Tag Archives: cakes

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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Hello lovelies, and welcome to another super-tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week, in a not-to-be-missed post, one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors shows off her gorgeous new release, gives you a step-by-step guide to jelly cake bliss, and generously offers a wonderful giveaway. So keep reading!

But first, the sigh-worthy saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. At last I’m home from South Australia and have managed to hit a familiar golf course with my own clubs. Author Anne GracieI was more than a bit fretful that some of Dad’s bad golfing juju might have followed me home and curled its sniggery, meddling self around my clubs but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Thank god. Then again, it could be simply biding its time. The curse is sneaky that way.

What is most definitely not sneaky is this week’s Friday Feast guest. She’s a joy! Multi-award winning and best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie is an auto-buy author for me. Her stories are charming, fun, emotional and absolute delights to read. If you’ve never tested the Regency romance waters, then Anne’s Chance Sisters series it the perfect place to start. The Autumn Bride and The Winter Bride were completely heart-warming and now book three in the series, The Spring Bride, has hit Australian shelves with US following shortly. It looks another beauty. Check it out.

THE SPRING BRIDE

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne GracieOn the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. Haunted by a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane is determined her own children will never suffer the same; she intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable–a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own.

If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined–and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I already have The Spring Bride loaded to my e-reader and with a few quick clickety-clicks you could have this charming book too. Try those good people at Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. Or visit Book Depository, Amazon.comAmazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, or your favourite book retailer.

All loaded up with some spring goodness? Great. Now get some jelly in your belly with Anne!

A Retro Wonder

I made these recently to take to a friend’s birthday party. I was going to make something savoury, but I’ve known this woman since she was 15, so I decided to make something fun and yummy and retro. They proved a big hit.

Cup cakes are very fashionable, but for my money these are more delicious and fun. And surprisingly easy to make. The hardest part is getting the jelly at the right texture, and that’s all a matter of timing. And I had to buy a new patty pan tin because Mum’s old one was all rusty.

Jelly Cakes

Makes up to 30 or more little cakes, depending how you fill the patty pans.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

The cakes:

60g butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 cup self-raising flour

2/3 cup milk

The coating:

85g packet raspberry jelly crystals (any flavour will work, though)

1 cup boiling water

2/3 cup cold water

3 cups desiccated coconut

The filling:

Lashings of whipped cream (a 300ml container of thickened cream is plenty)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 12 hole shallow patty-pan tin (1.5 tablespoon capacity) or a gem-iron pan. (If you don’t have one, a cup cake or small muffin pan might do)

2) Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add in egg, a little at a time, beating until well combined.

3) With a big spoon, gently fold in half the flour and half the milk. Repeat until remaining flour and milk is used up.

Jelly cake batter

4) Spoon mixture into patty pans. Bake for 10 — 15  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack. (Cakes can be frozen in this state and kept for coating later.)

Jelly cakes ready to bake

Baked, un-iced jelly cakes

5) Make the jelly in a big shallow bowl. Stir jelly crystals and boiling water together until crystals are dissolved. Mix in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and slightly thick. (*This is the trickiest part. It needs to be the texture of unbeaten egg white.  Too runny and it soaks into the cake, too thick and it won’t coat the cakes at all. Check frequently. If too solid sit the bowl in some hot water to reverse the setting process. Or maybe zap it in the microwave.)

Jelly cakes being coated in jelly

6) Place coconut into a large bowl. Make like lamingtons — coating each cake in jelly, then rolling in coconut. Pop them into the fridge for half an hour or so to let the jelly set.

Jelly cakes being rolled in coconut

You can serve the cakes like this or fill them with cream, which is decadent and delicious and as far as I’m concerned traditional.

7) I put the jelly-and-coconutted cakes in a large plastic container, and keep overnight or until an hour or two before I want to serve them in. (You can freeze them at this point, too, I believe.)

Place jelly cakes into the fridge

8) Whip cream. Carefully slice the top off each cake and place large blob of cream on the inside. Replace top of cake. That’s it.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

When you’ve finished creaming all the cakes, eat the wonkiest looking one — you owe it to your guests to make sure the cakes are fit to be eaten. 😉 Put the remainder in the fridge. Then resist temptation firmly, or else there will be no cakes left!

A bitten-into jelly cake

Oh, these are brilliant, Anne! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Jelly cakes were such a favourite growing up and you don’t see then often now, certainly not  home-made ones, which are the only ones to have. Love the step-by-step instructions too. Very helpful.

Now for the bit we all adore. Yes, Feasty lovelies, Anne has offered a…

GIVEAWAY!

