Tag Archives: chick lit

FRIDAY FEAST with Carla Caruso

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Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another delicious instalment of Friday Feast. This week we’re getting in a pickle with a “pretty famous” author and celebrating with another giveaway!

But first, news from the segment formerly known as Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. For some bizarre reason known only the golfing gods, my good form continues. Form that has cost me another stroke off my handicap. Things are getting scary, let me tell you. This is not normal! My dad – coiner of the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf phrase – is chuffed though, even if his mates are now questioning my parentage…

Carla Caruso - smallNow onto the funstuff!

I’m delighted to welcome another debut guest to this week’s Friday Feast, Carla Caruso. Carla’s from South Australia (as are all the awesome people) and has had a fascinating writing career. She’s been a gossip columnist, a newspaper fashion editor, a magazine journalist and freelanced for titles like Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. How cool is that!

Carla also writes fun romantic books that’ll leave you laughing and feeling good.  Her latest release is Pretty Famous. Check it out!


Pretty Famous by Carla CarusoA dark secret from Hollywood’s Golden Age. A possible prince-in-hiding. Astonvale’s about to implode…

Professional organiser Celeste Pretty swore she’d never work with uber-blonde interior designer Imogen Karmel again, but then she’s presented with a project she can’t refuse.

The prestigious Astonvale College is celebrating its centenary and needs the pair to ensure the festivities go off without a hitch.

As Celeste sets to work in a flurry of activity — in between organising her own engagement party — she finds herself blowing away the cobwebs on a sixty-year-old secret.

Meanwhile, Imogen becomes enamoured with a substitute teacher, Hudson Addison, who may or may not be a royal in hiding. And there’s nothing Imogen dreams of more than becoming a princess.

Will all be revealed on party night?

Doesn’t that sound a blast? Love the idea of a royal in hiding. You can buy Pretty Famous right now and have it loaded to your computer, ereader, phone or tablet in an instant. Visit iBooks, Amazon.com, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, eBooks.com or your favourite retailer.

All loaded up? That’s the way.  Now please give a big Feasty welcome to Carla.

What To Do With Too Many Zucchinis

I’m what could be called an ‘Italian princess’. Basically, what ‘wog boys’ are always being accused of – having been brought up with their mothers doing all of the cooking and (most of the) cleaning for them!

Carla's mum's "care package"

One of Carla’s mum’s care packages

My mum is a perfectionist Virgo and uber-domestic goddess, so I like to blame her for my lack of skills in the kitchen. She preferred to slave over dishes, night after night, than have me (and my two sisters) muck up her domain. The other bit of blame could also – cough – be put down to my own lack of interest in cooking. Though, I did always have a healthy interest in eating!

My poor husband must have thought he struck gold when he married me with my Italian name and looks, and his previous experience sampling my mum and grandma’s dishes… until he got me near our stove and I couldn’t figure out where the on-switch was. (James, by the way, took the snaps for this post.)

Which leads me to the kind of ‘care packages’ my mum still has my dad regularly drop off to our house en-route to my older sister’s with similar fare. This picture is a typical example of such a package from Mum, comprising home-made zucchini pickle (with a hand-written recipe), cut-up figs (for my morning porridge), sun-dried tomatoes, and a potted mint plant (with care instructions – and, yes, Mum decorated it with brown paper and string before sending).

Part of the ‘gift’ was subtly telling us (from the wasteful generation) what to do with the abundance of zucchinis and tomatoes in our veggie patch we were scratching our heads over.


Chocolate zucchini cake

So I’ve included Mum’s zucchini pickle recipe from that package, below, and you can find a recipe my sister kindly sent me for chocolate zucchini cake here – bestrecipes.com.au. (Who knew how sensual ‘creaming’ butter and sugar was? Note: Hubs was rather disgusted with me licking my fingers afterwards…)

Anyway, if I’m an Italian princess, a character in my latest novel, Pretty Famous (the third in my ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series with HarperCollins), is a serious prince hunter. Imogen Karmel — a Grace Kelly-obsessed blonde — takes the cake when it comes to royalty stalking. But I bet she doesn’t get such nice deliveries from her mum…

Zucchini Pickle

The original hand written recipe for zucchini pickle

The original hand-written recipe

Cut zucchini in slices (however many you have/want), salt, and leave for 24 hours.

