Tag Archives: Cooking

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

6 Replies

Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.

But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend My new blue oveheart marked golf balland I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.

Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.

Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

And now for something slurpalicious.

My Leetle Dumpling…

I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.

I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.

They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.

With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.

Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.

Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.

No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.

I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.

It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.

Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!

I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.

So here it is. Enjoy!

Dumpling Soup

Cathryn's dumpling soup, ready to slurp

Ingredients

12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)

60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 egg

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents

1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too

6 thick slices of fresh ginger

1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.

Method

Peel and devein your king prawns.

Australian green king prawns

Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.

Chopped ingredients in processorNote: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.

Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.

Gow Gee wrappers laid out, ready for filling

Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.

Prawn filling on gow gee wrappers

Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.

Filled dumplings

Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.

Saucepan of flavoured stock

Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.

Prepared soup bowls with the vegetables

When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.

Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.

Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.

Dumpling with dipping sauce

And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!

*

All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?

Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!

What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

15 Replies

Greetings dumplings, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we have wine, babies, and beef. Although not in the same recipe, as I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know.

First, the frustration that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Bad. Very, very bad is all I can say about my game at the moment. I even tried marking my balls with bright blue love hearts in the faint hope it might amuse Oh, Great Golfing God, but no. Recent form has proven that it only made him crankypants. However the weather has been glorious and the company enjoyable, and, really, when one is playing this atrociously the only way is up!

Michelle Douglas authorAs much as I would like to move on to the wine bit of this week’s Feast, the baby must come first. My guest is the ever-delightful Michelle Douglas, who received her first rejection letter at the age of eight for Keri the Koala Baby.

Michelle has since moved on from koalas but not necessarily babies, and is now a multi-published author writing for Harlequin’s Romance line. Her latest is Reunited By A Baby Secret, part of the Vineyards of Calanetti continuity and a guaranteed heart-tugger. Check it out.

REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET

Reunited By A Baby Secret coverShe’s back in Calanetti…

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test reveal she’d returned home with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he’s nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he’s staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby…?

Did you hear that, my lovelies? Vineyards! A baby! A sexy hero! Just what you need to give a smile, a sigh and maybe even a little tear. And Reunited By A Baby Secret can be yours right now with a mere click. Buy from Booktopia, BookdepositoryAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

All set? Good. Now feel free to get beefy!

Fine Vines

To be visiting Cathryn today and talking about wine does seem rather appropriate. Not that I mean to be telling tales outside of school or anything, but Cathryn and I do seem to find ourselves in the bar together on a rather regular basis at RWAust and ARRA conferences. 🙂

Authors enjoying a tipple

Wine has been on my mind quite a bit recently because my latest release REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is set in the rolling green hills of Tuscan wine country, and my heroine is a viticulturist. Mind you, Marianna is pregnant so wine tasting is out for her, but it wasn’t for me. And, naturally, a girl has to provide due diligence and perform appropriate research. So off to the Hunter Valley I went to look at vineyards and taste wines. I discovered two things:

  1. Wine country is gloriously beautiful regardless of what part of the world you’re in.
  2. One shouldn’t wine taste at 11 o’clock in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. 😉

So, in honour of all things wine-related, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes with you. This, amazingly enough for me, is ludicrously healthy. It’s also incredibly simple. And despite what the photo looks like (I’m terrible at taking pretty pictures of food) it’s utterly delish.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef and red wine casserole

Place the following ingredients into a nice big pot: ½ kilo of diced beef, two diced onions, two large sliced carrots, 2 sliced sticks of celery, a diced green capsicum, 200g sliced mushrooms, a clove or two of crushed garlic, a can of tomato puree (415ml), a teaspoon of Italian herbs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of red wine.

Bring it all to the boil and then cook on low, covered for 90 mins.

My favourite way to eat this is with mashed potatoes and green beans. But crusty bread is perfect with it too. Pasta would work as well. Also, it’s a forgiving recipe. I’ve made it with one onion rather than two, and when I haven’t had a green capsicum on hand I’ve used a zucchini to fine effect, so feel free to mess about with the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me to visit, Cathryn! I always love hanging out with you (whether wine is involved or not).

*

A pleasure to host you, Michelle! Your casserole sounds beautiful and just the thing to enjoy with a glass (or two) of Hunter shiraz. Then a nice relax with Reunited By A Baby Secret and a very pleasant evening is to be had.

Okay, food lovers, what would you serve with Michelle’s casserole, or a casserole like it?

I love the idea of crunchy green beans but we do adore our bread and would probably have a nice crusty loaf on the side to mop up all that tasty gravy. What about you? Share away!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

24 Replies

Hello, food and book lovers, and welcome to another tastebud tingling Friday Feast. This week, one of the hottest authors in Australia, a delicious New Orleans treat, a sexy book that will also win your heart, and a giveaway!

But first, the ongoing saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So even though it is now spring, the winter of my golfing discontent has carried on. I appreciate that I had a little time away from the golf course, but you’d think the Great Golfing God would cut me a bit of slack, wouldn’t you? In particular when I kindly sacrificed 4 (or was it 5?) balls into water hazards to keep the big fella happy, but no. Not only could I barely hit the ball on the fairways, I couldn’t putt either. I had 6 three-putts. SIX! That’s just humiliating. Fortunately, as a golfing Hein I’m used to it, didn’t chuck a tanty and laughed my way round. Only cos it beats crying.

Author Rachael JohnsRachael Johns is one of, if not THE biggest selling rural romance author in Australia. Right from her debut novel Jilted she cemented her place in rural romance stardom and hasn’t looked back, following Jilted with hits like Man Drought, and the much-loved Bunyip Bay series. But as many of you already know, Rachael is talented in more than the rural romance genre. She can write sexy stories too, and her latest is Fire Me Up, book 2 in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series, which also features titles from leading authors Maisey Yates, Megan Crane and Jackie Ashenden.

