Tag Archives: Sydney Swans

FRIDAY FEAST with Helene Young

26 Replies

Hello Feasters, and welcome to another truly excellent Friday filled with food and fabulous authors.

But first…. DID YOU SEE MY SWANNIES? At last, we have scrambled our way into the eight. Now, if we can just do the righty and give Hawthorn the spanking they deserve tonight all will be well in Swanfan world. Which reminds me, all is rather well with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news too. No, I don’t have my new 3 wood yet, it’s on order, but I did play well enough last week to win a golf ball.

Go ahead and laugh, but remember: From little things, big things grow!

Speaking of growing, how about the superstar growth of our guest today! Helene Young ishelene-young-2-0 not only a multi-award winning author, with Australian Romance Reader Awards and RWA Romantic Book of the Year honours galore, she’s also one of Australia’s best-selling authors. And a lovely lady to go with it.

An airline pilot now living on a catamaran in Queensland (I know, I know), Helene continues to write romantic suspense novels that capture the Australian landscape beautifully, as well as keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Her latest release is Safe Harbour. Take a look…

SAFE HARBOUR

Cover of Safe Harbour by Helene YoungWhen Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world.  Having saved his life can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?

Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, can’t tell Darcy the real reason this man has washed up on their shores. If she knew the links between the stranger and her own dysfunctional family, she’d flee the Cove and he’d lose her love for good.

As they take refuge in an old whaling station, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface, hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? This is one book you won’t want to miss and it can be yours now with just a quick trip to the shops or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse (or finger taps for you tablet and phone users). Buy Safe Harbour now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Collins Booksellers, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Fishpond, or your local independent. For immediate download of the ebook, why not try Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now kick back and be comforted by Helene!

Fresh Is Best

Thanks to Cathryn for allowing me to visit Friday Feast one more time – I’m very honoured 🙂 I’ve discovered so many wonderful recipes on this amazing blog and it goes from strength to strength.

So, Feasters, let me start with a question. How do plan your meals? Do you begin with a recipe or do you source the ingredients first? I have to admit that I was someone who would decide on the menu, usually by drooling over glossy photos in magazines and recipe books. Then I’d head out to scour the shops for the ingredients. Sometimes I’d be beside myself scene from manly marketbecause pomegranates weren’t in season or the tender asparagus shoots looked more like stakes I’d use to prop up a wilting tomato plant that something that would grace the smoked salmon ravioli. Or rhubarb was only to be found in the frozen section and the new potatoes were decidedly last season…

And then I had an epiphany. How about I check out what’s in season and then build the menu around that? You can stop laughing right now… For a girl who spent a lot of time in restaurants – both working and eating – you might assume it would be basic stuff, but clearly I’m a slow learner. Now we’re living aboard a boat with limited storage it’s even more important. We choose the fresh, glossy produce and then decide what to cook. Simple food takes on a new flavour when it’s market-day fresh.

The Goat Pie Guy's stallLucky for us there are markets every Sunday in the local park at Manly. Once a month there’s a fantastic Farmers Market with everything from Goat Meat Pies (which are delicious!) to hot smoked salmon and stalls full of fresh produce. You can chat to the stall owner about the best way to cook something new – or new to Capt G in the case of custard apples – and you can sample their wares before you buy.

In Safe Harbour, Darcy Fletcher is a chef and she’s come home to Banksia Cove to open a restaurant in an old whaling station. In her words – ‘There’s unlikely to be any truffle oil on the menu or wagyu beef, but there will be melt in your mouth beef from west of Rockhampton, luscious Scene from Manly marketsseafood hauled from the Pacific, beetroots and sweet potatoes straight from the ground, asparagus spears whose tips have basked in the same morning sun as my patrons. Don’t think you can ask for anything better than fresh food, simply prepared with love.’

So, I’d love to hear how you go about deciding what to cook? Are you a ‘once a week shopper’ or a ‘shop as you go’ kind of cook? Do plan or go with the flow? Join in the discussion to go into the draw for a copy of Safe Harbour. 🙂

And I thought I’d share one of my favourite potato dishes because, for me, winter is all about comfort food and there is nothing more comforting than a well-dressed potato.

Here’s our never fail recipe for stuffed jacket potatoes.

Stuffed jacket potatoes

Choose a potato variety that is good for mashing and baking – Coliban, Desiree or Golden Delight all work well. Select one per person and choose good oval shapes of medium size.

Wash well, pat dry, stab with a fork on top and bottom and then microwave until cooked. Timing will depend on your microwave, but around 3-5 minutes should be sufficient for one potato. Allow to cool enough to handle, place on the bench so it rests easily – usually that will be length ways – then slice a ‘lid’ off the top and put to one side. Using a dessert spoon carefully scoop out the soft flesh, making sure not to break the potato skin, and put into a large mixing dish (depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking).

Add a good dollop of butter, a slurp of milk or cream, a small handful of chives, parsley or any fresh herbs you may have left over. Stir well to make a smooth potato mash (firm not sloppy works best). Then add a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese and season to taste.

You can vary the type of cheese or herbs, add crispy bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs, or salami, so go to town and experiment.

Once you’re happy with the taste and texture of your filling spoon it carefully back into the shell so that it sits mounded higher than the original size of the potato. Place the lid on top, brush the top and sides with oil and grind a scatter of sea salt over it.

Pop on a baking tray and cook in a preheated 180 deg oven for no more than 30 minutes. They will be fluffy on the inside and delicious and crispy on the outside.

Bon appetit!

I am drooling here. DROOLING I tell you! Helene, that stuffed spud sounds absolutely divine. And perfect for the cooler months when we’re allowed to load up on carbs and buttery things to keep out the chill.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my delicious little Feasty dumplings, time to join in the fun with another giveaway. This time a copy of Helene’s wonderful new release, Safe Harbour.

As Helene has already described above, simply reveal how you go about deciding what to cook. Are you a planner or a spur of the moment cook? Or do you leave it to the whim of someone else? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Me, I’m a combination. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I get carried away when I spot something delicious. On Tuesday I discovered a tub of duck fat at my local IGA. Yes, yes, I KNOW it’s super bad for me and cooking duck fatty food on a weeknight goes against my house rules, but it just so happens I have this fantastic recipe for braised Puy lentils…

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 13th May 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Helene, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter as @heleneyoung.

And while you’re here, why not check out Helene’s exciting booktrailer for Safe Harbour. It’s a cracker!

FRIDAY FEAST with Alissa Callen

23 Replies

Hello, my Friday-loving lovelies, and welcome to another mouth-watering edition of everyone’s favourite food series, Friday Feast!

