FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Cusack

Brace yourself, dear readers, because this week on Friday Feast we’re entering another realm. Think romance, think fantasy, think the most gobsmacking savoury pie you’ve ever seen…

Oops. Got ahead of myself. Bit hard not to though when your guest is international award winning fantasy author Louise Cusack. Among other achievements, Louise’s best-selling Shadow Through Time trilogy with Simon & Schuster Australia was selected by the Doubleday book club as their ‘Editors Choice’.  In Feb 2012 the series was released digitally by Pan Macmillan’s ebook imprint Momentum Books. Which means you can buy these superb stories right now! On your Kindle! On your Sony, Kobo, phone, tablet, computer, you-name-it!  With just a little click! Instant booklove! Ahh, technology, we readers so love you.

Louise’s resume is incredible. Not only is she a wonderful author, she’s also a highly respected writing tutor, with her own business Writers: Working with Louise Cusack. Louise has completed 150 manuscript assessments, tutored over 80 writing workshops and mentored over 300 hours with more than 50 clients.  There’s more, but I’m feeling awed enough as it is and I’m sure you’d much prefer a peek at the first in the Shadow Through Time trilogy, Destiny of the Light.

DESTINY OF THE LIGHT

Ennae is a parallel world joined to our own world by the Sacred Pool, a portal that can only be opened by one with the Guardian blood running through their veins. It is through this watery gateway that Khatrene leaves her modern-day life behind forever, drawn into a quest that will take her into the depths of the unknown.

Khatrene must fulfil her destiny as The Light, the woman whose child will unite the four elemental worlds. At each turn are real and imagined enemies who will do everything in their power to prevent her from fulfilling the prophecy, including the ethereal and erotic shadow woman, the enigmatic tattooed man, even her beloved brother Mihale.

Talis, her appointed Guardian, must help her through the dangerous terrain of Ennae, sacrificing everything to ensure her safety in a land where magic prevails and nothing is as it seems.

From an exciting new voice in Australian fantasy fiction comes the first book in the Shadow Through Time trilogy. Beautifully crafted and written, Destiny of the Light combines intrigue, magic and horror to create a reality that is out of this world.

Out of this world indeed! An absolute must-buy for romance and fantasy fans alike.

And now, without further ado, here’s Louise…

Thanks for inviting me to share my signature dish King Island Pie.  It’s one I invented myself, and every time I make it I reflect on the fact that cooking is so very much like writing.  Creating a meal is like creating a story where we bring together all the ingredients we like and mix them in pleasing combinations.  Sometimes we surprise ourselves.  I’ve been a vegetarian for over thirty years, and had no idea that my eating choices would impact on my writing, not even when the sepia world of Ennae that I had created for my Shadow Through Time fantasy romance trilogy had no animals or insects in it.

Publishers who bid for the series were excited by the novelty of such a world, peopled only by humans and plants, and for my part I was happy they liked it, but I felt as if I couldn’t take credit.  As a seat-of-the-pants writer I’d simply been describing the world my heroine was entering, as seen through her eyes.  After the first novel was published a friend who knew me well pointed out the obvious, that every brawny, protective hero I’d fallen in love with while writing the series had never eaten meat.  I’d been falling in love with one gorgeous vegetarian man after another, and clearly that’s where my subconscious had been heading while it had been constructing Ennae.  I knew that worldbuilding was a component of what we call a writer’s “voice” and what makes it unique, but will readily admit I was surprised that I’d inadvertently revealed so much about myself!

Still, I was thrilled to have the books print published, and am now delighted to see this series have a new life, recently republished as eBooks by Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint Momentum Books.  I’m also excited to be sharing my recipe for King Island Pie with you!  As the name suggests, the pie is iconically  Australian, and for those non-Aussies reading, King Island is a lush jewel that sits in Bass Straight between Tasmania and mainland Australia.  It’s main claim to fame is the King Island Dairy which produces some of the most decadent and delicious dairy products in the world.

When sourcing ingredients for this recipe, try to find as many King Island brand as you can to ensure the rich flavour of the pie.  But when substituting other brands (or lower fat options) you’ll find this is still a fabulous vegetarian meal that will please even the most ardent carnivores.  Trust me, it’s Tradie tested!

LOUISE’S KING ISLAND PIE

Ingredients:

  • a 500g bag of washed baby spinach wilted in the microwave then chopped
  • half a small pumpkin cut into 2cm cubes and roasted in oil
  • a cup of roasted cashews
  • 6 eggs
  • 200-500ml of King Island cream (you can substitute sour light cream)
  • one King Island triple cream brie cut into tiny chunks (you can substitute crumbled Persian fetta and use the fetta oil to roast the pumpkin and brush over the puff pastry)
  • a cup of grated tasty cheese or, for more flavour, shredded Cracker Barrel extra sharp
  • sheets of puff pastry and oil to coat

Method:

