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.
Rachael 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
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.
All set? Now come on a tasty journey with Rachael.
A Taste of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?
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!