Things have calmed down a little at Chez Hein now that the initial flurry of Rocking Horse Hill release run-around has passed, which means I can now concentrate better on other things, like my darling Sydney Swans and golf. My boys had a most excellent win last week in the footy. I, in golf, did not. Well, not when it counted. Whupped butt ANZAC day when I went out for a practice hit and then it all fell apart in the comp on Sunday. Sigh.

However, all going well this afternoon I’ll become the proud owner of a new 3 wood…

Speaking of afternoon delights, this week’s guest has some beautiful afternoon tea recipes to Author Alissa Callenshare. A born and bred country girl living in the central west of NSW, Alissa Callen’s books are a wonderful addition to the rural romance genre. It’s in the sweeping Australian countryside and small rural towns that she knows so well that Alissa sets her stories. What Love Sounds Like is out in ebook right now, while the first book in her Red Dust Outback series, Beneath Outback Skies, has just hit the shelves in paperback.

The second in the Red Dust Outback series released this week. Check out Down Outback Roads.

DOWN OUTBACK ROADS

Cover of Down Outback Roads by Alissa CallenSometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love.

Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?

Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance.

Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?

Doesn’t that sound romantic? Ahh. Makes my heart all a-flutter reading that. You can own a copy right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Purchase your ebook copy of Down Outback Roads from Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back with cuppa and munch on this!

Afternoon Tea Treats with Alissa Callen

In my new release, Down Outback Roads, I had so much fun using food as a way to integrate the two different worlds of my main characters. Kree Garrett is from the Rocky Mountains in America while Ewan Mackenzie is from the small rural town of Glenalla, Australia.

Kree quickly develops a liking for iconic Aussie lamingtons while Ewan, who initially can’t bring himself to eat peanut butter with chocolate, crosses to the dark side and tries American peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. Much to the delight of his small twin nephews, quietly-spoken Darby and mischievous Braye, he finds the cookies not only edible but also delicious and goes back for seconds.

Lamingtons

Lamingtons

1 plain and unfilled sponge or vanilla cake cut into squares. Can be made from scratch, a packet mix or purchased.

Chocolate icing:

2 ½ cups icing sugar/mixture

¼ cup cocoa powder

2/3 cup warm water

Sift together dry ingredients, whisk in water until smooth.

Tip 2 cups desiccated coconut into a wide-mouthed bowl.

Roll chocolate-covered cake in coconut until evenly coated.

Lamingtons can also be sliced and filled with whipped cream or jam before being rolled in the chocolate icing and coconut.

Allow to set and then enjoy 🙂

 

 Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and choc chip cookies

1 cup of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix first four ingredients. Drop small spoonfuls of mixture onto a lined biscuit tray, keeping in mind the cookies will spread. Press in the chocolate chips onto the cookie tops. Bake in a moderate oven until golden.

For the batch in the photo my kids substituted small chocolate m and m’s instead of chocolate chips.

 

Deeeeelicious, Alissa! As one would expect from a country gal. And who can go past lamingtons? My other half turns into the Cookie Monster whenever he spies a plate. They are the perfect morning or afternoon tea treat.

Now, speaking of treats…

GIVEAWAY!

Alissa has very generously offered one lucky reader the chance to win a Kindle copy of her charming and heart-warming book What Love Sounds Like, featuring a an outback based Cover of What Love Sounds Like by Alissa Callenspeech pathologist, a man who believes money is as important as breathing, and a little girl who will bring them together.

To be in the giveaway, simply reveal what sweet treat you enjoy from another country.

That’s an easy one for me. Baklava! This Greek treat is such a favourite, with its sticky syrup, nutty layers and beautiful pastry. Gawd, I really want a piece now!

What about you? Maybe a traditional Devonshire tea is your go. Perhaps pecan pie from the US or an Italian canoli. There’s a whole world of sweet treats out there. Share your favourite and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 6th May 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein (again!)

24 Replies

Hello, my lovely Feasters! Welcome to this ANZAC day edition of Friday Feast. Did you brave the cold for dawn service this morning? We did, and it was as moving as always.

Lest We Forget.

Now, as is tradition, it’s time for your favourite sporting update in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. There is good news to report. Ha! You didn’t expect that, did you? Well, it appears the Easter Bunny bought me a golf swing and it was magnificent to behold.

Okay, that’s a lie. Magnificent was my beloved Sydney Swans victory over Fremantle in the AFL, something my swing could never be classified as. Doesn’t matter. The Easter weekend was stunning weather-wise and I had great fun on the golf course (except for those two balls in the dam on the 18th on Saturday – that wasn’t fun at all). Plus I won the Sunday competition. All right, so there were only five in the field but ppht, who cares about that? Bar me, they were all men and a victory is still a victory!

Another victory is Rocking Horse Hill finally hitting the shelves. Yeehaa!

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.

And you can buy this exciting read RIGHT NOW!

For the paperback why not support your local bookstore? You’ll also find Rocking Horse Hill at chain stores like BigW, K-Mart and Target, and excellent online retailers like Booktopia and Bookworld.

For the ebook, clickety-click on over to Amazon for an instant download to your Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Oh, you’re good people! Now we can get on with some…

Sweet Seduction

There were many things I loved writing about in Rocking Horse Hill. The hill itself was a big one. The animals, of course. The indomitable Granny B. And Josh and Em’s history-burdened relationship.

The other thing was the food. Wallace-Jones women are renowned cooks. Em often has her friends Teagan and Jas over for dinner and a girly gossip. Tuesday night dinner at the Wallace-Jones mansion in Levenham is tradition, and Em’s mum Adrienne always cooks up something wonderful and comforting. When this family entertains, they do it in style.

One of my favourite scenes in Rocking Horse Hill is the first night Josh comes to Em’s for dinner. They’re both a bit nervous and want to impress, but neither wants to look like they’ve made too big an effort. So Em takes great care with her menu.

Here’s a little taste of what happens…

Dessert was as big a hit with Josh as the main course. He settled back to regard her with a lazy, satisfied smile. ‘If you set out to impress me, I’m impressed.’

Em’s desire soared hill-high. She smothered it with domesticity. Figuring that he wouldn’t be easily fobbed off, she allowed him to help with the dishes, and was glad she did. The practical chore took the edge off, and let them talk about developments in the town and local gossip. By the time the last dish was stowed and the benches were wiped, they were back to easy friendship.

Josh glanced at his watch. ‘I suppose I should get home. It’s been a big day.’

‘You sure you don’t want coffee?’

‘Thanks, but no.’ Josh wandered towards the sliding door, carrying his jacket, Muffy trailing behind. At the glass he stopped and gave the dog a stern look. ‘You look after your mistress now.’

To Em’s astonishment, Muffy pressed her shoulder into Josh’s leg, a sign of affection Em had always considered exclusively hers. Josh ruffled Muffy’s ears before turning to Em. ‘Thanks for tonight. It was great.’

‘You’re welcome.’

They stared at one another. The CD finished. Wind threaded through the roof and brushed against the house.

‘So.’

‘So.’

The temperature rose.

He leaned forward to kiss her cheek but the kiss lingered. The tiny hairs on her skin stirred against his breath. She could feel his swallow of hesitancy, then his long exhale as he made his decision. Another kiss: soft, fluttery. Heat swept her body, scattering it with delicious prickles.

Em closed her eyes against the pull of yearning. ‘Josh . . .’

So what was the dessert Em impressed Josh with? The oh-so-luscious chocolate heaven that is…

Moelleux au Chocolat

Also commonly known as chocolate fondants. This is, as Em points out ‘…a dessert disproportionately impressive to the effort it took to create.’

Honestly, you can whip these babies up in no time. And, because they’re better if you prepare them in advance, you can make them the morning or even the day before you want to serve, and simply keep them in the fridge until you’re ready.

Makes 4. Recipe can easily be doubled.

85g dark, high quality chocolate

85g butter, cubed

85g dark brown sugar

40g plain flour

3 eggs, beaten

Butter

Cocoa powder

Brush 6 ramekins with butter. Be generous. Tip in a spoonful or so of cocoa powder into each ramekin and rotate the ramekin so the powder covers the base and edges. Again, don’t be afraid to be generous. Tip out excess powder into the next one and continue until they’re all well dusted.

Ramekins buttered and dusted with cocoa

Zap the chocolate and butter in a microwave on low, stirring frequently, until melted. Or melt gently on the stove using a bowl set over a pan of hot water.

Mix the flour and sugar together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Mix eggs into the melted chocolate mixture and then into the flour and sugar. Pour evenly into the ramekins, cover and leave them in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

Moelleux au chocolat ready for baking

Preheat oven to 180C. Place the ramekins onto a tray and then into the oven for 15 minutes, although the best timing will probably be a matter of trial and error – the perfect excuse to make and eat more as you test. The edges should be set but the inside runny. Poke it with a skewer if you’re uncertain, but remember your goal is to serve it gooey. Remove, allow to rest for a little, then turn out onto plates. Serve with cream and maybe some tangy berries if you have some handy.

The gooey insides of the fondant

And wait for the oohs and ahhs as everyone dips their spoons into the mounds and out pours all that chocolatey goodness.

You never know, you might even catch yourself a hunky man like Josh with this recipe. After all, the way to a man’s heart…

 

GIVEAWAY

Why not? New rural romances don’t come along every day, do they? And we do adore a lovely giveaway here on Friday Feast.

But you’ll have to work for it and share what you could be seduced with or have been seduced by. Reveal all in the comments and I’ll pop you into the draw to win a signed copy of Rocking Horse Hill.

Maybe you’re a sucker for an old-fashioned evening out to dinner. Or, like me, gentlemanly manners and a bunch of flowers had you turning gooey. Perhaps you were taken in by something adrenalin packed, like a skydiving date. Or maybe you fell in love over a hamper of stinky gourmet cheeses.

Share and you’ll be in with a chance to win.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 29th April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, you’ll find plenty of news around the website. Just click on the tabs at the top of the page. You’ll also find me on Facebook, Twitter via @CathrynHein and Google+.

PS. For those in the NSW Blue Mountains, I’ll be signing books at the new BigW store in Katoomba for an hour or so from 11am tomorrow morning, 26th April. If you’re in the area, Come along and say hello. I’d love to see you.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein ie me!

68 Replies

Hoppy Easter, everyone! And welcome to this special Good Friday edition of Friday Feast. I say special a bit tongue-in-cheek because you have ME as your host and guest, something that doesn’t happen often. Actually, you’ll have me this week and next week. Aren’t you lucky!

Unlike my darling football team, who are not.Cathryn holding Rocking Horse Hill

My beloved Sydney Swans, bless them, are currently playing worse football than I’m playing golf, and that’s saying something. And because I still have the footy-sulks you’re going to have to put up with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead.

Despite difficult conditions –  ie. the course being as soggy as a soppy sponge and the bunkers being flooded – last week I managed to score less disastrously than I have for a while, which doesn’t mean much, really. However I did at least manage to look particularly fetching in purple tartan shorts teamed with a blue and white floraly patterned polo and pink socks. Stylish. Very stylish indeed.

And now… er… here’s ME!

Well, my book: Rocking Horse Hill, which releases in only five sleeps and which is garnering suuuuper reviews!

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 cracking family drama and a wonderful romance (if I do say so myself). Why not pre-order the ebook right now? Simply visit Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Kobo or Google Play. Do it now and it’ll be delivered right to your device on release day. Easy!

And now more ME!

EASTER TREATS

What are your childhood Easter memories? Are they overloaded with chocolate, camping or perhaps all the glorious colour and action of the Royal Easter Show?

In the Hein household we went to the beach. Marvellous, I hear you say. Lucky you! Er, yes. Lucky us. Except let me tell you a little about the place I’m talking about. Nene Valley is a tiny fishing village right down the very bottom of South Australia. It was named after a barque that was wrecked there in 1854. When I was a kid, at really low tide, you could still see the remains of the wreck but the sea and sand has covered it now. It’s a nice place though. It was then and it still is now, and Mum and Dad’s Mount Gambier limestone shack had everything you could want.

However, think about where it is. Think of Antarctica, think of the Great Southern Ocean, and Map of Australia and Antarctica showing approximate location of Nene Valleythen picture a map of Australia. Bar a few guano-covered islands, between Nene Valley and all those icebergs there is nothing but freezing water and slicing wind. When the weather turns, it’s bloody horrible. And inevitably, so, so perfectly, it would turn Easter weekend.

Ah, Dad, ever the optimist, would head out on Good Friday to lay crayfish pots and nets (you used to be able to net in those days) and rub his hands in glee at the thought of the cray, whiting, bream or snapper soon to be lining his plate. And what would happen, almost without fail? Foul weather. Out there the pots would remain. If we were lucky, the sea would be safe enough in the bay to fetch the nets. But the pots, which were usually laid on the reef where the breakers crashed, had to stay.

So what would we eat instead? Rabbit! Often with the added extra crunch of shotgun pellets. And chocolate, of course. Lots of it because Mum always loaded up. Which was just as well when you consider the seafood situation….

Now, what has that to do with the recipe I’m sharing today or Rocking Horse Hill? Absolutely nothing. But it was fun talking about it anyway.

Seeing as it’s Easter, I thought I’d share my recipe for hot crossed buns, or in this case, uncrossed buns because I’m usually too lazy to make the crosses or glaze them. Who needs that faffing around when they taste good without it anyway?

You can make the recipe the traditional way but why bother if you have a breadmaker? Put the ingredients in the machine in the right order, hit the dough setting and go and read a book. Perfect! It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right but it’s pretty foolproof now. The only hard work is kneading in the sultanas and forming the buns and even that takes no time at all. The rest is all done by machine. Lovely!

Hot (Un)Crossed Buns

Hot uncrossed buns

14 grams or so of dried yeast

4 cups plain (bread) flour

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 cup sultanas

1 ½ cups warm milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix dry ingredients, including yeast & sultanas, in a large bowl. Add milk, butter and egg. Mix well to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume. Approx. 1 hour.

(This stage can be done in a bread machine – liquid ingredients first, followed by dry, NO SULTANAS, then set to ‘dough’ function.)

Knock down dough, then knead for 1 minute.

(If you’re using a breadmaker, let it finish its cycle, remove the dough and knead in the sultanas.)

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Divide dough evenly into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a bun. Place slightly apart on a lined baking tray. Leave in a warm place to double in size. Approx 1 hour, depending on ambient temperature.

Or, if you’re like me, take a big cake tin (26 x 26 cm), tear off some baking paper to fit. No grease, just plop it in – the paper overhang makes great handles for lifting the buns out afterwards – then roll your 12 buns and place them in the tin and leave to prove. They’ll be a bit more rectangular than square but it’s the taste, not the shape, that counts. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, if they’re too perfect everyone will think you bought them!

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

If you’re feeling cheffy, pipe crosses onto buns. (Make the paste with 1/3 cup plain flour and 1/3 cup water, mixed until smooth).

Just to prove I can add crosses….

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Okay, so I’m not great with a piping bag…

Bake at 200⁰C for 15-20 minutes. When baked, place buns on a rack and brush with glaze. (Make the glaze by mixing ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon mixed spice in a saucepan. Bring to boil slowly, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes)

Finished glazed hot cross buns

Finished glazed hot cross buns

See? Easy! And delicious. Plus your house will smell amazing and you’ll have exerted hardly any effort. Stand by for cheers and compliments when you hand out butter-smothered hot (un)crossed buns to grateful family and friends.

Hot crossed buns broken apart

GIVEAWAY

Why not? It’s Easter. So…

For your chance to win not only a signed copy of my fantabulous new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill, the book that everyone is raving about (it’s my blog, I’m allowed enthusiasm!), but some Lindt chocolates too, simply share your favourite Easter memory or treat. Either one, I don’t care. The main thing is to join in the Friday Feast fun!

Did you shiver in a collapsed tent for an entire weekend? Perhaps you ate too many Easter Bilbys (chocolate ones) and couldn’t move for a day? Maybe you have a wonderful family tradition you could share?

Comment away and I’ll put you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Wednesday, 23rd April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

Take note: I’m be leaving the giveaway open a little longer usual because of the holiday break.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about me, just go exploring the website. But you can also play around on Facebook, Twitter via @CathrynHein and Google+.

FRIDAY FEAST with Sarah Mayberry

44 Replies

It’s Friiiiiday and what better way to celebrate this most favourite of days than with fantastic food and fabulous fiction?

I know… FOOTY! Yes, my darling Sydney Swans AFL team had a win. About time, too. This losing business was leaving me very flat. I think that’s what’s been affecting my golf. I had the footy sooks. Speaking of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I played rather well last week. For nine holes. Then it all collapsed in a muttering heap. But for nine blissful holes it was happening. No balls in the water, no thieving crows to upset me. Lovely.Author Sarah Mayberry

Speaking of lovely (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), today’s guest is most certainly that. Lovely, and an amazing author. It’s no wonder I have serious fangirlness. Sarah Mayberry writes amazing books with brilliant dialogue and storylines that hook you from the first page. I’ve just finished reading the first of her April releases, Satisfaction. Oh boy, was that good. Really, really good, but I’ve come to expect that from Sarah. Which is why I’m very excited about her second April release, Her Kind of Trouble. Can’t wait to read this one!

HER KIND OF TROUBLE

Cover of Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah MayberryIt takes one to know one 

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they’re a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And everything that happens between them proves her right. Even better, they both agree their one night together is all they’ll share. 

Now, years later, Seth remains one of Vivian’s favorite memories. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because when she sees him again he’s still sinfully attractive. More than that, she actually likes the man he is. When Seth suddenly becomes a full-time dad to a newborn, Vivian falls hard. Despite the changes, however, she knows Seth will never settle down. And he will definitely never commit to one woman. So she needs to strengthen her defenses before she gets into real trouble!

“As she always does, Mayberry has delivered a passionate, psychologically astute romance with a hero and heroine who are both charmingly flawed. The pages practically turn themselves” –  New York Journal of Books.

They do! Pick up a Sarah Mayberry and you’ll be hard pressed to set it down. Which is why you want to buy Her Kind Of Trouble right now. Oh, yes you do! For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publisher Harlequin or Mills & Boon Australia, or your local chain store. For the ebook click on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now, have fun with Sarah!

Cravings

One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to give my characters the cars, houses, wardrobes and shoe collections I would love to have in real life – and I also get to feed them. I don’t think I have ever fed one of my characters something that I personally can’t stand. That would be so…wrong. More often than not, they get to have something I am craving or something I wish I could try again. Her Kind of Trouble is no exception to this rule.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for you, but there is some sadness mixed in with the sexy times and romance in this book, and at one point the heroine comes over to the hero’s house and cooks him dinner before lining up the shot glasses, breaking out the tequila bottle and helping him deal with his feelings.

Here’s a little excerpt from the scene:

“How’s your liver?” she asked as she reached for the tequila bottle.

“I own a bar, remember?” There was a good measure of his old cockiness in his response.

“Big talk, Anderson. Let’s see you put your money where your mouth is.”

“That doesn’t even make sense. You bought the tequila, remember?”

“You know what I mean.”

“To Lola,” she said solemnly.

 Grief raced across Seth’s face like a cloud across the sun. Then he blinked and nodded and raised his own glass. “To Lola.”

They both licked the salt off their hands before knocking back the tequila and sucking on their lime wedges. Vivian inhaled sharply as the alcohol seared its way down her throat to her belly.

“Oh, man, I hate tequila,” Seth said.

“I know. You could so strip marine varnish with this stuff. Brutal.” She poured them a second shot as she spoke, and Seth reached for the salt cellar.

“Gives the worst hang-overs, too,” he said.

“No way. Nothing is worse than a champagne hangover,” she said, sliding his shot across the table toward him.

“Talk to me tomorrow,” he said knowingly.

They both threw back their second shots, Seth wincing as though he’d just swallowed acid.

“Feeling alive yet?” she asked him.

Before she gets Seth drunk, however, Vivian cooks him dinner – Mexican, Vivian style. I LOVE Mexican, always have, always will. Here is my chicken fajitas, Vivian style, as featured in Her Kind of Trouble.

Vivian’s Chicken Fajitas with Two Salsas

2 chicken breasts

2 medium Spanish/red onions

1/2 a fresh pineapple

1 fresh lime

A handful of fresh mint leaves

A ripe avocado

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes

Burritos/soft tacos of your choice

Olive oil

Portuguese chicken/Cajun Chicken spice mix or other spicy chicken seasoning of your choice

1. Slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, then coat them with the spicy chicken seasoning of your choice. I’ve found both Cajun Chicken and Portuguese Chicken seasoning to be good. Pour olive oil into a frying pan and cook.

2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the Spanish onions finely and separate into two bowls, half per bowl.  Slice the pineapple, removing skin and hard core, then finely dice also. Mix the pineapple with one portion of onion, then slice the mint leaves finely and add to the same bowl. To complete the pineapple/mint salsa, squeeze the juice from a fresh lime and mix through the pineapple and mint.

3. Dice the avocado and add to the second bowl of diced onion. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice finely. Add to the second bowl, season with salt and pepper. You can also add a dash of olive oil at this point if you like.

4. Place your cooked chicken, bowls of salsa and warmed tortillas onto the kitchen bench or table, and invite your family and friends to assemble their own fajita.

The mix of the tart pineapple and lime juice with the mellow avocado and spicy chicken makes this one of my favourite easy summer meals. I think Seth liked it quite a bit, too! I hope you enjoy!

 

I will most assuredly, Sarah! Thank you. What a zingy fast meal, perfect for whipping up mid-week or weekend lazing with a margarita in hand.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, Feasters, we know you love a giveaway and Sarah has a beauty! Simply reveal your favourite spicy dish and you’ll go into the draw to win not only a paperback copy of Her Satisfaction by Sarah MayberryKind Of Trouble but also an ebook copy of Satisfaction AND a packet of the world’s best biscuit, Tam-Tams!

How’s that for a prize? Told you it was a beauty. So start sharing your favourite spicy foods and get yourself in the draw.

I don’t even have to think about what my favourite spicy dish is. I have a dead simple rice noodle and pork stir-fry recipe using chilli bean sauce that I just love. Like, really love. To the point that I could eat it every night for a week, easily. But what about you? Maybe you love a fiery rogan josh? Perhaps a Moroccan tagine is more your go. What about a bit of well-seasoned chorizo? There are plenty out there and your favourite could make you a winner. And a very happy reader!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 15th April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Julie who’ll be not only enjoying Sarah’s wonderful books but soon tasting Tim-Tams! Thanks to everyone else who played along in the Friday Feast fun. Wonderful comments as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Jenn J McLeod

30 Replies

Yes, my lovelies, it’s Friday Feast time again. And what a scrumptious guest we have lined up.

But first, the update you hanker for every week, and is still going because my darling Sydney Swans lost again and I’m sulking: Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.

Last weekend I had one of those frustrating rounds where I didn’t play that badly but couldn’t score (hmm, could be a nightclub analogy here somewhere – I didn’t discobop that badly but…). Even a ball sacrificed to the water gods on the 9th failed. The round was at least free of crow thievery, so perhaps that worked on some level. Maybe this week my luck will change. It had better for my footy team…

Now, to our most excellent guest.Author Jenn J McLeod

Come home to the country is Jenn J McLeod’s tag for her books and take you to the country she does. Her debut novel, House for all Seasons, was an instant success, garnering terrific reviews and sales, and leaving readers eagerly awaiting her next. Well, it’s arrived. Simmering Season is now in the shelves and wowing readers.

Take a look…

SIMMERING SEASON

Cover of Simmering Season

Back in Calingarry Crossing to sell the family pub, Maggie Lindeman has no idea a perfect storm is heading her way until her past and present collide with the unexpected.

Maggie once had a crush on Dan Ireland, now a work-weary police crash investigator, still hell-bent on punishing himself for his misspent youth. Dan has ample reason for not going home to Calingarry Crossing for the school reunion, but one very good reason why he should.

Maggie is dealing with a restless seventeen-year-old son, a father with dementia, a fame-obsessed musician husband, a dwindling bank account and a country pub that just won’t sell.

The last thing she needs is a surprise houseguest for the summer. Fiona Bailey-Blair, daughter of an old friend and spoilt with everything but the truth, whips up a maelstroml of gossip when she blows into town.

This storm season, when a school reunion brings home more than memories, Maggie Lindeman will discover  …  there’s no keeping a lid on some secrets.

 

Ooh, a book with secrets. Makes me all squirmy just thinking about it. You can own a copy today with just a few clicks. For the paperback, try the good people at Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, your local independent book shop or chain store. Ebook lovers, try Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now that you’re all booked up, here’s Jenn!

What’s Jenn J McLeod got Simmering?

I can’t believe it’s almost one year, to the day, that I was here on Friday Feast talking about my two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. A lot has happened in twelve months – both highs and lows. The highest of highs was signing a contract for books 3 and 4 in my Seasons Collection. So, I have been busy.

Today you’ve asked me to feature something foody from book two. Easy! I’ve actually managed to stir three passions into the Simmering Season pot: writing, food and music )yes, I’ve written a song!)

Readers will return to Calingarry Crossing for a school reunion that brings home more than memories for the local publican. Maggie Lindeman has no idea the perfect storm is headed her way or that it will blows the lid off a lifetime of secrets when the past and present collide with the unexpected. Will is still in the café and cheeky as ever and Maggie has a barmaid-cum-cook (Ethne) a British backpacker from the seventies who refused to go back! I love Ethne’s attitude to life, her jokes and her weekend specials. And so …

My recipe today is one of Ethne’s.

This dressing really is so simple and versatile – requiring no cooking, no stove, no simmering! It will also store in a squeezy bottle in the fridge for ages – weeks or more if you treat it well (no cross contamination). Fabulous with chicken, salmon, pork, lamb, fetta, mixed with yoghurt as a yummy dip!

Coriander, honey, mustard dressing

In a whizzer/food processor (Ethne uses a magic bullet) …

One bunch of coriander

A generous glug of olive or vegetable oil

A good dollop of grainy or Dijon mustard

Cracked pepper to taste (also add garlic, lemon juice, honey and a smidge of sweet chilli sauce.)

Whiz it all up together and try it. If you like it – stop! If it’s too thick, add a bit more olive oil to get the pouring/squeezing consistency you want.

Here’s the dressing in action – with mango

Chicken and mango salad

(We had such a bumper crop of mangoes this season. Did you know the garbage truck cannot lift more than 70 kilos? I do now, because the garbo refused to empty my bin of possum-munched mangoes until I emptied some out. Needless to say, it has been mango EVERYTHING for months and I really am mangoed out!)

Moroccan chicken with mango and
a coriander, honey, mustard dressed salad

Ingredients/method:

Basically, make your favourite salad in a bowl. (Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion.)

Sprinkle chicken breast with Moroccan spice seasoning (Masterfoods style) and pan cook.

Add dressing to the salad, toss, mound in the centre of the plate.

Once chicken is cooked, slice, present, and add diced mango, toasted almond flakes and drizzle more dressing – to taste.

That’s it!

 

Too easy, Jenn! Not to mention delicious. Spicy anything and mango is a combination made in tastebud heaven, and that dressing sounds beautiful. Definitely one I’ll be trying.

Now, my tasty little Feasters, we have a giveaway!

What is your favourite season produce? Share and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed copy of Jenn J McLeod’s Simmering Season.

That’s easy-peasy for me. The season may be over now (sob!) but I LIVE for cherries. I’m like a bear readying for hibernation with those babies and can’t stuff enough in my mouth, delicious little balls of sweet fruity goodness that they are. But what about you? Do you salivate over the thought of new season apples? Maybe you can’t wait for the Southern rock lobster season. Perhaps it’s spring lamb you dream about. Share, and you’ll go into the draw.

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

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kirrily who has won a copy of Jenn’s wonderful Simmering Season. Some great Easter reading coming up! Thanks to everyone who joined in. I hope you had as much fun as we did.

Want to take more of a peek at Simmering Season? Check out Jenn’s book trailer:

FRIDAY FEAST with Tricia Stringer

41 Replies

Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

??????????????????????

Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

The footy season is now well and truly over, with my beloved Sydney Swans safely tucked up on holidays so I think it’s time to bore you with my golf game instead… or perhaps not. As my dad so loves to say, us Heins weren’t meant to play golf. A truism I sadly keep proving each week.Australian author Kate Belle

‘Tis a good thing then that I have all the deliciousness that is Friday Feast to keep you entertained. And this week’s guest is hugely entertaining too!

Multi-published Melbournian Kate Belle’s latest novel The Yearning is a must read. There was so much I related to with this book – the setting, the era – but it was the compelling story and Kate’s mastery of language that I adored most. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially if you were a child of the 70s.

Take a look…

 

THE YEARNING

 

Cover of The Yearning by Kate BelleIt’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

 

Intrigued? Of course you are! The Yearning is available now from Amazon for your Kindle e-reader or reading app, Kobo or iTunes. For the print book visit Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Eltham Bookshop and other independent book stores, or your local chainstore.

Unsure? Then read an extract here. You’ll be hooked, believe me.

Now please welcome Kate who is generously sharing a wonderful family recipe. Just the sort of Friday Feast I love.

 

Christmas Hand Me Downs

 

Hi Cathryn and readers. What a boon to finally get a guernsey on the famous Friday Feast. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time and even though I’ve literally had MONTHS to consider what to write about, I still can’t decide what recipe to share with you.

After checking the recipe index and seeing the poorly state of the vegetable list, and because I’m a vegetarian, I thought perhaps I should do a vegetable recipe – like creamy mashed potatoes, lemon & butter beans, or roast vegetable medley. But that seems a bit mumsy and boring and ‘eat up your veggies before you have dessert’. (Although there is nothing dull about the way I do veggies. Plenty of good quality butter, salt, pure olive oil, black pepper and cream. I’ve already told my doctor I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Bugger the cholesterol.)

But at heart (the part that’s still beating after all that fat) I’m a cake and pastry girl with a natural leaning toward carby, home-baked fare, and this is the time of year I embark on my boiled fruit cake, white chocolate white Christmas,Calendar showing Kate's pudding day and plum pudding.  So, against the repressed murmurings of my must-eat-wholesome-low-fat-food-fairy, I’m going to treat you to a special Christmas recipe that was passed to me by my dearly beloved’s ex-wife (yes, you read that right), who in turn inherited it from her Great Auntie Flo.

There are so many things about this recipe that appeal to me. Firstly, it’s been handed down three generations. Its history is as long as my list of ex-lovers and I can’t help wondering how many Christmas tables it has graced in the last century. Secondly, the family this recipe originated from were teetotallers and it contains so much alcohol there’s no need to refrigerate it. It just sits in its pudding bowl in a cool, dry cupboard for months developing mouth watering celebratory flavour. Thirdly, I love that it’s a second hand recipe. It goes well with my second hand kitchen utensils, second hand pets, husband and aprons. We are a fully recycled household so it seems appropriate to offer Friday Feast up a second hand heirloom recipe I’ve appropriated from someone else’s family.

Kate's pudding day ingredientsEvery October this recipe makes an appearance at my kitchen bench on a Saturday I’ve allocated for pudding making. Be warned, this pudding is a serious and messy commitment, but well worth it. The pudding itself is medium weight, very dark and moist. The amount of butter in it makes it very rich necessitating only small servings. One pudding goes a long way. I recommend you start early in the day and have no other plans. My first attempt at Auntie Flo’s pudding (actually, my first attempt at any Christmas pudding) took a day and a half (my fault, not the pudding’s) and almost put me off the whole exercise. But with practice I’ve got the preparation down to about four hours. With up to six hours boiling time on the stove top that’s the day done.

The recipe itself is photocopied from a cookbook and includes a footnote about how individual members of the family prefer their pudding served – X: bit of custard, Y: piles of brandy cream, Z: a smidget of cold whipped cream – which is a delightful addition and brings extra warmth to the experience of making it.

All in all, it’s a recipe befitting a writer. It brims with mysterious back story, has great depth of character and a compelling and involved plot that leads to a profoundly satisfying climax.

Just one more thing – the secret to the inherent goodness of Great Auntie Flo’s Christmas pudding isn’t in the butter, the dried fruit or even the booze. It’s in the Christmassy feelings that flourish as you get your hands utterly sticky and hum your way through your daggiest Christmas music while you work. (Yes, you must!)

 

Auntie Flo’s Christmas Pudding

 

Ingredients for 1 standard 2 ½ pint pudding (Use as best quality as you can manage – no substituting!)

Daggy Christmas CD – push play and turn up loud

250g currants

250g sultanas

250g raisins

90g candied peel

½ cup blanched chopped almonds

70g minced fresh apple

125g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

250g suet (or butter if you’re vegetarian)

250g soft breadcrumbs (I blitz day old bread in the food processor)

125g soft brown sugar

Grated rind 1 orange

2-3 eggs (free range of course)

1 tblsp brandy

2 tblsp rum

200ml beer (heavy only)

Method

Chop up dried fruit and nuts and combine with minced apple.

Chopping ingredients for the Christmas pudding

Sift flour with salt and spices into large mixing bowl (big enough to take the rest of the ingredients)

Grate the butter/suet into flour and rub in well (this gets very sticky but is quite enjoyable if you give in to it)

Christmas pudding preparation - rubbing butter or suet into flour

Add breadcrumbs, sugar and grated orange rind and mix with hands until even.

Mixing Christmas pudding by hand

Mix in fruit and nuts (yes, using your hands)

Beat eggs, adding brandy and rum (you can use a utensil for this bit)

Mix boozy eggs and beer to other ingredients and mix thoroughly into a soft mixture (okay, you can use a wooden spoon for this, but really, it’s better with hands :-))

Kate Belle's Christmas Pudding mix

Grease the pudding basin well (with butter) and line the base with baking paper. Press the mixture into the basin, pushing out all air pockets until the basin is brimming with yummy pudding.

Cover the top with a double thickness of greased baking paper followed by a double layer of tin foil and tie down tightly around the bowl rim with strong string, making a string handle for ease of removal from the boiling pot.

Pudding bowl preparation

Put the pudding bowl into a huge saucepan on the stove top and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin. Cover and boil for 6 hours (NB I usually make 2 smaller puddings by dividing this mixture in half and boil them for half the time). Keep an eye on the water level and top up as necessary. Too much water will soak into the pudding and make it gooey, not enough will make the pudding dry.

Allow pudding to cool and store for 2-3 months in cool, dry, dark cupboard. Cook it for a further 2 hours (adjust time according to pudding size) on Christmas day.

Serve with copious quantities of the reveller’s choice of brandy cream, custard, cream or icecream (or all of them!) and devour lustily.

Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe your family serve up every year?

 

Ooh, Kate, I could wrap you in a big Father Christmas hug! What a gorgeous post, and thanks so much for sharing such an important recipe with everyone at Friday Feast. I can just picture you now, boogie-ing to Jingle Bell Rock as you rub butter into flour or mix ‘boozy’ eggs.

So Feasters, do you have a Chrissy recipe that’s adored? I’ve got to brag that I make a mean Christmas cake, completely overloaded with brandy-soaked fruit. Because we tend to travel interstate, alternating between far north Queensland and south-east South Australian I haven’t had much of chance to create our own tradition, but we do get to savour other’s.

What about you? Do you get in the spirit with rum balls? Maybe fruit mince tarts? Or perhaps you have a special way with turkey? We’d all love to hear. Your tradition might inspire a new one for the rest of us.

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Victoria Purman

And so our favourite day of the week comes around again. What have you planned for the weekend? I’m feeling a tad bereft because there’s no more footy. Fortunately, I have boxed sets of my beloved Sydney Swans Premiership seasons to see me through the dark times. And lots of books. Lots and lots of books, including the debut release of this week’s Friday Feast guest, Victoria Purman. Austrlalian author Victoria PurmanAnd I tell you, if there was ever a story to put you in the mood for a long Aussie summer it’ll be Nobody But Him.

I met Victoria recently at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle and was immediately struck by her professionalism and easy going nature. Then again, she does hail from South Australia, my home state, so these things are to be expected.

Nobody But Him is the first in Victoria’s Boys of Summer trilogy (earworm anyone? Since I typed that all I can hear is Don Henley) and has just hit the shelves. Take a gander at this bronzed Aussie!

 

NOBODY BUT HIM

 

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman coverShe didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

 

You can own your own copy of Nobody But Him with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Buy direct from the publisher Harlequin or try most excellent Australian bookseller and ARRC sponsor Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes and the new BigW ebook store.

Seriously, it makes me proud to see so all the Australian stories dominating our bricks and mortar stores and virtual shelves at the moment. Anyway, enough of me, here’s Victoria!

 

 

Lock, stock and barrel

 

Has anyone else ever wandered the supermarket aisles and become increasingly concerned about the growing profusion of packet mixes and insta-meals?

I get the heebie-jeebies every time I read the back of the label and barely recognize anything that seems like real food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a working mother of three teenagers and I’m certainly not averse to doing whatever it takes to feed the Hungry Horde.

And I’m not what you might call a health nut, either. Those who know about my consumption of wine and chocolate know this to be true. (To those who don’t know me, I consume a lot of wine and chocolate.)

But I don’t want my kids to be loaded down with salt and preservatives and chemicals when I can make the real thing at home – salt and preservative free – for much less.

Hence my recipe for my weekly, reliable standby: Chicken Stock.

I approach cooking as I do writing a book.

On the surface, it’s all exciting – doing the shopping, looking at the labels and the recipe books, making everything look beautifully plated up and Master Chef-y.

The writing equivalent is spending lots of time online with search engine terms that include “shirtless” and “man”; thinking about your cover; and how famous you’re going to be when it sells squillions.

But when you get down to it, there are some basic you shouldn’t ignore.

No matter what genre you write in, every book needs a solid story at its heart.

I think of my Chicken Stock that way – a solid base of flavour for a zillion meals.

I’m not kidding when I say Chicken Stock is easy. The Hungry Horde doesn’t have time for complicated.

I cook up a batch on the weekend and have it sitting in the fridge so I can scoop out what I need during the week for meals in the slow cooker, casserole dishes, stir-fries or soups.

It’s especially handy for those dreaded days when all you have left in the fridge is a couple of near-dead zucchinis, a floret or two of broccoli and a cauliflower (you know, the one you bought in the vain hope that your kids would actually eat it).

Gather the veggies, chop finely, cook them all up in the stock until tender, give it a whizz and voila – vegetable soup. My kids love it. Even when I tell Boy13 there’s zucchini in it.

 

Victoria’s Chicken Stock

 

  • Chicken carcasses (I use two because they come that way in the supermarket). Don’t worry about trimming off the fat – while important, that comes later.Stock pot with chicken carcases
  • Veggies – celery, carrots, onion, minced garlic
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish)
  • Water

Use a big stock saucepan and place the chicken bones in it.

Raid the fridge for whatever veggies you have. I always keep a few celery leaves and stalks in the freezer (did I mention I hate wasting food?) and pop them in to the saucepan with an onion chopped in half (you don’t even need to peel it), and a roughly chopped carrot. Add some minced garlic (from the jar I have in the fridge), a little pepper, and add water until the chicken bones are covered.

Bring to the boil.

Chicken and vegetables in the stock pot ready for boilingWhen it’s boiling, turn down to simmer and let the magnificent aromas fill the house. I usually leave it for about an hour, so the flavours really intensify.

Let the stock cool, and then strain out all the chicken and the veggies. Pour into a container and chill overnight. This step is really important, as the fat congeals at the top and can be easily scooped off the next day.

Your stock is ready, totally delicious and made from real food.

Make soup! Add to day-old rice in a wok and it will taste delicious! Use a cupful any time a recipe calls for stock cubes or stock powder!

Here’s stir-fry rice I made with the stock. The Hungry Horde loved it.

 Stir fried rice made with Victoria's chicken stock

 

Ahh, Victoria, you’re a woman after my own heart. Actually, can a girl say that or is that a man to woman thing? Hmm. Dunno, but you’re definitely a kindred spirit with all that wine, chocolate and home-made stock. Must be our South Australian genes!

Now, my darling Feasters, don those bikinis and budgie smugglers and channel your favourite summer past-time because Victoria has generously offered a most fabulous giveaway. Reveal what you like to get up to over summer and you could win yourself a copy of Nobody But Him. Perfect relaxation material.

Me? Over summer I play golf and eat lots of seafood washed down with wine, which is probably why my golf game is terrible…

What do you get up to for summer fun? Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th October 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kerrie who is in for a whole lot of reading fun with Nobody But Him. Thanks to everyone who joined in. 

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

Friday, Friday tra-la-la-la-la!

Actually, thanks to my darling Sydney Swans succumbing to Fremantle in the AFL Preliminary Final, I’m not feeling all that chirpy. A bit heart-sore, in fact.Author Rachael Johns It would have been so great to make the Grand Final again but my boys should be commended for the amazing effort they put in despite being decimated by injury. Never fear though, we’ll be back even better harder next year.

Speaking of people who should be commended (oh, I kill myself with these segues!), today on Friday Feast I’m thrilled to host my most excellent clever-trousers writing buddy Rachael Johns.

Rach has shot to rural romance writing superstardom thanks to her brilliant books Jilted and Man Drought, and now she has a new one out. Outback Dreams is the first in a loosely related trilogy set in Bunyip Bay and believe me, it’s a cracker.  Plus it has a bonus rural hunk on the cover. Should be more of it!

 

OUTBACK DREAMS

 

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsFaith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction.

Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…??

For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…??

So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges…

Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?

 

Don’t you just LOVE a friends to lovers story? You can own your copy now with just a couple of clicks. Visit that most excellent Platinum ARRC sponsor Booktopia and buy away or try your local bookseller or chain store. You can also purchase Outback Dreams from Kobo. Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, JB Hi-Fi and iTunes.

Done? Excellent. Now get ready for some crunchy fun with Rachael.

 

DREAMY DELIGHTS

 

It’s so great to be back on my fab friend Cathryn’s AWESOME Friday Feast. I do feel like a bit of a fraud compared to some of the authors who come on here and offer really complicated gourmet recipes. I’m a simple girl at heart and lately that’s been transferring to my cooking. In fact, if I can get away with NOT cooking, I will. Maybe that’s cos my fussy kids have taken the joy out of it, but there is ONE thing I do enjoy doing in the kitchen and that is BAKING cookies and cakes!

Like Faith, the heroine of my latest release, OUTBACK DREAMS, I am a comfort baker. If I’m in a bad mood or sad about something, there is nothing that can fix my emotions faster or better than baking a cake. In OUTBACK DREAMS Faith has a LOT to get grumpy about – mostly men, aren’t they always the problem? – and she does a LOT of baking. There are references to a number of slices, cakes and biscuits throughout the book but one thing that really gets the hero’s heart racing is her famous Custard and White Chocolate Cookies.

OUTBACK DREAMS excerpt:

‘Damn straight,’ he replied, trying to ignore his body’s reaction to yet another physical interaction, which was all about her.

Come on, she barely touched you.

‘Anyway, right now my stomach is crying neglect. Do you have any of your famous custard and white choc-chip cookies in that esky?’

‘I can’t believe you’re hungry already. We’ve barely been on the road half an hour.’ But she was already unclicking her seatbelt. ‘Pull over.’

While Faith retrieved the snacks, Monty drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and brainstormed safe topics of conversation. He’d never had to think about such things with Faith before; come to think of it, he’d never had to with any woman.

She returned moments later with a large Tupperware container and as she peeled back the lid, the familiar aroma filled the cab.

‘Here you go.’ She handed him a cookie and he took the first bite before pulling out onto the road. After he’d finished the mouthful, he said, ‘How are the catering plans coming along for the ball?’

He heard the roll of her eyes in her response. ‘The catering plans?’ She laughed. ‘It’s not all about the food you know.

 

So, today, I’d like to share with you Faith’s incredibly easy but amazingly tasty recipe. The dough and the finished product are of equal brilliance and one batch will never be enough.

FAITH’S CUSTARD AND WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

 Custard and White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

140g butter, softened

175g caster sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

225g self-raising flour

85g custard powder

85g white choc-chips

Method:

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowel until light and fluffy – I use an electric mixer, cos who wants wooden spoon hand sprain?
  2. Add the lightly whisked egg and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Sift in the flour and custard powder and mix until a dough is formed.
  4. Throw in the choc chips and worked together by hand.
  5. Form the dough into small balls, place them on the baking tray and then press down lightly. Be sure to leave a gap because they grow J
  6. Bake for 10-15 mins until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Try not to scoff the whole batch in one go!

I hope some of you will have a go at this splendidly easy and delicious recipe!! In the meantime, do tell me what YOUR favourite cookie is!

 

Thanks, Rach. Those biscuits (sorry, the Aussie snob in me can’t bring myself to call them cookies) sound completely delish. Just imagine, if I stuffed them with red Smarties, they’d be celebratory Sydney Swans biccies!

Now listen-up, Feasters. Because Rachael is kind and generous and lovely, she’s offering a print copy of Outback Dreams to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is share your favourite biscuit and we’ll put you in the draw.

Maybe you’re an ANZAC biscuit fiend. Perhaps Tim-Tams are your go. Or maybe you’re a secret Iced Vo-Vo connoisseur.  Simply share your biccie (or cookie!) love and you could win.

But get in fast. Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 1st October 2013 AEST. Open to Australian postal addresses only.

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