Tag Archives: Salads

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

31 Replies

Hello food and fiction lovers, and welcome to another aromatic edition of Friday Feast. This week: a charming contemporary romance from a favourite Australian author along with some delicious figgy goodness.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite occasional lapses of concentration and some appalling putting, I’m actually rather pleased with how my game’s Author Louise Reynoldsimproving at the moment. The winter golfing blues appear to have been well and truly cleared away. An enormous relief, let me tell you, because with the club championships now in progress, four weeks of horror play would have been too awful to contemplate.

What IS wonderful to contemplate, however, is today’s guest. Louise Reynolds has fast become a very popular contemporary romance author, with good reason. Her books have great dialogue, fantastic settings, memorable characters, and lots and lots of romance. Perfect. Oh, and beautiful covers too. So beautiful that her previous novel, Red Dirt Duchess, was announced best rural romance cover at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference. Fair enough too. That one’s a stunner.

Louise’s brand new release is If I Kissed You. Prepare to be charmed!

IF I KISSED YOU

Cover of If I Kissed You by Louise ReynoldsRaised by a pair of hopeless hippies, Nell Connor had to grow up quickly. But now her father, awash in whisky, has handed her the reins of his Irish pub. After obliterating every trace of Ireland, Nell has transformed it into a smart, and trendy bar. Business is booming but, outside of work, things aren’t going so smoothly.

When gorgeous musician Declan Gaffney arrives, it’s clear he’s definitely not Nell’s type.  He’s Irish (therefore must be feckless and unreliable), he sings romantic Irish ballads (which Nell hates) and his nomadic lifestyle reminds her of some of the most painful parts of her childhood.

After Declan helps Nell out of a tricky situation, her father takes a shine to him and starts matchmaking. And when her aura-reading mother turns up, Nell’s carefully ordered life is thrown into chaos. She’s losing control but the biggest shock of all is yet to come … 

In a story that shines a light on the unusual forms family can take, Nell must accept that sometimes love takes you in unexpected directions.

Doesn’t that sound enticing? Hard to resist an Irish hero. If I Kissed You is available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Booktopia. Grab your copy today!

Now please welcome Louise, who is going to delight you with one of the world’s most beautiful fruits.

Two Simple Ingredients

Thanks for hosting me again on Friday Feast, Cathryn. As you know I’m a keen reader of your blog. What better entertainment than books and food, with a side helping of the Hein’s golfing triumphs and tribulations.

Fig, Prosciutto, MintBut, you know, I’m a little bit peeved. Recently you hosted Amy Andrews with her smarty-pants throw-it-together-no-cooking-needed recipes and her two-ingredient crockpot soup, all of which look wonderful for next to no effort and the blurb for her Gazillionth fabulous book!

I was ogling that soup when the penny finally dropped. This is why the woman is a writing powerhouse. She spends next to no time in the kitchen. While I’m boning rabbits and scouring Melbourne for the freshest burrata, I’m not banging out the words. I’m a kitchen goddess, not a writing machine, Nigella not Nora (oh, why can’t I be both?).

So I’ve taken a leaf out of Amy’s book. No more elaborate Friday Feast recipes from me. Today, in the spirit of friendly competition, I offer a two-ingredient recipe of my own (two because everyone has mint in the garden, right?). It’s my throw-it-together, no cooking needed appetiser and it’s a crowd pleaser.

It’s the sort of dish my heroine, Nell, in If I Kissed You, would prepare for herself and friends on a night off from the Fitzrovia, her fashionable St Kilda hotel. She might have a two-hatted chef in the kitchen at work but what girl doesn’t want to pare it back to basics, kick off her heels, open a good bottle of wine and serve a simple meal she hasn’t slaved over?

But stop! I’m me. Because that fictional chef downstairs at the Fitzrovia needs a job, and because I just can’t help myself, I’m going to add value to those ingredients with the addition of two simple ingredients, lemon and cream.

So here’s that recipe, two ways.

