Tag Archives: Friday Feast

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

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Greetings dumplings, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we have wine, babies, and beef. Although not in the same recipe, as I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know.

First, the frustration that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Bad. Very, very bad is all I can say about my game at the moment. I even tried marking my balls with bright blue love hearts in the faint hope it might amuse Oh, Great Golfing God, but no. Recent form has proven that it only made him crankypants. However the weather has been glorious and the company enjoyable, and, really, when one is playing this atrociously the only way is up!

Michelle Douglas authorAs much as I would like to move on to the wine bit of this week’s Feast, the baby must come first. My guest is the ever-delightful Michelle Douglas, who received her first rejection letter at the age of eight for Keri the Koala Baby.

Michelle has since moved on from koalas but not necessarily babies, and is now a multi-published author writing for Harlequin’s Romance line. Her latest is Reunited By A Baby Secret, part of the Vineyards of Calanetti continuity and a guaranteed heart-tugger. Check it out.

REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET

Reunited By A Baby Secret coverShe’s back in Calanetti…

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test reveal she’d returned home with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he’s nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he’s staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby…?

Did you hear that, my lovelies? Vineyards! A baby! A sexy hero! Just what you need to give a smile, a sigh and maybe even a little tear. And Reunited By A Baby Secret can be yours right now with a mere click. Buy from Booktopia, BookdepositoryAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

All set? Good. Now feel free to get beefy!

Fine Vines

To be visiting Cathryn today and talking about wine does seem rather appropriate. Not that I mean to be telling tales outside of school or anything, but Cathryn and I do seem to find ourselves in the bar together on a rather regular basis at RWAust and ARRA conferences. 🙂

Authors enjoying a tipple

Wine has been on my mind quite a bit recently because my latest release REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is set in the rolling green hills of Tuscan wine country, and my heroine is a viticulturist. Mind you, Marianna is pregnant so wine tasting is out for her, but it wasn’t for me. And, naturally, a girl has to provide due diligence and perform appropriate research. So off to the Hunter Valley I went to look at vineyards and taste wines. I discovered two things:

  1. Wine country is gloriously beautiful regardless of what part of the world you’re in.
  2. One shouldn’t wine taste at 11 o’clock in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. 😉

So, in honour of all things wine-related, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes with you. This, amazingly enough for me, is ludicrously healthy. It’s also incredibly simple. And despite what the photo looks like (I’m terrible at taking pretty pictures of food) it’s utterly delish.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef and red wine casserole

Place the following ingredients into a nice big pot: ½ kilo of diced beef, two diced onions, two large sliced carrots, 2 sliced sticks of celery, a diced green capsicum, 200g sliced mushrooms, a clove or two of crushed garlic, a can of tomato puree (415ml), a teaspoon of Italian herbs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of red wine.

Bring it all to the boil and then cook on low, covered for 90 mins.

My favourite way to eat this is with mashed potatoes and green beans. But crusty bread is perfect with it too. Pasta would work as well. Also, it’s a forgiving recipe. I’ve made it with one onion rather than two, and when I haven’t had a green capsicum on hand I’ve used a zucchini to fine effect, so feel free to mess about with the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me to visit, Cathryn! I always love hanging out with you (whether wine is involved or not).

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A pleasure to host you, Michelle! Your casserole sounds beautiful and just the thing to enjoy with a glass (or two) of Hunter shiraz. Then a nice relax with Reunited By A Baby Secret and a very pleasant evening is to be had.

Okay, food lovers, what would you serve with Michelle’s casserole, or a casserole like it?

I love the idea of crunchy green beans but we do adore our bread and would probably have a nice crusty loaf on the side to mop up all that tasty gravy. What about you? Share away!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

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Hello, food and book lovers, and welcome to another tastebud tingling Friday Feast. This week, one of the hottest authors in Australia, a delicious New Orleans treat, a sexy book that will also win your heart, and a giveaway!

But first, the ongoing saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So even though it is now spring, the winter of my golfing discontent has carried on. I appreciate that I had a little time away from the golf course, but you’d think the Great Golfing God would cut me a bit of slack, wouldn’t you? In particular when I kindly sacrificed 4 (or was it 5?) balls into water hazards to keep the big fella happy, but no. Not only could I barely hit the ball on the fairways, I couldn’t putt either. I had 6 three-putts. SIX! That’s just humiliating. Fortunately, as a golfing Hein I’m used to it, didn’t chuck a tanty and laughed my way round. Only cos it beats crying.

Author Rachael JohnsRachael Johns is one of, if not THE biggest selling rural romance author in Australia. Right from her debut novel Jilted she cemented her place in rural romance stardom and hasn’t looked back, following Jilted with hits like Man Drought, and the much-loved Bunyip Bay series. But as many of you already know, Rachael is talented in more than the rural romance genre. She can write sexy stories too, and her latest is Fire Me Up, book 2 in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series, which also features titles from leading authors Maisey Yates, Megan Crane and Jackie Ashenden.

Take a look at Fire Me Up.

FIRE ME UP

Fire Me Up by Rachael JohnsCan a scorching affair with a bohemian beauty tame a motorcycle man with a dark side? Rachael Johns takes the wheel in the sexy series co-written with Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, and Maisey Yates.

Travis “Cash” Sinclair values only two things from his days with the Deacons of Bourbon Street: his prized Harley Davidson and the man who gave it to him. But now Priest Lombard is gone, and Cash has inherited the Deacons’ clubhouse—not to mentions its unexpected tenant. She’s exactly the type of woman he tries to avoid: all incense and art, with a sharp tongue that promises trouble. So why does Cash want to push aside those flowing skirts and lose himself between her legs?

Billie Taylor fled a bad marriage to start a new life among the grit and glamour of the French Quarter. She refuses to let another man distract her from her dreams, especially an outlaw biker with nothing to offer except hot sex and an eviction notice. Cash is dangerous, with an untamed streak he tries desperately to conceal. He drives Billie wild, sending her too close to the edge for her own good. And she won’t fall under his spell—or into his bed—without a fight.