Take a look at Fire Me Up.

FIRE ME UP

Fire Me Up by Rachael JohnsCan a scorching affair with a bohemian beauty tame a motorcycle man with a dark side? Rachael Johns takes the wheel in the sexy series co-written with Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, and Maisey Yates.

Travis “Cash” Sinclair values only two things from his days with the Deacons of Bourbon Street: his prized Harley Davidson and the man who gave it to him. But now Priest Lombard is gone, and Cash has inherited the Deacons’ clubhouse—not to mentions its unexpected tenant. She’s exactly the type of woman he tries to avoid: all incense and art, with a sharp tongue that promises trouble. So why does Cash want to push aside those flowing skirts and lose himself between her legs?

Billie Taylor fled a bad marriage to start a new life among the grit and glamour of the French Quarter. She refuses to let another man distract her from her dreams, especially an outlaw biker with nothing to offer except hot sex and an eviction notice. Cash is dangerous, with an untamed streak he tries desperately to conceal. He drives Billie wild, sending her too close to the edge for her own good. And she won’t fall under his spell—or into his bed—without a fight.

How hot does that sound? Phew! Fire Me Up can be yours right now with just a clickety-click. Try Amazon.au, Amazon.com, iBooks. Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Now come on a tasty journey with Rachael.

A Taste of New Orleans

Beignets and hot chocolate in New Orleans

Beignets, coffee and hot chocolate at the famous Café du Monde, New Orleans.

Last year I had the absolute joy of attending the Romantic Times readers’ convention in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I’d never been to the convention or New Orleans before and had no real idea of what to expect from either place. Except people kept raving to me about how much I’d LOVE the food. Two things I was told I must absolutely try were “gumbo” and “beignets.”

For the uninitiated like I was here’s the Wikipedia definitions for both:

Gumbo – a stew or soup that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.
Beignet – is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. They can also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough. Commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top.

Well, I had a couple of tries of gumbo and personally couldn’t see the appeal but the moment I put my first beignet into my mouth, I understood what everything was raving about. Although they tasted a little like a donut, they were so much better than donuts. The fried dough melts in your mouth and there is no way to eat them without covering yourself and your clothes in icing sugar dust. I had beignets (on more than one occasion) at the famous Café du Monde, which is open twenty-four hours a day and only sells beignets and drinks. Each time I went the venue was very busy and their hot chocolate was almost as good as their beignets.

Café du Monde at midnight

Café du Monde at midnight

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

So in love with beignets I bought a packet beignet mix from New Orleans to take home, but being a slack cook didn’t get around to trying to make them before it went out of date. However, I recently decided to give them a try from scratch – no packet mix entered the equation. I adapted (halved) a recipe I found online at Food Network and hubby and I had a right laugh trying to recreate the amazing beignets I tasted at Café du Monde.

The first bit was easy and lulled us into a false sense of our own cooking abilities. All we had to do was mix the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for ten minutes. In another bowl, we got busy beating the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Then in ANOTHER bowl, we measured out the flour. Once the yeast mixture had rested, it was time to combine yeast mixture with egg/milk mixture. After that we added half the flour and mixed, then the shortening and then the rest of the flour, until we mixed it into a dough. How much do I love dough?! We kneaded until perfection and then put it in a greased bowl, covered with plastic and left to (hopefully) rise well.

Beignet dough

 

During this time, I walked the dog, read some of the awesome book I’m currently reading (Come Away With Me by Karma Brown) and then checked the dough, which had risen as expected. So far this was one of the easiest things I’d ever made!

And then came the tricky bit. Well, the rolling out wasn’t hard, but working out exactly how thin it needed to be to cook to golden perfection took a little bit of trial and error. We’re lucky that we had a brand new deep fryer someone had given us YEARS ago, so we dragged that out and fired it up. We learnt it takes a long time for oil to heat up in the deep fryer, so had to wait a little bit longer. You could use a deep saucepan instead if you don’t have a fryer. Anyway, I digress.

Rolled out beignet dough

 

Deep frying the beignet dough

In essence making and cooking beignets was easy, but you do need to roll them fairly thin and continue turning them when they are in the hot oil.

Although the recipe told me to fill a plastic bag with icing sugar and toss the (drained on paper towel) beignets in the bag, I chose instead to sift the icing sugar over the top of them, thus dusting them as I’d experienced them at Café de Monde.

Finished home-made beignets

I have to say the result wasn’t too shabby. Even two (out of three) of my very fussy kids declared them “delicious.”

Now, this love affair with beignets didn’t only make it into my kitchen but also into my latest book – FIRE ME UP, which just happens to be set in New Orleans. It’s a little bit different from most of my books – with a little more heat and a few more naughty words, but I hope everyone will fall in love with Travis, Billie and the beignets they devour as much as I did.

*

Rach, those beignets sound delicious, if very, very naughty, and your trip to New Orleans for the Romantic Times convention must have been a fantastic experience. Every one I know who’s been to New Orleans has raved about it. One of these days I’ll get there too.

Now, because Rachael is such a faaaaabulous person, she’s offering a special…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a super special, limited edition Deacons of Bourbon Street FIRE ME UP cards answer this question: What place would you like to visit for the food?

Fire Me Up playing cards

That’s easy for me: Greece! Just as well there are lots of things to see and do in Greece. I’d need as much exercise I can get to wear off all the delicious things I plan to eat while there.

What about you? Maybe you want to try an authentic Indian curry? Or perhaps a fair-dinkum Cornish pasty in Cornwall? Simply reveal where you’d like to visit for the food and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, 8th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

4 Replies

Greetings from the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference in vibrant, footy-mad Melbourne! The conference kicked off last night with publisher drinkies and everyone had a ball. But enough of that. I’ll be telling you aaaaall about the conference later, when I’m home and recovered. Today it’s Friday Feast time, once again with yours truly, and a Country Women’s Association morning tea favourite.