But of course you’re going to have to work for it. Not very hard though, I promise. Today your task is to choose which cover of The Spring Bride you prefer most and why. So… does the Australian version do it for you?

1SpringBrideAussieMed

Or the US version?

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Me? I love the covers of both. They both sing spring, but I have to admit that the US version is the one I like best. Her dress is stunning!

So what about you? Reveal which cover you prefer and why and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of The Spring BridThe. Just the thing to enjoy with a cuppa and a sweet jelly cake.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd June 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @AnneGracie, and the totally fabulous WordWenches blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

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Hello food and book lovers, and welcome to this week’s whiz-bang edition of Friday Feast. This week: one of Australia’s most loved rural romance authors, some serious foodie technology, cupcakes to die for, and a giveaway!

But first, the no-news zone that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m currently in Mount Gambier, my home town and the place where my golfing life began. Also the location where the phrase “Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf” originated, courtesy of my father. Again this week I have nothing to report game wise, although I did go out with Dad for smack around the practice fairway, where I got to laugh at his air swings and other duffs. Never fear, the Great Golfing God will get me back for my meanness. He always does. The bugger.

Right, onto to our most fantabulous guest.

Author Rachael JohnsAnyone who loves rural romance and Australian romance fiction knows who Rachael johns is. She blasted onto the best-seller lists with Jilted in 2012 and hasn’t looked back, growing her readership with Man Drought, her hugely successful Outback series and more. She’s also a great friend, and we’ve spent many an email, phone call, text, and late night in conversation, talking all things bookish and life, which is why she’s featured in the acknowledgements of my books. Gotta thank our friends. God knows, they put up with enough.

I’m thrilled to have Rachael on Friday Feast and if you haven’t already done so, you should all go out and buy Rach’s latest release and sequel to Jilted, The Road To Hope, right now. It’s a beauty!

THE ROAD TO HOPE

The Road to Hope by Rachael JohnsNurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

Told you The Road To Hope was a beauty and it can be yours right now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. You can also buy from Dymocks, Abbey’s Bookshop, QBD The Bookstore, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, direct from the publisher Harlequin or try your local independent book shop or chain store.

Now settle back and be whizzed by Rach!

I Bought A Thermomix

So… I recently relented and bought a Thermomix. It was just over a year since I went to my first demo and saw this kitchen tool in action. At that first demo, I remember not being THAT impressed. Sure the Thermie made a yummy dip and pretty delicious sorbet, all fairly easily, but Rachael Johns's Thermomixwas it really worth it’s $2k+ price tag? I am not a domestic goddess these days and my kids are so fussy that what I cook is so mundane I’m even bored myself. The only enjoyment I get from cooking is baking cakes and yes, I enjoy eating them just as much.

I left the demo semi-impressed but still unsure how much I would use such a gadget. Then, over the next few months every time I made a cheese sauce or a soup or a cake, I thought about how much quicker, how much easier it would be if I had the super machine on my bench. During this time a number of other friends became Thermie owners – and maybe it was a case of coveting what I didn’t have but I felt myself coming around to the idea. When we had to bake cakes for a school cake-stall it took up my whole day, thus I lost ALL that writing time, and I thought, you know… if I had a Thermomix I could do this SO much quicker. I could also make MORE cakes to sell.

Carame; cupcake batter in the ThermomixThen, a year after that first demo I went to the second and THIS time the host made cocktails with her old Thermie while the consultant cooked up a feast with the new Thermie (note, the old was pretty cool but the new one is all digitalized and awesome. It has a  micro-chip recipe book and everything that pretty much cooks for you! Seriously good for those dunces in the kitchen like me). Well, I took one sip of said cocktail and my decision was made. I’ve had my Thermomix for almost four months now and I actually haven’t MADE any cocktails but knowing I CAN is enough 

So… what have I made and was the $2k+ price tag worth it? Well, I threw out my rice cooker, my blender, my electric beaters and most of my other kitchen appliances, so now I cook all my rice in Thermie and do all my cakes, biscuits, etc in there too. I always made pancakes lots and now do these in the Thermomix as well. I’ve made a couple of full meals – a steamed chicken dish, risotto and a really delicious chorizo and sun-dried tomato pasta – and it is SO easy.

Just from the oven caramel cupcakesI’ve also taken to making myself a veggie juice every morning and am really enjoying experimenting with this. Best thing is probably that I have less mess at the end of a cooking session and also that I can go away and leave the Thermomix cooking while I attend to other things. Great news for a busy mum and writer who sometimes gets lost in her own little world.

