Tag Archives: Favourite cookbooks

FRIDAY FEAST with Jodie Blight

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Season’s greetings! Or should that be summer greetings? Either way, welcome to the plumptiousness that is Friday Feast.

I am SO EXCITED TODAY! Seriously, you have no idea. Why? Because today we host our first cookbook author. *cue much squeeing and stamping of feet* Yes, my little puddings, the Feast is going professional.

But first, to the utter unprofessionalism that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf… Oh, who cares? I don’t. I played poo, yada yada. Good. Now that’s out of the way we can move on to our guest.

Jodie Blight is a Melbourne mother of two young boys who has just launched Summer TABLE, a beautiful and accessible cookbook designed to make your life easier.

Jodie Blight, author of Summer TableJodie’s book draws on her experiences of having been a high flyer in finance, turned full-time mother, living in and out of Australia. During four years in Holland raising her family, she lived in a small Dutch village, with no takeaway food shops and where the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and didn’t open on Sundays. Jodie was forced to creatively plan and prepare her family meals. This is where the concept of Summer TABLE was born.

And what a concept! Summer TABLE shows how leftovers can be easily transformed, plus half the recipes take less than 15 minutes to prep and cook, and Jodie offers a step by step guide to cooking, storing and keeping food to help time-poor people get the most out of each supermarket visit.

Seriously, you do not want to miss this…

Summer TABLE

Summer TABLE cookbookSummer TABLE answers the age old question, ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ with over 100 recipes for fast, delicious and healthy meals for every night of summer.

Not only does it solve the dinner dilemma but the shopping dilemma too! Incorporated within the book is a free App – scan a QR code from a recipe in the cookbook and produce a shopping list on your smartphone, with all the items you need sorted into the supermarket sections. A brand new concept of bringing the old world of a hard copy cookbook and combining it with the new world of technology. A first in the cookbook world!

The reviews from those who have purchased Summer TABLE have been nothing short of fantastic. Founder of Carman’s Fine Foods Carolyn Creswell says Summer TABLE provides helpful inspiration for her and her husband juggling work and family: “With a busy family, we struggle with the challenge of creating interesting and healthy dinners every night of the week. Getting dinner on the table fast is a necessity, but being suitable for both kids and adults is essential. The homemade pizzas are a favourite in our family. Summer TABLE will inspire you for a summer of family meals with fantastic flavours”.

Summer TABLE is available from many independent bookstores across Australia, Dymocks, Big W and www.hellotable.com.au.

A perfect Christmas present for yourself, friends or family.  Maybe even a Kris Kringle!

So, now that we’ve solved your Christmas present buying dilemmas (you’re welcome, my darlings), please give a big Feasty hello to Jodie. And enjoy!

For Some Strange Reason My Family Insist

On Being Fed Every Single Night!

Summer is my favourite time of the year. The incredible lime green of the leaves, the warm sun high in the sky, the birds singing in the trees – ahhh life is good … but the serenity is always broken by those three chilling words: “What’s for dinner?”

For some strange reason my family insist on being fed every single night!

Coming up with interesting, quick and healthy recipes for dinner every night is enough to send even the best cook into the depths of despair. And when it comes to the Christmas feast, it doesn’t matter whether you are cooking for a few or for a whole tribe, it can be extremely daunting.

So as I see it, my options are:

-prepare for weeks and spend all Christmas day in the kitchen (ignoring the children’s requests for batteries, or assistance to assemble the latest gadget) or …

-relax with a glass of champagne, dodging the toy helicopter hovering above while my ankles get battered by the remote control car below.

Need I say more?

Allow me to take a step back for a moment. The idea for Summer TABLE began back in 2005 when we moved to Europe with my husband’s work. I was a young mum living in a foreign village where there was no takeaway food, the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and there was no Sunday shopping. I often got ‘caught out’ and had to produce interesting and tasty meals with whatever I had in the fridge. Out of necessity I needed to think ahead, and through my desperation came innovation.

In my attempt to be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ I always cook way too much and our tradition of Sunday roasts with family and friends results in lots of leftovers. As a lover of good food (and I admit, a little frugal), I became accomplished at creating tasty, quick and healthy meals with the abundance of beautiful food left over from Sunday. The best part was no one knew they were eating leftovers (well, not until now).

I set myself the task to use all the leftovers in innovative new ways. As the personal challenge grew, I found myself deliberately making extra for the Sunday roast, since it required no more time or effort. My husband was often surprised at how much food there was and regularly asked, with a concerned look and a quiver in his voice,  “How many people are coming today?”

And Summer TABLE was born.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Christmas. Just in case it does need to be said “I choose the glass of Champagne, while dodging miniature attack missiles”. Surprised????

I have to admit, the best Christmas lunch we have ever had, (and when I say best, I mean most delicious and most enjoyable) was last year. For entree, I bought lots of cooked prawns, already peeled by our wonderful fishmonger Phil, and served them with a Mango and Avocado Salad. It took less than 10 minutes to throw together.

