Category Archives: Friday Feast

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings once more from the food and book marvel that is Friday Feast. This week: an important announcement, a tasty tagine and I bore entertain you once again with that most splendiferous of rural romance novellas, Summer and the Groomsman.

Did you know this series has been going for over four years now? That’s a loooong time in bloglandia. Every week for eleven months of the year we’ve had Australian authors sharing their latest releases and mouth-watering recipes, and it’s been a blast!

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn HeinBut it’s also been quite time consuming and has on more than one occasion taken me away from my writing. Given that I have plans for world literary domination (and, really, who doesn’t?) I need to take a bit more care of my writing time, so it is with no little sorrow that I inform you that Friday Feast will soon be ending as a regular blog post. It will, however, pop up from time to time when I or one of my lovely author friends are in the mood for some foodie fun.

Righty-o, let’s return to normal programming with the dubious joy that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.

Steady is the way I’d describe my golf game at the moment. Nothing special but kicking along nicely, which is good. One doesn’t want to peak too early when next week sees the ladies Medal of Medals playoff, and this one is going to be hard-fought, let me tell you. This competition takes all the year’s monthly medal winners and pits them against each other in one round, like a best of the best battle. It’ll be tough and competitive, and as convivial as all our games are. I’ll probably get all nervous and screw it up as usual, but that’s okay. The sun will hopefully be shining and the ladies will be their normal lovely selves and we’ll all have a great day regardless.

And now, another gawp at Summer and the Groomsman because I know you can’t get enough of Mr Sexy on the cover. I certainly can’t!

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Mr Sexy is available right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You know you want him.

Can’t stand ebooks? Stay tuned for news on the print edition, coming soon!

Now for some talk about…

Tantalising Tagines

We love a good tagine in the Hein house. They’re so easy and great for a Friday night when we’re after something set-and-forget. With their lovely spices and addition of dried or fresh fruit these are the casseroles of the Middle-East and Mediterranean, but unlike normal casseroles which tend to favour the cooler months, tagines suit warm weather dining too.

Terracotta Tagine

My trusty terracotta tagine

I probably don’t need to tell you that tagines are named after the conical cooking vessel in which they’re cooked. I have two of these now. The first tagine is a traditional terracotta version that you have to soak overnight in water to ensure the pottery is moist enough to cope with cooking heat, and, I suspect, also adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the end dish.

Stupidly not having brought one home from France with us (where we could have snaffled one for about €5), back then we had to hunt around to find our terracotta tagine. Now these things are everywhere and made out of everything from stainless steel to ceramic, cast iron, copper and combinations in between.

One of the things that disappointed us about our terracotta version was its small size and shallow bowl. More than half a kilo of meat and it would overflow. As we like to cook double amounts and freeze the rest for lazy times this was a bit of an inconvenience, leading us to keep an eye out for a new one.

Scanpan tagine

My shiny new Scanpan tagine

Cast iron looked cool but would have weighed a tonne. Because of the soaking necessity, a large terracotta one would have been bothersome and require too much forward planning. The ceramic ones were okay but… nah. Then we spotted the Scanpan version and were lovestruck. So shiny, so pretty, so perfect in its sleek dimensions. Best of all, so easy to clean and no overnight soaking required. We had to have it.

And it’s proved a cracker! I’m your basic overexcitable home cook and don’t for one second consider my food authentic to any cuisine, and our tagines probably don’t even come close to the unique flavours of the traditional, but they’re pretty bloody tasty all the same. Lamb with dates, beef with raisins, meatballs in tomato sauce with baked eggs… we’ve made all sorts.

One of our favourites though, is the one I’m going to share today: Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates. I have a feeling the original recipe was torn out from a newspaper but, as usual, we’ve tweaked the ingredients and method to suit our own tastes and cooking laziness. With its gold and lemony hues it looks like a summer dish, and the flavours? Sweet, spicy and lovely. And now we have a larger tagine we can make it in the full amount and have leftovers.

No tagine? Never fear! Simply use a normal casserole.

Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates

Serves four

Chicken Lemon and Date Tagine

4 chicken marylands, thigh and leg separated

Olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons paprika dolce

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated

1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed, rinsed and pith sliced finely

1/2 lemon, finely sliced

Salt and pepper

2 onions, finely chopped

8 fresh dates, pitted and cut into halves crossways

Coriander leaves.

Mix spices, garlic, ginger, preserved lemon and lemon slices together with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in chicken pieces and toss until well coated in the spice mix. Leave to marinate for an hour.

Heat the tagine base over medium heat. Add a splash or two of olive oil and throw in sliced onions. Cook, stirring, until a few minutes until softened then add 250ml of water and mix. Add chicken and stir then top with tagine lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add dates and bake a further 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Season well, sprinkle with coriander and serve with couscous to mop up all the lovely spicy juices.

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So Feasty ones, what’s your favourite cooking vessel? Or maybe you prefer a no-fuss barbecue or not to cook at all?

Besides my tagine, which I luuurve, and my wok which I’d be useless without, my favourite dish is probably my super-sized copper pan. It makes the best casseroles, even beating the enamel-coated cast iron pots for delicious results. No idea why but I imagine it has something to do with the evenness of its heat distribution. I also have a thing about my Le Creuset terrine. It just looks fab!

What about you? Share away. You might convince us of the need for something shiny and new.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, have a potter around the website where you’ll find cool things like The Story Behind pages for each of my books, and more. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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This week on Friday Feast, lucky devils that you are, you have ME again. I’m sharing one of my absolute favourite pasta recipes, showing off my new release again (because I can, and I love it to bits and want you to as well), and… oh, let’s have a giveaway. It’s been too long!

But before you get to that excitement, you must endure news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As mentioned last week, the past weekend saw me compete in the final round of the Romance author Cathryn Heinclub championships and I came SECOND! Okay, so technically with only two of us ladies left in the field I also came last but we’ll  ignore that. What was kind of cool was the gallery (aka the hecklers) surrounding the 18th green, watching the field come in, and me making a very respectable par in front of them instead of cracking under the pressure. Not normal Hein golfing behaviour at all!

Now to plug my book, which I’m allowed to do to my heart’s content because it’s my blog and I have overlord (overlady?) powers. I will, however, try not to be boring.