I use my Thermomix at least once a day if not more. I find the recipes it comes with are fabulous but there are also millions more online tried and tested by other Thermomix users. I’ve even used non-Thermomix recipes and find they are really easy to adapt. I recently made an apple and oat cake from a recipe Cathryn gave me 🙂 I’m sure there are a lot of Thermomix users who utilize theirs a lot more than me, but I do not regret the purchase and find I’m using it more and more each day.

And right now… I’m off to try a caramel cake recipe I saw in a magazine. I’m going to convert it for Themie!!

***

It worked! But I decided to make cupcakes instead. Here’s my adapted recipe – they might look bland but they taste AMAZE-BALLS!!

Caramel Cupcakes

caramel cupcakes

Ingredients

125 grams softened butter

220 grams packed brown sugar

1 ts vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 Ts golden syrup

150 grams plain flour

75 grans SR flour

a pinch of cinnamon

125 mls milk

Method

Line 12 large muffin tins with cases. Put oven to 180 degrees.

Put butter, sugar and vanilla in Thermomix bowl and mix for 20 seconds on speed 5.

Add eggs one at a time, set blades on speed five and add eggs through hole in the lid. Mix about 30 seconds.

Add half flour and half milk and mix for 10 seconds on speed 5. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk. If not quite mixed together, scrap down sides and turn up quickly to speed 6 for a second.

Spoon into prepared muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Caramel Icing:

Ingredients

50 grams butter

30 grams milk

70 grams brown sugar

100 grams icing sugar

Method

Add butter, milk and brown sugar to bowl and cook for 6 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 3. After two minutes increase the temperature to 90 degrees. After four minutes (two minutes to go) drop temperature back to 50 degrees and remove the measuring cup from lid.  Once done add icing sugar and mix for 10 seconds on speed four. Scrape sides and remix if necessary. Allow to cool before icing the cakes!

 

They sound and look DIVINE, Rach. I’m definitely giving these a run, although I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way with my mixmaster (which I’m still trying to blow up so I have an excuse to buy a new one). Mind you, looking at that icing, I might just skip the cake bit and make the icing. That’d be pretty tasty scooped into my mouth by the spoonful. Not healthy, mind, but we don’t get too het up about things like that here at Friday Feast.

Now, my sweet little dumpling Feasties, Rachael, as we all know, is a bloody luverly person and an open-hearted one too, which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Rachael’s gorgeous new release, The Road To Hope, simply share your favourite cupcake flavour in the comments below.

I bags lemon! I’m a sucker for anything tangy and citrusy and lemon will trump chocolate for me almost every time.

What about you? What’s your favourite cupcake flavour? Strawberry? Plain vanilla? Or do you have an exotic flavour for us to drool over? Share and we’ll pop you in the giveaway draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 19th May 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show – Part 3: The Cakes

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Cake fans, this one’s for you!

I had no intention of having a separate cake blog post to match Part 1: The Animals and Part 2: The People, but the cake decorating competitions at the Sydney Royal Easter Show were so amazing and I took so many photos, that it warranted its own post.

The creators of these cakes are brilliantly artistic and clever. I hope you enjoy!

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

And finally, baking. I bet these competitions were hard fought!

2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - Cake Competition

Which cake is your favourite?

I adore the first one of the cow. That’s a crackup. They’re all pretty impressive though. I can’t imagine how low they took to craft. These people have more patience, not to mention skill, than me, that’s for sure. A great showing.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, my cute little Feasty bunnies! Welcome to this Easter edition of Friday Feast. This week, you’re blessed with ME! And I have something deliciously sweet and naughty to share too. Oh, and a suuuuper giveaway.

But first, the ongoing debacle that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You know how last week I said that the only way is up? Erm, no. Apparently things can get worse. Horribly, embarrassingly worse. I came last in the ladies comp. Last. Now, we ladies also have this extra competition where the winner of the previous monthly medal has to donate an encouragement Author Cathryn Heinprize to be given to the following month’s bottom dweller. Yes, I won my own bloody prize back. Oh, the ignominy!

Sigh.

Anyway, onto more positive things.

There are only nineteen sleeps until my next rural romance The Falls releases. That’s close. Which means you should all have your itchy clicking fingers hitting those pre-order buttons now. Cos this book has a seriously babelicious blacksmith in it. And a nutty ram. And other really, really cool stuff that you won’t want to miss.

Take a looksie…

THE FALLS

Will 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 Cover of The Falls by Cathryn Heinentire 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.

The Falls is an uplifting story of healing and hope from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland, and Rocking Horse Hill.

