Tag Archives: family recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

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Greetings, lovely people, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re coming up roses with one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, plus a recipe for the cake everyone adores, chocolate!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Or not. Thanks to a weekend of fun and fiction at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra I didn’t play. I did, however, score a blow-up horse, duly christened Hot Chocolate by the QT barflies. See? There’s always a silver lining!

Photo of Margareta OsbornBut on to rosier things…

With her debut novel Bella’s Run fifth generation farmer Margareta Osborn quickly established herself as one of Australia’s star rural romance authors. She soon followed that success up with Hope’s Road and Mountain Ash. Then a couple of years ago came the ebook novella A Bush Christmas and it was an instant hit.

Margareta has now taken this story and transformed it into a full-length novel, carrying on the lives of the characters her readers had come to love so much. The result is Rose River, set in the East Gippsland mountains, an area Margareta knows well. Check it out…


Rose River by Margareta OsbornAdapted from Margareta Osborn’s bestselling ebook novella A Bush Christmas, Rose River is a gloriously funny romantic comedy set in the beautiful Australian outback.

Take one city girl – and drop her into the back of beyond…

Housesitting in rural Burdekin’s Gap, high up in the East Gippsland mountains, is not an obvious career move for a PR executive like Jaime Hanrahan. But, hey, retrenchment is a kicker.

Plus she’s determined not to spend Christmas in Melbourne with her friends, who still have company cars and six-figure salaries, or with her mother, Blanche, who has remarried too soon after her father’s death.

However, it turns out that Burdekin’s Gap is a little more remote than Jaime had anticipated, the house is in the middle of a cattle station, and the handsome manager, Stirling McEvoy, doesn’t appreciate a new farmhand in Jimmy Choos and Sass & Bide cut-offs.

Soon Jaime is fending off stampeding cows, town ladies wielding clipboards, sheep who think they are goats, nude sportsmen and one very neurotic cat. So why does she feel like she’s falling in love… with the life, with the breathtaking landscape, and with one infuriating cowboy…

Doesn’t that sound fun? And a copy could be yours with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Boomerang Books, Collins Booksellers, Fishpond, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Lovely. Now you can have chocolate.

The Chocolate Read

My latest novel, ROSE RIVER, started out as a little ebook called A BUSH CHRISTMAS. This novella (a short book) hit #1 on iTunes, and was a finalist in the Romantic Novella of the Year A Bush Christmas by Margareta OsbornAward with Romance Writers of Australia. It was a huge success, and I was simply delighted!  Then, the emails and messages started hitting my inbox, arriving by the truckload, from readers around the country with a singular request, ‘We want the rest of Jaime and Stirling’s story!’

Seriously, what could I do … ? And to be honest, I was curious myself. What was going to happen next in the mountains around Burdekin’s Gap?

ROSE RIVER is the outcome.

When I sat down to write more of Jaime and Stirling’s story at Polly’s Plains, a cattle station in the high country of East Gippsland, our family had just lost a friend. In my sadness, I was looking for something to read. I wanted a novel that was light hearted and fun, a book where I could simply sit back and be entertained. A distraction was what I needed, an escape. I was searching for a story that was like chocolate, an endorphin to sweeten and warm my saddened heart and mind. I couldn’t find it. So, with ROSE RIVER’s deadline looming, I sat down wrote the book I was looking for instead.

ROSE RIVERPink iced chocolate cake is a laugh-out-loud, heart-warming story about the thrills and spills of life on the land. It brims with humour, abounds with deep affection for unique and colourful country communities and draws on my passion for the spectacular beauty of the bush where I have lived and worked all my life.

And while I wrote I ate chocolate – Chocolate cake to be precise. And you are very special because I’m going to share with you my precious chocolate cake recipe (a HUGE cake), which can be used as the basis for a marble cake as well. It’s a recipe I’ve tweaked and played with for years until it’s nigh on darn perfect. It’s yummy, moist and there’s lots of it.

So now you’ve got it all. ROSE RIVER, the “chocolate read” …  accompanied by the chocolate cake. My middle son is aghast, ‘Mum, you can’t share that recipe with anyone! It’s your special cake!’

Just goes to show what I think of you guys, right?



