Tag Archives: pasta

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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This week on Friday Feast, lucky devils that you are, you have ME again. I’m sharing one of my absolute favourite pasta recipes, showing off my new release again (because I can, and I love it to bits and want you to as well), and… oh, let’s have a giveaway. It’s been too long!

But before you get to that excitement, you must endure news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As mentioned last week, the past weekend saw me compete in the final round of the Romance author Cathryn Heinclub championships and I came SECOND! Okay, so technically with only two of us ladies left in the field I also came last but we’ll  ignore that. What was kind of cool was the gallery (aka the hecklers) surrounding the 18th green, watching the field come in, and me making a very respectable par in front of them instead of cracking under the pressure. Not normal Hein golfing behaviour at all!

Now to plug my book, which I’m allowed to do to my heart’s content because it’s my blog and I have overlord (overlady?) powers. I will, however, try not to be boring.

So… reviews for my new release Summer and the Groomsman are coming in and they’re lovely! I’m so chuffed. 5 stars from Talking Books Blog and 8/10 from Bree at 1 Girl 2 Many Books, along with lots of very kind comments about the sweet characters and the humour of the story.

It’s enough to make a girl a little teary. Or drink fizz. I prefer the latter.

On the off chance you haven’t had enough of it yet (which of course you haven’t), here’s the cover and blurb.

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Oooh, this story is FUN. And you should buy it now, oh yes you should! Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks or Nook.

Now, grab those pots and fire up that stove, because this recipe’s a cracker.

Pucker-Up For Pasta

By now you’re all probably aware that I’m a sucker for recipes that taste disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort they take to prepare. I never used to be this way though. In fact, there was once a time when the longer the recipe, the more complicated, the more ingredients it required, the happier I was. And if it involved learning some obscure new technique, even better.

Personally, I blame the 80s.

Me at uni graduation with big hair

Me on graduation day with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads beneath my gown.

Everything had to be bigger and better then: hair, shoulder pads… plates. Remember enormous white plates with tiny bits of lonely food on them? So fashionable. I still have the most beautiful Royal Doulton set in my crockery collection. You could eat entree and main off those things and still have room for dessert, but I’ll never get rid of them because they’re so nice.

The ‘more is better’ fad followed me into the early 90’s too, when I moved to Melbourne. I used to hold these dinner parties that would take days to prepare for and involve early morning trips to Queen Victoria Market followed by hours in the kitchen and exhaustion by the end of the evening. Vogue Entertaining magazine was my bible, along with Elle Cuisine and another short-lived ultra-cheffy one I can’t recall the name of.

These days? It’s all about maximum taste from minimum effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to spend an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with something novel. I adore cooking, trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, especially on a Friday when there’s the end of the week to celebrate. Weekdays though, it’s all good food done fast. Well, not necessarily fast but certainly without drama.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, pasta e fagioli. Pasta and beans.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different recipes for this, and I certainly don’t claim the following as authentic. Not even close. In fact, my version is a total mash-up, and even then I change it around, depending on my mood. But in my book adaptability is a sign of a great recipe, plus mucking about is fun. I think traditionally, like many cucina povera dishes, pasta e fagioli is meatless. I also believe it’s meant to be runnier, like a soup. I make my version thick and serve as a plated pasta. Easy to eat and very satisfying.

The key to the success of this recipe is in the sausages. Honestly, if you don’t have good Italian sausages, don’t bother making it. Without them the dish will turn out ordinary. With them, it’ll be delicious. But as I’m sure you know, using quality ingredients is the secret to getting the best out of all recipes.

Look for lovely chunky pork sausages with plenty of seasoning. Fennel is a must, and if you can score ones with chilli in them as well, even better.

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

Serves 4

My Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 fat Italian sausages

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dried chilli flakes to taste (if the sausages are chilli-less), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

400g can tomato polpa (or used tinned tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher)

½ cup (125ml) beef stock

400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

250g macaroni (or any small pasta – tiny penne works well as tubetti and ditalini)

Grated parmesan to serve

Method

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and chop if really chunky or you can feel gristly bits.

Squeezed out Italian sausage meat

Heat a good splodge of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Cooking chopped onion

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Increase the heat a little and add sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add tomato paste, chopped tomato, chilli (if needed) and stock, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Simmering tomato and sausage meat

Taste and season as needed, then stir in beans to heat through.

Tomato, sausage mince and beans

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and mix.

Spoon onto plates and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, and watch those plates clear!

Empty plate

Okey-dokey, cos I’m feeling in the mood for one, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Hmm, which book shall I put up for grabs? I had planned to give away a print copy of Summer and the Groomsman but, annoyingly, they’re not ready yet (gah!). How about a copy of my debut Promises by Cathryn Heinrelease Promises instead? I love that story. It’s a bit Romeo and Juliette-ish, is set in south-east South Australia where I’m from, and has lots of gorgeous horses. Perfect!

Already have a copy? That’s okay. If you win, you can always give the copy away as a present. I’ll sign it to whoever you like.

So, to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Promises, simply leave a comment revealing your favourite pasta or noodle dish.

How’s that for easy peasy?

