Tag Archives: Fruit recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

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

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

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

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

IF I KISSED YOU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Simple Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s that recipe, two ways.

Nell’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto

Fig, Prosciutto, Mint

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, my cute little Feasty bunnies! Welcome to this Easter edition of Friday Feast. This week, you’re blessed with ME! And I have something deliciously sweet and naughty to share too. Oh, and a suuuuper giveaway.

But first, the ongoing debacle that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You know how last week I said that the only way is up? Erm, no. Apparently things can get worse. Horribly, embarrassingly worse. I came last in the ladies comp. Last. Now, we ladies also have this extra competition where the winner of the previous monthly medal has to donate an encouragement Author Cathryn Heinprize to be given to the following month’s bottom dweller. Yes, I won my own bloody prize back. Oh, the ignominy!

Sigh.

Anyway, onto more positive things.

There are only nineteen sleeps until my next rural romance The Falls releases. That’s close. Which means you should all have your itchy clicking fingers hitting those pre-order buttons now. Cos this book has a seriously babelicious blacksmith in it. And a nutty ram. And other really, really cool stuff that you won’t want to miss.

Take a looksie…

THE FALLS

Will 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 Cover of The Falls by Cathryn Heinentire 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.

Exciting, n’est-ce pas?  Which means you should order it right now. And if you do so from those excellent folk at Booktopia, you’ll score a signed copy. But be quick on that one. I’m off to sign copies of The Falls at their warehouse next week and if you don’t have yours secured, you might miss out. And we wouldn’t want that!

You can also pre-order The Falls from Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your favourite store.

All lined up? Then come and get sweet with me!

A Spoonful of Sugar…

One of the most darling characters in The Falls is the heroine Teagan’s Aunt Vanessa. As Teagan describes her, Ness…

…dressed and acted like an Italian film siren, albeit with dark-red hair and pale, Celtic skin. She liked good food, wine and cocktails, enjoyed foreign films, spoke French and Italian, was rarely seen without makeup, and dressed in ultra feminine clothes. She was also a double divorcee whose mysterious past in Europe made Teagan’s mother’s lips purse in disapproval at any mention of the subject. Which had naturally left a teenage Teagan completely in awe of her aunt and her exotic life.”

Ness is, in other words, extremely attractive, clever, generous and enormous fun. With the exception of a few jealous wives, The Falls locals adore her and Ness adores The Falls in return. She’s also very kind, so when Teagan arrives at Falls Farm not in the best of condition, Vanessa’s immediate reaction is to help.  And one of her favourite ways to do that – besides offering up one of her excellent cocktails – is with food.

Ness tempts Teagan with all sorts of goodies, from antipasto, breads and dips, to treats from the local bakery. So frustrated by Teagan’s lack of enthusiasm for food, and unable to take up local vet and close friend Bunny James’s offer to inject Teagan with a dose of steroids to increase her appetite, Ness cooks the naughtiest things she can think of. Including the following orange and poppy seed syrup cupcakes which are loaded with enough sugar to “give an elephant diabetes”.

Sweet and sticky, these babies are good. And gluten-free. Even Teagan liked them!

Orange & Poppyseed Syrup Cakes

Orange and poppy seed syrup cakes

Makes approximately 10 small patty cakes

1 medium navel orange. Choose one as blemish free as possible with good orange skin.

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon milk

3 eggs

70g caster sugar

150g almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

Syrup

125ml fresh orange juice

55g caster sugar

Place orange in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat (lid on). Keeping a good roll to the water, simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Top up with more boiling water if necessary to keep the orange covered. Remove the orange from the water and process it whole in a food processor until smooth. Allow to cool a while.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Line ten holes of a 12-hole muffin tray with patty cake cases. Combine the poppy seeds and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer and large bowl, beat the eggs until pale and creamy. Gradually add the 70g of caster sugar and continue to beat until thick. Gently fold in the almond meal, baking powder, orange puree and poppy seed mixture until just combined. Pour into prepared patty cake cases.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden. Leave cakes in the tray ready for the syrup. They need to be still hot for best take-up of the syrup.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Simmer 3 minutes or until the syrup reduces slightly.

Pierce each of the cakes several times with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave cakes in the pan to set a little before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat and wait for the sugar high.

These types of cakes keep really well but I tend to freeze mine and take them out one at a time, or when needed.

Now, because I’m all excited about the upcoming release of The Falls and I know you are too –  oh yes, you are! –  I think we should have a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Falls, answer me this: What is your favourite sugar high?

Is it fairy floss or chocolate? Or maybe you get yours from an overdose of pineapple or another super-sweet fruit. Perhaps you don’t like anything sugary, in which case just say you prefer a hunk of cheese or something. The main thing is to share!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST Wednesday, 8th April 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

I’ve left this giveaway open a little longer than usual so all you lovelies who went off camping for the weekend won’t miss your chance to enter.

If you’d like to learn more about The Falls or any of my previous releases, check out my books page on this site. And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+Goodreads, and now on Pinterest! Plus sign up to my newsletter to be the first to hear all the news, receive exclusive content, enter special giveaways and more.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jenny Wallis who has won a signed copy of THE FALLS. Rah!
Thanks to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun and shared all your sugar highs. As always there were some amaaaazing suggestions. 

FRIDAY FEAST with D.B. Tait

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Welcome to another round of total deliciousness that is Friday Feast. This week: crimes, passion(fruit) and a giveaway!

But first, the segment formerly known as Us Heins Weren’t Mean To Play Golf. I say formerly because in a miracle moment, caused by who knows what, I played an absolute blinder. And when I say blinder, I mean smacking it like an ‘A’ grader blinder. It was, dare I say, a fiiiine thing. Perhaps a little too fine because that burst of unprecedented form cost me two whole strokes off my handicap. Expect a giant crash next week as I panic trying to play to it. Sigh.

Never mind. Off we trip to much more exciting things.

Author DB TaitI’m thrilled to bits to be introducing you to a brand spanking new author this week. Well, not completely brand new, because this author has appeared on Friday Feast in the guise of her alter ego Keziah Hill.

But that doesn’t make me any less delighted to introduce you to Australian crime author DB Tait. A lady who not only writes wonderfully, but really knows her stuff thanks to a long career working in the criminal justice system. DB now lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where works part time in the community sector and writes super-exciting crime novels.

DB’s upcoming release is Cold Deception. Take a look.

COLD DECEPTION

Cover of Cold Deception by DB TaitSecrets, lies, deception. That’s what it takes to stay alive.

