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FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

Ahh, it’s Friday again which means delicious food and delicious people!

(And footy, but I’ll try not to bore you too much with the news that this weekend sees my darling Sydney Swans in a MUST-WIN clash against Carlton. Saturday night at 7-45 if you want to tune in and cheer, cheer the red and the white. Oh, go on, you know you want to.)

Er…back to delicious people!Annie West romance author

My guest today is the ever delightful Annie West who writes award-winning romances, featuring hot alpha males that make your toes curl with their powerful sexiness matched against women who are more than their equal in brains, looks and passion, and know exactly how to keep them on their toes. And all wrapped up in exotic settings. In other words, romantic fantasies that take your emotions on a heart-tumbling thrill-ride.

Annie’s latest release is An Enticing Debt To Pay (what a title!) and if you keep reading, you may just discover a giveaway on offer. But first, enjoy a taste…

 

AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY

 

An Enticing Debt to Pay by Annie WestDial R for Revenge…

Forgiveness is a foreign concept to wealthy investment trader Jonas Deveson. Someone has been stealing from him. He’s got a good idea who it is and she’s going to pay….

Seeing the harsh lines that bitterness has carved into Jonas’s handsome features, Ravenna Ruggiero knows he’ll never see the shades of gray in her actions.

Jonas blackmails Ravenna into working as his housekeeper to pay off her debt, but living under the same roof leads to unexpected yet forbidden temptation, and Jonas is no longer sure who is being punished!

 

Ooh, I get the shivers just thinking about how exciting that read will be and from September 17th you’ll be able to own your own copy. Simply visit that most awesome Platinum ARRC sponsor Booktopia, or check your local bookshop or chainstore. You’ll also be able to purchase direct from Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kobo, Google Play, Amazon, iTunes, Bookdepository, or your favourite retailer.

Now prepare yourself for more deliciousness with Annie!

 

French Fancies

aka It’s Got Fruit In It So It Must Be Healthy, Right?

 

Cathryn, thanks so much for allowing me a sought after spot on your scrumptious Friday Feast. FFs always make my mouth water and I vow to try the new recipes but only in a responsible, not-getting-fat way. Ha! The result is that I Window display of a French patisseriedrool shamelessly then have to go off and scoff delicious things. So here’s my revenge…

No, no, not revenge. I’m just bowing to logic. I looked at my calendar and thought ‘Friday Feast, wow! I’d better think of something yummy to share.’ Then I got distracted by the fact I’ve got a new book out next week. I’m a writer, I’m allowed to be easily distracted. Then I started thinking, as one does, of both at the same time, the book and food, and of course I had no choice then but to share my absolute love affair with that masterpiece of French cuisine, the fruit flan. It’s probably got a suitably wonderful and throatily sexy French name that does justice to the lusciousness that is fruit and sugary, creamy sweetness on a rich yet then buttery crust. I leave that to others. I just want to eat it.

My logic makes sense, truly. My book starts in Paris. To be specific it begins in an apartment in the ultra-upmarket Place des Vosges. The square is beautiful and symmetrical and a jewel of French history and architecture. I have several photos of it, but the one I look at the most is this one – the close up of my picnic morning tea there. Sigh. It’s a mini fruit flan (well, I call it mini) complete with berries and a fig so fresh I suspect someone plucked it from the tree that morning, then lovingly coated it with a delicious sugary glaze.

Another delicious French patisserie window displayFor Ravenna and Jonas, my heroine and hero, the Place des Vosges means a showdown that will change their lives – passion and anger and defiance and an undercurrent of attraction that plays havoc with their once neatly ordered lives. For me, it means sitting in the sun on a neatly painted green garden seat, with the sound of French schoolkids racing around the place, while I sink my teeth into perfection.

As you can see from the other couple of photos here I can’t stop at one when it comes to fruit flans. Wherever we went I’d stop and leer at shop windows and take photos of them so I could drool later. And the French know how to dress a window, believe me.

My advice, if you want to try the deliciousness that is a fruit flan, is to get someone else to make it while you relax in the sunshine with a glass of bubbly. Always a good plan.

Sadly it doesn’t always work so I’ve been forced to make my own. Be warned, it does take a little while. I don’t find the recipe difficult (and it has always worked), just time consuming. The perfect thing to do on a weekend when you’d rather immerse yourself in French fruity goodness than write a difficult chapter or clean the house or wax the car (I’ve never waxed a car but it sounds tiresome).