Rose River chocolate cake250gm Butter

2 Cups Caster Sugar (I never said it was healthy 🙂 )

2 ½ cups of S.R. Flour

1 teaspoon of Bi-Carb soda

4 tablespoons of Cocoa

2 cups of milk

4 Large eggs


Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time until combined,

(If using a small mixing bowl, change to larger one now.)

Add sifted dry ingredients alternating with milk, until all ingredients are combined.

Grease a large lamington slab pan, or large sized spring-form cake tin. You can also use a smaller round/square cake-tin and a loaf tin.  The mixture goes a long way. Great for making one cake for now and freezing the other for emergency smoko rations 🙂


And how grateful we are, Margareta! Thank you for sharing such a beloved recipe. It’s always such a joy to feature tried ‘n true country cooking on Friday Feast. You can’t go wrong with the cooking and the flavours are complete crowd-pleasers. Great stuff.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing you all the very best with Rose River, which will no doubt be another runaway hit for you.

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Loretta Hill

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Greetings, and welcome to another year of fabulous Feasting. Yes, after a busy summer break, Friday Feast is back and what a year we have planned. Lots of wonderful Australian authors are already booked in, super excited to share their new releases, favourite recipes and more.

We’re going to start the 2015 feasting year with a big tastebud bang too, but more on that in a moment. It’s time for news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Ahh, what to say about the summer so far… it’s been good and it’s been bad. I lost the Great Christmas Golfing challenge, as per normal, but arrived home to put in a stellar performance in my club comp which cost me another stroke off my handicap. Naturally, I haven’t been able to play to it since, but I’m working on it!

Author Loretta HillTime to turn to our guest, and I’m delighted to welcome Loretta Hill back for another dose of Friday Feast goodness. Loretta, as you know, took the Australian  book market by storm with her debut The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots, following that success up with The Girl in the Hard Hat and The Girl in the Yellow Vest.

Loretta has a new novel out, one that’s set in Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region. Wine, women, family drama and fun. This one’s bound to go down a treat.

Check it out…


Cover of The Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill‘You are cordially invited to the wedding of Phoebe and Christopher . . .’

All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwell’s of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters, Natasha, Eve and Phoebe.

Today all three women are enmeshed in their city lives and eager to forget their past – and their fractured sibling relationships. Until Phoebe decides to get married at home . . .

Now the sisters must all return to face a host of family obligations, vintage in full swing and interfering in-laws who just can’t take a hint. As one romance blossoms and others fall apart, it seems they are all in need of some sisterly advice.

But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another – or risk losing each other forever.

The Maxwell Sisters is a heartwarming romantic comedy about three extraordinary women on a journey to find love and rediscover family.

Doesn’t that sound a hoot? You want it, don’t you? Oh, yes you do! And in just a few quick clickety-clicks it can be yours. Buy The Maxwell Sisters now from Booktopia, Dymocks, QBD, Boomerang Books, Collins Booksellers, Kobo, Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, or JB Hi-Fi.

All set? Then prepare yourself because what Loretta is sharing is mouth-watering!

Moussaka to the Max!

Hi Cathryn!

Friday Feast happens to be the perfect blog for me to be visiting right now with my book, “The Maxwell Sisters.” just released this month. It’s a story jam packed with food, wine and romance – my three favourite things in the world. I can’t imagine a better place to be talking about it than your foodie paradise online. So thanks for having me, girl.

The Maxwell Sisters” apart from being full of good things to eat is about family and sisters. I come from a big family myself and have three sisters of my own. Any family event we have is always full to the brim with food. Usually too much. It’s the way we express ourselves. Maybe it’s my ethic background but to us… food is love. Nothing gives me more contentment or that feeling of utter belonging that an overly full belly and fridge full of left overs. Is that weird?

So I knew when I reunited these three estranged sisters at their childhood family home in the Margaret River Wine Region, there was going to be lots and lots of food involved. Today, the recipe I want to share is for a classic Greek Moussaka.

The Maxwell sisters (Natasha, Phoebe and Eve) have a Greek mother who spoils them with her signature dish when they all arrive home. They kind of need spoiling because they’re all in a pretty bad way. Secrets, betrayal, relationships gone wrong. You name it. They’ve all got something sitting on their chest. There’s nothing like a bit of mother’s home cooking to get them all opening up to each other.