At 20, Julia Taylor went to prison for murdering a man who deserved it. Ten years later, she’s ready to put the past behind her and get on with her life. But someone won’t let her.

Someone will do anything to drive Julia away, including murder.

As the body count rises, Julia is forced to accept the help of Dylan Andrews, a cop with dark secrets of his own. Unfortunately help has a cost. Dylan is digging into Julia’s past, uncovering secrets she is desperate to keep.

Julia must keep Dylan at a distance, or else risk her own safety, and the safety of everyone she loves…

What a ride that sounds! I’m really looking forward to reading this one and already have it pre-ordered. You can do the same. Simply clickety-click over to Amazon, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, or your favourite ebook retailer and add it to your list. Come March 12th it’ll then be all secure on your ereader, tablet, phone or computer. Too easy!

Set? Excellent. Now please give a big Feasty welcome to DB Tait!

Mood Food

Cathryn bellisima! Thank you for having me!

Food is definitely a passion of mine. I like to eat. I’m not a bad cook, but I definitely prefer to eat. Which for a writer is a bit of a disaster, especially if exercise consists of crossing the lounge room to look up a reference book or going out to check the mail.

Food is also comfort for me, which of course all sensible dietary advice tells us is bad. Bad. Very bad. Nevertheless, I am shameless when it comes to wanting food to lift my mood. I often wonder what life would be like without the pleasure of chocolate, the tangy rush of lemon or the nutty, earthy taste of garlic. I am fortunate to be able to indulge my love of mood altering food in my kitchen whenever I want.

That’s not the case with some women. If you are unfortunate to end up in prison, like my heroine Julia, food is something that other people control. Which is why most people in prison become obsessed with food. Correctional administrators know that food is vital in the ongoing stability of prison life. As you can imagine, it’s basic and can be pretty terrible. Inmates can buy extra food if they have the money, but no juices, citrus fruit or sugar, only artificial sweeteners. That’s because alcohol can be fermented from citrus and sugar.

However, by the time a prisoner gets to minimum security and can see release is getting closer, food can improve, mainly because in some jails, it’s easier for inmates to make their own food. For women in jail, a favourite dessert was making caramel from boiled condensed milk. Comfort food par excellence.

Rather than boiling condensed milk, which I’m always a bit nervous about, I make a passionfruit slice (which my friend Kandy Shepherd is particularly fond of).

Sometimes when I make this slice I remember some of the women I met when I worked in the jail system and hope they’re out, crime and drug free and cooking with sugar and citrus in their own kitchens, like Julia.

This recipe is straight from taste.com.au

Passionfruit Slice

Passionfruit slice

Melted butter, to grease

150g (1 cup) self-raising flour

85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

100g butter, melted

1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk

125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 long sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

Use a wooden spoon to combine the flour, coconut, sugar and butter in a bowl. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Transfer to the prepared pan. Use a metal spoon to press firmly over the base. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C. Mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp in a large bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour into the pan and spread evenly over the base. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until just firm to the touch. Set aside to cool completely. I like drizzling some more passionfruit pulp on top. Cut into squares to serve.

 

What a blast from the past! I remember having this as a kid at Pony Club when all the mums would bring a plate for afternoon tea. There were some serious plates on offer too. I bet this recipe would be right at home. Mind you, anything with condensed milk in it…

Thanks so much for sharing, DB. And for telling us about food in the correctional services. Very educational.

Now, as you know, Friday Feast guests are very generous souls, and DB is no exception, which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could be the lucky winner of an ebook copy of DB’s exciting crime novel, Cold Deception. But as always, you must work for it. This time we want to know your favourite mood food.

What puts you in a happy mood, or even a bad one? Or perhaps a sexy one…

The food guaranteed to make me one happy little Vegemite is a fresh rice noodle dish that I make. It’s made with chilli bean paste and seriously cannot get enough of it. Every time I eat it, it’s like the world has turned marvellous. And hot. It’s a bit spicy, that dish. I’ve also been known to get hot and bothered over a big bowl of beautiful cherries but that’s another tale…

My other half swears that vegetarian meals ruin his day. I just have to think “meatless dinner” and he’s condemned.

What about you? What food changes your mood, for the better or worse?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 3rd March 2015. Ebook only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of DB Tait’s new crime novel, Cold Deception. Thanks to all who joined in the mouthwatering fun. 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Ros Baxter

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Greetings Feasty lovelies, and welcome to the final Friday Feast of the year! Yes, I know, it’s very sad but a girl needs a break and never fear, Friday Feast will return at the end of January for another year of fabulous authors and foodie tales.

This week we’re featuring sexy science fiction and Christmas mocktails but first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You are not going to believe this, but last Friday I won the Ros Baxter romance authorladies Christmas party competition. Wonders never cease! It was back to normal on the weekend though with the usual stuffuppery, but I’ll take whatever fleeting glory I can.

Now to our most excellent guest. Please give a big cheer to Australian romance author Ros Baxter who is making her Friday Feast debut today. Ros is a Brisbane girl who writes across genres, from sci-fi and fantasy to contemporary. Her stories are loaded with feisty heroines, quirky families and heroes to sigh over.

Ros’s latest release is The Seek, the first in her New Earth sci-fi romance series. Take a look…

THE SEEK

The Seek by Ros BaxterWhen everything else is gone, all that’s left is blood.  And hope.

The year is 2098, and the people of New Earth have been homeless for seventeen years.

Ruled by a mysterious Council, and adrift in a fleet of space stations, their sole mission is to survive long enough to find a new home. They call it The Seek.

Kyntura is the first and only female Avenger – one of the secret, separate elite who stand on the frontline between the refugees of Earth and a universe that would do them harm. For Kyn, fight and pain are the only things that drive out memories of the Apocalypse, and of the boy she left behind when she enlisted.

But a young recruit called Mirren and a deadly mission will bring her face to face with all she has tried to forget.

As she leads a squad of Avengers in The Seek, Kyntura must face her demons, join forces with the boy whose heart she broke a decade before, and confront the truth about New Earth.

Now that’s sounds exciting! Perfect for holiday reading. The Seek is available right now from Booktopia, Angus & RobertsonKobo,  iBooks, Google Play, amazon.com, amazon.au, amazon.uk, JB Hi-Fi, Nook, Bookworld or your favourite ebook retailer.

All loaded up? Most excellent. Please give a festive welcome to Ros…

Cheeky Mocktails

So, I’m more than a little intimidated being on Cathryn’s food blog, given that I consider myself a bit of a food faker (my sister calls it food assembler – that is, you take pre-made stuff and arrange it artfully).  But I’m also excited to be here too because, after all, who hasn’t faked something? Thanks for having me Cathryn.

