Tag Archives: cheesecake

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennie Jones

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Welcome, my Feasty bunnies, to another magnificent edition of Friday Feast. This week: rural romance, secret oven business and a double giveaway!

But first, the item you eagerly await every week, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Last weekend saw the opening round of the Club Championships. Pressure indeed! But did I crack? Not on the first nine holes. No, no, no! I was blitzing it. And then… sigh. It did not last. But I’m currently still in the hunt, hovering in fourth. Stay tuned!

So after that excitement, here’s even more.

Author Jennie JonesI am absolutely delighted to host rural romance author Jennie Jones on the blog today. Jennie was born and bred in Wales, attended drama school in London and spent a number of years treading the boards of British theatres. She now calls Western Australia home and from her gorgeous Australian stories has found the move very satisfying indeed.

Jennie’s debut novel, the first in the Swallow’s Fall series, The House On Burra Burra Lane, was a runaway success, and is soon to be followed up with 12 Days at Silver Bells House this November, and The House at the Bottom of the Hill in January. As you can see Jennie’s not resting on her laurels!

12 Days at Silver Bells House releases on the 22nd of next month, but you could be enjoying it sooner if you enter our Friday Feast giveaway. Read on…

12 DAYS AT SILVER BELLS HOUSE

12 Days at Silver Bells House by Jennie Jones - CoverFrom the author of the international best-selling The House on Burra Burra Lane comes a Christmas story – country style.

Kate Singleton has twelve days to find herself. With Christmas Day and her thirtieth birthday approaching, the best thing a city-chic fashion designer who no longer has a raison d’être can do is nullify herself in the country. With Chardonnay.

When trouble strikes, the country presents her with Jamie Knight – a gallant but uncommunicative He-Man who drives an excavator and rescues her, her shoes, and her case of Chardonnay from a boggy field.

The adventure should be over – nothing but a good story to tell to her friends in the city – but her saviour turns out to also be an unexpected roommate, the new owner of Silver Bells House, Kate’s holiday home.

Forced together and dragged into the community Christmas spirit of the town, Kate and Jamie flounder their way through mistletoe, kissing games, carolling choirs, and a bone-deep yearning for community and acceptance.

Can the enchanting Silver Bells House and the holidays bind them together? Or will love get lost on Highway B23 back to the city?

The House on Burra Burra Lane by Jennie JonesDoesn’t that sound gorgeous? You can pre-order 12 Days at Silver Bells House right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.com.au, Amazon.co.uk, iBooks or consult Escape Publishing for a full list. Hungry for something to read now? Then why not treat yourself to The House on Burra Burra Lane? It can be yours with just a click. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon.com, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Nook or JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Excellent. Now you may play with Jennie. She’s lovely!

Me and My Oven

What a thrill to be a Friday Feaster. Thanks for inviting me, Cathryn. I can’t wait to tell you about my oven. There’s a New York City Cheesecake involved too. Plus a giveaway.

Kate, my heroine in 12 Days at Silver Bells House has just flown home from a fashion shoot in New York and is heading to the country for a twelve day Christmas-free sojourn from business and all its problems. There’s very little cheer in her life at the moment. Then she meets Jamie Knight, Master Builder, and the crackers start cracking. Jamie is renovating Silver Bells House and I don’t foresee any oven door fiascos in Kate’s future.

What happened to my oven door? Well…

It’s one of those ovens with a drop-down door that you have to keep hold of when you open, and if you don’t keep your hand on it – wham! – gravity takes it down with a heavy bounce. This loosens something on the hinges which in turn means that the oven door won’t close properly and therefore – you guessed it – the temperature cannot be controlled.

No use for making New York City Cheesecake.