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Did I tell you about my new putter grip? The super fat one that is supposed to do wonders for your putting? The one that didn’t fit in my old golf bag so I had to buy an expensive new one just to accommodate it? Yeah, that putter grip. Romance author Cathryn HeinWell… it doesn’t work. Either that or it has an allergy to one-putting and can only two, three and *sobs hysterically* four putt. If it can’t find some immunity soon, it may not be long for this world.

We had my latest release, The Falls, as feature book last week, so to keep things interesting, let’s go back in time to my second novel, Heart of the Valley. I love this book. Luuuuuurve it. I love the gutsy heroine Brooke, the truly babelicious hero Lachie, the horses, the heroine’s friends, even Billy the dog.  The crush I had on Lachie took about a year to get over and even now I still sigh when I think about him. If you haven’t read this book, please do. It’s lovely, I promise!

Take a look.

HEART OF THE VALLEY

Heart of the Valley  by Cathryn HeinA vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption.

When a tragic horse float accident leaves young showjumper Brooke Kingston unable to properly manage her family’s Hunter Valley property, she believes nothing worse can happen. Until she discovers her well-intentioned family have employed a new farm manager for her beloved Kingston Downs. But stubbornness runs in the family, and Brooke isn’t about to leave her home or abandon her darling horse Poddy. Working on the principle possession is nine-tenths of the law, she digs in her spurs and stays put.

Lachie Cambridge is unimpressed to arrive at his new job and find the boss’s sister still in residence. Lachie immediately classifies Brooke as yet another spoilt brat, but to his surprise Brooke proves nothing of the sort. She’s clever, talented and capable, but it’s her vulnerability he can’t resist and after a shaky start they develop a friendship. A friendship that soon evolves into something more.

As his feelings for Brooke deepen, and the Valley and its people wriggle further into his affections, Lachie starts to question what he really wants. He’s always believed that home is where your heart is, and his lies in the soil of his family property Delamere. Torn by his love for Brooke, Lachie must make a decision – to chase his dream or follow his heart.

But Fate has other plans, and Brooke and Lachie are left reeling when the very things that brought them together now threaten to tear them apart.

Sigh. Did I mention how much I love that book? Heart of the Valley is available right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.

All set? Excellent. Now grab a cuppa and settled down for some old-fashioned goodness.

Fluffy Fun!

My mother-in-law is a pretty handy baker. She makes beautiful cakes of all sizes and flavours, her peanut biscuits are seriously moreish, and there’s an ongoing argument over who makes the better ANZAC biscuits in the family – Alice or Essie. As you can imagine, I’ve snaffled a few recipes from her over the years.

Those of you who receive my newsletter and read the Christmas edition will know that my in-laws run a livestock transport company, carting cattle (and other things) all over from their north Queensland small country town base. Here’s me with one of their giant trucks, of which they have a lot. The one below is only a B-double but they run up to triples as well, which are seriously long.

Romance author Cathryn Hein with one of her in-laws' trucks

Anyway, back to foodie goodness and country kitchens. Morning smoko is a bit of a ritual around the yard, with everyone stopping for a cuppa and whatever sweet goodies happen to be on hand. Alice makes it all – cakes, biscuits, slices – and there are usually at least a couple of things to choose from.

Now, my mum and grandmothers used to home bake everything too, and occasionally we’d have pikelets. As country people know, buttered pikelets are standard CWA fare. They’re delicious and dead easy to make, and rarely do you find any left over after an event.

But did you know all pikelets aren’t created equal?

Seriously, they’re not. And I never knew until I discovered my mother-in-law’s Fluffy Pikelets. They’re the same as the ones I ate as a kid, only lighter and better and oh so scrumptious.

In fact, you could whip up a batch now. Go on, I dare you…

Fluffy Pikelets

Fluffy pikelets on Friday Feast

1 cup self-raising flour

Pinch salt

¼ teaspoon bi-carb soda

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 dessertspoon melted butter

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add egg and milk and whisk well. Fold in melted butter.

Heat a flying pan over a medium heat. Add a little butter to coat the base of the pan, pouring off any excess then drop in tablespoon amounts of the batter. Turn pikelets over when bubbles appear on the surface and cook until lightly golden.

Makes approximately 12

*

Okay Feasties, what’s your favourite morning tea snack?

Are you a gingernut and a cup of tea person or perhaps a healthy piece of fruit muncher? Maybe you… *gasp* skip morning tea. Me, I have a coffee and a wholemeal Salada, and kid myself it’s healthy. Otherwise there are always home-made goodies in the freezer, like banana and oat cake, muffins and the like, that I make for Jim. But I try to be good and avoid those. Writing is an unhealthy enough occupation as it is without adding that naughtiness too it.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

26 Replies

Hello munchkins, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week we travel back in time with an historical romance author, French it up, and give away TWO books. How’s that for warming your winter soul!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As the sun continues to shine, so does my golf game continue to brighten. I know. AMAZING! I’ve been playing so well that I managed to drop a stroke off my handicap. I even won the ladies competition last week and qualified for an end of year district playoff event. Whoop! It won’t last, of course. The curse will undoubtedly return, but until it does I’m going to savour this good form while it lasts.

Enough crowing. To our guest we must go!

EECarterSX200_Please give a big welcome to historical romance author Elizabeth Ellen Carter on her debut Friday Feast. Elizabeth’s debut novel, the French Revolution era set Moonstone Obsession, was published in 2013 by Etopia Press. Earlier that year, the adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Her second novel, Warrior’s Surrender, was voted Favourite Historical Fiction in the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards.

Elizabeth has a new book out, a sequel to Moonstone Obsession and another action-packed historical adventure. Take a look.