How hot does that sound? Phew! Fire Me Up can be yours right now with just a clickety-click. Try Amazon.au, Amazon.com, iBooks. Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Now come on a tasty journey with Rachael.

A Taste of New Orleans

Beignets and hot chocolate in New Orleans

Beignets, coffee and hot chocolate at the famous Café du Monde, New Orleans.

Last year I had the absolute joy of attending the Romantic Times readers’ convention in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I’d never been to the convention or New Orleans before and had no real idea of what to expect from either place. Except people kept raving to me about how much I’d LOVE the food. Two things I was told I must absolutely try were “gumbo” and “beignets.”

For the uninitiated like I was here’s the Wikipedia definitions for both:

Gumbo – a stew or soup that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.
Beignet – is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. They can also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough. Commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top.

Well, I had a couple of tries of gumbo and personally couldn’t see the appeal but the moment I put my first beignet into my mouth, I understood what everything was raving about. Although they tasted a little like a donut, they were so much better than donuts. The fried dough melts in your mouth and there is no way to eat them without covering yourself and your clothes in icing sugar dust. I had beignets (on more than one occasion) at the famous Café du Monde, which is open twenty-four hours a day and only sells beignets and drinks. Each time I went the venue was very busy and their hot chocolate was almost as good as their beignets.

Café du Monde at midnight

Café du Monde at midnight

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

So in love with beignets I bought a packet beignet mix from New Orleans to take home, but being a slack cook didn’t get around to trying to make them before it went out of date. However, I recently decided to give them a try from scratch – no packet mix entered the equation. I adapted (halved) a recipe I found online at Food Network and hubby and I had a right laugh trying to recreate the amazing beignets I tasted at Café du Monde.

The first bit was easy and lulled us into a false sense of our own cooking abilities. All we had to do was mix the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for ten minutes. In another bowl, we got busy beating the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Then in ANOTHER bowl, we measured out the flour. Once the yeast mixture had rested, it was time to combine yeast mixture with egg/milk mixture. After that we added half the flour and mixed, then the shortening and then the rest of the flour, until we mixed it into a dough. How much do I love dough?! We kneaded until perfection and then put it in a greased bowl, covered with plastic and left to (hopefully) rise well.

Beignet dough

 

During this time, I walked the dog, read some of the awesome book I’m currently reading (Come Away With Me by Karma Brown) and then checked the dough, which had risen as expected. So far this was one of the easiest things I’d ever made!

And then came the tricky bit. Well, the rolling out wasn’t hard, but working out exactly how thin it needed to be to cook to golden perfection took a little bit of trial and error. We’re lucky that we had a brand new deep fryer someone had given us YEARS ago, so we dragged that out and fired it up. We learnt it takes a long time for oil to heat up in the deep fryer, so had to wait a little bit longer. You could use a deep saucepan instead if you don’t have a fryer. Anyway, I digress.

Rolled out beignet dough

 

Deep frying the beignet dough

In essence making and cooking beignets was easy, but you do need to roll them fairly thin and continue turning them when they are in the hot oil.

Although the recipe told me to fill a plastic bag with icing sugar and toss the (drained on paper towel) beignets in the bag, I chose instead to sift the icing sugar over the top of them, thus dusting them as I’d experienced them at Café de Monde.

Finished home-made beignets

I have to say the result wasn’t too shabby. Even two (out of three) of my very fussy kids declared them “delicious.”

Now, this love affair with beignets didn’t only make it into my kitchen but also into my latest book – FIRE ME UP, which just happens to be set in New Orleans. It’s a little bit different from most of my books – with a little more heat and a few more naughty words, but I hope everyone will fall in love with Travis, Billie and the beignets they devour as much as I did.

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Rach, those beignets sound delicious, if very, very naughty, and your trip to New Orleans for the Romantic Times convention must have been a fantastic experience. Every one I know who’s been to New Orleans has raved about it. One of these days I’ll get there too.

Now, because Rachael is such a faaaaabulous person, she’s offering a special…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a super special, limited edition Deacons of Bourbon Street FIRE ME UP cards answer this question: What place would you like to visit for the food?

Fire Me Up playing cards

That’s easy for me: Greece! Just as well there are lots of things to see and do in Greece. I’d need as much exercise I can get to wear off all the delicious things I plan to eat while there.

What about you? Maybe you want to try an authentic Indian curry? Or perhaps a fair-dinkum Cornish pasty in Cornwall? Simply reveal where you’d like to visit for the food and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, 8th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings Feasty lovelies, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast, coming to you again from the mighty metropolis of Melbourne where I’ve been for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. What a ball we had. I promise to post lots of photos for you when I get home. In the meantime you can enjoy this Friday Feast from me, where I wax lyrical about one of my favourite food destinations.

Cathryn Hein playing golfBut first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Not a lot of golf to talk about thanks to the conference but I did sneak down the Mornington Peninsula for a hit during the week. It was not pretty. The course was playing mean, it was bloody freezing, and I lost to His Majesty after being four shots up. Gah! But while the golf might have been ordinary, the views were good and the miserable day gave us the excuse to snuggle up in an Irish pub afterward with pints of Guinness and some hot, hearty food. There’s always a silver lining!

This week I’m going to feature my debut novel, Promises, which hit shelves almost four years ago to the day, on the 29th August 2011. Such an exciting time!

PROMISES

Promises by Cathryn HeinA father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret. . . and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron’s Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families.

As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

This is such a wonderful book, with feuding families, deep secrets, loads of romance and a whole lot of good feeling. I’m horribly biased of course, but this story is completely sigh-worthy. If you missed Teaser Tuesday this week, there’s a little snippet for your reading pleasure there, plus a another extract on the Promises book page. Or why not just buy the whole book? You know you want to… Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.

All set? Good. Now come enjoy some happy foodie snaps from Mighty Melbournetown!

To Market, To Market!

I’ve never been shy about how much I adore Melbourne. It’s my favourite Australian capital. Melbourne has a great vibe, one of action and excitement, of fantastic food and culture, of interesting architecture and art, and it’s the spiritual home of that most excellent and pervable of sports, Australian Rules Football.