Next day, drain, squeezing all the liquid out.

Place in vinegar for approximately one hour.

Squeeze liquid out again.

Dress with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a jar and top with oil, or leave in the fridge.

Should last two weeks. Enjoy as a side to meat, on crusty bread with tuna, in pasta, or whatever suits!

Giveaway: Want to win an ebook copy of Pretty Famous by Carla Caruso? Tell us what YOU like to do with your zucchinis – ahem, in the kitchen, please! The comp’s open worldwide.

Did you read that, Feasties? We have a…


To be in the draw to win an ebook copy of Pretty Famous share your favourite way with zucchini. And if you’re like my other half and even shudder at the mention of the word, that’s fine. You can come up with a creative way to dispose of them instead. Too easy!

My favourite way with zucchini (which I don’t get to make often thanks to a certain person’s unfathomable dislike of this lovely veg) is zucchini and fetta slice. Beautiful!

What’s yours?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 10th March 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Carla and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CarlaCaruso79, Instagram and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of Carla’s gorgeous new rom-com, Pretty Famous. Thanks to everyone who indulged in our zucchini madness!

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Heidke

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Greetings food and booklovers, and welcome to another exciting edition of Friday Feast. We have a cracking line-up today, including one of Australia’s leading popular women’s fiction authors, a beautiful pasta dish and a book giveaway!

But first, the self-flagellation that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. In good news, my putting demon partner and I won (by a whisker) the ladies ambrose competition last week, while I also somehow managed to win longest drive. Rah! In bad or, rather, typical news, it was all downhill from there with me failing to play to my new handicap in the mixed comp. Again. Mind you, that didn’t stop the computer stealing another 0.2 of a stroke off me. No compassion those computers. None. Phht.

But on we go to much more uplifting news!

Lisa Heidke has been at the forefront of Australian popular women’s fiction for a number of Author Lisa Heidkeyears now, catapulting onto the scene with Lucy Springer Gets Even and continuing that success up with What Kate Did Next. Claudia’s Big Break and Stella Makes Good followed to great reviews as well, which should come as no surprise. Lisa studied journalism, has worked in the book and magazine publishing industries, and teaches popular women’s fiction workshops at the Australian Writer’s Centre. In other words, she knows how to tell a good yarn and her stories sparkle with good humour, warm characters and clever observation.

Lisa’s new book is It Started With A Kiss and it looks GORGEOUS. Check it out.


It Started With A Kiss by Lisa HeidkeIt Started with a Kiss is about shattered hearts, secrets and the lies that tie Friday and Liam and their teenage daughters, Evie and Adelaide together.

Naturopath, Friday Jones, feels betrayed when Liam, her husband of almost twenty years, announces that their marriage is over. On the brink of a mid-life crisis and crippled with a fear of missing out, Liam moves in with his bachelor brother, Brad, and pursues his secret ambition of becoming a stand-up comic.

Months later, Friday, still heartbroken, meets an unavailable man, but unable to control her desire, embarks on an intense secret affair.

When her best friend, Rosie, discovers that Friday is flirting with a danger that can only lead to further heartbreak, she signs Friday up with KissMeCupid.com and Friday dives into the murky, unknown, online dating world.

Friday soon starts receiving anonymous letters and gifts and quickly realises that one of her flings has taken obsession to the next level…

Doesn’t that sound like fun? And being a Lisa Heidke book you can be sure there’ll be plenty of twists, drama and laughs as the story unfolds. It Started With A Kiss is available right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang BooksAmazon.au, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, chain stores or your favourite book retailer.

