FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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Greetings, food and book lovers, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week we trip to the tantalising tropics and go a bit nutty with one of Australia’s favourite rural and environmental fiction authors. Plus there’s a giveaway!

But first, the disappointment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh. I was on form, dropping shots off my handicap with almost every round. But that was before, when the sun shone bright and autumn was far away. Now… Oh, it is ugly. So very, very ugly. The summer of my golfing content is over. The curse has returned with the shortening days and I am but a hacker once more.

Author Jennifer ScoullarEnough lamenting. It’s time for our guest.

Australian author Jennifer Scoullar blazed into our literary landscape with the best-selling rural romance Brumby’s Run, following that success up with Currawong Creek and Billabong Bend. What makes Jennifer’s novels different is their focus on environmental issues. Issues that are often complex and divisive, yet Jennifer handles with knowledge and empathy.

Her latest is Turtle Reef, which officially releases next week . Take a look…


TurtleReef_cover2.0From the bestselling author of Billabong Bend, Brumby’s Run and Currawong Creek comes a wonderful new novel set against the spectacular beauty of Queensland’s rocky coral coast.

Unlucky-in-love zoologist Zoe King has given up on men. Moving from Sydney to take up an exciting new role in marine science in the small sugar town of Kiawa is a welcome fresh start. Zoe  is immediately charmed by the region’s beauty – by its rivers and rainforests, and by its vast cane fields, sweeping from the foothills down to the rocky coral coast.  And also by its people – its farmers and fishermen, unhurried and down to earth, proud of their traditions.

Her work at the Reef Centre provides all the passion she needs and Zoe finds a friend in Bridget, the centre’s director. The last thing she wants is to fall for her boss’s fiancé, cane king Quinn Cooper, so she refuses to acknowledge the attraction between them – even to herself. But things aren’t quite adding up at the Reef Centre and when animals on the reef begin to sicken and die, Zoe’s personal and professional worlds collide. She faces a terrible choice. Will protecting the reef mean betraying the man she loves?

Ooh, this sounds exciting. Nothing like a story featuring a heroine stuck between a rock and a hard place. Definitely one for the buy list. Turtle Reef releases officially on Wednesday, March 25th but you can secure your copy right now.  Simply  pre-order from those good people at Booktopia, or try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Collins Booksellers, iBooks,, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Then come swimming in delicious waters with Jennifer.

Turning Turtle

Many thanks for having me on ‘Friday Feast’ Cathryn, and for helping me celebrate the macadamia orchardupcoming release of my new book, Turtle Reef. The story is set at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, where rainforests and cane fields sweep down from the foothills to meet the rocky, coral coast. Much more than sugar cane grows in these rich volcanic soils. Shady tropical orchards abound: avocados, custard apples, egg fruit, lychees, mangos – and of course macadamias, the king of nuts.

Macadamias aren’t really nuts at all, but the kernels of a hard, green fruit. I’m a bush tucker fan, and sometimes have trouble sourcing ingredients. But these are such popular international favourites, it’s easy to forget they’re indigenous.They macadamia fruitgrow on lovely rainforest trees that evolved not long after the death of the dinosaurs. For millions of years, they flourished along the east coast of Australia. However by the time Europeans discovered their commercial potential, they only persisted in a small number of rainforest remnants.

Today the macadamia tree is our only native commercial food crop. It can bear fruit for over 100 years. The oldest known tree was planted in 1858 at what is now Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens, and is still producing.

To celebrate the release of Turtle Reef, here is a simple macadamia recipe with a Queensland feel. I make this cake in a 30 cm cast iron skillet, however any oven-proof fry pan would do. An old-fashioned Aussie recipe, delicious but fattening!

Tropical Upside Down Cake

Tropical upside-down cake


½  cup butter

⅔ cup brown sugar

 1- 1 ½  cups unsalted roast macadamia nuts

Pineapple rings (fresh or canned)

1 cup plain flour

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ cup milk

1 egg

Pineapple juice or syrup


Melt ¼ cup butter in pan.

