Tag Archives: Sydney Swans

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

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WHAT A FRIDAY! Can you feel the excitement, the buzz, the utter thrill of it? As you might guess I’m beyond excited. Not only is one of Australia’s most loved rural romance authors on Friday Feast today, with a great giveaway, my darling boys, the Sydney Swans, are into the AFL Grand Final. One sleep and it’ll be CHEER, CHEER, THE RED AND THE WHITE crazy time. Rah!

Author Fiona PalmerI really, really want to post an awesome video of them being magnificent but I’ll refrain and bore you with a paragraph of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead. Despite a very wobbly start and two balls torpedoed into dams, I managed to do some good things over the weekend and dropped a little bit off my handicap. No idea what caused this turnaround. Must have been the Swans excitement.

But now to our guest..

Fiona Palmer is one of the queens of rural romance, hitting best-sellerdom with her debut novel, The Family Farm, and never looking back. She’s also a golfer, which surely has to make her even more fabulous. There is a whole lot of buzz about Fiona’s new release, with good reason. Rachael Johns calls The Sunnyvale Girls a heart-warming tear-jerker, and the blurb sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it too.

THE SUNNYVALE GIRLS

Cover of The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona PalmerThree generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

Doesn’t that sound intriguing and with Italy in the equation how can anyone resist! You can buy The Sunnyvale Girls right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Roberston, Collins Booksellers, your favourite bookshop or chain store. You can also buy direct from Fiona via her website. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play,  JB Hi-Fi or your favourite outlet.

Now enjoy something buonissimo from Fiona!

Sunny Food!

Ah my good mate Cathryn, I’m back with you again for the awesome Friday Feast! Thanks for having me. Now I’m not the best of cooks, I leave my creativity for my stories and not the kitchen, but we still have to eat. And seeing as my characters travel to Italy in The Sunnyvale Girls I thought I’d share my simple pizza’s with you.

We aren’t big bread eaters in my house, I try not to eat it and prefer to use wraps. So this is what I use for my pizza bases. (I also like to put them in my toastie press and sandwich them together with all the yummy stuff inside)

After travelling to Italy myself I realised I was making my pizza’s all wrong. Actually all the Italian food I made was all wrong. They stick with less ingredients and less toppings. (Maybe it came from having fussy kids and making a spag bol with all the vegies I could find finely diced up was just how went.) But I also made my pizza’s the same, more topping just seemed to be the go. Maybe I thought it was healthier??

Pizza at Gubbio

I ate Pizza in Rome, Gubbio, Pisa and Florence and they all only had a few toppings, so that you could taste those flavours. Melt in your mouth divine pizza’s. Even the pasta we had in Pompeii looked like just pasta and a tin of crushed tomatoes on top but by crikey it was heaven.  (I think all those tomatoes grown in volcanic ash makes a hell of a difference!)

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, back home. My toppings are still on the more side of things but I use what I can from my garden. Tonight’s pizza was cheese, ham, onion, spinach, kale and sundried tomatoes. Yum. The good thing about having wraps as a base is that you’re not full on the thick base. You can also fold it over and eat it without having toppings falling off (great for those kids!).

Pizza ready for baking

Fiona's cooked pizza

Ah, pizza. It’s a food that makes everyone happy. I admit to doing the same as you, Fiona, and overloading my pizzas. Not anymore. We use very few ingredients and make sure they’re the best quality. Great idea with the wraps. That’s how to whip up a meal in a hurry!

Now, my dear Feasty lovelies, because Fiona is such a gorgeous person, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, this is your chance to win a signed copy of Fiona’s brand spanking new book The Sunnyvale Girls. And entering couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is share your favourite Italian dish. Simple!

Are you a pizza fiend, or do you prefer a simple dish of pasta or gnocchi? Maybe risotto is your go, or perhaps you have a favourite Italian soup or dessert? Maybe it’s plain grilled swordfish with salmoriglio, or barbecued sardines? Italian cuisine is so rich the choice must be endless. Whatever you adore from the land of amore, share and we’ll pop you into the draw!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 30th September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Silvana who has won a copy of Fiona’s gorgeous new release, The Sunnyvale Girls.
Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun and shared your favourite Italian meals. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of lasagne lovers out there!

FRIDAY FEAST with Jaye Ford

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WHAT A DAY! Not only do we have the most splendiferous of authors guesting today on Friday Feast, plus a gobsmacker of a giveway, my beloved Sydney Swans play the Kangaroos in the AFL Preliminary Final tonight. WHAT EXCITEMENT!

Things may get verra, verra rowdy in the Hein house. You have been warned.

Now, seeing as my darling boys had last week off, you’re stuck with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. In an astonishing development, apparently I won my club’s Div 2 Weekend Golf NSW Women’s Golf Medal. I know, I know. I’m amazed too. But it means I now have to toddle Author Jaye Fordoff to the final and try not embarrass myself by playing like a 45 handicapper. Fortunately I have many weeks to work myself into nervous wreckage. Or get back into form. My money’s on the former…

Okay, let’s get down to why we’re really here: for the woman whose books I can’t get enough of even though they give me anxiety attacks. Jaye Ford has rapidly become one of my absolute favourite thriller authors. Her debut, Beyond Fear, was a triumph. Scared Yet was a heart-pumper of a read, and this week I finished Blood Secret which scared the pants off me and I loved every damn moment.

Jaye’s latest release is Already Dead. I cannot wait!

ALREADY DEAD

Cover of Already Dead by Jaye FordMiranda shrank away from him, arm pressed to the driver’s door. ‘What’s your name?’

‘I’m already dead. That’s my name now. That’s what they called me. I’m Already Dead.’

Journalist Miranda Jack is finally attempting to move on from the death of her husband by relocating up the coast with her young daughter, Zoe. Then a single event changes everything.

On a Monday afternoon as she waits at traffic lights, a stranger jumps into her car and points a gun at her chest.

Forced to drive at high speed up the motorway, Miranda listens to the frantic, paranoid rants of Brendan Walsh, a man who claims he’s being chased and that they’re both now running for their lives.

Two hours later her ordeal is over in the most shocking fashion. Miranda is safe but she can’t simply walk away – not without knowing the truth about that terrifying drive.

As a journalist Miranda has always asked questions. But this time the questions are dangerous – and the answers might get her killed . . .

Wow. This one sounds amazing, and Already Dead can be yours right now with a few clickety-clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Abbey’s BookshopAngus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, your favourite independent bookshop or chain store. For the ebook, visit Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, eBooks.com, JB Hi-Fi or your preferred retailer.

Enjoy your time with Jaye!

Putting a Spargel in my eye!

I’ve always been a fan of asparagus. As a kid, it was one of those ‘special’ foods, the kind that came out for guests, usually for ladies lunches or when mum was taking her turn hosting the ‘card girls’. I’d come home from school and the leftover finger foods would be laying around for the taking while they finished their last hand – slice and homemade chocolate things and delicate sandwiches.

Call me weird but I loved the asparagus rolls the best – a slice of soft white bread (crust removed), smeared with butter and folded around a single spear of (canned) asparagus, like a baby wrapped in a blanket … and stabbed through with a toothpick.