Right now I’m in a bit of a bind, food-wise.  School holidays have just begun, and so I should be mining my repertoire of kiddy recipes, but my head is all full of less than g-rated food thinking, as a result of scenes like this from The Seek.

Finally, they stopped and he positioned himself behind her again. ‘Are you ready?’ His voice was deep and growly behind her and she had that sense again — that he had gone and turned into a man when she wasn’t looking.

‘Ready,’ she said, feeling her tummy contract. She really didn’t like surprises.

He gently lifted the blindfold, and when it was gone Kyn saw what he had done. They were somewhere on the ship, she could see that, but she had no idea where. A massive perspete viewing window dominated her vision, and laid out before it was some kind of deep space picnic. A largish square of what looked like grass took pride of place.

He saw her staring at it. ‘Tabi helped.’ He shrugged. ‘Trainee explorers get access to the specimens. It’s real; feel it.’

She knelt down and touched the grass, and he was right. It was cool and slightly damp. He shrugged again. ‘I wanted it to have that after-rain smell,’ he said.

On the grass a picnic rug was laid — red checks and all. And a meal — the usual, processed fare with some crackers, and…Kyn’s breath caught. ‘Dom Perignon?’

‘Hey,’ he said, smiling broadly at her. ‘You only turn eighteen once.’

‘But where..?’

He put a finger to his lips. ‘I have my sources.’

He motioned for her to sit, and she did. Then he reached into a small basket in the very centre and pulled out a brightly wrapped box. ‘For you, Kyntura,’ he said, and the way he was looking at her and the sound of his voice told her he wasn’t thinking of her as his best friend, not even maybe his friend. Something else entirely.

She opened the gift speechlessly. ‘It’s an orange,’ he said, as she stared at the thing inside. ‘Tabi’s worked out how to grow them, from some DNA she found.’

Kyn held it up — it was bright orange perfection, its dimpled skin a promise of summer sweetness.

‘Symon,’ she said slowly, turning the thing around in the dim light. ‘You are so sweet.’

‘No, I’m not, Chickita,’ he said, leaning forward and capturing her mouth in his. He drew back a little. ‘I’m not sweet at all. In fact, lately, every time I look at you, I feel far, far from sweet.’ His mouth pressed hard against hers, and his lips were warm and firm and hard and soft. His tongue pushed inside her mouth, lighting a fire in Kyn’s belly and making her moan a little, low in her throat.

‘Me too,’ she said, wondering vaguely why it didn’t even occur to her to play it cool.

She tried hard to remind herself that she was going tomorrow, that she should not be doing this, that she should be doing anything but this. But he was kissing her and winding his hands in her hair and she couldn’t think.

She could only act.

Symon pushed her down onto the rug and feathered kisses over her face, her neck and her ears. He whispered to her of the desire he had for her, how it had been growing, how he had wanted tonight to be so special, but it had been so hard to keep himself from kissing her that he’d had to stay away.

Neither of them were in any mood to take it slow. Symon was fumbling with her top as she tore at his. In seconds, he was naked beside her and she marvelled at the beauty of him. She had seen him naked when they’d been kids, but not for a long time, she realised. Her eyes slid to his sex and widened. Not for a long, long time.

He dispensed with her top in seconds and his head lowered to her breasts. ‘Oh, Kyntura,’ he breathed. ‘You are so perfect.’

And she felt it.

Except for the fact that she knew she should be telling him tomorrow she would leave, and never come back. She would be an Avenger. But she couldn’t — it would blow the lid off everything.

And Pietr.

Pietr would never forgive her.

She knew it was bad, knew it was so, so wrong but she just wanted to have this, take it, just this one little thing.

When he took her, it was like a piece of her that had been missing for seven years found its way home. Like she remembered who she was. This girl. This girl, capable of love and warmth, and having something beautiful. She opened herself to him willingly and wholly. She held the side of his face as he pushed into her, trying to imprint the outline of him on her brain.

Her Symon.

Her man.

Her first love.

Sigh.  I love those two.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, kids and Christmas and school holidays.  Enough to drive any of us to drink, which is maybe why when I was thinking about which recipe to share I decided on this one, because it’s a sad fact that when you’re sharing a festive drink with friends or family, and your kids see you with those colourful, saucy-looking cocktails, they’re going to want one too.

I developed this mocktail recipe to assuage their appetite for “pretty” drinks while ensuring I keep the Social Services wolf from the door.

The only thing you really need for this is frozen banana – but I recommend you always keep a few frozen bananas in the freezer anyway.  They’re like WD40 – you can use them for everything. Use those ones that are kind of at the end of the bunch and the kids have lost interest in.  Freeze them in ziplock bags and use them for smoothies and banana bread. Or….cheeky mocktails. The beauty of using frozen banana is that you don’t need ice-cream – they kind of ice-creamify once blended.

Christmas Baby Mocktails

What do you need?

Two frozen bananas (see note above)

Two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt

Two teaspoons of honey

A sploodge (technical term) of vanilla (essence/extra/pod-scrapings/whatever)

100mls of coconut milk

A splash of whatever milk your family rocks with

A teaspoon of coconut shavings

A couple of squares of dark chocolate

A cocktail umbrella

kidsWhat do you need to do?

Tell all the children having a mocktail to go and change into their swimmers and grab a beach towel.

Here’s a pic of two of my little budding Olympians eyeing off Emily Seebohm’s medal.

Stick all ingredients except chocolate and coconut shavings in the blender, whir it up til its smoothie consistency – add more banana, yoghurt or milk depending on preferred thickness .

Pour the mocktail into a tall, shapely glass.

Grate the chocolate and sprinkle it over the top.

Sprinkle coconut shavings on the top also.

AND (this bit is very important) add the umbrella (otherwise they might feel ripped off and try to taste yours, which you really, really don’t want them to do if you are as heavy-handed with the Christmas cocktails as I am!

Tell the children to go outside and lie on their beach towels with their mocktails – double bonus points if there’s a pool for them to lie besides.  Otherwise, that’s what kids have imaginations for.

Ros Baxter saying cheersCheers!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and remember to eat at least as much as you drink (rumballs don’t count) and never sit on a strange man’s lap even if he claims to be Santa Claus (we’ve all been fooled by that one).

Another key Christmas food survival tip I’ve learned is to use the slow cooker so you can make meals at breakfast-time and enjoy the rest of the day with your loved ones.  Otherwise, hire a caterer, bribe the kids to pass around platters, get drunk and boss your husband around. Happy holidays!

