Tag Archives: Mills & Boon

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

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What a magnificent Friday! And made all the better with a fabulous guest, some feasting, a fantastic book giveaway.

But before we get onto that… DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SWANNIES? Yes, my beloved footy team, the Sydney Swans, is into the AFL Preliminary Final. One step from the Grand Final and premiership victory. Oh, the thrill!

Which kind of makes up for my rather lacklustre golf. I say lacklustre because that’s how it felt to me, but somehow, thanks to that newfangled handicapping system Golf Australia has implemented, I played well enough last week to knock 0.2 of a stroke off my handicap. Weird. Very weird indeed. I am, as we like to say here in the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf house, bumfuggled.

I’m super excited this week because I’m hosting a very lovely lady on Friday Feast. Annie West is a USA Today best-selling author of many hugely popular and sexy books. She is queen of the alpha male, writing sumptuous romances populated with handsome jet-setting billionaires and feisty heroines who prove more than a match for them.

I’ve just finished reading Annie’s latest, Damaso Claims His Heir, and it was a cracking read. Alpha heroes normally make me want to kick them in the shins, but Damaso was so undone by the heroine, Princess Marisa, that I nearly felt sorry for him. The dialogue was slick, the settings wonderful and the story full of intense, heartfelt emotion. I honestly loved this book and I’m sure you will too.

DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR

Damaso Claims His Heir by Annie WestWhen opposites attract!

Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

Doesn’t that sound fun? Probably because it is! You can indulge in a bit of loving with your own sexy Brazilian billionaire with just a few clicks. Buy Damaso from Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi and direct from the publisher Mills & Boon.

Now please give a warm welcome to Annie.

The Tartiest of Tarts

Hi Cathryn! Thanks for having me to visit, especially now, in your launch month. I had the most fabulous time reading your French Prize. Sigh. Loved the story and that includes the setting, the gorgeous, enigmatic Raimond, the danger, the quest, the history, the intelligent heroine, the food… I’m on tenterhooks now waiting for your next.

In the meantime, here’s my contribution to the Feast series. Coincidentally it fits your French theme!

Sweetness seems to be ‘in’. Everywhere I look people are drooling over sexy men argh, no, wrong Facebook posts – over chocolate. Photos of chocolate desserts, melted chocolate for dipping fruit, choc biscuits or truffles with champagne. Friends send chocolate as a thank you or a ‘thinking of you’ gift (hey, I have some great friends), and guests who visit for a meal usually bring something sweet for afters (they’re well-trained – what can I say?).

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice chocolate. A super-dooper, industrial-sized block of finest Lindt once powered the final part of one of my books (thanks, Ms V!). I’ll happily indulge in a sweetness binge with the right goodies. But there are times when even chocolate won’t do it.

Yes, I admit it – I love tart things. Even my favourite home-made jam is plum rather than strawberry. Yum as strawberry can be, it’s just…well…sweet. But get a good bucketload of plums or – sigh – raspberries, and there’s a hint of tartness to offset the sweet. That’s what I crave: something with taste as well as sugar. Yu-um.

So, in hopes that there’s someone out there like me, who adores something tart once in a while, I’m sharing my all-time favourite dessert: Tarte au Citron. Sigh. Forgive me as I pause for a moment, remembering. I made this recently and the memory is making me salivate. I’d actually planned to write today about a delicious Brazilian meal I researched when writing my current release (set in Brazil in case you’re wondering), but I got side-tracked by that Tarte au Citron. It tasted so good I just had to share it instead.

A good friend and super-foodie made this version for me years ago and it’s been my treat of all treats ever since. It’s not some tame little dessert you gobble while chatting and barely notice it going down. Oh no. This is a full-flavoured whack of sensation. You concentrate when you eat this baby because it makes your lips zing. It’s so chock a block full of citrus I think one slice before a voyage would have staved off scurvy for those old time sailors who took a year to circle the globe.