French Fruit Flan

Annie West's French Fruit Flan

Pastry:

1 cup plain flour

1 tablespn icing sugar

90 g butter

1 egg yolk

Approx. 1 tablespn lemon juice

Crème Patisserie:

1 ¼ cups milk

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tablespn plain flour

1 tablespn cornflour

1/3 cup castor sugar

1 teaspn vanilla essence (preferably the real thing)

Topping:

Your choice of fruit but you could use

Kiwifruit and or a punnet of strawberries

425g tin of apricot halves (or whatever takes your fancy)

425g tin of pitted cherries

Vanilla essence to taste

1 tablespn arrowroot

1 tablespn brandy (optional)

Pastry:

You could use bought shortcrust pastry but if you have time, try this.

Sift flour and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter. Add egg yolk and only enough lemon juice to make a firm dough. Press into a ball, cover and refrigerate 30 mins. Roll on lightly floured surface to line greased 23 cm flan tin. Cut off any excess pastry and refrigerate 20 mins. Bake blind for 7 mins at 220 celsius (ie. Line with greaseproof paper and cover with rice so pastry doesn’t bubble up). Then remove paper and rice and bake another 7 mins till golden. Cool.

Filling:

Combine egg, egg yolks, ¼ cup cream, flour, cornflour and sugar in food processor till combined. Bring remaining milk to boil in a saucepan. Pour hot milk gradually into other mixture while the processor is running. Process till smooth. Return mixture to saucepan, stirring over heat till it boils and thickens. Take off heat, add vanilla essence and cool to room temperature. Spread over pastry case.

Drain apricots, slice and keep the syrup. Arrange all the sliced fruit as you like on top of the crème patisserie (concentric circles work well). Mix arrowroot with a couple of tablespoons of syrup in a saucepan and stir in brandy and remaining syrup. Stir till it boils and thickens. Brush over fruit. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

 

Oh, Annie, that fruit flan sound fantastically luscious, just like one of your books!

Now, my darling Feasters, because Annie is generous and lovely as well as an excellent cook and author, she has a giveaway on offer. Simply share your favourite patisserie treat and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of An Enticing Debt To Pay.

Me, I bags pain aux raisins as my favourite treat. You can have all your croissants and pain au chocolats, gateaux, macarons and lemon tarts. A cuppa and one of those sweet flakey babies and I’m in breakfast naughtiness heaven. Délicieux!

So what’s yours tastebud tingling favourite?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th September, 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Annie and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and keep up to date through her newsletter.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Khi Pha who has won a copy of Annie’s latest release An Enticing Debt to Pay. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun!

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

A happy bouncy Friday to you all! I hope you’re all revved up for a fantastic weekend. I know I am. It’s AFL Footy Finals time and my beloved Sydney Swans are out to defend their premiership crown, plus I have one of my favourite Author Anna CampbellAussie authors visiting Friday Feast. Too much excitement!!

Multi-award winning author Anna Campbell writes luscious Regency period historicals overflowing with passion and emotion. They’re simply brilliant reads and I’m a huge fan-girl who gets more than a little bit giggly in Anna’s presence. Thanks to winning ARRA’s Favourite Australian Romance Author Award four years in a row, it’s fair to say she’s the reigning queen. A girl’s bound to get a bit silly!

Anna’s latest release is A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, a book I’m very much looking forward to reading, not least because of its magnificent cover. Take a look…

 

A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS

 

A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna CampbellIt Takes a Lady…

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett knows how to keep a secret. Her identity as the author of her father’s academic articles has always been her greatest deception-until a charming housebreaker tries to steal the mysterious Harmsworth Jewel from her. She doesn’t reveal that she recognizes her father’s devastatingly handsome new student as the thief himself. For Genevieve, this will be the most seductive secret of all…

...To Catch a Thief!

Sir Richard Harmsworth has been living a lie, maintaining a rakish facade to show society that he doesn’t care about his status as a bastard. Yet long haunted by his unknown father’s identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will confirm his claim as the rightful heir. But when Richard sets out to seduce the bookworm who possesses the stone, he instead falls for its beautiful owner. But even as she steals Richard’s heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure…

 

You want this, oh yes you do! And you can score your own rake with just a few easy clicks. Try most excellent Aussie bookseller Booktopia, otherwise Amazon or Bookdepository. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (Kindle), JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes or your favourite retailer.

And now I present the Romance Queen. Take it away, Anna!

 

Life is a Picnic!

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today on Friday Feast. You know I love being here, although I always feel like I emerge five kilos heavier after I’ve read your guests’ posts! Yum, yum, yum. Followed by nom, nom, nom.

Oh, dear, I’m starting to sound like an Internet Cat! I promise no cheeseburgers were harmed in the making of this post.

One of the fun things about visiting this blog (apart from hanging out with the very groovy Cathryn) is talking about scenes in my latest release that involve food. Last time I was here, I discussed yummy American wedding cakes. AndSeven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell the time before that, I talked about a scene in SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED involving seduction by baklava.

