Tag Archives: iTunes

New Cover For PROMISES

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On August 27th, the smaller (and cheaper) ‘B’ format paperback edition of my debut rural romance PROMISES will hit the shelves, complete with a swanky new cover.

Isn’t it lovely? I adored the original with the couple gazing into each other’s eyes, but this one’s gorgeous. Then again, I’m a terrible sucker for a noble headed horse!

Don’t yet own a copy of Promises? Pre-order this new edition from Booktopia or Bookworld. The ebooks are also available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

 

Promises by Cathryn Hein

A 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 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.

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Diener

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And another busy week has passed. I hope yours was a beauty.

I’m stupid with excitement today because one of my favourite authors is visiting for Friday Feast. Prepare yourself for a touch of fan-girl silliness.

Before that though, let’s all give a big cheer for my magnificent Sydney Swans, now perched in 3rd on the AFL ladder after their win over the Gold Coast Suns. They’re pecking away at that top spot! And Author Michelle DienerI’m pecking away at my golf handicap too. Yes, the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf is once again positive. I’ve lost another 0.3 off my handicap. Incredible!

Which leads me nicely into my fangirl rave. Michelle Diener is an auto-buy author for me. I love her books. LOVE! The Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series is brilliant. Like James Bond in a Tudor court! Go buy In A Treacherous Court now. You’ll love it I promise and become a total fangirl/boy like me. Then there are her Regency-era set books, all with juicy conspiracies and wonderful romances. Even food! Sigh. I get gooey just thinking about them…

Michelle has a new book out which I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. This one’s going to be a cracker…

A DANGEROUS MADNESS

Cover of A Dangerous Madness by Michelle DienerThe Duke of Wittaker has been living a lie…

He’s been spying on the dissolute, discontented noblemen of the ton, pretending to share their views. Now he’s ready to step out of the shadows and start living a real life…but when the prime minister of England is assassinated, he’s asked to go back to being the rake-hell duke everyone believes he still is to find out more.

Miss Phoebe Hillier has been living a lie, too…

All her life she’s played by society’s rules, hiding her fierce intelligence and love of life behind a docile and decorous mask. All it’s gotten her is jilted by her betrothed, a man she thought a fool, though a harmless one. But when she discovers her former fiancé was involved in the plot against the prime minister, and that he’s been murdered, she realizes he wasn’t so harmless after all.

And now the killers have set their sights on her…

The only man who can help her is the Duke of Wittaker–a man she knows she shouldn’t trust. And she soon realizes he’s hiding behind a mask as careful as her own. As the clock ticks down to the assassin’s trial, the pair scramble to uncover the real conspiracy behind the prime minister’s death. And as the pressure and the danger mounts, Phoebe and Wittaker shed their disguises, layer by layer, to discover something more precious than either imagined–something that could last forever. Unless the conspirators desperate to hide their tracks get to them first.

How exciting is that! I already have my copy but what about you? Get clicking, Feasters. Michelle’s books are amaaaazing!

Buy A Dangerous Madness right now in paperback or ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iBooks, Kobo, or your favourite book retailer.

Bought? Excellent. I’m wriggling in excitement for you because I know what fun you’ll have. Now why not have even more fun with some fabulous  food.

Travel By Taste Bud

I have always loved discovering new places. That’s probably why I love reading and I love travelling. Both activities transport me away, and introduce me to new places, times, characters and food. Ever since I was little, I loved hanging out in the kitchen with my gran, who was from Glasgow, Scotland, and baking with her.

As I grew older, I realized you could travel just as easily by taste bud as by actual plane, and embarked on a lifelong love of cooking exotic (to me) dishes and trying new recipes.

Because I write historical fiction, part of that has included making recipes that were popular during the time my books are set. I was absolutely glued to the screen when Heston Blumenthal did his Renaissance feast episode, in the Heston’s Fantastic Feasts series, because I wanted to see what recipes he’d found from the time of my Tudor-set historicals. I had actually found some of the same ones, although, of course, being Heston, he took it all to another level.Cover of A Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

For my Regency historical novel, Banquet of Lies, my main character works as a French cook in the home of a viscount in London. It was freeing that she was French, it meant I didn’t have to cook anything over-boiled 😉 and scoured the internet and cookbooks for recipes that would have been popular at the time. I read the menus and recipes of French celebrity chef, Antonin Careme, who cooked for the Prince Regent as well as Napoleon and Talleyrand, although I chose to go a little more low-key with my fiction menu 🙂 .

My latest book, A Dangerous Madness, doesn’t have as much food in it as Banquet of Lies, but it does include some of the characters from Banquet of Lies, including the French chef from Banquet of Lies, and I do include a few dishes, such as petit fours and lemon brioche (which I try to have every time I’m in Hong Kong, as the pastry chef at the hotel I stay at makes it JUST like my character in A Dangerous Madness).

But that’s all time-travelling by taste bud. I also do some real-life travel through taste bud, as well. I love Moroccan food, I love Indian food, I love Thai food. And when I make dishes from these countries, I feel transported to them.

One recipe I’ve been making a lot recently is a macaroon from the Middle East, which a friend from Tunisia also assures me it authentically Tunisian as well. I love this recipe because it is so easy and quick, and really, really delicious. I have Nigella Lawson from her book Feast to thank for it.

Almond Macaroons

Michelle's Macaroons

Ingredients:

200g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

sprinkle of ground cardamom

2 egg whites

rose water

whole blanched almonds

Method:

Preheat the over to 200 deg C. Use a food processor to whiz up the almonds, sugar, egg whites and cardamom until it forms a thick paste. Get a large baking tray and cover it with baking parchment, then splash a little rosewater onto your hands, rub them together, then pinch off small pieces of the paste, roll into a ball then squash flat on the tray, and then top with a blanched almond. Keep refreshing the rosewater as you go. I usually do four or so, then splash on a little more. The mixture should make about 30 macaroons. Bake for 10 or so minutes, until then macaroons start to go golden at the edges. Leave to cool completely. These keep in an airtight container, although they never really last that long in my house :).

 

They wouldn’t last long in my house either, Michelle. Macaroons are so delicious and the perfect thing to enjoy with a cuppa and one of your brilliant books.

Speaking of brilliant, we have a giveaway.

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, Feasters, this is your chance to win a Michelle Diener book. Your choice of Banquet of Lies or a Dangerous Madness, in  ebook or paperback form. How cool is that? But you have to work a little. That is the Feasty way!

So… what is your favorite travel by taste bud recipe?

Mine is black olive tapenade. I make this when I feel the need for a bit of Provence. It’s so punchy and delicious and reminds me of the restaurants and bars we frequented in Aix-en-Provence when we lived there. Nothing like a glass of rosé, a pot of tapenade and a few grissini to put you in a relaxed mood.

What about you? How do you travel with your taste buds? Share and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of either Banquet of Lies or A Dangerous Madness.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 17th June 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle and her fantastic books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter using @michellediener

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Margareta who has won a copy of either A Dangerous Madness or Banquet of Lies. Fantastic reading ahead. Thanks to everyone who joined in the travelling with our tastebuds fun. Fab foodie ideas, as always!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

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Greetings from Mount Gambier, the Blue Lake city! Well, for a few minutes more anyway. I’m flying out shortly after a whirlwind three days spent chatting to wonderful readers here, and at Hamilton and Balmoral in western Victoria. What fun!

Speaking of fun, my Sydney Swans were awesome last week, with an excellent win over Essendon leaving us sitting 3rd on the AFL ladder. Rah! Sadly, the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Author Fiona PalmerPlay Golf news isn’t as positive. I appear to have lost all putting ability. Probably because I can’t stop thinking about The Falls, my next rural romance, and its hero Lucas in the pool. Deep sigh. That man…

Speaking of great characters, best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer is spreading her wings with a wonderful new young adult series and it sounds a cracker. The first book in the MTG Agency series is The Recruit and features Jasmine Thomas who is definitely not your average teenager.

This is so cool! Take a look…

THE RECRUIT

Cover of The Recruit by Fiona PalmerFrom one of Australia’s Queens of Romance comes the debut in a brand new YA series about secrets, strengths, and what lies beneath the surface.

Jasmine Thomas may not be completely normal, but she’s a pretty typical seventeen-year-old girl. She hates the rich mean kids, loves her best friends, and can’t wait to get out of school each day. Her spare time is spent at The Ring — a boxing gym where she practically grew up — learning karate, boxing and street fighting. So, yeah, Jaz can kick some major butt.

Life seems pretty normal until the day Ryan Fletcher enters her gym…mysterious and hot with heaps of bad boy charm. Sure, she checks him out. Who wouldn’t? But what doesn’t show on his gorgeous abs are secrets and lies that dominate his very grown-up world. Now Jaz has to figure out just how far she is willing to go to know more. Could Ryan really be offering the life-fulfilling life path she’s always dreamed of?

The first in the MTG Agencies series.

Doesn’t that sound a ripping read? You can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Buy the ebook from Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, ebooks.com, All Romance eBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Wonderful. Now here’s Fiona.

Easing Into Winter

Oh I love the Friday Feast, thanks Cathryn for having me! It’s always great to be here and also a little scary. :/ I love eating food, I’m just not big on preparing/cooking it!!!  So as usual I’m going to share with you one of my foolproof recipes. (These are the only recipes I keep and tend to make over and over again.)

At the moment we are moving towards winter, I have already lit my fire and love sitting by it as it crackles away. So I’ve picked a meal my family loves to eat during winter. It’s a vegetable risotto with a twist.

Even my fussy child eats this, even with those awful vegies in it because the chicken stock makes it all taste the same.

So here it is: My Vegetable Risotto with Chicken Stock instead of Vegetable Stock

VEGETABLE RISOTTO

Fiona's vegetable risotto

2 cups sliced mushrooms (dice small if need to hide it from kids)

1 cup frozen beans (once again I cut these up into smaller bits)

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup diced red capsicum

1 onion finely diced

2 cups raw Arborio rice

6 cups (1 ½  litres) ready made chicken stock liquid

2 level teaspoons reduced fat margarine

1 level teaspoon crushed garlic   (when I’m cooking, nothing is ever precise. The

amount of ingredients that goes in depends on my mood.)

1/3 cup white wine (now I never seem to have wine when I cook this so I never put it in.)

3 level tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 chicken stock cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook this in a large non-stick saucepan. (Also have vegetables cut and ready before you start.) Melt margarine, add onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add in rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of stock liquid and stock cubes, bring to boil then simmer stirring frequently until liquid has been absorbed by rice.

Add in wine, once absorbed pour in 2 cups of liquid, bring back to boil.

Add mushrooms, beans, corn and capsicum, reduce to a simmer stirring frequently until stock water is absorbed. Add final 2 cups of stock liquid, when almost all liquid has been absorbed (rice should be cooked by this stage) stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

I had never made a risotto before making this one but every time I’ve made it, it’s been a hit. (If you know me, then you know that’s pretty amazing!!) So what I’m trying to say is if you follow the recipe you can’t go wrong.

We are big parmesan fans in this house so we like a bit extra on top. 🙂

 

Thanks, Fiona. LOVE risotto and even better when it’s super easy to make and tasty like this one. And healthy with the veg too, not to mention comforting. There’s something really warming about risotto. Perfect for these cooler months. Ah, those Italians, they really know how to please a stomach.

What about you, Feasters? What’s your favourite winter warmer?

I adore steamy rich casseroles but also anything with pulses in it. We have an amazing baked bean with meatballs recipe that is a huge favourite. I tested out a new Italian beef and cannellini bean recipe last week that’s going straight into the favourites pile too. Pulses are just so hearty and lovely!

Must share that bean and meatball recipe on Friday Feast one day… In the meantime, how about sharing your favourite winter tucker?

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

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Thank goodness for another weekend! Between Eurovision Song Contest awesomeness, my darling Sydney Swans soaring to a magnificent victory, and me playing (mostly) excellent golf, last weekend was exhausting.

Have you seen where my beautiful boys are on the AFL ladder? Fourth. FOURTH! And this after a terrible start to the year. Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news is equally upbeat. Alison Stuart author photoI’m on fire. Fire, I tell you! Not a single ball lost last week; not duffed into a dam, not pinched by a crow. It’s an omen!

Now, to this week’s guest. Australian author Alison Stuart wrote one of my absolute favourite reads of last year, Gather The Bones, a beautifully written story set after the Great War and a book I can’t recommend highly enough. With her latest release, Alison has dipped her toe into the hugely popular Regency period and it sounds wonderful.

Take a look…

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR

Cover of 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. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is 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?

Knowing how beautifully Alison writes, this will be another amazing story. You can own a copy right now with just a few clicks of your mouse. Try Amazon for the Kindle version, Barnes & Noble for Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

All stocked up with another great read? Good. Now have fun with this foodie treat.

Take A Stag’s Heart…

It’s wonderful to be back on Friday Feast talking about food. Thank you for the invite, Cathryn.

I have finally stretched my historical wings and ventured into the magical world of the Regency with my May release of LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR. I say magical because I think one of the reasons Regency is such a perennial favourite with readers is because it is a fantasy world inhabited by the men and women of the mystical “ton”. Gracious manners, beautiful clothes and a world that is a little more accessible to the modern reader than the earlier periods of history (such as my own particular passion, the English Civil War).

I have to say it was a wonderful period to write about. In my own version of “Cinderella”, the battle scarred professional army officer of parlous means, wakes to find he is now Lord Image of The Housekeeper's InstructorSomerton, owner of a London town house and an elegant estate in Lincolnshire so as I wrote I discovered the world through his eyes.

Food paid a huge part in Regency life and I am fortunate to have an original 1808 (14th) edition of “The Housekeepers Instructor; or universal Family Cook” by W.A Henderson “Many years eminent in the culinary profession”.  You can buy a reproduction of this book on AMAZON for $27.98 but I love the yellowing pages and the leather bindings of my own copy William Augustus Henderson was the Mrs. Beeton his day and his book remained in print well into the Victorian era.

While I can recall my son and I spending a couple of evenings in fits of laughter as we read Sample of hand notes in The Housekeepers Instructorthrough the household instructions for feeding cows and trussing Woodcocks and Snipes, a previous owner (not my grandmother’s handwriting – although there are a few notes of hers in the book) had obviously studied it in detail and scattered through the book are scraps of paper, written in a confident hand in blue fountain pen with comments on them that are almost as amusing as some of the recipes. Against the recipe for “Surfeit Water” he/she has written “What a terrible brew. I wonder why they called it water? Much understatement makes the sufferer game to try it… I’ve got all the ingredients. If scurvy grass is lemon grass should I try?” I wonder if she did. On making icings for cakes my unknown commentator says “Whisk them well for TWO or THREE HOURS” followed by an enormous exclamation mark. For the recipe for “Stag’s Heart Water” which includes the instruction “Take a stag’s heart, and cut off the fat…”, my commenter drily notes “I’m glad you cut the fat off the Stag’s heart”.

More sobering, in among the instructions for managing the dairy, the author of the book notes “The practice of keeping milk in leaden vessel, and of salting butter in stone jars, is Example of ball supper for 20 peoplevery detrimental; the well known effector of the poison of lead are bodily debility, palsy, death…” So interestingly lead poisoning was in fact well known by the end of the eighteenth century.

We may laugh at the quaintness of it all but in fact the advice is generally sound and the recipes sensible and on the whole, edible. Henderson also includes wonderful suggestions of seasonal menus for suppers and small courses… of up to 10 dishes per course! The first course, we are advised, should consist of soups, boiled poultry, fish and boiled meats; the second course of different kinds of game, high seasoned dishes, tarts, jellies etc and the third course, to be considered dessert comprises fruits and “various kinds of ornamental pastries.”

In LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, food does not play a huge part, although at one stage, poor Sebastian is forced into eating three breakfasts by a populace determined to “feed him up”. William Augustus Henderson’s book doesn’t really touch on the subject of breakfasts but one of the great favourites of a “proper” English breakfast was “Devilled kidneys”, a dish popular since the 18th century when a thrifty housewife invented a spicy sauce to add some interest to an otherwise bland dish. Devilled Kidneys are not as horrible as you might think and I had a housemate who did rather good devilled kidneys (until the day he cooked kidneys that had gone off… but that’s a whole other story).

This recipe comes from my own copy of “The Cookery Year” by Readers Digest”.

DEVILLED KIDNEYS

Devilled kidneysFor four portions, clean and halve 8 lamb kidneys.

Prepare a devil sauce by mixing 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce, 2 teaspoons ketchup and 1 level tablespoon dry mustard with 60g melted butter. Season with salt, white pepper and cayenne.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil or butter in a pan and fry the kidneys for 3 minutes on each side.

Arrange them in a flameproof serving dish, spread the devil sauce evenly on top of the kidneys and put under a hot grill for 1 minute.

 

Now how’s that for a bit of English breakfast goodness, Feasters? Not my favourite thing, kidneys, but the devil sauce certainly sounds delicious. Perhaps over a few pork sausages instead for a breaky to really get your heart started. Hmm. Maybe I need a kick like this before golf…

GIVEAWAY

For the month of May Alison is running a Rafflecopter giveaway to win an author’s goody bag worth over $50. Details of what it contains can be found on Alison’s website but it includes a copy of Alison’s collected short stories, Tower of Tales, a Mesopotamia bracelet, a notebook, a book voucher, and other goodies. To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget below using your Facebook log-in or your name and email address. Easy.

The giveaway is open worldwide, so have a go and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Helene Young

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Hello Feasters, and welcome to another truly excellent Friday filled with food and fabulous authors.

But first…. DID YOU SEE MY SWANNIES? At last, we have scrambled our way into the eight. Now, if we can just do the righty and give Hawthorn the spanking they deserve tonight all will be well in Swanfan world. Which reminds me, all is rather well with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news too. No, I don’t have my new 3 wood yet, it’s on order, but I did play well enough last week to win a golf ball.

Go ahead and laugh, but remember: From little things, big things grow!

Speaking of growing, how about the superstar growth of our guest today! Helene Young ishelene-young-2-0 not only a multi-award winning author, with Australian Romance Reader Awards and RWA Romantic Book of the Year honours galore, she’s also one of Australia’s best-selling authors. And a lovely lady to go with it.

An airline pilot now living on a catamaran in Queensland (I know, I know), Helene continues to write romantic suspense novels that capture the Australian landscape beautifully, as well as keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Her latest release is Safe Harbour. Take a look…

SAFE HARBOUR

Cover of Safe Harbour by Helene YoungWhen Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world.  Having saved his life can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?

Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, can’t tell Darcy the real reason this man has washed up on their shores. If she knew the links between the stranger and her own dysfunctional family, she’d flee the Cove and he’d lose her love for good.

As they take refuge in an old whaling station, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface, hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? This is one book you won’t want to miss and it can be yours now with just a quick trip to the shops or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse (or finger taps for you tablet and phone users). Buy Safe Harbour now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Collins Booksellers, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Fishpond, or your local independent. For immediate download of the ebook, why not try Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now kick back and be comforted by Helene!

Fresh Is Best

Thanks to Cathryn for allowing me to visit Friday Feast one more time – I’m very honoured 🙂 I’ve discovered so many wonderful recipes on this amazing blog and it goes from strength to strength.

So, Feasters, let me start with a question. How do plan your meals? Do you begin with a recipe or do you source the ingredients first? I have to admit that I was someone who would decide on the menu, usually by drooling over glossy photos in magazines and recipe books. Then I’d head out to scour the shops for the ingredients. Sometimes I’d be beside myself scene from manly marketbecause pomegranates weren’t in season or the tender asparagus shoots looked more like stakes I’d use to prop up a wilting tomato plant that something that would grace the smoked salmon ravioli. Or rhubarb was only to be found in the frozen section and the new potatoes were decidedly last season…

And then I had an epiphany. How about I check out what’s in season and then build the menu around that? You can stop laughing right now… For a girl who spent a lot of time in restaurants – both working and eating – you might assume it would be basic stuff, but clearly I’m a slow learner. Now we’re living aboard a boat with limited storage it’s even more important. We choose the fresh, glossy produce and then decide what to cook. Simple food takes on a new flavour when it’s market-day fresh.

The Goat Pie Guy's stallLucky for us there are markets every Sunday in the local park at Manly. Once a month there’s a fantastic Farmers Market with everything from Goat Meat Pies (which are delicious!) to hot smoked salmon and stalls full of fresh produce. You can chat to the stall owner about the best way to cook something new – or new to Capt G in the case of custard apples – and you can sample their wares before you buy.

In Safe Harbour, Darcy Fletcher is a chef and she’s come home to Banksia Cove to open a restaurant in an old whaling station. In her words – ‘There’s unlikely to be any truffle oil on the menu or wagyu beef, but there will be melt in your mouth beef from west of Rockhampton, luscious Scene from Manly marketsseafood hauled from the Pacific, beetroots and sweet potatoes straight from the ground, asparagus spears whose tips have basked in the same morning sun as my patrons. Don’t think you can ask for anything better than fresh food, simply prepared with love.’

So, I’d love to hear how you go about deciding what to cook? Are you a ‘once a week shopper’ or a ‘shop as you go’ kind of cook? Do plan or go with the flow? Join in the discussion to go into the draw for a copy of Safe Harbour. 🙂

And I thought I’d share one of my favourite potato dishes because, for me, winter is all about comfort food and there is nothing more comforting than a well-dressed potato.

Here’s our never fail recipe for stuffed jacket potatoes.

Stuffed jacket potatoes

Choose a potato variety that is good for mashing and baking – Coliban, Desiree or Golden Delight all work well. Select one per person and choose good oval shapes of medium size.

Wash well, pat dry, stab with a fork on top and bottom and then microwave until cooked. Timing will depend on your microwave, but around 3-5 minutes should be sufficient for one potato. Allow to cool enough to handle, place on the bench so it rests easily – usually that will be length ways – then slice a ‘lid’ off the top and put to one side. Using a dessert spoon carefully scoop out the soft flesh, making sure not to break the potato skin, and put into a large mixing dish (depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking).

Add a good dollop of butter, a slurp of milk or cream, a small handful of chives, parsley or any fresh herbs you may have left over. Stir well to make a smooth potato mash (firm not sloppy works best). Then add a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese and season to taste.

You can vary the type of cheese or herbs, add crispy bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs, or salami, so go to town and experiment.

Once you’re happy with the taste and texture of your filling spoon it carefully back into the shell so that it sits mounded higher than the original size of the potato. Place the lid on top, brush the top and sides with oil and grind a scatter of sea salt over it.

Pop on a baking tray and cook in a preheated 180 deg oven for no more than 30 minutes. They will be fluffy on the inside and delicious and crispy on the outside.

Bon appetit!

I am drooling here. DROOLING I tell you! Helene, that stuffed spud sounds absolutely divine. And perfect for the cooler months when we’re allowed to load up on carbs and buttery things to keep out the chill.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my delicious little Feasty dumplings, time to join in the fun with another giveaway. This time a copy of Helene’s wonderful new release, Safe Harbour.

As Helene has already described above, simply reveal how you go about deciding what to cook. Are you a planner or a spur of the moment cook? Or do you leave it to the whim of someone else? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Me, I’m a combination. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I get carried away when I spot something delicious. On Tuesday I discovered a tub of duck fat at my local IGA. Yes, yes, I KNOW it’s super bad for me and cooking duck fatty food on a weeknight goes against my house rules, but it just so happens I have this fantastic recipe for braised Puy lentils…

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 13th May 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Helene, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter as @heleneyoung.

And while you’re here, why not check out Helene’s exciting booktrailer for Safe Harbour. It’s a cracker!

FRIDAY FEAST with Alissa Callen

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Hello, my Friday-loving lovelies, and welcome to another mouth-watering edition of everyone’s favourite food series, Friday Feast!

Things have calmed down a little at Chez Hein now that the initial flurry of Rocking Horse Hill release run-around has passed, which means I can now concentrate better on other things, like my darling Sydney Swans and golf. My boys had a most excellent win last week in the footy. I, in golf, did not. Well, not when it counted. Whupped butt ANZAC day when I went out for a practice hit and then it all fell apart in the comp on Sunday. Sigh.

However, all going well this afternoon I’ll become the proud owner of a new 3 wood…

Speaking of afternoon delights, this week’s guest has some beautiful afternoon tea recipes to Author Alissa Callenshare. A born and bred country girl living in the central west of NSW, Alissa Callen’s books are a wonderful addition to the rural romance genre. It’s in the sweeping Australian countryside and small rural towns that she knows so well that Alissa sets her stories. What Love Sounds Like is out in ebook right now, while the first book in her Red Dust Outback series, Beneath Outback Skies, has just hit the shelves in paperback.

The second in the Red Dust Outback series released this week. Check out Down Outback Roads.

DOWN OUTBACK ROADS

Cover of Down Outback Roads by Alissa CallenSometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love.

Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?

Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance.

Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?

Doesn’t that sound romantic? Ahh. Makes my heart all a-flutter reading that. You can own a copy right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Purchase your ebook copy of Down Outback Roads from Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back with cuppa and munch on this!

Afternoon Tea Treats with Alissa Callen

In my new release, Down Outback Roads, I had so much fun using food as a way to integrate the two different worlds of my main characters. Kree Garrett is from the Rocky Mountains in America while Ewan Mackenzie is from the small rural town of Glenalla, Australia.

Kree quickly develops a liking for iconic Aussie lamingtons while Ewan, who initially can’t bring himself to eat peanut butter with chocolate, crosses to the dark side and tries American peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. Much to the delight of his small twin nephews, quietly-spoken Darby and mischievous Braye, he finds the cookies not only edible but also delicious and goes back for seconds.

Lamingtons

Lamingtons

1 plain and unfilled sponge or vanilla cake cut into squares. Can be made from scratch, a packet mix or purchased.

Chocolate icing:

2 ½ cups icing sugar/mixture

¼ cup cocoa powder

2/3 cup warm water

Sift together dry ingredients, whisk in water until smooth.

Tip 2 cups desiccated coconut into a wide-mouthed bowl.

Roll chocolate-covered cake in coconut until evenly coated.

Lamingtons can also be sliced and filled with whipped cream or jam before being rolled in the chocolate icing and coconut.

Allow to set and then enjoy 🙂

 

 Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and choc chip cookies

1 cup of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix first four ingredients. Drop small spoonfuls of mixture onto a lined biscuit tray, keeping in mind the cookies will spread. Press in the chocolate chips onto the cookie tops. Bake in a moderate oven until golden.

For the batch in the photo my kids substituted small chocolate m and m’s instead of chocolate chips.

 

Deeeeelicious, Alissa! As one would expect from a country gal. And who can go past lamingtons? My other half turns into the Cookie Monster whenever he spies a plate. They are the perfect morning or afternoon tea treat.

Now, speaking of treats…

GIVEAWAY!

Alissa has very generously offered one lucky reader the chance to win a Kindle copy of her charming and heart-warming book What Love Sounds Like, featuring a an outback based Cover of What Love Sounds Like by Alissa Callenspeech pathologist, a man who believes money is as important as breathing, and a little girl who will bring them together.

To be in the giveaway, simply reveal what sweet treat you enjoy from another country.

That’s an easy one for me. Baklava! This Greek treat is such a favourite, with its sticky syrup, nutty layers and beautiful pastry. Gawd, I really want a piece now!

What about you? Maybe a traditional Devonshire tea is your go. Perhaps pecan pie from the US or an Italian canoli. There’s a whole world of sweet treats out there. Share your favourite and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 6th May 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein ie me!

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Hoppy Easter, everyone! And welcome to this special Good Friday edition of Friday Feast. I say special a bit tongue-in-cheek because you have ME as your host and guest, something that doesn’t happen often. Actually, you’ll have me this week and next week. Aren’t you lucky!

Unlike my darling football team, who are not.Cathryn holding Rocking Horse Hill

My beloved Sydney Swans, bless them, are currently playing worse football than I’m playing golf, and that’s saying something. And because I still have the footy-sulks you’re going to have to put up with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead.

Despite difficult conditions –  ie. the course being as soggy as a soppy sponge and the bunkers being flooded – last week I managed to score less disastrously than I have for a while, which doesn’t mean much, really. However I did at least manage to look particularly fetching in purple tartan shorts teamed with a blue and white floraly patterned polo and pink socks. Stylish. Very stylish indeed.

And now… er… here’s ME!

Well, my book: Rocking Horse Hill, which releases in only five sleeps and which is garnering suuuuper reviews!

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.

A cracking family drama and a wonderful romance (if I do say so myself). Why not pre-order the ebook right now? Simply visit Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Kobo or Google Play. Do it now and it’ll be delivered right to your device on release day. Easy!

And now more ME!

EASTER TREATS

What are your childhood Easter memories? Are they overloaded with chocolate, camping or perhaps all the glorious colour and action of the Royal Easter Show?

In the Hein household we went to the beach. Marvellous, I hear you say. Lucky you! Er, yes. Lucky us. Except let me tell you a little about the place I’m talking about. Nene Valley is a tiny fishing village right down the very bottom of South Australia. It was named after barque that was wrecked there in 1854. When I was a kid, at really low tide, you could still see the remains of the wreck but the sea and sand has covered it now. It’s a nice place though. It was then and it still is now, and Mum and Dad’s Mount Gambier limestone shack had everything you could want.

However, think about where it is. Think of Antarctica, think of the Great Southern Ocean, and Map of Australia and Antarctica showing approximate location of Nene Valleythen picture a map of Australia. Bar a few guano-covered islands, between Nene Valley and all those icebergs there is nothing but freezing water and slicing wind. When the weather turns, it’s bloody horrible. And inevitably, so, so perfectly, it would turn Easter weekend.

Ah, Dad, ever the optimist, would head out on Good Friday to lay crayfish pots and nets (you used to be able to net in those days) and rub his hands in glee at the thought of the cray, whiting, bream or snapper soon to be lining his plate. And what would happen, almost without fail? Foul weather. Out there the pots would remain. If we were lucky, the sea would be safe enough in the bay to fetch the nets. But the pots, which were usually laid on the reef where the breakers crashed, had to stay.

So what would we eat instead? Rabbit! Often with the added extra crunch of shotgun pellets. And chocolate, of course. Lots of it because Mum always loaded up. Which was just as well when you consider the seafood situation….

Now, what has that to do with the recipe I’m sharing today or Rocking Horse Hill? Absolutely nothing. But it was fun talking about it anyway.

Seeing as it’s Easter, I thought I’d share my recipe for hot crossed buns, or in this case, uncrossed buns because I’m usually too lazy to make the crosses or glaze them. Who needs that faffing around when they taste good without it anyway?

You can make the recipe the traditional way but why bother if you have a breadmaker? Put the ingredients in the machine in the right order, hit the dough setting and go and read a book. Perfect! It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right but it’s pretty foolproof now. The only hard work is kneading in the sultanas and forming the buns and even that takes no time at all. The rest is all done by machine. Lovely!

Hot (Un)Crossed Buns

Hot uncrossed buns

14 grams or so of dried yeast

4 cups plain (bread) flour

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 cup sultanas

1 ½ cups warm milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix dry ingredients, including yeast & sultanas, in a large bowl. Add milk, butter and egg. Mix well to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume. Approx. 1 hour.

(This stage can be done in a bread machine – liquid ingredients first, followed by dry, NO SULTANAS, then set to ‘dough’ function.)

Knock down dough, then knead for 1 minute.

(If you’re using a breadmaker, let it finish its cycle, remove the dough and knead in the sultanas.)

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Divide dough evenly into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a bun. Place slightly apart on a lined baking tray. Leave in a warm place to double in size. Approx 1 hour, depending on ambient temperature.

Or, if you’re like me, take a big cake tin (26 x 26 cm), tear off some baking paper to fit. No grease, just plop it in – the paper overhang makes great handles for lifting the buns out afterwards – then roll your 12 buns and place them in the tin and leave to prove. They’ll be a bit more rectangular than square but it’s the taste, not the shape, that counts. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, if they’re too perfect everyone will think you bought them!

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

If you’re feeling cheffy, pipe crosses onto buns. (Make the paste with 1/3 cup plain flour and 1/3 cup water, mixed until smooth).

Just to prove I can add crosses….

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Okay, so I’m not great with a piping bag…

Bake at 200⁰C for 15-20 minutes. When baked, place buns on a rack and brush with glaze. (Make the glaze by mixing ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon mixed spice in a saucepan. Bring to boil slowly, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes)

Finished glazed hot cross buns

Finished glazed hot cross buns

See? Easy! And delicious. Plus your house will smell amazing and you’ll have exerted hardly any effort. Stand by for cheers and compliments when you hand out butter-smothered hot (un)crossed buns to grateful family and friends.

Hot crossed buns broken apart

GIVEAWAY

Why not? It’s Easter. So…

For your chance to win not only a signed copy of my fantabulous new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill, the book that everyone is raving about (it’s my blog, I’m allowed enthusiasm!), but some Lindt chocolates too, simply share your favourite Easter memory or treat. Either one, I don’t care. The main thing is to join in the Friday Feast fun!

Did you shiver in a collapsed tent for an entire weekend? Perhaps you ate too many Easter Bilbys (chocolate ones) and couldn’t move for a day? Maybe you have a wonderful family tradition you could share?

Comment away and I’ll put you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Wednesday, 23rd April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

Take note: I’m be leaving the giveaway open a little longer usual because of the holiday break.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about me, just go exploring the website. But you can also play around on Facebook, Twitter via @CathrynHein and Google+.

FRIDAY FEAST with Sarah Mayberry

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It’s Friiiiiday and what better way to celebrate this most favourite of days than with fantastic food and fabulous fiction?

I know… FOOTY! Yes, my darling Sydney Swans AFL team had a win. About time, too. This losing business was leaving me very flat. I think that’s what’s been affecting my golf. I had the footy sooks. Speaking of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I played rather well last week. For nine holes. Then it all collapsed in a muttering heap. But for nine blissful holes it was happening. No balls in the water, no thieving crows to upset me. Lovely.Author Sarah Mayberry

Speaking of lovely (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), today’s guest is most certainly that. Lovely, and an amazing author. It’s no wonder I have serious fangirlness. Sarah Mayberry writes amazing books with brilliant dialogue and storylines that hook you from the first page. I’ve just finished reading the first of her April releases, Satisfaction. Oh boy, was that good. Really, really good, but I’ve come to expect that from Sarah. Which is why I’m very excited about her second April release, Her Kind of Trouble. Can’t wait to read this one!

HER KIND OF TROUBLE

Cover of Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah MayberryIt takes one to know one 

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they’re a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And everything that happens between them proves her right. Even better, they both agree their one night together is all they’ll share. 

Now, years later, Seth remains one of Vivian’s favorite memories. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because when she sees him again he’s still sinfully attractive. More than that, she actually likes the man he is. When Seth suddenly becomes a full-time dad to a newborn, Vivian falls hard. Despite the changes, however, she knows Seth will never settle down. And he will definitely never commit to one woman. So she needs to strengthen her defenses before she gets into real trouble!

“As she always does, Mayberry has delivered a passionate, psychologically astute romance with a hero and heroine who are both charmingly flawed. The pages practically turn themselves” –  New York Journal of Books.

They do! Pick up a Sarah Mayberry and you’ll be hard pressed to set it down. Which is why you want to buy Her Kind Of Trouble right now. Oh, yes you do! For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publisher Harlequin or Mills & Boon Australia, or your local chain store. For the ebook click on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now, have fun with Sarah!

Cravings

One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to give my characters the cars, houses, wardrobes and shoe collections I would love to have in real life – and I also get to feed them. I don’t think I have ever fed one of my characters something that I personally can’t stand. That would be so…wrong. More often than not, they get to have something I am craving or something I wish I could try again. Her Kind of Trouble is no exception to this rule.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for you, but there is some sadness mixed in with the sexy times and romance in this book, and at one point the heroine comes over to the hero’s house and cooks him dinner before lining up the shot glasses, breaking out the tequila bottle and helping him deal with his feelings.

Here’s a little excerpt from the scene:

“How’s your liver?” she asked as she reached for the tequila bottle.

“I own a bar, remember?” There was a good measure of his old cockiness in his response.

“Big talk, Anderson. Let’s see you put your money where your mouth is.”

“That doesn’t even make sense. You bought the tequila, remember?”

“You know what I mean.”

“To Lola,” she said solemnly.

 Grief raced across Seth’s face like a cloud across the sun. Then he blinked and nodded and raised his own glass. “To Lola.”

They both licked the salt off their hands before knocking back the tequila and sucking on their lime wedges. Vivian inhaled sharply as the alcohol seared its way down her throat to her belly.

“Oh, man, I hate tequila,” Seth said.

“I know. You could so strip marine varnish with this stuff. Brutal.” She poured them a second shot as she spoke, and Seth reached for the salt cellar.

“Gives the worst hang-overs, too,” he said.

“No way. Nothing is worse than a champagne hangover,” she said, sliding his shot across the table toward him.

“Talk to me tomorrow,” he said knowingly.

They both threw back their second shots, Seth wincing as though he’d just swallowed acid.

“Feeling alive yet?” she asked him.

Before she gets Seth drunk, however, Vivian cooks him dinner – Mexican, Vivian style. I LOVE Mexican, always have, always will. Here is my chicken fajitas, Vivian style, as featured in Her Kind of Trouble.

Vivian’s Chicken Fajitas with Two Salsas

2 chicken breasts

2 medium Spanish/red onions

1/2 a fresh pineapple

1 fresh lime

A handful of fresh mint leaves

A ripe avocado

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes

Burritos/soft tacos of your choice

Olive oil

Portuguese chicken/Cajun Chicken spice mix or other spicy chicken seasoning of your choice

1. Slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, then coat them with the spicy chicken seasoning of your choice. I’ve found both Cajun Chicken and Portuguese Chicken seasoning to be good. Pour olive oil into a frying pan and cook.

2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the Spanish onions finely and separate into two bowls, half per bowl.  Slice the pineapple, removing skin and hard core, then finely dice also. Mix the pineapple with one portion of onion, then slice the mint leaves finely and add to the same bowl. To complete the pineapple/mint salsa, squeeze the juice from a fresh lime and mix through the pineapple and mint.

3. Dice the avocado and add to the second bowl of diced onion. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice finely. Add to the second bowl, season with salt and pepper. You can also add a dash of olive oil at this point if you like.

4. Place your cooked chicken, bowls of salsa and warmed tortillas onto the kitchen bench or table, and invite your family and friends to assemble their own fajita.

The mix of the tart pineapple and lime juice with the mellow avocado and spicy chicken makes this one of my favourite easy summer meals. I think Seth liked it quite a bit, too! I hope you enjoy!

 

I will most assuredly, Sarah! Thank you. What a zingy fast meal, perfect for whipping up mid-week or weekend lazing with a margarita in hand.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, Feasters, we know you love a giveaway and Sarah has a beauty! Simply reveal your favourite spicy dish and you’ll go into the draw to win not only a paperback copy of Her Satisfaction by Sarah MayberryKind Of Trouble but also an ebook copy of Satisfaction AND a packet of the world’s best biscuit, Tam-Tams!

How’s that for a prize? Told you it was a beauty. So start sharing your favourite spicy foods and get yourself in the draw.

