It’s not very often I get to do a Friday Feast post, although expect to see a bit more of me around Heartland release time. But this week is the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Brisbane, and with so many Australian authors heading along for a weekend of full-on romance (book romance, that is… for me, anyway. Can’t speak for the others!) I thought I’d take pressure my busy guests and take over the slot.
Now, because I’m a complete fusspot who likes her systems, I’m going to stick with the normal Friday Feast format and hit you once again with Heart of the Valley’s cover and blurb. Oof, stop your groaning. You know you haven’t seen it enough!
Besides, this is different. On March 24th the smaller format of Heart of the Valley releases and it has an extra pretty new cover. Compare and contrast with the example on the right. See? What, you can’t see any difference? Phht. Look at the colours! There, what did I tell you? A pretty pinked-up new cover and a slightly altered blurb. All good!
Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.
Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.
What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain.
A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.
Yet to own your own copy of Heart of the Valley? Then you must satisfy that burning urge and buy! Try your local BigW or bookshop, or go online to Booktopia or Bookworld. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. Sorry, international visitors, my books are currently available only in Australia and New Zealand but I’m working on it!
And now I bring you…er…me!
We have now been in our new house for 15 days. Ahh, the utter bliss of having all my clothes, my kitchen things, my cookbooks! and a lovely big office in which my beloved workstation fits just beautifully. Moving in had its usual issues of breakages and missing items but after 20+ years of doing this we’ve learned that there’s no point in getting cranky. Well, not very cranky. I have been known to crack a wobble over my cookbooks being mishandled and I did nearly lose it this time at the mysterious disappearance of one my favourite French copper pot lids, but overall stoicism was my friend.
Anyway, it’s all very hard to stay cranky when one has succumbed to the intensely blissful delight of oven love. Yes, I am besotted with an inanimate object. But this, my dear Feasters, is not just any inanimate object. This is a brand spanking new 90cm, 5 burner stove and oven.
Isn’t it lovely? All that stainless steel and heavy cast iron. That deliciously fat size. That range hood with its fantastically bright LED light and timer function. That wok burner. All those settings to suit anything from pizza to pavlova. Sigh. Makes one’s heart rather skippy.
So, you’re probably wondering what I’ve baked. Well, you have to remember that we haven’t actually been moved in for that long, and for the first 5 days at least I was too knackered too cook, but I have managed to make an apricot and Frangelico frangipane tart (yum!), roasted some pork and created beautiful crackling, baked a couple of home-made pizzas, roasted veges, baked a casserole, stirfried about four lots of noodly dishes, and last night I whipped up a tasty leek and fetta tart. Not a bad effort, but you wait until winter when I really get cooking. Then there’ll be some fun!
Which brings me to what recipe I should share. I had great plans of doing a marvelously complicated story called “My Week With Hugh” where I regaled you with adventures from my week of cooking recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s new cookbook, Hugh’s Three Good Things, a book I won just before Christmas thanks to those fantastically generous souls at The Essential Ingredient (who also run a most excellent website). Alas, time has not permitted and I’ll have to save that for another Feast.
But it just so happens that I picked up some juicy looking sirloin steaks from the Mulgoa butcher the other day, which then led me to whip up a batch of Café de Paris butter for the freezer. Now, I have no idea how authentic my version is of this butter. I’m not even sure there is an authentic version, but I started out using Neil Perry’s recipe from Rockpool (it’s up on the restaurant website if you search) then over time adapted it using Iain Hewitson’s version from his Tolarno Bistro cookbook and another couple of recipes from cooking magazines, until I arrived at the butter that we now make and love.
There’s something quite seductive about a beautifully cooked steak glistening with a disc of slowly melting Café de Paris butter. Yes, yes, horribly bad for you and all that, but that’s okay. Just don’t have it every day!
Go on, give it a try. You know you want to…
Café de Paris Butter
1 French shallot, finely diced
1 scant teaspoon of good quality curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon baby capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
The leaves from a few springs of fresh thyme
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Stick the lot in a food processor and whiz until well mixed. If you don’t have all the ingredients don’t fuss, just use what you have. I’ve made it on occasion missing some of the herbs or spices and it turned out fine. Plus each time I make this butter it tastes slightly different, even when I use every ingredient. Adds to the fun!
Using a spatula, scoop the butter out onto a good sized square of plastic wrap then shape into a log. Fold over the wrap and then, holding the ends, roll back and forth until it forms a nice sausage shape. Plonk the sausage in the freezer and simply cut off discs whenever you want some super tasty flavoured butter for your steaks. Easy!
So, what’s your favourite steak accompaniment? Perhaps you’re a spicy sort and can’t live without a good, peppery sauce. Maybe you’re a naturalist and prefer it bare and beefy. Maybe you like to be extravagant and tournedos Rossini, with its layers of crouton, foie gras and truffle all dressed in a rich demi-glace. I’d love to hear your thoughts. With autumn coming up, and the nesting season approaching, it’s nice to have a few new steaky things to try.