MOONSTONE CONSPIRACY

Moonstone Conspiracy by Elizabeth Ellen CarterRevolution in France, rebels in England, and one woman caught in the crossfire…

For her unwitting participation in a plot to embezzle the Exchequer, Lady Abigail Houghall has spent the last two years exiled to the city of Bath. A card sharp, sometime mistress, and target of scandalous gossip by the London Beau Monde, Lady Abigail plots to escape her gilded cage as well as the prudish society that condemns her. But the times are not easy. France is in chaos. The king has been executed, and whispers of a similar revolution are stirring in England. And because of her participation in the robbery plot, the Spymaster of England is blackmailing her into passing him information about the members of London’s upper crust.

When the dashing English spy Daniel Ridgeway takes a seat at her card table and threatens to expose her for cheating, she has no choice but to do as he demands: seduce the leader of the revolutionaries and learn what she can about their plot. As she’s drawn deeper into Daniel’s dangerous world, from the seedy backstreets of London to the claustrophobic catacombs of a war-torn Paris, she realizes an even more dangerous fact. She’s falling in love with her seductive partner. And the stakes of this game might just be too high, even for her.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Having a soft spot for all things French, this is right up my alley and I bet it’s up yours too. Which means you should buy a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy right now! Try Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, All Romance Ebooks or direct from the publisher Etopia Press.

Now get your spoon out for Elizabeth’s delicious recipe!

Taking It Slow

At this time of year, time turns home and hearth, simple comforts that warm the heart and warm the soul.

I was guilty (perhaps still am guilty) of trying to do things in a rush – waiting for the next big project, the next excitement, the next thrill.

I am learning to slow down. Appreciate each moment for its own sake, valuing the here and now, knowing that this day, this hour, this second, once gone is gone forever.

One of the things I was guilty of taking a shortcut on was this ubiquitous dish. I didn’t treat it with respect. It was just something that came out of a pack – often as a flavouring for other dishes – Apricot Chicken, for instance.

French Onion Soup is simplicity itself, but taking the time makes you appreciate the little things.

One of the things you’ll need for this recipe is time, but that’s a good thing. In this fast-paced world we need to unplug from technology and spend time thinking, reflecting or even gathering the family or friends around the kitchen for a chat.

This French Onion Soup recipe is just the thing to bring people together.

French Onion Soup

Elizabeth Ellen Carter's French Onion Soup

60g butter

2 tbs olive oil

1kg thinly sliced brown onions (you’ll need about 8-12 depending on size)

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs plain flour

4 cups beef stock

Weighing onions for the soupOnce you’ve sliced the onions, add your olive oil and butter. Wait for the butter to melt and start bubbling away.

Then add the onions (I use a mix of brown, white and red – whatever’s handy) and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Caramelising onions

It may look like a lot of onions but over the next 40-50 minutes they will break down, releasing beautiful aromatics that will have people wondering when dinner will be ready.

Chat, enjoy a glass of red wine (I prefer a dry Shiraz), but be sure stir the onions regularly

This step cannot be rushed. The onions need to wilt, brown and begin to caramelise.

Caramelised onions

Add the brown sugar to aid the caramelising process. The savoury of the onion and sweet of the sugar is just delicious.

After 10 minutes of stirring, add the flour to help add a little thickness to the soup. Stir for two minutes and add the beef stock.

Beef stock added to onions

Allow the flavours to combine on a low simmer for the next 15 minutes.

Serve with cheesy bread – but any bread will do. We had ours with olive sourdough. Delicious!

I’d like to give away a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession.

Just tell me what recipe brings your family together?

*

Oh, I ADORE French onion soup, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. You are spot on about taking the time to caramelise the onions. That is definitely a stage that can’t be rushed. Hmm. I have a real hankering for this soup now. Might have to put it on this week’s menu!

By the way for anyone who’s interested and looking for a treat, if you happen to be in Melbourne check out Bistro Guillaume at Crown Casino. The French onion soup there is divine. Actually, everything at the restaurant is beautiful. I may have to sneak in a visit when I’m down for the Romance Writers of Australia conference this month.

Now, lovelies, did you see that Elizabeth has a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win an ebook copy of both Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession, simply reveal what recipe brings your family together.

Perhaps you have a favourite soup or maybe it’s the good old roast that makes you think family. I’m not sure we really have a recipe that gets our family together but you can’t beat a good old barbecue for family fun, burnt snags and all. And it saves on the washing up!

So what recipe or food gets your family together? Reveal all and you’ll be in the draw. Easy!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 11th August 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay. You can easily read ebooks on your phone, tablet or computer via any one of the many apps available.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Heidke

18 Replies

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 Lisa Ireland

24 Replies

Hello, Feasty lovelies. I hope today finds you warm and dry and not turned into an icicle. But if you are, never fear because Friday Feast is bound to warm those cockles! This week we venture back to the country with our favourite genre, rural romance. Plus we have a beautiful winter stew recipe and the chance to win a signed copy of our feature book. Read on!

I suppose you want to hear Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news? No? Excellent, because I don’t really feel like discussing it. The only good tiding is that I didn’t finish last in the comp, Author Lisa Irelandalthough I deserved to. Lovely weather though, once the sun came out. Maybe next week I’ll have something positive to say. We can only hope…

Now to the real reason your here: books, food and lovely authors!

This week’s guest is rural romance author Lisa Ireland. Lisa’s debut novel Breaking The Drought was an instant hit. Understandably too. Everyone loves a city girl goes to the country story and having experienced such a move herself, Lisa knows exactly how it feels. Her second novel is Feels Like Home and looks and sounds a stunner. Check it out.

FEELS LIKE HOME

Feels Like Home by Lisa IrelandLisa Ireland, a brilliant new voice in rural romance, invites you to Linden Gully and the wedding of the year… 



When celebrity novelist Johanna Morgan surprises everyone by arriving back in Linden Gully three weeks early for her best friend’s wedding, she’s shocked to find her ex-boyfriend Ryan Galloway is back too and well-integrated in the community as the local vet. 