Pasta at Queen Victoria Market

Seafood at Queen Victoria Market

In many ways, it’s the city I grew up with. Mount Gambier, my home town, is almost equidistant between Adelaide and Melbourne. Being South Australian, you’d think we’d gravitate to our own capital for big city experiences but it was Melbourne that we frequented most. I guess simply because it was so much bigger. Or it could be that the road was easier. Driving to Adelaide via the Coorong was, admittedly, scenic but back then the road was pretty ordinary, and the alternative route through the upper south-east not much better, whereas Victoria’s Glenelg Highway and Princes Highway weren’t too bad. But that could be my faulty childhood memory. The older I get the more I find discover how many tricks that can play.

Olives at Queen Victoria Market

Cheese at Queen Victoria Market

I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Melbourne twice. The first time was post-university when I was employed by a pasture seed company that had a depot in Melbourne. The second time was in 2012 when Jim scored a brief posting here. Boy-oh-boy, did we make the most of that year. I think we spent every weekend doing something, whether it was going to the footy, taking a ferry up the Yarra, visiting a museum or gallery, shopping up a storm, or lunching at one of Melbourne’s many great restaurants.

Chicken nibbles at Queen Victoria Market

Offal at Queen Victoria Market

One of my absolute favourite things to do in Melbourne is visit the markets. The South Melbourne Markets were our regular haunt in 2012 but before then it was either Prahran Market or Queen Victoria Market.

Octopus and Cuttlefish at Queen Victoria Market

Chillies at Queen Victoria Market

Visiting Queen Vic late on a Saturday morning back in the 90s was a blast, especially the meat and seafood areas. The butchers and fishmongers would be in a mad scramble to shift stock before closing and if you timed it right you could snag some real bargains. Our favourite was 3 rolled beef seasoned roasts for $10 and trays of crumbed schnitzel for ridiculous prices. It was noisy, crowded and great theatre, and I revelled in it.

Gurnard at Queen Victoria Market

Fruit and Veg at Queen Victoria Market

Fishmonger at Queen Victoria Market

Female pork cuts at Queen Victoria Market

Naturally, being in Melbourne this past week for the RWA conference, I couldn’t miss another trip back to the market. We needed cheese and salumi to munch on and I wanted new ugg boots, and I just like the colour, atmosphere and interesting produce.

Duck eggs at Queen Victoria Market

Duck Breasts at Queen Victoria Market

Deli at Queen Victoria Market

Bread at Queen Victoria Market

What’s your favourite shopping experience? I’d love to hear recommendations, even if it’s not foodie.

While I adore Melbourne’s markets, I have to admit that my best shopping experiences have been overseas. Wandering through the ancient streets of Aix-en-Provence on market days is still one of the most vivid memories of our years in France. There was always something fascinating and the produce stalls were amazing.

What about you? Where can you recommend to shop?

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. You’ll find everything from my book releases to past Friday Feasts and other blog posts. You might even discover some secret things about me. If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere, I’m on Facebook, Twitter as @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. I luuuurve newsletter subscribers and treat them super-special.

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

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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 Cathryn Hein

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Hello food and book lovers, and welcome to another joyous edition of Friday Feast. This week’s guest is me. In fact, lucky devils that you are, you’ll have me for the next few weeks. It’s going to be fun! This week I’m going to share my celebrity crush. And no, it’s not Chris Hemsworth, although he is very tasty. Very, very tasty…

Ehem.

Cathryn Hein golfer!As always, before we get to that you must suffer through Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You may recall my excitement last week about my return to form, but that I was careful to temper that excitement with the knowledge that such good play was unlikely to last. I was right. Two weeks of glory and it’s back to normal. I swear there is a fault in my genes that causes half my problems. I stand over the ball, look at it, think: that ball is too far back in your stance, and instead of walking away like a smart person would, what do I do? I think: nah, it’ll be all right, and hit the bloody thing anyway. Usually straight into a water hazard. If I weren’t so used to it, I’d cry. Oh, well. Such is the Hein golfing life.

As with all Friday Feasts, guest authors get to feature a book and, anal retentive that I am, I like to keep things neat and tidy, which means I’m going to feature my books too. This week, take a gander at my latest release, The Falls.

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 an uplifting story of healing and hope from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland, and Rocking Horse Hill.

This is a heart-warming book about village life and finding happiness when it seems impossible, and you can have it now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.

Now let me tell you aaaaaaaall about my celebrity crush.

For The Love of Rick

My collection of cookbooks is pretty scary-huge. I read cookbooks and cooking magazines for recreation. I like to stroke the pages, gawp at the photos, mull over whether a recipe will actually work, smile at my scribbles in the margins and try to solve food splatter puzzles. One thing I don’t do is get over-excited about the authors themselves. Except for one man.

That man is Rick Stein.

The cover of my copy of Taste of the Sea by Rick SteinMy adoration for all things Rick began back in the 90s with the release of his first television series A Taste of the Sea. As a seafood lover, I adored his celebration the ocean, of fishing, of Cornwall and all the sea’s abundance. I loved what he did with his produce too. Recipes like Skate with Black Butter (which you’ll also find in French Odyssey) and Baked Red Bream and Fennel with Orange and Provencal Herbs seemed very glamorous to me. Naturally I bought the book and though I’ve never made a thing out of it, I still drag it out as comfort read.

Fruits of the Sea followed. Loved the TV series, loved the book. Did I cook out of it? I did. One recipe only: Escalopes of Salmon with Champagne and Chive Sauce. But I have about 8 others marked as to-try.

My copy of Fruits of the Sea by Rick SteinSee, this is my dilemma with Rick’s seafood tomes. I adore seafood. My other half doesn’t. He’s pretty good on shellfish –  prawns, mud crab, bugs and the like – but fish? No. He’ll eat it but it’s under sufferance, which makes cooking fish problematic (although I’ve had pretty good success with Matt Moran’s Black Bream with a Beurre Noisette, probably because it’s so damn tasty).

