Tag Archives: Chocolate recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Ebony McKenna

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Welcome to Friday Feast!

This week we’re getting magical. Not that we aren’t every week but this week we’re really magical… and ferrety. But more on that in a minute.

First, DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SYDNEY SWANS? Yes, footy is nearly here. My boys were magnificent in their NAB Challenge game last night against GWS which bodes well for the upcoming season, set to kick-off in just 21 sleeps. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Speaking of counting, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, apparently I can’t add up. It turns out that I didn’t lose the Great Murray River Golf Challenge but in fact won it by two strokes. Rah! I think this is my first holiday golfing challenge win ever. I feel a glass of fizz is required to celebrate this milestone.

As should we all raise a glass of fizz to celebrate the release of young adult author Ebony McKenna’s third Ondine novel. Like the author herself, the Ondine series is simply gorgeous. How can you go wrong with a talking ferret called Shambles? Reviews for Ebony’s series have been amazing, like this for The Summer of Shambles: “One of the best and funniest books I have ever read! Don’t be a bampot, give this absolutely fantastic book a read, you won’t regret it.”

This latest instalment in the Ondine series is a cracker. Check it out.

 

ONDINE: THE WINTER OF MAGIC

 

Cover of Ondine: The Winter of Magic by Ebony McKennaThis third enthralling instalment in the young adult fantasy romance series takes a dark turn, as the country of Brugel descends into anarchy. Mutating magic is spreading across Europe. ‘Normals’ are developing supernatural powers at a startling rate and 16-year-old Ondine appears to be at the heart of it.

To unravel the mystery, Ondine and her boyfriend (and part-time ferret) Hamish infiltrate CovenCon, a gathering of hundreds of witches presided over by wanna-be-witch-queen Mrs Howser. There, she tempts Ondine with an intriguing offer – but can Mrs Howser be trusted? It transpires the powerful witch has her claws in the arrogant royal heir Lord Vincent, in a covert bid to control all of Brugel.

As dark magic riots break out in the nation’s capital, Ondine is left with a heart-breaking choice that could tear her apart from her beloved Hamish. Forever.

The Winter of Magic is the third novel in Ebony McKenna’s comedic and wonderfully weird four-part ONDINE series. Fans will devour this spellbinding adventure, which will have readers gasping in shock and laughing with delight. Occasionally at the same time.

 

What a hoot! The Ondine series is truly delightful for young and not-so-young readers alike. And you can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks! Buy from Amazon for your Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You’ll love this series I promise.

Now that you’re all bookified, come dipping with Ebony…

 

Do You Fondue?

 

I’m so happy to be sharing more foodie goodness with everyone on Friday Feast.

There’s something a bit nerdy about having a fondue kit. It can be one of those ‘great idea at the time’ gadgets that ends up hibernating in the back of the cupboard for years before throwing it out.

Being the proud nerd that I am, I have a fondue kit at home and it gets a fair bit of use.

Not an original from the 70s (I have to wait to inherit that heirloom), but a little ripper all the same. And while fondue is supposed to be about dipping bread into melted cheese during cold European winters, my version is all about dredging fruit into warm coconut-chocolate sauce during summer.

Healthy AND naughty. Because chocolate.

And coconut.

It’s quick, easy to make and only requires three basic ingredients (plus whatever fruit you like to dip).

The best bit is the compliments you’ll get from everyone as the fruit and choc fondue disappear!

As an added bonus, this recipe is dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans and celiacs.

 

Coconut Chocolate Fondue

You will need:

Coconut milk or coconut cream.

Cocoa powder

Coconut sugar (or any sugar really, but I’m hooked on Coconut sugar at the moment, and it’s low GI)

Fruits for dipping

Ingredients for Ebony's fondue

Method:

Put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in a microwave safe bowl.

Pour in enough coconut milk to stir it into a thick paste.

Add a couple of teaspoons of coconut sugar.

Mixing Ebony's fondue

Bung it in the microwave for about a minute. The edges will bubble up but that’s OK.

Stir it all together and. Have a taste. Add more coconut milk and sugar so it’s just how you like it. You can microwave it again if the cocoa doesn’t taste “cooked”.

The finished fondue

Pour into a fondue bowl, sprinkle more coconut sugar on the top for decoration.

Light a candle underneath and get ready to dip your favourite fruits in.

The mix will become runnier the longer it sits over the fondue candle, but that’s part of the fun.

Add desiccated coconut to the fondue for more texture if you like.

Perfect for entertaining at a BBQ, date night or Eurovision Song Contest parties.

I’m having some right now as I celebrate the release of the third novel in my ONDINE series, The Winter of Magic.

In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage girl whose pet ferret talks with a Scottish accent. He’s not a real ferret, but a man living in reduced circumstances. Shambles offended a witch and she cursed him a good one!

Thank you once again Cathryn for the opportunity to share the recipe and some weird romance with your readers.

As a special treat, I’m giving away an ebook copy of ALL THREE BOOKS to one lucky commenter.

In the comments, share what fruit you would dunk in that lovely chocky fondue, or share a cheesy fondue story.

Love Ebony

 

Did you hear that, Feasters? A THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! I’m wriggling in excitement here. How’s that for generosity? But I’d expect that from Ebony. She’s that kind of person.

So, what’s your fondue story? I had a wonderful fondue experience in Lyon, France. Outside it was snowing but we were snuggled up tight in a cosy restaurant with chunks of bread, a bottle of red and an artery-clogging cheese fondue, dipping and laughing. We nearly didn’t feel the cold walking back to our hotel afterwards… nearly.

Have you fondued? Dipped a few strawbs into caramel perhaps? Dribbled chocolate down your front after dipping with too much enthusiasm? Maybe you’ve never fondued but long to? That’s okay. Share your desire (or non-desire) anyway and we’ll put you in the draw to win the first three ebooks in Ebony’s wonderful Ondine series.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 25th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay, you can easily read ebooks on your computer, phone or tablet via downloadable apps. It’s easy!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Heidi who has won the first 3 books in Ebony’s Ondine series. What a great lot of reading! Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. What wonderful fondue memories we all have!