So… reviews for my new release Summer and the Groomsman are coming in and they’re lovely! I’m so chuffed. 5 stars from Talking Books Blog and 8/10 from Bree at 1 Girl 2 Many Books, along with lots of very kind comments about the sweet characters and the humour of the story.

It’s enough to make a girl a little teary. Or drink fizz. I prefer the latter.

On the off chance you haven’t had enough of it yet (which of course you haven’t), here’s the cover and blurb.

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Oooh, this story is FUN. And you should buy it now, oh yes you should! Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks or Nook.

Now, grab those pots and fire up that stove, because this recipe’s a cracker.

Pucker-Up For Pasta

By now you’re all probably aware that I’m a sucker for recipes that taste disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort they take to prepare. I never used to be this way though. In fact, there was once a time when the longer the recipe, the more complicated, the more ingredients it required, the happier I was. And if it involved learning some obscure new technique, even better.

Personally, I blame the 80s.

Me at uni graduation with big hair

Me on graduation day with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads beneath my gown.

Everything had to be bigger and better then: hair, shoulder pads… plates. Remember enormous white plates with tiny bits of lonely food on them? So fashionable. I still have the most beautiful Royal Doulton set in my crockery collection. You could eat entree and main off those things and still have room for dessert, but I’ll never get rid of them because they’re so nice.

The ‘more is better’ fad followed me into the early 90’s too, when I moved to Melbourne. I used to hold these dinner parties that would take days to prepare for and involve early morning trips to Queen Victoria Market followed by hours in the kitchen and exhaustion by the end of the evening. Vogue Entertaining magazine was my bible, along with Elle Cuisine and another short-lived ultra-cheffy one I can’t recall the name of.

These days? It’s all about maximum taste from minimum effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to spend an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with something novel. I adore cooking, trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, especially on a Friday when there’s the end of the week to celebrate. Weekdays though, it’s all good food done fast. Well, not necessarily fast but certainly without drama.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, pasta e fagioli. Pasta and beans.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different recipes for this, and I certainly don’t claim the following as authentic. Not even close. In fact, my version is a total mash-up, and even then I change it around, depending on my mood. But in my book adaptability is a sign of a great recipe, plus mucking about is fun. I think traditionally, like many cucina povera dishes, pasta e fagioli is meatless. I also believe it’s meant to be runnier, like a soup. I make my version thick and serve as a plated pasta. Easy to eat and very satisfying.

The key to the success of this recipe is in the sausages. Honestly, if you don’t have good Italian sausages, don’t bother making it. Without them the dish will turn out ordinary. With them, it’ll be delicious. But as I’m sure you know, using quality ingredients is the secret to getting the best out of all recipes.

Look for lovely chunky pork sausages with plenty of seasoning. Fennel is a must, and if you can score ones with chilli in them as well, even better.

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

Serves 4

My Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 fat Italian sausages

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dried chilli flakes to taste (if the sausages are chilli-less), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

400g can tomato polpa (or used tinned tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher)

½ cup (125ml) beef stock

400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

250g macaroni (or any small pasta – tiny penne works well as tubetti and ditalini)

Grated parmesan to serve

Method

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and chop if really chunky or you can feel gristly bits.

Squeezed out Italian sausage meat

Heat a good splodge of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Cooking chopped onion

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Increase the heat a little and add sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add tomato paste, chopped tomato, chilli (if needed) and stock, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Simmering tomato and sausage meat

Taste and season as needed, then stir in beans to heat through.

Tomato, sausage mince and beans

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and mix.

Spoon onto plates and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, and watch those plates clear!

Empty plate

Okey-dokey, cos I’m feeling in the mood for one, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Hmm, which book shall I put up for grabs? I had planned to give away a print copy of Summer and the Groomsman but, annoyingly, they’re not ready yet (gah!). How about a copy of my debut Promises by Cathryn Heinrelease Promises instead? I love that story. It’s a bit Romeo and Juliette-ish, is set in south-east South Australia where I’m from, and has lots of gorgeous horses. Perfect!

Already have a copy? That’s okay. If you win, you can always give the copy away as a present. I’ll sign it to whoever you like.

So, to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Promises, simply leave a comment revealing your favourite pasta or noodle dish.

How’s that for easy peasy?

I’ve just shared mine, although I do have many other recipes in my collection that I adore. Veal ragù with home-made papardelle springs to mind – that dish is amaaaazing – and I just love spinach and ricotta canneloni. Ooh, and how can one go past pumpkin ravioli with sage butter? That dish is like eating autumn!

So what’s your favourite? Share and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th November 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, there’s plenty to discover on this website, including a fun video on my About page on How To Grow An Australian Romance Author, plus The Story Behind each book and more on its book page. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Welcome, food and book lovers, to the blog series that satisfies both mind and body. This week on Friday Feast, you have me. I’m sharing a childhood memory along with an easy picnic food recipe, and showing off my upcoming release Summer and the Groomsman.

Author Cathryn HeinBut first, the rollercoaster ride of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. After flopping dismally in the ladies premier competition, the Goblet, I’m now focusing on the club championships. Three rounds in and I’m sitting pretty in second. And no one can catch me! That might have something to do with the fact that there are now only two ladies left in the contest, but we won’t talk about that. Second is still second, even if is also technically last. And who knows, if the gun player ahead of me also pulls out, I might even win!

Enough of golf silliness. It’s time to wax lyrical about next week’s release of my rural romance novella Summer and the Groomsman. To say I’m excited about it is an understatement. This sweet, heart-warming story has been in my head for so long I thought it would never get out, yet here it is, all golden and lovely, and ready for you.

Take a looksie…

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Doesn’t that sound fun? I promise it is. Secure your copy today by pre-ordering from Amazon.com, Amazon.auAmazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, or Nook.

All sorted? Good. Now come on a picnic with me.

A Rocky Tale

Who doesn’t love a good picnic? There’s something about eating al fresco that increases your appetite and makes everything taste better. Throw in great company and you have the best of days.

Well, mostly…

About 100 kilometres from my home town of Mount Gambier, parallel to the Coonawarra wine region but across the Victorian border toward the small town of Dergholm, there’s a state park. On its western edge is a camping area called Baileys Rocks. This has great significance to our family because it’s where my maternal ancestor John Bailey settled with his wife Frances in 1888. Probably to escape his 5 brothers and 5 sisters in Portland (they bred well in those days).

When Mum, who was mad about genealogy, discovered that the old homestead’s foundations could still be seen at the site, she ordered my family up for a look, dragging my godparents and their family along for the ride.


