FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

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Greetings my book and food loving lovelies, and welcome to another bright and shiny edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing host to one of Australia’s most popular rural authors, revealing her stunning new novel, and setting your mouth a-watering with a comforting lamb shank recipe.

But first, the horror story that continues to be Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sliding backwards, folks. Backwards, fast and red-faced and silently screaming. I laughed at the end of my round last week but that only to stop myself from crying. I played so terribly that my nett score was worse than what my gross score should have been had I played anywhere near my handicap. In non-golfing terms, I was poo. Oh, well. Dare I say it again? The only way is up!

Author Fleur McDonaldAnd so we go upwards and onwards to this week’s Friday Feast guest, Fleur McDonald.

I’m sure Fleur needs little introduction. Since her debut novel Red Dust boomed on the Australian literary landscape her books have been best-sellers and Fleur has earned a special place in many reader’s hearts. With stories that reflect and celebrate our Australian heartland and farmers, Fleur has indeed become the “Voice of the Outback”.

Fleur’s latest novel is Emerald Springs. Check it out.


Cover of Emerald Springs by Fleur McDonaldAfter finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to her home town. Determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty, she works hard to prove herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the bags of cash into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying smash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she finds out that she and her boyfriend Paul are the objects of suspicion.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits . . .

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Doesn’t that sound a page turner? And you know being from Fleur the story will have real authenticity. Emerald Springs is published by Allen & Unwin and on sale now. But you can buy right this moment with just a few clickety-clicks from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, Dymocks, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, or your favourite independent book retailer or chainstore. Also try, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Time to get comfortable with Fleur.

Fire Food

Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on. I often read your Friday Feast blog and mouth is usually watering by the end of it all!

I have to admit I come from a family don’t really enjoy cooking or the finer details of food, so I think it surprised everyone when I announced my love of cooking (and certainly eating!)

My mum is a standard chops and three veg type lady, where as I love to experiment and play around. I love it even more when my partner helps me in the kitchen. Garry tends to be my sous chef. We really enjoy mucking around while we’re cooking and of course we always cook dinner with a glass of wine or a beer in hand.

I’m going to share one of my hearty winter recipes that kids love, today. Esperance has been experiencing a bit of winter in the last week, so I’ve started to drag out the old favourites.

Also I’ve got to admit, this is the time of year I really love writing and brain food is needed. When writing Emerald Springs, I spent a lot of time sitting next to the wood fire, which has a grill on top of it and cooking on it. Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks was cooked more than once, on top of the fire (which I know goes against the recipe but it still works – and isn’t that the best thing about cooking? The trial and error part!).

So here you go…

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

1 cup of plain flour

8 large French-trimmed lamb shanks

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of beef stock

¾ of red wine (and I give you permission to drink the rest of the bottle!)

1/3 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of corn flour

2 tablespoons of cold water.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat the lamb shanks with flour and cook in bathes on the stove until browned, then pop them into a large roasting pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until soft, then add stock, wine and maple syrup, stirring to combine. Then pour over shanks. Before roasting for about an hour, covered.

I love serving this with mashed potato (with grated onion in it) and steamed cabbage. Now not just any steamed cabbage. If you fry up a bit of bacon and add some Worcestershire sauce, before putting the cabbage in, it changes the whole idea of steamed cabbage!


You’re a woman after my own heart, Fleur! Lamb shanks are a huge favourite in our house, especially in the winter months. They’re wonderfully comforting. I love the addition of maple syrup to yours. I can imagine that adds even more sticky lusciousness to the final dish. Will definitely have to test this out. And I particularly adore your cabbage tip. That’s a good one!

So, my cuddly little Feasties, running with Fleur’s tip, what’s yours for brightening up a plain veg?

Do you add balsamic and bacon to your Brussels sprouts (learned that one from Helene Young) or perhaps sprinkle your asparagus with butter and toasted flaked almonds? Maybe you jazz your carrots up with a drizzle of honey?

I’m a firm believer in cheese sauce on cauliflower. That is heaven. Pure, mouth-watering heaven. Sigh. Want some now.

Enough of my drooling. Let’s get sharing our vege brightening tips and make each others’ days!

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



20 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

  1. AvatarAnnie West

    Hi Fleur, hi Cathryn!

    Love the sound of this new book. I’m already wondering about Amelia and that sceptical detective and so much else!

    I’m just about to copy down your recipe. It looks mouth watering and easy – just my style – the easier the better.

    Hm, so many nice ways to do veges. One of the faves in my family is the roasted parsnips. Parboil for 10 mins then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh thyme then roast – yum!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Oh, yum, Annie. Parsnips are lovely things. Sadly, my other half doesn’t agree but I sneak them in now and then. I imagine they roast up beautifully with the honey. All that caramelly goodness!

      Good time for shanks and veg too given the way the weather is today. Rain, rain, rain.

  2. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    Hi Fleur and Cathryn!

    First of all I’d like to say thanks so much Fleur for introducing me to rural romance. I’m a lover of reading That’s Life! And I found your article (I still have it believe it or not) about getting your first book published fascinating and I just had to go out and buy your book; my first ever rural romance and first time I’d heard of the genre and, now my shelves are bursting with beautiful Aussie Rural Romances. I am now well and truly hooked! Thank you again!