Now please give a very hearty welcome too Lisa, and prepare to drool!

Memories Of Santorini …And My Spaghetti Vongole

Hi Cathryn,

Thanks for having me over! I must say, when you invited me the Friday Feast I was a tad daunted. You see, rather like Nicki Edwards, one of your previous Friday Feast guests, I’m not much of a cook. Like Nicki, I dislike cooking, mainly because I’d rather be writing or reading – and also because my kids are fussy. Give them a roast chook and salad or sushi every night and they’d be happy!

Unlike Nicki, I do have recipe books. Hundreds of them. People give them to me for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day…and largely, they remain unopened. I was once given a subscription to Gourmet Traveller. Pretty pictures!

santoriniHowever, one of those Gourmet Travellers (I think it was a February edition) inspired me to travel to Santorini. Three whole weeks of bliss!  Whilst I was there, I had one of the most amazing dishes ever – Spaghetti Vongole.

Simple but so delicious and tasty.

The kids begrudgingly eat it though it can get messy, but I don’t care. Every time I smell it cooking, the flavours remind me of Greece and I am transported back to that cute little restaurant in Santorini, on the waters’ edge with the red and white checked tablecloths and the pretty white geraniums haphazardly arranged in pottery vases…heaven. The restaurant’s signature Spaghetti Vongole was to die for!

Claudia's Big Break by Lisa HeidkeSantorini was also the inspiration for my second novel, Claudia’s Big Break but that’s another story.

In my latest book, It Started with a Kiss, the protagonist, Friday Jones isn’t a great cook. I’d say she’s poor to middling. In fact, all my characters seem to be very average in the kitchen. Funny that!

Still, I’d have to say when it comes to the Vongole, it’s hard to go wrong. Even Friday could do it. So here’s the recipe!

Spaghetti Vongole



1 kilo Vongole (pipis)

4 whole red chillie4 garlic cloves

1 cup parsley

500 gm spaghetti

Wine or water…depending on your preference


  1. Boil enough water for the spaghetti
  2. Finely chop garlic and thinly chop chillies
  3. Roughly chop parsley
  4. Cook pasta according to instructions
  5. While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic, chilli, parsley and pipis in deep frypan for two minutes
  6. Add a couple of tablespoons of water (or white wine) to the frypan and cover.
  7. Steam pipis for approximately five minutes until all have opened.
  8. Drain pasta and add to frypan…toss through…
  9. Sprinkle parsley on top
  10. Enjoy with a glass or two of chilled white wine.


Wow! You sure know the way to a girl’s heart, Lisa. Spaghetti vongole is one of my favourite dishes. The shellfish is so sweet and sea-tasting, with the other flavours enhancing the vongole rather than taking over. And it’s so much fun to slurp up the pasta and suck on the shells. Beautiful. I bet your Santorini one tasted even better. Oh, to be there. Sigh.

Enough wistfulness. Let’s make this even more delicious by having a…


Yes, my Feasty darlings, Lisa has very generously offered the chance for one lucky commenter to win a copy of It Started With A Kiss. Naturally you’ll have to work for it. So, to be in the draw, answer this:

Which dishes remind you of a favourite holiday or time in your life?

Me? I have a thousand! Eating sea bass on the Cinque Terra. The jungle curry I helped make at a cooking school in Thailand. Endlessly scoffing crayfish legs and tails at our beach shack during childhood summer holidays. Visiting Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Cornwall. Urk. I must stop. All this reminiscing is making me want to go on holiday.

What about you? What dishes remind you of holidays or special times? Reveal all and we’ll pop you into the draw to win It Started With A Kiss.

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

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her heart-warming books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @lisaheidke.


This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Meredith who has won a copy of Lisa’s gorgeous new release, It Started With A Kiss.
Thanks so much to everyone for visiting and sharing your lovely holiday food memories.