I also thought Moussaka was a great metaphor for the Maxwell sisters because it too has three essential parts.  The thick spicy sauce that has that rich in your face flavour – I’d like to liken that to the eldest Maxwell. She’s been hurt badly and is hoping to hide it all from her family. After first bite however, her hidden layers are about to be revealed.

The white sauce is more like Eve. She’s desperate to be subtle and thinks of herself as more of the background girl in the Maxwell family. Shy and quiet, this book allows Eve to realize her full potential. And yes, she does come out on top just like the sauce.

Finally, we’ve got the eggplant – the essential ingredient that holds it all together. That’s Phoebe down to a tea. She’s the reason everyone has to return to Tawny Brooks Estate. She’s getting married. And if ever there was an event fraught with family drama, it’s a wedding.  It’s going to take all her efforts to stop things from falling apart.

If you’re going to have wine with this and I insist you must. I would go for a nice robust red, dense earthy and flavoursome. Maybe a spicy shiraz or a cabernet sauvignon. Choosing a wine is mostly about matching the intensity of the food to the intensity of the wine.  So you want something with a good body.

Funnily enough, this is exactly how I went about choosing the romantic love interests for each of my three heroines. Wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge! 🙂

I hope you’ll take a moment to read their story, enjoy the romance and perhaps have a slice of moussaka on the side.

Bon appetite!

Loretta Hill



Moussaka plated up

The Meat Sauce  ( Natasha Maxwell)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, chopped

2 cloves of crushed garlic

800g beef mince

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/3 cup grated cheese

Lemon wedges


  1. Fry onion and garlic for five minutes in oil
  2. When onion has just softened, add mince and brown.
  3. Add tomatoes, cinnamon and allspice.
  4. Bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer for half an hour or until sauce has thickened.

Eggplant an sauces ready for layering

The White Sauce (Eve Maxwell)

75g butter

1/3 cup plain flour

2 cups milk


  1. Melt butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add flour and stir until bubbling. Gradually stir in the milk and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture has thickened. Turn off stove.

final eggplant layer of the moussaka

Bringing it all Together (Phoebe Maxwell)

2 large eggplant, thinly sliced

Oil spray

White sauce

Meat sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced.
  2. Spray sliced eggplant with oil and fry in a pan over medium-high heat for until browned on both sides. Transfer onto a plate
  3. Grease an ovenproof dish. Place a third of the eggplant, slightly overlapping, over the base of the prepared dish.
  4. Spread half the meat sauce over eggplant.
  5. Repeat layers, ending with eggplant.
  6. Spread white sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
  8. Stand 15 minutes.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Moussaka ready for the oven


*GROANS* Have you any idea how much I adore moussaka, Loretta? And this sounds perfect too. All that smoky eggplant goodness, with full-flavoured mince and creamy béchamel sauce. It just CRIES OUT for a glass of Margaret River red followed by a lovely flop about with The Maxwell Sisters.


Now, my Feasty lovelies, Loretta has a wonderful blog tour going on at the moment. Not only is she here, she has a full-on schedule of bloggy goodness happening, including:

Jan 12th – Margareta Osborn

Jan 19th – Jennifer Scoullar

Jan 27th – Helene Young

Jan 30th – Friday Feast

Feb 2nd – Fiona Palmer

Feb 9th – Jenn J Mcleod

Feb 16th -Rachael Johns

And as part of this tour, Loretta is giving you the chance to win a signed copy of The Maxwell Sisters. All you have to do is leave a comment here, or on any of Loretta’s other blog posts listed above, and you’ll go into the draw. Winners will be announced on Loretta’s blog on February 23rd.

So, to get you in the commenting mood, how about answering this:  What recipe or meal, do you enjoy making with family?

I’ll start you off. Nothing like a good barbecue to get everyone involved, even if most of that entails standing around the barbie, poking steaks or sausages and criticising their degree of burnt-ness!

So what’s your favourite meal that involves the family? Get commenting and you’ll go into Loretta’s The Maxwell Sisters blog tour giveaway draw.

If you’d like to learn more about Loretta or her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @LorettaHill7.


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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.




Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.


See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!


On Grandmother’s Stepstool


The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.


 Potato Soup


Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk




Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.




I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.