Tag Archives: Soup recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.

But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend My new blue oveheart marked golf balland I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.

Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.

Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

And now for something slurpalicious.

My Leetle Dumpling…

I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.

I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.

They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.

With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.

Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.

Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.

No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.

I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.

It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.

Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!

I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.

So here it is. Enjoy!

Dumpling Soup

Cathryn's dumpling soup, ready to slurp

Ingredients

12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)

60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 egg

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents

1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too

6 thick slices of fresh ginger

1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.

Method

Peel and devein your king prawns.

Australian green king prawns

Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.

Chopped ingredients in processorNote: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.

Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.

Gow Gee wrappers laid out, ready for filling

Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.

Prawn filling on gow gee wrappers

Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.

Filled dumplings

Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.

Saucepan of flavoured stock

Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.

Prepared soup bowls with the vegetables

When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.

Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.

Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.

Dumpling with dipping sauce

And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!

*

All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?

Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!

What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Felicitations, food ‘n fiction fans, and welcome! This week, in yet another packed-to-the-max Friday Feast, we host a multi award-winning and best-selling Australian contemporary romance author who’s going to reveal her cracking new read, share a winter-beating recipe, AND give you the chance at a giveaway. It’s all happening, so read on!

First, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Frankly, it’s so bad I’m not sure I’m up to talking about it. After coming last – yes, LAST – in last week’s ladies competition I thought things couldn’t get any worse over the weekend. They did. I went from diabolically bad to… Sorry. I can’t bring myself to tell you. It’s too awful. I want to be upbeat say the only way is up, but I said that last Author Amy Andrewsweek and look what happened. So I’m just going to continue to sulk and mutter, and watch the Haney Project on the golf channel while pointing at my chest and yelling, “You want a challenge, Hank? Try this baby then see how good you are!”

Eh hem.

My guest today is Amy Andrews, who is, if you weren’t already aware, most awesome. She’s prolific, talented, has won bucketloads of awards, hit best-seller lists and done lots of other cool things. I am not ashamed to say I’m a total fangirl. Her books are a hoot and you should all go out and grab one today.

Amy’s latest release is Limbo. Take a look.

LIMBO

Cover of Limbo by Amy AndrewsSix Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’ fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy. So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

Trust me, you’ll be on a winner with any Amy Andrews book so get clicking and snap Limbo up now. Buy from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Nook or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back and enjoy!

2 Ingredients, 1 Crockpot

Well I must be doing something right because this is now my 4th visit to The Feast and Cathryn still seems to want this food faker back. The good news is the last month or so my cooking mojo has returned! Which was nice of it after 19 years of being AWOL. I cooked two banana cakes, an orange cake and three lots of Coq au Vin in a month! I’ve been mildly surprised at this most unusual behaviour while the family wondered if I’d been abducted by aliens who’d switched my brain with Nigella’s then returned me (particularly cruel when you think they could have switched our bodies as well!).

I emailed Cathryn and told her cooking lived here once again and could I do a Feast spot. No food construction I promised her. I’ll do Coq au Vin, I said. I even went and bought all the ingredients and made it last Saturday. Then promptly forgot about taking pictures as I went. Doh! The worst part was when it came to writing this blog the thought of doing another batch left me completely unenthused. That’s the thing with we food fakers – we’re fickle. So apologies to Cathryn and regular readers but no Coq au Vin.

What I did cook this week, though, was a delicious pea and ham soup which is kinda perfect for these winter months. I even took pictures! So, that’s what I have for you today. No chopping, slicing or dicing, no frying, no rolling in flower or beating/separating anything. Its food construction personified – 2 ingredients and one crockpot – with apologies to Cathryn for leading her on with promises of my reformed character 🙂

PEA AND HAM SOUP

Ingredients

Pea and Ham soup ingredients - bacon bones and dried peas

1/. Bacon bones. The amount depends on you and how big your pot is. You can also use ham hocks or ham bones. Lucky for us my BFF has a farm where she raises pigs because she loves them but occasionally one finds itself onto a roasting spit. We scored some smoked bacon bones off them when they visited a couple of weeks ago. They kind of look like something you might see hanging in an abandoned railway yard in The Walking Dead but they smelled amazing. My husband grew up on a pig farm so he just about died and went to heaven when they were presented.