The area contains the most amazing rock formations: 500 million-year-old boulders of granite that look like giant marbles, and possess an eeriness that just begs you to hum the haunting Picnic At Hanging Rock movie theme tune under your breath as you walk around.

I was quite young at this point. Perhaps around age 10, I can’t be sure, but I recall having a great day. Running around the giant rock formations, exploring the bush, following the creek, breathing in the scents of eucalyptus and scrub… what better adventure for a kid? Some of the boulders had drill holes and blast marks where attempts had been made to mine the granite, only to be foiled by the hardness of the rock. We had picnic food and cordial and found the original house foundations. I have a feeling we may even have played bush cricket. All was good.

As everyone who lives in Australia knows, picnicking is not without its perils. Besides sunburn, we have pesky wildlife to contend with. There wouldn’t be too many of us who haven’t been annoyed by flies, spiders, snakes, wasps, bees, dive-bombing birds, even the occasional fearless emu, when dining outdoors. And everyone has had trouble with ants.

Ant quoteBaileys Rocks had the usual small black ants – those determined, pesky creatures that can sniff a sausage from a mile away – but it also had bull ants. Great big fat aggressive ones. The territorial sort that attack and take about ten heavy stomps to kill, and even then the buggers keep twitching.

Unfortunately my poor godfather got bitten by one.

To be fair, it could be my faulty child’s memory but I swear he went red, then purple, then his neck went missing as his entire upper body swelled up like a provoked toad. Bemusement was followed by concern and mutterings about how bad it truly was, what his laboured breathing meant, whether a hospital trip to Penola was in order. These days, we’d probably recognise his condition for what it was – an allergic reaction that needed medical attention, but this was the 70s and in my experience it took more than an ant bite and a touch of anaphylaxis to put people in a flap.

So my godfather was left wheezing, and we carried on having fun before eventually packing up and tottering off home, happy and tired from the day and filled with wonder for those amazing rocks. He survived – god knows how – but a lesson was learned: watch out for bull ants. They can spoil your day and make you look freaky.

Fortunately I already knew that thanks to an experience I had when I was little and out rabbitting with my dad. I needed the loo and being in the middle of a paddock, Dad just told me to go. So I did. Straight on a bull ant’s nest.

But that’s a story for another day.

Eh hem. Time to get back to the subject, which is picnic food!

Here’s a recipe for a dead easy frittata that’s as good cold as it is hot, can be made well in advance, and is perfect for an outdoor meal. It’s also very adaptable. As long as you have the main ingredients you can tweak it however you like. The photo below has the frittata made in an enamel-coated cast iron pan, but life’s much easier using non-stick.

I made this recipe last night for dinner (that’s the slice of frittata photo) using red onion because I didn’t have any spring onions, and served it with salad. Delish!

Picnic Frittata

Frittata

Serves 8

1 kg waxy or all-purpose potatoes, skin on, cut into 2 cm chunks

2 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways and cut into 1 cm slices

100 g baby spinach

10 eggs, beaten

6 spring onions, finely sliced

Heat a good wodge of olive oil in a 27 cm non-stick pan over medium heat and throw in the chorizo (you can also chuck in roughly chopped red onion at this stage, if you want). Cook until lightly browned and the oil has lots of flavour from the chorizo, then remove the meat using a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.

Slice of Frittata

This version was made with sauteed red onion instead of spring onions. Great for lunch!

Meanwhile, steam the potatoes until just tender. Allow to dry out a little, then add to the flavoured oil and sauté until slightly crispy and the potatoes have taken on the spiced oil.

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Return chorizo to the pan and combine.

Mix the spring onions with the whisked eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower the heat and pour egg over the potato mix. Stir to even out the ingredients, plonk on a lid and cook until the egg is set, about 10-15 minutes or so, depending on thickness. If you’re feeling excited, finish it off by lightly grilling the top.

Cut into slices and serve warm or cold.

No chorizo? No problem. Simply swap with any other kind of spiced sausage, ham or bacon. No spinach? Leave it out. Honestly, as long as you have eggs and spuds, you’ll be right. The rest is up to your imagination.

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So, clever Feasties, what’s your favourite picnic food? Do you have something special you make for outdoor events? Please share. We’d all love to hear!

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, why not tootle around the website for a while? There’s lots to explore. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicki Edwards

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Hello, Feasty Lovelies, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week: the Thermie cult snags another member, a quiche to make your mouth water, and a rural romance giveaway. Seriously, we have it all.

But first, all the drama from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Exciting news! Last Sunday I was asked to fill in for our ladies pennant team – think club representative golf and that’s kinda what playing pennants is – and not wanting our girls to have to forfeit a match, agreed to have a go. Oh. My. God. I can’t remember when I had a more stressful round of golf. The pressure! Made worse because the lady I was playing against was a gun, with a much lower handicap than me. But despite trailing almost the entire round, come the 16th I rallied and won the hole, then I won the next, which put us tied on the 18th tee. After smacking my drive long and far up the middle of the fairway then hitting a not bad second just off the green, in a fairy tale ending I won. Whoop! Sadly our girls lost the day but we remain in pretty good stead in the overall competition in equal first. Honestly, I don’t know how the ladies do it every week. It was bloody stressful!

Author Nicki EdwardsSpeaking of stress, we book lovers know that the best way to wind down after a tough day is with a heart-warming read and my guest this week is a lady who delivers just that. Geelong girl, critical care nurse and romance author Nicki Edwards’s first release Intensive Care was enthusiastically received by reviewers and readers, as has been her second, Emergency Response, which hit shelves last week. Not least because Nicki’s rural-set medical romances reflect her love of country life and small towns, and teem with authenticity.

Check out Emergency Response. You’ll love it.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Emergency Response by Nicki EdwardsRunning away didn’t solve anything … at least, not the first time.

Intensive care nurse Mackenzie Jones is no stranger to running. As a teenager she fled her family home leaving tragedy and loss in her wake. Now, after fifteen years alone in Sydney, with the strain of working in a city hospital wearing her thin, she’s tempted to run again.

Mackenzie jumps at the chance to work in a mining town in the West Australian desert – anything to lift her spirits. Though she barely dares to hope, she wonders if she might find the kind of love that can ease her loneliness.

