Tag Archives: New Orleans

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

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Hello, food and book lovers, and welcome to another tastebud tingling Friday Feast. This week, one of the hottest authors in Australia, a delicious New Orleans treat, a sexy book that will also win your heart, and a giveaway!

But first, the ongoing saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So even though it is now spring, the winter of my golfing discontent has carried on. I appreciate that I had a little time away from the golf course, but you’d think the Great Golfing God would cut me a bit of slack, wouldn’t you? In particular when I kindly sacrificed 4 (or was it 5?) balls into water hazards to keep the big fella happy, but no. Not only could I barely hit the ball on the fairways, I couldn’t putt either. I had 6 three-putts. SIX! That’s just humiliating. Fortunately, as a golfing Hein I’m used to it, didn’t chuck a tanty and laughed my way round. Only cos it beats crying.

Author Rachael JohnsRachael Johns is one of, if not THE biggest selling rural romance author in Australia. Right from her debut novel Jilted she cemented her place in rural romance stardom and hasn’t looked back, following Jilted with hits like Man Drought, and the much-loved Bunyip Bay series. But as many of you already know, Rachael is talented in more than the rural romance genre. She can write sexy stories too, and her latest is Fire Me Up, book 2 in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series, which also features titles from leading authors Maisey Yates, Megan Crane and Jackie Ashenden.

Take a look at Fire Me Up.

FIRE ME UP

Fire Me Up by Rachael JohnsCan a scorching affair with a bohemian beauty tame a motorcycle man with a dark side? Rachael Johns takes the wheel in the sexy series co-written with Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, and Maisey Yates.

Travis “Cash” Sinclair values only two things from his days with the Deacons of Bourbon Street: his prized Harley Davidson and the man who gave it to him. But now Priest Lombard is gone, and Cash has inherited the Deacons’ clubhouse—not to mentions its unexpected tenant. She’s exactly the type of woman he tries to avoid: all incense and art, with a sharp tongue that promises trouble. So why does Cash want to push aside those flowing skirts and lose himself between her legs?

Billie Taylor fled a bad marriage to start a new life among the grit and glamour of the French Quarter. She refuses to let another man distract her from her dreams, especially an outlaw biker with nothing to offer except hot sex and an eviction notice. Cash is dangerous, with an untamed streak he tries desperately to conceal. He drives Billie wild, sending her too close to the edge for her own good. And she won’t fall under his spell—or into his bed—without a fight.

How hot does that sound? Phew! Fire Me Up can be yours right now with just a clickety-click. Try Amazon.au, Amazon.com, iBooks. Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Now come on a tasty journey with Rachael.

A Taste of New Orleans

Beignets and hot chocolate in New Orleans

Beignets, coffee and hot chocolate at the famous Café du Monde, New Orleans.

Last year I had the absolute joy of attending the Romantic Times readers’ convention in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I’d never been to the convention or New Orleans before and had no real idea of what to expect from either place. Except people kept raving to me about how much I’d LOVE the food. Two things I was told I must absolutely try were “gumbo” and “beignets.”

For the uninitiated like I was here’s the Wikipedia definitions for both:

Gumbo – a stew or soup that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.
Beignet – is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. They can also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough. Commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top.

Well, I had a couple of tries of gumbo and personally couldn’t see the appeal but the moment I put my first beignet into my mouth, I understood what everything was raving about. Although they tasted a little like a donut, they were so much better than donuts. The fried dough melts in your mouth and there is no way to eat them without covering yourself and your clothes in icing sugar dust. I had beignets (on more than one occasion) at the famous Café du Monde, which is open twenty-four hours a day and only sells beignets and drinks. Each time I went the venue was very busy and their hot chocolate was almost as good as their beignets.

Café du Monde at midnight

Café du Monde at midnight

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

The fabulous Megan Crane (author) about to head into Café du Monde with me and eat beignets.

