Tag Archives: Christmas recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Heidke

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Hello, lovely readers, and welcome to another delicious edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing in the snow with one of Australia’s best popular women’s fiction authors, seriously overdosing on sugar, and giving away a book!

But first, the rollercoaster ride that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m on the improve! There are signs of life! I even managed not to dunk my ball straight into the dam off the 15th Author Lisa Heidketee two times in a row. Tis a miracle! It has to be the weather. The days have been glorious here lately and I think it’s tricked my feeble golfing brain into thinking it’s spring and therefore time to play better. Perhaps a dodgy theory but let the sun shine on, I say!

Now to our fab guest. Many of you will know Lisa Heidke from her novels It Started With a Kiss, Stella Makes Good, Claudia’s Big Break, What Kate Did Next and Lucy Springer Gets Even. Lisa’s books cover all the feel-good bases with plenty of love, drama and fun, but most of all they’re entertaining.

Her latest release is The Callahan Split and it looks a cracker.

THE CALLAHAN SPLIT

The Callahan Split by Lisa HeidkeIn tennis, as in life, nothing ever goes truly to plan.

Samantha and Annie Callahan are successful doubles champions — the toast of the Olympics, Wimbledon, and Flushing Meadow. But their winning partnership spirals out of control when Annie’s new boyfriend announces their engagement at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Bear, the sisters’ coach, guides Annie as much as she’ll allow. But when she insists on dropping Samantha in favour of a singles career, her game and rankings plummet.

Samantha is left floundering. Disillusioned, her only sweet spot is the growing passion between her and Bear. Amidst rising anger and betrayal, Samantha completely changes both their destinies when she does the unthinkable after a devastating Wimbledon loss.

The sisters are driven to create new lives by confronting the past and taking control of the present. But can Samantha and Annie both win?

I adore the sound of this book. Clashing tennis sisters? Wheee! I’m sure you’ll love it too. The Callahan Split can be yours with just a few clickety-clicks. Try Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Kobo.

Now prepare thee for a grand slam sugar hit with Lisa!

Christmas in July

I’ve just returned from a magical few days in Leura, NSW, where not only was I celebrating Christmas in July with friends, but it actually snowed!

Yippee. And I have photographic evidence to prove it!

Lisa Heidke in the snow

It was a stroke of luck, really. Even though snow had been predicted, I didn’t believe it.  But indeed it did.

Snow at Leura

After we played in the snow and built some daggy snowmen, we lit the fire and it was time to get down to some Christmas business!

Leura

Lots of champagne, yummy food and way too much dessert.

My contribution was this magnificent Yule Log!

Lisa’s White Christmas Yule Log

(not for the faint hearted)

Lisa Heidke's Yule Log

Ingredients

125g caster sugar, plus extra to dust

3 large eggs

100g plain flour

25g cocoa powder, plus extra to dust

For the filling

300ml double cream, whipped

For the white chocolate fudge icing

110g (4oz) butter

90g (3 1/4oz) 70% white chocolate

425g (14oz) icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

175ml (6fl oz) milk

Extras

Whipped cream

Reindeer Droppings (chocolate drops)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C. (fan 180°C) Line a 33 x 23cm (13 x 9in) Swiss roll tin with nonstick baking paper.

Whisk the sugar and eggs with an electric whisk for 10 minutes, until pale and thick. Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture, plus 1 tbsp of lukewarm water. Fold into the mixture until evenly mixed.

Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes until risen and just firm.

Meanwhile, lay out a clean, damp tea towel. Place a piece of nonstick baking paper larger than the sponge on top and dust with icing sugar. Turn the sponge onto the paper and peel the paper off the base.

Make an incision line about 1cm from one short edge, being careful not to cut through the cake. This will help you start rolling. Use the paper to roll the sponge tightly. Wrap in the tea towel. Allow to cool, then unroll and spread the cake with whipped cream and roll back up again.

To make the icing, melt the white chocolate and butter in the microwave. In a large bowl combine the icing sugar, vanilla and 120ml (4fl oz) of the milk. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Add the remaining milk, a little at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Let the icing stand until spreadable, it will thicken as it cools.

Spread the icing over the Yule log, then whipped cream and sprinkle with reindeer droppings.

Eat, sit back and wait for the sugar coma to hit.

When not gobbling food or playing in the snow, I can be found at my desk or out in the wild promoting my latest book, The Callahan Split, a story about sisters, love, lies and loss.

I loved writing this novel and I really hope readers enjoy reading it. I have 1 print copy to give away.

Do you have a sister? If so, what’s your most memorable experience together? If not, what’s a memorable experience you shared with another family member?

*

Thanks, Lisa. I luuuurve the sound of your cake and the photos are fabulous. What a lovely time you must have had.