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you feeling the luuuurve? Or are you suffering a touch of the bah humbugs over the day?

I’m on holidays so I’m most definitely feeling loved up. Er…*cough*… I’m not sure that came out quite right. I meant I’m feeling relaxed and happy with the world. Not the… um… you know, which is not something I want to talk about or you want to hear!

Okay, let’s start again.

Welcome to this Valentine’s Day version of Friday Feast featuring a lady who knows all about heart flutters, in more ways than one!Photo of Amy Andrews, author

But first, because I just know you are fascinated, this week’s edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite one day of brilliance, I’m losing the Great Murray River Challenge miserably. I swear my other half is cheating on his scorecard. Either that or he has snuck death-seeking balls into my bag. On the other hand, I’m having fun so not all is lost.

Now back to my guest. Amy Andrews has published forty books. Yes, FORTY. And if that isn’t enough, she’s been nominated for FIVE Australian Romance Readers Awards this year. Fortunately Amy is also a most excellent lady and we love her, despite her clear penchant for overachievement and making the rest of us look bad.

Amy’s latest release (and ARR Award nominee in both the Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero categories) is Holding Out For A Hero. Take a lookie…

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

 

Cover of Holding Out For A Hero by Amy AndrewsWhen sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

 

Now that sounds seriously sexy! And Jake and Ella can be all yours with just a clickety-click from Amazon (for your Kindle or Kindle reading app), iTunes, Google Play and Kobo. It’s on my e-reader. Go and put it on yours!

Now come blow kisses at Amy. She has chooocooolate!

 

Claytons Cooking Part 2 – The Valentine’s Day chapter

Or

My Cheating Heart

 

So, we’ve already established I’m not a cook. That I cheat in the kitchen – often. That I construct dishes from pre-made ingredients and kind of smash it all up to make something new and exciting.

Yep, that’s the way we rock in my house. And everyone’s still alive and adequately nourished.

Yes, I’m a fraud who does not belong on such a magnificent blog with people who make their own spaghetti sauce. From scratch…

But Cathryn likes to indulge me so I thought I’d treat you to another easy-peasy food construction tip for Valentine’s Day!

Now…Valentine’s Day means chocolate right? Well, you know, it means love and romance and all that good stuff too but let’s face it, we’re women, right?

So….back to chocolate.

How about this Valentine’s Day you surprise your lover with some home-made chocolates? Well, you know, home-made in the loosest sense of the word….

The first thing you need is some chocolate moulds. Now, I used to have a stack of plastic moulds that I bought from Robin’s Kitchen years ago when I did this kind of stuff with the kids. I’m sure I had hundreds of them. No, I do have hundreds of them. I just couldn’t find any today when I came to do this recipe…. We food constructors are also bad at keeping track of our kitchen stuff… So I popped out and bought a proper you-beaut sturdy petit four tin. Impressive right?

Amy Andrews's petit fours tin

Next you need chocolate. What? You didn’t think I was actually going to make the chocolate did you? Perish the thought! But I do advise you to buy the most expensive cooking chocolate you can find – might as well dazzle your significant other with the taste of it, right? I used Cadbury. It’s more expensive than most but worth it.

Photo of the chocolate Amy used

Lastly you need stuff to mix in to the chocolate. I’ve used pistachios, coconut, peppermint essence, sprinkles and cranberries. Also Cointreau and rum. Because alcohol. But you can use whatever you want – chilli anyone?

Ingredients for flavouring the chocolates

Now all you do is melt the chocolate. You can get really authentic and do it in a double bowl over a boiling saucepan of water but why? Throw it in the microwave and it’s melted in like 1 minute! Plus, no saucepan to wash up!  Pour the melted chocolate into the individual moulds about half way up. Add whatever bits and pieces you’d like to each one, give it a gentle stir then fill the rest of the way with more chocolate.

Petit fours tin filled with chocolates

Refrigerate!

The end.

And here’s what they look like after they’ve been chilled a while.

The finished chocolates on a plate

Now, if you want to make it really special you can find a cute box or some cellophane and present them nicely. Knowing my hubby he’d prefer me to line them up on his naked body and lick them off after they’ve oozed a little but, you know, whatever works for you! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a chance to win a digital copy of my Aussie romcom Holding Out For A Hero tell me – do you like chocolate? Got a favourite brand? Or do you prefer something non-edible for the big-day-of-lurve?

 

And a big chocolate-flavoured Valentine’s Day right back at you, Amy! I now have a fair idea of what you’re doing today. Don’t wear out your tongue!

*cough*

Oh, dear. We really are having one of those days on the Feast, aren’t we? Never mind. Valentine’s Day is but once a year. Next week we shall return to normal innuendo free programming.

But only after we’ve given away a Kindle copy of Holding Out For A Hero!

You heard Amy. Share your favourite chocolate or whatever turns you on for Valentine’s Day and you’ll go into the draw. Me, I have a deep, deep affection for Jeff de Bruge chocolates, a brand I fell for when we lived in France. Luscious little babies. My mouth waters just thinking of those truffles. Otherwise, feed me red wine.

What about you? Maybe you like to suck on a Lindt ball? Perhaps pink champagne is more your go? Or maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could receive is a promise to babysit and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST 18th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Ingrid who has won herself a copy of Amy’s Holding Out For A Hero. What fun she’ll have! Thanks to Amy and to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Suzanne Brandyn

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Are you all Christmas partied out? I nearly am, although I have to say it’s been fun and there’s still more to come. Speaking of more to come, this week on Friday Feast I introduce a fab new author who’s sharing a dessert to die for, but first, brace yourself… yes, it’s Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly.Romantic suspense author Suzanne Brandyn

Thanks to not too much buffoonery on the golf course last week (unless you count that really ugly duffed ball in the water shot on the 17th that I’m still trying to wipe from memory, and some highly incompetent putting), I managed to shave half a stroke off my handicap. Methinks the golfing gods are teasing me again but we shall see. Perhaps a triumph approacheth? Stay tuned!