In the outback, Nathan Kennedy is at a loose end. He’s been making money in the mines for years, and pressure from his family to return to the east coast, settle down and get married is reaching fever pitch. The problem is, he hasn’t met the right woman.

When Mackenzie turns up in town, there’s an instant attraction between her and Nathan, maybe even true love. But tragedy’s not done with Mackenzie Jones – the past is about to catch up with her in more ways than one.

Can Nathan convince Mackenzie to stop running, or is this just another tragedy in the making?

Emergency Response is a heart-warming read that you should buy right now. Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Booktopia or your favourite book retailer.

Now come join the newly converted Nicki!

My New Love (I Joined A Cult)

Thanks so much Cathryn for having me on Friday Feast again.

Last time I admitted to readers that I have a little secret – I despise cooking which made it ironic that I was writing a cooking related blog post! I also admitted I didn’t even own a recipe book, which shocked a few people.

But I’m here to announce all that has changed in the last two months!

I am now the proud owner of a thermomix.

Yes, I have joined the ‘thermie’ cult and I’m a cooking convert!

Over the past few weeks I’ve made all the usual thermie staples – sorbet, hummus dip, risotto, soup – and I’ve been brave enough to try ice cream, fried rice, bolognaise sauce and beef stroganoff. I’ve also made my own peanut butter, raspberry jam, egg mayonnaise and Caesar salad dressing. I know, I’m impressed with myself too!

But I have to tell you about the bread. O.M.G. The bread. I’m talking better-than-Baker’s Delight white bread. It’s just perfect with the home made jam! Close your eyes for a moment and inhale deeply. Can you smell that just-out-of-the-oven fresh bread? MmmHmmm.

Nicki's Bread

As part of the full thermie experience with Trixie (yes, I named my Thermomix), we invited friends for dinner and I made almost everything from scratch in the thermomix. But before you get the idea that owning a thermomix has totally transformed me from cooking hater to cooking lover, let me set the record straight. The thermomix is awesome, but it doesn’t do the cooking for me. Neither does it clean up after itself! Apparently, that’s still my job.

Nicki's Thermie in the kitchen

Anyway, this post is not just about my thermomix. Today I want to share a scrumptious secret recipe with you – one of the very few recipes I own that’s hand written on a piece of paper. I remember tasting this quiche about 25 years ago and once I had the recipe, I’ve never used another one for quiche. I figure if I can actually master something, there’s no point messing up perfection! And this quiche is perfection. You’ll be emailing me and thanking me, I promise.

Nicki's Quiche

This is what it looks like before you put it into the oven. I don’t have an “after” photo because trust me, you’ll want to be eating it straight off the screen.

It’s perfect served hot with a salad, or cold the next day (but we never have leftovers!)

Nicki’s Quiche

4 rashes of short cut bacon or 4 bacon rashes, diced

2 spring onions, chopped

¾ cup grated tasty cheese (light is fine)

4 eggs

1tblsp plain flour

¼ tsp dried thyme

1 ½ cup milk (light or full cream)

½ cup cream (light or full cream)

1 large tomato, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Whisk or beat eggs with flour, cream, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute bacon. Line quiche dish with shortcrust pastry (Feel free to be clever and make your own – I buy the frozen stuff!). Place bacon, cheese and spring onions on top of shortcrust pastry. Pour egg/milk mixture over this. Carefully place sliced tomato on top. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 190C.

For a chance to win a copy of “Emergency Response”, share your recipe — the one you never mess with (or share your favourite quiche recipe).

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Jeez, that Thermie cult is rampant. It’s already taken my buddy Rachael Johns and now it’s claiming more authors. Mind you, I can see the benefits. A gadget that takes all the  work out of stirring risotto has to have status, and I did taste an amaaaaazing sorbet at the Thermie demonstration I attended. For busy people with families, or for those who don’t enjoy cooking, I bet a Thermie is a life saver, and if you love kitchen gadgets – and who doesn’t? – this would be a must. I mightn’t be quite prepared to fork out for one, but if someone offered me a Thermie as a present I sure wouldn’t knock it back!

Nor would I knock back a slice of your quiche, Nicki. It looks lovely. Bacon, cheese, eggs… you can’t go wrong.

Now, food and book lovers, you heard our generous guest, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the giveaway draw for an ebook copy of Emergency Response, simply share the recipe or dish that you never, ever mess with. Or, if you prefer, your favourite quiche recipe.

The recipe I never mess with is an Asian noodle dish made with pork, thick rice noodles and chilli bean paste. Oh, I LOVE that recipe. It’s spicy and fast, delicious and, with all the veg I chuck in, nutritious. The perfect weeknight meal. In fact, I made it Monday just gone.

So what’s the dish you never mess with? Share and you’ll be in the draw to win Nicki’s brand new release, Emergency Response.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 3rd November, 2015. Ebook only. Open internationally.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

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Hello food and fiction lovers, and welcome to another aromatic edition of Friday Feast. This week: a charming contemporary romance from a favourite Australian author along with some delicious figgy goodness.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite occasional lapses of concentration and some appalling putting, I’m actually rather pleased with how my game’s Author Louise Reynoldsimproving at the moment. The winter golfing blues appear to have been well and truly cleared away. An enormous relief, let me tell you, because with the club championships now in progress, four weeks of horror play would have been too awful to contemplate.

What IS wonderful to contemplate, however, is today’s guest. Louise Reynolds has fast become a very popular contemporary romance author, with good reason. Her books have great dialogue, fantastic settings, memorable characters, and lots and lots of romance. Perfect. Oh, and beautiful covers too. So beautiful that her previous novel, Red Dirt Duchess, was announced best rural romance cover at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference. Fair enough too. That one’s a stunner.

Louise’s brand new release is If I Kissed You. Prepare to be charmed!

IF I KISSED YOU

Cover of If I Kissed You by Louise ReynoldsRaised by a pair of hopeless hippies, Nell Connor had to grow up quickly. But now her father, awash in whisky, has handed her the reins of his Irish pub. After obliterating every trace of Ireland, Nell has transformed it into a smart, and trendy bar. Business is booming but, outside of work, things aren’t going so smoothly.

When gorgeous musician Declan Gaffney arrives, it’s clear he’s definitely not Nell’s type.  He’s Irish (therefore must be feckless and unreliable), he sings romantic Irish ballads (which Nell hates) and his nomadic lifestyle reminds her of some of the most painful parts of her childhood.