Exciting, n’est-ce pas?  Which means you should order it right now. And if you do so from those excellent folk at Booktopia, you’ll score a signed copy. But be quick on that one. I’m off to sign copies of The Falls at their warehouse next week and if you don’t have yours secured, you might miss out. And we wouldn’t want that!

You can also pre-order The Falls from Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your favourite store.

All lined up? Then come and get sweet with me!

A Spoonful of Sugar…

One of the most darling characters in The Falls is the heroine Teagan’s Aunt Vanessa. As Teagan describes her, Ness…

…dressed and acted like an Italian film siren, albeit with dark-red hair and pale, Celtic skin. She liked good food, wine and cocktails, enjoyed foreign films, spoke French and Italian, was rarely seen without makeup, and dressed in ultra feminine clothes. She was also a double divorcee whose mysterious past in Europe made Teagan’s mother’s lips purse in disapproval at any mention of the subject. Which had naturally left a teenage Teagan completely in awe of her aunt and her exotic life.”

Ness is, in other words, extremely attractive, clever, generous and enormous fun. With the exception of a few jealous wives, The Falls locals adore her and Ness adores The Falls in return. She’s also very kind, so when Teagan arrives at Falls Farm not in the best of condition, Vanessa’s immediate reaction is to help.  And one of her favourite ways to do that – besides offering up one of her excellent cocktails – is with food.

Ness tempts Teagan with all sorts of goodies, from antipasto, breads and dips, to treats from the local bakery. So frustrated by Teagan’s lack of enthusiasm for food, and unable to take up local vet and close friend Bunny James’s offer to inject Teagan with a dose of steroids to increase her appetite, Ness cooks the naughtiest things she can think of. Including the following orange and poppy seed syrup cupcakes which are loaded with enough sugar to “give an elephant diabetes”.

Sweet and sticky, these babies are good. And gluten-free. Even Teagan liked them!

Orange & Poppyseed Syrup Cakes

Orange and poppy seed syrup cakes

Makes approximately 10 small patty cakes

1 medium navel orange. Choose one as blemish free as possible with good orange skin.

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon milk

3 eggs

70g caster sugar

150g almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

Syrup

125ml fresh orange juice

55g caster sugar

Place orange in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat (lid on). Keeping a good roll to the water, simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Top up with more boiling water if necessary to keep the orange covered. Remove the orange from the water and process it whole in a food processor until smooth. Allow to cool a while.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Line ten holes of a 12-hole muffin tray with patty cake cases. Combine the poppy seeds and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer and large bowl, beat the eggs until pale and creamy. Gradually add the 70g of caster sugar and continue to beat until thick. Gently fold in the almond meal, baking powder, orange puree and poppy seed mixture until just combined. Pour into prepared patty cake cases.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden. Leave cakes in the tray ready for the syrup. They need to be still hot for best take-up of the syrup.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Simmer 3 minutes or until the syrup reduces slightly.

Pierce each of the cakes several times with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave cakes in the pan to set a little before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat and wait for the sugar high.

These types of cakes keep really well but I tend to freeze mine and take them out one at a time, or when needed.

Now, because I’m all excited about the upcoming release of The Falls and I know you are too –  oh yes, you are! –  I think we should have a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Falls, answer me this: What is your favourite sugar high?

Is it fairy floss or chocolate? Or maybe you get yours from an overdose of pineapple or another super-sweet fruit. Perhaps you don’t like anything sugary, in which case just say you prefer a hunk of cheese or something. The main thing is to share!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST Wednesday, 8th April 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

I’ve left this giveaway open a little longer than usual so all you lovelies who went off camping for the weekend won’t miss your chance to enter.

If you’d like to learn more about The Falls or any of my previous releases, check out my books page on this site. And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+Goodreads, and now on Pinterest! Plus sign up to my newsletter to be the first to hear all the news, receive exclusive content, enter special giveaways and more.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jenny Wallis who has won a signed copy of THE FALLS. Rah!
Thanks to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun and shared all your sugar highs. As always there were some amaaaazing suggestions. 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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

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

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

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

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

TURTLE REEF

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

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

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

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

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

Turning Turtle

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

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

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

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

Tropical Upside Down Cake

Tropical upside-down cake

Ingredients

½  cup butter

⅔ cup brown sugar

 1- 1 ½  cups unsalted roast macadamia nuts

Pineapple rings (fresh or canned)

1 cup plain flour

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ cup milk

1 egg

Pineapple juice or syrup

Method

Melt ¼ cup butter in pan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden.

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

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

 

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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

So what brings out the tropics for you?

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

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

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