And now tune in even more for this week’s Friday Feast guest, Australian romantic suspense author Suzanne Brandyn. Born on the edge of Australia’s outback, Suzanne has taken her knowledge and empathy for this amazing land, her love of romance and delight in a good thrill, and created books filled with strong characters and vivid landscapes.

Her latest release is Cold Fear. Check it out…

 

COLD FEAR

 

Cover of Cold Fear by Suzanne BrandynMacy Donavan battles a terrifying nightmare to protect her two-year-old daughter, Faith from an intruder, and is knocked unconscious. When she regains consciousness, her daughter is missing.

As the police widen their futile search, Macy struggles to pick up the pieces of an unimaginable life. Urged to take a break she heads to an isolated cabin with a girlfriend to recuperate so she can continue searching, only to face her worst nightmare— times ten.

Trapped by a man she believed dead, he demands she play a game.

She runs, he hunts.  There is no place to hide.

 

Wow, doesn’t Cold Fear sound amazing? Well, thanks to the magic of the internet you can own a copy right now with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Visit amazon.com or amazon.com.au, hit that buy button and copy will be on its way to your Kindle reader or Kindle reading app in seconds.

Loaded up? Good. Now prepare to die! (In the nicest possible way, of course)

 

CHOCOMANIA

 

Good morning, Cathryn. I am thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.

It’s a great time of year here in Australia, with summer about to carve up the landscape and Christmas around the corner. It’s a time for barbeques, outdoor parties and celebrations. There is  not a year that goes by when Death by Chocolate doesn’t hit my outdoor area.  A “to die for desert,” just like our heroes in our novels, something we all can’t get enough of. 🙂

Wait until you try it. I give it a good go, although at times my palate doesn’t take to one single ingredient… Can you pick which one? The answer could win you copy of my latest release Cold Fear. 🙂

 

Death by Chocolate

 

Ingredients for Death By Chocolate

  • Two Sarah Lee chocolate cakes. (You can bake two choc cakes if you so desire. As long as they are chocolate.
  • Two tubs of chocolate mousse.
  • Two Cadbury Flake chocolate bars.
  • One tub of cream.
  • Strawberries.

Bowl of fresh strawberries

  • Wash and cut strawberries in half.

Bowl of cut strawberries

  • Beat cream and add a little caster sugar to sweeten.
  • If using frozen choc cake, defrost.
  • Place slices of chocolate cake into bottom of bowl. Press down to organise in a neat fashion.

Arranging chocolate cake in the bowl

  • Add one layer of thickened cream.
  • Add one layer of chocolate mousse.
  • Add one layer of strawberries.
  • Repeat this until you are at the top of your dish, finishing off with a layer of rich thickened cream, strawberries, and finely grate the Flakes over the top.

Finished Death By Chocolate top view

 Side on photo of Death By Chocolate

Yum. Perfect for barbeques, and/or formal dishes. The secret is in what dish you toss it all in. Fancy china, a glass bowl, or a bright plastic outdoorsy dish for barbeques. It’s a hit for all occasions.

Wella. To die for all right. Lol. Death By Chocolate. There’s no better way to go. Enjoy.

Question: Which ingredient of Death By Chocolate don’t I eat much of?

I like it, but my tastebuds have a hard time adjusting, although my brain says yes, yes, yes. Lol. Guess correctly and you could win a copy of Cold Fear. 🙂 It’s easy peasy, seeing I’m so not the norm. 🙂

 

I don’t know, you Friday Feast guests are determined to make everyone fat! But surely in this case it has to be worth it. Your Death By Chocolate looks absolutely divine, Suzanne.

Now, my Feasters, being a super-lovely guest, Suzanne has kindly offered a giveaway. You can win yourself a Kindle ebook copy of Cold Fear. But you’re going to have to work for it. Guess correctly which ingredient in Death By Chocolate Suzanne can’t eat much of and you’ll go into the draw to win.

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

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

Pssst. If you’d like an opportunity to win a $25 Amazon voucher, Suzanne has a giveaway running on her Facebook page. So toddle on over and get “liking”.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

Friday, Friday tra-la-la-la-la!

Actually, thanks to my darling Sydney Swans succumbing to Fremantle in the AFL Preliminary Final, I’m not feeling all that chirpy. A bit heart-sore, in fact.Author Rachael Johns It would have been so great to make the Grand Final again but my boys should be commended for the amazing effort they put in despite being decimated by injury. Never fear though, we’ll be back even better harder next year.

Speaking of people who should be commended (oh, I kill myself with these segues!), today on Friday Feast I’m thrilled to host my most excellent clever-trousers writing buddy Rachael Johns.

Rach has shot to rural romance writing superstardom thanks to her brilliant books Jilted and Man Drought, and now she has a new one out. Outback Dreams is the first in a loosely related trilogy set in Bunyip Bay and believe me, it’s a cracker.  Plus it has a bonus rural hunk on the cover. Should be more of it!

 

OUTBACK DREAMS

 

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsFaith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction.

Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…??

For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…??

So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges…

Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?

 

Don’t you just LOVE a friends to lovers story? You can own your copy now with just a couple of clicks. Visit that most excellent Platinum ARRC sponsor Booktopia and buy away or try your local bookseller or chain store. You can also purchase Outback Dreams from Kobo. Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, JB Hi-Fi and iTunes.

Done? Excellent. Now get ready for some crunchy fun with Rachael.

 

DREAMY DELIGHTS

 

It’s so great to be back on my fab friend Cathryn’s AWESOME Friday Feast. I do feel like a bit of a fraud compared to some of the authors who come on here and offer really complicated gourmet recipes. I’m a simple girl at heart and lately that’s been transferring to my cooking. In fact, if I can get away with NOT cooking, I will. Maybe that’s cos my fussy kids have taken the joy out of it, but there is ONE thing I do enjoy doing in the kitchen and that is BAKING cookies and cakes!

