming to him. She put her hands on his chest, leaned close to him and whispered in his ear. “Meet me at the Bel Air for dinner at eight. Make reservations for a table and a room for the night.”

Sciacca’s hand rose to suppress a smile at her newfound intimacy with Joseph. Suddenly Joseph looked as though he was attending a wedding, not a funeral.

*****

Magdalena stepped into her 1973 Jaguar XKE, a car Sciacca had arranged she receive on her eighteenth birthday. Sciacca had tried to make it look as though Magdalena’s father had given her the car, but he hadn’t. D’Alessandro was infuriated by the gift, and it remained an ugly reminder that he had forgotten her birthday that year. He was never able to condone such an extravagant gift or acknowledge it, some five years later. Sciacca had wanted Magdalena to have a car on her birthday for two reasons. She was a beautiful Italian girl, and never noticed by her father.

At breakneck speed, Magdalena raced up Stone Canyon to their Holmby Hills residence. She would have a long swim in the subterranean pool at the villa where her focus always became sharper.

Dominic D’Alessandro had negotiated this villa as part of his salary when he angrily took the position of council to the Los Angeles Mob. Severe medical debt and the necessity to raise young daughters forced his decision, but he never forgave himself. Magdalena had been fourteen and Angelina seven-years old, and she knew his decision shattered his morals.

Magdalena’s head rose high as she sped up winding Stone Canyon road. Angie, I will go to Hawaii and if I find any reason to avenge your death, I will.

Once in the pool, Magdalena began to swim her usual laps; the therapy her doctor had prescribed years earlier. Swimming the length of the pool, she began to reminisce when she and her sister were young.

 

 

To continue reading, please find my novel on Amazon: Black Angel

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A Menu Idea for Oscar Night

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89th Academy Awards Menu

Boston Clam Chowder – Manchester by the Sea

Tang –Arrival

Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad – La La Land Continue reading

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Albondigas Soup Recipe

albondigas-soup-pictureEthnic soups add much variety to the American diet, and this one is a staple in my home. In cold weather, this is an especially warming and satisfying soup. Albondigas in Spanish means meatballs. I think you will find this a great entrée soup when eaten with warm tortillas or garlic bread. This recipe is from my book, Gourmet the Simple Way. Upgrade the processed green chile to a green salsa, if you prefer.

Albondigas Turkey Soup Continue reading

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Prologue to Harem Twins

Cover of the Book Harem Twins by Dolores Maria Davis

Cover of the Book Harem Twins

Egypt’s sun god Ra was rising in the eastern sky to cast his vibrant rays on the white walls of Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s grand new house. A newborn, about to arrive at sunrise in Pharaoh’s Harem, would foretell of exceptional heavenly influences.

The mother, Princess Attah of Mitanni, was twelve summers old. Her diminutive frame carried the belly of a hippopotamus. Gaunt and exhausted from slow labor, her birthing was half a moon cycle early, the baby large.

Maja, Attah’s only slave, tried to comfort her princess with damp cloths and soothing words as Attah suffered strong and rapid thrusts. Maja overheard two women sitting on their cots watching her princess struggle.

“The foreigner slept with Pharaoh but once, and is bearing his child. Luck is with her. She hasn’t even learned to speak in Egyptian yet,” one said.

The other pregnant woman said, “I feel sorry for her. No one has brought effigies of Goddess Hathor to bring the sweet north wind, or God Bes to aid her in her childbearing. The tattoo artist is coming in two Ras to paint my breasts with pictures of God Bes so the magic will be with me when I give birth.”

Slave Maja was on her knees at Attah’s cot asking all the gods she had ever heard of not to let her mistress die in childbirth.

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Book Review: The Glassblower

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The Glassblower, by Petra Durst-Benning, is a little slow to get into, but the story of the Steinmann sisters and their struggles in glassblowing soon drew me in. With the death of their father, Johanna, Ruth, and Marie have lost their last parent and their income. Life becomes frighteningly uncertain, and the young women face near-starvation. Continue reading

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Fast French Onion Soup

Fast French Onion Soup

This soup is prepared in approximately 20 minutes and matches the taste of the original classic very well. You don’t need the ovenproof bowls as the broiling step is eliminated! 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large, onions skinned, halved and sliced as thin as possible

½ teaspoon dried thyme or 3 or 4 fresh sprigs

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup dry white wine

6 cups hot beef commercial stock

½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated (also known as Swiss)

4 to 6 slices of French-style bread, toasted

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 Parsley chopped fine

 1.     In a large saucepan, caramelize (sauté until golden brown) the onions in the butter and oil over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally. This will take 10 to 20 minutes. Add the thyme at the end of this process.

2.     When the onions are caramelized and the bottom of the pan is all sticky, add flour, stirring it in well, and cook about one minute. Add wine to deglaze, then hot beef broth, and bring the soup to a simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3.     Place toasted French-style bread in soup bowls, followed by a few tablespoons of grated cheese, then a ladle of simmering soup. Garnish with parsley.

Notes

Butter in this soup adds flavor but you don’t need much due to the cheese.

 Also olive oil or any oil combined with butter stops the butter from burning.

I like to use white onions as they are higher in sugar content and caramelize better. You may add a teaspoon of sugar to the onions to hasten the caramelizing process.  

 Use the best possible Swiss / Gruyere cheese as this is a large part of the recipe’s taste.

Use very little salt if you use commercial stock.

In this recipe you have learned to caramelize and deglaze, or lift sticky bits from the bottom of the soup pot, to greatly enhance the flavor of your soup. 

This is a recipe from my cookbook “Gourmet the Simple Way”

Find it on Amazon

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Holiday Ravens

by Dolores Davis

Once there was a raven couple that followed Woman on her morning walks, because she fed them from a bag of treats. He was stout, with a hooked beak and a bold presence. She was smaller, cautious and demure. Woman named them Continue reading

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Dining at the Bellinghausen

In the early 1950’s when you walked into the Restaurante Bellinghausen, the aroma of sauerkraut and the sounds of bistro dishes clanking filled the air. Yet the boisterous chatter of the German language was the real surprise. This flourishing Mexico City delicatessen, located in the posh zona-rosa district, teemed with curious tourists, wealthy residents, but mostly displaced Germans. The Bellinghausen name, however, didn’t prepare most diners for the overwhelming German clientelel.

After World War II had ended, a contingent from the Third Reich had paid their way to Mexico City to make it their home. Nazi war criminals hastened farther south to Continue reading

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How To Plan A Great 87th Academy Awards Party

Invitation

  1. Email a themed invitation (see example above – click to enlarge) and require a prompt RSVP so you can email your guests a ballot (see example below – click to enlarge.) Guests to arrive with ballots filled out (or emailed – if coming late). Require all guests bring a bottle of wine to be divided among the three winning guests. Continue reading

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T-REX MEATLOAF

Meatloaf

This is a light and moist meatloaf named after my 5 year old grandson, Rex, who cannot get enough. In winter, I sometimes substitute turkey for the ground beef and beef sausages.

Preheat oven to 3500

Ingredients

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