After Declan helps Nell out of a tricky situation, her father takes a shine to him and starts matchmaking. And when her aura-reading mother turns up, Nell’s carefully ordered life is thrown into chaos. She’s losing control but the biggest shock of all is yet to come … 

In a story that shines a light on the unusual forms family can take, Nell must accept that sometimes love takes you in unexpected directions.

Doesn’t that sound enticing? Hard to resist an Irish hero. If I Kissed You is available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Booktopia. Grab your copy today!

Now please welcome Louise, who is going to delight you with one of the world’s most beautiful fruits.

Two Simple Ingredients

Thanks for hosting me again on Friday Feast, Cathryn. As you know I’m a keen reader of your blog. What better entertainment than books and food, with a side helping of the Hein’s golfing triumphs and tribulations.

Fig, Prosciutto, MintBut, you know, I’m a little bit peeved. Recently you hosted Amy Andrews with her smarty-pants throw-it-together-no-cooking-needed recipes and her two-ingredient crockpot soup, all of which look wonderful for next to no effort and the blurb for her Gazillionth fabulous book!

I was ogling that soup when the penny finally dropped. This is why the woman is a writing powerhouse. She spends next to no time in the kitchen. While I’m boning rabbits and scouring Melbourne for the freshest burrata, I’m not banging out the words. I’m a kitchen goddess, not a writing machine, Nigella not Nora (oh, why can’t I be both?).

So I’ve taken a leaf out of Amy’s book. No more elaborate Friday Feast recipes from me. Today, in the spirit of friendly competition, I offer a two-ingredient recipe of my own (two because everyone has mint in the garden, right?). It’s my throw-it-together, no cooking needed appetiser and it’s a crowd pleaser.

It’s the sort of dish my heroine, Nell, in If I Kissed You, would prepare for herself and friends on a night off from the Fitzrovia, her fashionable St Kilda hotel. She might have a two-hatted chef in the kitchen at work but what girl doesn’t want to pare it back to basics, kick off her heels, open a good bottle of wine and serve a simple meal she hasn’t slaved over?

But stop! I’m me. Because that fictional chef downstairs at the Fitzrovia needs a job, and because I just can’t help myself, I’m going to add value to those ingredients with the addition of two simple ingredients, lemon and cream.

So here’s that recipe, two ways.

Nell’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto

Fig, Prosciutto, Mint

Quarter lusciously ripe figs and lay in a tumble on a plate. Twist curls of prosciutto by the side. Garnish with tiny mint leaves. That’s it.

Fitzrovia’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto with a Minted Cream Sauce (with thanks to Richard Olney)

Crush 6 mint leaves in the juice of 1 lemon and leave for 30 mins. Discard the mint. Dissolve a pinch of salt in the juice then stir in ¼ cup of thick heavy cream and whisk till smooth. Drizzle around the dish as above and garnish with additional mint leaves.

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Oh, Louise, you’re a woman after my own heart. I adore figs. They’re so succulent and gorgeous and versatile, as you’ve shown. I have to say I love the minted cream sauce idea. Definitely one to try.

So Feasty lovelies, how do you like to use or show off fresh fruit like figs? I know it’s a bit naff but I really enjoy melon and prosciutto. They just seem to team so well. Grapes in salads are yum too, like little bursts of sweetness. As for desserts, sour cherry strudel, anyone?

So what’s your favourite way with fruit? Sweet or savoury, we’d love to hear.

If you’d like to learn more about Louise and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook, Twitter using @LouiseHReynolds, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Joan Kilby

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Hello, food and book lovers, and welcome to another super-tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week, a sexy outback romance, a delicious cake, and an even more delicious book giveaway!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. This week marked the first round of my golf club’s premier ladies competition, the Goblet. It also coincided with me coming down with a filthy cold but, being the dedicated golfing fool that I am, I dragged myself out to play. Probably should have stayed in bed because while my front nine was quite good, by the time I hit the turn my cold ‘n flu tabs had worn off and I was knackered. The only positive is that I’m not coming last but maaaaan, am I close!

Author Joan KilbyEnough of that. It’s time for something uplifting, sweet and maybe just a bit sexy too, all of which we’ll find with my guest today, contemporary romance author Joan Kilby. Originally from Vancouver but now a staunch Melbournian, Joan has published over 30 novels. In an exciting move, Joan has joined with fellow authors Sarah Mayberry and Karina Bliss to release The Outback Bachelor Ball series, with Joan’s book Win Me as the lead title.

This series looks fabulous, not to mention hot! Take a look.

WIN ME

Cover of Win Me by Joan KilbyShe’ll do anything to get him to see her as a woman…

Feisty, fearless Ellie McFarlane has tried forever to get cattle station manager, Rick Drummond, to notice she’s not another cowhand. So when her gal pals talk her into glamming up for an Outback Bachelor and Spinster ball she’s eager to prove she’s all woman, all the time, and leave her boneheaded cowboy eating dust.

Sexy wrangler Rick is crazy about Ellie just as she is but her father – his boss – told him long ago that his daughter was off limits. Even though she’s all grown up now, Rick still feels it’s his job is to protect her, not seduce her. Plus, he’s finally got an opportunity to buy back his family farm which means moving far away.

Ellie’s transformation from Cinder-Ellie to belle of the ball has Rick’s jaw dropping – and all the other cowboys falling at her feet. Ellie tries to revel in her new-found sex-pot status but without Rick it’s a hollow victory. Has Rick left it too late to claim the only woman he’ll ever truly love…?

Doesn’t that sound fun? What a hoot! And you can be assured you’re in expert story-telling hands with Joan. Win Me releases October 20th but you can pre-order it right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.auAmazon.uk, Amazon.ca, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Want to read a sample? Joan has a very tasty excerpt on her website. You’ll love it, and while you’re there check out the other two titles in the series, Karina Bliss’s Woo Me and Sarah Mayberry’s Wait For Me.

All set? Excellent. Now please give a warm welcome to Joan because she has something veeeeery nice for you!

Girlfriends and Cake – Best Friends Forever

Thanks, Cathryn, for having me on Friday Feast.

Cooking and baking are among my favourite hobbies, right up there with eating. Probably like a lot of people, I learned to cook by helping and watching my mother. Mum was an awesome baker. Mouth-watering smells of homemade bread, cookies, cakes, pies formed a sensory backdrop to my childhood. Mum even made cookies or brownies on weekday mornings so we would have something yummy in our school lunches.