It cost eighty dollars to get the over-door-fixer man around and guess what? It took him thirty seconds to fix my door. He used a little tool (which he wouldn’t show me) to re-tighten the hinges. “Where can I buy one of those?” I asked, pointing at the tool that was now hidden in his fist. He shook his head. “You won’t, love.” I tried a number of tricks: smiling coquettishly, engaging him in oven-talk conversation, but he wouldn’t give. Getting rather annoyed, I advised him that I knew about the secret oven-door-fixers handshake and the monthly meetings at the local Community Centre where they all danced naked around a freestanding hotplate waving their little hinge-fixing tools.

No response.

So for a while I became the Oven-Door-Police. Whizzing into the kitchen with imaginary flashing lights and sirens every time my daughter or my husband went near the oven. “Don’t drop the door!” I’d yell. “Hold onto it!” Or — “You dropped the door! You didn’t hold on to it!”

As you can imagine, everyone got a little fed up with that.Jennie's oven and bucket oven closing system

I also got fed up with dishing out $80 to the oven-fixer guy every couple of months.

So I decided “No more!”.  You see, my daughter has left home and my husband is a whiz with the Webber so there are very few occasions I need to use the oven. For those times I do need to use it, I came up with my own secret-oven-door-fixer fix. A $2 bucket and half a broom handle.

Here’s how: half-fill the bucket (choose a colour that matches your décor) with gravel. Fish tank gravel is very pretty, and clean. (Again, match the colour). The gravel gives stability and weight. Next, slip half a broom handle into the bucket (those retractable plastic ones are fantastic because they come in a range of colours).

Next — Light your oven! Line up the bucket and the handle against the oven door and push firmly until oven door is closed tight. If your oven is higher from the floor than mine, use a longer handle.

And with this handy fixer-of-oven-doors little trick, I managed to produce my New York City Cheesecake for you. I thought it fitting as we’re coming up to the festive season and there’s always cheesecake in the festive season. Plus Kate in 12 Days at Silver Bells House flew in from New York so she’d know all about their cheesecake. I’ve tested a few different recipes over the years, dabbling with quantities et cetera and this one is perfect. Enjoy!

New York City Cheesecake

New York cheesecake straight from the oven

For the Base

¾ cup of crushed gingernut biscuits

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus ½ a teaspoon extra for coating cake tin)

For the Filling

1 cup castor sugar

2 tablespoons cornflour

5 x 250g packets of Philadelphia cream cheese (yes – 5! Pointless using ‘light’ version at this stage)

2 x large eggs (size 7)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup thickened cream

Directions

Heat oven to 180F

Coat 22cm (8 inch) springform cake tin with some of the melted butter

Mix crushed gingernut biscuits and melted butter together.

Press into base of the springform cake tin.

Filling:

  1. Mix castor sugar and cornflour in large bowl.
  2. Add cream cheese and beat with electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla essence until just mixed.
  4. Add thickened cream and blend in slowly
  5. Pour into prepared springform cake tin

Bake for 55 minutes.

Slice of Jennie Jones's New York CheesecakeNOTE: cheesecake will be lightly or perhaps darkly browned and still wobbly in the centre.

Cool in cake tin on a wire cake rack for about 1 ½ hours. The cheesecake will completely ‘set’ in this time. (If not – oops.)

Run a knife around the edge of the cake tin to slightly loosen the sides of the cheesecake.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours before removing from cake tin and devouring.

Thanks for having me over, Cathryn! I feel positively famous now that I’m a Friday Feaster.

 

Ha ha! You were famous well before Friday Feast, Jennie!

I have a terrible hankering for cheesecake now. That one sounds so luscious, as it should be with FIVE packets of cream cheese in it. Ah well, no good doing things by halves I say!

Now, because Jennie is totally wonderful and generous and loves you all so much, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

For not just one book, but two!

Yes, my creamy little Feasters, there are TWO ebook copies of 12 Days at Silver Bells House up for grabs. Isn’t that wonderful?

Naturally, you’ll have to work for your chance to enter the giveaway and by work we mean answering an easy-peasy question in the comments.

So… What would be your dream cheesecake topping? Feel free to be as inventive as you like. The fanciest answer will win.