  • Mix the eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper
  • Line a big lasagne dish with Glad Bake and lay out the oiled puff pastry (oiled side towards the paper) to form a shell for the pie.  Seal any joins so wet ingredients won’t leak out and spoil the crusty bottom of the pie
  • Put a layer of pumpkin interspersed with cashews on the bottom, then sprinkle tiny chunks of brie (or crumbled fetta) over that.  Dust with a smattering of grated cheese.  Then layer your chopped up wilted spinach over that and carefully pour the well mixed egg & cream over the top.  Finish off with the rest of the grated cheese and pop into a moderate oven (200 degrees C) for as long as it takes to cook the puff pastry and set the filling.  A clean knife in the middle will tell you if it’s set or still mushy.
  • When cooked, take out of the oven and sit for five minutes before cutting and serving with either salad or light vegetables.  This is a very rich pie, so if you serve it without accompaniment try to have fresh fruit for desert to clean the palate.

As you’ll see from the recipe I’m a bit loose with quantities, and this ensures that every time I bake the pie it tastes different, which I love.  So don’t concern yourself overly with details.  Feel free to put in more or less cheese, to substitute mushroom for cashews or chives for spinach, or potato for pumpkin (roasted potato & well-cooked leek is a particularly delicious combination).  See what new forms you can come up with.  This also works well to make baby pies in cupcake moulds for lunchbox treats.

Enjoy experimenting!  And thanks again Cathryn for giving me the opportunity to share my books and my pie recipe!

I’d love to give the first eBook of my trilogy away to one commenter.  Please tell me the most surprising thing you’ve ever cooked/eaten in a pie, and why you loved/hated it.

Thanks, Louise, for your fascinating post and that completely drool-worthy pie recipe. I’m definitely making this baby. It sounds incredible.

Your question reminds me of an enormously popular pie shop on the Pacific Highway at Frederickton, on the NSW north coast. Fredo Pies produces the most weird and wonderful pies. Among other marvels, you can even eat our coat of arms!

If you’d like to know more about Louise please visit her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Contest entries close midnight Australian time, Tuesday 6th March and open to all. Please remember to include a way to contact you in case you win.

Let the drooling begin!

Congratulations to Nicole H. who has won an ebook copy of Destiny of the Light, the first in Louise’s Shadow Through Time trilogy. Thanks so much to everyone who visited and commented on Friday east.

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Cusack

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I know! Incredible, isn’t it? The pie, I mean, although the world Louise has created for the Shadow Through Time series sounds equally fascinating.

      I vote we rename the pie Louise’s King Island Decadence. Cos that’s exactly what it is!

  1. Avatarlouisecusack

    Thanks for dropping by Jenny, and I’m glad to meet another King Island convert. Love their dairy! Nicole, I definitely second the ‘need that recipe’ for Peanut Butter Pie! Sounds awesome, and Rachael how lovely to catch up with you here. I deliberately included the lunchbox option because the kids who’ve eaten this pie have loved it (kids and cheese, what can you say!) so hopefully your boys will too 🙂

  2. Pingback: eBook giveaway and Friday Feast « Louise Cusack

  3. AvatarGerald

    Love to get a piece of the pie,… most unusual pie I’d ever eaten was an Outback-roo-pie, and that gave me awesome wind….opps… (and tasted a bit odd)….
    good luck with the giveaway
    cheers
    Ger

  4. AvatarHelen Lacey

    Okay – I’ve eaten this pie and it is out of this world delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Most unusual pie? My welsh mother used to cook all kinds of weird offal when I was a kid. I’m sure some of that went into pie’s.

    Great to see you here Louise 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      You’ve eaten it, Helen? Oh, jealousy! I’m going to have to make it to discover its deliciousness.

      Offal. *shudder* Although I did eat a bit of it in Europe. Mostly inadvertently, but I’m a sucker for good pate.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Doesn’t it just? I’m still trying to nut out how to make it more low fat, but then I worry that it won’t taste as good and besides, sometimes a little naughtiness and indulgence is good for the soul!

  5. Avatarlouisecusack

    Hey Ger, that outback-roo-pie sounds like it would have been… interesting, and Helen’s offal pie sounds like it might be off my (vegetarian) recipe list as well! Hi, Keziah 🙂 Always nice to meet other pie lovers.

  6. AvatarJuanita Kees

    Oh what I wouldn’t give to able to jump into that Sacred Pool and enter the wonderful world you’ve created, Louise! What a yummy pie too. I love anything with spinach, pumpkin and feta, so teaming the first two up with brie sounds like a great idea. I’ll have to look out for KIng Island products. I hope we can get them here in WA 🙂

    I had a friend who used to make ‘Left-over pie’ with the Sunday roast left-overs. The rice was the crust, followed by layers of veggies and roast meat, drizzled with gravy, topped with slithers of roast potato and a sprinkling of cheese. She used to bring it to work and have everyone queuing up for a slice in the lunch room. She loved to cook.

    Love your Friday Feasts, Cathryn. My recipe book is bulging at the seams!