The recipe for coffee cake I’m sharing today was Mum’s. Australia has tea cake but the Canadian equivalent – a delicious, quick and easy cake that’s best served warm – is coffee cake. It’s quite a bit richer than a tea cake so anyone who’s avoiding sugar and butter, look away now.

My mum and a group of her friends formed a diet club and called themselves the “Fat Ladies.” Mum would always make this cake when it was her turn as hostess. She and her friends never lost any weight – and were unabashed and unconcerned by the fact – but they had a lot of fun. I remember the gales of laughter coming from the kitchen during their get-togethers. And now, when I have friends over, I make Mum’s coffee cake.

The Outback Bachelor Ball seriesThis idea of women friends having fun together has special significance with my latest release. In Win Me, my heroine, Ellie, and her two best girlfriends have a reunion at a Bachelor and Spinster Ball. Not that Ellie has much time to cook – she’s got a hot cowboy to wrangle. In a case of life imitating art, writing friends Sarah Mayberry, Karina Bliss and I had a wonderful time collaborating on The Outback Bachelor ball series. I only wish we could have sat around a kitchen table and eaten coffee cake while we discussed our stories instead of relying on email and Skype.

I’m not sure where Mum got this coffee cake recipe from but I’ve copied it down from her hand-written recipe card complete with vanilla stains, butter spots and a smear of cinnamon. These are the original amounts but Mum (and I) always doubled the recipe because, well, nuts and cinnamon and buttery deliciousness! And because I love the topping so much I always increase those amounts by another third. Any leftover topping can, of course, be eaten straight from the bowl. I also add extra cinnamon because you can never have too much cinnamon. The batter doesn’t seem like it’s going to be enough but somehow it rises and fluffs up around the topping. And it’s all about the topping!

I’m giving away a copy of Win Me (Book 1, The Outback Bachelor Ball series), any e-format, anywhere in the world.

What’s your favourite recipe that you got from your mother or grandmother?

Nut Coffee Cake

Joan Kilby's Nut Coffee Cake

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

3 tbsp butter

Batter:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Prepare topping: Melt butter and combine with brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon

Joan Kilby's Nut Coffee Cake in panPrepare batter: Combine flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat till light. Gradually stir in dry ingredients alternately with milk. Spread half the batter into a greased 8 X 8 inch pan (20 X 20 cm). Sprinkle on half the topping. Spread the rest of the batter on and sprinkle on the remaining topping.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Eat while it’s warm.

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That sounds unreal, Joan! I am so giving this one a try. I love easy recipes that are disproportionately tasty to the amount of time they take to make. They’re real keepers.

Now, my Feasty lovelies, you heard Joan, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an ebook copy of Win Me, book 1 in The Outback Bachelor Ball series, simply share the favourite recipe that you snaffled from your mother or grandmother. An aunt, godparent or family friend will also do.

I have so many I don’t know where to start! There’s my mum’s pavlova, my grandmother’s buttery scones, my godmother’s cream puffs… I’m a bowerbird when it comes to recipes and the list is huge. What about you? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 20th October 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

15 Replies

Greetings, food lovers, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Feast, once more featuring me. And what fun we’re going to have too, because I have toys to show you!

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn HeinBut first, the roller-coasting fun that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. With the rise in temperature so does my golf game continue to improve. Not in great leaps and bounds, as one would like, but slowly and surely. I’m even trying smarty-pants shots. Admittedly not all of them pay off but one day soon they’ll begin to. I can feel it in my waters… Or maybe that’s just an omen of where my balls will end up if I continue the smarty-pants act. We shall see!

Right, as always we need a lovely read for you to check out. This week we’ll look at my latest release, The Falls.

THE FALLS

Cover of The Falls by Cathryn HeinWill losing the home she loves mean finding the place she belongs?

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

Talking Books Blog described The Falls as “A knockout of a read that had me completely captivated from the first page…” And this great story could be yours with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Big W or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Now come join me in playtime!

My Favourite Gadgets

Ooh, I adore a good gadget. They call to me from the windows of cooking shops and chef’s supplies, from catalogues and department store shelves, and don’t get me started on the sink that is the internet. I have been known to escape for hours into Peters of Kensington, Kitchenware Direct, Kitchen Warehouse, and places far flung.

I’ll admit to buying quite a few items that I’ve never used and probably never will. Those ravioli cutters I bought spring to mind, along those wanky steel rings for plating up salads into perfect Kitchen junk drawertowers. And silicone egg poaching pods. Who the hell thought those were a good idea? Me, obviously, seeing as I have half a dozen of the useless things clogging my kitchen junk drawer. Palette knives are another dud buy, along with dough cutters. I mean, I know they’re lovely and I have used them, but it’s far easier to grab a knife from the rack, and god knows I have a pile of those things too. Knives of every persuasion, from teeny-tiny fruit knives to giant cleavers and the most beautiful carving knife from Toledo. What do I use most? The cheap Chinese chef knives with the soft steel that sharpen fast and blunt just a quickly. Mind you, at least I don’t cry when I break the tip off those, unlike my others.

Yes, I cry over broken (good) knives. Doesn’t everyone?

But, you know what? For every dud gadget I own, there’ll be another that’s paid for itself many times over. In fact, there are a few things I’ll admit to being perhaps a tad obsessed by.

Like…

The Best Whisk Evah

I bought this in Cologne, Germany, and wish I’d bought one in every size plus the one with the Teflon-coated balls on the end. Over ten years on and I’m still stroppy that I only bought this one, and live in fear of it somehow disappearing from my life. This whisk is the GOODS. Seriously. It whips faster than any other whisk, ingredients don’t get caught up like they do with balloon whisks, the beads catch every corner, it makes a satisfying noise when you use it, and it’s plain cool. I would go back to Cologne just to buy another of these whisks. ‘Tis the truth.

Me with my beloved whisk

El Cheapo Knife Sharpener

$14-99 from Aldi and one of the best gadget investments imaginable. Before this baby I’d persevered with steels of all persuasions, without success. I don’t care what the purists say, sharpening knives the proper way when you have no prowess has knobs on it. But with this, a few strokes through the slots and my knives are back razor sharp. Yeah, they’ve probably had about ten layers of steel stripped off them in the process but I don’t care. At least my knives get used now. Before they sat in their racks all blunt and annoying because I could never get them sharp enough to use again once the store edge wore off. Now they are. I rest my case.

