Tag Archives: easy recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings once more from the food and book marvel that is Friday Feast. This week: an important announcement, a tasty tagine and I bore entertain you once again with that most splendiferous of rural romance novellas, Summer and the Groomsman.

Did you know this series has been going for over four years now? That’s a loooong time in bloglandia. Every week for eleven months of the year we’ve had Australian authors sharing their latest releases and mouth-watering recipes, and it’s been a blast!

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn HeinBut it’s also been quite time consuming and has on more than one occasion taken me away from my writing. Given that I have plans for world literary domination (and, really, who doesn’t?) I need to take a bit more care of my writing time, so it is with no little sorrow that I inform you that Friday Feast will soon be ending as a regular blog post. It will, however, pop up from time to time when I or one of my lovely author friends are in the mood for some foodie fun.

Righty-o, let’s return to normal programming with the dubious joy that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.

Steady is the way I’d describe my golf game at the moment. Nothing special but kicking along nicely, which is good. One doesn’t want to peak too early when next week sees the ladies Medal of Medals playoff, and this one is going to be hard-fought, let me tell you. This competition takes all the year’s monthly medal winners and pits them against each other in one round, like a best of the best battle. It’ll be tough and competitive, and as convivial as all our games are. I’ll probably get all nervous and screw it up as usual, but that’s okay. The sun will hopefully be shining and the ladies will be their normal lovely selves and we’ll all have a great day regardless.

And now, another gawp at Summer and the Groomsman because I know you can’t get enough of Mr Sexy on the cover. I certainly can’t!

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Mr Sexy is available right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You know you want him.

Can’t stand ebooks? Stay tuned for news on the print edition, coming soon!

Now for some talk about…

Tantalising Tagines

We love a good tagine in the Hein house. They’re so easy and great for a Friday night when we’re after something set-and-forget. With their lovely spices and addition of dried or fresh fruit these are the casseroles of the Middle-East and Mediterranean, but unlike normal casseroles which tend to favour the cooler months, tagines suit warm weather dining too.

Terracotta Tagine

My trusty terracotta tagine

I probably don’t need to tell you that tagines are named after the conical cooking vessel in which they’re cooked. I have two of these now. The first tagine is a traditional terracotta version that you have to soak overnight in water to ensure the pottery is moist enough to cope with cooking heat, and, I suspect, also adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the end dish.

Stupidly not having brought one home from France with us (where we could have snaffled one for about €5), back then we had to hunt around to find our terracotta tagine. Now these things are everywhere and made out of everything from stainless steel to ceramic, cast iron, copper and combinations in between.

One of the things that disappointed us about our terracotta version was its small size and shallow bowl. More than half a kilo of meat and it would overflow. As we like to cook double amounts and freeze the rest for lazy times this was a bit of an inconvenience, leading us to keep an eye out for a new one.

Scanpan tagine

My shiny new Scanpan tagine

Cast iron looked cool but would have weighed a tonne. Because of the soaking necessity, a large terracotta one would have been bothersome and require too much forward planning. The ceramic ones were okay but… nah. Then we spotted the Scanpan version and were lovestruck. So shiny, so pretty, so perfect in its sleek dimensions. Best of all, so easy to clean and no overnight soaking required. We had to have it.

And it’s proved a cracker! I’m your basic overexcitable home cook and don’t for one second consider my food authentic to any cuisine, and our tagines probably don’t even come close to the unique flavours of the traditional, but they’re pretty bloody tasty all the same. Lamb with dates, beef with raisins, meatballs in tomato sauce with baked eggs… we’ve made all sorts.

One of our favourites though, is the one I’m going to share today: Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates. I have a feeling the original recipe was torn out from a newspaper but, as usual, we’ve tweaked the ingredients and method to suit our own tastes and cooking laziness. With its gold and lemony hues it looks like a summer dish, and the flavours? Sweet, spicy and lovely. And now we have a larger tagine we can make it in the full amount and have leftovers.

No tagine? Never fear! Simply use a normal casserole.

Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates

Serves four

Chicken Lemon and Date Tagine

4 chicken marylands, thigh and leg separated

Olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons paprika dolce

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated

1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed, rinsed and pith sliced finely

1/2 lemon, finely sliced

Salt and pepper

2 onions, finely chopped

8 fresh dates, pitted and cut into halves crossways

Coriander leaves.

Mix spices, garlic, ginger, preserved lemon and lemon slices together with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in chicken pieces and toss until well coated in the spice mix. Leave to marinate for an hour.

Heat the tagine base over medium heat. Add a splash or two of olive oil and throw in sliced onions. Cook, stirring, until a few minutes until softened then add 250ml of water and mix. Add chicken and stir then top with tagine lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add dates and bake a further 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Season well, sprinkle with coriander and serve with couscous to mop up all the lovely spicy juices.

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So Feasty ones, what’s your favourite cooking vessel? Or maybe you prefer a no-fuss barbecue or not to cook at all?

Besides my tagine, which I luuurve, and my wok which I’d be useless without, my favourite dish is probably my super-sized copper pan. It makes the best casseroles, even beating the enamel-coated cast iron pots for delicious results. No idea why but I imagine it has something to do with the evenness of its heat distribution. I also have a thing about my Le Creuset terrine. It just looks fab!