That hasn’t stopped me buying seafood cookbooks, mind, and dreaming of all the lovely things I could make. Which means, of course, that I couldn’t go past Rick’s Seafood Odyssey when it came out. Nor could I resist the chance to… gasp… meet him in person!

When my girlfriend Carol, who also loves good food, heard Rick would be coming to the Vital Ingredient in South Melbourne to promote his new book, she was on the phone to me straight away. I was living in Newcastle at the time, but distance is nothing when it comes to me and Rick.

He was wonderful, just as erudite and charming as on the telly, and he cooked and fed us recipes from the book. I can still recall the garlicky goodness that was the Chickpea, Parsley and Salt Cod Stew. By the end of the session I was so full I could have rolly-pollyed out. Instead, I stood in line with my precious copy of Seafood Odyssey to have it signed by the man himself. I was so star-struck that when Rick asked me my name so he could make it out personally that I giggled. Not just giggled, but giggled inanely while blushing like a schoolgirl who’d just been smiled at by her teenage crush. Meanwhile, back in the aisles, Carol was being incredibly supportive and wetting her pants with laughter.

Embarrassing, but I don’t care. Rick signed my book!

Me with my personally signed Seafood Odyssey

I didn’t buy the Seafood Lovers or Food Heroes books although I watched the series avidly. I guess I was sick of buying books I didn’t cook anything out of, and I was having trouble finding shelf space. But with the advent of Mediterranean Escapes I was back on the bandwagon. I love that book. LOVE IT. It’s the book I’ve cooked out of most. The Tzatsiki is fab, so is Pollo alla Diavola. Our version of LahmacunHis Lahmacun (like little lamb pizzas) is gobsmackingly tasty and has become a household favourite. We serve it as two big pizzas, eating one while the other is cooking, so Jim and I can enjoy it together. They’re the best recipes so far but I’ve also made the Seared Swordfish Steaks with Salmoriglio, Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds, and Pastitsio, with plenty more I want to try.

I have Far Eastern Odyssey and drag it out quite often for a looksie, but never cooked out of it. Same with India. Probably because I already have loads of Asian and Indian cookbooks, and a collection of tried and true recipes I adore.

My copy of Rick Stein's SpainSpain, on the other hand,  is another treasured book. If there’s one recipe you should make from that one, it’s the Pot-Roasted Chicken with Chorizo, Leeks and Cider. I can’t express how much I love that recipe. The chicken turns out tender, moist and tasty, and the chorizo and vegetable mix is sublime. Plus it’s dead easy. We make it often. I’ve also made the Pork in Almond Sauce. I swear that one day I’ll make the Clams with Garlic and Nut Picada, even if I have to eat the lot myself.

Having lived in France you’d think my favourite book would be French Odyssey, but it’s not. We have the DVD of the series and will happily watch an episode, spending our time joyfully waving fingers at the screen and yelling, Been there! Eaten that! but of the cookbook I’m not so keen. Again, probably because I have an enormous collection of French recipe books already. But if you’re looking for a truly beautiful casserole, try Rick’s Ragoût of Lamb. Magnificent.

My new copy of From Venice to IstanbulNow there’s a new Rick kid on the block. Last week I picked up my copy of From Venice to Istanbul and I can already tell it’s going to give Mediterranean Escapes a major run for its money. I have about fifteen recipes earmarked already and last weekend we made the Lamb Kleftiko (using shoulder instead of leg) and it was beautiful. Next time we’re going to try it on the Weber.

One day I’ll go on pilgrimage to his restaurant, Bannisters, at Mollymook, NSW. I’ve already made the journey to Padstow in Cornwall (or Padstein as the locals have branded it) and eaten at his The Seafood Restaurant there.

Even though it was twelve years ago I still have my souvenired menu, can tell you that our meal cost ₤110, that I ate Linguini with Crab Meat, Chilli, Garlic and Parsley followed by Fillet of Turbot and Jim had Salt and Pepper Squid Tempura with Coriander, Chilli, Watercress and Beansprouts followed by Monkfish Vindaloo, and that, despite booking three months in advance, we were seated in what would probably be classed as the worst table in the restaurant. It was right next to the swing doors into the kitchen and I was as happy as Larry about it because every time that door opened I got to see the chefs at work and every dish that was carried past. Good times! Except for the rain. But we were in Cornwall, so hardly unexpected.

Me at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow

It’d be nice to meet him again. I’d quite like to make up for my stuttering, blushing idiocy from last time and ask him something intelligent like, Can I hug you? But I fear this may never happen. Oh well, I’ll just keep watching my DVDs, reading his books and cooking his recipes. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll put him in a book of my own. Cast him as a noble, poetry-quoting chef hero who falls madly for a freckle-faced horse-mad blonde. Charming fellow that he is, I’m sure Rick would appreciate that.

Wouldn’t he?

*

So ‘fess up, Feasties. Who is your celebrity crush?

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, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news, plus giveaways and more, not to mention secretly blown kisses from me, please sign up to my newsletter. It’s a blast!

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

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?

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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 Lisa Heidke

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Hello, lovely readers, and welcome to another delicious edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing in the snow with one of Australia’s best popular women’s fiction authors, seriously overdosing on sugar, and giving away a book!

But first, the rollercoaster ride that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m on the improve! There are signs of life! I even managed not to dunk my ball straight into the dam off the 15th Author Lisa Heidketee two times in a row. Tis a miracle! It has to be the weather. The days have been glorious here lately and I think it’s tricked my feeble golfing brain into thinking it’s spring and therefore time to play better. Perhaps a dodgy theory but let the sun shine on, I say!

Now to our fab guest. Many of you will know Lisa Heidke from her novels It Started With a Kiss, Stella Makes Good, Claudia’s Big Break, What Kate Did Next and Lucy Springer Gets Even. Lisa’s books cover all the feel-good bases with plenty of love, drama and fun, but most of all they’re entertaining.

Her latest release is The Callahan Split and it looks a cracker.

THE CALLAHAN SPLIT

The Callahan Split by Lisa HeidkeIn tennis, as in life, nothing ever goes truly to plan.