Add ⅔ cup brown sugar until melted. Use more butter & brown sugar if needed so that the bottom of the pan is covered with mixture. Once melted, remove from heat.

Arrange pineapple rings on top of melted brown sugar. Fill each with a macadamia nut. Chop remaining nuts and sprinkle in spaces, keeping some aside.

Sift 1 cup flour with ¾ cup of sugar and baking powder.

Add ¼ cup butter and ½ cup milk. Mix until well blended.

Add one egg and 2-3 tablespoons of pineapple juice or syrup. Mix well.

Pour batter over pineapple, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden.

Cool on rack for about 15 minutes. Place cake plate over pan, turn upside down and give a little shake. The cake should slide out easily.

For an indulgent tropical twist, serve warm, with Streets Blue Ribbon Coconut & Mango Ripple Ice Cream. Yum!


Doesn’t that sound divine? I was gone at the mention of caramel and macadamias. And don’t get me started on the sweet pineapple. Thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe, Jennifer. I’ll be testing this one out for sure.

Now, my luscious little Feasties, as you are probably already aware, Jennifer is not only an excellent writer but a generous soul. Which is why she’s offering a…


Yes, you could win your very own copy of Turtle Reef. Rah! But as always, you must work for it. Not very hard though. We’re about making life easy here on Friday Feast.

To be in the draw to win a copy of Turtle Reef, simply share which dish or food reminds you of the tropics.

Perhaps it’s a big bowl of juicy prawns with tangy seafood sauce, or a perfect fillet of reef fish with its skin grilled crispy. Maybe mangos or lychees or another exotic fruit like durian makes you think of sandy beaches and warm water. Or even a spicy green papaya salad and aromatic satays on the barbie. Reveal all and you’ll go into the draw.

For me it’s Morton Bay bugs. I love those babies and have them every time we head to north Queensland to visit Jim’s family. Served with bowls of nuoc cham for dipping, they go down a treat. A quick trip to the fish co-op and greengrocer, a bottle of something white and zesty to wash them down, and a feast is on.

So what brings out the tropics for you?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST, 24th March 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook or Twitter using @JenScoullar.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Amanda B who has scored herself a copy of Turtle Reef. Lots of vicarious tropical living ahead for her. Thanks to everyone who joined in and shared their tropical delights. What fun!


38 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

  1. AvatarDB Tait

    That sounds yummy Jennifer. Prawns and beer are my memory of, not so much the tropics (which sad to say I’ve never been to. I’m a cold climate girl) but of summer and beaches. A big lot of cooked prawns wrapped in butchers paper, some long necks and sunset on a beach. Divine.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      God, the thought of prawns and a beer has made me seriously hungry, DB. Wouldn’t mind that for tonight’s dinner, in fact. Hmmm…

  2. AvatarHelen

    Hi Jennifer and Cathryn

    Oh I do love the sound of that cake and the book 🙂

    Prawns and cocktails always remind me of the tropics and cane toad races LOL from our stay on South Mole Island many years ago

    Have Fun

  3. AvatarAmanda B

    Two things bring out the tropics for me. The first would have to be a fresh zesty lemon cheesecake, yum! Second, a rum cocktail complete with a slice of pineapple to accompany it. Both remind me of my tropical honeymoon.

      1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

        Rum cocktail? Mmmm. That sounds pretty damn perfect right now, Amanda. And it is Friday…
        Love the idea of your zesty lemon cheesecake. Sounds very tasty indeed!

  4. AvatarMelanie Scott

    Ooh, love pineapple upside down cake. Reminds me of my childhood. Spent three months travelling through Queensland with my folks for Dad’s long service leave when I was about 8. Fresh pineapple, fish and chips on the beach, icecream and the ever present fluoro orange Tang to drink :D. These days, sub out the Tang for a fruity cocktail and I’d still be happy 😀

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      God, Tang! I haven’t heard of that in ages but it was a staple in our cupboard along with Quick. I used to sneak dry spoonfuls of it, which is kind of disgusting to think of now but I loved it.
      Wonder if you can still get it. I hope not. The ingredients had to have been so bad. Mind you, it didn’t seem to harm any of us, did it?

  5. AvatarMargaret Stepniewski

    Drinking from a fresh coconut with a straw and eating banana fritters overlooking the South China Sea in Labuan, Malaysia. Hope that counts for the tropics!

  6. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    We spent 3 months travelling North Queensland and tasted many amazing foods. What reminds me most of the tropics besides yummy lychees, mangoes and custard apple is Black Sapote, a (Chocolate Pudding Fruit) and Mamey Sapote (tastes like pumpkin). We had a Mamey Sapote ice cream at Tropical Fruit World on the Gold Coast and it was to die for! Up at the Daintree we tasted Wattle seed, sugar banana and coconut ice cream. Up in the tropics everything just tastes that much nicer. Love the climate. Ooh and that cake sounds scrumptious Jennifer, I love pineapple.

    Congrats on the release Jennifer! It sounds like a fantastic read!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I’ve heard of these fruit but never eaten them. That Daintree icecream sounds unreal, Sue. Love wattle seeds. I remember we used to have a lady come to primary school to teach us about our native plants and we all got addicted to wattle seeds afterwards. They’re really tasty.

  7. Avatarmarilyn forsyth

    Yum, Jennifer! Thanks for the recipe. And your new book sounds wonderful.
    I make what I call my Tropical Salad by combining diced/cooked bacon, lettuce, pineapple pieces, toasted macadamia nuts and green onions, then pouring over a dressing made from 1/4 cup pineapple juice, 3 tbs red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup oil. Quick and easy for those warm nights.

      1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

        Ooh, I like the sound of that dressing, Marilyn. I bet that has real tang. And yes, a lovely salad for warm nights. Sadly, they appear to be over down here now.

  8. Avatarchristine stinson

    Any drink with lots of fruit (+ alcohol) and a little umbrella makes me think tropics, Cathryn and Jenny, as do coconut prawns with a zesty seafood dressing. This is really a cruel exercise when it’s overcast and drizzling outside! Congratulations on the upcoming release, Jenny, and thanks for the recipe – that cake looks absolutely scrumptious.

      1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

        It is kinda cruel, isn’t it, Christine? Glancing out the window, all I’m seeing is drizzle right now. Oh well, we’ll just have to add sunshine to our lives with food. And alcoholic fruit drinks.

  9. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Somehow the tropics just says simple, fresh food to me. As if all that sun has made the ingredients the tastiest they can be and needing no fussing with. And the colours! So for me it would be best quality seafood, dripping sweet pineapples, mangos, avocados etc. placed on a massive platter in the middle of the table.
    Congratulations on the release, Jennifer!!

  10. AvatarAnnie West

    Hi Jennifer! Hi Cathryn!

    Love the idea of a pineapple macadamia upside down cake. My husband’s grandma used to make one (without the nuts) and it was a real treat. Congratulations on the new book. It sounds intriguing!

    What makes me think of the tropics? It has to be those cocktails with the fruit and umbrellas that I usually don’t go in for. Otherwise the fruit of the monsteria deliciosa (I’ve no idea if the spelling is right but hopefully you know what I mean). Actually that grows down here in NSW but it always seems utterly tropical to me.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I remember Mum having one of those in the sun room and it fruiting, Annie. And being amazed when someone told us it was edible. We never did though. Too scared!

  11. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

    This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Amanda B who has scored herself a copy of Turtle Reef. Some fab reading ahead there.
    Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun with your tropical ideas. All I want now is a hot holiday so I can indulge in them all!

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