It’s a dessert to be shared with like-minded friends. Make sure you have either good quality cream or ice cream on hand. This is a dessert that needs accompaniment – a little something to complement the tartness of this tart. So here it is, my friend Maurice’s

Tarte au Citron

Tarte au citron

Pastry

1 ½ cups plain flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

125 g cold butter, chopped

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Filling

4 eggs

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup orange juice

zest of 2 lemons

60 g butter

¼ cup cream

2 extra lemons

Icing sugar (not icing sugar mixture)

Pastry

Sift flour and sugar. Add butter and egg yolk and mix. Knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Roll out the pastry to the size of a fluted, shallow quiche tin that you’ve greased. I find it easiest to roll it out between sheets of plastic.  Prick the pastry with a fork and allow to rest (but I’ve been known to ignore this). Bake blind in a 200 degrees C oven for 10-15 mins or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling

Beat together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and zest. Melt the butter with the cream over a low heat. Add egg mixture and continue cooking until it thickens, stirring constantly (do not allow to boil). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool. Pour custard into the pastry and cook on top shelf at 190 degrees C for 20 mins.

Peel and segment the 2 extra lemons (cut off as much pith as possible) and arrange on the top. (Can you see now why this tarte is so tart?). Cover the edge of the pastry with aluminium foil to prevent it burning. Sift icing sugar very generously (seriously – use lots) over the filling. Place under a preheated grill until the top is glazed (the sugar will caramelise).

Remove foil and serve warm with cream or ice cream.

You’ll see from my photo that I had some trouble with my grill last time and the sugar was only just starting to caramelise. If you have a kitchen blowtorch you can use that to finish off and get the scrumptious caramelised top.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. My only gripe is that my family and guests all want to finish it for me.

 

How could I possibly resist a French lemon tart, Annie! And that one looks and sounds beautiful. I like the addition of orange juice for depth of flavour. I wonder if blood oranges would work. I have a real thing about them at the moment…

Now, my dear Feasters, because Annie is such a sweetheart and because we both think you should all read Damaso and fall in love with him and Marisa as we did, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win your own hot Brazilian, and we don’t mean waxing. There is zero pain with this alpha male.

So, lovely people, to be in the draw to win a copy of Damaso Claims His Heir, what’s the best recipe a friend has given you?

Mine has to be from my good friend Carol, who shared a beautiful recipe for chicken and pistachio terrine that’s dead easy to make and delicious to eat. I also still have the lemon butter recipe from the mum of a childhood friend in my collection, Mrs White’s peppermint cream chocolates, my aunt’s cream puffs and my mother-in-law’s ANZAC biscuits to name a few.

What about you? What’s the most treasured recipe someone has shared with you? Share with us and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 16th September 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kim of the potato bake, who has won herself a copy of Annie’s wonderful book and is in for a fabulous reading time. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. A delight to hear all your recipes and experiences, as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

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

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

Er…back to delicious people!Annie West romance author

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

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

 

AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Now prepare yourself for more deliciousness with Annie!

 

French Fancies

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Fruit Flan

Annie West's French Fruit Flan

Pastry:

1 cup plain flour

1 tablespn icing sugar

90 g butter

1 egg yolk

Approx. 1 tablespn lemon juice

Crème Patisserie:

1 ¼ cups milk

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tablespn plain flour

1 tablespn cornflour

1/3 cup castor sugar

1 teaspn vanilla essence (preferably the real thing)

Topping:

Your choice of fruit but you could use

Kiwifruit and or a punnet of strawberries

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

425g tin of pitted cherries

Vanilla essence to taste

1 tablespn arrowroot

1 tablespn brandy (optional)

Pastry:

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

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

Filling:

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

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

 

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

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

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

So what’s yours tastebud tingling favourite?

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

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

 

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

Feeling pretty chuffed this week. My beloved Sydney Swans are still perched very nicely near the top of the AFL ladder, my book is finished (at least until edits come), and I’m playing decent golf for a change, but I’m also super thrilled to introduce a new Friday Feast guest, lovely Australian author Fiona McArthur.

Fiona’s a country midwife who knows all about babies, which is why she writes gorgeous Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon. And they’re popular. Like over two million copies worldwide style popular. Yup, this is a lady who knows her stuff!