Asparagus rollsThese days, I’ve always got a container of canned asparagus in the fridge. I love the fresh stuff but it’s expensive – yesterday I picked up two bunches (a dozen spears) for $4! So you can imagine my joy when I was in Munich earlier in the year and discovered I’d arrived in the middle of the white asparagus season … and that the Bavarians truly love their asparagus!

Spargel stall

So I’ve got to explain – white asparagus is like the beer-swilling, steroid-using Goliath of the asparagus family. It’s huge – tall, fat, fleshy and, well, pasty white. It has to be peeled before it’s cooked because the outer flesh is tough and woody. Called Spargel in German and sometimes referred to as White Gold or the royal vegetable, the early shoots are covered over with soil to starve them of light, which produces the ivory colour.

Sign advertising seasonal spargel

 

During Spargelzeit (asparagus time), it’s sold on the street from fruit and veg vendors straight from the farms, stacked in great mounds like a whole lot of felled trees. It coincides with vegetable stallstrawberry season and I saw wagons everywhere with gorgeous red and white displays, always with a queue of customers. Both items are outrageously cheap – the asparagus sells for about $5 a kilo and the huge local strawberries are less than a dollar for an equally huge punnet. And of course, I wanted to try some Spargel.

The restaurants have special Spargelkarte – asparagus menus – for the couple of months its available, often advertised on boards in the street. You can pretty much eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you wanted to, with hollandaise or pork medallions or chicken breast, More spargel 2.0eggs, potato … you name it. Lemon and butter with lots of cracked pepper, mmm thanks. It’s mild in flavour, surprisingly tender without the stringy texture of its smaller, green cousin and just sops up the flavours around it.

I wanted to have a go at cooking it but it’s best done with an asparagus pot, a tall, narrow pot with a lid and a basket for keeping the spears upright. I was all for buying said cool equipment but, yeah, what was I going to do with it when I got it home? So I can’t give you a brilliant and mouth-watering recipe – what would you do with it anyway? But I’ve got pictures of this amazing vegetable … hope you enjoy them!

 

Those pictures are beautiful, Jaye. Who wouldn’t want to scoff spargel or munch down on juicy strawbs after seeing those? Asparagus with hollandaise, now there’s one to get me excited. Or asparagus served with a softly poached egg and parmesan. Love that. Such a pity my other half doesn’t. Sigh.

Anyway,  enough lamenting the poor tastebuds of my darling beloved, let’s get onto something super exciting. Yes, Feasty lovelies, Jaye has a…

GIVEAWAY!

And what a cracker it is too. This is your chance for a thrill-ride like no other. Simply reveal what holiday food has sent you into a spin but you just can’t get at home and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Already Dead.

For me it’d have to be foie gras. A crusty baguette, a pot of fatty goose liver and glass of something fizzy and I’m a content girl. I have seen it in Australia but it’s not the same as buying your own straight from a Perigord processor or a specialist store in Paris. In France I also enjoyed these delicious tiny squid called soupions. I’m sure something similar is available in Australia – we have amazing seafood after all – but I haven’t noticed any.

So what’s a holiday food you’ve had but can’t easily get at home? Something unusual and wonderful from Asia perhaps? Maybe an American speciality, or something fascinating from Africa. Or perhaps it’s simply the fish and chips like no other from the shop opposite your favourite Aussie beach. Share and we’ll pop you into the Already Dead giveaway.

Giveaway closes Midnight Tuesday AEST, 23rd September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jaye and her amazing books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @JayeFordAuthor and on Facebook.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea who has won a copy of Jaye’s Already Dead. A thrill ride awaits! Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. See you next time!

FRIDAY FEAST with Annie West

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What a magnificent Friday! And made all the better with a fabulous guest, some feasting, a fantastic book giveaway.

But before we get onto that… DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SWANNIES? Yes, my beloved footy team, the Sydney Swans, is into the AFL Preliminary Final. One step from the Grand Final and premiership victory. Oh, the thrill!

Which kind of makes up for my rather lacklustre golf. I say lacklustre because that’s how it felt to me, but somehow, thanks to that newfangled handicapping system Golf Australia has implemented, I played well enough last week to knock 0.2 of a stroke off my handicap. Weird. Very weird indeed. I am, as we like to say here in the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf house, bumfuggled.

I’m super excited this week because I’m hosting a very lovely lady on Friday Feast. Annie West is a USA Today best-selling author of many hugely popular and sexy books. She is queen of the alpha male, writing sumptuous romances populated with handsome jet-setting billionaires and feisty heroines who prove more than a match for them.

I’ve just finished reading Annie’s latest, Damaso Claims His Heir, and it was a cracking read. Alpha heroes normally make me want to kick them in the shins, but Damaso was so undone by the heroine, Princess Marisa, that I nearly felt sorry for him. The dialogue was slick, the settings wonderful and the story full of intense, heartfelt emotion. I honestly loved this book and I’m sure you will too.

DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR

Damaso Claims His Heir by Annie WestWhen opposites attract!

Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

Doesn’t that sound fun? Probably because it is! You can indulge in a bit of loving with your own sexy Brazilian billionaire with just a few clicks. Buy Damaso from Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi and direct from the publisher Mills & Boon.

Now please give a warm welcome to Annie.

The Tartiest of Tarts

Hi Cathryn! Thanks for having me to visit, especially now, in your launch month. I had the most fabulous time reading your French Prize. Sigh. Loved the story and that includes the setting, the gorgeous, enigmatic Raimond, the danger, the quest, the history, the intelligent heroine, the food… I’m on tenterhooks now waiting for your next.

In the meantime, here’s my contribution to the Feast series. Coincidentally it fits your French theme!

Sweetness seems to be ‘in’. Everywhere I look people are drooling over sexy men argh, no, wrong Facebook posts – over chocolate. Photos of chocolate desserts, melted chocolate for dipping fruit, choc biscuits or truffles with champagne. Friends send chocolate as a thank you or a ‘thinking of you’ gift (hey, I have some great friends), and guests who visit for a meal usually bring something sweet for afters (they’re well-trained – what can I say?).

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice chocolate. A super-dooper, industrial-sized block of finest Lindt once powered the final part of one of my books (thanks, Ms V!). I’ll happily indulge in a sweetness binge with the right goodies. But there are times when even chocolate won’t do it.

Yes, I admit it – I love tart things. Even my favourite home-made jam is plum rather than strawberry. Yum as strawberry can be, it’s just…well…sweet. But get a good bucketload of plums or – sigh – raspberries, and there’s a hint of tartness to offset the sweet. That’s what I crave: something with taste as well as sugar. Yu-um.

So, in hopes that there’s someone out there like me, who adores something tart once in a while, I’m sharing my all-time favourite dessert: Tarte au Citron. Sigh. Forgive me as I pause for a moment, remembering. I made this recently and the memory is making me salivate. I’d actually planned to write today about a delicious Brazilian meal I researched when writing my current release (set in Brazil in case you’re wondering), but I got side-tracked by that Tarte au Citron. It tasted so good I just had to share it instead.