Knife Sharpener

Porcelain Pastry Beads

Once upon a time I used to go through bags of rice and beans, simply for blind baking tart bases. Not anymore! Now I simply pull out my pastry beads and away I go. They’re nice and heavy, cool fairly quickly and store away on the shelf in an old passata jar next to my rolling pin. Great investment! Oh, but do not drop the bottle or container they’re kept in, or spill them when lifting from the pastry case. Ever. These beads bounce, far and high. You’ll be picking them out of your home for the next year.

Pastry beads

Microplanes

What did we do before Microplanes? Can you remember the torture that was zesting citrus before these came along? The zester in particular is a must in any kitchen. You need one of these, oh yes you do. It is a thing of much beauty and will transform your zesting life.

Mircoplane Zester

Mandolin Magic

Like The Best Whisk Evah, I’m a little obsessed with this gadget. I bought it in Stockholm from a lovely big cooking shop that I discovered during my wanderings. The truth is I wanted a pure stainless steel version but the price of the one I had my eye on put me off. This one cost 495 Krona – about $80 or so – and it’s a cracker. It slices and shaves and juliennes and crinkle cuts and cleans up a breeze. Yup, those Swedes sure know a thing or two about design.

Mandolin

Mortar and Pestle

There’s something very satisfying about bashing things in a lump of granite and watching tough foodstuffs like lemongrass pulverise into pastes. The pestle makes a really cool ring when you use it, and the fragrance of the ingredients when they release all their goodness makes the cooking process even more exciting. I have two of these. A mid-sized one for small jobs and then the big mama for things like curry pastes.

Mortar and pestle

The Mixmaster That Will Not Die

You have no idea how much I crave a new mixmaster. I look at all that lovely new technology out there and want to weep because I can’t justify buying any of it because my 20+ year-old Sunbeam refuses to die. The engine occasionally overheats when mixing highly resistant things like dough but even then it keeps churning away. Sometimes, when I’m feeling naughty, I walk away from it in the faint hope it’ll vibrate its way off the bench, but no. It stays there, whipping, mixing, doing its thing as it’s always done. I hate it. But I love it too. Oh, faithful cooking servant.

Mixmaster

There are lots of other gadgets I could wax on about – my pasta machine, digital scales, Mouli, the humble garlic press, so many knives (now that they’re kept properly sharp), the really cool sieve I bought specifically for making one sauce and rarely use, a bazillion pots, pans and tins, that work of art meat tenderiser I bought in Vienna (cos they know aaall about schnitzels there) – but the above are the tools I can’t do without. I love them. Like, really, really love them. Which is a perfectly normal way to feel about a life-saving kitchen gadget, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

What about you? What’s your favourite kitchen gadget? Or maybe there’s one you want some clever-trousers to invent?

Share away. You might entice me, or someone else, to a new obsession!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There’s lots of cool stuff on here. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news, plus giveaways and more, not to mention secret ‘I love yous’ from me, please sign up to my newsletter. There’s going to be some pretty exciting news in it very soon!

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

20 Replies

Greetings food and book lovers! Welcome to Friday Feast, the blog series where Australian authors prove they’re as talented in the kitchen as they are at producing great reads. This week, a favourite rural romance author with a favourite Aussie snack. Perfect!

Mandy picBut as always, you must first endure Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I played well! Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? Not after all the weeks (months?) of doom and gloom. But it’s true. In fact, I played so well I knocked half a stroke off my handicap. ‘Tis this glorious spring weather I think, all those positive vibes in the air. Or maybe I just started looking at the ball. Whatever it was, I want more of it, please. The club championships approacheth!

This week’s Friday Feast guest is much-loved Australian rural romance author Mandy Magro, whose first novel, Rosalee Station was a huge hit and she hasn’t looked back since. Rosalee Station was followed by Jacaranda, Flame Tree Hill, Driftwood and Country at Heart, which makes The Wildwood Sisters Mandy’s 6th release. This is an author definitely pleasing her readers!

THE WILDWOOD SISTERS

The Wildwood Sisters by Mandy MagroThe past Renee Wildwood once ran from still haunts her…

Ten years ago, Renee’s twin sister Scarlet went missing. In the threatening aftermath, seventeen-year-old Renee was forced out of her home at Wildwood Acres, leaving her family and her boyfriend behind. Although the case has long gone cold, every day Renee hopes the person responsible will be found. She has since made a new life for herself in the city but fate intervenes when a family emergency forces her to face up to her fears and her painful memories. But can she go back to Wildwood Acres, the one place her heart yearns to be but where her life may be in grave danger?

Dylan Anderson has never quite got over the loss of his first love, Renee Wildwood, who left him without a word. He’s now a single father trying to make it on his own after the tragic death of his wife, and his cattle property is struggling financially. Against all odds he’s taking steps to get his life back on track, starting with a new job. But how will he feel when he finds Renee, the girl who stole his heart, is back at Wildwood Acres? Will he ever be able to forgive her?

Doesn’t that sound amazing? And how about that stunning cover? You will want this, oh yes you will! The Wildwood Sisters releases on October 26th but you can pre-order it right now and have it in your hot little hands right on release day. Try Booktopia, Amazon, iBooksKobo, your favourite book retailer or direct from the publisher, Harlequin (where you can also sample an extract).

All set? Now enjoy this delicious treat with Mandy.

Home Comforts…

Thanks for the warm welcome back to your Friday Feast blog filled with drool-worthy yumminess, Cathryn. This will be my fourth time visiting and I’m so excited because as you already know from my previous visits, I love anything to do with food.

I’m renowned amongst my friends and family for always thinking about my next meal, be it a home cooked creation or a meal enjoyed out and about at a favourite restaurant or pub. If given a choice to go clothes shopping or to shop to my heart’s content at a food market the latter will always win, hands down. I adore seeing and tasting all the delicious delectables showcased at a good foodies market like cheeses – the mouldier the better, deli-style meats, fresh pastas, dips, breads, chocolates, teas, spices…oh my I think I’m beginning to drool.

I better get on with sharing the recipe of my favourite sausage rolls…Lamb and Fennel!

Lamb and Fennel Sausage Rolls

(click link above for the recipe)

Mandy's lamb and fennel sausage rolls

I follow this recipe word for word and the golden parcels of scrumptiousness turn out perfect every time. 🙂

Happy eating!

