Now Available on iTunes

August 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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Ciji’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

January 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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My original recipe was from Emeril’s Christmas cookbook, but over the years, I’ve made changes–and then my niece Alison and I have made a few more key “adjustments” when we cooked it together over the holiday, allowing for wonderful flavors, with the spiciness adjusted to individual palates


1 cup of vegetable oil (Canola)

1 cup bleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs New Orleans spices (bbq  or Alison’s  rubs, red pepper flakes mixed with oregano can substitute) to rub on poultry that will be roasted.

1 tsp salt

2-3 bay leaves

2 cups chopped yellow onions

1-2 cups chopped celery

1 to  1 1/2 cups mixed green and red sweet peppers (or more; I prefer to use both red and green peppers in a ½-1/2 mix)

½-1 tsp cumin

½ – 1 tsp. smoked paprika to taste

½ – 1 tsp sweet paprika to taste

1 tsp Crazy Salt or other herbed salt products

½ -1 tsp. chili powder to taste

1-2 tbls. dried parsley

1 Tbls oregano

1/4 cup Marsala wine (or sherry)

2 rock Cornish game hens (or one plump chicken cut up in pieces; or 12 organic chicken thighs, cubed after they’re  cooked)

2 garlic plump cloves, minced

juice of ½ lemon

8 cups chicken stock

1-1 ½  pound Polish Kilbasa sausage (or Andouille, if you want spicier) sliced in ¼-1/8


2-3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley for garnish

1 tbs chopped scallions for garnish


White Rice cooked separately for number of people served by gumbo




Pat the poultry with the spicy rub and place on a rack in a roasting pan. In an oven at 375 degrees, roast poultry for  45 minutes to an hour, until barely done (the leg should move freely but the skin should not be retracting firm the bone; do not over cook)

Remove poultry from roasting rack and allow to cool.   (While that’s happening, slice/dice the vegetables) If cooking bone-in chickens, when poultry has cooled, remove the flesh in pieces from the bone and set aside;  reserve the bones in a sieve or strainer that fits into the pot that will hold the chicken stock.


Chop/dice the peppers, onions, celery, and 1 minced elephant garlic (or 3 minced smaller garlic cloves) and distribute all this on the bottom of the roaster the chickens just came out of.  (If no drippings, sprinkle 1-2 Tbs. olive oil with ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar over vegetables before roasting, or:) if using drippings, then sprinkle ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar and stir the vegetables in the vinegar and chicken drippings, distributing this liquid, evenly across the roasting pan.  Sprinkle with scant salt and pepper and roast in an oven reduced to 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, stirring vegetables occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add a tiny bit of warm water, if needed, to keep from sticking so they will caramelize and become soft, but not mushy.


I use organic chicken stock and put the 8 cups in a deep pot that will accommodate a sieve or strainer filled with the bones from which the poultry was removed after roasting.

Submerge the bones that are in the sieve into the stock so stock covers the bones and gently simmer for 20 minutes while vegetables are roasting or you’re preparing the roux.


Classic method: in large pot or big skillet, mix oil and flour in small batches; stir constantly with wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and the color of dark chocolate. Add the cumin and stir for a minute To get the roux to the right color, it  could take as long as 45 minutes. Pay close attention, as it can easily burn. [My secret is to put on a headset and call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages…it helps make the time pass as you stir for 45 minutes to an hour to get that dark chocolately color!]  When the roux is the right color, REMOVE pan from burner and set aside until you combine the rest of the ingredients.

Microwave method: [NOT for the novice! Be careful not to overheat!] in four-cup measuring cup or microwave container at full heat, combine flour and oil and cumin and stir to blend.  Microwave 3 minutes (or less if you have a very powerful Microwave oven); remove and carefully stir with wooden spoon to avoid splattering; repeat another 3 minutes as roux begins to turn golden brown.  In :30 second increments, keep microwaving and carefully stirring, until the mixture becomes the color of dark chocolate…may take 3-6 thirty second “zaps.”


Gently reheat the finished roux and add the dried parsley, the roasted, diced vegetables and bay leaves, oregano, pinch of cayenne (to taste; I use very little and allow guests to add their own, or pepper flakes, etc, at the table),  Add salt,  the smoky paprika and sweet  paprika (to taste) and cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes until  the additions are well blended into the roux.  Add Marsala (or Sherry), along with the lemon juice, and stir until well blended..

Add poultry pieces and more minced garlic (to taste) and stir to coat.  Add the sliced sausage and stir well.

