Tag Archives: French recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

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

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

Enough crowing. To our guest we must go!

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that year, the adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript.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

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

MOONSTONE CONSPIRACY

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

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

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

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

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

Taking It Slow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Onion Soup

Elizabeth Ellen Carter's French Onion Soup

60g butter

2 tbs olive oil

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

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs plain flour

4 cups beef stock

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

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

Caramelising onions

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

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

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

Caramelised onions

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

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

Beef stock added to onions

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

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

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

Just tell me what recipe brings your family together?

*

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

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

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What a magnificent Friday! And made all the better with a fabulous guest, some feasting, a fantastic book giveaway.

But before we get onto that… DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SWANNIES? Yes, my beloved footy team, the Sydney Swans, is into the AFL Preliminary Final. One step from the Grand Final and premiership victory. Oh, the thrill!

Which kind of makes up for my rather lacklustre golf. I say lacklustre because that’s how it felt to me, but somehow, thanks to that newfangled handicapping system Golf Australia has implemented, I played well enough last week to knock 0.2 of a stroke off my handicap. Weird. Very weird indeed. I am, as we like to say here in the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf house, bumfuggled.

I’m super excited this week because I’m hosting a very lovely lady on Friday Feast. Annie West is a USA Today best-selling author of many hugely popular and sexy books. She is queen of the alpha male, writing sumptuous romances populated with handsome jet-setting billionaires and feisty heroines who prove more than a match for them.

I’ve just finished reading Annie’s latest, Damaso Claims His Heir, and it was a cracking read. Alpha heroes normally make me want to kick them in the shins, but Damaso was so undone by the heroine, Princess Marisa, that I nearly felt sorry for him. The dialogue was slick, the settings wonderful and the story full of intense, heartfelt emotion. I honestly loved this book and I’m sure you will too.

DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR

Damaso Claims His Heir by Annie WestWhen opposites attract!

Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

Doesn’t that sound fun? Probably because it is! You can indulge in a bit of loving with your own sexy Brazilian billionaire with just a few clicks. Buy Damaso from Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi and direct from the publisher Mills & Boon.

Now please give a warm welcome to Annie.

The Tartiest of Tarts

Hi Cathryn! Thanks for having me to visit, especially now, in your launch month. I had the most fabulous time reading your French Prize. Sigh. Loved the story and that includes the setting, the gorgeous, enigmatic Raimond, the danger, the quest, the history, the intelligent heroine, the food… I’m on tenterhooks now waiting for your next.

In the meantime, here’s my contribution to the Feast series. Coincidentally it fits your French theme!

Sweetness seems to be ‘in’. Everywhere I look people are drooling over sexy men argh, no, wrong Facebook posts – over chocolate. Photos of chocolate desserts, melted chocolate for dipping fruit, choc biscuits or truffles with champagne. Friends send chocolate as a thank you or a ‘thinking of you’ gift (hey, I have some great friends), and guests who visit for a meal usually bring something sweet for afters (they’re well-trained – what can I say?).

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice chocolate. A super-dooper, industrial-sized block of finest Lindt once powered the final part of one of my books (thanks, Ms V!). I’ll happily indulge in a sweetness binge with the right goodies. But there are times when even chocolate won’t do it.

Yes, I admit it – I love tart things. Even my favourite home-made jam is plum rather than strawberry. Yum as strawberry can be, it’s just…well…sweet. But get a good bucketload of plums or – sigh – raspberries, and there’s a hint of tartness to offset the sweet. That’s what I crave: something with taste as well as sugar. Yu-um.

So, in hopes that there’s someone out there like me, who adores something tart once in a while, I’m sharing my all-time favourite dessert: Tarte au Citron. Sigh. Forgive me as I pause for a moment, remembering. I made this recently and the memory is making me salivate. I’d actually planned to write today about a delicious Brazilian meal I researched when writing my current release (set in Brazil in case you’re wondering), but I got side-tracked by that Tarte au Citron. It tasted so good I just had to share it instead.

A good friend and super-foodie made this version for me years ago and it’s been my treat of all treats ever since. It’s not some tame little dessert you gobble while chatting and barely notice it going down. Oh no. This is a full-flavoured whack of sensation. You concentrate when you eat this baby because it makes your lips zing. It’s so chock a block full of citrus I think one slice before a voyage would have staved off scurvy for those old time sailors who took a year to circle the globe.