Mandy

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They sound delicious, Mandy! Thanks for sharing the link. I remember seeing this recipe in the Woolworths store magazine and tore out the recipe myself. I’ve yet to make it but it appears I’ll definitely have to remedy that. They look fab and who doesn’t love a sausage roll?

What about you, Feasties? Are you a sausage roll or a pie or pasty person? What bakery style food is your favourite?

Must admit, I really do love a sausage roll but they’re terribly bad for you, so a once-in-a-while treat. A pasty is a good option. The veg in it means you can kid yourself it’s healthy.

If you’d like to learn more about Mandy and her wonderful rural romances, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachel Bailey

34 Replies

Hello tasty people, and welcome to Friday Feast, the blog series where Australian authors share their love of food, latest releases and more. This week it’s choc heaven so prepare to drool, plus we have a wonderful book giveaway!

But before that, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. After last week’s debacle in the Gold Brooch play-off I thought the only way was up but no. The barrel of my golfing despair has yet to have its bottom scraped. There were good shots, especially with my driver, but mostly they were bad. I appear to have a massive problem with looking at the ball, ie. I can’t seem Author Rachel Baileyto look at it at all. I may have to change from marking my balls with blue love hearts to pictures of Chris Hemsworth as Thor… shirtless. That’ll hold my focus!

And now on to today’s delicious guest. Rachel Bailey is a USA Today best-selling author whose books have been published in over 26 countries and translated into 16 languages. She also loves dogs. As everyone knows, dog lovers are the best people so that makes Rachel extra cool.

Rachel’s latest release is the very delectable looking The Finn Factor. Check it out.

THE FINN FACTOR

The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey coverSometimes all a girl needs is a little practice…

It’s been twelve months, three days, and eleven hours since accounting student Scarlett Logan made it past a second date. A pitcher of mojitos in hand, she employs her supreme graphing skills to narrow things down to one horrifying explanation. Kissing. Clearly someone needs to teach her how to kiss properly. Like, say, her best friend and roomie, Finn Mackenzie. He’s safe, he’s convenient, and yeah, maybe just a little gorgeous.

Finn knows exactly why Scarlett’s boyfriends are disappearing quickly. Him. Not a single guy she’s brought home is nearly good enough. And he’ll be damned if he lets some loser give her “kissing lessons.” No. He’ll do the honors, thank you very much. The moment their lips touch, though, everything turns upside down. But Scarlett deserves the one thing Finn can’t give her. And if he doesn’t put an end to the sexy little shenanigans, he’ll teach Scarlett the hardest lesson of all…heartbreak.

I LOVE the sound of this book! And you will love it too. The Finn Factor releases on September 28th but you can pre-order it right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble, and come the day it’ll be sitting in your reader, ready for devouring. Easy!

If you would like to taste test this delicious book, Rachel has an excerpt on her website. I also recommend you read her Sunday Smooch on the LoveCats DownUnder blog. It’s fantastic!

Now, for the really luscious part… Please give a big welcome to Rachel, who’s celebrating the world’s favourite foodstuff: chocolate.

Secret Ingredients to Make Chocolate Even Better

I’m a chocoholic. There’s a good size portion of my brain taken up with just thinking about chocolate and planning my next foray into the chocolate cupboard. So it’s pretty safe to say that A mug of hot chocolate with spice sprinkled on topI’ve done a bit of – how shall I say – chocolate experimentation over the years.

Most people have caught onto the chocolate and salt trick, courtesy of the salted caramel craze, but my brother and I were dipping our French fries into chocolate and/or caramel sundaes for years, though when I was older, I started a more sophisticated blend: salted popcorn in with our M&Ms.

A few other tips from my years of experimentation:

Hot Chocolate: you’ve tried cinnamon sprinkled on the top and you’re looking for your next taste sensation? Try cardamom. A friend added cardamom and cinnamon on my coffee years ago (apparently it’s a common treat in the Middle East), and I loved it. Of course, I also extended the idea to hot chocolate. It blends nicely but has an exotic flavour.

Ice-cream: I make chocolate ice-cream at home, and the chocolate was just never strong enough when I followed the recipes. A tip from a friend helped here – add a teaspoon of coffee. chocolate icecreamYou can’t taste it in the final product, but it makes the chocolate even chocolatier, kinda like adding sugar to tomatoes when they’re cooking. We never make it without coffee now!

Chocolate and chilli: You’ve tried the fancy chocolate and chilli and the expensive chocolate shops and want to recreate the effect at home? There are two ways I use – a sprinkle of chilli powder in my hot chocolate, but that’s limited to winter use. My other favourite way is smearing chocolate spread over toast, then adding a thin layer of sweet chilli sauce. It’s like there’s a whole party in your mouth.

So, over to you – any tips on chocolate combinations for me? Or, if you’re not a fan of chocolate, what’s your favourite combination of flavours? I’ll give a e-copy of The Finn Factor to one commenter!

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What fantastic tips! I especially like the icecream one, Rachel. I’m going to try that one out because, like you’ve found, many recipes aren’t often chocolatey enough. And if you’re going to eat chocolate, there should be no holding back.

Now, my sweet Feasties, did you read the above? Rachel is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an e-book copy of The Finn Factor, either share one of your choc tips or favourite combination of food flavours and you’ll be in the draw.

I’ll start you off with my choc tip: if a recipe calls for dark choc, trying using the Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt. The salt seems to add extra oomph.

So what’s your tip or food combo favourite? Share and you’ll be in the draw to win The Finn Factor!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 29th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

6 Replies

Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.

But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend My new blue oveheart marked golf balland I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.

Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.

Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

And now for something slurpalicious.

My Leetle Dumpling…

I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.

I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.

They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.

With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.

Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.

Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.

No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.

I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.

It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.

Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!

I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.

So here it is. Enjoy!

Dumpling Soup

Cathryn's dumpling soup, ready to slurp

Ingredients

12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)

60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 egg

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents

1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too

6 thick slices of fresh ginger

1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.

Method

Peel and devein your king prawns.

Australian green king prawns

Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.

Chopped ingredients in processorNote: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.

Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.

Gow Gee wrappers laid out, ready for filling

Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.

Prawn filling on gow gee wrappers

Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.

Filled dumplings

Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.

Saucepan of flavoured stock

Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.

Prepared soup bowls with the vegetables

When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.

Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.

Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.

Dumpling with dipping sauce

And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!

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All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?

Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!

What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.