What about you? Share away. You might convince us of the need for something shiny and new.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, have a potter around the website where you’ll find cool things like The Story Behind pages for each of my books, and more. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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This week on Friday Feast, lucky devils that you are, you have ME again. I’m sharing one of my absolute favourite pasta recipes, showing off my new release again (because I can, and I love it to bits and want you to as well), and… oh, let’s have a giveaway. It’s been too long!

But before you get to that excitement, you must endure news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As mentioned last week, the past weekend saw me compete in the final round of the Romance author Cathryn Heinclub championships and I came SECOND! Okay, so technically with only two of us ladies left in the field I also came last but we’ll  ignore that. What was kind of cool was the gallery (aka the hecklers) surrounding the 18th green, watching the field come in, and me making a very respectable par in front of them instead of cracking under the pressure. Not normal Hein golfing behaviour at all!

Now to plug my book, which I’m allowed to do to my heart’s content because it’s my blog and I have overlord (overlady?) powers. I will, however, try not to be boring.

So… reviews for my new release Summer and the Groomsman are coming in and they’re lovely! I’m so chuffed. 5 stars from Talking Books Blog and 8/10 from Bree at 1 Girl 2 Many Books, along with lots of very kind comments about the sweet characters and the humour of the story.

It’s enough to make a girl a little teary. Or drink fizz. I prefer the latter.

On the off chance you haven’t had enough of it yet (which of course you haven’t), here’s the cover and blurb.

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Oooh, this story is FUN. And you should buy it now, oh yes you should! Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks or Nook.

Now, grab those pots and fire up that stove, because this recipe’s a cracker.

Pucker-Up For Pasta

By now you’re all probably aware that I’m a sucker for recipes that taste disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort they take to prepare. I never used to be this way though. In fact, there was once a time when the longer the recipe, the more complicated, the more ingredients it required, the happier I was. And if it involved learning some obscure new technique, even better.

Personally, I blame the 80s.

Me at uni graduation with big hair

Me on graduation day with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads beneath my gown.

Everything had to be bigger and better then: hair, shoulder pads… plates. Remember enormous white plates with tiny bits of lonely food on them? So fashionable. I still have the most beautiful Royal Doulton set in my crockery collection. You could eat entree and main off those things and still have room for dessert, but I’ll never get rid of them because they’re so nice.

The ‘more is better’ fad followed me into the early 90’s too, when I moved to Melbourne. I used to hold these dinner parties that would take days to prepare for and involve early morning trips to Queen Victoria Market followed by hours in the kitchen and exhaustion by the end of the evening. Vogue Entertaining magazine was my bible, along with Elle Cuisine and another short-lived ultra-cheffy one I can’t recall the name of.

These days? It’s all about maximum taste from minimum effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to spend an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with something novel. I adore cooking, trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, especially on a Friday when there’s the end of the week to celebrate. Weekdays though, it’s all good food done fast. Well, not necessarily fast but certainly without drama.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, pasta e fagioli. Pasta and beans.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different recipes for this, and I certainly don’t claim the following as authentic. Not even close. In fact, my version is a total mash-up, and even then I change it around, depending on my mood. But in my book adaptability is a sign of a great recipe, plus mucking about is fun. I think traditionally, like many cucina povera dishes, pasta e fagioli is meatless. I also believe it’s meant to be runnier, like a soup. I make my version thick and serve as a plated pasta. Easy to eat and very satisfying.

The key to the success of this recipe is in the sausages. Honestly, if you don’t have good Italian sausages, don’t bother making it. Without them the dish will turn out ordinary. With them, it’ll be delicious. But as I’m sure you know, using quality ingredients is the secret to getting the best out of all recipes.

Look for lovely chunky pork sausages with plenty of seasoning. Fennel is a must, and if you can score ones with chilli in them as well, even better.

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

Serves 4

My Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 fat Italian sausages

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dried chilli flakes to taste (if the sausages are chilli-less), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

400g can tomato polpa (or used tinned tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher)

½ cup (125ml) beef stock

400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

250g macaroni (or any small pasta – tiny penne works well as tubetti and ditalini)

Grated parmesan to serve

Method

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and chop if really chunky or you can feel gristly bits.

Squeezed out Italian sausage meat

Heat a good splodge of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Cooking chopped onion

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Increase the heat a little and add sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add tomato paste, chopped tomato, chilli (if needed) and stock, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Simmering tomato and sausage meat

Taste and season as needed, then stir in beans to heat through.

Tomato, sausage mince and beans

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and mix.

Spoon onto plates and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, and watch those plates clear!

Empty plate

Okey-dokey, cos I’m feeling in the mood for one, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Hmm, which book shall I put up for grabs? I had planned to give away a print copy of Summer and the Groomsman but, annoyingly, they’re not ready yet (gah!). How about a copy of my debut Promises by Cathryn Heinrelease Promises instead? I love that story. It’s a bit Romeo and Juliette-ish, is set in south-east South Australia where I’m from, and has lots of gorgeous horses. Perfect!