 

Great tips there, Ros. As for those mocktails, a dash of something naughty for us adults and this could easily be converted into a grown-ups drink. A healthy one too, with all that fruit. These things are important…

So, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite cocktail or mocktail? I must admit that I’m not much of a cocktail girl but I am partial to a nice caprioska or mai tai. Very refreshing when it’s hot. So what about you?  Any ideas for some Christmas indulgences would be greatly appreciated. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings, Feasty lovelies, and welcome to another tastebud tantalising edition of Friday Feast. This week: rocking on with a bargain priced Rocking Horse Hill, getting stoned with fruit (well, maybe not high but certainly very happy), and a book giveaway you will luuuurve.

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m on the improve, oh yes I am. And I can Cathryn ready to golfprove it because I only hit ONE ball into a dam on the weekend… I think. It’s entirely possible I blocked memory of the others. All this ball loss does get traumatic at times. Not to mention expensive.

But onto some Feasty goodness. This week you have ME as the guest and I have a treat for you too. A few of them, in fact.

Now, in case you haven’t heard, the ebook of my fourth rural romance Rocking Horse Hill is currently on sale for only $4-99 across all platforms. A saving of eight dollars of the normal retail price. How’s that for a bargain? And it’s a great read, if I do say so myself!

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Like the sound of that? Then grab it now at a rocking price. Try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi. Prefer the smell and feel of paper, then clickety-click on over to Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. Or why not pop into your favourite local bookshop or chain store?

Stocked up? Excellent. You can now come and get stoned with me.

Ahem.

Summer Lovin’

Today I made my first cherry purchase of the season.

What? Not impressed? Huh. Fine. I know this may not sound much to you, but it matters bigtime to me. You see, I don’t just love cherries, I worship them. They are by far my favourite fruit. Come cherry season I cannot stuff enough of those babies into my mouth.

I like the way they burst. I like the intensity of their flavour. I like that funny sensation I get when my front teeth pierce the skin. I like how they colour my fingers all pink. I like how you can be munching through a bowl, thinking how delicious they are, and then suddenly get one whose sweet amazingness outshines all the others and makes your brain go all bright like it’s been filled with sunshine. I like how deeply, almost sexily red they are. I like to stroke them…

*cough*

Sorry, but I did say that I worshipped them.

Anyway, today I scored my first batch of new season cherries and I had plans for these things. Cooking type plans. I was going to turn those plump little morsels into a beautiful French dessert. Until I ate one…. um, okay, I ate many. Then I thought: Why waste my darlings on a dessert when I can scoff them pure and whole, the way nature intended?

So I turned to summer’s third best stone fruit, the humble apricot (the second being nectarines). Now normally it’s hard to go past a beautifully blushed apricot but when there are cherries being all Eat me! Eat Me! it’s easy. I mean, apricots  are all demure peachy blush while cherries are vibrant and siren-like. If cherries were a man they’d be… I dunno. Think of someone dark ‘n hot ‘n dangerous maybe. Someone sultry and sexy, with smooth skin and taut muscles and long lashes and brown come-hither eyes.

Washed new season cherries and apricots

But I digress… cherries kind of have that effect.

Because this Feast is about Rocking Horse Hill, and with the heroine Emily Wallace-Jones being such a wonderful cook and gardener, I needed a recipe that she would make and share with friends and family. She’s a seasonal girl, our Em. She likes to let nature dictate what’s on the menu. And in summer, with her orchard in full production, you can bet she’d be inundated with stone fruit.

I think – no, I know cos she is, after all, my invention – that a lovely French clafoutis would be exactly the dish she would cook.

Have you ever had a clafoutis? It’s one of the world’s easiest desserts to make and one whose success relies almost entirely on the quality of the fruit used. So choose that fruit wisely. You can use anything really, but beautifully ripe stone fruit always works well. Cherries are traditional but I just couldn’t bring myself to cook my precious batch. So apricots it is. I can sacrifice them.

This recipe has been adapted from the clafoutis recipe in Bien Cuisiner du marché à votre table by Marie-Claude Bisson, a lovely big fat 800 recipe cookbook that’s well worth buying if you love French family food and don’t mind a bit of translating. Some recipes I’ve seen call for almond flour and whatnot but that sounds far too heavy. This clafoutis produces a silky light custard with the fruit juices running through. It’s easy and beautiful and very moreish.

Apricot Clafoutis

The baked apricot clafoutis served with a drizzle of cream.

Ingredients

4 eggs

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

80g plain flour

60g butter

250ml milk (or use 125ml cream and 125ml milk for a richer result – but straight milk works fine)

500g apricots or the fruit of your choice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C.

If using smaller fruit like cherries, stone and keep whole (there’s a special depipping gadget for this – or you can halve them, whatever you like). For larger fruit, remove the stone and cut in half and place in a ceramic dish cut side down (or up, if you prefer that look).

Beat the eggs, salt, vanilla and sugar until pale and creamy.

Sift the flour nice and high over the egg mixture and fold in. Melt 30g of the butter and gently stir that into the egg mixture along with the milk. The mix will be quite liquid but airy.

Pour over the fruit. Dot with remaining butter. Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the shallowness of your dish, your oven’s temperament, the alignment of the stars etc etc. Remove and sprinkle with extra sugar while it’s still hot.

Serve with cream and smiiiiile at all that summer goodness.

Serves 6.

 

Doesn’t that sound easy and delicious? Believe me, it is.

And because this post is about Rocking Horse Hill being bargain priced and not just my cherry obsession, I think we should celebrate the fact with a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win a pretty purple paperback copy of Rocking Horse Hill, signed to you or whomever you like in case you want to give it away as a present (now there’s a Christmas gift idea for the reader in your circle). But as always you have to work to be in the draw, oh yes you do!

I want to know your favourite summer fruit and how you like to prepare and eat it. Naturally, there will be bonus points for anything involving cherries.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 18th November 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, then take a leisurely stroll around my website. While you’re there, sign up to my newsletter which delivers all my book news direct to your inbox along with exclusive goodies and giveaways. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter using @CathrynHein.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Maria who has won a signed copy of Rocking Horse Hill. Thanks to everyone for joining in the fun. Lots of fruity ideas! 