My immediate thought? Melted Mars Bars. Which is weird because I’m not really a fan of Mars Bars. Either that or traditional blueberry.

What about you? What cheesecake topping makes you all dreamy and gooey? Share and you’ll be in the chance to win and ebook copy of 12 Days at Silver Bells House!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 21st October 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Laura and Melissa who have both scored ebook copies of Jennie’s upcoming release, 12 Days at Silver Bells House. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. With so many beautiful (FATTENING!) topping suggestions it was very hard to pick winners. What super creative people you are!

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

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Hello Feasters! I’m super excited because today we have the author of one of the best reads of the year on the blog.

But before I get into rave-land, let’s have some Sydney Swans news. Oh, my darling boys are really giving it to them now. Last Saturday we shorted out ladder leaders Port Power in a magnificent display of footy wizardry, leaving us still nicely perched at third. Rah! Speaking of nicely perched, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, Jim and I combined well inAuthor Kate Belle the first round of our club’s Foursomes Championships to be sitting as the nett leaders. Can we hang on to win? Stay tuned!

Now on to today’s guest.

Kate Belle took many of us on a trip down memory lane with her debut novel, The Yearning, a read I enjoyed immensely. So when her publicist contacted me with an offer of a review copy of her second novel, Being Jade, I leapt at it. What a story! What writing! From the opening page I was mesmerised. Being Jade was fascinating and heartbreaking and so much more.

Seriously, you have to read it.

BEING JADE

Being Jade by Kate BelleA tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

Did I mention you should read this book? You should. Like, really. Which means you’ll need to buy it and you can do that right now with a quick trip to your favourite book store or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse.

For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, Collins Booksellers or your local independent. For the ebook, try Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or JB Hi-Fi.

Still not sure? Read the opening chapter. You’ll be hooked I promise!

Now please give Kate a big Feasty welcome and enjoy!

Instant Human – Just Add Coffee…

Hi Cathryn and readers – thanks for having me back on Friday Feast.

When I visited last year I gave you the Big Effort High Reward Heirloom Recipe – Great Auntiecoffee meme 1 - resized Flo’s Christmas Pudding. This required significant time, a fair bit of alcohol (both in the recipe and cook) and sticky hands. I thought I’d take it a bit easier on you this time around by sharing one of my FAVOURITE combinations in the whole world – caffeine and cake.

I’m a bona fide coffee addict. If I don’t have my coffee by about 11am I find it difficult to speak. I’m dependent on that early morning caffiene shot to function. I also have a penchant for desserts. Cakes, pastries, puddings, tarts – I’m not too fussed as long as it’s full of carbohydrate and sugar. But the very, very best in life is when the two are combined.

coffe meme 2I used to work in Melbourne CBD, at the Paris end, and discovered the Treasury Cafe nestled beneath the treasury building near Parliament. When I first walked in I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A loooong glass counter laden with every kind of cake, tart, pudding, pastry you could imagine. Glazed apricot and cherry Danishes shone under the light of the counter, clouds of cream topped jam lamingtons the size of a man’s palm, summer yellow custard tarts, glorious wedges of dark chocolate mud cake and butterscotch fudge dripped over fluffy sticky date puddings. My mouth waters at the memory.

More often than not I left empty handed only because I couldn’t choose which sweet morsel to indulge in.coffee meme 3

Inspired by Treasury Cafe’s dessert cabinet, I went through a period of frenzied baking and rediscovered a promotional Nescafe coffee table recipe book I’d won years ago featuring – yep, you guessed it – coffee desserts. I have a few favourites in this book but nothing quite beats the cappuccino cheesecake. The recipe calls for instant coffee but I say Pfft to that! Brewed coffee is the only coffee worthy of a good dessert, so I amended the recipe to make sure the end result had the kick I looked for in this gorgeous cappuccino cheesecake.