For the main fare, sliced ham and a roast chicken, served with Haloumi and Watermelon Salad and Orange and Fennel Salad. Both salads ooze summer, so beautifully fresh and ridiculously quick to prepare.

I thought I would share all my easy Christmas recipes with you today. Ooops – did you say only one recipe Cathryn? I have never been very good at following the rules when it comes to talking about my favourite topic – FOOD and WINE!

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 mangoes, cut into cubes

½ red onion, thinly sliced

20 cooked prawns, peeled and deveined

2 avocados, cut into cubes

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

1 long red chilli, chopped (optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

½ tablespoon wholegrain mustard

In a large bowl or on a platter, arrange lettuce, mango, onion, prawns and avocado.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad, and sprinkle with coriander leaves and chilli.

Juicy Roast Chicken

Juicy Roast Chicken from Summer TABLEPrep time 2 minutes  Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes  Total time 1 hour 30 minutes  Serves 8

2 chickens

2 lemons, cut into quarters

4 thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 240C. Place a rack over a deep baking tray and fill tray with water until just below the rack (make sure the chickens are not touching the water). Place a small strip of baking paper down the middle of the rack to stop the chicken skin from sticking. Fill the cavities of the chickens with the cut lemon and thyme and place chickens (starting breast side up) on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Take the chickens out of the oven, remove from the tray, turn them over and put them back on the paper over the rack, breast side down. Then reduce the temperature to 190C and cook for a further hour or until the juices run clear. When cooked remove from oven, cover and rest for 10 minutes.

This method will produce the juiciest roast chicken you have ever tasted. Serve with some gravy using the juices from the tray, with its subtle lemon flavour.

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 2 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

¼ watermelon

180 g haloumi, 1 cm thick slices

1–2 tablespoons olive oil

lemon juice

Yoghurt dressing

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon mint sauce

1 handful mint leaves, chopped

Cut watermelon and haloumi into 1 cm thick slices with a similar shape and size.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Toss haloumi slices in the oil, then fry the cheese for 1 minute each side until golden brown.

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Arrange the haloumi and watermelon in alternating layers across a plate. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Best served while the cheese is still warm.

Orange and Fennel Salad

Orange and Fennel Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 bulb fresh fennel, finely sliced

½ red onion, finely sliced

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

Dressing

3 tablespoons orange juice

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Place lettuce, oranges, fennel and onion in a salad bowl or on a platter.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad and toss together.

Sprinkle with coriander.

There you have it. A Christmas feast ready in moments. For the sake of completeness, I feel the urge to give you a few ideas on wines to serve with these dishes. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to their favourite beverage and any of these dishes would be perfect served with bubbles or beer. But in case you are looking for some inspiration, these are my suggestions:

Prawns served with a crisp Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2014 SA (my personal favourite)

Juicy Roast Chicken served with a fruity Fraser Gallop Chardonnay 2013 WA

Ham perfectly matched with the Christmassy flavours (raspberry, cherry and spice) of a NV Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz Vintage.

And my final thoughts on the Christmas Feast, what to do with the leftovers? Surely I can’t be the only one who cooks way too much for Christmas day. How about using the leftover chicken for a Chicken and Nectarine Salad the next day?  Or try Vietnamese Chicken Noodles, Chicken San Choi Bow or a Caesar Salad, just to name a few. When you have eaten all the ham sandwiches you can eat, and you can’t face one more morsel, why not make Pea and Ham Soup and freeze it for winter! Crazy huh!

We are all busy and want quick, healthy and delicious meals. Thoughts of planning the Christmas feast shouldn’t drag us down. Christmas means fun, soaking up the sun, laughing with family and friends, and enjoying fresh, delicious food without the stress. Hopefully Summer TABLE will inspire you to put variety and zest back on your table.

Jodie

 

Thank you, Jodie. You have been wonderfully generous giving us not only ideas for stress-free Christmas cooking, but a great insight into what Summer TABLE has to offer. And suggested WINES!!! *faints*

So, my darling Feasty lovelies, time for a little sharing. What are your tips for a stress-free Christmas?

I’ll let you in on mine: let someone else do it. Yes, I know, not very helpful but it does make for enjoyable entertaining. Other than that, seafood n salad. Can’t beat it.

What about you? Maybe you buy delectable items in or make gourmet delights and freeze them in advance. Share your tips and help us all get through the silly season. God knows, most of us need all the help we can get!QR Code for Summer Table

If you’d like to learn more about Jodie and her cookbooks, please visit her website Hello TABLE. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter using @HelloTABLE

Want to test out Jodie’s app? Scan this QR code with your smartphone and learn how it all works!

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

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

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

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

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

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

THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE

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

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

LEAD TO EVERLASTING LOVE?

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

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

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

Comfort Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Shona Husk

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Oof, it’s been a big week. So much to catch up on after my trip away to South Australia and western Victoria but a very lovely time was had so all worth it.