Remove the sieve with the chicken bones from the chicken stock and discard.  Add the chicken stock, cup by cup,  to the roux-poultry-sausage-vegetable mixture, constantly stirring.

Bring the mixture to a brisk boil and then turn it down to medium-low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrap anything off the bottom of the pot.  Allow to cool completely.

BEST IF MADE 2-3 DAYS AHEAD so ingredients will blend and mellow. If you like it spicier, use andouille sausage instead of Kilbasa and add more pepper flakes and cayenne…but watch it! Add a little at a time, ’cause you can’t go back!!

Keep covered and refrigerated.  When ready to serve, removed from refrigerator and allow gumbo to come to room temperature. Remove bay leaves.

Put gumbo in big pot on top of the stove and reheat slowly at low-medium temperature for at least a half hour, or until hot and gently bubbling.  (If in a microwave container, okay to warm for five minutes; check and continue till hot)

When piping hot, serve is soup bowls with an ice-cream-size scoop of  steaming white or brown rice in the middle. (This is New Orleans style).  For a big buffet, serve over the rice.  Use nice big soup spoons for guests.

Sprinkle each serving with chopped parsley and/or chopped green scallions.  Serve with a crisp salad and hot, crusty bread or butter biscuits

YUMOLA! as they say in N’Awlins!

Island of the Swans

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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An award-winning, bestselling biographical novel based on the life of the flamboyant political figure, Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon (1749-1812)—one of the most influential women of her time.  A patroness of the poet Robert Burns, advisor to King George III, friend to Queen Charlotte, she was the mastermind behind her husband’s political success, and a rival of the equally flamboyant Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.  Rich in historical detail, passion and intrigue, the novel brings to life one of the most celebrated beauties of her day whose tempestuous marriage after she thought her childhood sweetheart was killed created a lifelong love triangle that threatened to destroy them all.

“Ware’s meticulous research and first class talent for invention reclaims a woman lost to history, a powerful and controversial figure in her day, and all but unknow in ours.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“Ciji Ware is a true master at bringing to life a story so fascinating that it should come with a warning–do not start unless you want to be up all night!”

Romantic Times

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A Cottage by the Sea

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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A sweeping, romantic tale of modern day Britain colliding with the bawdy, eighteenth century world of a bold English heiress whose love story has echoed down through time.  To Blythe Barton Stowe, a cunning cottage on the wild coast of Cornwall in the land of her forebears sounded like the perfect escape from the pain and humiliation of events in far off Hollywood that had ended her marriage, her career, and all but destroyed her self-esteem. But soon she seems to be reliving a centuries-old tragedy that once beset her namesake ancestress.  Her landlord, the handsome owner of the shabby manor house on the hill, appears equally entwined in her destiny as they unearth one shocking family secret after another.  Before long, Blythe concludes that her intriguing neighbor is more than just an impecunious British gentleman bent on saving his ancestral home, and she seriously begins to question whether the unbridled attraction she feels for the honorable Lucas Teague is strong enough to transcend time and place…

“Peopled with characters who will capture your imagination…’ll believe in the ability of love to transcend time and place. Ciji Ware’s writing is superb!”

Romantic Times magazine

A Cottage by the Sea is as charming and engrossing as Daphne duMaurier at her best. If you like historical novels (or even if you don’t), you’ll love this book and its very believable heroine.”

Five Star Amazon Review

Wicked Company

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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Based on the lives of ‘lost’ women playwrights seeking fame and glory at the rival theatres Covent Garden and Drury Lane in the period 1761-1779, bookseller’s daughter Sophie McGann forsakes her native Scotland –hidden in James Boswell’s traveling trunk–to pursue her dream of being a playwright at Old Drury. But the reality of London is hasher than Sophie could have imagined, leaving her with her work stolen, her profits withheld, and the chances of a “petticoat playwright” getting past the government censor slim. Sophie’s friend and would-be lover Hunter Robertson is himself building a name as an actor and singer at Covent Garden, a rival theater. Constantly at odds over issues of loyalty and professional jealousy, Sophie and Hunter’s careers veer wildly from Edinburgh to London to Dublin to Bath, and from success to disaster.  Likewise, their relationship careens from tumultuous to an impasse, until…

“In her second novel, Ware again proves she can intertwine fact and fiction to create an entertaining and harmonious whole, offering a fascinating portrayal of London’s theatrical milieu, with characters such as [government censor Edward] Capell, Garrick and Frances Sheridan–mother of Richard Brinsley and a playwright herself–convincingly drawn from history.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“From the award-winning author of Island of the Swans comes a rich, engrossing tale set in 18th century London’s bawdy Drury Lane.” Review

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