I’ve just shared mine, although I do have many other recipes in my collection that I adore. Veal ragù with home-made papardelle springs to mind – that dish is amaaaazing – and I just love spinach and ricotta canneloni. Ooh, and how can one go past pumpkin ravioli with sage butter? That dish is like eating autumn!

So what’s your favourite? Share and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th November 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, there’s plenty to discover on this website, including a fun video on my About page on How To Grow An Australian Romance Author, plus The Story Behind each book and more on its book page. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jenn J McLeod

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Welcome, food and book lovers, to another scintillating edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re getting seasonal with a rural romance author keen to tempt your tastebuds with comfort food, plus your chance to win a 3-book-pack giveaway!

But first, the ongoing curse that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You may recall how last week I had a return to form. Well, that didn’t last long. My round began sort of okay but steadily descended into something akin to golf hell thanks to some ordinary irons and idiot putting, which was annoying because I’d woken feeling pretty positive. Then the sky began to darken  Author Jenn J McLeodand yet another storm began to brew, and once that happened I was shot. If there’s one thing that gives me nervous turns, it’s waving a bunch of lightning rods around in bad weather. And to top off a most forgetful day, we were hammered by hailstones on the way home. Naturally, none of this will stop me heading out for another hit this week, although I’m stuffed if I know why!

Our guest today is Jenn J McLeod whose first novel, A House For All Seasons, was in the top ten debut releases for 2013. Since then she’s followed her success with Simmering Season and now Season of Shadow and Light. Book bloggers 1 Girl, 2 Many Books and Write Note Reviews describe it as her best yet.

Check it out.

SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT

Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeodSometime this season…

The secret keeper must tell.

The betrayed must trust.

The hurt must heal.

When it seems everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with six year old Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.

But stranded amid rising floodwaters, on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…

Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

Jenn has this to add about Season of Shadow and Light: With early reader reviews already in, I am super excited about this story of secrets and love, of family loyalty, and of trust—the kind that takes years to build but only seconds to wash away.

Season of Shadow and Light releases today which means you can order it right now from that most excellent of book stores Booktopia. Also Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Abbeys Bookshop, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooksGoogle Play and JB Hi-Fi.

Here’s Jenn!

Suddenly Sous-Vide

You said you want a dish, Cathryn? I’m bringing you and your readers the best dish—eva! His name is Aiden and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed bringing him to life in my latest novel, Season of Shadow and Light, which officially releases today!

I guess you could call Aiden Paige’s love interest in the story, and although far from Mr Perfect, the thing I loved most about Aiden was creating the perfect chef. (Can’t say I met many of those in my time as a café owner!) As Paige says at one point . . . (here’s is a tiny excerpt about a tiff)

Most chefs she’d known were highly- strung, with short fuses.

‘You know what?’ she fired back, fully prepared to tell this guy where to shove his platters, only to see a smile creep across Aiden’s face.

So totally unexpected—so absolutely gorgeous—her brain felt suddenly sous-vide, with every expletive instantly and silently sucked out, the bag then sealed tight. Although why she worried about offending this guy, she didn’t know. So far she’d witnessed him cursing into his mobile, throwing phones, happy to leave cows stranded, issuing orders and generally being a prattish, mulish, moronic chef. Typical, in other words, and Paige had met very few in the business who weren’t precious. Yes, he’d had cause to hit the roof about traipsing manure through a clean kitchen—any kitchen—minutes before service, but now here he was smiling.

Enjoy that? I suppose you’re expecting I contribute a ‘sous vide something or other’ recipe now. I would, only life these days (on board Barcoola—my caravan) demands less complication, largely due to limited cooking equipment. (Because life’s too short to wash up too many pots.)

But here is one of Aiden’s kiddy creations that Paige’s little daughter, Matilda, pronounces: “macromi sneeze”.  And bonus! This version is low calorie.

Aiden’s Macromi Sneeze!

Jenn J McLeod cooking in her caravan 'Barcoola'2 x cups raw macaroni noodles

1 x 65g pkt of cheese and leek soup mix

2 cups skim milk

1 level tbsp. parmesan cheese

½ cup grated cheese (reduced fat, if you like)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook past as directed on the packet.

Rinse well and eave to one side.

Using the same saucepan combine milk and dry soup mix using a whisk.

Bring to boil gently, stirring continuously.

Place noodles in sauce and fold until pasta is well coated.

Variations: add ham or bacon for a calorie hit. Or fresh tomato if you want to be good. Herbs are another nice touch.

 

Mmm. Comfort food, something we adore here on Friday Feast. Thanks for sharing, Jenn. I’m sure you must have some adventures cooking in the confines of the caravan. It’d certainly test me!

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my gorgeous Feasty fans, to celebrate the release of A Season of Shadow and Light, Jenn is running a special three-book giveaway across all the blogs she’s touring. To be in the running to win a pack containing all three of Jenn’s releases – that’s A House For All Seasons, Simmering Season, and A Season of Shadow and Light – simply leave a comment below revealing what your favourite camping food is.

I bags barbecued snags! But maybe you love bush damper while camping, or grilled steaks. How about a yabbie or two, or maybe potatoes baked in hot coals and then smothered in butter?

Simply share your favourite camping food and you’ll be included in the draw. This is a serious prize, so get typing!

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Please note: Giveaway will be drawn by Jenn from all comments left during her blog tour, and announced on her website at the end of May 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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