Tag Archives: comfort food

FRIDAY FEAST with Jenn J McLeod

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Welcome, food and book lovers, to another scintillating edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re getting seasonal with a rural romance author keen to tempt your tastebuds with comfort food, plus your chance to win a 3-book-pack giveaway!

But first, the ongoing curse that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You may recall how last week I had a return to form. Well, that didn’t last long. My round began sort of okay but steadily descended into something akin to golf hell thanks to some ordinary irons and idiot putting, which was annoying because I’d woken feeling pretty positive. Then the sky began to darken  Author Jenn J McLeodand yet another storm began to brew, and once that happened I was shot. If there’s one thing that gives me nervous turns, it’s waving a bunch of lightning rods around in bad weather. And to top off a most forgetful day, we were hammered by hailstones on the way home. Naturally, none of this will stop me heading out for another hit this week, although I’m stuffed if I know why!

Our guest today is Jenn J McLeod whose first novel, A House For All Seasons, was in the top ten debut releases for 2013. Since then she’s followed her success with Simmering Season and now Season of Shadow and Light. Book bloggers 1 Girl, 2 Many Books and Write Note Reviews describe it as her best yet.

Check it out.

SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT

Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeodSometime this season…

The secret keeper must tell.

The betrayed must trust.

The hurt must heal.

When it seems everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with six year old Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.

But stranded amid rising floodwaters, on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…

Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

Jenn has this to add about Season of Shadow and Light: With early reader reviews already in, I am super excited about this story of secrets and love, of family loyalty, and of trust—the kind that takes years to build but only seconds to wash away.

Season of Shadow and Light releases today which means you can order it right now from that most excellent of book stores Booktopia. Also Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Abbeys Bookshop, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooksGoogle Play and JB Hi-Fi.

Here’s Jenn!

Suddenly Sous-Vide

You said you want a dish, Cathryn? I’m bringing you and your readers the best dish—eva! His name is Aiden and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed bringing him to life in my latest novel, Season of Shadow and Light, which officially releases today!

I guess you could call Aiden Paige’s love interest in the story, and although far from Mr Perfect, the thing I loved most about Aiden was creating the perfect chef. (Can’t say I met many of those in my time as a café owner!) As Paige says at one point . . . (here’s is a tiny excerpt about a tiff)

Most chefs she’d known were highly- strung, with short fuses.

‘You know what?’ she fired back, fully prepared to tell this guy where to shove his platters, only to see a smile creep across Aiden’s face.

So totally unexpected—so absolutely gorgeous—her brain felt suddenly sous-vide, with every expletive instantly and silently sucked out, the bag then sealed tight. Although why she worried about offending this guy, she didn’t know. So far she’d witnessed him cursing into his mobile, throwing phones, happy to leave cows stranded, issuing orders and generally being a prattish, mulish, moronic chef. Typical, in other words, and Paige had met very few in the business who weren’t precious. Yes, he’d had cause to hit the roof about traipsing manure through a clean kitchen—any kitchen—minutes before service, but now here he was smiling.

Enjoy that? I suppose you’re expecting I contribute a ‘sous vide something or other’ recipe now. I would, only life these days (on board Barcoola—my caravan) demands less complication, largely due to limited cooking equipment. (Because life’s too short to wash up too many pots.)

But here is one of Aiden’s kiddy creations that Paige’s little daughter, Matilda, pronounces: “macromi sneeze”.  And bonus! This version is low calorie.

Aiden’s Macromi Sneeze!

Jenn J McLeod cooking in her caravan 'Barcoola'2 x cups raw macaroni noodles

1 x 65g pkt of cheese and leek soup mix

2 cups skim milk

1 level tbsp. parmesan cheese

½ cup grated cheese (reduced fat, if you like)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook past as directed on the packet.

Rinse well and eave to one side.

Using the same saucepan combine milk and dry soup mix using a whisk.

Bring to boil gently, stirring continuously.

Place noodles in sauce and fold until pasta is well coated.

Variations: add ham or bacon for a calorie hit. Or fresh tomato if you want to be good. Herbs are another nice touch.

 

Mmm. Comfort food, something we adore here on Friday Feast. Thanks for sharing, Jenn. I’m sure you must have some adventures cooking in the confines of the caravan. It’d certainly test me!

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my gorgeous Feasty fans, to celebrate the release of A Season of Shadow and Light, Jenn is running a special three-book giveaway across all the blogs she’s touring. To be in the running to win a pack containing all three of Jenn’s releases – that’s A House For All Seasons, Simmering Season, and A Season of Shadow and Light – simply leave a comment below revealing what your favourite camping food is.