Nell’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto

Fig, Prosciutto, Mint

Quarter lusciously ripe figs and lay in a tumble on a plate. Twist curls of prosciutto by the side. Garnish with tiny mint leaves. That’s it.

Fitzrovia’s Fresh Figs and Prosciutto with a Minted Cream Sauce (with thanks to Richard Olney)

Crush 6 mint leaves in the juice of 1 lemon and leave for 30 mins. Discard the mint. Dissolve a pinch of salt in the juice then stir in ¼ cup of thick heavy cream and whisk till smooth. Drizzle around the dish as above and garnish with additional mint leaves.

*

Oh, Louise, you’re a woman after my own heart. I adore figs. They’re so succulent and gorgeous and versatile, as you’ve shown. I have to say I love the minted cream sauce idea. Definitely one to try.

So Feasty lovelies, how do you like to use or show off fresh fruit like figs? I know it’s a bit naff but I really enjoy melon and prosciutto. They just seem to team so well. Grapes in salads are yum too, like little bursts of sweetness. As for desserts, sour cherry strudel, anyone?

So what’s your favourite way with fruit? Sweet or savoury, we’d love to hear.

If you’d like to learn more about Louise and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook, Twitter using @LouiseHReynolds, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Jodie Blight

7 Replies

Season’s greetings! Or should that be summer greetings? Either way, welcome to the plumptiousness that is Friday Feast.

I am SO EXCITED TODAY! Seriously, you have no idea. Why? Because today we host our first cookbook author. *cue much squeeing and stamping of feet* Yes, my little puddings, the Feast is going professional.

But first, to the utter unprofessionalism that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf… Oh, who cares? I don’t. I played poo, yada yada. Good. Now that’s out of the way we can move on to our guest.

Jodie Blight is a Melbourne mother of two young boys who has just launched Summer TABLE, a beautiful and accessible cookbook designed to make your life easier.

Jodie Blight, author of Summer TableJodie’s book draws on her experiences of having been a high flyer in finance, turned full-time mother, living in and out of Australia. During four years in Holland raising her family, she lived in a small Dutch village, with no takeaway food shops and where the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and didn’t open on Sundays. Jodie was forced to creatively plan and prepare her family meals. This is where the concept of Summer TABLE was born.

And what a concept! Summer TABLE shows how leftovers can be easily transformed, plus half the recipes take less than 15 minutes to prep and cook, and Jodie offers a step by step guide to cooking, storing and keeping food to help time-poor people get the most out of each supermarket visit.

Seriously, you do not want to miss this…

Summer TABLE

Summer TABLE cookbookSummer TABLE answers the age old question, ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ with over 100 recipes for fast, delicious and healthy meals for every night of summer.

Not only does it solve the dinner dilemma but the shopping dilemma too! Incorporated within the book is a free App – scan a QR code from a recipe in the cookbook and produce a shopping list on your smartphone, with all the items you need sorted into the supermarket sections. A brand new concept of bringing the old world of a hard copy cookbook and combining it with the new world of technology. A first in the cookbook world!

The reviews from those who have purchased Summer TABLE have been nothing short of fantastic. Founder of Carman’s Fine Foods Carolyn Creswell says Summer TABLE provides helpful inspiration for her and her husband juggling work and family: “With a busy family, we struggle with the challenge of creating interesting and healthy dinners every night of the week. Getting dinner on the table fast is a necessity, but being suitable for both kids and adults is essential. The homemade pizzas are a favourite in our family. Summer TABLE will inspire you for a summer of family meals with fantastic flavours”.

Summer TABLE is available from many independent bookstores across Australia, Dymocks, Big W and www.hellotable.com.au.

A perfect Christmas present for yourself, friends or family.  Maybe even a Kris Kringle!

So, now that we’ve solved your Christmas present buying dilemmas (you’re welcome, my darlings), please give a big Feasty hello to Jodie. And enjoy!

For Some Strange Reason My Family Insist

On Being Fed Every Single Night!

Summer is my favourite time of the year. The incredible lime green of the leaves, the warm sun high in the sky, the birds singing in the trees – ahhh life is good … but the serenity is always broken by those three chilling words: “What’s for dinner?”