Like Faith, the heroine of my latest release, OUTBACK DREAMS, I am a comfort baker. If I’m in a bad mood or sad about something, there is nothing that can fix my emotions faster or better than baking a cake. In OUTBACK DREAMS Faith has a LOT to get grumpy about – mostly men, aren’t they always the problem? – and she does a LOT of baking. There are references to a number of slices, cakes and biscuits throughout the book but one thing that really gets the hero’s heart racing is her famous Custard and White Chocolate Cookies.

OUTBACK DREAMS excerpt:

‘Damn straight,’ he replied, trying to ignore his body’s reaction to yet another physical interaction, which was all about her.

Come on, she barely touched you.

‘Anyway, right now my stomach is crying neglect. Do you have any of your famous custard and white choc-chip cookies in that esky?’

‘I can’t believe you’re hungry already. We’ve barely been on the road half an hour.’ But she was already unclicking her seatbelt. ‘Pull over.’

While Faith retrieved the snacks, Monty drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and brainstormed safe topics of conversation. He’d never had to think about such things with Faith before; come to think of it, he’d never had to with any woman.

She returned moments later with a large Tupperware container and as she peeled back the lid, the familiar aroma filled the cab.

‘Here you go.’ She handed him a cookie and he took the first bite before pulling out onto the road. After he’d finished the mouthful, he said, ‘How are the catering plans coming along for the ball?’

He heard the roll of her eyes in her response. ‘The catering plans?’ She laughed. ‘It’s not all about the food you know.

 

So, today, I’d like to share with you Faith’s incredibly easy but amazingly tasty recipe. The dough and the finished product are of equal brilliance and one batch will never be enough.

FAITH’S CUSTARD AND WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

 Custard and White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

140g butter, softened

175g caster sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

225g self-raising flour

85g custard powder

85g white choc-chips

Method:

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowel until light and fluffy – I use an electric mixer, cos who wants wooden spoon hand sprain?
  2. Add the lightly whisked egg and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Sift in the flour and custard powder and mix until a dough is formed.
  4. Throw in the choc chips and worked together by hand.
  5. Form the dough into small balls, place them on the baking tray and then press down lightly. Be sure to leave a gap because they grow J
  6. Bake for 10-15 mins until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Try not to scoff the whole batch in one go!

I hope some of you will have a go at this splendidly easy and delicious recipe!! In the meantime, do tell me what YOUR favourite cookie is!

 

Thanks, Rach. Those biscuits (sorry, the Aussie snob in me can’t bring myself to call them cookies) sound completely delish. Just imagine, if I stuffed them with red Smarties, they’d be celebratory Sydney Swans biccies!

Now listen-up, Feasters. Because Rachael is kind and generous and lovely, she’s offering a print copy of Outback Dreams to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is share your favourite biscuit and we’ll put you in the draw.

Maybe you’re an ANZAC biscuit fiend. Perhaps Tim-Tams are your go. Or maybe you’re a secret Iced Vo-Vo connoisseur.  Simply share your biccie (or cookie!) love and you could win.

But get in fast. Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 1st October 2013 AEST. Open to 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 and Twitter.

 

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.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Alissa Callen

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As you know, I’m always thrilled to introduce new authors on Friday Feast. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent we have in Australia, especially in the romance writing community, and I want everyone to know and Author Alissa Callen relaxing with a bookcelebrate it too.

This week I’m delighted to present Alissa Callen who has had a fabulous start to 2013 by releasing not one, but two novels, both of which have received wonderful reviews. January saw the release of What Love Sounds Like, followed closely in February with her captivating rural romance, Beneath Outback Skies. Talk about hitting the ground running.

Alissa is a farm girl who, after living overseas, now calls the central west of N.S.W. home and where life is kept very busy with four children, three dogs, two horses and a renegade cow.

Alissa also runs a great Facebook page called Books For Country Girls and Guys. If you’re a fan of rural romance, this page is not to be missed.

I have no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from Alissa in the future. In the meantime, take a look at Beneath Outback Skies. Love that cover!

 

BENEATH OUTBACK SKIES

 

Book cover of Beneath Outback Skies by Alissa CallenPaige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile. Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

 

How cool does that sound! And the ebook can be yours in just a few clickety-clicks. Try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), and iTunes. You can also find a list of retailers at publisher Random House.

Now grab yourself a napkin (you’ll need it to wipe up your drools) and enjoy Alissa!

 

Friday Afternoon Tea Feast with Alissa Callen

 

It’s no secret I’ve a sweet tooth. It’s also no secret I read the desert menu first to know how much room to leave. So it’s no surprise my Friday feast recipes require chocolate.

I blame living in America for my obsession with chocolate chip cookies (and with Reese’s peanut butter cups – but that’s another story) and over the years have accrued a collection of recipes. This particular cookie recipe uses condensed milk which results in a decadent and creamy dough that is a treat within itself.

Chocolate chip cookie dough mixture

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

250 gm melted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 tin condensed milk (I use condensed skim-milk)

3 1/2 cups of SR flour

250 gm chocolate chips (white, milk, dark, caramel or a combination)

Mix all ingredients in bowl by hand. Roll into small balls and press onto a greased or paper lined tray. Cook in an 180C oven until slightly golden. Left over mixture will thicken so cover bowl with tea towel or plate to prevent dough from drying out.

Afternoon tea with baked chocolate chip cookies

Another family afternoon tea favourite that again involves chocolate is banana and chocolate chip muffins. Packed with banana, cinnamon, egg and milk and with a reduced sugar content they are more nice than naughty.

Banana and Chocolate Chip muffins

1 ½ cups SR flour

¼ tsp bicarb of soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup brown sugar

1 ripe mashed banana

100gm chocolate chips (white, milk, dark, caramel or a combination)

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup milk

1 egg

Sift SR flour, bicarb of soda and cinnamon into bowl. Add brown sugar. Or just throw all 4 dry ingredients into food processor. Add rest of ingredients and stir until just combined. If using food processer add everything but chocolate chips. Add them in at end and stir by hand.

Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tin. Bake in a hot oven 210C until golden.

A display of banana and choc chip muffins

Happy baking 🙂

 

Ha! I told you that you’d need that napkin to mop up your drools. Don’t those muffins and biscuits look amazing? Just the thing to satisfy an afternoon hunger.

Thanks so much, Alissa. Wonderful post.

Now, lovely Feasters, what is your all-time favourite afternoon tea treat? Are you a humble scone lover? Perhaps a brownie is your go (check out the Friday Feast index for some seriously decadent recipes), or maybe you prefer a delicate cucumber sandwich or smoked salmon blini. Let us know. Curious minds are, well, curious!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Kandy Shepherd

It is my great pleasure to welcome best-selling Australian romance author Kandy Shepherd to Friday Feast this week. Kandy head shot_2Kandy’s not only a lovely lady, she’s a wonderful writer whose debut release, Love Is A Four-Legged Word, was one of the nicest, most heart-warming romances I’ve read. But then how can anyone resist a story with dogs and chocolate? Not me, that’s for sure.

I’m a bit jealous of her, actually. I mean, Kandy is hugely talented AND lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains – gorgeous part of the world – with a menagerie of animal friends that include dogs and horses. Dogs, horses, mountains, writing. Sigh. Sounds so blissful… rather like one of Kandy’s fun, feel-good books!

Speaking of books, Kandy has a gorgeous new release to warm your heart. Check it out.

 

REINVENTING ROSE

 

 

KandyShepherd_ReinventingRose800When an internet love affair goes wrong, Rose straightens her hair and boosts her bra size—but she discovers it takes more than a makeover to find the courage to be her real self.

After 28-year-old schoolteacher Rose Butler flies to the other side of the world to meet the hot Australian guy she met online, their romantic reunion doesn’t go quite as planned. Stranded in Sydney, and too humiliated to return home to San Francisco, Rose decides to stay. She aims to shed her old image, and reinvent herself into someone tougher, smarter—maybe even wilder.

Help with her makeover comes from three unexpected new friends—Carla, the born-again-virgin beauty editor; Sasha, the out-of-rehab heiress; and Kelly, the high-flying model.

And then there are the men she meets—sexy bad-boy photographer Elliot; and Luke, the handsome doctor who may not be as straightforward as he appears. It might just be worth risking her heart again…

But as Rose throws herself headlong into her new life, she gets tripped up by a painful family secret and unresolved problems from her past. She’s forced to question her beliefs about love and loyalty, old mistakes and new choices, and the bonds of both family and friendship.

By reinventing herself, can Rose discover who she really is and face a fulfilling new future?

 

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have Reinventing Rose on my Kindle right now. And you could have it on your e-reader with just a clickety-click. Buy Reinventing Rose now from Amazon or Smashwords. Go on! You won’t regret it I promise.

Now please give a big whoop for Kandy. She has chocolate…

 

Triple The Fun

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on Friday Feast. I’ve read so many wonderful authors’ posts—and tried a few recipes—and it’s a thrill for me to be here.

During my career as a magazine editor, I enjoyed working with food editors, recipe writers, stylists and photographers. My interest in food has flowed into my books.

IMG_0820The heroine of Love is a Four-Legged Word Maddy Cartwright is a chef, aiming to be a magazine food editor and a TV chef. Her best friend, Serena Oakley, the heroine of Home Is Where the Bark Is is a hopeless cook, though she pretends to be otherwise—the hero is the cook in that book. The recipe I’m sharing below is for Maddy’s triple choc brownies, which play an important role in the book

Food isn’t such a focus in my new release Reinventing RoseI draw more on my experience as a beauty editor to help with the details of Rose’s makeover. I adore writing romance where the focus is on two people falling in love against the odds. But I also like writing about the other aspects of my characters’ lives—family, friends, career challenges—and this book gave me that opportunity.IMG_1885

There’s lots of talking about food in Reinventing Rose but not a lot of actual eating. Rose, the heroine, finds herself sharing an apartment with girls who are always trying various weight-loss diets, live on black coffee, or don’t eat much at all. Rose is a suburban girl at heart and is bemused by all this. The only substantial meals she gets are when the male characters are in charge!

300811_0032_1bReinventing Rose is very much a city book, set in Sydney. But it was mostly written in the country at our little farm in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

We bought the farm because of our daughter’s passion for horses. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot where I can indulge my interests in cooking and gardening when I’m not writing. I even have a wood stove that I haven’t quite mastered. Our chickens give us wonderful eggs and we’re getting quite good at growing vegetables and fruit, too.

These decadent brownies are a treat much requested by visitors to the farm—especially teenagers! (Rose’s flatmates would definitely not approve of the kilojoule count!)

 

 

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD

TRIPLE CHOC BROWNIES

 DSCF2905_2

Makes: 24 brownies

Time to prepare: 20 minutes

Time to cook: 35 minutes

Dont even think about the calorie count!

You will need:

250g unsalted butter, chopped

125g good quality dark or bittersweet cooking chocolate, (around 60% cocoa content is best) chopped

2 cups caster sugar

4 medium size eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

Pinch salt

125g macadamias, chopped

125g white chocolate chips

250g good quality milk chocolate for topping, cut into small chunks

Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180C or 170C for fan-assisted ovens.

1. Spray the bottom of a rectangular cake pan, (33 x 23 x 5cm) with cooking spray oil, then line with baking paper so paper hangs over edges of pan.

2. Heat butter in medium saucepan on very low heat until butter is half melted. Add chopped dark chocolate. Take off heat when chocolate is half melted, stir until completely melted and combine. Keep saucepan off the heat.

3. Stir in sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time, and stir mixture until it is glossy. Stir in vanilla.