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Before you begin, brew yourself some fresh coffee, pour a cup and leave the rest to cool while you read your copy of Being Jade (like how I slipped that in??). Oh, and leave 500g of cream cheese on the bench to come to room temperature. If you’re able to stop after a couple of chapters you’ll need to head to the kitchen and find ingredients for the cheesecake crust:

•             100g mild-coffee biscuits

•             75g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

•             ¼ cup (70g) packed dark brown sugar

•             A pinch of nutmeg

•             40g hot, melted unsalted butter

To make the crust finely grind the biscuits (I use my mother’s method – chuck them in an empty cereal bag and beat them to death with a rolling pin). Mix in the chopped chocolate, brown sugar and nutmeg then bind it all together with the melted butter until the crumbs stick together. Press the mixture into the base of a 19cm springform pan, flattening it with the bottom of a glass. Put the pan in the fridge for 20 -30 minutes.

Pick up your book and read just a couple more pages…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees then get to phase 1 of the filling:

•             500g low fat cream cheese (or be brave and go full fat if you want the full flavour!)

•             ½ cup sugar

•             1 tablespoon plain flour

•             ¼ cup strong brewed coffee (for real caffeine addicts you can also add 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee – YEAH!)

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•             2 large eggs

Blend cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in flour, then add brewed coffee, ground coffee (if you dare), and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth.

Pour filling over the cooled crust, place the cheesecake on a tray covered with a baking sheet and put in the middle of the oven to cook 45 minutes until the top is browning, puffed and cracking at the edges. Take it out to cool for 15 minutes, but leave the oven on while you make the frothy cappuccino topping.

Topping:Cappuccino Cheesecake

•             ¾ cup light sour cream (I reckon full fat’s better)

•             1 tablespoon sugar

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over warm cheesecake, spreading to cover it completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10 minutes.

You could probably squeeze in a few more pages here.

Cover the baked cheesecake with gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving (with brewed coffee, of course!) shave a little dark chocolate over the top to decorate. Devour as you finish off Being Jade –  or, if you’re feeling more generous, share it with friends over afternoon tea or dinner and watch how animated your guests become after they’ve eaten it!

GIVEAWAY! 

Oh, Kate, that sounds divine! Hard to go past good cheesecake. Hard to go past good coffee too. And this combines them in one. Bliss!

Okay, my Feasty lovelies, for your chance to win a signed copy of Being Jade, what’s your favourite bit of cheesiness? I’m going to get a bit “out there” and suggest this song from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Teo from Belarus singing… Cheesecake. Ha!

But perhaps you’ll be more traditional and suggest a slice of brie, the tv show Happy Days or even a spot of dad dancing. Whatever your fancy, cheese away and you could WIN!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST 24th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Kate and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using the handle @ecstasyfiles, Goodreads and The Reading Room.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of Kate’s brilliant new novel, Being Jade. Thanks to everyone for getting cheesy with us. Hope to see you again soon!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Pamela Cook

It’s always a joy to welcome debut authors on Friday Feast, and this week it’s even more special because our guest writes one of the best genres out there: Australian rural fiction!

Okay, so I’m biased but it’s my bloggy sandpit. Personal bias is a perfectly allowable perk.Pam Pic for Cathryn Hein small

Please welcome Pamela Cook, whose debut release Blackwattle Lake has been earning marvellous reviews and with good reason. Have a read of this passage:

‘The smell of hay and horse manure floated in the air like the steam from some organic herbal potion. She hadn’t smelt that for such a long time, that unique mix of animals and earth, a reminder that everything was alive and growing. You could almost hear life bubbling away beneath the ground.’

Isn’t that lovely? But so we should expect good prose from Pamela. She runs writing workshops through her business JustWrite Publishing. And now she’s proven the adage that teaching is the best way of learning with the release of Blackwattle Lake.

Check it out.