For some strange reason my family insist on being fed every single night!

Coming up with interesting, quick and healthy recipes for dinner every night is enough to send even the best cook into the depths of despair. And when it comes to the Christmas feast, it doesn’t matter whether you are cooking for a few or for a whole tribe, it can be extremely daunting.

So as I see it, my options are:

-prepare for weeks and spend all Christmas day in the kitchen (ignoring the children’s requests for batteries, or assistance to assemble the latest gadget) or …

-relax with a glass of champagne, dodging the toy helicopter hovering above while my ankles get battered by the remote control car below.

Need I say more?

Allow me to take a step back for a moment. The idea for Summer TABLE began back in 2005 when we moved to Europe with my husband’s work. I was a young mum living in a foreign village where there was no takeaway food, the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and there was no Sunday shopping. I often got ‘caught out’ and had to produce interesting and tasty meals with whatever I had in the fridge. Out of necessity I needed to think ahead, and through my desperation came innovation.

In my attempt to be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ I always cook way too much and our tradition of Sunday roasts with family and friends results in lots of leftovers. As a lover of good food (and I admit, a little frugal), I became accomplished at creating tasty, quick and healthy meals with the abundance of beautiful food left over from Sunday. The best part was no one knew they were eating leftovers (well, not until now).

I set myself the task to use all the leftovers in innovative new ways. As the personal challenge grew, I found myself deliberately making extra for the Sunday roast, since it required no more time or effort. My husband was often surprised at how much food there was and regularly asked, with a concerned look and a quiver in his voice,  “How many people are coming today?”

And Summer TABLE was born.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Christmas. Just in case it does need to be said “I choose the glass of Champagne, while dodging miniature attack missiles”. Surprised????

I have to admit, the best Christmas lunch we have ever had, (and when I say best, I mean most delicious and most enjoyable) was last year. For entree, I bought lots of cooked prawns, already peeled by our wonderful fishmonger Phil, and served them with a Mango and Avocado Salad. It took less than 10 minutes to throw together.

For the main fare, sliced ham and a roast chicken, served with Haloumi and Watermelon Salad and Orange and Fennel Salad. Both salads ooze summer, so beautifully fresh and ridiculously quick to prepare.

I thought I would share all my easy Christmas recipes with you today. Ooops – did you say only one recipe Cathryn? I have never been very good at following the rules when it comes to talking about my favourite topic – FOOD and WINE!

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 mangoes, cut into cubes

½ red onion, thinly sliced

20 cooked prawns, peeled and deveined

2 avocados, cut into cubes

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

1 long red chilli, chopped (optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

½ tablespoon wholegrain mustard

In a large bowl or on a platter, arrange lettuce, mango, onion, prawns and avocado.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad, and sprinkle with coriander leaves and chilli.

Juicy Roast Chicken

Juicy Roast Chicken from Summer TABLEPrep time 2 minutes  Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes  Total time 1 hour 30 minutes  Serves 8

2 chickens

2 lemons, cut into quarters

4 thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 240C. Place a rack over a deep baking tray and fill tray with water until just below the rack (make sure the chickens are not touching the water). Place a small strip of baking paper down the middle of the rack to stop the chicken skin from sticking. Fill the cavities of the chickens with the cut lemon and thyme and place chickens (starting breast side up) on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Take the chickens out of the oven, remove from the tray, turn them over and put them back on the paper over the rack, breast side down. Then reduce the temperature to 190C and cook for a further hour or until the juices run clear. When cooked remove from oven, cover and rest for 10 minutes.

This method will produce the juiciest roast chicken you have ever tasted. Serve with some gravy using the juices from the tray, with its subtle lemon flavour.

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 2 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

¼ watermelon

180 g haloumi, 1 cm thick slices

1–2 tablespoons olive oil

lemon juice

Yoghurt dressing

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon mint sauce

1 handful mint leaves, chopped

Cut watermelon and haloumi into 1 cm thick slices with a similar shape and size.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Toss haloumi slices in the oil, then fry the cheese for 1 minute each side until golden brown.