So in love with beignets I bought a packet beignet mix from New Orleans to take home, but being a slack cook didn’t get around to trying to make them before it went out of date. However, I recently decided to give them a try from scratch – no packet mix entered the equation. I adapted (halved) a recipe I found online at Food Network and hubby and I had a right laugh trying to recreate the amazing beignets I tasted at Café du Monde.

The first bit was easy and lulled us into a false sense of our own cooking abilities. All we had to do was mix the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for ten minutes. In another bowl, we got busy beating the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Then in ANOTHER bowl, we measured out the flour. Once the yeast mixture had rested, it was time to combine yeast mixture with egg/milk mixture. After that we added half the flour and mixed, then the shortening and then the rest of the flour, until we mixed it into a dough. How much do I love dough?! We kneaded until perfection and then put it in a greased bowl, covered with plastic and left to (hopefully) rise well.

Beignet dough

 

During this time, I walked the dog, read some of the awesome book I’m currently reading (Come Away With Me by Karma Brown) and then checked the dough, which had risen as expected. So far this was one of the easiest things I’d ever made!

And then came the tricky bit. Well, the rolling out wasn’t hard, but working out exactly how thin it needed to be to cook to golden perfection took a little bit of trial and error. We’re lucky that we had a brand new deep fryer someone had given us YEARS ago, so we dragged that out and fired it up. We learnt it takes a long time for oil to heat up in the deep fryer, so had to wait a little bit longer. You could use a deep saucepan instead if you don’t have a fryer. Anyway, I digress.

Rolled out beignet dough

 

Deep frying the beignet dough

In essence making and cooking beignets was easy, but you do need to roll them fairly thin and continue turning them when they are in the hot oil.

Although the recipe told me to fill a plastic bag with icing sugar and toss the (drained on paper towel) beignets in the bag, I chose instead to sift the icing sugar over the top of them, thus dusting them as I’d experienced them at Café de Monde.

Finished home-made beignets

I have to say the result wasn’t too shabby. Even two (out of three) of my very fussy kids declared them “delicious.”

Now, this love affair with beignets didn’t only make it into my kitchen but also into my latest book – FIRE ME UP, which just happens to be set in New Orleans. It’s a little bit different from most of my books – with a little more heat and a few more naughty words, but I hope everyone will fall in love with Travis, Billie and the beignets they devour as much as I did.

*

Rach, those beignets sound delicious, if very, very naughty, and your trip to New Orleans for the Romantic Times convention must have been a fantastic experience. Every one I know who’s been to New Orleans has raved about it. One of these days I’ll get there too.

Now, because Rachael is such a faaaaabulous person, she’s offering a special…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a super special, limited edition Deacons of Bourbon Street FIRE ME UP cards answer this question: What place would you like to visit for the food?

Fire Me Up playing cards

That’s easy for me: Greece! Just as well there are lots of things to see and do in Greece. I’d need as much exercise I can get to wear off all the delicious things I plan to eat while there.

What about you? Maybe you want to try an authentic Indian curry? Or perhaps a fair-dinkum Cornish pasty in Cornwall? Simply reveal where you’d like to visit for the food and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, 8th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Karly Lane

Happy Friday and greetings from sunny Brisbane! Once again I’ve ventured north, this time for all the fabulousness that is GenreCon. A weekend of non-stop chatter, laughter and learning is about to ensue and I can’t wait!Karly Lane, Australian Author

Just as I can’t wait to introduce today’s Friday Feast guest, Australian author Karly Lane. Karly has been on my auto-buy list since I devoured her debut novel North Star in record time. I loved it so much that I shot off a gushy fan-girl email the moment I finished, telling Karly how much I loved it and looked forward to the next. Karly’s next two reads, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice were as un-put-downable as North Star and now she has a new one out, excitingly titled Burnt. Sexy title, gorgeous cover and a completely hooking blurb. You’ll want this book!

 

BURNT

 

Cover of Burnt by Karly LaneSeb Taylor and Rebecca Whiteman were high school sweethearts dreaming of a future together when one terrible night forever changed their destiny.