 

BLACKWATTLE LAKE

 

BLACKWATTLE_LAKE_Cover smallFor Eve Nicholls, walking up the driveway of her childhood home brings up many emotions, and not all good. The horses that she loved still dot the paddocks but the house is empty, and the silence inside allows her memories to flood back. She’s glad to have her best friend Banjo the kelpie with her . . . and a bottle of bourbon. Her plan is simple: sell the farm, grab the cash and get the hell out.

Despite Eve’s desire to keep a low profile, within days of her return she runs into all the people she hoped to avoid. At the house she is surrounded by memories and worse. But with a lifetime of clutter to sort out, there’s plenty to take her mind off it all. Slowly, she begins to discover the girl she used to be: Angie Flanagan – adventurous, animal-loving, vulnerable. When tragedy strikes, Eve realises that changing her name all those years ago in an attempt to hide from her past has not changed the truth of what happened or who she really is.

 

How’s that for a cracking sounding read? Why not clickety-click on over to Booktopia right now and buy your copy. Or maybe you prefer ebooks? Then try Amazon Kindle, Kobobooks, iTunes or Google Play.

All set? Excellent. Now give Pamela a big welcome…

 

 FOOD AND FAMILY

 

Thanks for having me on Friday Feast, Cathryn. It’s lovely to be here and lovely to be where I am actually writing this post – my getaway house at Little Forest in Milton. As you can see from the picture below it has the most exquisite view over the bush and farmlands and right the way out to the ocean.

Little Forest View

This is where I come to escape the rat race, spend time with my family, relax and write. We’ve had the place for about 12 years now and being only two and a half hours away from the southern suburbs of Sydney where we live it’s not too far to come for a weekend and is our home during school holidays. And it’s not just the human members of the family who enjoy the pace down here. When we come for extended stays we bring our horses, and the dog and cat are regular visitors. Here they are lapping up the morning sunshine:

Dog pic

Cat pic

It’s the perfect place to write and where I found a lot of the inspiration for Blackwattle Lake. We’re about ten kilometres away from Milton which is a great town with some wonderful shopping opportunities! There are wonderful eateries too. Pilgrims, a vegetarian café is an institution and does the best milkshakes on the south coast (but don’t tell anyone!). For a special dinner there’s Bannisters out at Mollymook run by Rick Stein and serving scrumptious seafood. My latest favourite is Cupitts Winery which not only produces great wine but serves the most amazing food (especially the desserts) and is part of the slow food movement so you can while away a good few hours enjoying the view, the food and the company.

Which brings me (finally) to the subject of this post: food and family. The house here at Little Forest has been the site of many a feast. Sometimes we bring visitors from “the big smoke” to share our special part of the world with; other times we enjoy a barbeque with local friends we’ve met. Today as it’s Good Friday there will be a smaller feast, an opportunity for my immediate family – my three daughters, my husband and myself – to relax and enjoy the blessings of  food and family together. Prawns, calamari, fish, crusty bread, fresh salad and to finish it all off Aunty Elsie’s Cheesecake.

I can’t really remember the first time I made this dessert but I do know that it’s been a favourite ever since. It always makes an appearance at Christmas as an alternative to pudding and is often requested for birthdays and other celebrations.

I grew up in a house where good food was taken for granted. My mother was – and still is at 88 – an exceptional cook, especially when it comes to desserts. From Strawberry Sponge to Apple Charlotte, Chocolate Logs to Lemon Meringue Pies, she’s filled many stomachs to bursting point over the years. Sadly, I’m not such a brilliant cook. Having a penchant for all things well done I tend to over-cook just about everything. But so far I have managed to turn out pretty good versions of this cheesecake, if I don’t say so myself! It’s pretty fool proof – if I can do a good job of it anybody can. I use a food processor to do both the pastry and the filling which makes it all fairly simple.

 

Aunty Elsie’s Cheesecake

 Cheesecake whole

 

Preheat oven to moderate.