Already have a copy? That’s okay. If you win, you can always give the copy away as a present. I’ll sign it to whoever you like.

So, to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Promises, simply leave a comment revealing your favourite pasta or noodle dish.

How’s that for easy peasy?

I’ve just shared mine, although I do have many other recipes in my collection that I adore. Veal ragù with home-made papardelle springs to mind – that dish is amaaaazing – and I just love spinach and ricotta canneloni. Ooh, and how can one go past pumpkin ravioli with sage butter? That dish is like eating autumn!

So what’s your favourite? Share and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th November 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, there’s plenty to discover on this website, including a fun video on my About page on How To Grow An Australian Romance Author, plus The Story Behind each book and more on its book page. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicki Edwards

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Hello, Feasty Lovelies, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week: the Thermie cult snags another member, a quiche to make your mouth water, and a rural romance giveaway. Seriously, we have it all.

But first, all the drama from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Exciting news! Last Sunday I was asked to fill in for our ladies pennant team – think club representative golf and that’s kinda what playing pennants is – and not wanting our girls to have to forfeit a match, agreed to have a go. Oh. My. God. I can’t remember when I had a more stressful round of golf. The pressure! Made worse because the lady I was playing against was a gun, with a much lower handicap than me. But despite trailing almost the entire round, come the 16th I rallied and won the hole, then I won the next, which put us tied on the 18th tee. After smacking my drive long and far up the middle of the fairway then hitting a not bad second just off the green, in a fairy tale ending I won. Whoop! Sadly our girls lost the day but we remain in pretty good stead in the overall competition in equal first. Honestly, I don’t know how the ladies do it every week. It was bloody stressful!

Author Nicki EdwardsSpeaking of stress, we book lovers know that the best way to wind down after a tough day is with a heart-warming read and my guest this week is a lady who delivers just that. Geelong girl, critical care nurse and romance author Nicki Edwards’s first release Intensive Care was enthusiastically received by reviewers and readers, as has been her second, Emergency Response, which hit shelves last week. Not least because Nicki’s rural-set medical romances reflect her love of country life and small towns, and teem with authenticity.

Check out Emergency Response. You’ll love it.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Emergency Response by Nicki EdwardsRunning away didn’t solve anything … at least, not the first time.

Intensive care nurse Mackenzie Jones is no stranger to running. As a teenager she fled her family home leaving tragedy and loss in her wake. Now, after fifteen years alone in Sydney, with the strain of working in a city hospital wearing her thin, she’s tempted to run again.

Mackenzie jumps at the chance to work in a mining town in the West Australian desert – anything to lift her spirits. Though she barely dares to hope, she wonders if she might find the kind of love that can ease her loneliness.

In the outback, Nathan Kennedy is at a loose end. He’s been making money in the mines for years, and pressure from his family to return to the east coast, settle down and get married is reaching fever pitch. The problem is, he hasn’t met the right woman.

When Mackenzie turns up in town, there’s an instant attraction between her and Nathan, maybe even true love. But tragedy’s not done with Mackenzie Jones – the past is about to catch up with her in more ways than one.

Can Nathan convince Mackenzie to stop running, or is this just another tragedy in the making?

Emergency Response is a heart-warming read that you should buy right now. Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Booktopia or your favourite book retailer.

Now come join the newly converted Nicki!

My New Love (I Joined A Cult)

Thanks so much Cathryn for having me on Friday Feast again.

Last time I admitted to readers that I have a little secret – I despise cooking which made it ironic that I was writing a cooking related blog post! I also admitted I didn’t even own a recipe book, which shocked a few people.

But I’m here to announce all that has changed in the last two months!

I am now the proud owner of a thermomix.

Yes, I have joined the ‘thermie’ cult and I’m a cooking convert!

Over the past few weeks I’ve made all the usual thermie staples – sorbet, hummus dip, risotto, soup – and I’ve been brave enough to try ice cream, fried rice, bolognaise sauce and beef stroganoff. I’ve also made my own peanut butter, raspberry jam, egg mayonnaise and Caesar salad dressing. I know, I’m impressed with myself too!

But I have to tell you about the bread. O.M.G. The bread. I’m talking better-than-Baker’s Delight white bread. It’s just perfect with the home made jam! Close your eyes for a moment and inhale deeply. Can you smell that just-out-of-the-oven fresh bread? MmmHmmm.

Nicki's Bread

As part of the full thermie experience with Trixie (yes, I named my Thermomix), we invited friends for dinner and I made almost everything from scratch in the thermomix. But before you get the idea that owning a thermomix has totally transformed me from cooking hater to cooking lover, let me set the record straight. The thermomix is awesome, but it doesn’t do the cooking for me. Neither does it clean up after itself! Apparently, that’s still my job.

Nicki's Thermie in the kitchen

Anyway, this post is not just about my thermomix. Today I want to share a scrumptious secret recipe with you – one of the very few recipes I own that’s hand written on a piece of paper. I remember tasting this quiche about 25 years ago and once I had the recipe, I’ve never used another one for quiche. I figure if I can actually master something, there’s no point messing up perfection! And this quiche is perfection. You’ll be emailing me and thanking me, I promise.