Samantha and Annie Callahan are successful doubles champions — the toast of the Olympics, Wimbledon, and Flushing Meadow. But their winning partnership spirals out of control when Annie’s new boyfriend announces their engagement at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Bear, the sisters’ coach, guides Annie as much as she’ll allow. But when she insists on dropping Samantha in favour of a singles career, her game and rankings plummet.

Samantha is left floundering. Disillusioned, her only sweet spot is the growing passion between her and Bear. Amidst rising anger and betrayal, Samantha completely changes both their destinies when she does the unthinkable after a devastating Wimbledon loss.

The sisters are driven to create new lives by confronting the past and taking control of the present. But can Samantha and Annie both win?

I adore the sound of this book. Clashing tennis sisters? Wheee! I’m sure you’ll love it too. The Callahan Split can be yours with just a few clickety-clicks. Try Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Kobo.

Now prepare thee for a grand slam sugar hit with Lisa!

Christmas in July

I’ve just returned from a magical few days in Leura, NSW, where not only was I celebrating Christmas in July with friends, but it actually snowed!

Yippee. And I have photographic evidence to prove it!

Lisa Heidke in the snow

It was a stroke of luck, really. Even though snow had been predicted, I didn’t believe it.  But indeed it did.

Snow at Leura

After we played in the snow and built some daggy snowmen, we lit the fire and it was time to get down to some Christmas business!

Leura

Lots of champagne, yummy food and way too much dessert.

My contribution was this magnificent Yule Log!

Lisa’s White Christmas Yule Log

(not for the faint hearted)

Lisa Heidke's Yule Log

Ingredients

125g caster sugar, plus extra to dust

3 large eggs

100g plain flour

25g cocoa powder, plus extra to dust

For the filling

300ml double cream, whipped

For the white chocolate fudge icing

110g (4oz) butter

90g (3 1/4oz) 70% white chocolate

425g (14oz) icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

175ml (6fl oz) milk

Extras

Whipped cream

Reindeer Droppings (chocolate drops)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C. (fan 180°C) Line a 33 x 23cm (13 x 9in) Swiss roll tin with nonstick baking paper.

Whisk the sugar and eggs with an electric whisk for 10 minutes, until pale and thick. Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture, plus 1 tbsp of lukewarm water. Fold into the mixture until evenly mixed.

Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes until risen and just firm.

Meanwhile, lay out a clean, damp tea towel. Place a piece of nonstick baking paper larger than the sponge on top and dust with icing sugar. Turn the sponge onto the paper and peel the paper off the base.

Make an incision line about 1cm from one short edge, being careful not to cut through the cake. This will help you start rolling. Use the paper to roll the sponge tightly. Wrap in the tea towel. Allow to cool, then unroll and spread the cake with whipped cream and roll back up again.

To make the icing, melt the white chocolate and butter in the microwave. In a large bowl combine the icing sugar, vanilla and 120ml (4fl oz) of the milk. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Add the remaining milk, a little at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Let the icing stand until spreadable, it will thicken as it cools.

Spread the icing over the Yule log, then whipped cream and sprinkle with reindeer droppings.

Eat, sit back and wait for the sugar coma to hit.

When not gobbling food or playing in the snow, I can be found at my desk or out in the wild promoting my latest book, The Callahan Split, a story about sisters, love, lies and loss.

I loved writing this novel and I really hope readers enjoy reading it. I have 1 print copy to give away.

Do you have a sister? If so, what’s your most memorable experience together? If not, what’s a memorable experience you shared with another family member?

*

Thanks, Lisa. I luuuurve the sound of your cake and the photos are fabulous. What a lovely time you must have had.

So, did you hear that, Feasty people? Lisa is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, a paperback copy of Lisa’s brand new release, The Callahan Split could be yours. All you need to do is reveal your most memorable experience shared with a family member.

Hmm. I’m going to have to think hard on this one because there’s been quite a few, but I did go on a hot air balloon ride in Alice Springs with my brother when he was living there that was pretty cool. The scenery was amazing and the ride so peaceful! I managed three trips to “the Alice” while he lived there so managed to do some wonderful touring around the area. Australia’s red heart is a definite must-see.

So what’s your memorable experience? Share away in the comments and feel-good book joy could be yours!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th August 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @lisaheidke, Goodreads, Instagram, LinkedIn and through her blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cheryl Adnams

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Greetings gorgeous people, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we go a-tippling through one of Australia’s most loved wine regions with a rural romance author who certainly knows – and loves – her stuff.

But first, the hell that is currently Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. The winter of my golfing discontent continues, with no sign of spring. To make matters worse, I have developed a phobia for the 15th, a nasty hole with a dam right in front of the tee that has become a death trap for any ball I hit. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were a large water hazard, but in the context of things it’s a mere puddle. A puddle that, to my ongoing humiliation, I can’t seem to cross. I’m starting to wonder if I just wouldn’t be better skipping the hole all together. Given the balls it’s costing me, it’d certainly be a cheaper option!

Author Cheryl AdnamsEnough of my sooky lamentation, it’s time for our guest, who I promise will be far more entertaining than me.

I’m delighted to welcome Cheryl Adnams for her debut Friday Feast appearance. Cheryl’s a fellow South Australian who, after having lived and worked in the US and Canada, and for a tour company in Europe, now calls Adelaide home. As all good folk do, she has a deep love for South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region and is the perfect setting for her Muller’s Field rural romance series.

The first book in the series is Bet On It. Take a look!

BET ON IT

Bet On It by Cheryl AdnamsA sizzling rural romance set in the McLaren Vale, with a girl who’s ready for a change and the three brothers who are determined to win her over.

Her job is gone and her boyfriend has moved interstate. Gabby is in need of a change of scenery, and the Muller’s Field winery in McLaren Vale might just be the right place. The three Muller brothers who run the winery are dangerously good-looking and Gabby senses they are just as much trouble.

Seth Muller isn’t sure it’s a good idea to make a bet with his brothers on who can seduce Gabby first. But Gabby is too gorgeous and too wonderful to give up without a fight. But what happens when he begins to fall harder than he’s ever done before? Will a silly brotherly bet ruin their chance for love?

