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FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

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Hello Feasters! What a fiiine Friday we have today, not least because my beloved Sydney Swans are now perched atop the AFL ladder. They look so pretty there, in all their red and white plumage. Fingers crossed they stay there, although it’s still a long way until finals.

As for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I’m not sure I want to talk about it, really. I was playing rather well, then… sigh. The Curse. I will never shed it. But the game keeps me coming back. Sucker.

Enough of that. It’s a fiiiine Friday because we’re hosting a wonderful guest this week on Romance author Christina BrookeFriday Feast: award-winning historical romance author Christina Brooke. Rah!

Christina was the first Australian to win a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award for the manuscript which became her first published novel. From that point there’s been no looking back. Christina has gone on to be a best-seller and been nominated for a prestigious Rita® Award (the romance world’s equivalent to an Academy Award). Her Regency novels are a delight. I adored her Ministry of Marriage series but Christina is excelling herself with the Westruthers. The series began with London’s Last True Scoundrel, continued with The Greatest Lover Ever (aren’t these titles brilliant?) and now we have The Wickedest Lord Alive.

Check his abs … er…*cough* I mean this excellent book out!

THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE

Cover of The Wickedest Lord Alive by Christina BrookeCAN AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

Eight years ago, a tall handsome stranger entered Lizzie Allbright’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne agreed to wed and bed Lord Bute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the London night…

LEAD TO EVERLASTING LOVE?

Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Lizzie is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night without falling hopelessly in love?

Believe me, you’ll have a wonderful time with Steyne and Lizzie, so grab Christina’s new book today. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Angus & Robertson, Barnes & Noble, Boomerang Books, Fishpond or your nearest bookshop. For the ebook, visit Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Barnes & Noble, or your favourite ebook retailer.

And now, if you can drag yourself away from Ab-Man above, here’s Christina!

Comfort Food

Thanks so much to Cathryn for having me here today on Friday Feast!

It’s winter in Australia and of course, my thoughts turn to those beautifully warming dishes we all enjoy when it’s cold. Curries, roasts, lasagnes, apple pies and chocolate puddings—The Margaret Fulton Cookbookand all of the meals I grew up with. The ones that warm not just the belly but the heart.

My mother is a great cook, capable of fancy schmancy dinners and fiddliness that I can only watch with open-mouthed awe (open-mouthed in the hope she feeds me some of that delicious food!) But for general everyday cookery and baking, the Margaret Fulton cookbook was always her guide.

When I left home and began to amass my own collection of cookbooks, I have to say that Margaret Fulton didn’t cross my Margaret Fultonmind. I gravitated towards Marie Claire and Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Bill Granger.

Something changed, however, when I started cooking for my family. I began to get nostalgic for the dear old Strog (Beef Stroganoff, for the uninitiated) and basic staple recipes like baked custard and coffee cakes.

My mother’s ancient copy of Margaret’s book is still in use but I was lucky enough to receive my mother-in-law’s, so well-worn as to be coverless and practically in bits. Still functional, however, luckily for me!

I’ve just looked at the original publication date of this copy—1968. Not much rocket or kale or Margaret Fulton Cookbookquinoa in this book! The dishes range from hors d’ouvres to pastry, from cocktails to Chinese food (very exotic at that time!) and from how to cook a simple steak and make accompanying sauces to traditional Christmas cooking, to a full-blown dinner party featuring stuffed lobster tails or duck a l’orange.

Of course there are many dishes that are not terribly fashionable now—angels on horseback, stuffed eggs, avocados with jellied turtle soup, floating island, and so on. But I still can’t go past the Margaret Fulton for sheer comprehensiveness. And using the same cookbook my mother used when I was a child gives me a warm glow of homecoming that is very special.

GIVEAWAY!

What about you? Do you have a favourite comfort food? Favourite basic recipe book? Join in the conversation for a chance to win a copy of my new release, not yet officially out in Australia, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE!

Did you hear that, Feasters? Your chance to win a book that hasn’t officially released in Australia yet. What an opportunity!

So crack those knuckles, lay those fingers on your keyboard and get typing. We’re a-waiting all your favourite cookbooks and comfort foods. Seriously, I wouldn’t know where to start with either. I have so many. But I did make an amazing Italian beef and bean recipe the other week. Pulses are so good in the winter. Tis the carbs. As for cookbooks, oh I love them all. But I’m particularly fond of my Rick Stein collection.

What are your favourites? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of Ab-Man. Er, I mean The Wickedest Lord Alive.

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

If you’d like to learn more about Christina and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @chrstnabrooke and the fabulous Romance Bandits blog.

The Wickedest Lord Alive giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Roz who has won herself a copy of Christina’s wonderful new book. Thanks to everyone for joining in the Friday Feast fun and for sharing your memories. It was lovely, as always. 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

Welcome to another Friday Feast, this week featuring a must-read author, a delicious dessert and an utterly juicy giveaway!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly. I snuck out for a practice round last Tuesday and played 9 under my handicap. Marvellous, yes? Well, it would have been if I hadn’t then gone out in competition and shot 5 over. Sigh. The great golf god giveth and the great golf god taketh away, the sod.Historical romance author Christina Brooke

Now onto more uplifting things, namely my fantabulous guest Christina Brooke!

If you love historical romance then Christina should be on your must-read list. She’s brilliant! Great dialogue, gorgeous settings and truly memorable heroes and heroines. This is feel-good romance at its best, which is why her books have won and been nominated for so many awards.