It’s a dessert to be shared with like-minded friends. Make sure you have either good quality cream or ice cream on hand. This is a dessert that needs accompaniment – a little something to complement the tartness of this tart. So here it is, my friend Maurice’s

Tarte au Citron

Tarte au citron

Pastry

1 ½ cups plain flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

125 g cold butter, chopped

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Filling

4 eggs

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup orange juice

zest of 2 lemons

60 g butter

¼ cup cream

2 extra lemons

Icing sugar (not icing sugar mixture)

Pastry

Sift flour and sugar. Add butter and egg yolk and mix. Knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Roll out the pastry to the size of a fluted, shallow quiche tin that you’ve greased. I find it easiest to roll it out between sheets of plastic.  Prick the pastry with a fork and allow to rest (but I’ve been known to ignore this). Bake blind in a 200 degrees C oven for 10-15 mins or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling

Beat together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and zest. Melt the butter with the cream over a low heat. Add egg mixture and continue cooking until it thickens, stirring constantly (do not allow to boil). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool. Pour custard into the pastry and cook on top shelf at 190 degrees C for 20 mins.

Peel and segment the 2 extra lemons (cut off as much pith as possible) and arrange on the top. (Can you see now why this tarte is so tart?). Cover the edge of the pastry with aluminium foil to prevent it burning. Sift icing sugar very generously (seriously – use lots) over the filling. Place under a preheated grill until the top is glazed (the sugar will caramelise).

Remove foil and serve warm with cream or ice cream.

You’ll see from my photo that I had some trouble with my grill last time and the sugar was only just starting to caramelise. If you have a kitchen blowtorch you can use that to finish off and get the scrumptious caramelised top.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. My only gripe is that my family and guests all want to finish it for me.

 

How could I possibly resist a French lemon tart, Annie! And that one looks and sounds beautiful. I like the addition of orange juice for depth of flavour. I wonder if blood oranges would work. I have a real thing about them at the moment…

Now, my dear Feasters, because Annie is such a sweetheart and because we both think you should all read Damaso and fall in love with him and Marisa as we did, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win your own hot Brazilian, and we don’t mean waxing. There is zero pain with this alpha male.

So, lovely people, to be in the draw to win a copy of Damaso Claims His Heir, what’s the best recipe a friend has given you?

Mine has to be from my good friend Carol, who shared a beautiful recipe for chicken and pistachio terrine that’s dead easy to make and delicious to eat. I also still have the lemon butter recipe from the mum of a childhood friend in my collection, Mrs White’s peppermint cream chocolates, my aunt’s cream puffs and my mother-in-law’s ANZAC biscuits to name a few.

What about you? What’s the most treasured recipe someone has shared with you? Share with us and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 16th September 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kim of the potato bake, who has won herself a copy of Annie’s wonderful book and is in for a fabulous reading time. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. A delight to hear all your recipes and experiences, as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, Feasters, and welcome to a fantastique Friday Feast. It’s my turn again this week because what better way to celebrate the release of  my romantic adventure The French Prize than with a delicious dose of French food? Champagne I suppose, but I’ve already done that!

Before we get down to foodie fun, let’s talk footy. After a very wobbly start to the year and a rather uninspired (and losing – argh!) performance in Saturday night, my darling Sydney Swans managed to finish the season as minor premiers. Brilliant! But now we need to take it all the way, which means much nail biting and fretting in the Hein house as finals play out.

If you’re wondering what happened to Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, remember the quote “Golf is a good walk spoiled” from Mark Twain? I’m seriously beginning to think it’s true. Yeah, things have been that bad. Stuffit.

Enough of that and on to Feasty business. The French Prize officially hit the shelves this week – rah!  – and I’m racing along writing the next romantic adventure and having a ball. These books are such FUN!

Take a look at The French Prize. I’m so excited and proud.

THE FRENCH PRIZE

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinAn ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Out now at your favourite book shop or chain store. Or you can buy from these excellent retailers: Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and JB Hi-Fi. For more stores, or to read an extract (or the entire first chapter), check out The French Prize page on my website.

And now for some French foody fun!

Favourites…

I couldn’t help it. I had to include food in The French Prize. The book is set in Provence where the produce, markets and cuisine are utterly divine. How could I possibly leave it out?

Plus I had the perfect character to indulge myself with in Christiane, the hero Raimund’s godmother. This is a lady who rules her kitchen ruthlessly and woe betide anyone who dares arrive late to dine and spoils one of her meals.

Here’s a snippet to explain…

‘Where’s Raimund?’ asked Olivia, sitting at the table and accepting a glass of wine from a still grinning Edouard.

The kitchen smelled delicious, filled with the distinctive aroma of tomato and basil. Olivia’s stomach let out a hearty grumble. Without asking, Edouard cut a slice of baguette and handed it to her.

‘He hasn’t returned,’ came the huffy retort from the stove.

‘He has special business today,’ said Edouard.

