Hello food and book lovers, and welcome to another joyous edition of Friday Feast. This week’s guest is me. In fact, lucky devils that you are, you’ll have me for the next few weeks. It’s going to be fun! This week I’m going to share my celebrity crush. And no, it’s not Chris Hemsworth, although he is very tasty. Very, very tasty…
As always, before we get to that you must suffer through Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. You may recall my excitement last week about my return to form, but that I was careful to temper that excitement with the knowledge that such good play was unlikely to last. I was right. Two weeks of glory and it’s back to normal. I swear there is a fault in my genes that causes half my problems. I stand over the ball, look at it, think: that ball is too far back in your stance, and instead of walking away like a smart person would, what do I do? I think: nah, it’ll be all right, and hit the bloody thing anyway. Usually straight into a water hazard. If I weren’t so used to it, I’d cry. Oh, well. Such is the Hein golfing life.
As with all Friday Feasts, guest authors get to feature a book and, anal retentive that I am, I like to keep things neat and tidy, which means I’m going to feature my books too. This week, take a gander at my latest release, The Falls.
For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.
Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.
But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.
The Falls is an uplifting story of healing and hope from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland, and Rocking Horse Hill.
This is a heart-warming book about village life and finding happiness when it seems impossible, and you can have it now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.
Now let me tell you aaaaaaaall about my celebrity crush.
For The Love of Rick
My collection of cookbooks is pretty scary-huge. I read cookbooks and cooking magazines for recreation. I like to stroke the pages, gawp at the photos, mull over whether a recipe will actually work, smile at my scribbles in the margins and try to solve food splatter puzzles. One thing I don’t do is get over-excited about the authors themselves. Except for one man.
That man is Rick Stein.
My adoration for all things Rick began back in the 90s with the release of his first television series A Taste of the Sea. As a seafood lover, I adored his celebration the ocean, of fishing, of Cornwall and all the sea’s abundance. I loved what he did with his produce too. Recipes like Skate with Black Butter (which you’ll also find in French Odyssey) and Baked Red Bream and Fennel with Orange and Provencal Herbs seemed very glamorous to me. Naturally I bought the book and though I’ve never made a thing out of it, I still drag it out as comfort read.
Fruits of the Sea followed. Loved the TV series, loved the book. Did I cook out of it? I did. One recipe only: Escalopes of Salmon with Champagne and Chive Sauce. But I have about 8 others marked as to-try.
See, this is my dilemma with Rick’s seafood tomes. I adore seafood. My other half doesn’t. He’s pretty good on shellfish – prawns, mud crab, bugs and the like – but fish? No. He’ll eat it but it’s under sufferance, which makes cooking fish problematic (although I’ve had pretty good success with Matt Moran’s Black Bream with a Beurre Noisette, probably because it’s so damn tasty).
That hasn’t stopped me buying seafood cookbooks, mind, and dreaming of all the lovely things I could make. Which means, of course, that I couldn’t go past Rick’s Seafood Odyssey when it came out. Nor could I resist the chance to… gasp… meet him in person!
When my girlfriend Carol, who also loves good food, heard Rick would be coming to the Vital Ingredient in South Melbourne to promote his new book, she was on the phone to me straight away. I was living in Newcastle at the time, but distance is nothing when it comes to me and Rick.
He was wonderful, just as erudite and charming as on the telly, and he cooked and fed us recipes from the book. I can still recall the garlicky goodness that was the Chickpea, Parsley and Salt Cod Stew. By the end of the session I was so full I could have rolly-pollyed out. Instead, I stood in line with my precious copy of Seafood Odyssey to have it signed by the man himself. I was so star-struck that when Rick asked me my name so he could make it out personally that I giggled. Not just giggled, but giggled inanely while blushing like a schoolgirl who’d just been smiled at by her teenage crush. Meanwhile, back in the aisles, Carol was being incredibly supportive and wetting her pants with laughter.
Embarrassing, but I don’t care. Rick signed my book!
I didn’t buy the Seafood Lovers or Food Heroes books although I watched the series avidly. I guess I was sick of buying books I didn’t cook anything out of, and I was having trouble finding shelf space. But with the advent of Mediterranean Escapes I was back on the bandwagon. I love that book. LOVE IT. It’s the book I’ve cooked out of most. The Tzatsiki is fab, so is Pollo alla Diavola. His Lahmacun (like little lamb pizzas) is gobsmackingly tasty and has become a household favourite. We serve it as two big pizzas, eating one while the other is cooking, so Jim and I can enjoy it together. They’re the best recipes so far but I’ve also made the Seared Swordfish Steaks with Salmoriglio, Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds, and Pastitsio, with plenty more I want to try.
I have Far Eastern Odyssey and drag it out quite often for a looksie, but never cooked out of it. Same with India. Probably because I already have loads of Asian and Indian cookbooks, and a collection of tried and true recipes I adore.
Spain, on the other hand, is another treasured book. If there’s one recipe you should make from that one, it’s the Pot-Roasted Chicken with Chorizo, Leeks and Cider. I can’t express how much I love that recipe. The chicken turns out tender, moist and tasty, and the chorizo and vegetable mix is sublime. Plus it’s dead easy. We make it often. I’ve also made the Pork in Almond Sauce. I swear that one day I’ll make the Clams with Garlic and Nut Picada, even if I have to eat the lot myself.
Having lived in France you’d think my favourite book would be French Odyssey, but it’s not. We have the DVD of the series and will happily watch an episode, spending our time joyfully waving fingers at the screen and yelling, Been there! Eaten that! but of the cookbook I’m not so keen. Again, probably because I have an enormous collection of French recipe books already. But if you’re looking for a truly beautiful casserole, try Rick’s Ragoût of Lamb. Magnificent.
Now there’s a new Rick kid on the block. Last week I picked up my copy of From Venice to Istanbul and I can already tell it’s going to give Mediterranean Escapes a major run for its money. I have about fifteen recipes earmarked already and last weekend we made the Lamb Kleftiko (using shoulder instead of leg) and it was beautiful. Next time we’re going to try it on the Weber.
One day I’ll go on pilgrimage to his restaurant, Bannisters, at Mollymook, NSW. I’ve already made the journey to Padstow in Cornwall (or Padstein as the locals have branded it) and eaten at his The Seafood Restaurant there.
Even though it was twelve years ago I still have my souvenired menu, can tell you that our meal cost ₤110, that I ate Linguini with Crab Meat, Chilli, Garlic and Parsley followed by Fillet of Turbot and Jim had Salt and Pepper Squid Tempura with Coriander, Chilli, Watercress and Beansprouts followed by Monkfish Vindaloo, and that, despite booking three months in advance, we were seated in what would probably be classed as the worst table in the restaurant. It was right next to the swing doors into the kitchen and I was as happy as Larry about it because every time that door opened I got to see the chefs at work and every dish that was carried past. Good times! Except for the rain. But we were in Cornwall, so hardly unexpected.
It’d be nice to meet him again. I’d quite like to make up for my stuttering, blushing idiocy from last time and ask him something intelligent like, Can I hug you? But I fear this may never happen. Oh well, I’ll just keep watching my DVDs, reading his books and cooking his recipes. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll put him in a book of my own. Cast him as a noble, poetry-quoting chef hero who falls madly for a freckle-faced horse-mad blonde. Charming fellow that he is, I’m sure Rick would appreciate that.
So ‘fess up, Feasties. Who is your celebrity crush?
If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There’s lots of cool stuff on here. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.
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