FRIDAY FEAST with Deborah Challinor

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So, my lovely Feasters, how are your Christmas preparations going? Completely disorganised like me? Not to worry, help is at hand. Not only does Friday Feast showcase the best books for presents, we have recipes for foodie gifts too! See, you knew there was a good reason for visiting this blog.

This week I’m absolutely delighted to welcome best-selling historical fiction author Deborah Challinor. A New Zealander, Deborah now lives in Australia where she’s writing a series of novels based around four girls transported to Australia in the 1830’s, and with a PhD in history she knows her stuff!

The first in the series, Behind the Sun, is in bookshops now. Take a look…




BehindSunCoverFinalFour unlikely women … one enduring friendship.

1828: Irreverent and streetwise prostitute Friday Woolfe is in London’s notorious Newgate Gaol, awaiting transportation. There, she meets three other girls: intelligent and opportunistic thief Sarah Morgan, naive young Rachel Winter, and reliable and capable seamstress Harriet Clarke.

On the voyage to New South Wales their friendship becomes an unbreakable bond — but there are others on board who will change their lives forever. Friday makes an implacable enemy of Bella Jackson, a vicious woman whose power seems undiminished by her arrest and transportation, while Harriet is taken under the wing of an idealistic doctor, James Downey. Rachel catches the eye of a sinister passenger with more than honour on his mind.

When they finally arrive on the other side of the world, they are confined to the grim and overcrowded Parramatta Female Factory. But worse is to come as the threat of separation looms. In the land behind the sun, the only thing they have is each other …


How compelling does that sound! And Behind the Sun is available to buy now in Australia from Dymocks, Collins, QBD, Big W, K-Mart and your favourite independent bookseller. Online you can try Booktopia, Bookworld or Fishpond. If you like ebooks, visit Amazon Kindle, Kobo or Google Play.

Now please welcome Deborah.


Fudging it!


There was a time, it seems, when almost all women could cook. Of the four girls in Behind the Sun, Harrie Clarke, Sarah Morgan and Rachel Winter can – Harrie and Rachel because they expect one day to feed husbands, and Sarah because she has to feed herself. Friday Woolfe can’t, though. Before her arrest, she eats out every day at her local London ordinary, which serves bread, cheese, sausage, pickles, eggs and small beer.

It’s ironic, therefore, that I’ve so generously been invited to guest blog on Friday Feast – thank you, Cathryn – because I can’t cook either. I only ever do it when I absolutely have to. When the kids (my step-children, actually) were small and their father was going to be late home from work, I’d try to rustle something up, but never very successfully. In fact, sometimes they’d cry, especially when I made my mystery chicken.

I just can’t see the point. Hours and hours of slaving over a hot stove, ten minutes to eat it, and two days looking at the dirty dishes. Now that the kids have grown up and scattered in all directions, my man and I have an arrangement – he does the cooking, which he enjoys, and I clean up the (stonking great) mess afterwards. If he’s away, I eat yoghurt, tomato on crackers, and chocolate (and maybe an anchovy-stuffed olive, to cover all the food groups). Or if I’m absolutely starving I’ll go so far as turning on the oven and heating up a pie. On the other hand, if I have a deadline looming, I might forget to eat altogether. Except for the chocolate.

Somehow, I missed out on learning to cook. In Girl Guides, I know I got a badge for making a soufflé (and it must have been a good one – those badges aren’t handed out willy-nilly, you know). And I attended Home Economics in Form 1 and 2 and did stuffed tomatoes and the like, but that was about it.

I can, however, make excellent fudge. Here’s my best recipe. It’s a bit of a tedious process, but the end product is rich, velvety and very more-ish. And possibly not for those on a diet.



Swiss Milk Camarel 017

4 oz real butter (not soft versions or blends)

2 measuring cups white sugar (don’t overfill cup)

¼ tin of Highlander sweetened condensed milk (not lite)

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup milk

1 dstsp golden syrup

Dump the lot in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn down to a simmer, continuing to stir gently (if it catches you’ll get black bits all through it). When it’s gone a deep, golden tan colour, which will take around 15 minutes, remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon. When the mixture has thickened noticeably, and is adhering to the side of the pot rather than running down it (NB: if your arm isn’t sore you haven’t beaten long enough), turn out into a dish lined on the bottom with baking paper. Put in fridge, cut before completely set.

Fudge is nice, but my all-time favourite is merengues. Does anyone have an idiot-proof recipe for ones that are crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle? If so, can you please leave in comments? Thank you. Have a fantastic Christmas, everyone!