Jo’s maid-of-honour duties are not the only thing that’s brought her home. The family homestead of Yarrapinga is now her responsibility, and Jo needs to decide whether to keep it – and replace old memories with new ones – or sell it and cut off all ties to her childhood and her home. 



Ryan has brought his young daughter home to Linden Gully to provide stability after the death of her mother. The last thing he needs is Jo’s return, and all of the emotional turmoil that she brings with her. 



Thrown together as attendants at their best friends’ wedding, Jo and Ryan have no choice but to grin and bear all the tension. But it’s not only resentment lingering between them. The attraction is still there, and the heat and the memories. 



They say you can’t come home again, but maybe, for Jo and Ryan, home is not just a place, but a state of the heart.

Doesn’t that sound fun? Wedding stories are great. You can have this one with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Roberston. Or try Fishpond, QBD the Bookshop, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, All Romance eBooks, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Set? Good. Now come get lovely and warm with Lisa.

Take Me Home, Country … Stew

Recently I received an invitation that got me reminiscing about my childhood home. The invitation was from Wyndham City Council, who asked if I’d like to hold the launch of Feels Like Home in their Werribee CBD Library.

I grew up in Werribee. These days it’s a fast growing outer western suburb of Melbourne, but when I was little it was a small country town. There was one main street with all the shops, everybody in town knew each other, and there were as many sheep in the municipality as there were people, if not more.

The idea of going back to my hometown for the launch has brought back many happy memories of my time there. I find myself thinking back to days building cubbies in the paddocks near my house, tadpoling in puddles at the base of the no-longer-existent “Sandy Hills” and of happy times spent at the dining table of my family home.

My father insisted the evening meal was eaten at the dining table every night. The TV was off and we talked about our day. I can remember thinking this was the most tedious thing on earth when I was a teenager, but now looking back, some of my fondest memories involve meals at that table. Now I make my kids sit at the table for dinner each night. I’m sure they’ll thank me for it … eventually!

There are certain foods that take me back to that happy time: Lamb Shank and Pearl Barley Soup (my Nana’s recipe, but Mum always made the nicest version – one that I simply cannot replicate no matter how hard I try!; Pavlova – once again a delicacy that only Mum could make perfectly; and Nana’s Perfect Sponge Cake – I won’t even attempt that one.

But there is one family recipe that I excel at. I am no cook, but this is a recipe that is impossible to mess up. It’s Mum’s Beef and Winter Veggie Stew. Being a fan of simplicity I’ve adapted it to work in my slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

(Serves 4-5)

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

Ingredients:

500 grams diced beef (use a cheap cut – you’re slow cooking it so no need to spend a fortune!

2  – 3 medium carrots sliced

2 medium parsnips sliced

1 small sweet potato diced into 1 cm cubes

Gravy (more on this later!)

Method:

  1. Turn on slow cooker to allow it to warm before adding ingredients.
  2. Add all the vegetables to the low cooker – carrots on the bottom (as these take the longest to cook.)Layering veg in slow cooker
  3. Brown the beef in a frying pan. Add to slow cooker, but reserve the pan juices to use in the gravy (if desired.)Browned beef added to cooker
  4. Make gravy.

You need two cups of thick gravy for this dish. There are endless methods to make gravy so choose whichever method works best for you. Here’s my method:

Mix 3 tablespoons of gravy powder into 2 cups of beef stock. Pour into frying pan containing reserved juices from beef. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until gravy thickens.Making the gravy

  1. Pour gravy over ingredients already added to slow cooker.Stew ready for cooking

Cook for 4 hours on High or 6-7 hours on Low (times may vary depending on your slow cooker.)

Voila! You are done!

Serve with sides of mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

I’d love to hear about your family recipes. What are the dishes that remind you of home? Tell me in the comments for the chance to win a signed copy of Feels Like Home.

*

Thanks, Lisa. Slow cooker recipes are beloved by many (especially authors so they can spend more time writing), and this sounds delicious and easy. Not to mention ideal for the woolly weather we’ve been experiencing.

But did you hear that, readers? Lisa is offering you a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, for your chance to win a signed copy of Lisa’s brand spanking new rural romance, Feels Like Home, simply share which dishes remind you of home.

Easy for me. My mum’s pea and ham soup was a winter wonder in our house. Perfect for slurping with buttered toast after a morning spent outside freezing on the hockey field or riding. Mum, bless her, really hated cooking but that soup was special.

What about you? What special dish makes you feel like home? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 21st Juky 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her book, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter using @LisaIreland66.

And while you’re thinking about the dish that reminds you of home, why not have a look at Lisa’s trailer for the book. It’s lovely!

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

8 Replies

Welcome to another mouth-watering edition of Friday Feast! This week, we’ll be exploring the delights of Belgium with a hugely talented historical author, salivating over a fruit dessert and offering you the chance to win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the new golf bag didn’t work either. I’m still playing like poo and my handicap is going out with every round. The glory days of the start of the year, where a single figure handicap seemed within reach, are now mere wispy memories. I have, it has to be said, descended back into the quagmire of hackerdom and become bogged.

But maybe this is only a winter anomaly? Maybe, come spring, things will change? Surely, if I’ve reached those heights before I can manage it again? There must be hope!

Author Alison StuartTime to move on to the real reason you’re here, because I’m certain it’s not the embarrassment that is my golf game.

Today’s guest is award-winning, cross-genre historical author Alison Stuart. If you haven’t read her novel Gather the Bones, then you’re missing out on a terrific read. I adored that book as did many others, which is why it was a finalist in numerous awards. Reflecting her background in the military and fire service, Alison has a predisposition to men in uniform (don’t we all!) and her latest follows that path.