By the way, if anyone wants to try this out on me for real, I’m game. I LOVE baklava!

In A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, my latest release, more meal scenes are more prevalent than usual, partly because my rascally hero Sir Richard Harmsworth has infiltrated himself into the heroine’s home under a false identity. There are quite a few prickly conversations over the dinner table as Genevieve strives to dampen his seductive wiles. Needless to say, she doesn’t get far, but watching heroines try and depress our heroes’ impudence is always fun, isn’t it?

Probably the most enjoyable meal for my hero and heroine takes place on a punt in Oxford. Richard has lured Genevieve into floating away to a secluded spot under a willow where sensual pleasures are rife. Including lunch!

These Regency rakes know how to picnic in style. Fine gilded china. Crystal glasses. Linen napkins. Silk-covered cushions. Vintage champagne – allowing me to employ that romance staple, the heroine wrinkling her nose at her first taste. It’s a scene that pops up often in a romance. I think it’s a show don’t tell moment to demonstrate that the hero intends to sweep our heroine away into a world of new and glorious experiences.

Like all good Regency picnics, the one in A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS involves roast chicken. So I thought today, I’d share a VERY complicated recipe for chicken.

 

Anna Campbell’s Chicken and Wine

(degree of difficulty: 1 million stars)

A chicken ready for roasting with a bottle of wine

  1. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with oil of choice.
  2. Place in conventional oven at 180/200 degrees Celsius. Heat for 30/45 minutes.
  3. Take fresh or defrosted chicken and remove fat from the cavity. Rinse out the cavity. Wrap in tea towel to absorb extra moisture. Don’t refrigerate at this point.
  4. Pour large glass of wine and sit down somewhere comfy. Drink at own pace. Refilling as needed. If you are the heroine of a romance novel and the wine is a sparkling variety, wrinkle your nose, giggle winningly and say, ‘Oh!’ to the bubbles. Await kisses.
  5. When oil is sizzling hot (and preferably before you’ve had TOO much wine), place chicken in baking dish, breast down. Move around a bit to seal and to stop skin sticking to the pan. Baste.
  6. Return baking dish to the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 4.
  8. Stagger to oven. Turn chicken over and baste. Return to oven. If it’s a large chicken, leave it another 40/45 minutes. For a smaller chicken, around 30 minutes, but check regularly after 20 minutes, basting each time.
  9. Repeat step 4.
  10. Remove chicken. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Carve and eat.
  11. Open a new bottle of wine if old one is exhausted.
  12. Repeash shtep foursh. Hic!

I hope one day you’ll all try this complicated but rewarding recipe. I’ve made it several times myself to great headaches, um, success.

So let’s talk picnics. What’s your ideal picnic location? Picnic menu? Picnic companion? Or don’t you like picnics at all and you’d rather do you nose wrinkling indoors?

I’ve got a print copy of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS (with de rigueur champagne scene and roast chicken) for one commenter today. Giveaway is international!

 

Roast chicken and wine…ooh, Anna, you’ve captured my heart! I can so, so relate to this kind of cooking. Happens rather regularly here on Friday nights thanks to Friday Feast inspiration.

Now, my most gorgeous Feasters, you heard Anna. A print copy of A Rake’s Midnight Kiss awaits one lucky commenter. So get those typing fingers ready and share your picnic love (or unlove).

Me, I adore a good picnic, even good old Aussie ones with ants and flies and other critters. My darling beloved used to treat me to rainy day picnics, where we’d lay out a rug on the lounge room floor, crack a bottle of excellent white wine, have a bucket of prawns at the ready and opera (yes, OPERA – we’re classy folk here at Chez Hein) on the telly. Prawns, a good white, Turandot, and a lovely time can be had. As long as my darling Sydney Swans aren’t playing at the time, of course!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 10th September 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who won herself a copy of Anna’s new release A Rake’s Midnight Kiss. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope you had as much fun as Anna and I did.

FRIDAY FEAST with Shona Husk

Remember Toblerone brownies, Feasters? Well, she’s baaaaack! Yes, three time Australian Romance Reader Award finalist and paranormal and fantasy romance author Shona Husk Author Shona Huskis gracing Friday Feast once more, and what a delight to have her. Not least because I sniff more chocolate in the air…

But first, Shona has a new series and if it’s anything like her gloriously goblin-y Shadowlands books (gorgeous heroes, highly recommended), this one’s going to be a beauty. The first in Shona’s Court of Annwyn trilogy, The Outcast Prince, is smoking up the shelves now. Check it out.