Nicki's Quiche

This is what it looks like before you put it into the oven. I don’t have an “after” photo because trust me, you’ll want to be eating it straight off the screen.

It’s perfect served hot with a salad, or cold the next day (but we never have leftovers!)

Nicki’s Quiche

4 rashes of short cut bacon or 4 bacon rashes, diced

2 spring onions, chopped

¾ cup grated tasty cheese (light is fine)

4 eggs

1tblsp plain flour

¼ tsp dried thyme

1 ½ cup milk (light or full cream)

½ cup cream (light or full cream)

1 large tomato, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Whisk or beat eggs with flour, cream, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute bacon. Line quiche dish with shortcrust pastry (Feel free to be clever and make your own – I buy the frozen stuff!). Place bacon, cheese and spring onions on top of shortcrust pastry. Pour egg/milk mixture over this. Carefully place sliced tomato on top. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 190C.

For a chance to win a copy of “Emergency Response”, share your recipe — the one you never mess with (or share your favourite quiche recipe).

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Jeez, that Thermie cult is rampant. It’s already taken my buddy Rachael Johns and now it’s claiming more authors. Mind you, I can see the benefits. A gadget that takes all the  work out of stirring risotto has to have status, and I did taste an amaaaaazing sorbet at the Thermie demonstration I attended. For busy people with families, or for those who don’t enjoy cooking, I bet a Thermie is a life saver, and if you love kitchen gadgets – and who doesn’t? – this would be a must. I mightn’t be quite prepared to fork out for one, but if someone offered me a Thermie as a present I sure wouldn’t knock it back!

Nor would I knock back a slice of your quiche, Nicki. It looks lovely. Bacon, cheese, eggs… you can’t go wrong.

Now, food and book lovers, you heard our generous guest, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the giveaway draw for an ebook copy of Emergency Response, simply share the recipe or dish that you never, ever mess with. Or, if you prefer, your favourite quiche recipe.

The recipe I never mess with is an Asian noodle dish made with pork, thick rice noodles and chilli bean paste. Oh, I LOVE that recipe. It’s spicy and fast, delicious and, with all the veg I chuck in, nutritious. The perfect weeknight meal. In fact, I made it Monday just gone.

So what’s the dish you never mess with? Share and you’ll be in the draw to win Nicki’s brand new release, Emergency Response.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 3rd November, 2015. Ebook only. Open internationally.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

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Hello food and fiction lovers, and welcome to another aromatic edition of Friday Feast. This week: a charming contemporary romance from a favourite Australian author along with some delicious figgy goodness.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite occasional lapses of concentration and some appalling putting, I’m actually rather pleased with how my game’s Author Louise Reynoldsimproving at the moment. The winter golfing blues appear to have been well and truly cleared away. An enormous relief, let me tell you, because with the club championships now in progress, four weeks of horror play would have been too awful to contemplate.

What IS wonderful to contemplate, however, is today’s guest. Louise Reynolds has fast become a very popular contemporary romance author, with good reason. Her books have great dialogue, fantastic settings, memorable characters, and lots and lots of romance. Perfect. Oh, and beautiful covers too. So beautiful that her previous novel, Red Dirt Duchess, was announced best rural romance cover at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference. Fair enough too. That one’s a stunner.

Louise’s brand new release is If I Kissed You. Prepare to be charmed!

IF I KISSED YOU

Cover of If I Kissed You by Louise ReynoldsRaised by a pair of hopeless hippies, Nell Connor had to grow up quickly. But now her father, awash in whisky, has handed her the reins of his Irish pub. After obliterating every trace of Ireland, Nell has transformed it into a smart, and trendy bar. Business is booming but, outside of work, things aren’t going so smoothly.

When gorgeous musician Declan Gaffney arrives, it’s clear he’s definitely not Nell’s type.  He’s Irish (therefore must be feckless and unreliable), he sings romantic Irish ballads (which Nell hates) and his nomadic lifestyle reminds her of some of the most painful parts of her childhood.

After Declan helps Nell out of a tricky situation, her father takes a shine to him and starts matchmaking. And when her aura-reading mother turns up, Nell’s carefully ordered life is thrown into chaos. She’s losing control but the biggest shock of all is yet to come … 

In a story that shines a light on the unusual forms family can take, Nell must accept that sometimes love takes you in unexpected directions.

Doesn’t that sound enticing? Hard to resist an Irish hero. If I Kissed You is available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Booktopia. Grab your copy today!

Now please welcome Louise, who is going to delight you with one of the world’s most beautiful fruits.

Two Simple Ingredients

Thanks for hosting me again on Friday Feast, Cathryn. As you know I’m a keen reader of your blog. What better entertainment than books and food, with a side helping of the Hein’s golfing triumphs and tribulations.

Fig, Prosciutto, MintBut, you know, I’m a little bit peeved. Recently you hosted Amy Andrews with her smarty-pants throw-it-together-no-cooking-needed recipes and her two-ingredient crockpot soup, all of which look wonderful for next to no effort and the blurb for her Gazillionth fabulous book!