Chasing the Flames by Cheryl AdnamsDeep sigh. A rural romance set in a vineyard. Hard to pass that up and you most certainly don’t have to. In fact, Bet On It could be yours with just a few clickety-clicks and while you’re there why not grab book two in the Muller’s Field series, Chasing the Flames. Try those most excellent folk at Booktopia. You can also buy from Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Without further ado – because I know you’re hanging out for a slurp of McLaren Vale deliciousness –  here’s Cheryl.

Plotting the Platter (or as I like to call it – ‘Dinner’)

Thanks for having me over to Friday Feasts Cathryn. I love seeing all the gourmet delights our wonderful Aussie authors share. What a great combo of food and fiction.

Firstly, I would like to say I can cook and I used to love baking as a kid but I live alone so that is just too dangerous on my waistline these days.

What I have become an expert at recently though is cheese platters. Not difficult, I hear you say. But I have learned there is actually an art to pairing the right cheese, crackers, fruits and wine to give you the taste explosion that causes audible ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’.

My Muller’s Field series of books ‘Bet On It’, ‘Chasing the Flames’ and hopefully the soon to be released final installment ‘Handpicked’, are based around a fictional winery in McLaren Vale. The winery is run by three gorgeous brothers and their widower father. Who doesn’t love a sexy wine baron, right? But the three brothers face some obstacles on their way to finding love including tenacious ex-boyfriends, scheming ex-wives, lycra-clad cyclists and deadly bushfires and many other surprises along the way. Intrigued? I hope so.

So in the name of research I dragged myself kicking and screaming (as if) down to McLaren Vale to study all things wine and food in the region so that my hunky wine barons sounded like they actually knew what they were talking about.

A mere 45 minutes from my house, nestled between the sea and the hills, are around 80 cellar doors and a multitude of restaurants and foodie experiences. Naturally I have had to try as many as possible – again, all in the name of research.

So here are a few of my favourite cellar doors and food experiences in McLaren Vale, many of which are mentioned in the Muller’s Field books. And I have provided a list of options to make a cheese platter that is bound to impress at your next dinner party.

Favourite cellar doors in no particular order:

Yangarra Estate Vineyard

Much of my research was done here where I joined the harvest for a day in 2014. I handpicked and foot-stomped Grenache grapes and then a year later returned to bottle and label that wine. The Grenache is drinkable immediately and gorgeous. I can also recommend the Roussane and the GSM.

Picking grapes at Yangarra

Stomping grapes

bottling winePrimo Estate

There is not one wine on the Primo Estate list that I do not love. You can choose from a wide variety of blends made from grapes grown in Italy or you can try the exclusive range of Joseph wines handcrafted in small quantities. Picking a favourite wine at Primo would be like choosing a favourite child, but the La Biondina Colombard is a fresh white for summer and the Merlesco Merlot is unusually served cool. Love the Primo Secco prosecco as well.

Kangarilla Road

I have been a fan of Kangarilla Road wines for years. Again the variety of wines is extensive with all those fabulous names like Primitivo, Terzetto, Montepulciano and my personal favourite the Zinfandel.

For food experiences in the McLaren Vale region you are spoilt for choice. There are still many places on my bucket list but I just keep returning to the following:

1/. The Victory Hotel

Atop Sellicks Hill the hotel has a 180 degree view of sea and vines. The food is sourced locally and is inexpensive. Still the best salt and pepper squid I have ever tasted. If you visit you MUST take a look down in the underground wine cellar. Functions can also be held there. Sitting out on the front lawns of the hotel watching the sunset over the water is a summer must.

2/. Blessed Cheese

The name says it all. Pick up your specially prepared baskets of cheeses, olives, dips, smoked meats and chocolate. Then take a Progressive Picnic following the provided cellar door maps, matching the food to the wine tasting.

There are so many other foodie experiences to choose from. The Star of Greece on the clifftops at Port Willunga, the Willunga Sunday markets, the Fruchoc Shop in the Main Street of McLaren Vale, to name a few.

Now for the platter:

Adelaide Hills Triple cream brie (because if you are going to be bad, be bad x 3)

Quince Paste or Cabernet Paste

Almond Bread brings out the sweetness in the cheese

Nectarine or apple or both adds the health factor but piled on top of the cheese and almond bread makes it a meal in itself

Add a few grapes or dried cranberries and almonds to the side for garnish or eating

Drink with a crisp white wine like a Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard or the Yangarra Estate Roussane or Viogner or go red with the Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese.

Cheese platter with Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard

Photographs credit to Belinda Stevens.

Okay readers in the Comments section below, why don’t you share your favourite food and wine pairing. Eg: Port and dark chocolate or bruschetta and Sauvignon Blanc.

*

Wonderful, Cheryl! I thoroughly enjoyed that and if it weren’t so early in the morning I’d crack a McLaren Vale shiraz and toast your foodie travelogue excellence. Alas, that shall have to wait until later this evening, but it shall be done!

So, foodie lovelies, what’s your favourite food and wine pairing? Personally, I get terribly excited over a glass or two of dry Provencale-style rosé and goat’s cheese. And  most evenings will find us sharing half a square of good quality chocolate with a glass of something red.

What about you? Perhaps a treacly tokay with a luscious dessert is more your go, or an elegant riesling paired with a delicate white fish fillet. Perhaps you don’t drink wine but love nothing more than a cup of tea and a scone. Whatever your tipple, we’d love to hear your favourite pairing.

If you’d like to learn more about Cheryl and her rural romances, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @cadnams

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Ireland

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Hello, Feasty lovelies. I hope today finds you warm and dry and not turned into an icicle. But if you are, never fear because Friday Feast is bound to warm those cockles! This week we venture back to the country with our favourite genre, rural romance. Plus we have a beautiful winter stew recipe and the chance to win a signed copy of our feature book. Read on!