‘That boy always has special business. He should be here with his girlfriend. I made petit farci especially.’ Christiane smiled beatifically at Olivia, as though she’d spent the afternoon martyring herself for her godson. Given the smell of the kitchen, she probably had. ‘It’s his favourite.’

Olivia returned her smile and then focused on Edouard. ‘What special business?’

But Edouard simply puffed up his cheeks, blew air over his pouty bottom lip, and shrugged. The French equivalent of ‘who knows?’.

Although she hadn’t ventured outside that day, Olivia could feel the heat emanating from the terrace. Every now and then, the breeze would curl its way inside, swirling delicious aromas and adding to the overwhelming warmth. After the cool of the archives, the kitchen began to feel uncomfortably hot.

A dribble of sweat snaked down her back and Olivia became aware that, despite her heavy-duty deodorant, she might not smell as fresh as she would like. She cleared her throat, unsure if she should ask, but desperate for a shower and some clean clothes.

‘As Raimund is late, perhaps I have time for a shower?’ she asked gamely.

Christiane considered her request as though she was an haute cuisine chef and this a Michelin-starred restaurant. She gave her pot of tomato sauce a stir and taste, then opened her oven door and inspected the contents, her nose scrunching as she inhaled. A poke of the stuffed vegetables, some more contemplation and the decision was made.

‘Fifteen minutes.’

Olivia did it in ten.

One of the dishes Christiane makes for Raimund and Olivia is hachis parmentier. This is one of my favourite simple meals to have with a green salad or wilted spinach. It’s very much like cottage pie and another of those dishes where everyone has their own recipe. Some include tomato puree, some don’t. Traditional versions appear to have only onions in the mix and no other veg besides potato. A few have wine. Most use only stock.

Frankly, all I care is that it tastes good. And this, my own version, does (if I do say so myself)!

Hachis Parmentier

Hachis parmentier

2 tablespoons olive oil

100g finely chopped pancetta, speck or bacon

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 kg beef mince

1 tablespoon tomato paste

300ml dry red wine

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 litre beef stock

2 large thyme sprigs, leaves picked

3 bay leaves

1.25kg floury potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped

50g butter

Milk

Dried breadcrumbs

Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and fry for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden. Add onion, celery, and carrot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add mince and cook until lightly browned and all the mince is broken up. Add the tomato paste, wine, cloves, stock, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost evaporated but mixture is still nicely moist.

Simmering mince for hachis parmentierMeanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan of cold salted water over high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, cool slightly, then mash or pass through a ricer or mouli. Stir in butter and enough milk to create a nice creamy mash. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200C. Remove the bay leaves from the mince. Season to taste. Spoon mixture into a large baking dish. Spread potato over beef and run a fork over the top to give it a rough surface, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

This makes enough to feed 6 people easily with sides. If you don’t need that much the recipe halves well. It also freezes without problem. I make the full batch but cook it in two smaller trays, cool it in the fridge overnight, then slice it into individual portions. I wrap each portion in cling film, bag them up and freeze. Perfect for emergencies. A defrost and heat in the microwave, and dinner is done.

And now, because it’s release week and cause for celebration, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Would you like to win a signed copy of The French Prize? Here’s your chance. I’m looking for freezer meals. You know, those recipes that are perfect for making extra and freezing the rest. Hachis parmentier is one of mine, but I also make big batches of casseroles and soups, as well as pasta sauces. Oh, and moussaka. That works a treat.

What about you? What’s your freezer speciality? It can be sweet or savoury, I don’t mind. Reveal all and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 9th September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to read more about The French Prize or my rural romances, simply explore the website. There’s plenty to see. And while you’re there sign up to my newsletter. Subscribers get special things because they’re special people.

You can also follow me on Twitter via @CathrynHein, Facebook and Google Plus.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Nicole who has won a signed copy of The French Prize. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. A delight as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to this Romance Writers of Australia annual conference edition of Friday Feast. Yes, I’m at Romance Rocks which is indeed totally rockin’. Hope to have lots of photos and fun news to share about it over the next few weeks, once I’ve recovered. RWA conferences are brilliant but exhausting.

Cathryn Hein in front of a statue of King Rene in Aix-en-Provence

Me in front of a statue of King Rene in Aix-en-Provence

In footy news, my darling Sydney Swans had another win last Friday night. It wasn’t the prettiest but a win is a win, and we’re streaking gallantly toward the end of the season and finals. Gallant streaking is not something that’s happening in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, however. It was ugly last week, very ugly. Balls in the water. Balls out of bounds. Every ball seemed to have a death wish, which is nearly the way I felt by the end of my round. But with this week dedicated to all things romance writing, maybe the time off will do me good. I can only hope…

And now to this week’s guest: Me!

With so many of our talented authors busy at the conference, I’m taking over the Feast. Which means I get to talk about my upcoming release, The French Prize, because I’m REALLY SUPER-DUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT! And all the pre-order links are now live, which means you can book your copy now. Wheeee!

Take a looksie. It’s faaaaaaabulous!

THE FRENCH PRIZE

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinAn ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Doesn’t that sound rollicking? Rollicking AND romantic and you can pre-order the print version right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, QBD The Bookshop, Abbey’s Bookshop, Fishpond.com.au, or the ebook from AmazonGoogle Play and iBooks.

Right, now you’re all sorted, let have a scrumpy French recipe.

Tarting About

Besides our sexy, stoic hero Raimund and gutsy heroine Olivia, there are some fun secondary characters in The French Prize. Christiane and Edouard, Raimund’s godparents were a hoot to write.

Edouard adores a drink, and is always thrusting a glass of something alcoholic at Olivia. His wife, Christiane, rules her kitchen like a haughty queen, and god help you if you’re late for a meal. She’s a wonderful cook and takes great joy in making Raimund’s favourite meals for him. There’s hachis parmentier, salade de chevre chaud, petit farcis, moules, and tarte de chevre –  all classic French dishes.

Petit farcisWhen we lived in Provence, I was lucky enough to attend a cooking school at a local lady’s house south of Aix-en-Provence. For two days, myself and two friends were picked up from Aix and carted off to the markets. Laden with beautiful produce and wine, we’d then head to her kitchen to cook ourselves silly before sitting out in the sunshine to savour our lunch and drinks. I enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten during this time, a dish called petit farcis – stuffed Provencal vegetables – served with a fresh tomato sauce.

It’s weird, but as much as I loved that meal I haven’t made it again, although I’ve thought about doing so many times. I think I’m too scared it won’t taste the same. That it will taint that special memory. Every time I think of those two days I’m struck by how amazing they were. How bright the sun, how lovely the company, how incredible the food and wine tasted.

One French dish I have made many times since our return home is this onion tart. I first tried this in Strasbourg and fell completely in love with the creamy filling and flavours of caramelised onion and lardons. It’s really rich and bad for you but phht. So what? It’s not like you’re going to be eating it on a daily basis, is it?

Alsatian Onion Tart

A slice of onion tart served with saladPâte brisée or shortcrust pastry – bought or your favourite recipe – rolled to fit a 27cm tart tin with removable base

25g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

700g brown onions, peeled

200g good quality, thick smoked bacon (rind removed), flat pancetta or speck, chopped into 5mm x 2cm long pieces (or thereabouts – don’t get too fussy, it’s a simple dish)

Salt, pepper, nutmeg

6 egg yolks

300ml cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Line the tart tin with pastry. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and fill with beans, rice, or ceramic baking weights and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove rice/beans and bake another 5 minutes. The pastry should be lightly golden.

onion tart straight from the ovenMeanwhile, halve the onions and then slice very finely into half moons. In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil over low heat and add onions. Cook, stirring regularly, with lid on for an hour or more, or until the onions are very soft and only slightly golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Heat a small pan over medium heat and lightly fry the bacon. Add to onions.

Season onions and bacon with salt and pepper and a few scrapes of freshly grated nutmeg.

Whisk the egg yolks with the cream and then mix in the onions and bacon. Pour into the baked pastry case and pop into the oven for half an hour, or until set.

Serve warm with salad and a nice glass of white wine.

Now, because I’m feeling all nostalgic and convivial, I think we should have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Who would like to score a signed copy of The French Prize? Well, here’s your chance to snag one. And it’s an easy giveaway too. All you have to do is share the best dish or meal you’ve eaten while on holidays.

Maybe it’s… fish and chips with a special someone on the beach, or that unreal curry you sampled on your last trip to Thailand. Perhaps the meal you ate at a famous restaurant or the barbecue you had in a mate’s backyard. Simple or flash, it doesn’t matter as long as you share you’ll be in the random draw!

And because I’ll be away all weekend and too knackered when I return home to promote it widely, I’ll leave this one open a little longer. So…

Giveaway closes midnight THURSDAY 14th August 2014, AEST. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, just keep tooling around the website. There’s funstuff like The Story Behind, where I reveal the inspiration behind my books, and plenty to explore on the blog and elsewhere. Why not sign up to my newsletter while you’re here?  (Scroll down to the bottom of the Home page) Subscribers get all the news plus exclusive giveaways and my undying affection.

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This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Astrid, who has won herself a copy of The French Prize. A big warm thank you to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun and shared their best holiday meals. You all made me jealous!