I was ogling that soup when the penny finally dropped. This is why the woman is a writing powerhouse. She spends next to no time in the kitchen. While I’m boning rabbits and scouring Melbourne for the freshest burrata, I’m not banging out the words. I’m a kitchen goddess, not a writing machine, Nigella not Nora (oh, why can’t I be both?).

So I’ve taken a leaf out of Amy’s book. No more elaborate Friday Feast recipes from me. Today, in the spirit of friendly competition, I offer a two-ingredient recipe of my own (two because everyone has mint in the garden, right?). It’s my throw-it-together, no cooking needed appetiser and it’s a crowd pleaser.

It’s the sort of dish my heroine, Nell, in If I Kissed You, would prepare for herself and friends on a night off from the Fitzrovia, her fashionable St Kilda hotel. She might have a two-hatted chef in the kitchen at work but what girl doesn’t want to pare it back to basics, kick off her heels, open a good bottle of wine and serve a simple meal she hasn’t slaved over?

But stop! I’m me. Because that fictional chef downstairs at the Fitzrovia needs a job, and because I just can’t help myself, I’m going to add value to those ingredients with the addition of two simple ingredients, lemon and cream.

So here’s that recipe, two ways.

Nell’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto

Fig, Prosciutto, Mint

Quarter lusciously ripe figs and lay in a tumble on a plate. Twist curls of prosciutto by the side. Garnish with tiny mint leaves. That’s it.

Fitzrovia’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto with a Minted Cream Sauce (with thanks to Richard Olney)

Crush 6 mint leaves in the juice of 1 lemon and leave for 30 mins. Discard the mint. Dissolve a pinch of salt in the juice then stir in ¼ cup of thick heavy cream and whisk till smooth. Drizzle around the dish as above and garnish with additional mint leaves.

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Oh, Louise, you’re a woman after my own heart. I adore figs. They’re so succulent and gorgeous and versatile, as you’ve shown. I have to say I love the minted cream sauce idea. Definitely one to try.

So Feasty lovelies, how do you like to use or show off fresh fruit like figs? I know it’s a bit naff but I really enjoy melon and prosciutto. They just seem to team so well. Grapes in salads are yum too, like little bursts of sweetness. As for desserts, sour cherry strudel, anyone?

So what’s your favourite way with fruit? Sweet or savoury, we’d love to hear.

If you’d like to learn more about Louise and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook, Twitter using @LouiseHReynolds, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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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 Pamela Cook

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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.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello lovelies, and welcome to another fiiiiine edition of Friday Feast. This week: me! Yep, I’m at Author Cathryn Heinthe helm and I’m not only a sharing a recipe for easy soda bread, I’m running a giveaway too.

But before we get into that, let’s all give a big sigh for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Okay, so last week was better. Not much better but there was an improvement. I think I only lost one ball. Or was that two? I drown so many it’s hard to keep count and the rounds just blur into one another. Anyway, I have a spiffy new pair of golf trousers to try out this week. They’re Puma which, according to the ads, means Ricky Fowler’s swing is just a mind’s leap away. Or something like that. Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

As I’m sure you all know, my latest release is The Falls. It’s lovely. You should read it.

THE FALLS

Cover of The Falls by Cathryn HeinWill losing the home she loves mean finding the place she belongs?

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

The Falls is available right this very moment in paperback and ebook. Visit Booktopia, Angus & Robertson or Bookworld. Also Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Boomerang Books, Dymocks, Collins BooksellersAbbey’s Bookstore, QBD The Bookshop, or your favourite independent book seller or chain store.

Right, time for some foodie fun!

The Staff Of Life

We make a lot of our own bread in the Hein house. I have several tried and true favourite recipes that whup the butts off most bought loaves. One of the absolute best is a minimal Our home-made crusty breadknead, long-rise bread that produces the most beautiful chewy crust; like sour-dough but without all the hassle of maintaining a ‘starter’.

There’s also focaccia, various flatbreads for serving with curries, and a few different soda breads. Delia Smith’s recipe for goat’s cheese, onion and potato bread is a cracker and, like most of her recipes, dead easy to make. If a normal white loaf is all we’re after, a few minutes measuring ingredients for the bread machine and it’s on its way. Plus the bread machine is great for when we can’t be bothered to do a slow-rise loaf. Using the same ingredients, we set it to ‘dough’ and when that’s ready use our special oven technique to get a good crust. The texture isn’t as nice as the slow-rise but it does the job.

FocacciaWhich means it’s not often that our freezer is empty of a loaf of some description. It does, however, happen. And it happened one night a few years back right when I’d made a big pot of winter vegetable soup. With no time to make a proper yeast-risen bread, or the right ingredients to whip up any of my favourite flavoured soda breads, panic ensued.

Okay, not panic. After all, we wouldn’t die or anything if we had soup without bread, but it was annoying.

What to do?

Make the best of it, that’s what.  I checked the fridge and cupboards, had a bit of a think, whacked on the oven and started mixing. The result was a soda bread to be proud of.

Seriously, this bread takes no skill, bugger-all effort and tastes brilliant. You’ll love it.

Cheesy Mustard Bread In A Hurry

525g plain flour – I use bread flour but if you don’t have any, normal plain is just fine.