Take a look at Lord Somerton’s Heir

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR

Lord Somerton's Heir by Alison StuartCan the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Ah, now doesn’t that sounds romantic? It can be yours with just a few clicks. Try Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? That’s the way! Here’s Alison.

It’s Tuesday – It Must Be Belgium

Ah, the culinary delights of travel!

My husband and I have just returned from 6 weeks in the UK and Europe and one of our favourite aspects of travel is food… and beer… and wine. We make a point of eating local food and drinking local brews, wherever possible (a visit to the Champagne region of France was particularly tough!). There were two destinations on our journey when this policy failed us – Copenhagen and Berlin where it seemed that the only eateries around where we were staying were provenders of every world cuisine – except the local. We ate noodles and Thai.

Inevitably our journeying footsteps take us through Brussels. Why? You may well ask. We have rather a soft spot for this quaint little town. My husband had several business trips to Brussels before I made it there so by that time he was well acquainted with the local cuisine and the best places to find it. Of course it helps that the local cuisine is beer and chocolate. We have only just finished the 1kg box of our favourite Corne Port Royale chocolates that we lovingly hauled back with us. When every second shop sells chocolate it pays to know the good ones and you know you’ve been to a city too often when you get annoyed that your favourite shop has moved!

Which brings me to beer. We have two favourite haunts… A La Mort Subite, a beer hall just off the Grande Place with wonderful arched mirrors, murals and brasswork. It opened in 1928 and nothing much has changed since, including the paintwork. In my book GATHER THE BONES, the characters have a brief interlude in Brussels, although, given the circumstances it is doubtful they visited beer halls, but I am sure Paul and Tony would have enjoyed a beer at La Mort Subite and not felt out of place or time. The speciality of LMS is the Lambic White Beer… and it HAS to be eaten with a plate of cheese, salami, gerkins and pickled onions – sprinkled with celery salt and eaten with mustard.

La Mort Subite, Brussels

On to La Becasse, another beer hall, discreetly tucked away and quite hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Here the decor is wooden panelling and brasswork – just wonderful on a cold night. In fact it was rather odd being in Brussels in warm weather… as all my previous trips had been in the cold. It is one place I distinctly prefer a little cold.

A popular haunt of students La Becasse was oddly deserted on our recent trip (exam season  apparently). We spent a pleasant evening working our way through the beer menu. Particular favourites are the Lambic Beer, the fruit beers (particularly the Kriek or cherry beer) and the wheat beers all served in fabulous blue earthenware jugs and accompanied by another plate of cheese, salami and little pickled onions. Who needs dinner?

But if you are on the hunt for real food, the Belgians are best known for their Moules Marinieres (not to be eaten in a month with no ‘R’), their Frites (potato chips) and Goffres (waffles) all served from ‘holes in the wall’ or street carts tucked into corners. Nothing like a warm goffre dripping chocolate on a chilly night while you admire the Mannekin Pis, which has to be world’s most underwhelming statue.

We only had one full day and we occupied that fully in a day trip to visit Waterloo, on a stuffy local bus. We missed the bicentennial of the battle by a week. I won’t bore you with that here – you can read about it on my own blog, but in recognition of this important battle, my ‘Waterloo Story’, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is on sale on Amazon and iBooks for this week at only .99c and I am also running a contest to win some Waterloo memorabilia. You can enter via Rafflecopter through this link… Click HERE to enter.

Author Alison Stuart at Waterloo

And now to my recipe… which is not, as far as I know, Belgian, but is a family favourite passed on to me by a dear friend when I got married (origin unknown).

NECTARINE NUT KUCHEN

(serves 8)

PASTRY

I cup (125g) plain flour

2 TBLSP castor sugar

30g finely ground almonds

60g butter

1 large egg

Grated rind 1 lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Place flour and castor sugar with the almonds into a bowl. Add butter cut into small pieces and either process for a moment until crumbly or mix, using your fingertips.

Add the egg lemon rind and vanilla essence and mix until it binds together.

Remove and wrap well then chill for 30 minutes. Roll pastry out between some waxed paper or on a lightly floured board. Press into a tin (with removable base) or a form tin or a quiche tin, approx 20”. Butter the tin lightly on the base and sides. Having pressed the pastry into the tin, chill while preparing the fruit and topping.

FILLING

500g firm ripe nectarines or plums

1tblsp lemon juice

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut the fruit into segments, removing the stone from each one. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the fruit is coated.

Place into the crust, pressing down lightly with a spoon to slightly flatten the top without crushing the fruit.

TOPPING

45g ground almonds

2 tblsp sugar

1 tblsp brown sugar

30g unsalted butter

Mix the almonds with both sugars. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork. The topping should be quite moist. Scatter this evenly over the top of the fruit.

Place in a moderate oven and cook for about 35-40 mins until pastry is golden and fruit is tender. Remove from oven, stand for 5 mins then cut into wedges and serve warm with cream.

*

That sounds absolutely delicious, Alison! Anything with fruit in it is a house favourite and I adore being able to take advantage of a season’s abundance. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Did you read, Feasties? Alison is running a…

GIVEAWAY!

And it’s a really super-simple one too. No commenting – although we would love if you did – just a quick click then choose how many times you want to enter!

Visit Alison’s Rafflecopter giveaway today. Go on! You could win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia, including a reproduction of The Times with Wellington’s Waterloo despatch, a Wellington keyring, a Napoleon bookmark and other goodies.

ALISON STUART (1)

If you’d like to learn more about Alison and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AlisonStuart14 and her blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

25 Replies

Greeting Feasty people, and welcome to what will be a truly fabulous edition of Friday Feast. This week, a rural romance to warm your heart, a travelogue from one of Australia’s most adored writers, cheese scones and a giveaway!