So, did you hear that, Feasty people? Lisa is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, a paperback copy of Lisa’s brand new release, The Callahan Split could be yours. All you need to do is reveal your most memorable experience shared with a family member.

Hmm. I’m going to have to think hard on this one because there’s been quite a few, but I did go on a hot air balloon ride in Alice Springs with my brother when he was living there that was pretty cool. The scenery was amazing and the ride so peaceful! I managed three trips to “the Alice” while he lived there so managed to do some wonderful touring around the area. Australia’s red heart is a definite must-see.

So what’s your memorable experience? Share away in the comments and feel-good book joy could be yours!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th August 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Ros Baxter

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Greetings Feasty lovelies, and welcome to the final Friday Feast of the year! Yes, I know, it’s very sad but a girl needs a break and never fear, Friday Feast will return at the end of January for another year of fabulous authors and foodie tales.

This week we’re featuring sexy science fiction and Christmas mocktails but first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You are not going to believe this, but last Friday I won the Ros Baxter romance authorladies Christmas party competition. Wonders never cease! It was back to normal on the weekend though with the usual stuffuppery, but I’ll take whatever fleeting glory I can.

Now to our most excellent guest. Please give a big cheer to Australian romance author Ros Baxter who is making her Friday Feast debut today. Ros is a Brisbane girl who writes across genres, from sci-fi and fantasy to contemporary. Her stories are loaded with feisty heroines, quirky families and heroes to sigh over.

Ros’s latest release is The Seek, the first in her New Earth sci-fi romance series. Take a look…

THE SEEK

The Seek by Ros BaxterWhen everything else is gone, all that’s left is blood.  And hope.

The year is 2098, and the people of New Earth have been homeless for seventeen years.

Ruled by a mysterious Council, and adrift in a fleet of space stations, their sole mission is to survive long enough to find a new home. They call it The Seek.

Kyntura is the first and only female Avenger – one of the secret, separate elite who stand on the frontline between the refugees of Earth and a universe that would do them harm. For Kyn, fight and pain are the only things that drive out memories of the Apocalypse, and of the boy she left behind when she enlisted.

But a young recruit called Mirren and a deadly mission will bring her face to face with all she has tried to forget.

As she leads a squad of Avengers in The Seek, Kyntura must face her demons, join forces with the boy whose heart she broke a decade before, and confront the truth about New Earth.

Now that’s sounds exciting! Perfect for holiday reading. The Seek is available right now from Booktopia, Angus & RobertsonKobo,  iBooks, Google Play, amazon.com, amazon.au, amazon.uk, JB Hi-Fi, Nook, Bookworld or your favourite ebook retailer.

All loaded up? Most excellent. Please give a festive welcome to Ros…

Cheeky Mocktails

So, I’m more than a little intimidated being on Cathryn’s food blog, given that I consider myself a bit of a food faker (my sister calls it food assembler – that is, you take pre-made stuff and arrange it artfully).  But I’m also excited to be here too because, after all, who hasn’t faked something? Thanks for having me Cathryn.

Right now I’m in a bit of a bind, food-wise.  School holidays have just begun, and so I should be mining my repertoire of kiddy recipes, but my head is all full of less than g-rated food thinking, as a result of scenes like this from The Seek.

Finally, they stopped and he positioned himself behind her again. ‘Are you ready?’ His voice was deep and growly behind her and she had that sense again — that he had gone and turned into a man when she wasn’t looking.

‘Ready,’ she said, feeling her tummy contract. She really didn’t like surprises.

He gently lifted the blindfold, and when it was gone Kyn saw what he had done. They were somewhere on the ship, she could see that, but she had no idea where. A massive perspete viewing window dominated her vision, and laid out before it was some kind of deep space picnic. A largish square of what looked like grass took pride of place.

He saw her staring at it. ‘Tabi helped.’ He shrugged. ‘Trainee explorers get access to the specimens. It’s real; feel it.’

She knelt down and touched the grass, and he was right. It was cool and slightly damp. He shrugged again. ‘I wanted it to have that after-rain smell,’ he said.

On the grass a picnic rug was laid — red checks and all. And a meal — the usual, processed fare with some crackers, and…Kyn’s breath caught. ‘Dom Perignon?’

‘Hey,’ he said, smiling broadly at her. ‘You only turn eighteen once.’

‘But where..?’

He put a finger to his lips. ‘I have my sources.’

He motioned for her to sit, and she did. Then he reached into a small basket in the very centre and pulled out a brightly wrapped box. ‘For you, Kyntura,’ he said, and the way he was looking at her and the sound of his voice told her he wasn’t thinking of her as his best friend, not even maybe his friend. Something else entirely.

She opened the gift speechlessly. ‘It’s an orange,’ he said, as she stared at the thing inside. ‘Tabi’s worked out how to grow them, from some DNA she found.’

Kyn held it up — it was bright orange perfection, its dimpled skin a promise of summer sweetness.

‘Symon,’ she said slowly, turning the thing around in the dim light. ‘You are so sweet.’

‘No, I’m not, Chickita,’ he said, leaning forward and capturing her mouth in his. He drew back a little. ‘I’m not sweet at all. In fact, lately, every time I look at you, I feel far, far from sweet.’ His mouth pressed hard against hers, and his lips were warm and firm and hard and soft. His tongue pushed inside her mouth, lighting a fire in Kyn’s belly and making her moan a little, low in her throat.

‘Me too,’ she said, wondering vaguely why it didn’t even occur to her to play it cool.

She tried hard to remind herself that she was going tomorrow, that she should not be doing this, that she should be doing anything but this. But he was kissing her and winding his hands in her hair and she couldn’t think.

She could only act.

Symon pushed her down onto the rug and feathered kisses over her face, her neck and her ears. He whispered to her of the desire he had for her, how it had been growing, how he had wanted tonight to be so special, but it had been so hard to keep himself from kissing her that he’d had to stay away.

Neither of them were in any mood to take it slow. Symon was fumbling with her top as she tore at his. In seconds, he was naked beside her and she marvelled at the beauty of him. She had seen him naked when they’d been kids, but not for a long time, she realised. Her eyes slid to his sex and widened. Not for a long, long time.

He dispensed with her top in seconds and his head lowered to her breasts. ‘Oh, Kyntura,’ he breathed. ‘You are so perfect.’

And she felt it.

Except for the fact that she knew she should be telling him tomorrow she would leave, and never come back. She would be an Avenger. But she couldn’t — it would blow the lid off everything.

And Pietr.

Pietr would never forgive her.

She knew it was bad, knew it was so, so wrong but she just wanted to have this, take it, just this one little thing.

When he took her, it was like a piece of her that had been missing for seven years found its way home. Like she remembered who she was. This girl. This girl, capable of love and warmth, and having something beautiful. She opened herself to him willingly and wholly. She held the side of his face as he pushed into her, trying to imprint the outline of him on her brain.

Her Symon.

Her man.

Her first love.

Sigh.  I love those two.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, kids and Christmas and school holidays.  Enough to drive any of us to drink, which is maybe why when I was thinking about which recipe to share I decided on this one, because it’s a sad fact that when you’re sharing a festive drink with friends or family, and your kids see you with those colourful, saucy-looking cocktails, they’re going to want one too.

I developed this mocktail recipe to assuage their appetite for “pretty” drinks while ensuring I keep the Social Services wolf from the door.

The only thing you really need for this is frozen banana – but I recommend you always keep a few frozen bananas in the freezer anyway.  They’re like WD40 – you can use them for everything. Use those ones that are kind of at the end of the bunch and the kids have lost interest in.  Freeze them in ziplock bags and use them for smoothies and banana bread. Or….cheeky mocktails. The beauty of using frozen banana is that you don’t need ice-cream – they kind of ice-creamify once blended.

Christmas Baby Mocktails

What do you need?

Two frozen bananas (see note above)

Two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt

Two teaspoons of honey

A sploodge (technical term) of vanilla (essence/extra/pod-scrapings/whatever)

100mls of coconut milk

A splash of whatever milk your family rocks with

A teaspoon of coconut shavings

A couple of squares of dark chocolate

A cocktail umbrella

kidsWhat do you need to do?

Tell all the children having a mocktail to go and change into their swimmers and grab a beach towel.

Here’s a pic of two of my little budding Olympians eyeing off Emily Seebohm’s medal.

Stick all ingredients except chocolate and coconut shavings in the blender, whir it up til its smoothie consistency – add more banana, yoghurt or milk depending on preferred thickness .

Pour the mocktail into a tall, shapely glass.

Grate the chocolate and sprinkle it over the top.

Sprinkle coconut shavings on the top also.

AND (this bit is very important) add the umbrella (otherwise they might feel ripped off and try to taste yours, which you really, really don’t want them to do if you are as heavy-handed with the Christmas cocktails as I am!

Tell the children to go outside and lie on their beach towels with their mocktails – double bonus points if there’s a pool for them to lie besides.  Otherwise, that’s what kids have imaginations for.

Ros Baxter saying cheersCheers!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and remember to eat at least as much as you drink (rumballs don’t count) and never sit on a strange man’s lap even if he claims to be Santa Claus (we’ve all been fooled by that one).

Another key Christmas food survival tip I’ve learned is to use the slow cooker so you can make meals at breakfast-time and enjoy the rest of the day with your loved ones.  Otherwise, hire a caterer, bribe the kids to pass around platters, get drunk and boss your husband around. Happy holidays!

 

Great tips there, Ros. As for those mocktails, a dash of something naughty for us adults and this could easily be converted into a grown-ups drink. A healthy one too, with all that fruit. These things are important…

So, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite cocktail or mocktail? I must admit that I’m not much of a cocktail girl but I am partial to a nice caprioska or mai tai. Very refreshing when it’s hot. So what about you?  Any ideas for some Christmas indulgences would be greatly appreciated. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Carol Marinelli

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Hello food and book lovers, and welcome to another delicious edition of Friday Feast. This week: a super-selling author, the best accompaniment to a roast ever, topped off with an international bad boy for dessert.

But first, to Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. I only lost one ball to water last week. Hoorah! Actually, I played quite well on the front nine. The back nine was, alas, a different matter. One of these days I might blast out one full round of goodness. Then again, piggies Carol Marinellimight get airborne. Sadly, one’s nongolfing genes appear to be very, very strong…

Let’s move on to far more exciting things, like romance authors so loved they barely need introduction. Born in the UK but now living in magnificent Melbourne, Carol Marinelli is a trained nurse who sold her first book to Mills and Boon in 2000 and has now at least 70 novels to her name. Carol’s romances and women’s fiction have sold all around the world and she’s a multiple finalist in the Romance Writers of Australian Ruby Award.

Carol has a brand spanking new book out with up and coming publisher Tule. This baby is hot and bad in the best possible way. Check it out.

BORN TO BE BAD

Born to be Bad by Carol MarinelliInnocent Milly Harper knows that it would be foolish at best to get involved with billionaire bad boy, Roman Zaretsky. He’s a guest at the hotel where she works, so she knows his reputation only too well.

One night, when all the other guests have left, Milly finds herself dancing with the Devil himself. His touch, his kiss, even his words seduce.

Being in his arms is pure passion and delight, but she’d never anticipated the shame of being paid.

Ooh, now that’s an intriguing premise, isn’t it? With an author of Carol’s calibre, you know you’ll be in good hands  so why not add Born To Be Bad to your reading list right now. One click on Amazon and it’s all yours.

Now that you’re all bookied up, please join Carol for her debut Friday Feast appearance.

Keep it Hot!!

The oven I mean!

That’s the secret to good Yorkshire puddings— a very hot oven but we’ll get to that soon.

Thank you to Cathryn for inviting me onto her wonderful blog. I am not a very imaginative cook. I need blogs like Friday Feast to give me ideas to try different things but Yorkshire puddings are one thing that I have mastered.

Why, I hear you asking, as we go into summer, am I giving you a recipe that would be more apt for winter? Well, I am going to give them a little twist for Christmas.

When it was William and Kate’s wedding I was having friends over so that we could all watch it together. People were coming straight from work and so apart from finger food I needed something a bit more filling. I am from England and of course I wanted an English theme to the food.

I also wanted to ignore my guests and focus on the wedding!

The day before I was a cooking machine. I made two beef roasts and a lot of Yorkshire puddings. I cooled them and then froze them.

The next day when the beef was cold I carved it into small pieces.

Just before people arrived I took the Yorkshire puddings out of the freezer and into muffin papers and put out the beef, some gravy and also horseradish sauce.

Whenever anyone was hungry they just piled some beef onto a couple of Yorkshires, topped them with gravy (doesn’t matter if it’s gone cold) and then gave them a ten second spin in the microwave.

Of course they could be warmed in the oven but this was more about a DIY supper and watching the fabulous wedding.

The Yorkshire’s were a huge hit. The men actually fell quiet when they tasted them, or was it that Pippa and her soon to be famous bottom had just been sighted? I like to think it was a bit of both!

This Christmas I am going to be doing the same with turkey and cranberry sauce.  Actually I’ve already done the same (see attached images). There are none left but I managed to take a couple of pictures before they vanished. I am not a brilliant photographer but believe me when I say they tasted fantastic and will be a huge hit.

photo (8)

Or you could just have them with your regular roast.

Yorkshire Pudding

½ cup of plain flour (very important that it is plain)

1 ½  cups of milk.

2 eggs

Salt and pepper.

I use a jug for speed and ease when pouring.

Put in all the ingredients and give them a very good whisk until the batter is shiny.

Leave to stand.

I tend to make the batter about half an hour or so before I use it and leave it on the bench, so that it is not very cold (we want hot remember) when it is added to the oil.

Before I take my roast out to rest, at the final baste I take some fat from it and add enough to cover the bottoms of a 12 tin muffin tray – you can use vegetable oil if you prefer.

I put the tray and oil in the oven so it is sizzling hot for when I add my batter.

photo (9)Give your batter another whisk.

Can you feel the tension mounting?

As you take out the meat to rest turn up the heat so that your oven is very hot (I put it on maximum – I actually turn my oven up to maximum before I take the meat out but I am scared that you’ll burn your roasts and blame me, so do so at your own peril)

Quickly but carefully add the batter to the very hot tray—about 1/3 to ½ way up the side.

Put them into the very hot oven and close the door.

Don’t open it.

Just watch those babies suddenly rise and lift out of the tins and turn golden.

They take about 15 -20 minutes.

Practice makes perfect with Yorkshire’s— like my heroes they can be a bit temperamental, but once you crack them you are set for life.

One word of warning— for some odd reason I never made them till after I got divorced. When I finally did my children asked why the hell I’d never made Yorkshire’s before. Now, I can’t get away with not making them when I do a roast.

I hope yours turn out to be fab!

Much love

Carol xxx

Oh, and for some extra hotness, you can check out my sexy, Russian, bad boy, Roman.

Send in the fans!

 

We’ll need them by the sound of your hottie, Carol. Roman, combined with all the heat from the oven, will make for one scorching household.

Thanks so much for this recipe. I never had Yorkshire pud growing up but I’ve sure been making up for it as an adult. No hunk of beef gets roasted without Yorkshire pudding to add to the deliciousness. The way it takes the hot fat and creates those puffed delights is wonderful to see, not to mention eat. And I LOVE the idea of making turkey and cranberry sauce ones for nibblies. That’s so cool!

So, clever Feasters, what’s your favourite accompaniment to a roast? I must admit, show me a big oozy dish of cauliflower in cheese sauce and I’m your friend for life. Actually, I could eat that stuff on its own I love it so much. Alas, my other half has an inexplicable aversion to cauliflower and I rarely have it.

But what about you? What’s your favourite? Perhaps it mint sauce for lamb, Brussels sprouts with bacon, or maybe special tricked-up stuffing for a chook. Share away. I’m roasting a leg of lamb this weekend so your suggestion could end up on my dinner table!

If you’d like to learn more about Carol, please visit Harlequin. com, her page at Tule Publishing or follow her on Twitter using @CarolMMarinelli.

FRIDAY FEAST with Emmie Dark

One week until Christmas! Are your bells a-jingling in excitement? Mine are. Well, maybe not a-jingling but thanks to a fantastic writing month I’m feeling a tad seasonally happy and in the mood for celebration.

Before I introduce our gorgeous guest, here’s the Christmas edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.  Last week was a team event. Everything that went wrong is all my partner’s fault. Me hitting into the water for the bazillionth time had nothing to do with it. Noooothing at all. Oh well, at least we didn’t come last.Romance author Emmie Dark

Now don your Santa hats and pour a glass of festive bubbly because it’s time to get seriously Christmassy with contemporary romance author Emmie Dark.

Emmie writes gorgeous stories, the sort that spark with snappy dialogue, steamy sexual tension and plenty of heart-tugging emotion. Earlier this year saw the release of Spellbound, a sizzling hot romance filled with angst, lust and a super hot hero. This week sees its companion novella Charmed hit the shelves. Check it out…

 

CHARMED

 

Cover of Charmed by Emmie DarkWhen a handsome and charming stranger reluctantly enters the magic shop where perky Melanie Cooke works as a psychic, she fully expects to give him a standard reading and send him on his way. But for the first time in her life, her powers fail her and the reading goes horribly awry.

Michael Harrison was dubious about the idea of seeing a psychic, but given the attraction between them, he’s prepared to put first impressions aside. Yet as he and Melanie get to know each other, Michael is forced to confront his past, and to face the fact that Melanie may be more than she seems.

Will fear and suspicion ruin all or will the magic and power of love keep them together? 

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? Lucky for you that Charmed is available for immediate download right now. You can purchase direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or your favourite ebook retailer like Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks and more.

Ready for some Christmas fun? Heeeeeere’s Emmie!

 

Christmas Creativity

 

HI Cathryn and all Friday Feasters! Thanks so much for the invitation – it’s lovely to be here, especially to talk about food at this time of year. This time of year is my favourite foodie time – probably because it’s one of the few times of the year that I get to feed hordes. I properly plan menus and organise shopping lists – I do enjoy it! (But, if I’m honest, part of me is very glad that it only comes around once a year!)

I saw that Christina Brooke provided you with an ice cream Christmas cake a couple of weeks back, which, by the away, looks divine. I thought I’d do something similar – an icy Christmas treat, just perfect for a hot, sunny, Australian Christmas Day.

Have you ever looked at a photo in one of those gorgeous food magazines and been desperate to recreate it? Well, this was one of those times.

Delicious Magazine cover

Don’t they look great? And the recipe is SO simple. (I’m really not kidding!) Just grab some of your favourite vanilla ice cream and stir through some grated chocolate. From memory, I think we also added some chopped up pistachios and cranberries for an added Christmassy touch.

BUT… (You knew there’d be a catch, right?) There are a couple of little tricks.

But before I go into those, let me finish with the “recipe”. Once you have your ice cream with all its special treats folded through, you need to cut up squares of baking paper and twist them into long, narrow cones, and then stick them in place with a little sticky tape. Then you simply fill each cone with ice cream and return them to the freezer until you’re ready to serve.

SO EASY!

Ah, but here are the tricks. One, make sure you have enough room in your freezer. Something I didn’t plan, until we were already scooping ice cream into the paper cones was how on earth I was going to freeze them! Solution (thanks to my ever-logical mother) came from standing them up in champagne glasses! We needed to take a shelf out in the freezer to give ourselves enough room, though. And we all know at this time of year, fridge and freezer space is at a premium, so make sure you can fit them in.

And second – accept that it’s simply not going to look exactly like the picture.

Emmie Dark's Icecream Cones

If I make them again, I will do a better job of making sure the cones are completely filled, to avoid those little gaps. And I’d also try to do a better job of levelling off the tops, so that when you turn them out, they’re not quite so lopsided-y.

Emmie Dark's Christmas ice-cream cones

Having said that, they tasted absolutely delightful, and isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

 

And a very merry Christmas to you too, Emmie! Thanks so much for this fabulous Christmas idea. Those icecreams look gorgeous, like decorations themselves and I bet they tasted delicious.

So, my clever Feasters, do you have a special Christmas trick? Something that looks amazing and impressive yet takes no time at all? I don’t so I’m in need of tips!!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Pamela Cook

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And another joyous Friday arrives, the last before the silly season begins in earnest. Isn’t it amazing how fast this year has gone? I feel like I say that every year but for some reason 2013 feels especially speedy. Still, it’s nice to get all Christmassy as today’s guest is about to. But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf WeeklyPamela Cook author

In an about turn, I played okay and didn’t lose a single ball in the water or have an embarrassing airy. In fact, my score was so okay that I dropped half a stroke off my handicap. I tell you, those golfing gods move in very mysterious ways. Rotten teases.

Enough of that. Time to raise your glasses to my rural romance writing guest Pamela Cook. Pamela’s debut novel Blackwattle Lake scored rave reviews and now her next novel has hit the shelves. Essie’s Way is guaranteed to be another booming success. Check it out…

 

ESSIE’S WAY

 

Cover of Essie's Way by Pamela CookA captivating story of family, love and following your heart, from the author of Blackwattle Lake.

Miranda McIntyre thinks she has it all sorted. She s a successful lawyer, she s planning her wedding and ticking off all the right boxes. When searching for something old to go with her wedding dress she remembers an antique necklace from her childhood, but her mother denies any knowledge of it. Miranda is sure it exists. Trying to find the necklace, she discovers evidence that perhaps the grandmother she thought was dead is still alive.

Ignoring the creeping uncertainty about her impending marriage, and the worry that she is not living the life she really wants, Miranda takes off on a road trip in search of answers to the family mystery but also in search of herself.

Ultimately, she will find that looking back can lead you home.

 

Doesn’t that sound lovely? Nothing quite like a finding yourself story and you can have this one in your hot little mitt with just a few clickety-clicks. For the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookstore, Angus & Robertson, your local chainstore or independent book retailer. If ebooks are your go, Essie’s Way is available for immediate download from Kobo, iTunes, Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks or your favourite e-tailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Time to get Christmassy!

 

In The Spirit!

Hi Cathryn

Lovely to be visiting the Friday Feast again especially as Christmas approaches and we all start to think about what we’ll be eating and drinking over the festive season.

This year my family and I are doing something verrrryyyy special – heading to Austria for a white Christmas and a 2 week ski trip. Prior to arriving in Kaprun, the village where we’ll be staying, we’ll be checking out the Christmas cheer in London and Paris. My husband and I had a white Christmas many years ago and I’m really looking forward to having such an amazing experience with my three daughters. We’ll also be sharing it with close friends who are currently living in the middle east and joining us in Kaprun.

An Austrian Christmas market stall

So to get in the mood I thought I’d do a little research into what traditional Christmas fare is in Austria. Here’s what I discovered:

  • During Christmas, people head to traditional Austrian Christmas markets which are present in almost every single town, large or small. Vienna, Austria’s capital, conducts around 25 markets along with small huts to provide shoppers with presents, food and, the soul of the festival, sweet wines. Other stands provide decorations, art and craft, toys and jewelry etc.

Can’t wait to check out the markets and do a little wine tasting!

  • A traditional Austrian Christmas dinner includes “Gebackenerkarpfen” or fried carp, “Sachertorte” or the chocolate and apricot cake, chocolate frosting served along with Christmas cookies.

Not sure about the fried carp but the chocolate torte and the cookies sound pretty delicious.

  • A traditional Christmas feast includes goose and ham served with gluhwein and rum punch

I’ve never had goose – nor cooked it – but I’m willing to give it a try. And the gluhwein sounds like the perfect beverage to wash it down.

I’ve certainly drunk a few glühwein’s in my day but I’ve never made it so I looked up a recipe to take with me – apparently it’s all in the mixing!

 

GLÜHWEIN

The secret to getting a great Glühwein is the right mixture of red wine, cinnamon stick, sugar, oranges and cloves.

Ingredients (serves 10):Gluhwein

2 bottles of good quality red wine

2 cups of water

6 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 oranges – cut into bite-size pieces

oranges for decoration

How to make it:

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring it close to boil. For additional taste, cut 2 oranges into bite-size pieces and add to the wine. Let simmer. Remove clove and cinnamon stick before serving it into lightly pre-warmed glasses. Decorate glasses with an orange slice.

 

So this Christmas instead of our usual BBQ and a swim in the pool we’ll hopefully be sipping our glühwein while the snow falls outside and a nice fat goose roasts in the oven. I’m also hoping that we’ll come home with all our limbs in fact and while I know the bank balance will be a lot lower (ie nonexistent!) I know it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

And a very merry Christmas to you too, Pamela, even though I’m insanely jealous of you right now! I’m not a skier at all, but there’s something completely magical about snow at Christmas. Such a contrast to Australia’s usually blistering days, and perfect for naughty fattening things and cockle-warming drinks.

So, Feasters, let’s get the Christmas spirit moving with your most memorable or favourite Christmas location. Are your fondest memories from big family lunches at grandma’s, and a table groaning with five different roasts even though it was 35 degrees outside? Or was your best Christmas spent snuggled up somewhere exotic with nothing but your beloved as a present?

I’m torn between home Christmases with the family and the enormously raucous Christmas lunch we hosted one year in Aix-en-Provence, France. The food was amazing, way too much wine was drunk and I distinctly remember an unsteady bunch of people dancing on the balcony to Kung Fu Fighting. I still cringe at what the neighbours must have thought…

Go on, share where your fondest Yuletide memories lie and make us all envious. You might even give us ideas!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

The footy season is now well and truly over, with my beloved Sydney Swans safely tucked up on holidays so I think it’s time to bore you with my golf game instead… or perhaps not. As my dad so loves to say, us Heins weren’t meant to play golf. A truism I sadly keep proving each week.Australian author Kate Belle

‘Tis a good thing then that I have all the deliciousness that is Friday Feast to keep you entertained. And this week’s guest is hugely entertaining too!

Multi-published Melbournian Kate Belle’s latest novel The Yearning is a must read. There was so much I related to with this book – the setting, the era – but it was the compelling story and Kate’s mastery of language that I adored most. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially if you were a child of the 70s.

Take a look…

 

THE YEARNING

 

Cover of The Yearning by Kate BelleIt’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

 

Intrigued? Of course you are! The Yearning is available now from Amazon for your Kindle e-reader or reading app, Kobo or iTunes. For the print book visit Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Eltham Bookshop and other independent book stores, or your local chainstore.

Unsure? Then read an extract here. You’ll be hooked, believe me.

Now please welcome Kate who is generously sharing a wonderful family recipe. Just the sort of Friday Feast I love.

 

Christmas Hand Me Downs

 

Hi Cathryn and readers. What a boon to finally get a guernsey on the famous Friday Feast. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time and even though I’ve literally had MONTHS to consider what to write about, I still can’t decide what recipe to share with you.

After checking the recipe index and seeing the poorly state of the vegetable list, and because I’m a vegetarian, I thought perhaps I should do a vegetable recipe – like creamy mashed potatoes, lemon & butter beans, or roast vegetable medley. But that seems a bit mumsy and boring and ‘eat up your veggies before you have dessert’. (Although there is nothing dull about the way I do veggies. Plenty of good quality butter, salt, pure olive oil, black pepper and cream. I’ve already told my doctor I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Bugger the cholesterol.)

But at heart (the part that’s still beating after all that fat) I’m a cake and pastry girl with a natural leaning toward carby, home-baked fare, and this is the time of year I embark on my boiled fruit cake, white chocolate white Christmas,Calendar showing Kate's pudding day and plum pudding.  So, against the repressed murmurings of my must-eat-wholesome-low-fat-food-fairy, I’m going to treat you to a special Christmas recipe that was passed to me by my dearly beloved’s ex-wife (yes, you read that right), who in turn inherited it from her Great Auntie Flo.

There are so many things about this recipe that appeal to me. Firstly, it’s been handed down three generations. Its history is as long as my list of ex-lovers and I can’t help wondering how many Christmas tables it has graced in the last century. Secondly, the family this recipe originated from were teetotallers and it contains so much alcohol there’s no need to refrigerate it. It just sits in its pudding bowl in a cool, dry cupboard for months developing mouth watering celebratory flavour. Thirdly, I love that it’s a second hand recipe. It goes well with my second hand kitchen utensils, second hand pets, husband and aprons. We are a fully recycled household so it seems appropriate to offer Friday Feast up a second hand heirloom recipe I’ve appropriated from someone else’s family.

Kate's pudding day ingredientsEvery October this recipe makes an appearance at my kitchen bench on a Saturday I’ve allocated for pudding making. Be warned, this pudding is a serious and messy commitment, but well worth it. The pudding itself is medium weight, very dark and moist. The amount of butter in it makes it very rich necessitating only small servings. One pudding goes a long way. I recommend you start early in the day and have no other plans. My first attempt at Auntie Flo’s pudding (actually, my first attempt at any Christmas pudding) took a day and a half (my fault, not the pudding’s) and almost put me off the whole exercise. But with practice I’ve got the preparation down to about four hours. With up to six hours boiling time on the stove top that’s the day done.

The recipe itself is photocopied from a cookbook and includes a footnote about how individual members of the family prefer their pudding served – X: bit of custard, Y: piles of brandy cream, Z: a smidget of cold whipped cream – which is a delightful addition and brings extra warmth to the experience of making it.

All in all, it’s a recipe befitting a writer. It brims with mysterious back story, has great depth of character and a compelling and involved plot that leads to a profoundly satisfying climax.

Just one more thing – the secret to the inherent goodness of Great Auntie Flo’s Christmas pudding isn’t in the butter, the dried fruit or even the booze. It’s in the Christmassy feelings that flourish as you get your hands utterly sticky and hum your way through your daggiest Christmas music while you work. (Yes, you must!)

 

Auntie Flo’s Christmas Pudding

 

Ingredients for 1 standard 2 ½ pint pudding (Use as best quality as you can manage – no substituting!)

Daggy Christmas CD – push play and turn up loud

250g currants

250g sultanas

250g raisins

90g candied peel

½ cup blanched chopped almonds

70g minced fresh apple

125g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

250g suet (or butter if you’re vegetarian)

250g soft breadcrumbs (I blitz day old bread in the food processor)

125g soft brown sugar

Grated rind 1 orange

2-3 eggs (free range of course)

1 tblsp brandy

2 tblsp rum

200ml beer (heavy only)

Method

Chop up dried fruit and nuts and combine with minced apple.

Chopping ingredients for the Christmas pudding

Sift flour with salt and spices into large mixing bowl (big enough to take the rest of the ingredients)

Grate the butter/suet into flour and rub in well (this gets very sticky but is quite enjoyable if you give in to it)

Christmas pudding preparation - rubbing butter or suet into flour

Add breadcrumbs, sugar and grated orange rind and mix with hands until even.

Mixing Christmas pudding by hand

Mix in fruit and nuts (yes, using your hands)

Beat eggs, adding brandy and rum (you can use a utensil for this bit)

Mix boozy eggs and beer to other ingredients and mix thoroughly into a soft mixture (okay, you can use a wooden spoon for this, but really, it’s better with hands :-))

Kate Belle's Christmas Pudding mix

Grease the pudding basin well (with butter) and line the base with baking paper. Press the mixture into the basin, pushing out all air pockets until the basin is brimming with yummy pudding.

Cover the top with a double thickness of greased baking paper followed by a double layer of tin foil and tie down tightly around the bowl rim with strong string, making a string handle for ease of removal from the boiling pot.

Pudding bowl preparation

Put the pudding bowl into a huge saucepan on the stove top and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin. Cover and boil for 6 hours (NB I usually make 2 smaller puddings by dividing this mixture in half and boil them for half the time). Keep an eye on the water level and top up as necessary. Too much water will soak into the pudding and make it gooey, not enough will make the pudding dry.

Allow pudding to cool and store for 2-3 months in cool, dry, dark cupboard. Cook it for a further 2 hours (adjust time according to pudding size) on Christmas day.

Serve with copious quantities of the reveller’s choice of brandy cream, custard, cream or icecream (or all of them!) and devour lustily.

Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe your family serve up every year?

 

Ooh, Kate, I could wrap you in a big Father Christmas hug! What a gorgeous post, and thanks so much for sharing such an important recipe with everyone at Friday Feast. I can just picture you now, boogie-ing to Jingle Bell Rock as you rub butter into flour or mix ‘boozy’ eggs.

So Feasters, do you have a Chrissy recipe that’s adored? I’ve got to brag that I make a mean Christmas cake, completely overloaded with brandy-soaked fruit. Because we tend to travel interstate, alternating between far north Queensland and south-east South Australian I haven’t had much of chance to create our own tradition, but we do get to savour other’s.

What about you? Do you get in the spirit with rum balls? Maybe fruit mince tarts? Or perhaps you have a special way with turkey? We’d all love to hear. Your tradition might inspire a new one for the rest of us.

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