1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

1 teaspoon salt

50g grated cheddar

350 ml milk

1/3 cup (80ml) of buttermilk, sour cream, cream, evaporated milk, whatever. Or simply make up with milk. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. I’ve used them all and they all taste fine.

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 heaped teaspoon hot English mustard (As with the milk, whatever mustards you have on hand or prefer the taste of – wholegrain works well too)

Thyme or another herb if you have it, otherwise ignore.

Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Weigh out the flour into a large bowl. Add salt and bi-carb. Mix well. Strip thyme stems of their leaves, if using, and throw those in then grate in cheddar and mix again.

Measure out all the other wet ingredients into a separate jug, and whisk until combined.

Cheesy mustard bread ingredients ready to mix

Pour wet ingredients on to dry and mix until you have a sort of dough. Don’t get too excited about kneading it. Just mix until it comes together then form into a nice oval loaf-like shape.

Line a baking tray with baking paper (I used a pre-heated pizza stone this time round) and plonk the dough on top. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal slashes across the surface. Grate enough Parmesan over the top to suit your taste.

Dough with slashes in the top, ready for baking.

Bung in the oven for 40 minutes until brown and crusty.

Baked cheesy mustard bread.

Slice and serve with butter to many oohs and ahhs!

A slice of cheesy mustard bread

Now, because I have a belly full or bread and am feeling pleased with the world (I had to make a loaf because I had no piccies of it, and then I had to taste test it – honestly, the things I do for you), I think we should have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Okay, to be in the draw to win a signed copy of Heartland, Callie, Matt and Honk the mad Heartland by Cathryn Heingoose’s story, share with me your favourite bread. Or even your favourite soup. Or just leave a comment. Let’s not make things complicated. I’m feeling far too relaxed for that!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 23rd June, 2015. Australian postal addresses only. 

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There’s lots of cool stuff on here. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news, plus giveaways and more, not to mention extra special happy vibes from me, please sign up to my newsletter. It’s fun!

 

Friday Feast recipe index link.

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 Melanie Scott

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Greetings, food and booklovers, and welcome to another session of Friday Feast goodness. This week we’re getting sporty (and not with golf either), plus share a super delish and easy to bake dinner and offer a super-hunky giveaway!

But first, Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Alas, as predicted, my newly lowered handicap proved a psychological barrier too high and I failed to play to it. This was to be expected. As my father – bless him – has proven many times, when it comes to the sport we love but are cursed by, us Heins have no mental strength. We are, however stubbornly persistent. A personality fault we can’t seem to remedy. Sigh.

Now onto the promised funstuff!

Author Melanie ScottThis week’s guest is Melanie Scott, whose novel Devil in Denim, the first in her New York Saints baseball series, I read and adored. The second, Angel in Armani, has just released and looks an absolute cracker. That smokin’ cover doesn’t hurt either (although wait until you see book three, Lawless in Leather. Phwoar!) .

You don’t have to be a sports or baseball fan to enjoy these steamy contemporary stories because while the settings centre around a baseball team, the plots concern the Saints’ sexy alpha male owners and the equally determined women in their lives. Yep, it’s all about the luurve.

Rightly so, too.

ANGEL IN ARMANI

Cover of Angel in Armani by Melanie ScottWILL A LOVE OF THE GAME

Sara Charles is trying not to strike out. With her dad out of commission, Charles Air has only one helicopter left-and only one Sara to fly charters. With the family business in jeopardy, Sara needs all the clients she can get and the newest one is New York Saints team surgeon, Lucas Angelo. When an unexpected flirtation escalates into a night of pure blind passion, Sara realizes she may have just blown the game. To stay in play, she vows to avoid Lucas and keep her mind on her business and only her business. But there’s a catch: she needs him–in more ways than one.

LEAD TO A FIELD OF DREAMS?

Lucas thought he had his head in the game until his night with Sara throws him off balance. Spring training is upon him, and his schedule is madness but he can’t forget her. So he makes an offer she can’t refuse. Be his personal pilot and earn the money she needs to save Charles Air. She intends to keep him at arm’s length–especially when she discovers just how different their worlds are. Little does Sara know that, for Lucas, the only thing more important than business is pleasure. He only plays to win. And he intends to hit it out of the park…

How cool does that sound? If it’s anything like the reviews are saying then it’s going to be as good, if not better than, Devil in Denim.  Secure your copy of Angel in Armani now via BooktopiaBookworld, Book Depository, Amazon.com, Amazon.ukAmazon.au, iBooks US, iBooks Aust, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Sorted? Time to enjoy a tasty meal then!

Lazy Cooking or Yay For Nigella And Jamie

I’ve always loved a good roast dinner. My mum does a great one and we’d have it for weekend dinners fairly regularly (and she still does them when I go home to visit, yay). Roast lamb or chicken with roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, parsnip and all the trimmings. Delicious. But for some reason it’s something I rarely bother to cook at home. It always seems like a bit of a drama with having to time everything to be ready together etc. Plus lots of washing up that needs to be scrubbed. So when I was watching Nigella Lawson one day and saw her do a tray bake of chicken pieces with chorizo and potatoes, I was kind of intrigued. Cooked all in one pan, not huge amounts of meat left over. Shorter cooking time. Right up my alley. And about the same time I saw Jamie Oliver do the same thing. Since then a lazy chicken tray bake has become one of my favourite weekend dinners. Feels like a roast without any of the fuss. Genius.

My heroine in Angel in Armani, Sara Charles, is definitely a no kind of fuss dinner gal. She’s a helicopter pilot who’s struggling to keep the family business afloat so no time for fussing in the kitchen. This would be exactly her kind of thing.

Easy Chicken Tray Bake

Inspired by Nigella Lawson (see an example here and Jamie Oliver here).

Melanie Scott's Chicken Tray BakeIngredients

8 chicken thighs or wings. Skin on is better, take the skin off after cooking if you don’t want to eat it. You can also use chicken Maryland pieces.

Handful of cherry tomatoes

1 sweet potato or a few potatoes

Other vegies to taste (I use carrot/zucchini/onion/pumpkin)

3-4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)

Olive oil or spray

Pepper and salt

Optional pancetta or chorizo (roughly sliced for the pancetta and chopped into inch or so chunks for the chorizo)

Heat oven to 180 Celsius.

Line a roasting pan with baking paper (makes clean up lazy too!)

Season the chicken with whatever you like (sage or thyme, spicy rub or just good old salt and pepper) and place in the tray

Chop the vegetables other than the tomatoes and garlic into smallish chunks (maybe an inch or so wide). If using pancetta or chorizo chop as well.

Put vegies in the pan around the chicken then add the tomatoes and garlic cloves and chorizo/bacon if using.

Add a good splash or two of olive oil (or spray well with olive oil spray)

Season with pepper and salt to taste

Bake in oven for 30 minutes then turn chicken and vegetables over. If using olive oil spray you may need to spray again. Bake another 30 minutes or so until chicken is done.

Serve with gravy or chutney or on its own.

Bonus tip, if cooking for one person use just 2-3 pieces of chicken and cook the same amount of vegies and use the leftovers later to make frittata or in a salad or on pizza etc. If you don’t want to do this, then just use a smaller tray or a small square casserole dish to roast in.

After you’ve served up, whip the baking paper out of the tray, put the tray to soak and there will be minimal scrubbing required in the clean up stage!

 

Thanks, Melanie. That sounds seriously yum. I love how easy it is to put together and can be adapted to whatever happens to be in your vegie keeper. Recipes like that are gold.

Speaking of gold, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, folks, it’s time to share the sporty love. Melanie has generously offered a copy (ebook or paperback) of Angel in Armani to giveaway to one lucky commenter.

All you have to do is answer this simple question: What’s your favorite easy delicious dinner?

Ooh, I have several! Pastas and stir fries are at the top of the list, but I’m a terrible sucker for a good soup and with the pressure cooker fired up they can be whipped up in no time. What about you, dear Feasters? Maybe you have a one pot recipe for when you don’t feel like cooking much, or perhaps a healthy salad that can be assembled in seconds. Share away and we’ll pop you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th February 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jillian who has won a copy of Melanie’s fabulous Angel in Armani. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. As always there were some wonderful suggestions for easy dinners. Thanks!

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicki Edwards

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Welcome to the food and book magnificence that is Friday Feast! We have a treat for you today: a debut author and Feast virgin! But more on that in a moment…

Prepare yourselves. You may find the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf a tad startling. Yes, folks, I didn’t play too badly. In fact, so not-too-badly that I lost a stroke off my handicap. I Author Nicki Edwardshaven’t stopped blinking at it since the update came through. Tis a wonder indeed. Naturally, I will now spend the next month not being able to play even close to it. But that’s golf for you!

Enough of that. We have far more important things to discover, like books ‘n food.

This week I’m delighted to introduce Australian author Nicki Edwards to you. Nicki has a brand-spanking new rural romance release out and it looks fabulous. Intensive Care, as the name suggests, has a medical bent and being an Emergency Department nurse, you can trust Nicki to bring real authenticity to the story.

Take a look.

INTENSIVE CARE

Cover of Intensive Care by Nicki EdwardsEscaping to the country was meant to be easy…

On the surface it looks like busy Intensive Care nurse Kate Kennedy has it all: a long-term relationship, a great career and a sleek inner city apartment. But appearances are deceiving, and in one fell swoop everything comes crashing down around her. In a moment of spontaneity, Kate leaves her city life and takes a new role as Nurse Unit Manager at Birrangulla Base Hospital, but her dream move proves harder than expected.

Local café owner Joel O’Connor finds himself increasingly drawn to the gorgeous new nurse, but like Kate, he’s been scarred by love and isn’t looking to jump into anything. Yet their chemistry is hard to deny and after a near fatal incident, Joel and Kate find themselves opening up to one another.

Just when Kate thinks she’s found love again, their fragile relationship is thwarted by their pasts. Can they both let go of their guilt and grief to move on to a bright new future?

Ooh, thwarted love. We do love that in romance land, which makes this a must for your rural romance collection. Intensive Care can be yours right now with just a few clicks. Buy the ebook direct from the publisher Momentum or try Kobo, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi or Google Play.

All set? Excellent. You may now play with Nicki.