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Arrange the haloumi and watermelon in alternating layers across a plate. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Best served while the cheese is still warm.

Orange and Fennel Salad

Orange and Fennel Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 bulb fresh fennel, finely sliced

½ red onion, finely sliced

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

Dressing

3 tablespoons orange juice

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Place lettuce, oranges, fennel and onion in a salad bowl or on a platter.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad and toss together.

Sprinkle with coriander.

There you have it. A Christmas feast ready in moments. For the sake of completeness, I feel the urge to give you a few ideas on wines to serve with these dishes. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to their favourite beverage and any of these dishes would be perfect served with bubbles or beer. But in case you are looking for some inspiration, these are my suggestions:

Prawns served with a crisp Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2014 SA (my personal favourite)

Juicy Roast Chicken served with a fruity Fraser Gallop Chardonnay 2013 WA

Ham perfectly matched with the Christmassy flavours (raspberry, cherry and spice) of a NV Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz Vintage.

And my final thoughts on the Christmas Feast, what to do with the leftovers? Surely I can’t be the only one who cooks way too much for Christmas day. How about using the leftover chicken for a Chicken and Nectarine Salad the next day?  Or try Vietnamese Chicken Noodles, Chicken San Choi Bow or a Caesar Salad, just to name a few. When you have eaten all the ham sandwiches you can eat, and you can’t face one more morsel, why not make Pea and Ham Soup and freeze it for winter! Crazy huh!

We are all busy and want quick, healthy and delicious meals. Thoughts of planning the Christmas feast shouldn’t drag us down. Christmas means fun, soaking up the sun, laughing with family and friends, and enjoying fresh, delicious food without the stress. Hopefully Summer TABLE will inspire you to put variety and zest back on your table.

Jodie

 

Thank you, Jodie. You have been wonderfully generous giving us not only ideas for stress-free Christmas cooking, but a great insight into what Summer TABLE has to offer. And suggested WINES!!! *faints*

So, my darling Feasty lovelies, time for a little sharing. What are your tips for a stress-free Christmas?

I’ll let you in on mine: let someone else do it. Yes, I know, not very helpful but it does make for enjoyable entertaining. Other than that, seafood n salad. Can’t beat it.

What about you? Maybe you buy delectable items in or make gourmet delights and freeze them in advance. Share your tips and help us all get through the silly season. God knows, most of us need all the help we can get!QR Code for Summer Table

If you’d like to learn more about Jodie and her cookbooks, please visit her website Hello TABLE. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter using @HelloTABLE

Want to test out Jodie’s app? Scan this QR code with your smartphone and learn how it all works!

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jaye Ford

Greetings from sunny Townsville! Yes, the man and I have zoomed off to the tropics for a few days to help celebrate my in-laws’ golden wedding anniversary. Fifty years, isn’t that wonderful? And I think there’ll be many more good years to come for this couple too. They’re very special people.

This week’s Friday Feast guest has rapidly become one of my favourite authors, whose books I’ve taken great pleasureJaye Ford, author in recommending to others because I know what a rollicking time they’ll have. Jaye Ford broke into best-sellerdom with her first novel, Beyond Fear, a book which had my heart racing throughout. Scared Yet?, another brilliant read, followed last year and now Jaye has released her third thriller, the evocatively titled Blood Secret. Like all of Jaye’s fans, I cannot wait to read this. There is nothing more delicious than a book that makes you feel things physically, and Jaye is an absolute master.

Take a look at Blood Secret

 

BLOOD SECRET

 

Blood Secret by Jaye FordNothing ever happens in Haven Bay, which is why Rennie Carter – a woman who has been on the run for most of her life – stayed there longer than she should.

However, the illusion of security is broken one night when Max Tully, the man she loves and the reason she stayed, vanishes without trace.

Rennie, though, is the only person who believes Max is in danger. The police are looking in the wrong places, and Max’s friends and his business partner keep hinting at another, darker side to him.

But Rennie Carter understands about double lives – after all, that’s not even her real name …

And she has a secret too – a big, relentless and violent one that she’s terrified has found her again … and the man she loves.