A good friend and super-foodie made this version for me years ago and it’s been my treat of all treats ever since. It’s not some tame little dessert you gobble while chatting and barely notice it going down. Oh no. This is a full-flavoured whack of sensation. You concentrate when you eat this baby because it makes your lips zing. It’s so chock a block full of citrus I think one slice before a voyage would have staved off scurvy for those old time sailors who took a year to circle the globe.

It’s a dessert to be shared with like-minded friends. Make sure you have either good quality cream or ice cream on hand. This is a dessert that needs accompaniment – a little something to complement the tartness of this tart. So here it is, my friend Maurice’s

Tarte au Citron

Tarte au citron

Pastry

1 ½ cups plain flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

125 g cold butter, chopped

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Filling

4 eggs

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup orange juice

zest of 2 lemons

60 g butter

¼ cup cream

2 extra lemons

Icing sugar (not icing sugar mixture)

Pastry

Sift flour and sugar. Add butter and egg yolk and mix. Knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Roll out the pastry to the size of a fluted, shallow quiche tin that you’ve greased. I find it easiest to roll it out between sheets of plastic.  Prick the pastry with a fork and allow to rest (but I’ve been known to ignore this). Bake blind in a 200 degrees C oven for 10-15 mins or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling

Beat together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and zest. Melt the butter with the cream over a low heat. Add egg mixture and continue cooking until it thickens, stirring constantly (do not allow to boil). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool. Pour custard into the pastry and cook on top shelf at 190 degrees C for 20 mins.

Peel and segment the 2 extra lemons (cut off as much pith as possible) and arrange on the top. (Can you see now why this tarte is so tart?). Cover the edge of the pastry with aluminium foil to prevent it burning. Sift icing sugar very generously (seriously – use lots) over the filling. Place under a preheated grill until the top is glazed (the sugar will caramelise).

Remove foil and serve warm with cream or ice cream.

You’ll see from my photo that I had some trouble with my grill last time and the sugar was only just starting to caramelise. If you have a kitchen blowtorch you can use that to finish off and get the scrumptious caramelised top.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. My only gripe is that my family and guests all want to finish it for me.

 

How could I possibly resist a French lemon tart, Annie! And that one looks and sounds beautiful. I like the addition of orange juice for depth of flavour. I wonder if blood oranges would work. I have a real thing about them at the moment…

Now, my dear Feasters, because Annie is such a sweetheart and because we both think you should all read Damaso and fall in love with him and Marisa as we did, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win your own hot Brazilian, and we don’t mean waxing. There is zero pain with this alpha male.

So, lovely people, to be in the draw to win a copy of Damaso Claims His Heir, what’s the best recipe a friend has given you?

Mine has to be from my good friend Carol, who shared a beautiful recipe for chicken and pistachio terrine that’s dead easy to make and delicious to eat. I also still have the lemon butter recipe from the mum of a childhood friend in my collection, Mrs White’s peppermint cream chocolates, my aunt’s cream puffs and my mother-in-law’s ANZAC biscuits to name a few.

What about you? What’s the most treasured recipe someone has shared with you? Share with us and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 16th September 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kim of the potato bake, who has won herself a copy of Annie’s wonderful book and is in for a fabulous reading time. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. A delight to hear all your recipes and experiences, as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

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Now this is an exciting Friday. Not only do we have a most awesome author as guest, with all sorts of indulgent delights and a giveaway, it’s also Book Expo Australia weekend and the final round of the AFL season (for international visitors, that’s our beloved Australian Rules Football).

All happening!

But first, AFL. Have you seen where my darling Sydney Swans are perched? Yes, there they are at the top of the ladder looking magnificent. With the finals just around the corner I’m gathering all my lucky Swans charms, including my knitted octopus and gnome, and rubbing their bellies for luck to ensure we suffer no injuries before the finals. And that we win against Richmond Saturday night, of course!

Author Anna Campbell

Photo courtesy of Robyn Hills www.robyngraphs.com.au

If you’re in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday, take a trip out to the showgrounds for Book Expo Australia where you’ll find panels, talks, the Australian Romance Readers Association stand and more. I’m on two romance panels on Sunday, at 10-30am and 3-45pm, as well as feature author on the ARRA stand from 2-30 to 3-30pm. Come say hello.

And now to one of my favourite Friday Feast guests ever, Anna Campbell, also known affectionately as the Romance Queen for her multiple ARR Awards and other accolades. And let’s not forget brilliant Regency romances. Anna’s latest has just hit the shelves and as a total fan girl I cannot wait to get stuck in. Take a look…

WHAT A DUKE DARES

Cover of What a Duke Dares by Anna CampbellA reputation at risk

What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children – and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.

The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed – until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins…

Oh, oh, oh. Don’t you just WANT IT NOW! Of course you do, and What a Duke Dares can be yours with just a few simple clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Book Depository, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Barnes & Noble or your favourite book store.

Not sure? Then why not read an excerpt to see what wonders awaits.

Now let’s go dancing with Anna.

Having a Ball with the Duke!

Cathryn, it’s always a pleasure to be here to do a Friday Feast post and to talk about my latest release. Thank you again for inviting me!

My new book (out 26th August from HarperCollins Australia and Grand Central Forever in North America) WHAT A DUKE DARES starts out as a road-trip romance as the Duke of Sedgemoor (the daring duke of the title) reluctantly escorts his childhood bugbear Penelope Thorne back to England from Italy. But most of the book takes place in England, allowing me to have fun with high society life during the glittering London Season.

Rogue from GCP siteNot only that, I get to talk about clothes (my heroine’s dress sense plays quite a large part in this story) and sparkling jewels and dancing the night away in the arms of a handsome rake or two. I haven’t had the chance to go wild in society since MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION. The two earlier Sons of Sin books, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED and A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, take place out in the English countryside so nobody gets to go to the ball.

I always loved reading the ball scenes in Georgette Heyer when I was a girl (still do). There’s something so glamorous about the gleam of candlelight and an orchestra playing a waltz, which at this stage was still considered a touch scandalous, and ladies dressed up to the nines in silks and satins. Not to mention all those elegant gentlemen in their black and white.

Rake AmazonDuring the London season, most balls didn’t start until 10pm, giving guests the chance to have dinner first. In fact, being invited to dinner at the hostess’s home before the larger entertainment was considered a signal mark of honor. Then the party would continue until around 3am. No wonder those Regency girls all slept in so late!

Around midnight, a lavish supper would be served in a separate room (you needed a big house to do this properly!). Wine and champagne would flow, and also punch and popular Regency drinks like ratafia and orgeat. Webster’s defines ratafia as “a liqueur made from an infusion of macerated fruit or fruit juice in a liquor (as brandy) and often flavored with almonds.” Orgeat (which was pronounced or-zha, think Zsa-Zsa Gabor) is another almond concoction made with an enormous amount of sugar.

Pardon me, but I think both of these sound quite revolting and I’ll stick to the champagne. At the famous Almack’s rooms, they only served lukewarm lemonade! Something many a Regency hero complains about when he needs to seek a wife in that temple of the aristocratic marriage mart.

The Great Lobster CookbookThe food for supper was a mixture of sweet and savory and there was usually vast amounts of it, including quite substantial items like roast chicken or lamb, pies, seafood, and vegetables. Something that has intrigued me ever since my first Georgette Heyer was the lobster patties that her heroines nibble on. Partly because they sounded scrumptious.