I suppose you want to hear Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news? No? Excellent, because I don’t really feel like discussing it. The only good tiding is that I didn’t finish last in the comp, Author Lisa Irelandalthough I deserved to. Lovely weather though, once the sun came out. Maybe next week I’ll have something positive to say. We can only hope…

Now to the real reason your here: books, food and lovely authors!

This week’s guest is rural romance author Lisa Ireland. Lisa’s debut novel Breaking The Drought was an instant hit. Understandably too. Everyone loves a city girl goes to the country story and having experienced such a move herself, Lisa knows exactly how it feels. Her second novel is Feels Like Home and looks and sounds a stunner. Check it out.

FEELS LIKE HOME

Feels Like Home by Lisa IrelandLisa Ireland, a brilliant new voice in rural romance, invites you to Linden Gully and the wedding of the year… 



When celebrity novelist Johanna Morgan surprises everyone by arriving back in Linden Gully three weeks early for her best friend’s wedding, she’s shocked to find her ex-boyfriend Ryan Galloway is back too and well-integrated in the community as the local vet. 



Jo’s maid-of-honour duties are not the only thing that’s brought her home. The family homestead of Yarrapinga is now her responsibility, and Jo needs to decide whether to keep it – and replace old memories with new ones – or sell it and cut off all ties to her childhood and her home. 



Ryan has brought his young daughter home to Linden Gully to provide stability after the death of her mother. The last thing he needs is Jo’s return, and all of the emotional turmoil that she brings with her. 



Thrown together as attendants at their best friends’ wedding, Jo and Ryan have no choice but to grin and bear all the tension. But it’s not only resentment lingering between them. The attraction is still there, and the heat and the memories. 



They say you can’t come home again, but maybe, for Jo and Ryan, home is not just a place, but a state of the heart.

Doesn’t that sound fun? Wedding stories are great. You can have this one with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Roberston. Or try Fishpond, QBD the Bookshop, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, All Romance eBooks, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Set? Good. Now come get lovely and warm with Lisa.

Take Me Home, Country … Stew

Recently I received an invitation that got me reminiscing about my childhood home. The invitation was from Wyndham City Council, who asked if I’d like to hold the launch of Feels Like Home in their Werribee CBD Library.

I grew up in Werribee. These days it’s a fast growing outer western suburb of Melbourne, but when I was little it was a small country town. There was one main street with all the shops, everybody in town knew each other, and there were as many sheep in the municipality as there were people, if not more.

The idea of going back to my hometown for the launch has brought back many happy memories of my time there. I find myself thinking back to days building cubbies in the paddocks near my house, tadpoling in puddles at the base of the no-longer-existent “Sandy Hills” and of happy times spent at the dining table of my family home.

My father insisted the evening meal was eaten at the dining table every night. The TV was off and we talked about our day. I can remember thinking this was the most tedious thing on earth when I was a teenager, but now looking back, some of my fondest memories involve meals at that table. Now I make my kids sit at the table for dinner each night. I’m sure they’ll thank me for it … eventually!

There are certain foods that take me back to that happy time: Lamb Shank and Pearl Barley Soup (my Nana’s recipe, but Mum always made the nicest version – one that I simply cannot replicate no matter how hard I try!; Pavlova – once again a delicacy that only Mum could make perfectly; and Nana’s Perfect Sponge Cake – I won’t even attempt that one.

But there is one family recipe that I excel at. I am no cook, but this is a recipe that is impossible to mess up. It’s Mum’s Beef and Winter Veggie Stew. Being a fan of simplicity I’ve adapted it to work in my slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

(Serves 4-5)

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

Ingredients:

500 grams diced beef (use a cheap cut – you’re slow cooking it so no need to spend a fortune!

2  – 3 medium carrots sliced

2 medium parsnips sliced

1 small sweet potato diced into 1 cm cubes

Gravy (more on this later!)

Method:

  1. Turn on slow cooker to allow it to warm before adding ingredients.
  2. Add all the vegetables to the low cooker – carrots on the bottom (as these take the longest to cook.)Layering veg in slow cooker
  3. Brown the beef in a frying pan. Add to slow cooker, but reserve the pan juices to use in the gravy (if desired.)Browned beef added to cooker
  4. Make gravy.

You need two cups of thick gravy for this dish. There are endless methods to make gravy so choose whichever method works best for you. Here’s my method:

Mix 3 tablespoons of gravy powder into 2 cups of beef stock. Pour into frying pan containing reserved juices from beef. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until gravy thickens.Making the gravy

  1. Pour gravy over ingredients already added to slow cooker.Stew ready for cooking

Cook for 4 hours on High or 6-7 hours on Low (times may vary depending on your slow cooker.)

Voila! You are done!

Serve with sides of mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

I’d love to hear about your family recipes. What are the dishes that remind you of home? Tell me in the comments for the chance to win a signed copy of Feels Like Home.

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Thanks, Lisa. Slow cooker recipes are beloved by many (especially authors so they can spend more time writing), and this sounds delicious and easy. Not to mention ideal for the woolly weather we’ve been experiencing.

But did you hear that, readers? Lisa is offering you a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, for your chance to win a signed copy of Lisa’s brand spanking new rural romance, Feels Like Home, simply share which dishes remind you of home.

Easy for me. My mum’s pea and ham soup was a winter wonder in our house. Perfect for slurping with buttered toast after a morning spent outside freezing on the hockey field or riding. Mum, bless her, really hated cooking but that soup was special.

What about you? What special dish makes you feel like home? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 21st Juky 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her book, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter using @LisaIreland66.

And while you’re thinking about the dish that reminds you of home, why not have a look at Lisa’s trailer for the book. It’s lovely!

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

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Welcome to another mouth-watering edition of Friday Feast! This week, we’ll be exploring the delights of Belgium with a hugely talented historical author, salivating over a fruit dessert and offering you the chance to win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the new golf bag didn’t work either. I’m still playing like poo and my handicap is going out with every round. The glory days of the start of the year, where a single figure handicap seemed within reach, are now mere wispy memories. I have, it has to be said, descended back into the quagmire of hackerdom and become bogged.