4. Sift flour and cocoa together and add to saucepan. Mix until blended.

5. Stir in nuts and white chocolate morsels. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan.

6. Bake approximately 35 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Take out of oven. Randomly sprinkle surface with chopped milk chocolate chunks and lightly press down. Return to oven for one minute. Take out of oven for the final time.

7. Cool brownies in pan. Using edges of baking paper, lift onto board. Cut into small squares and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

TIPS

• Pecans or walnuts also taste great instead of the macadamias.

• You can use milk chocolate chips for the topping instead of chopped chocolate.

• The brownies freeze well, but wait until they’re defrosted before dusting with the icing sugar.

NOTE Australian standard measuring cups are used. (For overseas readers, there is not much difference between Australian and US measuring cups so the recipe should work well using them).

 

Oof! I think I’m putting on kilos just looking at that recipe! But what an absolutely gorgeous one it is. Thanks, Kandy. You’ve just made a whole bunch of people slobber on their keyboards.

Okay, feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite chocolate indulgence? Death By Chocolate? A plain piece of Lindt? Mousse? Good old Tim-Tams? Reveal yours and you could win an ebook copy of Reinventing Rose. Yes, we have a GIVEAWAY! But comment fast because the giveaway closes closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 23rd April 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

Mine chocolate indulgence is a truffle (or five) from Jeff de Bruge, a Belgian chocolatier whose chocolates I fell in love with when we lived in France. My mouth goes funny thinking about them. Those were the days, sigh. So ‘fess up. Kandy and I would love to hear your fantasies. Choccy ones, that is. You can keep the rest for those funny websites!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kaetrin who has won an e book copy of Reinventing Rose. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

FRIDAY FEAST with Loretta Hill

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Oh, I do adore Friday Feast. Sometimes it’s like owning a bookshop with a bakery and café attached. All those great stories! All that delicious food! Hmm, maybe I should hunt down a wine writer so we can make this place trulyauthor pic perfect…

Speaking of perfect (sigh, love a good segue nearly as much as the Feast itself), today I welcome  back a wonderful Australian author who’s had the perfect start to her writing career. Not only was Loretta Hill’s debut novel, The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots, a rip-roaring chart-busting success, so is her second novel, The Girl In The Hard Hat, which released last month. No wonder given these rave quotes:

This is the sort of book that I would recommend to everyone I know, especially if they liked The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots. And if you haven’t read that one then… you definitely need to! Bree at One Girl… 2 many books!

Well written, witty and entertaining, The Girl in The Hard Hat is an engaging contemporary romance in an unique Australian setting that I can’t wait to visit again. Shellyrae at Book’d Out

Check it out.

 

THE GIRL IN THE HARD HAT

 

HardHat cover finalTo tame a bad boy you will need:

a.      One hard hat

b.      Three hundred and fifty sulky FIFO workers

c.       A tropical cyclone

Wendy Hopkins arrives in the Pilbara to search for the father who abandoned her at birth.

Getting mixed up in construction site politics at the Iron Ore wharf just out of town was not high on her ‘to do’ list.

But when she takes a job as their new Safety Manager she becomes the most hated person in the area. Nicknamed ‘The Sergeant’, she is the butt of every joke and the prime target of notorious womanizer, Gavin Jones.

Giving up is not an option, though.

For, as it turns out, only Wendy can save these workers from the coming storm, find a man who wants to stay buried and … put a bad boy firmly in his place.

From the author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes another funny and deliciously romantic tale of a woman in a man’s world.


The Girl In The Hard Hat is available now from your local book or chain store. You can also order online from Dymocks, Booktopia and Bookworld, or download the ebook from Kobo, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or iTunes.

Now here’s Loretta!

 

Spoon Lickin’ Good

 

When Cathryn first asked me to write a blog for Friday feast, I knew exactly what I was going to write about, Chocolate Cake! Any time of year, any time of day, chocolate cake is by far my favourite comfort food.  I also have 001four kids. So baking a cake always makes a great activity in which they can get involved.   I measure out all the ingredients and put them on the counter so that they can tip them into a giant mixing bowl. It makes them feel so important – like they’ve really baked this cake all by themselves. After the ingredients are in, they take it in turns stirring – because you know, a good stir is essential to a good cake. But that’s not the best part. The best part is licking the bowl and the spoon afterwards which unfortunately usually doesn’t take nearly long enough.  You see, after that, the questions start.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Can we eat it now?”

“I think it’s cooked mummy!”

Baking in the oven for half an hour is a very difficult concept for a five year old to grasp. Let alone, a three and one year old. My youngest luckily is 3months, so he is content to just watch, gurgle and wave chubby fists.  All the 004same, I hear myself repeating the same phrase over and over, “Not yet. But soon.” Then at last the cake is out and cooling on a rack. They take it in turns sniffing it as if by sucking in the chocolaty steam they can somehow experience coco nirvana.   They’re not half wrong. I say, “Back away everyone.  It needs some time before we can ice it.”  To stall them, I have the ingredients for the icing there so that we can make it. Again using the electric mixer is a very big deal. And when the last spindle has been licked clean the cake looks cool enough to ice. I layer it on with a big plastic spatula. Yumo! The icing is the best part of cake. Thick and buttery. My mouth is watering.  But it’s not my turn yet. I cut all the kids a slice each. We put them on plastic plates and take them outside so they can spill as many crumbs as they like. Michael is asleep now, so he gets wheeled into the bedroom. The other kids park themselves on the garden chairs and don’t move until their faces are covered in chocolate. It’s clean up time. Off to the bathroom to wash up. When they are relatively presentable again and run off to play I creep back to the kitchen and put the kettle on. I then cut myself a very generous slice. With coffee in one hand and cake in the other hand, I shuffle over to my computer. It has been winking at me on the dining table to no avail all afternoon. Hero and heroine have been waiting for their next move. The kids are quietly watching a dvd now. As sweet chocolately goodness infuses my senses, I begin to type.

016

Here’s a great recipe for a very simple but delicious chocolate cake that I make all the time!