And a fantastic Christmas to you, Deborah. Thanks so much for coming on Friday Feast and sharing your new release and that delicious-sounding caramel recipe. Anything with condensed milk in it has to be a winner!

So, lovely Feasters, anyone have a great meringue recipe? I have a fantastic pavlova one but I’m not sure if it would create the texture Deborah is after.

If you’d like to learn more about Deborah and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog and Facebook


27 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Deborah Challinor

  1. Avatarchristinestinson

    “Behind the sun” sounds like a great read, Deborah. One for the Christmas list. For meringues, rule of thumb is two tablespoons of sugar per eggwhite for great meringues. When I make a pavlova, I use that rule plus a splash of white vinegar.

  2. AvatarDeborah Challinor

    Hi, Christine, I’ll give that a go. Thanks! I’ve tried to make meringues (which I see I spelt wrong above, oh dear, AND I’m a writer), using the recipe from the Edmonds cookbook – every NZ woman’s bible – but they were awful. My cat ate them, though.

  3. AvatarJoan Kilby

    Mmm, caramel fudge. I think I love caramel even better than chocolate and that’s saying something. Thanks for the recipe. Your book sounds really interesting.

  4. AvatarKerrie Paterson

    I can do meringues in the microwave using icing sugar and egg whites – sounds just up your alley Deb 🙂 That fudge sounds delicious – I’ll have to try it!

    You’ll have to bring your mystery chicken to a meeting one day 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      A supermum like you, Rach, could have a batch whipped up in no time. The kids would love it!

      Deborah’s book doesn’t sound super interesting, doesn’t it? Great way to learn more about Australian history and be entertained at the same time.

  5. AvatarSE Gilchrist

    I’m fairly sure I’ve served up my version of ‘mystery chicken’ to my lot. When I cook I have a book beside me (and, no, its not a cook book) and a tendancy to chuck in whatever may be inside the cupboard. Thank heavens, my lot cook for themselves now and even me sometimes.
    Great post, gave me a laugh.
    And caramel is my personal all-time favourite no matter what form it comes in.

  6. AvatarSuzi Love

    Your book sounds fantastic, especially as it’s my favourite time period. And the fudge is going onto my Try Very Soon list. I actually love to cook but, like you, cooking gets delegated whatever spare time I have when not reading or writing. It’s called Priorities! Grin!

  7. AvatarMarianneTheresa

    Wow some nice ideas here.
    Deb, I love really nice fudge ,,, can’t make it for the life of Me. Have tried many versions. Wondering if I am *dumping* the wrong way… hahaha love that term …. has so many meanings. Pus my arm has *never* about to fallen off, maybe another hint I’m doing it wrong.
    The photo looks divine, are they the REAL ones you made or a Woman’s Weekly copy-image LOL
    I will e-mail you an *idiot proof* pav mix that has never failed me for large or small ones. And Yes Cathryn this one has the vinegar & cornflour in. so maybe that’s a *secret* ingredient * lol

  8. AvatarMarianneTheresa

    Hahahah Certainly have no PUS on my arm… Meant to be *Plus* …haha. Where’s auto-check when you need it?
    And thanks for the interesting post and interview Cathryn. Lovely Site 🙂

  9. Avatarshelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    I buy my meringues, LOL. I make a fabulously simple Vanilla Slice though. I just picked Behind The Sun and I’m looking forward to reading it later this week!

  10. AvatarCathryn Hein

    Oof, my apologies for the lack of replies to everyone’s fun comments. Christmas mayhem keeps getting in the way! But thanks for the visits. Lovely to see you all here. And thanks to Deborah for being such a great guest.

  11. AvatarKerrie

    Just remembered to share the microwave meringues recipe:

    Take one egg white, add about 400-500g icing sugar. Keep beating it in until it has the consistency of marzipan. Cover your microwave turntable with greaseproof paper. Roll egg mixture into teaspoon size balls and spread evenly on the turntable. Cook on high for 30-60secs depending on your microwave (mine takes 40 secs). Remove and cool on a rack.

    It makes about 60 mini meringues (depending on what size you make the balls). They flatten out and aren’t really like the bought ones, but they taste good and are so easy 🙂 They last for ages in a tupperware container too.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Kerrie, that is AMAZING! I have never heard of a recipe like this before but already I can think of uses for it. First to mind is crumbling the meringues and then serving with cream and a fruit puree to make a super fast Eton mess. Same with crumbling and mixing them through the lemon mascarpone icecream I make for a textural surprise.

        Thank you so, so much. That is so damn cool!

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