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

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Welcome, welcome to another truly splendiferous Friday Feast. This week: get down and dusty with a duchess, cop these pears, and a rural romance giveaway!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite a rather lacklustre performance last weekend in round two of the club championships, I’m still running fourth. A great surprise, believe me. But with two rounds still to play and TWENTY-FIVE strokes to make up before I even come close to the leader, there’s not much chance of a podium finish. Still, in the world of golf anything could happen. The Great Golfing God may shine on me, the leader might get the yips, and pigs might fly. Stay tuned for a miracle. Or not.Author Louise Reynolds

I’m thrilled to host contemporary romance author Louise Reynolds this week because not only is she a truly lovely lady who writes wonderful rural stories, she’s also a dedicated foodie. The best of people! Louise’s previous novel Outback Bride was a delight, the story stretching between Melbourne and dusty Jindaburra and featuring a lizard race and even a pony. With her new release, Red Dirt Duchess, she’s gone even further afield, mixing English society with the red soil of outback Australia.

Check it out…

RED DIRT DUCHESS

Cover of Red Dirt Duchess by Louise ReynoldsWhen English society playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley is sent to outback Australia after a disastrous affair with his editor, all he wants is to take a few pictures, do a quick interview and get back to his usual life of luxury as soon as possible. Until he meets his host, the irresistible Charlie Hughes, and suddenly the back of beyond is a lot more appealing.

Running the pub is a labour of love for Charlie and she has no desire to ever leave the tiny town of Bindundilly. That is, until Jon discovers an old painting that raises questions about both their lives. Charlie impulsively decides to follow him to London, and as the feelings between them begin to deepen, she starts to wonder if there’s more to life than the pub. But at Jon’s family home, the magnificent Hartley Hall, they become acutely aware of the differences between them, and it soon seems clear they have no future together – especially if Jon’s mother has her way.

Family and tradition threaten the course of true love in this warm and witty novel from the author of Outback Bride and Her Italian Aristocrat.

Doesn’t that sound fun? Red Dirt Duchess is available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, direct from the publisher Destiny Romance, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now that you’re loaded up with some great Aussie reading, help yourself to the deliciousness that is Louise!

A Fine Pear!

Thanks for having me back on Friday Feast, Cathryn!

One of my favourite things to cook with is pears. This humble, cheap ingredient is incredibly versatile. It turns up in numerous salads, sits proudly on a cheeseboard and has a natural sweetness that works well with so many things from walnuts to pork and duck.

Pears also have a porous flesh which takes up colour beautifully. For many years one of my go to winter desserts has been Marcella Hazan’s Pears Braised in Red Wine and Bay Leaves, where long cooking results in deep ruby coloured pears and a dense delicious syrup. More lately, I’ve been making Saffron Pears.

I could riff endlessly on this recipe. A little amaretti biscuit on the side and a splash of amaretto on the pear at serving time gives it an Italian edge. Strew some pomegranate seeds around the dish and it’s suddenly a vibrant Middle Eastern feast for the eyes. A pool of Crème Anglaise drags it firmly back towards the English Channel.

It’s dead easy and very delicious. If you use good quality saffron your pears will be the colour of a Buddhist’s robes.

Marieke’s Saffron Pears

(recipe Marieke Brugman via Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion).

Saffron Poached PearsIngredients:

6 firm Beurre Bosc pears with stalk attached.

2 cups white wine

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

½ teaspoon saffron threads

Chopped green pistachios

Method:

Dissolve sugar in the water and wine over med heat. Add vanilla bean.

Saffron Pears CookingPeel the pears leaving stalk attached and cut a slice off the bottom so they will sit upright when serving. Add pears to the syrup with the saffron.

Cook at a bare murmur for about one and a half hours. The saffron will give off its colour and aroma and gradually turn the pears a stunning saffron gold. Turn them over every so often as they bob around in the syrup. Cool in the syrup.

 

Oh, I ADORE poached pears, Louise, so this sounds perfect. Simple to prepare and glamorous on the plate too. Now there’s a dessert to impress cook and guests alike.

Now, my darling Feasties, because Louise is so lovely and wants to spread her warm Australian stories far and wide, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win yourself a Kindle ebook copy of Red Dirt Duchess, just by answering a super simple question.

What is your favourite fruit recipe?

Could it be another simple dessert like stewed prunes or a humble apple crumble? Perhaps it’s a recipe for mango fool or a traditional cherry clafoutis. Whatever your favourite, share in the comments and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a Kindle ebook copy of Red Dirt Duchess.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 28th October 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Louise and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @LouiseHReynolds, Facebook and her blog (which also features fab foodie series, Cooking the Books).

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Cath who has won a Kindle copy of Red Dirt Duchess. What a ball she’s going to have with that! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun. You all made me so hungry!!

FRIDAY FEAST with Melanie Scott

33 Replies

Oh, we have special treat on Friday Feast today. A brilliant book, a super giveaway and a recipe that was so mouth-watering I had to whip it up as soon as I saw it.

But more on that shortly because I just know you’re hanging out for Sydney Swans news. After a most excellent win on the weekend, only a tiny percentage separates us from those pesky (pecky?) Hawks at the top of the ladder. Give it time. We can still overtake them and win Author Melanie Scottthat coveted spot. I have faith!

Sadly, there is no Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news because I was too busy hangin’ with my tribe at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, which was brilliant even if I still haven’t recovered my voice. Jim says it’s because I put an entire year’s worth of talking into four days. Perhaps a sign I should get out more…

And now to today’s guest. You may know her as dark fantasy author MJ Scott, but Melbourne based Melanie Scott is about to take the sports romance world by storm with her new series featuring the New York Saints baseball team and the three men determined to save it. The first in the series is The Devil in Denim, a book I’m reading, and loving, right now.

You will want this baby. Oh yes you will!

THE DEVIL IN DENIM

Cover of The Devil in DenimLIFE JUST THREW HER A CURVEBALL.

As the team-owner’s daughter, Maggie Jameson grew up in the New York Saints’ stadium—glove, cap, hot dogs, and all. Baseball’s in her blood, and she’s always dreamed of the day when she would lead the Saints to victory herself. That was before her dad had to sell the team to Alex Winters. The fast-talking, fiercely attractive businessman has a baseball pedigree that’s distinctly minor league. Maggie wants to hate him but his skills of seduction, however, are off the charts.

WILL LOVE BE A HOME RUN?

Alex could never have imagined how much this team means to Maggie. He needs her to help show the players that they’re still a family…even if he and Maggie are at the verge of exchanging blows. But her fiery determination and gorgeous looks prove irresistible to Alex. And much as he wants to relegate their relationship to the playing field—and get the Saints back in the game—Alex just can’t help himself: What he wants to win most is Maggie’s heart…

There are some shallow people out there who would only buy this book for the taut manbum cover (me!) but I can assure you what’s on the inside is even better. Yes it is! And you can pre-order it right now and have it in your hands, all ready for stroking and reading, right on its August 26th release day. Secure your copy now via Amazon, Book Depository, iBooks, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo or your favourite retailer.