2/. A packet of dried peas.

And that’s it…

Method

Before you go to bed, place peas in a bowl and drown them in water leaving a good few fingers of liquid covering them. You only have to soak them for a couple of hours but I always soak them overnight.

The next morning place the swollen peas and any water that might not have been absorbed and ham/bacon bones in crockpot. You might need to add some more water depending on the amount of bones you’ve used – so the liquid is up to about ¾ of the crockpot bowl.

Preparing pea and ham soup

Put crockpot on low.

Leave until the evening when all the meat will have fallen off the bones and the peas are all mushed.

Trawl through soup for all the bones (this is the most time consuming part of the recipe) then give a good stir.

Pea and ham soup

Voila! It’s done. Grab a bowl and fill. A nice crunchy bread roll or toast is the perfect accompaniment. Also a glass of wine. I can recommend this cheeky red with the fabulous retro label that every romance author/reader should have on hand!

Amy's red wine recommendation

I don’t know about you guys but winter has hit hard as I write this so guess what I had for lunch?

Pea and Ham soup

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Well, Amy, I know what I wish I was having for lunch! That looks delish and I’m a bit of a fan of a good soup. Mum’s pea and ham soup was an absolute winter winner in our household growing up. She wasn’t much of a cook, bless her, but she could make a mean pavlova and super tasty soup. Just like you!

Now, my Feasty lovelies, because Amy is so wonderful, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an Amazon Kindle copy of Amy’s new release Limbo, simply tell us this: What’s your favourite way to snuggle up in winter?

Are you a blankie on the couch type of person, or perhaps your greatest winter love is ugg boots? Maybe you’re a demon at hunting down places with open fires or perhaps you’re like me and sidle as close to your other half as possible, pinching all their body heat. Reveal your favourite way to avoid the winter cold and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 16th June 2015. Open internationally. Rah! Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay, you can still read the book via the Kindle app on your phone, tablet or computer.

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AmyAndrewsbooks or keep up with all of Amy’s news by signing up to her newsletter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

The Romance Writers of Australia conference is over for another year, and what a brilliant time was had by all. There is nothing quite so inspiring and warming as hanging with your tribe, and Fremantle was a fantastic location, well worth the trip to the west. I’ll be blogging about our fun and games later, so keep your eye out for that.

But first, to the task at hand and another Australian debut author. Leisl Leighton is a tall redhead with a big imagination, a double major in English Literature and Drama, a former career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager, and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants. She also has a hubby, two boys and a dog named Buffy, and now she’s a published author of romantic suspense. Yup, this is one full-on life liver!

Leisl’s debut novel is the wonderfully titled Killing Me Softly. Take a look…

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

 

Killing Me Softly by Leisl Leighton coverReclusive record producer, Alexia Deningham, guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon Flagherty, and his band, it is only on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behavior.

Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

 

How cool does that sound? I got all shivery just reading that blurb. Killing Me Softly can be yours now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy the ebook direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or try Kobo, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi Books, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or Angus and Robertson.

Please welcome Leisl to Friday Feast!

 

WINTER IS A SOUPADOUPASOUPFEST

 

Unlike most of the sun loving country, I love winter. And this is the reason why:

When I was growing up, whenever winter rocked around, it meant two things in my house – hoping it would snow up at the mountains in time for our annual ski trip to Mt Buller and lots and lots of soup for lunch and dinner. My whole family loved our ski trip and we loved warming soup. And when the two were combined – sublime! For me, these two things are still something I look forward to every year.