18 years later, Rebecca has brought her children back to the town she left behind, to start a new life.

Seb, an elite SAS soldier has returned home injured, angry and grieving to face a town that hasn’t forgotten and a father who has never understood him. 

With a failed marriage behind her, two children to support and a heavy breather who won’t stop calling her; the last thing she needed was for her first love to make a sudden reappearance in her life.

From bestselling author of Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice comes a story of love, forgiveness and bravery that will touch your heart.

 

I bet Burnt will touch your heart. You can own a copy right now with just a few clicks. For a paperback copy, try Amazon, where you can also buy the ebook for your Kindle. Other ebook resellers include Barnes and Noble for Nook and iTunes. Instant reading fun!

Now please welcome our globetrotting guest, Karly Lane…

 

So two Australians walk into a bar in Louisiana…

 

The last few weeks for me have been a whirlwind of travelling and experiencing new things—food being one of the best. On a previous visit to America I’d discovered that there were quite a few differences between Australian and US food. McDonalds, for example…now you’d think that an international conglomerate like Macca’s would have a standard menu and be the same whether you were in Aus or the US. They don’t.

You think you’d be pretty safe ordering a coke? You’re not.

‘What KIND of coke would you like?’

Ok, so maybe I’ll just have lemonade. ‘I’ll have lemonade, thanks’.

(Much to my delight, their lemonade is ACTUAL lemonade! Like REAL lemon, lemonade!)  The equivalent of what we call lemonade is Mountain dew ( in case you were wondering.)

Okay, so food…well, let me tell you, when we stopped in New Orleans (Neworlands) with friends, we had the BEST food. We were taken on a gastronomical delight of new food and flavours that we’ve decided we must try and recreate for our family back home.

First stop, we were taken to the French Quarter of New Orleans to experience the Majesty that is a Beignet (French donut). Oh-Em-Geeeeee! This delicious contraption is amazing!

Photo of delicious beignets from New Orleans

Crawfish Etouffeeseafood gumboAt lunch time and we were introduced to such delights as Crawfish Etouffee and Seafood Gumbo in quaint little restaurants that you can find scattered alongside the bayous all over Louisiana.

Sully's restaurantOur host ordered Frogs Legs, which actually were more the size of chicken drum sticks and I was VERY happy not to have seen one of these ginormous frogs on our travels!

frogs legs

Our hosts entertained us with a family meal which consisted of Chicken Gumbo, Boudin (Cajun sausage with pork and rice), Jambalaya and for desert a King cake, which is kind of like a big donut filled with custard-type stuff, and comes with Mardi Gras beads and a plastic baby that gets thrown in and whoever finds it… nope, you aren’t supposed to get pregnant, you’re supposed to host the next party! How cool is that!

king cake

They’re also big on their cocktails. Some, like the Grenade, I decided not to try. However we did have a Hurricane. But my favourite drink of choice was a Margarita…a frozen Margarita.

Frozen margarita

Needless to say we gained a few pounds in the few short days we spent in and around the New Orleans area!

 

Karly, what a ball you must have had! Discovering new tasty delights is one of the best things about travel and you sure did some tasting. Everyone I know who’s been to New Orleans has loved it and I think I’ve just raised it a notch on my bucket list. Thanks so much for sharing some of your trip with us, that was great fun.

So my footloose and fancy-free Feasters, what location ranks highest on your bucket list? Do you long for the rarefied air of Machu Picchu? Perhaps a stroll down a Parisian boulevard or adventure rafting in some far-flung location is more your thing? Me, I really, really want to go to Greece. Think of all that ancient history and fantastic food!

So for where does your heart hanker? Curious minds wish to know.

Speaking of hankering (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), keep your eye out for Karly’s December release Poppy’s Dilemma which is a book very close to Karly’s heart and one I cannot wait to read. In the meantime, sink your teeth into Burnt!

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