 

I’m all shivery with excitement now and I bet you are too, and with just a few clicks, you could own a copy of Blood Secret. Try Booktopia, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Bookworld, or take a wander to your local independent book shop (like MacLean’s for those in Newcastle) or chain store. For the ebook, you can download instantly from JB Hi-Fi, Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes or Google Play.

Now please give a big Feasty hello to Jaye…

 

A Taste of Character

 

Thanks for having me back at Friday Feast, Cathryn. I love reading about characters eating. Not the chewing and slurping but what their choices are. It’s a little tell about who they are on the inside and what nurtures or energises them. Some of my favourite characters have particular tastes: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher downs gallons of cafe-brewed black coffee (can’t help feeling a little Reacher-esque drinking black coffee on my own in a cafe!) and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone makes peanut butter and pickle sandwiches – not something I’ve tried but I get where she’s coming from.

In my novels, I try to give a nod at foods that say something about my main characters. In Blood Secret, Rennie has a thing for French toast, Liv in Scared Yet? eats Vegemite toast when she’s worried and Jodie in Beyond Fear has only one thing she cooks well – a steak.

I recently got that ‘tell’ in real life from my son. He left home in January to travel the world and after eight months, he finally stopped somewhere long enough to think about cooking. And I got the call: ‘Mum, can you send me some recipes?’

He’s living in Munich with a German girlfriend but the request wasn’t because he couldn’t read her cookbooks. He wanted a little of home over there and he wanted to share it with someone he cared about.

He gave me a list recipes he wanted, which told me a lot about what he missed. Family favourites that have been made so many times I don’t need the instructions: a coleslaw that’s the standard for family get-togethers, a slice that rarely survives more than a day, a cake that gets trotted out for everyone’s birthday, and a cheese sauce that goes with just about anything.

The recipes speak of summer barbeques, family days, parties at home and hearty meals around the kitchen table – and I loved that he both missed them and wanted to share them.

So I packed up some Aussie food supplies – Vegemite, Milo, Caramello Koalas, etc – a few of the ingredients I thought he might have trouble finding in Munich and photocopies of stained and well-used pages from my cookbooks. When his ‘care package’ arrived two weeks later, his girlfriend videoed him opening it and my six-foot-four, 24-year-old son looked like a little boy with a present from Santa. It produced tears on both sides of the world.

So here’s the recipe for our family coleslaw. It came from my mother-in-law, who got it from someone else, who possibly found it in a magazine – the best kind of road-tested recipe. It makes a huge salad so I halved the quantities in the photo to make a smaller version for dinner.

 

Jaye’s Family Coleslaw

The ingredients for Jaye's family coleslaw

Chinese Salad:

½ shredded cabbage (Chinese cabbage or wombok)

½ packet of slivered almonds, toasted

1 packet of Chang’s Fried Noodles

½ bunch of shallots, sliced

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.

Dressing:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ cup of oil

½ cup white sugar

¼ white vinegar

Mix ingredients together, microwave on low or heat slowly on stove until sugar is dissolved. When cool, pour over salad and mix well.

I’d love to know what food you’d miss from home if you were on the other side of the world. I have a copy of Blood Secret for the comment that makes me want a care package from your place!

 

Oh, I love this story! Thanks so much for sharing, Jaye. I must admit, we were the same when we lived overseas and a ‘care’ package arrived. Nothing like Vegemite to bring tears of happiness to an expat Aussie’s eyes.

Now, my lucky Feasty lovelies, here’s your chance to win a copy of Jaye’s new release, Blood Secret. Reveal in the comments what you’d miss from home if you lived overseas and Jaye will choose her favourite. She wants her heartstrings tugged and her mouth to water, so make it good!

And get in fast because entries close midnight Tuesday, 24th September 2013 AEST. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jaye and her brilliant thrillers, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and her publisher, Random House.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Gloria who has won a copy of Jaye’s latest release Blood Secret. Thanks to everyone who shared their favourite care box contents. That was fun!