Taut manbum organised? Awesome. Now let’s get zesty with Melanie.

Sweet or Sour

You know those questions on quizzes? The ones that ask you if you like salty or sweet. I’m always thinking “Both”. Life’s too short to choose between the joys of the perfect salty potato chip or good rich chocolate. And one thing that those quizzes always fail to ask about is sour! I will confess I like a good sour sharp tang. If it was possible to overdose on Wizz Fizz as a A packet of Wizz Fizzkid, I would have (and these days I find it hard to resist a good sour lolly). But, growing up in the country, we always had a lemon tree and, luckily for me, my parents still live there and still have a magic pudding lemon tree that rarely stops fruiting so they can keep me supplied. Lemon delicious pudding, lemon juice on crispy fish or fresh steamed vegies, lemon butter, lemon tart (unless there’s a lemon cheesecake on offer), lemon in iced water and of course my beloved margaritas, well, let’s just say I’m a fan of the little yellow fruit. Here in Australia, lemon slice popped up all over the place when I was a kid and I’m always on the quest for a good version (and generally I amp up the tanginess with an extra lemon kick), well, frankly, sometimes a gal just can’t wait for a slice to set to get her lemon goodness fix.

The other day I was in the mood to bake, which often inspires a brownie fit, but I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (who knew that was possible). Having attempted a lemon drizzle cake recently that was good but needs some more experimenting with, I was still in the mood for lemons but didn’t want a cake. I thought of lemon slice but then I stumbled across a lemon and coconut brownie on Pinterest. Pinterest is baker enabling heaven. It was lemon. It was coconut. It was a brownie. I was sold. And it turns out a lemon coconut brownie is very much the love child of lemon cake and lemon slice. Aka it was exactly what I was in the mood for. And delicious.

Now Maggie Jameson, the heroine of The Devil in Denim, feels like she’s been handed a pretty big box of lemons at the start of the book. She needs to figure out if she can wants to suck it up and make lemonade (though she starts the process by using lemons in a time honoured way… by drinking too many tequila slammers) or not. Maybe while she’s thinking about it, and trying not to think about Alex Winters, who is partially responsible for her pile of lemons, she should whip up a batch of these bad boys. I’m sure they’d cheer her up.

Lemon and Coconut Brownies

(original recipe from taste.com.au)

Lemon and Coconut Brownies

Ingredients:

250g butter

2 cups caster sugar

4 eggs

1 ½ cups plain flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

3 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1/3 cup if you like it really lemony like me) plus extra for icing if you ice them

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180ºC (my over is fan forced and I used 170c). Line a 20 x 30cm (base measurement) slab pan with non-stick baking paper. Whatever you use for brownies. I was lazy and used a square pan that was a little too small so they came out thicker and needed a bit longer cooking but they were still yummy

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat down low. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Turn off heat and move to a cool spot. Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat into the mixture quickly so no bits of egg cook before it’s combined. It will end up thick and glossy.

Sift the flour over the egg mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in coconut, lemon rind and lemon juice. Spread over base of prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan to cool completely. Turn out and cut into pieces (you decide how big, the original recipe suggests 15). Doesn’t need to iced but would be lovely with a thin lemony icing made from icing sugar and lemon juice…I usually start with a cup of icing sugar and add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice and then adjust the mixture to taste and for consistency when I’m making that kind of icing. Keep in an airtight container if there are any left.

 

Doesn’t that make your mouth water, Feasters? As it should because like The Devil in Denim, these brownies are delicious! Impossible to stop at one piece. Why would you want to anyway? There’s fruit in there which means the recipe has to be good for you.

And guess what other goodness Melanie has for you? Yes, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Because you’re all special and Melanie is lovely, she’s offering one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of his devilish bumness… I mean, The Devil In Denim. A truly excellent read that you will love. But you must work for it. You must shaaaaare!

So, for a chance to win, tell us what do you prefer when you’re reaching for a treat? Sweet, sour, salty or a combination?

Are you a sour fan and love to gobble sour snakes and mouth puckering lemon drops? Perhaps you prefer a salty bowl of chips or nuts, or maybe sweet treats are your go, lollies or sweet cakes and biscuits. For me it depends. There’s nothing quite like a nice dark piece of chocolate post dinner but I have been known to turn slightly rabid over a bowl of salt and vinegar chips (those Red Rock Deli ones are awesome). What about you? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 19th August 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Delores who has won a copy of Melanie’s new release The Devil in Denim. I predict some fun reading and cover stroking in someone’s future! Thanks to everyone for sharing their favourite sweet and sour treats, and giving us all terrible cravings. See you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Barbara Hannay

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Welcome, Feasters, to another fabulous Friday Feast, this time country flavoured. And with a special, you-can-have-it-before-anyone-else-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner giveaway!

But more on that in a moment. I have to grit my teeth and get through last week’s Sydney Author Barbara HannaySwans’ results and Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. With regards to the former, we played poo and lost. Ditto me with the latter. The curse has struck. Again. Stuffit.

But in truly excellent news, we have a marvellous guest on this week’s Feast – best-selling author Barbara Hannay. Yes, she of Zoe’s Muster and Home Before Sundown fame, as well as more than forty other novels published in twenty-six languages world-wide.

Barbara’s forthcoming release is Moonlight Plains, scheduled to hit a store near you on August 27th but available now for pre-order.

Check it out…

MOONLIGHT PLAINS

Moonlight Plains by Barbara HannayIn 1942, as the Japanese sweep towards northern Australia and allied troops swarm into Townsville, Kitty Martin is sent inland to the safety of Moonlight Plains. But when two American airmen crash on the isolated property, she is forced to grow up fast, coming face to face with tragedy, with love . . . and with heartbreak.

Years on, and Sally Piper, a young journalist, is sent to Moonlight Plains to cover the story of a cattleman turned builder who is restoring his grandmother’s forgotten homestead. Sparks fly between them, but Sally is struggling to let go of the past, and Luke has his eyes fixed firmly on the future.

What they uncover together is a shocking secret that has been kept safe for more than seventy years. Now the entire family’s happiness is at stake – or does the truth about the past hold a valuable lesson for the future?

From the internationally acclaimed and award-winning romance writer Barbara Hannay comes this breathtaking novel about finding love against all the odds. It will have you captivated from beginning to end.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? History, tragedy and romance combined. Rah! And you can pre-order it right now in either paperback or ebook. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, Boomerang Books, QBD The Bookshop or your favourite store. For the ebook, clickety-click over to Amazon, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite reseller.