I bags barbecued snags! But maybe you love bush damper while camping, or grilled steaks. How about a yabbie or two, or maybe potatoes baked in hot coals and then smothered in butter?

Simply share your favourite camping food and you’ll be included in the draw. This is a serious prize, so get typing!

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Please note: Giveaway will be drawn by Jenn from all comments left during her blog tour, and announced on her website at the end of May 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

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Greetings my book and food loving lovelies, and welcome to another bright and shiny edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing host to one of Australia’s most popular rural authors, revealing her stunning new novel, and setting your mouth a-watering with a comforting lamb shank recipe.

But first, the horror story that continues to be Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sliding backwards, folks. Backwards, fast and red-faced and silently screaming. I laughed at the end of my round last week but that only to stop myself from crying. I played so terribly that my nett score was worse than what my gross score should have been had I played anywhere near my handicap. In non-golfing terms, I was poo. Oh, well. Dare I say it again? The only way is up!

Author Fleur McDonaldAnd so we go upwards and onwards to this week’s Friday Feast guest, Fleur McDonald.

I’m sure Fleur needs little introduction. Since her debut novel Red Dust boomed on the Australian literary landscape her books have been best-sellers and Fleur has earned a special place in many reader’s hearts. With stories that reflect and celebrate our Australian heartland and farmers, Fleur has indeed become the “Voice of the Outback”.

Fleur’s latest novel is Emerald Springs. Check it out.

EMERALD SPRINGS

Cover of Emerald Springs by Fleur McDonaldAfter finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to her home town. Determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty, she works hard to prove herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the bags of cash into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying smash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she finds out that she and her boyfriend Paul are the objects of suspicion.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits . . .

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Doesn’t that sound a page turner? And you know being from Fleur the story will have real authenticity. Emerald Springs is published by Allen & Unwin and on sale now. But you can buy right this moment with just a few clickety-clicks from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, Dymocks, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, or your favourite independent book retailer or chainstore. Also try Amazon.au, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Time to get comfortable with Fleur.

Fire Food

Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on. I often read your Friday Feast blog and mouth is usually watering by the end of it all!

I have to admit I come from a family don’t really enjoy cooking or the finer details of food, so I think it surprised everyone when I announced my love of cooking (and certainly eating!)

My mum is a standard chops and three veg type lady, where as I love to experiment and play around. I love it even more when my partner helps me in the kitchen. Garry tends to be my sous chef. We really enjoy mucking around while we’re cooking and of course we always cook dinner with a glass of wine or a beer in hand.

I’m going to share one of my hearty winter recipes that kids love, today. Esperance has been experiencing a bit of winter in the last week, so I’ve started to drag out the old favourites.

Also I’ve got to admit, this is the time of year I really love writing and brain food is needed. When writing Emerald Springs, I spent a lot of time sitting next to the wood fire, which has a grill on top of it and cooking on it. Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks was cooked more than once, on top of the fire (which I know goes against the recipe but it still works – and isn’t that the best thing about cooking? The trial and error part!).

So here you go…

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

1 cup of plain flour

8 large French-trimmed lamb shanks

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of beef stock

¾ of red wine (and I give you permission to drink the rest of the bottle!)

1/3 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of corn flour

2 tablespoons of cold water.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat the lamb shanks with flour and cook in bathes on the stove until browned, then pop them into a large roasting pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until soft, then add stock, wine and maple syrup, stirring to combine. Then pour over shanks. Before roasting for about an hour, covered.

I love serving this with mashed potato (with grated onion in it) and steamed cabbage. Now not just any steamed cabbage. If you fry up a bit of bacon and add some Worcestershire sauce, before putting the cabbage in, it changes the whole idea of steamed cabbage!

 

You’re a woman after my own heart, Fleur! Lamb shanks are a huge favourite in our house, especially in the winter months. They’re wonderfully comforting. I love the addition of maple syrup to yours. I can imagine that adds even more sticky lusciousness to the final dish. Will definitely have to test this out. And I particularly adore your cabbage tip. That’s a good one!

So, my cuddly little Feasties, running with Fleur’s tip, what’s yours for brightening up a plain veg?

Do you add balsamic and bacon to your Brussels sprouts (learned that one from Helene Young) or perhaps sprinkle your asparagus with butter and toasted flaked almonds? Maybe you jazz your carrots up with a drizzle of honey?

I’m a firm believer in cheese sauce on cauliflower. That is heaven. Pure, mouth-watering heaven. Sigh. Want some now.

Enough of my drooling. Let’s get sharing our vege brightening tips and make each others’ days!

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

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

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Hello Feasters! What a fiiine Friday we have today, not least because my beloved Sydney Swans are now perched atop the AFL ladder. They look so pretty there, in all their red and white plumage. Fingers crossed they stay there, although it’s still a long way until finals.