Fiona’s next release is Two Tiny Heartbeats (isn’t that a beautiful title?) and it sounds wonderful. Check it out.

 

TWO TINY HEARTBEATS

 

Two Tiny Heartbeats by Fiona McArthurGold Coast City Hospital

First-day baby bombshell!

Discovering she’s pregnant—with twins!—is not how midwife Lucy Palmer imagined her first day in her new job. Worse is that it took her gorgeous new colleague Nikolai Kefes to suggest a pregnancy test and scan. As they watch those tiny heartbeats on the monitor, Lucy knows instantly that her two little babies are the only things she can focus on. And that her highly inconvenient attraction to the hunky Greek obstetrician—with his legendary reputation for short, sweet, emotionally unavailable relationships—definitely has to be ignored…!

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? I bet it’s gorgeous. Keep your eye out for the release of Two Tiny Heartbeats in October. In the meantime, Fiona has many other novels to warm your heart.

Speaking of warming hearts, try this fantastic post on for size!

 

Train Journeys and Falling In Love With Them

 

Thank you Cathryn, for asking me to join you on your Friday Feast. Not known for my culinary skills but I do like eating so thought I’d share a food journey with a difference.

Early start at the station on the Spirit of the Outback trainFancy a Trip on the Spirit Of the Outback? Longreach to Brisbane. Ever wondered about the cost, the time it takes, the sleepers and the meals?

You have to love being a writer because research trips are definitely perks of the trade. Not often I can drag my husband on trips so we went the whole hog. I thought it was worth saving up for, sleeper class, which included all meals in the Tuckerbox Dining car, and we put the car on the train (ours was the only one on there – it looked so cute) and it meant I could be back at work a day earlier if we drove home from Brisbane – so more time out west. Vote one. Queensland Rail. Seriously. They do it right.Fiona's car on the train

This was the final stage of our recent ten day trip around the amazing red earth of western Queensland, an absolute joy, and more of that coming on my new webpage soon, and a whole lot more in my next book, but I know Cathryn loves to hear about something in the food department.

The good thing is you can’t talk about the Spirit Of The Outback without talking about the meals. A skillful chef, a huge kitchen and a unique and fabulous setting makes the cuisine as tasty and elegant as any restaurant. But in the beginning…

Longreach station

Longreach at sunrise is a little chilly in June while the excitement of looking for your carriage makes up for it. When you leave Longreach, you’ve got half an hour to settle in and admire the glorious colours of those first Fiona enjoying the view on the Spirit of the Outbackgolden rays on the plains and the contents of your little hessian comfort bags – sigh for the days airlines used to give you half what was in these little packs – with eye masks, washers, organic lip balm, plus the usual’s. I love stuff like this as my friends will laughingly tell you. Sniff. Anyway, the views are magic as you peer out the windows, and wave at the traffic when we run alongside the road.

Then your delightful hostess, in our case, Raylene of the endless goodwill – will encourage you to make your way to the dining car and take a seat at the beautifully set alcoves complete with white linen tablecloths, wildflowers and silverware, and best of all, lovely big windows that showcase the reds, browns and orange of outback Queensland.  Truly we are blessed by our beautiful country. Especially arid and sparse it takes my breath away.Fiona's husband Ian at the table

But back to food. Breakfast was all hubby could wish for, (because I had fruit and water – NOT!)  crisp bacon, soft eggs, buttery mushrooms and sausage, grilled tomato, fresh juice and hot, freshly brewed coffee. Groan. And no gym to work it off, still, probably wouldn’t have used it if they had one. But leisurely, and fun.

Then it’s back to your private cabin or into the spacious lounge car. Next time, I’d spend more time in the lounge car because a carriage full of windows give the best view of the surrounding countryside and it’s too easy to stay comfortably antisocial in your own little lounge cabin although the windows are lovely there too.The Tree of Knowledge

Rattle, rattle, rattle for a couple of hours and then a leisurely meander off at Barcaldine to admire the cleverly created replacement Tree of Knowledge, didn’t notice Kevin or Julia poking around up there just outside the station, and a walk along the platform and cheeky peer in the window by my DH. Then back on board where we took the chance for us to go through the hundreds of photos we’d taken over the last week and a half, a joke about the fact that I’d been keen to visit the Qantas Museum in Longreach when hubby decided I’d seen more planes than he’d had breakfasts, and a few more notes on my computer.