 

THE OUTCAST PRINCE

 

The Outcast Prince by Shona HuskCaspian Mort can feel the history in anything he touches, a gift he inherited from his father, the Crown Prince of Annwyn. Devastated over his ex-wife’s infidelity, Caspian has withdrawn from human contact except when working as an antiques dealer.

While assessing the contents of the historic Callaway House he encounters the beautiful Lydia Callaway and senses that her home is haunted by a banished fairy. But what does the dangerous exile want? Unbeknownst to Lydia, she’s the owner of the last remaining portal to Annwyn–a mirror hidden somewhere in the house. To keep Lydia safe, Caspian will have to divulge the secrets of his heritage, and risk losing his heart again.

 

Excited about this one. Are you ready to get clicking? I am! Your copy of The Outcast Prince awaits. For the paperback, try most excellent Australian online bookstore and ARRC 2013 platinum sponsor Booktopia. You can also buy from Amazon, BookDepository and Barnes and Noble. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes or Barnes and Noble.

Now brace yourself, another chocolate hit is on its way!

 

Experimenting With Chocolate And Quinoa

 

I was going to call this post experimenting with quinoa but I thought it might scare a few people 🙂 About a year ago I’d bought a bag of quinoa which looked like tiny cream balls of polystyrene (they even clung with static to the bag). It sat in my pantry for a while before I found a quinoa porridge recipe with walnuts and cranberries. I made it a few times but it was a bit hard core and the kids were not impressed. However they will eat my 3 grain porridge (1 cup Arborio rice, 1 packet wild rice, ½ cup quinoa, about 1lt milk, ½ cup brown sugar and cinnamon—this makes a big pot and we add tinned peaches after microwaving in the morning).

I also discovered that quinoa makes a great brown rice substitute (well any rice really).

But that was as far as I went until a friend came over with mini chocolate quinoa muffins. YUM! And the kids loved them. I asked for the recipe but since I don’t have a thermomix she said I wouldn’t be able to make them. Ummm…I have a kitchen whizz, a saucepan, scales and beaters. I can make anything!

One quick google and I found something that I liked the sound of: Best Ever Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes.

However I cut the sugar down to ½ cup raw sugar and also only use ½ cup  cocoa (most recipes make things overly sweet) and I add a teaspoon of cinnamon.

If you make them in a mini muffin tin you’ll get heaps and can freeze them for afterschool treats.

One thing I have discovered when using quinoa instead of flour is that you need prep time as it takes time to cook and then time to cool before it can be blended. The muffins are also more fragile than flour based muffins but they also stay moist for longer.

Spurred on by the chocolate muffin success I eyed up my other recipes and wondered if I could simply replace the flour.

The new family favorite is choc orange quinoa muffins.

Here is the original recipe: Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here is my variation.

 

Quinoa Orange Chocolate Muffins

Shona Husk's choc-orange muffins

½ cup quinoa

1 egg

1 orange

80g butter

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup raw sugar

1tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1tsp cinnamon

50g dark chocolate

½ cup choc chips (optional)

 

Cook quinoa in 1 cup of water for ~12 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool.

Place in food processor and blend (it won’t be totally smooth)

Wash orange and chop into pieces.

Add to the quinoa in the food processor the orange, egg, butter and vanilla. Blend.

Add 50g dark choc, raw sugar and baking powder and baking soda and cinnamon. Whizz again. (mix will be flecked with chocolate)

If you want extra choc chips stir them through now. Then pour batter into greased or lined muffin tin. Cook for 15-20 mins at 180.

Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin before removing.

They keep really well, although I’ve never tested that extensively as they get eaten too fast.

 

I know that adding quinoa to a recipe full of chocolate doesn’t make it healthy, but it’s still better than the white flour alternative. I’ve also swapped out the flour in brownies successfully.

Go on find your favourite muffin recipe and give it a go. Worst case you get a delicious squishy mess.

And if you have any great quinoa recipes let me know!

 

Thanks, Shona. Fascinating stuff. I have yet to cook with quinoa but you’ve definitely inspired me. I love the way you’ve experimented. What does it matter if things don’t turn out perfect? As you say, a delicious squishy mess is still delicious!

So, Feasters, any quinoa fans out there? Got a recipe to share? I’m seeing a lot of recipes in cooking magazines for salads and I thought I spotted one where quinoa was used in a risotto, so it must be a very versatile grain. If you don’t use quinoa, do you use any other alternative type grains? I went through a spelt flour stage a while back and I love wild rice. So nutty. And barley? Oh, I LOVE that stuff. What about you?

If you’d like to learn more about Shona and her wonderful books (they are, believe me), please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, the Winkgirls blog and Darkside Downunder blog.