Ready to tantalise your tastebuds now you’ve satisfied your reading mind? Excellent. Off you go then!

Easy Entertaining

Thanks so much for welcoming me to your Friday Feast. It’s good timing for me, because although Moonlight Plains won’t be released for a couple more weeks (slight shift in the schedule), my husband and I have just hosted house guests two weekends in a row, so I’ve recently searched through my recipes for dishes that are quick and easy but totally delicious. My husband takes care of the main meat dish, thank goodness, so soup and dessert are my responsibilities.

I’ve served this dessert a few times now and it’s gone down very well. It’s tasty and wintry,  but not too heavy at the end of a meal. (Actually, if you want the whole truth, it’s also healthy, low kilojoule and high fibre, but don’t tell anyone 🙂 ) I reckon the touch of ginger makes all the difference…

Pear Ginger Crumble

pear and ginger crumbleTopping:

1/4 cup plain flour

2/3 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup melted butter

Filling:

I.5 kg firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into smallish chunks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (if you prefer, you could use crystallised ginger)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.Pear and ginger crumble

For the topping: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and work together with a fork or with your fingertips until the ingredients are moistened.

For the filling: Combine the pears slices, lemon juice, and ginger in a large bowl. Add the sugar and flour and toss to blend.

Grease a baking dish. Transfer the pear mixture to the dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears. Bake crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of ice cream.

 

Oh, how we love a good crumble here on Friday Feast! This winter has seen some delicious recipes posted but I have to say, as a passionate pear-o-phile(?) this one is my favourite. Wonderful, Barbara. Thanks so much for sharing your easy dessert.

And thank you even more for your…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, my Feasty lovelies, as promised, we have a special giveaway. Moonlight Plains doesn’t hit stores until August 27th but YOU could win an advance author copy. What an opportunity!

Naturally, you have to work for it. Can’t have you lazing around, you know. How would you burn off all those calories? This time we’re looking for the meal that makes your family happiest. Is it a good old roast, or perhaps Nanna’s special pavlova recipe. Maybe your family (or friends) go into paroxysms over your unique recipe for macaroni cheese? Whatever it is, share in the comments and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of Moonlight Plains!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 5th August 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea who has won a copy of Moonlight Plains and will be soon enjoying a fantastic read. Thanks to everyone for sharing their meals. As always, they were beauties!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Lowe

14 Replies

And so another fabulous Friday has arrived. What fun! Partly because I get to brag about my darling football team, the Sydney Swans, who won AGAIN last week and remained happily perched at the top of the ladder. I have everything crossed that they won’t fall off!

Speaking of having everything crossed, I’m also hoping that my golfing winning streak will continue. Yes, Feasters, the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf is good. I had a Author Fiona Lowewin! Still rather flummoxed by this but I’m not complaining. The curse has lifted, if only momentarily. One must enjoy the moment!

A bit like weddings. Things to be savoured and enjoyed. And no one writes a wedding like award-winning Australian author Fiona Lowe. Fiona is an author of over 25 novels, including the Rita® and Ruby award-winning book, Boomerang Bride. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love.

Right now, Fiona has an anthology out: four of her stories repackaged into one wedding filled pack for you to savour. Check it out.

FIONA LOWE’S WEDDINGS

Fiona Lowe's weddings anthologyFour of Fiona’s favourite rural romances republished together in one volume!

They may have sworn off romance but could wedding bells be on the horizon for these couples? In the small outback town of Warragurra, widow Kate Lawson and single dad Baden Tremont fight their feelings for each other, and nurse Emily is vowing she’ll never fall for her playboy boss, Linton. In far north Queensland, doctor Sarah is intrigued by her gorgeous new neighbour, enigmatic surgeon Ryan who’s also a blast from her past. Over in stunning Vietnam, Tom is on a quest to discover his past. Will he also find his future with Bec?

Discover how these couples get their happy ever afters, as Fiona Lowe welcomes you into warm-hearted small communities with stories packed with emotion and sparkling, feel-good romance!  This bundle includes: The Warragurra Duo; A Wedding in Warragurra & The Playboy Doctor’s Marriage Proposal as well as A Woman to Belong To and The Surgeon’s Chosen Wife.

How’s that for a host of hot romance! You’ll be throwing confetti with glee after reading this lot. So why not grab a copy right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Big W ebooksAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or direct from Mills & Boon. Or hop on down to your local chain store.

Now here’s Fiona.

Country Cooking

As a prelude to my Wedding Fever trilogy, (Saved By The Bride, Picture Perfect Wedding and Runaway Groom), which is hitting Australian, shelves this September, October and Fiona Lowe's WeddingsNovember, Harlequin have re-released three of my Aussie rural medical romances (and one set in Vietnam) in an anthology called, Fiona Lowe’s Weddings.  It includes my Warragurra books…two stories set in a town with a flying doctor’s base. I loved these books and they were the impetus for me to go on and write longer novels. Warragurra is in outback NSW, sheep and cattle country and wholesome country cooking abounds. Given it’s July, and the nights are chilly, I wanted to share a recipe that’s featured in the book and a big fave of mine and the rest of my family…

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Apple and rhubarb crumble

A bunch of rhubarb, washed and diced

6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced.

A lemon

Either microwave them on the vegetable setting or cook them slowly in a saucepan on a low heat with a tablespoon of water.  When soft, stir and taste…you may wish to add a little sugar. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, butter, coconut and seeds…sesame, sunflower, poppy…I add the cape-seed mix I use when I make bread.  Whiz it all together. Place it over the top of the apple and rhubarb mix. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or cream or yoghurt.

The great thing about this recipe is that not only is it a yummy dessert, it makes a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

 

Ahh, crumble. Such a simple but delicious dessert and an absolute crowd-pleaser. Thanks so much for sharing this one, Fiona. I’m going to test it out on the man of the house as part of my quest to find the perfect crumble topping. Apparently last week’s version wasn’t crumbly enough. Hmph.

Do you have a favourite fruit crumble combination? What about a favourite topping? Perhaps you like coconut in yours, or know how to whip up a dead easy topping with muesli? I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions so share away!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

Ahh, it’s Friday again which means delicious food and delicious people!

(And footy, but I’ll try not to bore you too much with the news that this weekend sees my darling Sydney Swans in a MUST-WIN clash against Carlton. Saturday night at 7-45 if you want to tune in and cheer, cheer the red and the white. Oh, go on, you know you want to.)