    This is my mum’s way of doing cauliflower and I’ve kept up the tradition: Boil a whole cauliflower (without the green leaves, of course), when it’s done set on a serving dish. In a small saucepan melt butter then pour over the cauliflower and sprinkle nutmeg all over – yum!
    Love lamb shanks will try that recipe in the slow cooker.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Oh, what a wonderful story of how you got hooked on rural romance, Sue. That’s so cool!
      Ooh, I think you’ve mentioned this whole cauli recipe before and it sounds gorgeous. Mind you, anything with butter poured over has to be delicious. I wish my Jim liked that veg. I adore cauli but he loathes it. I think boarding school cured him of liking cauli, and a whole lot of other veg for that matter. Make me wonder what they did to the poor veges!

      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing. Always a delight to read your comments.

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        Aww thanks Cathryn! It’s always fun visiting and commenting on your blog.

        Yeah, yay for Fleur! I’d hate to think of all the great Aussie rural authors I’d be missing out on if Fleur hadn’t of shared her story in That’s Life! Back then I was mainly reading crime and psychological thrillers. When I signed up with Facebook nearly 3 years ago not long after I “liked” Fleur’s page and that got me thinking there must be other rural writers around and googled ‘rural authors’ and was surprised how many of you were/are out there, and now my News Feed is jam packed with you gorgeous rural romance/romantic suspense authors.

        Oh, that’s right I have mentioned the cauliflower recipe a while back. Ok, here’s another one of my mum’s recipes. Hope I haven’t mentioned this one before? Cook carrots and peas then when cooked set aside but keep the water they’re cooked in, in a fry pan add the pea and carrot water and flour and make a sauce then add the veges, stir the veges into the sauce then chop parsley and mix into the veges and sauce – very yum! And, just in case I have mentioned that one here’s a brussel sprouts recipe (I love them, not many people do), once brussel sprouts are cooked keep it simmering, in a cup add some of the brussel sprouts water and a couple of tablespoons of rice flour and stir then add it to the brussel sprouts until it has a nice consistency, then add a (big) dollop of butter or if it’s easier take the brussel sprouts out of the pot and make the sauce then add them when the sauce is done.
        Cathryn, perhaps your Jim might eat them as mentioned above, more sauce less veges, hee hee.

        1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

          I can only try him, Sue. Your recipes certainly sound tempting to me! He’s pretty good with stir-fries. I can chuck pretty much any veg in those and he’ll eat them, probably because they’re laced with chilli. We do love our hot n spicy food here.
          You know the weird thing, the one veg he’ll happily scoff is peas but I can’t stand them. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’ll eat them raw, fresh out the pod but tinned or frozen? Urgh. It’s a hangover from childhood when I was forced to eat them. Oh, the ways I used to try to get out of it!!

  3. AvatarDB Tait

    Hi Fleur and Cathryn
    I’m fond of ordinary old green beans lightly steamed then tossed in some fried garlic and butter. Flaked almonds go well in this too. Love that recipe. The maple syrup sounds intriguing.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      It does, doesn’t it, DB? Imagine that sweetness with the gooeyness of the shanks? It sounds beautiful.
      Your beans sound lovely too. All that garden fresh crunch with some lovely butter and garlic. Nice. Very nice indeed.

  4. AvatarFi

    Commiserations on the golf, Cathryn, but I’m sure you’ll bounce back next week. You’ll have to find your lucky undies and wear those 🙂
    Hi there Fleur, love your books, love the mind picture of you and your Garry ‘chefing’ together with a bottle of red, and the fire in winter. And then sitting down to hot lamb. Shall have to do it with my slow cooker but will mention to hubby we need to drink red in the kitchen,
    warmest wishes for another hugely successful book

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I’ve been wearing my lucky undies, Fi. Without fail! Perhaps that’s the problem. They’re worn out. Hmm…

      The shanks won’t turn out without that red in the kitchen. So important to get the details right with these things,

  5. AvatarHelen

    Hi Fleur and Cathryn

    I do love any recipe with lamb shanks and this one sounds great must try it 🙂 and yes I often put a bit of bacon in with my cabbage it really does add a lot of flavour 🙂

    Have Fun

  6. AvatarEnisa Haines

    Hi Cathryn. I’m always entertsined by your golf stories. 🙂 Enjoyed reading about your latest rural romance. Very intriguing. And yiur lamb recipe is in my recipe folfer, thank you. To make beans more interesting i boil them for a short time until they’re no longer raw, in a frypan I heat some fresh cream mixed with garlic salt and the slightly boiled beans. Cook until cream begins to boil. Take from heat and serve this cream sauce xish with your fave meat. Yum.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Ha ha ha, Enisa. Rotten typos. They happen though, no matter how hard you try not to let the little buggers in. Your bean dish sounds wonderfully decadent. I bet it’s seriously tasty. Mmmm.

  7. Avatarmarilyn forsyth

    Hi Fleur and Cathryn! Love the lamb shanks recipe and will definitely be trying it this winter. Here’s my veggie recipe: cherry tomatoes and asparagus spears tossed together with olive oil and lemon thyme leaves then baked for 10 minutes. Quick, easy and delicious.
    Love the sound of your new book, Fleur.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      God, that sounds beautiful, Marilyn. Asparagus is a beautiful veg and that tip with the cherry tomatoes sounds fast, tasty and healthy. Am going to try!

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