But first, the slow fade into sporting oblivion that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the Ricky Fowler Puma duds failed to channel any talent, and both my new golf shoes and oversized putter grip also let me down. Not one to be put off, this time round I’m seeing if a shiny new Fiona McArthur Authorgolf bag won’t help. I had to buy one because now the fat grip of my putter won’t fit into my old bag. Honestly, it’s like a tumbleweed this drama, it just  keeps on collecting!

To the good stuff! Please give a big tasty welcome to Fiona McArthur, one of my favourite guests. Fiona is a midwife, author and all-round gorgeous lady. She began her writing career penning medical romances for Mills & Boon, earning multiple award nominations, and now has over 30 novels in print in 12 languages. Fortunately for rural romance readers, Fiona turned her talents to our genre, releasing first Red Sand Sunrise and following up with The Homestead Girls, out this month.

Check it out.

THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS

The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthurMoving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie’s life forever.

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she  jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and has opened her homestead to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

A heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion in the outback from internationally bestselling author Fiona McArthur.

You will LOVE this one, so get that clicking finger ready because here come all the buy links. Purchase The Homestead Girls from Booktopia, Angus & Robertson or Bookworld. You can also buy from Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, QBD the Bookshop, Abbey’s Bookshop, Fishpond, your favourite independent bookshop or chain store.

All clicked out? Excellent. Now kick back for a lovely journey with Fiona.

A Smile Around Every Corner

Thanks for asking me back, Cathryn, I can’t believe it’s a year since we shared picnic ideas together. But it must be, because my new Ruro Medical is out and about and I have another quick recipe.

Launched last week, THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS, is set in western NSW and around the iconic Broken Hill. Broken Hill. Now there’s a place with the unexpected smile around every corner.

The drive itself was a marathon, two days of eight hours for us, but it’s such a pleasure driving through the changing landscape and I can see why people hitch up caravans and head off to follow the sun.

The big research need this year was to soak in the landscape, research the flying doctor base, and savour a sojourn at a sheep station. See my fictitious Blue Hills Station. I called it Blue Hills because the barren looking hills are actually not barren, and one of the most common of those plants is Blue Bush, a species of Salt Bush. Kym made me chew some. I haven’t included the recipe here. Think salty string.

The main reference for my western NSW knowledge was Kym and John Cramps, the two person dynamos that run the station we stayed on. About half an hour out of Broken Hill lies Mt Gipps which used to be almost a million acres, well the original ‘broken-hill’ silver discovery was by a boundary rider on Mt Gipps Station, but the station covers around 85,000 acres now.

IMG_9647

They have accommodation, Shearer’s Quarters, Overseers Cottage and a Jillaroo’s Cottage (where we stayed which was a no-frills two bedroom house with everything you need) and all are down the hill from the sheep yards and shearing sheds. They were trucking out sheep the next morning so the timing was good to watch the action at the yards and Kym drove us around to see the breath-taking (bone dry) creek beds, gorgeously ghostly gums, and studded ridges. I can imagine budding geologists must have to fan themselves with excitement – even to me the glint of mica and multi-coloured rocks and formations were fascinating.

Kym offers Sunset Drinkies up on the ridge where you can see all the way to the machinery poking from the huge mine at Broken Hill, 40 kms away. The station is part of the Barrier Ranges, and in every direction the view is fabulous with a rustic utility shell to use as a backdrop for photos. To make it even better the company is a hoot and it turned out my husband did his ambulance training with Kym more than 30 years ago. How typical of travelling is that!

We took photos, drank bubbles and munched on nibblies as the sun went down. I was definitely going to have a scene here. From THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS out now!

“They were climbing up the last part of the track and she could see it wouldn’t be much further to the flat spot on top of the range.

Someone had dragged a rusted 1940’s utility as a car burial ground feature against the sparse scenery. It added a surreal quality with the wheel-less chassis resting on the ground and a tumble of larger granite rocks piled around it.

The golden ball of the sun was almost to the distant skyline, and the undulating ranges behind them were dusted red-gold with the reflection. Long shadows stretched from rocks and stunted trees and side of the rusted vehicle cabin and she leant against it to watch the shadows lengthen.

Morgan opened the creaking door and gestured her in. ‘Where would you like to go.’

She declined. ‘I like a few springs on my seat when I travel.’

He laughed. ‘There’s no pleasing some women.’ Then he shut the door on the empty cab so she could lean against it and they both turned to the view.

‘This is really beautiful.’

Morgan shifted up next to her and leant his hip against hers. ‘Scenery’s good too.’

She turned her face towards him and he leant forward and took her hand. Stroked her fingers. Waited for a reaction.

She stared down at their fingers entwined. How long since a man had done this simple caress? Since she’d let one?  The gentleness was so beautiful she just allowed herself the luxury of receiving without comment or movement.

Not a good enough response for Morgan apparently. ‘Dead fish,’ he said, and shook her wrist and she laughed though she felt like a shy schoolgirl on her first date.

‘I was waiting to see your moves,’ she quipped. It was his turn to laugh.

‘Oh. I’ve got moves.’

A sunset scene 🙂

But to food. You all know how I just LOVE to cook. Not! But I do have these sudden urges to make something I can slather butter on – and eat at sunset. Hence my cheese scones. It was actually Cathryn’s fault because she did cheese bread and it made me hungry. You reckon THAT bread was made in a hurry. Ha! I’m known as Mrs Quick!

Fi’s Mrs Quick Cheese Scones

(half recipe because there was only two us of that day)

Buttered cheese scones

1 ½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour

small pinch salt and a decent shake of parmesan from the container with holes.

half cup milk

60 gram butter (I melt it and put it in the milk)

Chuck all that in a bowl, stir with a knife, should all stick together. Then turn it out onto baking paper (means you don’t have to flick flour everywhere as it didn’t stick) and form by pressing with your hands it into a small, 2 cm high, flat ball.

FullSizeRender-2

Really important – sip a small glass of Caramel Tequila, then use the glass to cut the scones.

FullSizeRender-4

 

Lean them up against each other, melt another 80gms of butter and paint the tops of them, sprinkle with liberal grated cheese, and re-arranging them on the same baking paper ( I gingerly lift that onto a tray)  to cook for 10-15 mins in a very hot oven. I have a ‘smart’ oven that turns itself off so I don’t burn things.

FullSizeRender-3

 

Break apart, slather with butter (otherwise they are incredibly dry – but they were quick!) and afterwards throw away the baking paper and you don’t even have to wash the tray.  I know, I’m a cooking heathen, but I LOVE writing books.

What’s your favourite food to nibble on? Do you have something you whip out at unexpected sunset parties. The quicker the better. I really would love to know and there’s a signed copy of THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS for the favourite recipe.

Cheers xxFi

Did you hear that, lovelies? We have a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Fiona’s brand spanking new rural romance, The Homestead Girls, simply reveal your favourite quick food to munch on or a rapid and sure-fire recipe for surprise moments and you’ll go into the draw.

I’m going to say my easy-peasy cheesy bread from my recent Friday Feast, as mentioned by Fiona above. Fast and delicious! What about you?

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 7th July 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Pamela Cook

10 Replies

Hello, food ‘n fiction lovers and welcome to another happy edition of Friday Feast. This week, a gorgeous new rural romance into which to sink your heart and a luscious tart for your mouth. Yes, we cater for all the important bits here on Friday Feast, so keep reading!

Okay, so in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, my theory about channelling golf pro Ricky Fowler via my new Puma trousers worked. Unfortunately not the way I wanted. As golf fans will know, young Ricky failed to make the cut at the US Open, finishing the first two rounds with a Author Pamela Cookrather ignoble score somewhere in the vicinity of 13 over par. A contagion of bad play that then spread across the globe to me and turned worse. Oh, well. This week I have new golf shoes and a new putter grip to test out. Surely this has to help? Yes? Pleeeease?

It’s my pleasure to welcome back to Friday Feast fellow rural romance author Pamela Cook whose success in 2012 with her popular debut Blackwattle Lake was soon followed up in 2013 with Essie’s Way. Both featured feisty women, tangled family relationships and a healthy dose of romance, and were loved by readers.

Pamela’s new release is Close To Home. Take a look!

CLOSE TO HOME

Cover of CLOSE TO HOME by Pamela CookA compelling story of love, lies and loss in a small country town.

Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for over half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between then haunting memories of her past and her dedication to the job.

Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family – her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backward glance. But it also means relying on the kindness of strangers and, when she meets local park ranger, Joel Drummond, opening her heart to the possibility of something more …

As tensions in the town rise, can Charlie let go of the past and find herself a new future in the place she left so long ago?

I can see the fingers of all you rural romance lovers itching to buy from here, so here are all the links in one convenient place to satisfy that covetous need for this book. Try Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus and Robertson. Also Boomerang Books, Fishpond.com.au, Abbey’s Bookshop, QBD The Bookshop, Amazon.au, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite independent book seller or chain store.

Now for some deliciousness with Pamela.

Resistance is Useless

Lovely to be back on Friday Feast. Thanks for having me, Cathryn.

Last time I was here I shared a recipe for my Aunty Elsie’s Blueberry Cheesecake, a family favourite. Another favourite Lemon Meringue Pie. I have to admit I’ve never actually made one but I do enjoy devouring the ones my mum whips up. One of them makes an appearance in my very-soon-to-be-released novel Close To Home. And when I say very soon, I mean in four days. And yes, I’m just a tad excited!!!

Sadly I’m not much of a cook but I do love a good dessert, just like my new main character Charlie Anderson. Charlie has a sweet tooth and fortunately for her the town she is working in, Naringup, has a great variety of restaurants. When she finds herself dining at Savannah with the very handsome local Parks and Wildlife Ranger how can she resist sharing the Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel Icecream?

The week I was revising this scene I’d had the pleasure of dining at St Isidore’s, a beautiful restaurant in Milton. When I saw the Chocolate Tart on the menu I didn’t have to think twice. And although I was a little unsure about the accompaniment I have to say, the combination of the sweet tart with the slightly salty icecream was to die for! Needless to say the dessert made it into the novel.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found a recipe for a Chocolate Tart with Salt Flakes. Not quite the same as the one I sampled at the restaurant but close – and easy enough for me to attempt. It turned out pretty well and the sea salt flakes sprinkled over the top are a great contrast to the rich chocolate filling. You only need a sliver but it really is delicious.

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tart

Ingredients

300 ml double cream

2 teaspoons of caster sugar

A pinch of sea salt

50 g unsalted butter, softened

200 g 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Lindt – yummy)

50 ml milk

One sheet of ready-made shortcrust pastry  or use your own recipe

Sea salt flakes and cream or ice cream, to serve.

Slice of chocolate tartMethod:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a greased tart tin with the pastry and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. Remove weights and bake again for 15 minutes until golden.
  2. Mix the cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until all the ingredients are blended.
  3. Leave the mixture for a few minutes then stir in the milk. Keep stirring until shiny. Pour into the tart shell and leave to set for around 2 hours. I left it out until it cooled then put it in the fridge for an hour.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with salt flakes. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Enjoy!

Ooh, definitely one to enjoy, Pamela. Very hard to go past chocolate anything but that tart looks utterly divine. So rich and naughty and yet so easy!

So what do you think, Feasties? Reckon you could have a go at a bit of salt with your chocolatey sweetness? How about a touch of chilli or mint or even orange?

Share your favourite chocolate flavouring in the comments and for a bit of fun we’ll see who can come up with the most tempting.

In the meantime, if you’d like learn more about Pamela and her excellent books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @PamelaCookAU and her Flying Pony blog.