But maybe this is only a winter anomaly? Maybe, come spring, things will change? Surely, if I’ve reached those heights before I can manage it again? There must be hope!

Author Alison StuartTime to move on to the real reason you’re here, because I’m certain it’s not the embarrassment that is my golf game.

Today’s guest is award-winning, cross-genre historical author Alison Stuart. If you haven’t read her novel Gather the Bones, then you’re missing out on a terrific read. I adored that book as did many others, which is why it was a finalist in numerous awards. Reflecting her background in the military and fire service, Alison has a predisposition to men in uniform (don’t we all!) and her latest follows that path.

Take a look at Lord Somerton’s Heir

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR

Lord Somerton's Heir by Alison StuartCan the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Ah, now doesn’t that sounds romantic? It can be yours with just a few clicks. Try Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? That’s the way! Here’s Alison.

It’s Tuesday – It Must Be Belgium

Ah, the culinary delights of travel!

My husband and I have just returned from 6 weeks in the UK and Europe and one of our favourite aspects of travel is food… and beer… and wine. We make a point of eating local food and drinking local brews, wherever possible (a visit to the Champagne region of France was particularly tough!). There were two destinations on our journey when this policy failed us – Copenhagen and Berlin where it seemed that the only eateries around where we were staying were provenders of every world cuisine – except the local. We ate noodles and Thai.

Inevitably our journeying footsteps take us through Brussels. Why? You may well ask. We have rather a soft spot for this quaint little town. My husband had several business trips to Brussels before I made it there so by that time he was well acquainted with the local cuisine and the best places to find it. Of course it helps that the local cuisine is beer and chocolate. We have only just finished the 1kg box of our favourite Corne Port Royale chocolates that we lovingly hauled back with us. When every second shop sells chocolate it pays to know the good ones and you know you’ve been to a city too often when you get annoyed that your favourite shop has moved!

Which brings me to beer. We have two favourite haunts… A La Mort Subite, a beer hall just off the Grande Place with wonderful arched mirrors, murals and brasswork. It opened in 1928 and nothing much has changed since, including the paintwork. In my book GATHER THE BONES, the characters have a brief interlude in Brussels, although, given the circumstances it is doubtful they visited beer halls, but I am sure Paul and Tony would have enjoyed a beer at La Mort Subite and not felt out of place or time. The speciality of LMS is the Lambic White Beer… and it HAS to be eaten with a plate of cheese, salami, gerkins and pickled onions – sprinkled with celery salt and eaten with mustard.

La Mort Subite, Brussels

On to La Becasse, another beer hall, discreetly tucked away and quite hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Here the decor is wooden panelling and brasswork – just wonderful on a cold night. In fact it was rather odd being in Brussels in warm weather… as all my previous trips had been in the cold. It is one place I distinctly prefer a little cold.

A popular haunt of students La Becasse was oddly deserted on our recent trip (exam season  apparently). We spent a pleasant evening working our way through the beer menu. Particular favourites are the Lambic Beer, the fruit beers (particularly the Kriek or cherry beer) and the wheat beers all served in fabulous blue earthenware jugs and accompanied by another plate of cheese, salami and little pickled onions. Who needs dinner?

But if you are on the hunt for real food, the Belgians are best known for their Moules Marinieres (not to be eaten in a month with no ‘R’), their Frites (potato chips) and Goffres (waffles) all served from ‘holes in the wall’ or street carts tucked into corners. Nothing like a warm goffre dripping chocolate on a chilly night while you admire the Mannekin Pis, which has to be world’s most underwhelming statue.

We only had one full day and we occupied that fully in a day trip to visit Waterloo, on a stuffy local bus. We missed the bicentennial of the battle by a week. I won’t bore you with that here – you can read about it on my own blog, but in recognition of this important battle, my ‘Waterloo Story’, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is on sale on Amazon and iBooks for this week at only .99c and I am also running a contest to win some Waterloo memorabilia. You can enter via Rafflecopter through this link… Click HERE to enter.

Author Alison Stuart at Waterloo

And now to my recipe… which is not, as far as I know, Belgian, but is a family favourite passed on to me by a dear friend when I got married (origin unknown).

NECTARINE NUT KUCHEN

(serves 8)

PASTRY

I cup (125g) plain flour

2 TBLSP castor sugar

30g finely ground almonds

60g butter

1 large egg

Grated rind 1 lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Place flour and castor sugar with the almonds into a bowl. Add butter cut into small pieces and either process for a moment until crumbly or mix, using your fingertips.

Add the egg lemon rind and vanilla essence and mix until it binds together.

Remove and wrap well then chill for 30 minutes. Roll pastry out between some waxed paper or on a lightly floured board. Press into a tin (with removable base) or a form tin or a quiche tin, approx 20”. Butter the tin lightly on the base and sides. Having pressed the pastry into the tin, chill while preparing the fruit and topping.

FILLING

500g firm ripe nectarines or plums

1tblsp lemon juice

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut the fruit into segments, removing the stone from each one. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the fruit is coated.

Place into the crust, pressing down lightly with a spoon to slightly flatten the top without crushing the fruit.

TOPPING

45g ground almonds

2 tblsp sugar

1 tblsp brown sugar

30g unsalted butter

Mix the almonds with both sugars. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork. The topping should be quite moist. Scatter this evenly over the top of the fruit.

Place in a moderate oven and cook for about 35-40 mins until pastry is golden and fruit is tender. Remove from oven, stand for 5 mins then cut into wedges and serve warm with cream.

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That sounds absolutely delicious, Alison! Anything with fruit in it is a house favourite and I adore being able to take advantage of a season’s abundance. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Did you read, Feasties? Alison is running a…

GIVEAWAY!

And it’s a really super-simple one too. No commenting – although we would love if you did – just a quick click then choose how many times you want to enter!

Visit Alison’s Rafflecopter giveaway today. Go on! You could win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia, including a reproduction of The Times with Wellington’s Waterloo despatch, a Wellington keyring, a Napoleon bookmark and other goodies.

ALISON STUART (1)

If you’d like to learn more about Alison and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AlisonStuart14 and her blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.