The Secret Ingredient

When Cathryn first emailed and asked me if I’d like to join her on the blog, I said “yes” without thinking. Then I checked out her blog and my heart thudded into my RM William’s boots. You see, I need to share a little secret. Don’t tell anyone (especially not Cathryn), but I despise cooking! I hesitate to say I ‘hate’ it in case that comes across too strongly, so let’s just stick with words like ‘detest’, ‘loathe’ or ‘dislike’! (And yes, I’m aware that they all mean the same thing!) And while I’m airing all my dirty laundry, I have another confession to make – I don’t even own a recipe book! All I have is a spiral bound book full of handwritten recipes I’ve gathered over the Well used recipe book showing Lenore's Muffins recipeyears.

Now that massive weight is off my shoulders I can get on with the business of talking about food, which is what this blog is about! Just because I don’t like cooking, doesn’t mean I can’t do  it. I can actually make an amazing lasagne, have a few sensational chicken meals, and I even have a great kangaroo dish that I make. But my downfall is baking.

My four kids will tell you I can’t bake to save myself. I follow recipes from my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law (all of them brilliants cooks) and they all fail. Every time. I would sample a chocolate cake, slice or dessert at their house, demand the recipe, go home and attempt it, but it would never work out. In the end, I came to the conclusion that they left out some vitally important ingredient on their handwritten list, on purpose!

One of my friends is incredible when it comes to hospitality and she makes the most amazing white chocolate chip muffins. She told me they are fool proof. Now those words should have been a warning sign. I should have backed away immediately before anyone got hurt. But no, you guessed it. I asked for the recipe which she handed over, scrawled on a scrap of paper. And I went home and attempted to make them. Sadly I have lost how many times I’ve attempted these muffins, but each time I tell myself this will be the day they work out.

A few years ago (yes I have been trying to make these muffins FOR YEARS) I announced proudly to my youngest son Toby that I’d made “Nore’s Muffins”. He was so excited until he bit into one and screwed up his face.

“They don’t taste like Lenore’s,” he said.

My shoulders sagged. I knew he was telling me the truth.

“I just don’t know what Lenore puts into hers to make them work,” I said.

“I know!” Toby stated. “Lenore makes hers with love.”

And that is my problem dear readers. I can cook. But I forget to add the most important secret ingredient. Love. So, on that note, I’d like to share Lenore’s muffins with you. I promise you, if you add love, they will work every time! I’m told they taste great with coffee, but I wouldn’t know as I’m one of those strange people who has never tasted coffee in my life. Which is all the more strange that I would feature a coffee-loving nurse in my debut novel, Intensive Care!

“Made with Love” Muffins

Muffins in the oven, ready to bake

1 cup SR Flour, heaped

1 cup sugar, heaped

3 large tablespoons butter (melted)

½ – ¾ cup of milk

1 tblsp cocoa

2 eggs

¾ pack of White Chocolate chips

Mix

Bake for 15 minutes at 180.

Make yourself a muffin, grab a coffee and have a read. Enjoy!

 

From Intensive Care:

“Hello, love,” the man greeted Kate as she got closer and she blinked in surprise. It was the Irish guy from the elevator! At the sound of his voice a sudden unexpected warmth coursed through her body, traveling down to her toes.

“Oh! Hi.” She grinned.

“What can I get yer today then, love?”

“If you’re still open, I’m in need of a proper coffee.”

“Yeah love, we’re still open. My name’s Joel.” He smiled and his blue eyes twinkled. “Joel O’Connor.” The dimples she remembered formed on each side of his mouth.

“Well, hello there, Joel O’Connor.” She smiled in return. When it was obvious he didn’t recognize her, she felt strangely disappointed. “I’m Kate.”

 “So where are you from then, Kate?” he asked, his bright blue eyes dancing.

Do I have something written across my forehead? How do they know I’m not from around here?

“Sydney,” she replied.

“Well Miss City Chick, I make the best coffee in Birrangulla.” He smiled again, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. “And when I say I make the best coffee, I mean it really is the best coffee. I’ll even bet it tastes better than any coffee you’ve ever tasted from that city of yours.”

“Oh yeah?” she teased him. “How about I let you know once I taste it?” She laughed softly before stopping herself and covering her mouth with her hand. God, it sounded like she was flirting.

“It’s a deal,” he replied.

 

 

Thanks so much, Nicki. And how easy are those muffins? Absolutely no excuse not to make a batch and settle in for a good long read of Intensive Care. The perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon and we Friday Feast readers all know we need more “me” time.

Now, my delicious little Feasty darlings, Nicki has a question for you: If you were to sit down in a café like Bean Counter in Intensive Care, what type of coffee would you order? And if you were to have something to eat with it, would you pick sweet or savory?

Ooh, this is a bit of a tricky one for me, because it depends. Post lunch I’d probably go for an espresso, something to get me through the afternoon. Maybe with something light and sweet, like a macaroon. In the morning I’d more inclined to go for a latte and perhaps something savoury.

What about you, Feasties? Is your penchant for a nice cup of Earl Grey and a shortbread? Or perhaps a hot chocolate matched with a terribly indulgent dessert is more your go, or a lusty long black. Let us know. We’d love to hear!

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