As for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I’m not sure I want to talk about it, really. I was playing rather well, then… sigh. The Curse. I will never shed it. But the game keeps me coming back. Sucker.

Enough of that. It’s a fiiiine Friday because we’re hosting a wonderful guest this week on Romance author Christina BrookeFriday Feast: award-winning historical romance author Christina Brooke. Rah!

Christina was the first Australian to win a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award for the manuscript which became her first published novel. From that point there’s been no looking back. Christina has gone on to be a best-seller and been nominated for a prestigious Rita® Award (the romance world’s equivalent to an Academy Award). Her Regency novels are a delight. I adored her Ministry of Marriage series but Christina is excelling herself with the Westruthers. The series began with London’s Last True Scoundrel, continued with The Greatest Lover Ever (aren’t these titles brilliant?) and now we have The Wickedest Lord Alive.

Check his abs … er…*cough* I mean this excellent book out!

THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE

Cover of The Wickedest Lord Alive by Christina BrookeCAN AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

Eight years ago, a tall handsome stranger entered Lizzie Allbright’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne agreed to wed and bed Lord Bute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the London night…

LEAD TO EVERLASTING LOVE?

Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Lizzie is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night without falling hopelessly in love?

Believe me, you’ll have a wonderful time with Steyne and Lizzie, so grab Christina’s new book today. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Angus & Robertson, Barnes & Noble, Boomerang Books, Fishpond or your nearest bookshop. For the ebook, visit Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Barnes & Noble, or your favourite ebook retailer.

And now, if you can drag yourself away from Ab-Man above, here’s Christina!

Comfort Food

Thanks so much to Cathryn for having me here today on Friday Feast!

It’s winter in Australia and of course, my thoughts turn to those beautifully warming dishes we all enjoy when it’s cold. Curries, roasts, lasagnes, apple pies and chocolate puddings—The Margaret Fulton Cookbookand all of the meals I grew up with. The ones that warm not just the belly but the heart.

My mother is a great cook, capable of fancy schmancy dinners and fiddliness that I can only watch with open-mouthed awe (open-mouthed in the hope she feeds me some of that delicious food!) But for general everyday cookery and baking, the Margaret Fulton cookbook was always her guide.

When I left home and began to amass my own collection of cookbooks, I have to say that Margaret Fulton didn’t cross my Margaret Fultonmind. I gravitated towards Marie Claire and Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Bill Granger.

Something changed, however, when I started cooking for my family. I began to get nostalgic for the dear old Strog (Beef Stroganoff, for the uninitiated) and basic staple recipes like baked custard and coffee cakes.

My mother’s ancient copy of Margaret’s book is still in use but I was lucky enough to receive my mother-in-law’s, so well-worn as to be coverless and practically in bits. Still functional, however, luckily for me!

I’ve just looked at the original publication date of this copy—1968. Not much rocket or kale or Margaret Fulton Cookbookquinoa in this book! The dishes range from hors d’ouvres to pastry, from cocktails to Chinese food (very exotic at that time!) and from how to cook a simple steak and make accompanying sauces to traditional Christmas cooking, to a full-blown dinner party featuring stuffed lobster tails or duck a l’orange.

Of course there are many dishes that are not terribly fashionable now—angels on horseback, stuffed eggs, avocados with jellied turtle soup, floating island, and so on. But I still can’t go past the Margaret Fulton for sheer comprehensiveness. And using the same cookbook my mother used when I was a child gives me a warm glow of homecoming that is very special.

GIVEAWAY!

What about you? Do you have a favourite comfort food? Favourite basic recipe book? Join in the conversation for a chance to win a copy of my new release, not yet officially out in Australia, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE!

Did you hear that, Feasters? Your chance to win a book that hasn’t officially released in Australia yet. What an opportunity!

So crack those knuckles, lay those fingers on your keyboard and get typing. We’re a-waiting all your favourite cookbooks and comfort foods. Seriously, I wouldn’t know where to start with either. I have so many. But I did make an amazing Italian beef and bean recipe the other week. Pulses are so good in the winter. Tis the carbs. As for cookbooks, oh I love them all. But I’m particularly fond of my Rick Stein collection.

What are your favourites? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of Ab-Man. Er, I mean The Wickedest Lord Alive.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, 15th July 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Christina and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @chrstnabrooke and the fabulous Romance Bandits blog.

The Wickedest Lord Alive giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Roz who has won herself a copy of Christina’s wonderful new book. Thanks to everyone for joining in the Friday Feast fun and for sharing your memories. It was lovely, as always. 

 

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.

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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.