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup self raising flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

250g butter

½ cup of caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs

 

Icing

1 cup of sifted icing sugar

1 teaspoon of sifted cocoa

A tablespoon of milk

2 teaspoons of softened butter

 

Method

  1. Grease and line one 20cm deep cake tin
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter
  3. Add eggs and mix for one minute
  4. Pour into cake tin and cook for 25-35minutes at 160 degrees C
  5. Icing: Mix icing sugar ingredients together and beat with electric mixer to make fluffy.

Tip : Don’t over cook. Test often with a knife after 25 mins

Ahh, Loretta, you have no idea how tempted I am to dash from the calorific desert that is my office to the kitchen and start baking. As you so perfectly describe, there’s nothing like a chocolate hit to fire up the muse. Thanks so much. These tried and true Friday Feast recipes are like having a precious family cookbook on hand, except in this case, the ‘book’ is full of others’ favourite recipes and made all the more special for it.

Okay, Feasters, what food fires up your imagination? I’ve considered this deeply and think that perhaps it’s good old Vita Brits (or Fart Bricks as my other half so charmingly calls them). A bit dull I’ll concede, but as that’s my usual breakfast fare and given that after breakfast is when I start writing, there has to be some sort of correlation, surely? Mind you, I do have a habit of succumbing to episodes of mad scribbling after a couple of glasses of red wine too, but that’s another tale…

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Sandy Curtis

Happy Friday, everyone. Are you ready for a gorgeous spring weekend? I know I am. Our computer carked it this week, so a trying time was had. Thank goodness for Friday Feast and delicious thoughts of food!

This week my guest is the utterly delightful Sandy Curtis. Now if you met Sandy, you’d probably think this petite Queenslander would write cosy mysteries or perhaps sweet romances, but no! Underneath that demure exterior lies a mind raging with murder and mayhem, passions and thrills, daring romance and most of all criiiiiiime.  Yes, indeedy. My mum always said it’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for…

Sandy’s latest release is Fatal Flaw. Check it out.

 

FATAL FLAW

 

Operative Mark Talbert’s father is murdered, the agency he works for has him hunting terrorists, and the only connection is the father of Julie Evans, his childhood friend. Mark realizes that Julie is what has been missing from his life, but the love that hits him with the force of the bullet that almost took his life creates an insurmountable problem.

Julie’s father has placed her in the hands of a terrorist determined to unleash horror on an unprepared city. She needs someone she can depend on, but can she trust Mark? He has come back into her life after thirteen years, a changed man from the idealistic youth she loved.

People are dying. People who seem to have nothing in common, until Mark discovers his father’s involvement in a decades-old crime. A killer is taking a calculated revenge. A revenge that threatens Mark, Julie, and Julie’s son. And the terrorists are making their final move.

 

Oof! I went all shuddery just reading that blurb, but I’m a complete sucker for a good crime novel and I bet you are too. So why not get your thrills from one of Australia’s best authors? Fatal Flaw can be purchased right now from Amazon Kindle or Clan Destine Press, where you’ll also find all of Sandy’s backlist.

Now here’s Sandy!

 

GOING TROPPO

 

Hello from sunny Queensland, Feasters. Well, I hope it’s sunny when you’re reading this or Rob’s and my getaway to four days and nights of relaxation at the Ramada Resort at Port Douglas in far north Queensland will be a disaster. We’ve been told the Wet Season shouldn’t start until the end of November, so fingers crossed.

I know I shouldn’t make you jealous, but I just have to share that this marvelous four days came about through a Hightide Holiday offer and it’s only costing $399.00! I just had to snap it up.

One of the great things about it is that I WON’T HAVE TO COOK. After being married for innumerable years and raising three children, the thought of having all meals cooked for me is as much my idea of heaven as the wonderful facilities the resort offers and the chance to explore the tropical Daintree region. There’s an ice-cream factory up there that uses all the beautiful tropical fruit in their ice-creams and I’ll have to sacrifice myself and do some sampling as we wander through The Orchard Walk and see the fruit growing. According to their brochure, the fruit of the Jackfruit tree can grow up to 46kg. I’ve warned Rob that if one drops down it will be like having me fall on him (but with no side benefits lol). If it falls on me there will be one less romantic suspense author in Australia 🙂

You’d think that with all this emphasis on delicious tropical fruit I would be offering you an exotic fruit-flavoured dish, but, sorry, I’m not. Most people love chocolate, and a lot of people love drinking Bundaberg Rum, so I’m offering a delicious combination of the two in my Chocolate Rum Pie recipe.

When I was first diagnosed as Coeliac (gluten intolerant), there was little gluten free food commercially available and what there was didn’t taste like anything I was used to. So I started experimenting by trying to adapt my usual recipes to gluten free. The disasters out-numbered the successes by a great margin. I learned a lot about how essential gluten is to keeping cakes and biscuits moist and not crumbling. I also learned that even dogs, no matter how hungry, won’t be tempted to devour a gluten-free disaster. Even birds seemed to view it as an indirect assassination attempt. But my chocolate rum pie recipe (adapted for ease of making over the years) never fails and is a great favourite.

Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me to share this with your Feasters.

 

CHOCOLATE RUM PIE

Base:

Crush 2 packets of your choice of gluten-free biscuits (or any normal crunchy biscuit for non-Coeliacs) to crumbs and add enough melted marg/butter to moisten, mix well and press into a pie dish.

Refrigerate.

Filling:

Bring 2 cups of milk to the boil.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cornflour (White Wings is gluten free) with ¼ cup milk and pour into hot milk. Cook on low heat, continually stirring so lumps don’t form, until mixture thickens (I use the microwave as this doesn’t require as much stirring). Remove from heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Gently beat 3 egg yolks together and quickly stir into the mix.

Break 125g dark cooking chocolate into small pieces and put into mix and stir well until chocolate is melted and mixed in.

Dissolve 1 sachet (3 tablespoons) of gelatine in ¼ cup warm milk, making sure no lumps form, and add to mix.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes then stir in 2 tablespoons of Bundaberg rum (or any dark rum if you can’t get Bundaberg). Set mix aside to cool.

Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Mix should be stiff and glossy. Slowly add in the chocolate mix while stirring gently.

Pour into prepared pie dish and refrigerate. When set, serve with whipped cream and strawberries or just on its own.

 

Thanks, Sandy. What a pleasure it was to have you on Friday Feast. As for that recipe, all I can say is: WANT! Rum and chocolate? That’s sigh-inducing. And even better that it’s gluten-free. So important to consider these things, and just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious. I have a fantastic recipe for orange syrup cupcakes that is completely lip-smacking.

So, Feasters, any favourite hints or recipes for Coeliacs or those who prefer gluten-free tucker? Sandy and I (and many others) would love to hear your ideas.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about Sandy’s world, where crime and passion collide, please visit her website. You can also connect via Sandy’s blog, Facebook and Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

Happy Friday, Feasters, and welcome to everyone’s favourite day of the week. Besides being the start of the weekend and another round of football fun (gooo Swans!), we get to snuffle out excellent books and recipes. Perfect!

And today is no different. Thanks to rural lit author Margareta Osborn, who I’m absolutely delighted to have on the blog, we have another fabulous book and recipe to share. Margareta’s a fifth generation farmer who grew up on her family’s historic Gippsland dairy farm, so she’s well-versed in the highs and lows of rural life. And that’s exactly what she writes about. Not only did Margareta’s debut release Bella’s Run garner rave reviews, it sold its cute-covered socks off. With jolly good reason too.

Check it out.

BELLA’S RUN

 

Bella threw her hat into the air. ‘We’ve lived one of our dreams, Patty. Our outback road trip is done. Now we’re free and ready for our next adventure. I love my life!’

Bella Vermaelon and her best friend Patty are two fun-loving country girls bonded in a sisterhood no blood tie could ever beat.

Now they are coming to the end of a road trip which has taken them from their family farms in the rugged Victorian high country to the red dust of the Queensland outback. For almost a year they have mustered on cattle stations, cooked for weary stockmen, played hard at rodeos and danced through life like a pair of wild tumbleweeds.

And with the arrival of Patty’s brother Will and Bella’s cousin Macca, it seems love is on the horizon too …

Then a devastating tragedy strikes, and Bella’s world is changed for ever.

So she runs – from the only life she has ever known. But can she really turn her back on the man she loves? Or on the land that runs deep in her blood?

Both funny and heart-wrenching, Bella’s Run is a rip-roaring debut brimming with the colour and vitality of life on the land.

 

And now you’ve finished admiring that stunning cover and blurb, you can settle down to Margareta’s wonderful post!

Country Comfort

There were many recipes I could’ve shared here with you today. I love to cook thanks to my grandmother who brought me up to think Saturday afternoon baking sprees at the family homestead were what everyone did (minus the sponges that didn’t work which flew like UFO’s out the back screen door).

In fact when Cathryn first invited me take part in her Friday Feast some months ago, I had thought to share the pavlova recipe that garnered a mention in BELLA’S RUN. (As an occasional relief station cook in outback-western Queensland, one day I decided I’d give the stockmen a treat and make the said pavlova. Beating sixteen egg whites to froth in one mix master bowl can cause all sorts of problems. Let’s just say the clean up afterwards ensured a mate and I needed to drive the hour to town to find a drink – well, maybe many drinks – and the experience provided excellent research for a book.)

BUT, I changed my mind (I’m female, I reserve the right ;-). Sitting here on our property that is snugged hard up against the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, it’s damn cold at the moment. Not to mention the floods we’ve just experienced followed by that 5.2 magnitude earthquake (Yes, my gumboots fell over :-). So I decided we needed comfort food for Cathryn’s Friday Feast, specifically a CHOCOLATE kind of comfort food that really hits the spot when things are cold, wet and shaky.

The slice I am about to share has had many lives. It started out as my grandmother’s chocolate coconut slice, but over the years it has evolved into, well, anything I’ve wished it to be. You can cook it ‘Plain Jane’ OR …  (and this is the most important bit, so listen up) grab two Peppermint Crisps, slice/scrunch them up with a big knife. Mix one Peppermint Crisp into dry mixture. Reserve the other until after you ice the slice (must be iced while warm) and sprinkle it over the top. YUM-MY!

You can also use Cherry Ripes, Crunchie bars, Turkish Delights … all fabulous reasons why this is one AWESOME slice.

Awesome Chocolate Slice

Slice

½ cup caster sugar                                                         2 dessertspoons cocoa

1 cup Self Raising flour                                                 1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup coconut                                                                   4 oz butter plus a smidge more

Melt butter (I just do it in the microwave)

Mix other ingredients together and add melted butter, followed by the egg.

Press into a flat slice tin and cook in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes.

Ice with chocolate icing while warm. Sprinkle with shredded coconut or chopped Peppermint Crisp or Cherry Ripe or Crunchie or … whatever! (Although I’ve never tried mini M & M’s. Anyone want to give that a go?)

*Note* I have also made this slice without cocoa and just added a few drops of peppermint essence into some vanilla icing. This adds to the taste of the Peppermint Crisp sprinkled on top.

 

Oh, I am so, soooo going to make the Peppermint Crisp version of this. And it’s so easy! Thanks, Margareta. I think there may be some whipping out of slice tins when everyone’s finished reading this.

Now, my lovelies, what tricks do you have to make your favourite recipe shine? A spoon of redcurrant jelly in your gravy to give it a bit of zing? Some crumbled fetta in your pumpkin scones for a cheesy delight? If you’re anything like me you’re continually fiddling with old recipes to liven them up. Sometimes – as my other half will attest – with horrid results. Ahh well, there’s nothing like a danger element to add fun to the kitchen!

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

And keep your eye out for Margareta’s next release, Hope’s Road. Coming March 2013.