We have an excellent guest on Friday Feast today, and a regular, but first you must endure Author Shona HuskUs Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news because I’m chuffed. Chuffed, I tell you!

Yes, I played well enough last week to lose an entire stroke off my handicap. Whee! Lots of long puts sunk and I only hit one ball into a dam. Marvels!

Which gives me a very nice segue back to today’s Friday Feast guest because she is a true marvel. Why? Because Shona Husk gave us TOBLERONE BROWNIES! Plus she’s a pretty awesome author. Shona is a three-time Australian Romance Reader Award finalist and best-selling author of multiple contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi romances (her Shadowlands series is fantastic). Whatever tickles your romantic fantasy, Shona has a book for you.

Her latest release is The Changeling Soldier. Check it out.

THE CHANGELING SOLDIER

Cover of The Changeling Soldier by Shona HuskHer time in the mortal world is running out…

After fleeing Annwyn three centuries ago, Ella built a life in the mortal world making gowns for European royalty and playing in mortal intrigues. Now those Courts are long gone, and she dresses Hollywood starlets. Mortals come and go, but Ella always ends up alone. She longs for the home she left behind.

He’s been dreaming of the coming battle all his life…

Isaac Norton is a returned soldier. Now home, he’s restless and his recurring dream is becoming more frequent: he’s fighting on a snow-covered field stained with blue blood. When he sees Ella, he knows she isn’t human. And she knows what he is, a changeling.

Ella can give Isaac the answers he needs, but there will be a price to pay: his soul.

Ooh, now there’s a story with a lot at stake! The Changeling Soldier releases June 3rd but you can pre-order it right now for a measly 99 cents. What a bargain! Order the ebook from Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble for Nook, All Romance eBooks or you can buy a print version from  Amazon or Createspace.

Go on! It’s 99 cents and you’ll have a cracking time!

Speaking of a cracking time, here’s Shona.

My Favourite Cookbooks

I love cooking, not the huge labor intensive dinner party style cooking, but the sling it together with love style of cooking. Simple and delicious. It should be no surprise that one of my favorite cookbooks is Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals (No, I have never cracked the 15 minute mark but it’s still something I aim for).

Cathryn: Neither have I with the 30 Minute, Shona, but it’s still fast-ish and the results are pretty tasty!

I also love that I can hand his 15 and 30 minute meals books to the kids and they can select the menu for the week (as an added bonus if they don’t like it I can remind them that they picked it).

My other favorite cookbook is one I was given for Christmas (I might have suggested that was what I wanted). Silvia’s Cucina is full of Italian yumminess. I started with the desserts, then moved my way to gnocci and pasta before trying bread. OMG! I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since January.

While I’ve had a bread machine for over a decade it was never great for sandwiches and the texture wasn’t quite right. Silvia’s bread is awesome. I love the overnight no knead recipe (it has 3 ingredients!) and the kids like her soft crust yoghurt bread. Silvia’s Cucina has been a great addition to my library. While many of these recipes are a little more time consuming, slow roasted goat and Nona’s polenta and pork ribs are so worth the wait—and perfect for making on the weekend.

Lastly Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner. This is another one that I can hand to the kids so they can choose the meals. Potato and corn chowder is very popular, as it the banana bread (although I must confess taking out half the walnuts and swapping them with choc chips).

I can’t leave without sharing a recipe, this is one my sister sent me and it’s for no bake chocolate slice. From ihearexercisewillkillyou.com (my notes are in italics, this recipe is also super easy to halve if you are running out of things but still want a sweet treat, it’s also super rich so cut small squares!)

The Best No-Bake Bars You’ll Ever Eat

1 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy)

1/2 cup honey (um, I never actually measure I do it by eye as it’s less of a PITA)

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor) (health food shop)

2 cups dry oats (not instant) (I use rolled, I’m guessing that’s the same as dry as it turns out fine)

1 C shredded coconut

1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (200g of 85% Lindt is awesome)

1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9×13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it’s set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!

***

While I do use the internet to find recipes, it’s not the same as flicking through a book and feeling inspired to try something new. What are your favorite family (and time friendly) recipe books?

 

Oh, that’s easy…*trots off to survey collection* … er, perhaps not so easy after all. I love all my cookbooks. Some I read for fun and inspiration but never really cook out of, others I try loads of things. Probably my most used is Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. There are some cracking recipes in there like lahmacun (a delicious lamb pizza type dish) and pollo alla diavola. And tonight I’m making the lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. I agree with Shona about Jamie Oliver too. If you’re time pressed, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals has some pretty tasty recipes in it. Try the piri-piri chicken and the stuffed Cypriot chicken. Plenty of others to play with too.

What about you? What’s your favourite cookbook? Share the love. I’m sure we could all do with another on our shelves. Although don’t tell my other half that!

If you’d like to learn more about Shona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @ShonaHusk or sign up to her newsletter for all the latest releases.