Pastry

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup self-raising flour

3 ounces(85 grams)  of butter (softened)

1 whole egg

4 level tablespoons of icing sugar

1-2 desert spoons of water (add one and see if the mixture starts to clump if not add one more)

Mix all the ingredients in the food processor until the pastry forms into a ball or clumps together. Remove and roll into a ball on a floured surface. Wrap in glad wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour. Roll the pastry out on floured surface until it looks large enough to fit the base and sides of the tin. Press into the base and up the sides of a medium sized cheesecake tin. This can be a little tricky – don’t worry if the pastry breaks up just pressed up the sides of the tin making sure there are no cracks. I like to leave the top edge rough or you can smooth off with a knife.

Filling

2 packets of cream cheese

¾ cup of caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Soften the cream cheese and add to the food processor with the other ingredients. Mix until smooth. Pour into the pastry case.

Bake in a moderate oven for half an hour. If it looks a little underdone cook for another 10 mins.

Topping

1 tin blueberries

Sugar

cornflour

Separate the berries from the juice, place the juice in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons of sugar (to taste) and thicken with cornflour. Keep stirring in the cornflour as the mixture simmers so lumps don’t form,

Allow the mixture to cool then gently add the blueberries to the sauce

Pour over the top of the cheesecake while it is still hot.

Cheescake slice

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Aunty Elsie is my mum’s sister, still also going strong at 86. I’m hoping I have the same genes as these two wonderful women and that my cooking skills improve to be as good as theirs.

I hope you enjoy the cheesecake. For me it’s associated with good times, family, smiles and a deliciously full stomach.

Wishing you the same.

 

Ooh, thanks, Pamela. I love a good cheesecake and this one sounds completely delicious, especially with that blueberry topping.

So, my ever-so-clever Feasters, what’s your favourite cheesecake? Or are you a closet cheesecake loather? As of last week I have a new cheesecake love – Antonio Carluccio’s Ariciolata di Pesche or Peach and Ricotta Crumble, from his Two Greedy Italians cookbook. Not a traditional cheesecake, admittedly, but a bloody good one! Seriously, it’s worth buying the book just for that recipe.

Bum, I just made my sweet tooth throb.

If you’d like to learn more about Pamela and her writing please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

Happy Friday, Feasters, and what a wonderful day it is, not least because this weekend means EUROVISION. Oh yes, well may you laugh, but you can take your Idols and The Voices and X’s Got Talent and all those other amateur productions, and plonk them right in the bin of television obscurity where they belong. Because there’s only one song contest which matters – the absolute kitschy glory of Eurovision.

SBS Television’s broadcast begins tonight at 7-30. Be there!

(Oh, and foodie sorts, if you check this month’s SBS Feast magazine, there’s even a feature on Eurovision party food. Rah!)

It’s also a wonderful day for another reason and that’s because my Friday Feast guest today is delightful rural romance author Mandy Magro. Mandy hails from north Queensland way, from the country town of Dimbulah, where she and her husband Drew run their tropical fruit farm.

Mandy’s debut release, Rosalee Station was a big hit, its cover tagged with an endorsement from Fiona Palmer no less, and fans have been eagerly awaiting her next book. Now it’s here! Yes, Jacaranda hit the shelves just a few days ago. Here’s a sample.

JACARANDA

 

At nineteen, Molly Jones has the world at her feet. Then one drunken night she falls into bed with Mark, a cowboy just passing through. By the time Molly realises she’s pregnant, Mark is long gone.

Now, at twenty-six, Molly’s life is almost perfect. She’s the devoted mother of Rose, and a renowned horse trainer. She lives amid the beauty of Jacaranda Farm, surrounded by family and friends – none closer than hunky stockman Heath. But she’s still looking for the love of her life, and a father for Rose.

When Mark stumbles back into her world, as charming as ever, Molly begins to hope for a future she’d long ago relinquished. But how will Mark react when he learns he’s a father? And could the man of Molly’s dreams be closer to home than she thinks?