Before we knew it lunch was on, must admit I had a wee glass of Sav Blanc to go with my Barramundi Fillet with citrus butter and garden salad. Divine. Ian had Backstrap Lamb and we both daintily nibbled at the Pavlova. Actually not dainty at all. There was also Haloumi salad and Chicken terrine so lots of choices.

It was nice to go for a wander when we paused at Emerald, one of my boys had spent a bit of time working at the feed lot up here for Australian Ag, and I’d heard a lot about Emerald and wanted to see it. Looks like a great town. Love the way the station steps are in the middle of town. Couldn’t believe the agricultural equipment for sale. Must have been millions of dollars worth which illustrates the amount of food produced in this area.Fiona enjoying bubbles in the lounge car

Back for a quick freshen as the afternoon sun was casting long shadows away to the mountains and then I was sipping bubbles in the lounge car chatting to fellow travellers. It wasn’t quite as formal as the Orient Express, God Bless Australia,  but we’d all spruced up and the sun was casting  golden halo around Blackwater. We flew through Comet, but I hear (from that son) it had a good pub, but I digress.

Sunset out of Blackwater (apparently the creek ran black – from the tree roots but now it’s coal miners heaven – and as evening and dark arrived we went through to dinner to find tender grain fed pepper steak and sticky date pudding. Amongst others, and seriously I think I’ve eaten enough.Sunset from the train

When we came back, after a desultory discussion with our fellow travellers,  our lounge had been made into two surprisingly wide and comfortable bunk beds with crisp white sheets and bottled water. Did they know about that second glass of bubbles? After the early start (my car climbed on the train earlier than we did) we were well ready for bed. Loved snuggling down to the peaceful rattle of the rails – apparently it’s better to get a middle cabin as it’s quieter not perched above the wheels but –  zzzzzzzzzz.

And in the morning, (sounds like one of my books) by the time we’d washed and changed (and yes there is a shower with wonderful hot water), captured a great pic of one of the ?Glasshouse Mountains, and it was time to disembark in Brisbane.One of the Glasshouse Mountains

To retrieve our own car we simply walked to the end of the train, were escorted to a driveway, and within twenty minutes it appeared beside us. A little meander through only a couple of Brisbane streets and we popped out on the freeway to Gold Coast. Easy Peasy for this country bumpkin. So twenty four hours flew and I adored it all.

Have you any train stories? Been on any scenic train journeys?  I’d love to hear because I fear I am now addicted. Xx Fi

Spirit of The Outback leaves Longreach 0715 Monday (and Thursday) Arrives Brisbane 0710 Tuesday (or Friday) So 1325 kms in 24 hours.

Cost from Longreach:

Economy non-sleeper between $152-235 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from the snack bar

Economy with sleeper – $244-315 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from snack bar

First class with sleeper-$427-529 depending when you buy your ticket – all meals but purchase wine and beer

Car -$299 and unaccompanied $499.

There are good discounts for seniors and concession and unlike lots of other telephone booking services Queensland rail sales people are awesome.

Ph 1800 872 467       And no, I didn’t get this journey compliments of QRS. 🙂

 

Thanks so much for sharing your journey, Fiona. It sounds absolutely wonderful. I’m a sucker for train travel after living overseas. It’s such a great way to explore a country and an easy way to cross long distances in comfort. A bit of bubbly while watching the world pass by? That’s my kind of travelling!

So, Feasters, enjoyed any iconic or scenic train rides that you’d like to tease us with? Or maybe your relaxing foodie adventure was on a cruise. Maybe you flew to an exotic tropical island for a picnic (in which case I shall hate you a little bit). We’d love to hear.

Given my last trip anywhere was on the Blue Mountains train into Sydney Harbour to meet up with faaaabulous authors Christine Stinson and Jaye Ford for lunch, I need a bit of armchair travel!

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook. You can also write to Fiona direct at fionamcarthur2@gmail.com