  7. Avatarcccoburn

    I’ve made and eaten Louise’s Exquisitely Decadent King island Pie too! (we should win books for thinking up great names for it) 🙂 In fact, now I can’t wait to get home to Aus, get to the supermarket and stock up on all the King Island goodies I can fit into my trolley!
    Will follow Louise’s pie with Nicole’s Peanut Butter Pie for dessert (and then not be able to move for a week – but it’ll be worth it).
    Here in the States they have some weird pies – and names for pies – Frito Pie (the mix of ingredients sound foul, but it’s really quite tasty – particularly if you haven’t eaten for several weeks), Shoo fly Pie, Banana Cream Pie (yummy!) Seven Layer Pie (you might like that one Lou as it’s vegetarian) and the best named pie of all – I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong & I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie (from the movie, Waitress). Say it with a Southern accent.
    btw don’t put me in the draw for a copy of your lovely book, Lou. I already have my very own signed print copy! (plus I don’t have an e-reader) poor me 🙁

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      The pie names were the best part of that movie, CC. But you have me wondering about that Frito Pie now. Think I might be too scared to google it though…

      Thanks for dropping in from the States and your fun comment!

      1. Avatarcccoburn

        Well the name Frito Pie used to make me feel ill as I thought they were potato chips in a pie which sounded really strange. But turns out they’re corn chips. My Texan friend says his mum used to make it all the time and he grew up on it. I thought the first time he said it, he’d said he threw up on it!
        I’ve bought the ingredients for Six Layer Tortilla Pie (that vegetarian one I told you about) will try it this week and report back when we next meet.
        xx

  8. Avatarlouisecusack

    Juanita I love the idea of ‘left overs’ pie! Must try that. And really, anything mixed with eggs and put in puff pastry is always going to pass muster, especially with kids. Potato is a real favourite of mine (must be my Irish ancestry) so that roast potato topping sounds glorious. That’s definitely on my list now – sans roast meat 🙂

  9. Avatarlouisecusack

    Hey Catherine. Thanks for those pie names. I adored the movie “Waitress” so much I bought it, and have always wondered what was in Shoo Fly Pie. Must check out the Seven layer pie if it’s vegetarian. Looking forward to your return to Australia, although you really do need to get a Kindle before you leave!

  10. Avatarlouisecusack

    Mel, I’m always glad to meet another King Island fan. Those cheeses are so divine you’ve got to imagine the cows are blissed out most of the time. Certainly their customers are by the time the cheese platter is reduced to crumbs. Seriously decadent stuff.

  11. AvatarKathlyn

    Good old fashioned mud pie is without doubt the worst and best pie I’ve ever made. Worst because of the foulest ingredients I could find in my backyard at eight years old, gooey slime, dog pooh, piles of compost, a touch of mud and water to mix it up into a nice mush. All spread out nicely over the old dog’s dish. Best because it was delivered directly into the face of a rather nasty neighbourhood bully. I’m pretty certain he didn’t enjoy it, not even one little bit but I sure as hell did. 😉

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I think Revenge Pie might be a better name for that one, Kathlyn. Nasty ingredients though. Dog poo in the face? Ewwww!

      Mind you, I bet it felt marvellous when it landed.

      Thanks so much for dropping by.

  12. Avatarlouisecusack

    Kathlyn, I am impressed! Will we call that Here’s-dog-poo-on-you-nasty-neighbourhood-bully pie? (in honour of the movie Waitress). Creates a great visual. And I’ll bet your mother was particularly thrilled, not to mention the dog who may not have wanted leftovers of that for dinner.

    Wow, in comparison I lived a far-too-sheltered childhood. The worst I did was sit under the back stairs sharing the dry dog biscuits with my dog.

    1. AvatarKathlyn

      Thanks Louise. Sharing dried dog biscuits with the dog… glad your taste buds have improved over time I’d hate to think what sort of pie recipe you’d be sharing if they hadn’t. lol

  13. AvatarNicky

    A wonderful trilogy Louise. And the pie recipe *Homer drool*. I now have worked around my dairy issues by triple checking the ingredients (amazing that things like yoghurt have “milk solids” added & my big hoodoo). I’ve discovered I can tolerate small/occasional doses of organic cheeses.

    Oh, the memories of King Island products. I first discovered King Island double cream when living in Hobart nearly 20years ago & would indulge in a Devonshire tea where guess which cream was used 🙂

  14. Avatarlouisecusack

    Nicky, thank you so much for that fabulous idea. I love Devonshire Teas! I’m sure it must be nearly time for morning coffee (and scones?) I used to have pumpkin scones at my Grandma’s house every Sunday morning after church when I was a little girl. I think I have ingredients…

  15. AvatarCathryn Hein

    The lucky winner of the first ebook in Louise’s Shadow Through Time trilogy is…

    Nicole Humphrey!

    Congratulations, Nicole, and thanks to everyone who dropped by and commented on Friday Feast.

  16. Avatarlouisecusack

    Congratulations Nicole! And thanks everyone for visiting and entering the comp. If you could email me, Nicole, I’ll organise your free eBook of Destiny of the Light.

    Happy reading (and pie making) guys!