So today I went on the hunt for a lobster patty recipe. This, with some tweaks, is the best one I found. It sounds like a lobster-filled vol-au-vent, which makes sense if you’re in your good clothes, I suppose, although I’d always imagined something a little more like a Thai fish cake.

I hope if you hold a ball and serve these luscious delicacies that you’ll remember to invite me!

Lobster Patties

Ingredients:

8 oz. (225g) flaky pastry

8 oz. (225g) cooked lobster meat

quarter pint (125ml) thick white sauce

1 tbsp. cream

pinch of paprika

1 tsp. chopped parsley

salt and pepper

beaten egg to glaze

squeeze of lemon juice

Cooking Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 450F/230C ,Gas Mark 7.

Roll pastry thinly and cut into 3 inch (7.5 cm.) rounds.

Line some fairly deep patty tins with half the rounds.

Add the chopped lobster to the white sauce, cream, lemon juice, seasonings and parsley.

Put a spoonful of the mixture into each patty case, moisten the edge of the pastry and put another round on top, pressing the edges well together.

Crimp the edges and make a hole in the top of each patty with a skewer and brush over with a little beaten egg.

Bake for about 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

ENJOY!

Don’t those sound delicious? No wonder Regency heroines can’t get enough of them! I can’t offer anyone today a lobster patty in the mail – I suspect food poisoning might be an issue. Or perhaps hungry postmen! But if you comment on this post, you’ll go in the draw to win a signed print copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES.

Did you hear that, Feasty lovelies? Darling Anna is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

But as always you’ll have to do a little smidgin of work and answer this simple question from Anna:

Lobster patties sound pretty delicious and decadent to me. What’s the most deliciously decadent thing you’ve ever eaten and where did you eat it?

Ooh! Decadent food, where to start! I was lucky enough to dine with friends at a two-star Michelin restaurant in France. We were so spoiled! We even had our own water waiter, with a choice of waters. The canapés were amazing, the veal I ate sublime. It was all very indulgent, and wallet draining, but we couldn’t help it. We were in France! Sometimes you have to do these things!

So what about you? Perhaps you’ve scoffed truffles in Tuscany, or caviar while dining alongside the Caspian sea. Maybe it was prawns in Australia’s top end. Or the seriously naughty chocolate cake your mum made for your birthday one year. As long as it’s indulgent and special, anything goes!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd September 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her truly wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AnnaCampbellOz and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Pintip, who has won a copy of Anna’s What a Duke Dares and is in for some fabulous reading. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun and shared their beautiful and indulgent experiences. You made us all very hungry!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Lowe

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And so another fabulous Friday has arrived. What fun! Partly because I get to brag about my darling football team, the Sydney Swans, who won AGAIN last week and remained happily perched at the top of the ladder. I have everything crossed that they won’t fall off!

Speaking of having everything crossed, I’m also hoping that my golfing winning streak will continue. Yes, Feasters, the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf is good. I had a Author Fiona Lowewin! Still rather flummoxed by this but I’m not complaining. The curse has lifted, if only momentarily. One must enjoy the moment!

A bit like weddings. Things to be savoured and enjoyed. And no one writes a wedding like award-winning Australian author Fiona Lowe. Fiona is an author of over 25 novels, including the Rita® and Ruby award-winning book, Boomerang Bride. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love.

Right now, Fiona has an anthology out: four of her stories repackaged into one wedding filled pack for you to savour. Check it out.

FIONA LOWE’S WEDDINGS

Fiona Lowe's weddings anthologyFour of Fiona’s favourite rural romances republished together in one volume!

They may have sworn off romance but could wedding bells be on the horizon for these couples? In the small outback town of Warragurra, widow Kate Lawson and single dad Baden Tremont fight their feelings for each other, and nurse Emily is vowing she’ll never fall for her playboy boss, Linton. In far north Queensland, doctor Sarah is intrigued by her gorgeous new neighbour, enigmatic surgeon Ryan who’s also a blast from her past. Over in stunning Vietnam, Tom is on a quest to discover his past. Will he also find his future with Bec?

Discover how these couples get their happy ever afters, as Fiona Lowe welcomes you into warm-hearted small communities with stories packed with emotion and sparkling, feel-good romance!  This bundle includes: The Warragurra Duo; A Wedding in Warragurra & The Playboy Doctor’s Marriage Proposal as well as A Woman to Belong To and The Surgeon’s Chosen Wife.

How’s that for a host of hot romance! You’ll be throwing confetti with glee after reading this lot. So why not grab a copy right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Big W ebooksAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or direct from Mills & Boon. Or hop on down to your local chain store.

Now here’s Fiona.

Country Cooking

As a prelude to my Wedding Fever trilogy, (Saved By The Bride, Picture Perfect Wedding and Runaway Groom), which is hitting Australian, shelves this September, October and Fiona Lowe's WeddingsNovember, Harlequin have re-released three of my Aussie rural medical romances (and one set in Vietnam) in an anthology called, Fiona Lowe’s Weddings.  It includes my Warragurra books…two stories set in a town with a flying doctor’s base. I loved these books and they were the impetus for me to go on and write longer novels. Warragurra is in outback NSW, sheep and cattle country and wholesome country cooking abounds. Given it’s July, and the nights are chilly, I wanted to share a recipe that’s featured in the book and a big fave of mine and the rest of my family…

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Apple and rhubarb crumble

A bunch of rhubarb, washed and diced

6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced.

A lemon

Either microwave them on the vegetable setting or cook them slowly in a saucepan on a low heat with a tablespoon of water.  When soft, stir and taste…you may wish to add a little sugar. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, butter, coconut and seeds…sesame, sunflower, poppy…I add the cape-seed mix I use when I make bread.  Whiz it all together. Place it over the top of the apple and rhubarb mix. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or cream or yoghurt.

The great thing about this recipe is that not only is it a yummy dessert, it makes a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

 

Ahh, crumble. Such a simple but delicious dessert and an absolute crowd-pleaser. Thanks so much for sharing this one, Fiona. I’m going to test it out on the man of the house as part of my quest to find the perfect crumble topping. Apparently last week’s version wasn’t crumbly enough. Hmph.

Do you have a favourite fruit crumble combination? What about a favourite topping? Perhaps you like coconut in yours, or know how to whip up a dead easy topping with muesli? I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions so share away!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

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Hello, lovely readers! I’m very excited about today’s Friday Feast. Always the way when we go a-rural romancing.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’ve been on a little holiday to SA and Victoria, and managed to sneak in games at a couple of top 100 rated courses, both of which defeated me. Sigh. I blame the cold. Playing in sideways sleeting rain and single digit temperatures doesn’t do much for one’s temper. However, my darling Sydney Swans have been a light, continuing their winning streak with a victory against the GWS Giants. If this keeps up, I’ll really start developing Premiership hopes!

Now to today’s guest, multi-published author Fiona McArthur. Fiona has published 30 novels, been nominated for some of romance writing’s most prestigious awards and sold over two million copies world-wide. She’s also a highly experienced midwife, the author of two ‘Don’t Panic’ guides on birth and writes for Mother and Baby magazine. Impressed? I am! But what I’m really excited by is that she’s now turned her formidable talent to rural romance. The result is a book that’s been garnering amazing reviews and one I very much look forward to reading, Red Sand Sunrise.

Take a look…

RED SAND SUNRISE

CoverCan three sisters save the outback town they’ve grown to love?

When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go to the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay. After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson doesn’t hesitate to move home and spend some time with her grieving mother.

When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know. Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together. And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other…

Red Sand Sunrise is a heartfelt story from an internationally bestselling author. It celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

Doesn’t that sound fab? Red Sand Sunrise is on my reading pile and it could be on yours too. Simply zoom down to your favourite bookseller or chain store. Or stay right where you are and purchase with a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Fishpond, Boomerang Books. For the ebook, visit Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, and JB Hi-Fi.

Picnic in Red Sand Sunrise

Thanks for asking me Cathryn. To think there was a whole book to be written a year ago and here it is. Very exciting stuff to come out in Trade paperback, last week. Thought I’d share a little more about the background of the research trip for those interested.

The last time I blogged on Cathryn’s page I talked about the experience of our overnight adventure on the Spirit Of The Outback – back from Longreach to Brisbane.

This time I thought I’d share the stop out past Windorah, (that would be the last place with a pub out towards Birdsville), and the glorious red sand hills out of town.

The gateway to the outback town of WindorahIt was the impact of climbing and soaking in these windblown pyramids of sand that played such a major part of the background of the book. Those sand hills are part of an amazing landscape that truly grabs you. If you get a chance it’s well worth the trip, especially at sunrise and sunset.

The red sand hills near WindorahI rave about them a bit in the book so here’s an excerpt from RED SAND SUNRISE and the sand hills.

Eve heard the swish of the sand for the first few steps as he began the descent and then there was silence again with just the wind gently blowing and the birds cawing overhead.

She sat down with her knees under her chin. Dug her hands into the sand again and twisted them so that the warm particles massaged her fingers as she let the peace envelop her. Out in the distance a windmill was turning. She could imagine the creaking noise she’d come to recognise of the shaft moving as the blades turned but she couldn’t hear it.

Up above the flat world on her little red castle she could feel the magic soak into her like chalk soaking up red ink. She’d missed her quiet times and vowed to make the time to renew each day before she was caught up in the slower but relentless pace of Red Sand township.

Peace. Strangely, unexpectedly, she didn’t want to leave this spot, didn’t want to walk back down the hill, wanted to stay in the embrace of the red sandhills she’d fallen in tune with today.

But she was thirsty and hungry and Lex waited. All good reasons to come down off the hill.

Windorah also has a fab rustic pub, The Western Star, where we stayed overnight and enjoyed scrumptious pub food. There’s a genuine country hospitality and atmosphere with the roaring fire outside in a big ex-farm drum under the stars.  There are some quirky fun characters and amusing signs on the walls, plus important information if you don’t want to miss the next yabbie races. Will try and coincide my next visit with the yabbies and love that some of the proceeds go to the RFDS.

Funny notice about the rural recession at the Windorah PubSign about the annual International Yabbie Races at WindorahThough it has a big heart, Windorah is not a big town, so I walked over to meet the current very accommodating local nurse and check out the ambulance she has to drive if required. It wasn’t hard to see her passion for being there to help people in need,  ‘anytime’, knowing she was it. I loved the ‘I can do the best for people I can and the RFDS help is a phone call away if I’m out of my depth’. I’m used to a little more back up so was very impressed with the generosity and diversity of skills. I guess she’d need them because you’d never know who was going to pull up at the health centre in crisis and if it was closed, the sign says ring on her phone at home. That’s a true hero as far as I’m concerned.

Ambulance at WindorahSo here was fabulous research material and the pleasure of meeting amazing people. Then you could throw in a bit of midwifery, some gorgeous station owners and I guess you’re beginning to see where some of the ideas gelled for the book.

To food. Seeing as this Cathryn’s FRDAY FEAST blog I thought I’d share a cooking scene from the book. Well, not really a cooking scene, more of a picnic, I do love picnics, and have favourite picnic food that makes my mouth water. What’s your favourite thing to add to a picnic basket?

For me it’s different types of quiche and thick bacon and egg pie with lots of crispy pastry and a big dish of green salad – though must have mayonnaise and salt and pepper in the basket. A big thermos of hot water and tea and coffee is a must and especially the fresh date scones with real butter to sit back with afterwards.

Here’s a scene from Eve and Lex’s picnic at the sand hills.

Lex had set up the food under the shade of the lone spotted gum about fifty metres away from the helicopter. Some time in the past someone had rolled a couple of logs under the branches to sit on and the scene was peaceful as well as promising to settle the embarrassing rumbling from Eve’s stomach.

She eased down on the log and sighed as she glanced around. Bare paddocks, galahs in the distance, a few white Brahman cattle grazing.

Lex put a tin mug in front of her and poured a tea from the thermos. He passed across a huge slice of thick-crusted spinach quiche on a metal plate and one of two small bowls of salad and some cutlery.

Eve fell on it with passion. ‘This is very good.’ She spied a tea towel semi-unwrapped exposing date scones and a small round plastic tub of butter.

He laughed as she unwrapped it and put one at the side of her plate.

‘You love your food. I like that in a woman.’

‘Lucky.’ She rolled her eyes and groaned as the last of the quiche went down.

GIVEAWAY!

So would anyone like to share a favourite surprise they like to add to their picnic basket? Everyone who posts a comment goes into the draw and Cathryn will draw a name out of the Akubra next week. I’ll send you a copy of Red Sand Sunrise as soon as I have your postal address.

Have fun at your next picnic. Xx Fi McArthur

A pile of Red Sand Sunrise booksDid you read that, folks? We have a giveaway! As Fiona said above, all you have to do is share your favourite surprise to add to a picnic basket and you’ll go into the draw.

Perhaps you like to sneak in some toffees? Maybe a pre-mixed summery cocktail is more your go, or marinated chicken legs roasted to sticky goodness? I like a bit of terrine or pate and some nice crusty bread. Although I could get equally excited by a bowl of plump, glossy cherries. LOVE those babies!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 8th July 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Delores who has won a copy of Red Sand Sunrise. Lots of reading pleasure ahead! Thanks to everyone who played along. You were all great sports with some wonderful picnic suggestions. Hope to see you again soon.

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

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Hello Feasters! I’m super excited because today we have the author of one of the best reads of the year on the blog.

But before I get into rave-land, let’s have some Sydney Swans news. Oh, my darling boys are really giving it to them now. Last Saturday we shorted out ladder leaders Port Power in a magnificent display of footy wizardry, leaving us still nicely perched at third. Rah! Speaking of nicely perched, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, Jim and I combined well inAuthor Kate Belle the first round of our club’s Foursomes Championships to be sitting as the nett leaders. Can we hang on to win? Stay tuned!

Now on to today’s guest.

Kate Belle took many of us on a trip down memory lane with her debut novel, The Yearning, a read I enjoyed immensely. So when her publicist contacted me with an offer of a review copy of her second novel, Being Jade, I leapt at it. What a story! What writing! From the opening page I was mesmerised. Being Jade was fascinating and heartbreaking and so much more.

Seriously, you have to read it.

BEING JADE

Being Jade by Kate BelleA tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

Did I mention you should read this book? You should. Like, really. Which means you’ll need to buy it and you can do that right now with a quick trip to your favourite book store or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse.

For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, Collins Booksellers or your local independent. For the ebook, try Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or JB Hi-Fi.

Still not sure? Read the opening chapter. You’ll be hooked I promise!

Now please give Kate a big Feasty welcome and enjoy!

Instant Human – Just Add Coffee…

Hi Cathryn and readers – thanks for having me back on Friday Feast.

When I visited last year I gave you the Big Effort High Reward Heirloom Recipe – Great Auntiecoffee meme 1 - resized Flo’s Christmas Pudding. This required significant time, a fair bit of alcohol (both in the recipe and cook) and sticky hands. I thought I’d take it a bit easier on you this time around by sharing one of my FAVOURITE combinations in the whole world – caffeine and cake.

I’m a bona fide coffee addict. If I don’t have my coffee by about 11am I find it difficult to speak. I’m dependent on that early morning caffiene shot to function. I also have a penchant for desserts. Cakes, pastries, puddings, tarts – I’m not too fussed as long as it’s full of carbohydrate and sugar. But the very, very best in life is when the two are combined.

coffe meme 2I used to work in Melbourne CBD, at the Paris end, and discovered the Treasury Cafe nestled beneath the treasury building near Parliament. When I first walked in I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A loooong glass counter laden with every kind of cake, tart, pudding, pastry you could imagine. Glazed apricot and cherry Danishes shone under the light of the counter, clouds of cream topped jam lamingtons the size of a man’s palm, summer yellow custard tarts, glorious wedges of dark chocolate mud cake and butterscotch fudge dripped over fluffy sticky date puddings. My mouth waters at the memory.

More often than not I left empty handed only because I couldn’t choose which sweet morsel to indulge in.coffee meme 3

Inspired by Treasury Cafe’s dessert cabinet, I went through a period of frenzied baking and rediscovered a promotional Nescafe coffee table recipe book I’d won years ago featuring – yep, you guessed it – coffee desserts. I have a few favourites in this book but nothing quite beats the cappuccino cheesecake. The recipe calls for instant coffee but I say Pfft to that! Brewed coffee is the only coffee worthy of a good dessert, so I amended the recipe to make sure the end result had the kick I looked for in this gorgeous cappuccino cheesecake.

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Before you begin, brew yourself some fresh coffee, pour a cup and leave the rest to cool while you read your copy of Being Jade (like how I slipped that in??). Oh, and leave 500g of cream cheese on the bench to come to room temperature. If you’re able to stop after a couple of chapters you’ll need to head to the kitchen and find ingredients for the cheesecake crust:

•             100g mild-coffee biscuits

•             75g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

•             ¼ cup (70g) packed dark brown sugar

•             A pinch of nutmeg

•             40g hot, melted unsalted butter

To make the crust finely grind the biscuits (I use my mother’s method – chuck them in an empty cereal bag and beat them to death with a rolling pin). Mix in the chopped chocolate, brown sugar and nutmeg then bind it all together with the melted butter until the crumbs stick together. Press the mixture into the base of a 19cm springform pan, flattening it with the bottom of a glass. Put the pan in the fridge for 20 -30 minutes.

Pick up your book and read just a couple more pages…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees then get to phase 1 of the filling:

•             500g low fat cream cheese (or be brave and go full fat if you want the full flavour!)

•             ½ cup sugar

•             1 tablespoon plain flour

•             ¼ cup strong brewed coffee (for real caffeine addicts you can also add 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee – YEAH!)

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•             2 large eggs

Blend cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in flour, then add brewed coffee, ground coffee (if you dare), and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth.

Pour filling over the cooled crust, place the cheesecake on a tray covered with a baking sheet and put in the middle of the oven to cook 45 minutes until the top is browning, puffed and cracking at the edges. Take it out to cool for 15 minutes, but leave the oven on while you make the frothy cappuccino topping.

Topping:Cappuccino Cheesecake

•             ¾ cup light sour cream (I reckon full fat’s better)

•             1 tablespoon sugar

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over warm cheesecake, spreading to cover it completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10 minutes.

You could probably squeeze in a few more pages here.

Cover the baked cheesecake with gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving (with brewed coffee, of course!) shave a little dark chocolate over the top to decorate. Devour as you finish off Being Jade –  or, if you’re feeling more generous, share it with friends over afternoon tea or dinner and watch how animated your guests become after they’ve eaten it!

GIVEAWAY! 

Oh, Kate, that sounds divine! Hard to go past good cheesecake. Hard to go past good coffee too. And this combines them in one. Bliss!

Okay, my Feasty lovelies, for your chance to win a signed copy of Being Jade, what’s your favourite bit of cheesiness? I’m going to get a bit “out there” and suggest this song from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Teo from Belarus singing… Cheesecake. Ha!

But perhaps you’ll be more traditional and suggest a slice of brie, the tv show Happy Days or even a spot of dad dancing. Whatever your fancy, cheese away and you could WIN!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST 24th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Kate and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using the handle @ecstasyfiles, Goodreads and The Reading Room.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of Kate’s brilliant new novel, Being Jade. Thanks to everyone for getting cheesy with us. Hope to see you again soon!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Diener

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And another busy week has passed. I hope yours was a beauty.

I’m stupid with excitement today because one of my favourite authors is visiting for Friday Feast. Prepare yourself for a touch of fan-girl silliness.

Before that though, let’s all give a big cheer for my magnificent Sydney Swans, now perched in 3rd on the AFL ladder after their win over the Gold Coast Suns. They’re pecking away at that top spot! And Author Michelle DienerI’m pecking away at my golf handicap too. Yes, the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf is once again positive. I’ve lost another 0.3 off my handicap. Incredible!

Which leads me nicely into my fangirl rave. Michelle Diener is an auto-buy author for me. I love her books. LOVE! The Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series is brilliant. Like James Bond in a Tudor court! Go buy In A Treacherous Court now. You’ll love it I promise and become a total fangirl/boy like me. Then there are her Regency-era set books, all with juicy conspiracies and wonderful romances. Even food! Sigh. I get gooey just thinking about them…

Michelle has a new book out which I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. This one’s going to be a cracker…

A DANGEROUS MADNESS

Cover of A Dangerous Madness by Michelle DienerThe Duke of Wittaker has been living a lie…

He’s been spying on the dissolute, discontented noblemen of the ton, pretending to share their views. Now he’s ready to step out of the shadows and start living a real life…but when the prime minister of England is assassinated, he’s asked to go back to being the rake-hell duke everyone believes he still is to find out more.

Miss Phoebe Hillier has been living a lie, too…

All her life she’s played by society’s rules, hiding her fierce intelligence and love of life behind a docile and decorous mask. All it’s gotten her is jilted by her betrothed, a man she thought a fool, though a harmless one. But when she discovers her former fiancé was involved in the plot against the prime minister, and that he’s been murdered, she realizes he wasn’t so harmless after all.

And now the killers have set their sights on her…

The only man who can help her is the Duke of Wittaker–a man she knows she shouldn’t trust. And she soon realizes he’s hiding behind a mask as careful as her own. As the clock ticks down to the assassin’s trial, the pair scramble to uncover the real conspiracy behind the prime minister’s death. And as the pressure and the danger mounts, Phoebe and Wittaker shed their disguises, layer by layer, to discover something more precious than either imagined–something that could last forever. Unless the conspirators desperate to hide their tracks get to them first.

How exciting is that! I already have my copy but what about you? Get clicking, Feasters. Michelle’s books are amaaaazing!

Buy A Dangerous Madness right now in paperback or ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iBooks, Kobo, or your favourite book retailer.

Bought? Excellent. I’m wriggling in excitement for you because I know what fun you’ll have. Now why not have even more fun with some fabulous  food.

Travel By Taste Bud

I have always loved discovering new places. That’s probably why I love reading and I love travelling. Both activities transport me away, and introduce me to new places, times, characters and food. Ever since I was little, I loved hanging out in the kitchen with my gran, who was from Glasgow, Scotland, and baking with her.

As I grew older, I realized you could travel just as easily by taste bud as by actual plane, and embarked on a lifelong love of cooking exotic (to me) dishes and trying new recipes.

Because I write historical fiction, part of that has included making recipes that were popular during the time my books are set. I was absolutely glued to the screen when Heston Blumenthal did his Renaissance feast episode, in the Heston’s Fantastic Feasts series, because I wanted to see what recipes he’d found from the time of my Tudor-set historicals. I had actually found some of the same ones, although, of course, being Heston, he took it all to another level.Cover of A Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

For my Regency historical novel, Banquet of Lies, my main character works as a French cook in the home of a viscount in London. It was freeing that she was French, it meant I didn’t have to cook anything over-boiled 😉 and scoured the internet and cookbooks for recipes that would have been popular at the time. I read the menus and recipes of French celebrity chef, Antonin Careme, who cooked for the Prince Regent as well as Napoleon and Talleyrand, although I chose to go a little more low-key with my fiction menu 🙂 .

My latest book, A Dangerous Madness, doesn’t have as much food in it as Banquet of Lies, but it does include some of the characters from Banquet of Lies, including the French chef from Banquet of Lies, and I do include a few dishes, such as petit fours and lemon brioche (which I try to have every time I’m in Hong Kong, as the pastry chef at the hotel I stay at makes it JUST like my character in A Dangerous Madness).

But that’s all time-travelling by taste bud. I also do some real-life travel through taste bud, as well. I love Moroccan food, I love Indian food, I love Thai food. And when I make dishes from these countries, I feel transported to them.

One recipe I’ve been making a lot recently is a macaroon from the Middle East, which a friend from Tunisia also assures me it authentically Tunisian as well. I love this recipe because it is so easy and quick, and really, really delicious. I have Nigella Lawson from her book Feast to thank for it.

Almond Macaroons

Michelle's Macaroons

Ingredients:

200g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

sprinkle of ground cardamom

2 egg whites

rose water

whole blanched almonds

Method:

Preheat the over to 200 deg C. Use a food processor to whiz up the almonds, sugar, egg whites and cardamom until it forms a thick paste. Get a large baking tray and cover it with baking parchment, then splash a little rosewater onto your hands, rub them together, then pinch off small pieces of the paste, roll into a ball then squash flat on the tray, and then top with a blanched almond. Keep refreshing the rosewater as you go. I usually do four or so, then splash on a little more. The mixture should make about 30 macaroons. Bake for 10 or so minutes, until then macaroons start to go golden at the edges. Leave to cool completely. These keep in an airtight container, although they never really last that long in my house :).

 

They wouldn’t last long in my house either, Michelle. Macaroons are so delicious and the perfect thing to enjoy with a cuppa and one of your brilliant books.

Speaking of brilliant, we have a giveaway.

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, Feasters, this is your chance to win a Michelle Diener book. Your choice of Banquet of Lies or a Dangerous Madness, in  ebook or paperback form. How cool is that? But you have to work a little. That is the Feasty way!

So… what is your favorite travel by taste bud recipe?

Mine is black olive tapenade. I make this when I feel the need for a bit of Provence. It’s so punchy and delicious and reminds me of the restaurants and bars we frequented in Aix-en-Provence when we lived there. Nothing like a glass of rosé, a pot of tapenade and a few grissini to put you in a relaxed mood.

What about you? How do you travel with your taste buds? Share and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of either Banquet of Lies or A Dangerous Madness.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 17th June 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle and her fantastic books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter using @michellediener

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Margareta who has won a copy of either A Dangerous Madness or Banquet of Lies. Fantastic reading ahead. Thanks to everyone who joined in the travelling with our tastebuds fun. Fab foodie ideas, as always!

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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Tra-la-la! Another excellent Friday is here and what fun we’ll have with it too. But first, one must gloat!

Did you see my darling Swannies? They were magnificent last week against Geelong. Magnificent! It’s taken a while but my boys have really hit their footy straps now. Which leads me nicely into Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Last week I didn’t just play to my Australian author Jennifer Scoullarnew handicap, I beat it. By TWO WHOLE STROKES. Imagine! ‘Tis a miracle, but for some very strange reason the Great Golfing God loves me at the moment. It will pass, of course. That is the Hein fate, but for now I’m loving it!

Speaking of loving (hee!), today’s Friday Feast guest has been receiving rave reviews for her latest release. Jennifer Scoullar broke into the rural romance genre with the hugely successful Brumby’s Run, followed by Currawong Creek. Now her latest, Billabong Bend, is out and it’s being praised by readers and bloggers everywhere.

Check it out…

BILLABONG BEND

Cover pf Billabong Bend by Jennifer ScoullarFor riverine farmer Nina Moore, the rare marshland flanking the beautiful Bunyip River is the most precious place on Earth. Her dream is to buy Billabong Bend and protect it forever, but she’s not the only one with designs on the land. When her childhood sweetheart Ric Bonelli returns home, old feelings are rekindled and Nina dares to hope of a future for them both on the river. But a tragic death divides loyalties, tears apart their fledgling romance and turns her dream into a nightmare. Will Nina win the battle for Billabong Bend? Or will the man she once loved destroy the wild wetlands she holds so close to her heart?

Billabong Bend is a star-crossed love story which sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course amid the beauty of New South Wales’ northern riverlands.

A star-crossed love story! Now, how could anyone refuse that? And you don’t have to because Billabong Bend is available right now from your favourite book shop or chainstore. Or you can order instantly online from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Kobo or your favourite ebook retailer.

All stocked up? Fabulous. Now it’s time to get native with Jennifer!

Cooking With Native Mint

‘Two moons, one in the sky and its dimpled twin in the river, cast a soft glow over the bush. The velvet night was fragrant with eucalyptus and wild river mint.’ Billabong Bend

Thanks so much for asking me over for a Friday feast Cathryn. As you already know, I’m a fan of bush tucker. To celebrate the release of Billabong Bend I’m sharing a recipe using the rambling River Mint bush Mentha australisis – a subtle Australian native herb with the taste and aroma of spearmint. It thrives along waterways after flood, particularly in the beautiful Murray Darling riverlands. Indigenous people used River Mint to flavor food, and also medicinally for coughs and colds. Early settlers embraced this perennial herb, commonly teaming it with roast lamb. It can be easily grown and is great for boggy places. Although not as invasive as common mint it does spread, so may be best in pots for small gardens. Dry it, or use it fresh in savoury sauces, salads, fruit drinks and desserts. You can buy dried River Mint online very reasonably from The Bush Food Shop. They also sell River Mint and Pepperleaf Jelly and a delightfully refreshing Wild Spearmint Cordial!

Here’s a delicious no-bake slice that takes hardly any time at all to prepare, and will impress people with your bush tucker skills!

Native Mint and Macadamia Slice

Jennifer Scoullar's macadamia slice

200gm chocolate (I like dark best)

175gm Shortbread (Butterfingers shortbread made by the Old Colonial Cookie Company in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is yum and Aussie made. I’m not much of a shortbread cook!)

I/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

40gm butter

2 tablespoons of Australian honey

2 tablespoons dried River Mint

– Line a pan with baking paper

– Place the dried native mint in a saucer and add 2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave to cool.

– Combine 200gm chocolate with 40gm butter and 2 tablespoons of Australian honey in a

stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until the chocolate just melts, and the

ingredients are combined.

– Remove from heat and stir in the native mint. Then fold in the packet of shortbread broken

into chunky pieces.

– Pour mixture into lined pan.

– Press macadamia halves on top and chill for 2 hours.

– Sprinkle icing sugar on top

– Slice and serve

 

Jenn, this sounds a lovely slice! And so easy. Like hedgehog slice but with a minty hint. I’ll have to give this one a try.

GIVEAWAY

We adore a good giveaway on Friday Feast and Jennifer has very generously offered one. This is your chance to win a paperback copy of her brand new, raved about release, Billabong Bend. Star-crossed lovers, Feasters! Star-crossed lovers! And yours to be had with just a teensy bit of effort.

To be in the draw, tell us your favourite slice. Maybe it’s lovely gooey caramel. Or perhaps you love nothing better than a savoury slice made with zucchini and fetta. Or even a bakery made apricot or apple slice that oozes luscious fruit the moment you bite into it.

Simply share your tastiest slice and we’ll pop you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 10th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea, who has won a copy of Jennifer’s Billabong Bend. Great reading ahead. Thanks to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

One Reply

Greetings from Mount Gambier, the Blue Lake city! Well, for a few minutes more anyway. I’m flying out shortly after a whirlwind three days spent chatting to wonderful readers here, and at Hamilton and Balmoral in western Victoria. What fun!

Speaking of fun, my Sydney Swans were awesome last week, with an excellent win over Essendon leaving us sitting 3rd on the AFL ladder. Rah! Sadly, the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Author Fiona PalmerPlay Golf news isn’t as positive. I appear to have lost all putting ability. Probably because I can’t stop thinking about The Falls, my next rural romance, and its hero Lucas in the pool. Deep sigh. That man…

Speaking of great characters, best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer is spreading her wings with a wonderful new young adult series and it sounds a cracker. The first book in the MTG Agency series is The Recruit and features Jasmine Thomas who is definitely not your average teenager.

This is so cool! Take a look…

THE RECRUIT

Cover of The Recruit by Fiona PalmerFrom one of Australia’s Queens of Romance comes the debut in a brand new YA series about secrets, strengths, and what lies beneath the surface.

Jasmine Thomas may not be completely normal, but she’s a pretty typical seventeen-year-old girl. She hates the rich mean kids, loves her best friends, and can’t wait to get out of school each day. Her spare time is spent at The Ring — a boxing gym where she practically grew up — learning karate, boxing and street fighting. So, yeah, Jaz can kick some major butt.

Life seems pretty normal until the day Ryan Fletcher enters her gym…mysterious and hot with heaps of bad boy charm. Sure, she checks him out. Who wouldn’t? But what doesn’t show on his gorgeous abs are secrets and lies that dominate his very grown-up world. Now Jaz has to figure out just how far she is willing to go to know more. Could Ryan really be offering the life-fulfilling life path she’s always dreamed of?

The first in the MTG Agencies series.

Doesn’t that sound a ripping read? You can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Buy the ebook from Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, ebooks.com, All Romance eBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Wonderful. Now here’s Fiona.

Easing Into Winter

Oh I love the Friday Feast, thanks Cathryn for having me! It’s always great to be here and also a little scary. :/ I love eating food, I’m just not big on preparing/cooking it!!!  So as usual I’m going to share with you one of my foolproof recipes. (These are the only recipes I keep and tend to make over and over again.)

At the moment we are moving towards winter, I have already lit my fire and love sitting by it as it crackles away. So I’ve picked a meal my family loves to eat during winter. It’s a vegetable risotto with a twist.

Even my fussy child eats this, even with those awful vegies in it because the chicken stock makes it all taste the same.

So here it is: My Vegetable Risotto with Chicken Stock instead of Vegetable Stock

VEGETABLE RISOTTO

Fiona's vegetable risotto

2 cups sliced mushrooms (dice small if need to hide it from kids)

1 cup frozen beans (once again I cut these up into smaller bits)

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup diced red capsicum

1 onion finely diced

2 cups raw Arborio rice

6 cups (1 ½  litres) ready made chicken stock liquid

2 level teaspoons reduced fat margarine

1 level teaspoon crushed garlic   (when I’m cooking, nothing is ever precise. The

amount of ingredients that goes in depends on my mood.)

1/3 cup white wine (now I never seem to have wine when I cook this so I never put it in.)

3 level tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 chicken stock cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook this in a large non-stick saucepan. (Also have vegetables cut and ready before you start.) Melt margarine, add onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add in rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of stock liquid and stock cubes, bring to boil then simmer stirring frequently until liquid has been absorbed by rice.

Add in wine, once absorbed pour in 2 cups of liquid, bring back to boil.

Add mushrooms, beans, corn and capsicum, reduce to a simmer stirring frequently until stock water is absorbed. Add final 2 cups of stock liquid, when almost all liquid has been absorbed (rice should be cooked by this stage) stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

I had never made a risotto before making this one but every time I’ve made it, it’s been a hit. (If you know me, then you know that’s pretty amazing!!) So what I’m trying to say is if you follow the recipe you can’t go wrong.

We are big parmesan fans in this house so we like a bit extra on top. 🙂

 

Thanks, Fiona. LOVE risotto and even better when it’s super easy to make and tasty like this one. And healthy with the veg too, not to mention comforting. There’s something really warming about risotto. Perfect for these cooler months. Ah, those Italians, they really know how to please a stomach.

What about you, Feasters? What’s your favourite winter warmer?

I adore steamy rich casseroles but also anything with pulses in it. We have an amazing baked bean with meatballs recipe that is a huge favourite. I tested out a new Italian beef and cannellini bean recipe last week that’s going straight into the favourites pile too. Pulses are just so hearty and lovely!

Must share that bean and meatball recipe on Friday Feast one day… In the meantime, how about sharing your favourite winter tucker?

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