Er…back to delicious people!Annie West romance author

My guest today is the ever delightful Annie West who writes award-winning romances, featuring hot alpha males that make your toes curl with their powerful sexiness matched against women who are more than their equal in brains, looks and passion, and know exactly how to keep them on their toes. And all wrapped up in exotic settings. In other words, romantic fantasies that take your emotions on a heart-tumbling thrill-ride.

Annie’s latest release is An Enticing Debt To Pay (what a title!) and if you keep reading, you may just discover a giveaway on offer. But first, enjoy a taste…

 

AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY

 

An Enticing Debt to Pay by Annie WestDial R for Revenge…

Forgiveness is a foreign concept to wealthy investment trader Jonas Deveson. Someone has been stealing from him. He’s got a good idea who it is and she’s going to pay….

Seeing the harsh lines that bitterness has carved into Jonas’s handsome features, Ravenna Ruggiero knows he’ll never see the shades of gray in her actions.

Jonas blackmails Ravenna into working as his housekeeper to pay off her debt, but living under the same roof leads to unexpected yet forbidden temptation, and Jonas is no longer sure who is being punished!

 

Ooh, I get the shivers just thinking about how exciting that read will be and from September 17th you’ll be able to own your own copy. Simply visit that most awesome Platinum ARRC sponsor Booktopia, or check your local bookshop or chainstore. You’ll also be able to purchase direct from Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kobo, Google Play, Amazon, iTunes, Bookdepository, or your favourite retailer.

Now prepare yourself for more deliciousness with Annie!

 

French Fancies

aka It’s Got Fruit In It So It Must Be Healthy, Right?

 

Cathryn, thanks so much for allowing me a sought after spot on your scrumptious Friday Feast. FFs always make my mouth water and I vow to try the new recipes but only in a responsible, not-getting-fat way. Ha! The result is that I Window display of a French patisseriedrool shamelessly then have to go off and scoff delicious things. So here’s my revenge…

No, no, not revenge. I’m just bowing to logic. I looked at my calendar and thought ‘Friday Feast, wow! I’d better think of something yummy to share.’ Then I got distracted by the fact I’ve got a new book out next week. I’m a writer, I’m allowed to be easily distracted. Then I started thinking, as one does, of both at the same time, the book and food, and of course I had no choice then but to share my absolute love affair with that masterpiece of French cuisine, the fruit flan. It’s probably got a suitably wonderful and throatily sexy French name that does justice to the lusciousness that is fruit and sugary, creamy sweetness on a rich yet then buttery crust. I leave that to others. I just want to eat it.

My logic makes sense, truly. My book starts in Paris. To be specific it begins in an apartment in the ultra-upmarket Place des Vosges. The square is beautiful and symmetrical and a jewel of French history and architecture. I have several photos of it, but the one I look at the most is this one – the close up of my picnic morning tea there. Sigh. It’s a mini fruit flan (well, I call it mini) complete with berries and a fig so fresh I suspect someone plucked it from the tree that morning, then lovingly coated it with a delicious sugary glaze.

Another delicious French patisserie window displayFor Ravenna and Jonas, my heroine and hero, the Place des Vosges means a showdown that will change their lives – passion and anger and defiance and an undercurrent of attraction that plays havoc with their once neatly ordered lives. For me, it means sitting in the sun on a neatly painted green garden seat, with the sound of French schoolkids racing around the place, while I sink my teeth into perfection.

As you can see from the other couple of photos here I can’t stop at one when it comes to fruit flans. Wherever we went I’d stop and leer at shop windows and take photos of them so I could drool later. And the French know how to dress a window, believe me.

My advice, if you want to try the deliciousness that is a fruit flan, is to get someone else to make it while you relax in the sunshine with a glass of bubbly. Always a good plan.

Sadly it doesn’t always work so I’ve been forced to make my own. Be warned, it does take a little while. I don’t find the recipe difficult (and it has always worked), just time consuming. The perfect thing to do on a weekend when you’d rather immerse yourself in French fruity goodness than write a difficult chapter or clean the house or wax the car (I’ve never waxed a car but it sounds tiresome).

French Fruit Flan

Annie West's French Fruit Flan

Pastry:

1 cup plain flour

1 tablespn icing sugar

90 g butter

1 egg yolk

Approx. 1 tablespn lemon juice

Crème Patisserie:

1 ¼ cups milk

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tablespn plain flour

1 tablespn cornflour

1/3 cup castor sugar

1 teaspn vanilla essence (preferably the real thing)

Topping:

Your choice of fruit but you could use

Kiwifruit and or a punnet of strawberries

425g tin of apricot halves (or whatever takes your fancy)

425g tin of pitted cherries

Vanilla essence to taste

1 tablespn arrowroot

1 tablespn brandy (optional)

Pastry:

You could use bought shortcrust pastry but if you have time, try this.

Sift flour and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter. Add egg yolk and only enough lemon juice to make a firm dough. Press into a ball, cover and refrigerate 30 mins. Roll on lightly floured surface to line greased 23 cm flan tin. Cut off any excess pastry and refrigerate 20 mins. Bake blind for 7 mins at 220 celsius (ie. Line with greaseproof paper and cover with rice so pastry doesn’t bubble up). Then remove paper and rice and bake another 7 mins till golden. Cool.

Filling:

Combine egg, egg yolks, ¼ cup cream, flour, cornflour and sugar in food processor till combined. Bring remaining milk to boil in a saucepan. Pour hot milk gradually into other mixture while the processor is running. Process till smooth. Return mixture to saucepan, stirring over heat till it boils and thickens. Take off heat, add vanilla essence and cool to room temperature. Spread over pastry case.

Drain apricots, slice and keep the syrup. Arrange all the sliced fruit as you like on top of the crème patisserie (concentric circles work well). Mix arrowroot with a couple of tablespoons of syrup in a saucepan and stir in brandy and remaining syrup. Stir till it boils and thickens. Brush over fruit. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

 

Oh, Annie, that fruit flan sound fantastically luscious, just like one of your books!

Now, my darling Feasters, because Annie is generous and lovely as well as an excellent cook and author, she has a giveaway on offer. Simply share your favourite patisserie treat and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of An Enticing Debt To Pay.

Me, I bags pain aux raisins as my favourite treat. You can have all your croissants and pain au chocolats, gateaux, macarons and lemon tarts. A cuppa and one of those sweet flakey babies and I’m in breakfast naughtiness heaven. Délicieux!

So what’s yours tastebud tingling favourite?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th September, 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Annie and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and keep up to date through her newsletter.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Khi Pha who has won a copy of Annie’s latest release An Enticing Debt to Pay. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun!