Tag Archives: Lake Macquarie

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

Good morning, Feasters, and what a gorgeous one it is too, not least because we have one of my favourite guests returning to Friday Feast.

How lovely it is to have Annie West back. Not only is Annie an excellent cook, she writes intensely romantic and emotional best-selling novels and lives in a gorgeous part of the world – Lake Macquarie, right near and all those magnificent New South Wales beaches and the wine growing heaven that is the Hunter Valley. I tell you, if Annie weren’t so nice I’d be horribly jealous.

Annie’s new release is the delicious sounding and sensually covered Defying Her Desert Duty. Check it out.

 

DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY

 

Chained by silk and jewels

Across the bustling nightclub, bodyguard Zahir El Hashem watches his latest charge swaying temptingly on the dance floor, his pulse quickening. Returning the Princess to her bridegroom might not be such a simple operation after all…

Soraya Karim has always known one day she must resume her royal obligations-just not so soon! Clinging to the last shreds of her freedom, Soraya insists they take the long way back to Bakhara – and their attraction reaches a dangerous fever pitch…

Once they reach the gates of the palace such a liaison will be utterly forbidden. From then duty must reign…

 

Oooooh, that sounds sexy! I feel the need to fan myself just reading the blurb. Defying Her Desert Duty is out now in the UK and Australia. UK readers, try Amazon and Bookdepository. For Australian readers, you can also use Bookdepository, look it up on the Australian Mills & Boon site, or rush to your local book or chainstore. For US readers, keep your eye on Annie’s website for release dates and buy links.

And now here’s Annie!

 

Biscuit Blessings!

 

Hi Cathryn and Feasters. Thanks for having me back again to chat. I love visiting here, though it always results in me salivating over food I don’t really need, but want.

I told myself I was going to blog about the joys of French food. I know you’d appreciate that, Cathryn. Not that I’m a cordon bleu cook, but time spent in France last year inspired my current book ‘Defying Her Desert Duty’. I know, I know, it sounds like it’s set in an Arabian Desert, doesn’t it? The truth is there’s a fair bit of France in that story.

So there I was, all set to discuss the wonders of French garlic potatoes and cherry ice cream (not together) and delicious sauces, not to mention soufflés, when something happened. Something in the nature of a pantry crisis. We’d run out of biscuits! Or to those from North America – cookies.

How it happened I don’t know, but I was faced with a lanky son in study mode (ie. distracted and in dire need of refuelling) and he’d already has his fill of fruit and cheese on toast. Briefly I thought about a cake but it seemed like too much time and effort. As for slices – I was missing some ingredients. It was biscuits that saved the day.

Biscuits are an integral part of our lives – at least in this neck of the woods. Now we tend to graze on savoury crackers more than sweet biscuits. Nothing quite like a triple cream brie with a little fig paste on a lovely rosemary and salt cracker. Or five… But biscuits, of one sort or another are always in the pantry. They’re a lifesaver when someone stops in for a cuppa, or when inspiration is lacking and a sugar hit at morning tea time is needed to stir the brain.

My mum cooked everything from cakes to pickles, from roasts to jam, even toffees for the school fete, but for some reason never biscuits. I remember Rich Tea biscuits and shortbreads and especially Iced Vovos (yes, they HAVE got smaller over the years).

When I got a place of my own, biscuits soon overtook cakes in the baking department. They were the perfect size and portable for hungry adults or kids. Said kids could take a hand in making them – whether rolling the dough or pressing it down or mixing. They were easy to pack and I could convince myself they were healthy if I added fruit or nuts.

A Canadian friend introduced me to home made Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sigh. And Sugar Cookies for Christmas. Another friend made Banana in Pyjamas biscuits for all the children at birthday time – plain biscuits iced in blue, white and yellow. I understand her 21 year old still insists on them for his birthday.

After living in Germany I started making Lebkuchen (gingerbread) at Christmas. The picture of the Christmas plate includes Gingerdead Men (gingerbread but stamped to show the men’s skeletons) and some truly, truly delicious little Cinnamon Stars. Never let anyone tell you the Germans can’t cook sweet things! There are also little Christmas trees – made of shortbread stars with cachous for extra sparkle. For me making biscuits is a chance for a little family bonding. For some reason making the Christmas biccies is still seen as a treat by the family – long may it last!

So in the spirit of sharing, here’s a recipe I snaffled from a magazine years ago. It’s the one I cooked just a couple of days ago to feed my starving lad. It’s quick and dead easy. Let’s not talk about the calories.

 

Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

250g butter

grated rind of one lemon

1 cup icing sugar, sifted

2 cups plain flour, sifted.

Beat the butter and rind until creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat well. With a metal spoon stir in the sifted flour.

Take level teaspoons of the mixture (I know it’s tempting to take more but in this case small really is best) and roll lightly into balls. Place on ungreased baking trays and press down with a fork dipped in cold water to prevent sticking.

Bake in a modern oven (180C or 350F) for 10-12 mins or until only very slightly coloured. Cool and store in an airtight tin. Makes about 4 dozen.

Do you have favourite biscuits/cookies? Are they home made or bought? Do you crave Tim Tams or go for something plain? What’s the most unusual biscuit you’ve come across?

 

Thanks, Annie! Those biscuits sound divine. I’m a terrible sucker for anything lemon and anything shortbread.

I must admit I’m not much of a Tim Tam craver, although I’ll happily scoff one when offered. Plain biscuits are more my go but tease me with a home-made ANZAC biscuit and I’m yours. My mother in law makes some beauties.

So what about you, Feasters? Share your biscuity tale and you could win a copy of Annie’s delicious new release, Defying Her Desert Duty!

Giveaway closes midnight, Tuesday 6th November 2012, AEST. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Annie and her sexy 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 fitzroylou who has now won a copy of Annie’s wonderful Defying Her Desert Duty. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you here again!

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

Happy Friday, Feasters. And what a most joyous day it is too. After yesterday’s freezing misery the sun is once more shining on Melbourne, and mornings like this make me feel happy and bright. But today I’d feel that way even if

photo © Fiona Vaughan 2006

conditions were Arctic. Why? Because I have the loveliest guest on Friday Feast this week, multi-published Mills and Boon author Annie West.

Annie hails from Lake Macquarie way, north of Sydney and nestled at the edge of the Hunter Valley and the glorious coastline of the Lake and the surrounding beaches. A beautiful part of the world and the perfect environment for writing the intense, sensual romances so adored by Annie’s many fans.

Annie’s latest release is the sexily titled Undone By His Touch. Makes you want to read the book for the title alone, doesn’t it? Well, check out this cover and blurb, and I promise you’ll be even more sucked-in and saying, as I did, “Thank you, world, for one-click book-buying!”

 

UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH

 

Cast into a world of black, Declan Carstairs is a man in torment. Consumed by guilt, he sees no way out of the darkness his world has become. Only one thing drives him – finding the woman who caused his brother’s death, and the accident that took his sight.

Housekeeper Chloe Daniels refuses to pity her devastatingly gorgeous boss, but treating him as the strong, capable man he is soon proves dangerous. As Chloe falls deeper under Declan’s spell, awakened by his touch, she forgets all about the secret she keeps that may destroy them both…

 

You can read about the inspiration for the book (including some pictures) and an excerpt of it on Annie’s website here. To read the whole first chapter, visit Mills and Boon UK here.

 

Ha! Told you it’d grab. Now, off clickety-clicking with that mouse you go.

Right. Reading and bookbuying done? Excellent. Now it’s time to get your fingers sticky with Annie’s luscious Friday Feast post.

 

THE COMFORTS OF CHILDHOOD FOOD

 

Hi Cathryn! Thanks so much for inviting me along to join your feasters. I love talking about food as much as I enjoy talking books. Congratulations too on your new release.

I toyed with the idea of featuring some exotic meal I’d attempted, but in the end nostalgia won out and I’m chatting about a favourite childhood comfort food.

Not so long ago I came across plums – lots of them and very cheap. They sat there tempting me with their lush roundness and that lovely straight-from-the-orchard cloudiness on the skin. I was very busy at the time, shopping in a rush while adding to a mental list of things to do when I got home, yet I heard their siren call. I circled, trying to tell myself I wasn’t interested but I could still hear it – those wonderful words – home made plum jam. And I was lost. I’ll tell you why.

I grew up in what’s now a pretty ordinary suburban street. When I was young though, it wasn’t so built up. We had over an acre of land and most of it was remnant rainforest gully. We ran wild outside almost every day and it was a brilliant place to play, despite the venomous snakes who also shared the place. Closer to the house was a very, very old garden with a couple of apple trees two storeys high, all sorts of flowering shrubs and bulbs as well as what seemed to me enormous plum trees.

I’m not sure how many plum trees we had but they covered a lot of ground. When the fruit was ripe our neighbours would gather then leave laden with multiple buckets of plums. Narabeen Plums, Blood Plums, Santa Rosa Plums and others whose names I never knew. Despite the neighbourhood feeding frenzy there was always an abundance left for us. And, being the housekeeper she was, mum made jam. Lots and lots of jam.

Mum made so much jam we never ran out. I remember the first time I tasted store bought jam – on an interstate caravanning holiday when I was around 10.  I didn’t know jam could taste so….nothing. I’d grown up assuming all jam was flavourful and downright delicious.

When I recently cooked up my batch of plums it had been a while since I’d made jam. Tasting the end product transported me in a flash to my childhood. The taste and scent, even the consistency of it, was pure nostalgia. And, though I’m biased, I can report it was delicious. Others say so too! I know it wasn’t my jam making skills but the taste of the fruit.

We all know that smells can evoke powerful memories of the past yet t I hadn’t realised taste had the same power. The sensation was quite incredible and brought back so many things I’d half forgotten.

That got me thinking about comfort foods from childhood and how they make you feel so much better, whether you’re feeling sick, or just ready for a little boost. Apart from ‘real’ plum jam my childhood comfort eats include Christmas pudding, corned beef with veges and white sauce on the onions, and old fashioned chocolate cake. And how could I forget…potatoes cooked in the coals of an outdoor fire (Dad did a lot of burning off at our place). Shove the potatoes in the coals and cover them. Haul them out when they’re black on the outside. Cut them in half, add salt and pepper and scoop out the insides with a teaspoon. Yum!

If you’re interested in trying your hand at jam, try this (and the recipe can easily be halved). It makes a sweet yet slightly tart jam.

 

PLUM JAM

2kg dark plums

4 cups water

1/3 cup lemon juice (but have extra just in case)

1 ½ kg sugar

Quarter plums and remove stones. Add with water to large saucepan. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for an hour.

Add juice and sugar to the saucepan. Stir over heat without boiling until the sugar is dissolved. Then boil, uncovered without stirring for around 20 mins or till jam sets when tests. (Depending on the type of plums it can take longer or you could add a little more juice if it’s not setting).

Pour into hot sterilised jars and when cold, seal.

 

Do you have favourite comfort foods? Ones that remind you of your childhood, or perhaps of some other place or time that you like to revisit? Is there some food that instantly takes you back and makes you feel good?

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH, (my Mills and Boon May release in Australia and New Zealand) to someone who comments. As I write this I’m smiling as I’ve been shopping today and saw it on the shelves. Such a good feeling.

 

A good feeling indeed, Annie, especially with that title and cover, and the reviews have been fantastic too.

So, Feasters, you heard Annie. Start delighting us with your childhood comfort foods. I’m voting for caramel tart, the boiled tin of condensed milk kind. World War Three would almost break out in our house over who was going to lick those tins clean! I’ll also always have a soft spot for my grandmother’s rabbit stew. It wasn’t anything special, just a bunny cooked up with vegies, but one of those simple, delicious and satisfying dishes that sticks with you. Or maybe it was just the pain of crunching on a shotgun pellet that’s stuck with me…

Get those comments in quick because Annie’s giveaway closes midnight, Tuesday 8th May, 2012 AEST. Open internationally.

If you’d like to learn more about Annie and her sexy books, please visit her website. You can also keep up to date by signing up to her newsletter.

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Juanita who has won a signed copy of Annie’s gorgeous Undone By His Touch. Thanks to all who commented – great convo on jam! – and who helped make Annie’s Friday Feast such fun.