My mum loves soup. She did then and she still does, and that has kind of rubbed off on me. She used to regularly make a huge pot of some kind of soup, some of which we would have for dinner and lunches over the next few days and some of which was put into the freezer for those nights she didn’t feel like cooking anything (something I can hugely relate to now I’m a working mum). Pea and ham, tomato, cauliflower and ham, broccoli, pumpkin with sweet potato and a hint of curry, potato and leak and the perennial favourite – minestrone. There were others she tried that weren’t so successful, but these were the ones we ate most often. I can still close my eyes and remember the smell of the hamhock cooking in the pot with the split peas, the rich, salty aroma that would pervade the house and make my stomach rumble and the satisfaction of finishing my bowl with a hunk of bread and butter to scoop up the dregs.

Yum!Spinach and rice soup in a bowl

My little family (husband, two sons) favourites are a bit different -: vegetable wonton soup, pumpkin, sweet potato and curry soup, chicken soup (my husband makes this with matzo balls just like his grandma used to make), a version of my mother’s minestrone and a fabulous soup I found a recipe to in a great Mediterranean cookbook  I have, spinach and rice soup.

While I love all of the above, the one that warms the cockles of my heart and fills my belly with yummy, warming goodness is my minestrone soup. Like much of my cooking, it’s based on what my mum used to do, but seeing I’m not a follow a recipe kind of girl (I like throwing things I feel like eating in a pot and adding stuff to taste), it has changed to something far more chunky.

 

MINESTRONE SOUP

Minestrone soup in the pot

The minestrone is something I make in a 10 litre pot like my mum used to do and freeze what isn’t eaten in the first few days. I don’t have a fixed recipe for it, because like traditional minestrone, it is made out of things I mostly have in the house. However, the things I mostly throw into it are:

½ celery (chopped roughly, leaves and all)

2 zucchini (grated)

1 parsnip (diced)

2 swede (diced)

4 carrots (grated)

Tin of red kidney beans (washed)

Tin of chick peas (washed)

1 ½ cups pearl barley (washed)

Diced beef (it’s better if it still has a little fat on it)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Bag of spinach (or box of frozen spinach is fine)

4 litres vegetable stock

Basil (chopped)

Chili (chopped – or 1 tbls sambal oelek)

2 pinches of ginger

2 pinches of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

I have also used onion, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, capsicum, mushrooms – pretty much any veg I’ve had in the fridge that I need to use and would go in a soup together well. You can also use any Italian herbs you like and add garlic too. I add garam masala spice instead (because, as I said, garlic doesn’t like me). I like different textures in the soup, which is why I grate some of the veg and chop or dice the rest.

Sauté the vegetables in some oil and the herbs and spices in the large pot, add the beef, let it cook through a little, throw in the tinned tomatoes, chick peas and kidney beans and stir, then add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Minestrone soup in the bowlWhen it’s boiling, add the pearl barley and stir then drop to a simmer. The longer you can leave it on to simmer and cook, the better – 3-4 hours is good, occasionally stirring. My husband likes it thick, almost like a stew, but if you want it to be more soup-like, you could add more water or stock. You can even add some wine (red wine is best).

It’s best served with some parmesan and a hunk of fresh bread.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed sharing my love of soup with you on the Friday Feast. Thanks so much for having me here.

 

My pleasure to host you, Leisl, and thanks for that wonderfully soupy post! Soupadouping it up is one of things that makes winter tolerable (that and open fires, AFL footy, Guinness and red wine). Such a lovely comforting feeling to sit down with a steaming bowl of soup when it’s filthy outside.

Now sit up, my fine Feasters. Most generous person that she is, Leisl has offered give away to one lucky commenter a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Simply reveal which soup warms the cockles of your heart and you’ll go into the draw. Are you a hearty vegetable sort or maybe a traditional style chicken noodle? Perhaps you’re a hot n spicy type and crave a big bowl of blow-your-nostrils-out tom yum soup? Come along. Reveal all. We’re nosy buggers on the Feast and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 27th August 2013. Ebook giveaway prize available in Kindle format only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

You can also watch this video of Leisl being interviewed by Carol George of Destiny Romance, where she talks about Killing Me Softly and how she came to write it.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope to see you again soon!