 

How gorgeous is that cover? Mind you, I’m biased toward anything with a horse on it, but there’s no question Jacaranda is super pretty. I bet it flies off the shelves. If you want to score a copy right now, why not rush down to your local bookseller or, if you don’t feel like venturing outside, click your mouse right here. You can also download Jacaranda as an ebook from Amazon Kindle, Kobo and many other ebook retailers.

Anyway, enough of me, it’s Mandy you’ve come to read. So without further ado, here she is.

Food, Food, Glorious Food

Thank you for inviting me onto your yummy weekly blog, Cathryn. I am so thrilled to be here!

Can I begin by saying, Ahhhh food, glorious food! I love it, all of it, everything from Thai, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Indian through to melt in your mouth steak and chips down the local pub. I love travelling round the world for it, growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and eating it. I am an absolute foodie. I would much prefer to spend a day at food markets then in dress shops so that says it all – I can hear some women gasping from here.

Food brings people together, whether it’s in celebration of a wedding, a casual night out at your favourite restaurant, right down to the Aussie tradition of a backyard barbeque. It can even cross the boundaries of language, my experiences when travelling through parts of Asia perfect proof of that. I visited some remote villages where they didn’t speak a word of English but we could laugh and connect over meals. It was wonderful, food is wonderful. What would we do with all our spare time if we didn’t eat? I couldn’t imagine it!

I would like to share with you a recipe that has been passed onto me by my English mother-in-law. It is tradition for them to have this dessert every Christmas after devouring a lavish roast goose with all the trimmings, add in the crackling of the fire and the feathery snow falling outside and it is magical. Chocolate Orange Cheesecake is now one of my all time favourite desserts and there is certainly not a crumb left when I take it to family gatherings. It might be a little on the fattening side but who cares if it tastes good, right?

 Shazza’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

100g softened butter

250g digestive biscuits (UK brand but can get these from Coles)

50g Demerara sugar

500g of Philly cheese

2 oranges

250mls single cream

15g gelatine

50g dark chocolate

1. Leave the butter at room temperature (or melt it in the microwave slightly). Blend the biscuits until fine in a food processor then mix in the butter. Push this into a round spring form tin and place this in the fridge while you prepare the filling so it can harden a little.

2. In the food processor place the Philly cheese, cream, rind from 1 orange and juice from both. Turn processor on high and mix until the filling is looking creamy. Then, add the gelatine which has been mixed with a little water (according to the container’s instructions) and stir this through. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, making sure to stir it every 15 seconds so it doesn’t burn. Then, drizzle this over the top of the filling. Grab a fork and swirl the fork ever so lightly through the drizzled chocolate, just over the surface, to give it an artistic design.

4. Pop it in the fridge to set. It takes a few hours for this or preferably overnight.

5. Devour with oohs, mmmms and ahhs!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and it is one you are proud to share with loved ones.

All this talk about food is making me hungry so I must be off to the fridge. I wonder what deliciousness lies within its clutches today.

Thanks, Cathryn; it’s been so much fun talking with you about food – one of my favourite subjects.

Mandy x

 

Have a look at that cheesecake. Wow, is all I can say. Just…wow. It’s like a Jaffa except bigger, flatter and so, so much better. Mmm. Wonder if I should make this for the Eurovision final on Sunday?

Thanks so much, Mandy, for that lovely post and even lovelier recipe. And congratulations on the release of Jacaranda. May it fly off the shelves.

So Feasters, what’s the best recipe you’ve filched from someone? I still have the recipe for lemon butter my friend’s mum gave me when I was about 12. Delicious, especially mixed with mascarpone and cream to make lemon icecream. And then there’s my mother in law’s ANZAC biscuits, which are, quite simply, the best. Then there’s my Mum’s pav, my friend’s friend’s spring roll recipe… The list is huge! So what’s yours? We’d love to hear.

Although if you also want to chat about Eurovision party food I’m sure Mandy will be in that too. I certainly won’t object!

 

If you’d like to learn more about Mandy and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and her blog.