I don’t even have to think about what my favourite spicy dish is. I have a dead simple rice noodle and pork stir-fry recipe using chilli bean sauce that I just love. Like, really love. To the point that I could eat it every night for a week, easily. But what about you? Maybe you love a fiery rogan josh? Perhaps a Moroccan tagine is more your go. What about a bit of well-seasoned chorizo? There are plenty out there and your favourite could make you a winner. And a very happy reader!

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

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Julie who’ll be not only enjoying Sarah’s wonderful books but soon tasting Tim-Tams! Thanks to everyone else who played along in the Friday Feast fun. Wonderful comments as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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It’s that day of the week again, the one where we celebrate all things bookish and foody on the incomparable(!) Friday Feast.

I’m rather excited about this week’s guest too, because not only does she pen wonderfully warm and smile-inducing books, she’s a lovely lady as well.

And, STOP PRESS: She’s a Romance Writers of America RITA NOMINEE!

Anne Gracie

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It was not my finest decision to attempt to walk 18 holes of golf in horrible humidity the afternoon after the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner. Ugly doesn’t even begin the describe my play. Balls were drowned in dams. Swear words were uttered. And if that wasn’t enough, a crow pinched my brand new ball on the fourth. Again. I’m really beginning to hate those birds…

Now onto the also incomparable Anne Gracie! Anne writes GORGEOUS historical romances that truly warm the heart. Her new series features the Chance sisters, with the second The Winter Bride just released. I finished reading the first, The Autumn Bride, only yesterday and can’t tell you the fun I had. Anne’s books make me smile. A lot.

Take a look at The Winter Bride. I so, so, so want to read this!

THE WINTER BRIDE

The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree uncomplicated fun.

Handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes —pursued by muffins, with a view to marriage — finds himself about to be trapped in an untenable situation by his match-making parents, and pays Damaris to enter into a faux betrothal. But then an accident throws them into a compromising situation, and they’re both forced to reevaluate their position.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

With a 4 1/2 star Top Pick from Romantic Times, this is the second in the Chance sister’s series. Publishers Weekly  called it “charming,” and Kirkus Reviews said: “A romantic winner, with Gracie’s typical witty charm and sweeping emotion.”

Seriously, if you haven’t tried Anne then you MUST. Her books are like warm cuddly blankets. You can buy the print version of The Winter Bride now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Bookdepository, Fishpond, Barnes & Noble or your local independent book shop or chain store. Purchase the ebook from Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook reseller.

Time for some fun with Anne. Enjoy!

Pursued By Muffins, With A View To Marriage

What’s that, you say? Pursued by muffins?

Yes, muffins. In the words of Freddy, my bad-boy hero in The Winter Bride, muffins are: “Females. Eligible females. Seriously marriage-minded eligible females, usually of the reforming type.” Here’s a taste of the Winter Bride:

Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. That was Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl thought he meant these blasted bun things. She had him served with them each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.

He picked up a muffin, hefted it lightly and eyed the fire with a narrowed gaze. It was a good blaze, strong enough to reduce a muffin to ash in a short time.

But would there be an incriminating smell?

He raised the muffin, aimed and was about to toss it in the fire when feminine footsteps sounded in the hall. He dropped the muffin, turned toward the open doorway and saw four smartly dressed females advancing toward him, smiling.

The hairs on the back of his neck rose. Why the devil were they grinning at him like that? What did they know? What did they want?

He had a powerful urge to flee.

So naturally when it came to deciding what food to talk about on Friday Feast, I had to choose muffins.

For a long time the only muffins I knew were the kind you toasted. My first experience of the other kind was many years ago when I was backpacking in the USA — I ordered a toasted muffin and coffee for breakfast.
The waiter eyed me suspiciously. “We don’t toast muffins.”
“Ok,” I said.
He came back with a large cupcake. “I didn’t order this,” I told him. “I asked for a muffin.”
He rolled his eyes at my ignorance. “Ma’am, that IS a muffin.”

So on with the recipe, and I’m sure there will be a few shrieks because actually it’s a friand recipe and I know a friand isn’t really a muffin, but… well, I made these and they’re yummy and easy and I did cook them in a muffin tray. And they look like muffins.

Friands

Friands

 

Ingredients:

175g (1 1/4 cups) pure icing sugar

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

155g (1 1/2 cups) ground almonds (hazelnuts are yummy too)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

180g butter, melted & cooled a little

150g frozen blueberries (or raspberries or any berries really)

2 tbs flaked almonds

(I was v. liberal with both the blueberries and the flaked almonds)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a muffin tray and dust with a little plain flour.

2) Sift icing sugar and flour, add the ground almonds, then stir in eggs and melted butter. Mix until just combined.

3) Stir in half the blueberries.

4) Distribute mixture between the muffin moulds. Plop a few remaining blueberries on top of each one and sprinkle with flaked almonds

5) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

6) You can dust them with icing sugar to serve, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

* For gluten-free types, I have made these with gluten-free flour and they’re just as yummy.

 

Thanks, Anne! Those friands sound delicious. And healthy, too. Anything with fruit has to be.

US cover for The Winter Bride

US cover for The Winter Bride

Just the thing to kick back with a book and a nice cuppa.

At the risk of doing another fangirl rave, I loved that excerpt from The Winter Bride. Freddy cracked me up in The Autumn Bride with all his muffin chatter. He sounds such FUN.

GIVEAWAY!

Oh, we love a generous author on Friday Feast and Anne is no exception. Here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of The Winter Bride. Simply answer this question: What is your favourite thing to have with a cuppa? Reply in the comments and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 1st April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her books – which you do! – please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @AnneGracie and Facebook.

Go Anne in the RITAs!

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Tami who has won a copy of Anne’s The Winter Bride. A lovely reading time ahead! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. I hope you come back again for some more foody-booky goodness! 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Tricia Stringer

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Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

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Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

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