Come December 31st, Christina will have a new release hitting the shelves and I can’t wait to read it. Take a look at…

 

THE GREATEST LOVER EVER

 

Cover of The Greatest Lover Ever by Christina BrookeTHE SWEETEST SCANDAL

Beautiful, exuberant, and stubborn Georgiana Black has more spirit than sense – which she learns when an ultimatum to the Earl of Beckenham ends their engagement. Six years later, Georgie is less concerned with impending spinsterhood than with making sure her young sister doesn’t make the same mistakes she did. But soon Georgie stumbles into a scandalous encounter with none other than her former fiance. Beckenham is still breathtakingly desirable – and as iron-willed as ever…

THE TRUEST TEMPTATION

Beckenham’s brief engagement to Georgie taught him one thing – when it comes to a wife, he wants a woman who will do her duty and cause no trouble. When the fiery Georgie falls unexpectedly into his arms, Beckenham remembers just how lushly delectable she is. Suddenly, the idea of actually marrying Georgie is irresistible. Convincing her will take more than a simple proposal, however. In a battle of wills, can passion conquer pride?

 

The Greatest Lover Ever is available for pre-order right now. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, AustralianLondon's Last True Scoundrelor your favourite bookstore or ebook retailer.

Can’t wait to read a Christina Brooke? Then when not try her current release, London’s Last True Scoundrel, or the first in her famous Ministry of Marriage series, Heiresss in Love. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Now you’re loaded up, here’s Christina!

 

From Greatest Lover To Greatest Christmas!

 

Hello everyone and thank you so much to Cathryn for having me here today. I LOVE food—eating it, talking about it, exchanging recipes—so the Friday Feast is perfect for me!

I do love cooking—baking, in particular—but I have to say that running a family and a writing career doesn’t leave me a lot of time or patience to do very fiddly dishes.

So nothing pleases me more than when I find a dish that looks complicated but actually is very easy to put together. That’s definitely true of the Christmas Ice Cream Cake I have to share with you today.

I made this last year for Christmas Day and it was a huge hit. Christmas Day in Australia is almost always ridiculously hot and while plum pudding might be traditional fare, it’s not much fun to eat in the middle of the day in the middle of summer. Particularly if you’re like half of my family and loathe dried fruit!

Donna Hay is always a wonder when it comes to easy delicious cooking and this recipe is from her December 2012 “Celebrate” Magazine. She calls it a Honeycomb and Caramel Trifle Log.

So here’s how you make it. This is so simple! It does take time, because the layers have to be frozen separately, one at a time. But the beauty is that you can prepare this dessert well in advance of the day itself so you don’t have to be baking or stirring in a hot kitchen on Christmas Day. And it keeps for a long time, too.

 

Christmas Ice-Cream Cake

 

*Grease and line a  2 litre capacity rectangular loaf tin with baking paper.

*Crumble 120g of store bought sponge cake into a bowl, douse with 2 tablespoons of sweet sherry and leave a few moments to soak in.

*Mix 200g of store bought vanilla ice cream with the sherry-soaked cake crumbs. Pour ice cream mixture into loaf tin and smooth out so it’s level.

*Place 8 plain chocolate biscuits over the layer of ice cream, overlapping them slightly. You might have to improvise a little, depending on the type of biscuit available but any kind of arrangement will get the job done.

*Freeze for 2 hours.

*Mix 160g or ½ cup of store-bought caramel or dulce de leche with 200g of vanilla ice cream.

*Pour caramel ice cream mixture on top of the frozen sherry cake and biscuit layer, finishing with another layer of 8 chocolate biscuits.

*Freeze for 2 hours

*Final layer is 100g smashed honeycomb shards mixed with 300g vanilla ice cream. Pour over the first two layers and freeze for 2 hours. If you can’t find plain honeycomb and can’t be bothered to make it, a smashed up Violet Crumble bar is fine.

I made a kids’ version of this cake as well, with chocolate, caramel and vanilla layers and topped it with M&Ms. They loved it! There’s really no limit to the variations you can make with this cake. You can just choose your three favourite store-bought ice cream flavors and use those.

This photo is of the version I made last week. Unfortunately, I came down with chicken pox in between the second and third layers so this one only has two layers! But you get the idea of how great the cross-section will look when it’s finished.

photo

A very merry Christmas to you all and I hope you have a wonderful and stress-free holiday!

What about you? What’s your favourite hot weather dessert? Do you like to eat traditional plum pud on Christmas Day or do you have another tradition you’d like to share?

 

I am groaning with need here, Christina, and not only for The Greatest Lover Ever! That dessert looks absolutely divine. What a brilliant alternative to the traditional Christmas pud. I’m definitely putting this recipe on my Chrissy list. Delish!

Now, my Santa-hatted Feasters, would you like to win yourself a signed advance copy of The Greatest Lover Ever? Of course you would! Then get your thinking caps on and tell us what your favourite Christmas or hot weather dessert is. I’m a bit of a sucker for good old fruity pud, but I’m also a big fan of my White Chocolate Decadence. And really, you can’t beat an old-fashioned icy-pole on a hot day either. Not exactly fancy, but it certainly does the job!

So share away and we’ll put you in the draw. But be quick about it. Closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 10th December 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won an advance copy of The Greatest Lover Ever. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope you had as much fun as we did!