Tag Archives: Winter food

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

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Greetings dumplings, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we have wine, babies, and beef. Although not in the same recipe, as I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know.

First, the frustration that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Bad. Very, very bad is all I can say about my game at the moment. I even tried marking my balls with bright blue love hearts in the faint hope it might amuse Oh, Great Golfing God, but no. Recent form has proven that it only made him crankypants. However the weather has been glorious and the company enjoyable, and, really, when one is playing this atrociously the only way is up!

Michelle Douglas authorAs much as I would like to move on to the wine bit of this week’s Feast, the baby must come first. My guest is the ever-delightful Michelle Douglas, who received her first rejection letter at the age of eight for Keri the Koala Baby.

Michelle has since moved on from koalas but not necessarily babies, and is now a multi-published author writing for Harlequin’s Romance line. Her latest is Reunited By A Baby Secret, part of the Vineyards of Calanetti continuity and a guaranteed heart-tugger. Check it out.

REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET

Reunited By A Baby Secret coverShe’s back in Calanetti…

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test reveal she’d returned home with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he’s nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he’s staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby…?

Did you hear that, my lovelies? Vineyards! A baby! A sexy hero! Just what you need to give a smile, a sigh and maybe even a little tear. And Reunited By A Baby Secret can be yours right now with a mere click. Buy from Booktopia, BookdepositoryAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

All set? Good. Now feel free to get beefy!

Fine Vines

To be visiting Cathryn today and talking about wine does seem rather appropriate. Not that I mean to be telling tales outside of school or anything, but Cathryn and I do seem to find ourselves in the bar together on a rather regular basis at RWAust and ARRA conferences. 🙂

Authors enjoying a tipple

Wine has been on my mind quite a bit recently because my latest release REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is set in the rolling green hills of Tuscan wine country, and my heroine is a viticulturist. Mind you, Marianna is pregnant so wine tasting is out for her, but it wasn’t for me. And, naturally, a girl has to provide due diligence and perform appropriate research. So off to the Hunter Valley I went to look at vineyards and taste wines. I discovered two things:

  1. Wine country is gloriously beautiful regardless of what part of the world you’re in.
  2. One shouldn’t wine taste at 11 o’clock in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. 😉

So, in honour of all things wine-related, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes with you. This, amazingly enough for me, is ludicrously healthy. It’s also incredibly simple. And despite what the photo looks like (I’m terrible at taking pretty pictures of food) it’s utterly delish.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef and red wine casserole

Place the following ingredients into a nice big pot: ½ kilo of diced beef, two diced onions, two large sliced carrots, 2 sliced sticks of celery, a diced green capsicum, 200g sliced mushrooms, a clove or two of crushed garlic, a can of tomato puree (415ml), a teaspoon of Italian herbs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of red wine.

Bring it all to the boil and then cook on low, covered for 90 mins.

My favourite way to eat this is with mashed potatoes and green beans. But crusty bread is perfect with it too. Pasta would work as well. Also, it’s a forgiving recipe. I’ve made it with one onion rather than two, and when I haven’t had a green capsicum on hand I’ve used a zucchini to fine effect, so feel free to mess about with the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me to visit, Cathryn! I always love hanging out with you (whether wine is involved or not).

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A pleasure to host you, Michelle! Your casserole sounds beautiful and just the thing to enjoy with a glass (or two) of Hunter shiraz. Then a nice relax with Reunited By A Baby Secret and a very pleasant evening is to be had.

Okay, food lovers, what would you serve with Michelle’s casserole, or a casserole like it?

I love the idea of crunchy green beans but we do adore our bread and would probably have a nice crusty loaf on the side to mop up all that tasty gravy. What about you? Share away!

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

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Hello munchkins, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week we travel back in time with an historical romance author, French it up, and give away TWO books. How’s that for warming your winter soul!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As the sun continues to shine, so does my golf game continue to brighten. I know. AMAZING! I’ve been playing so well that I managed to drop a stroke off my handicap. I even won the ladies competition last week and qualified for an end of year district playoff event. Whoop! It won’t last, of course. The curse will undoubtedly return, but until it does I’m going to savour this good form while it lasts.

Enough crowing. To our guest we must go!

EECarterSX200_Please give a big welcome to historical romance author Elizabeth Ellen Carter on her debut Friday Feast. Elizabeth’s debut novel, the French Revolution era set Moonstone Obsession, was published in 2013 by Etopia Press. Earlier that year, the adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Her second novel, Warrior’s Surrender, was voted Favourite Historical Fiction in the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards.

Elizabeth has a new book out, a sequel to Moonstone Obsession and another action-packed historical adventure. Take a look.

MOONSTONE CONSPIRACY

Moonstone Conspiracy by Elizabeth Ellen CarterRevolution in France, rebels in England, and one woman caught in the crossfire…

For her unwitting participation in a plot to embezzle the Exchequer, Lady Abigail Houghall has spent the last two years exiled to the city of Bath. A card sharp, sometime mistress, and target of scandalous gossip by the London Beau Monde, Lady Abigail plots to escape her gilded cage as well as the prudish society that condemns her. But the times are not easy. France is in chaos. The king has been executed, and whispers of a similar revolution are stirring in England. And because of her participation in the robbery plot, the Spymaster of England is blackmailing her into passing him information about the members of London’s upper crust.

When the dashing English spy Daniel Ridgeway takes a seat at her card table and threatens to expose her for cheating, she has no choice but to do as he demands: seduce the leader of the revolutionaries and learn what she can about their plot. As she’s drawn deeper into Daniel’s dangerous world, from the seedy backstreets of London to the claustrophobic catacombs of a war-torn Paris, she realizes an even more dangerous fact. She’s falling in love with her seductive partner. And the stakes of this game might just be too high, even for her.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Having a soft spot for all things French, this is right up my alley and I bet it’s up yours too. Which means you should buy a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy right now! Try Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, All Romance Ebooks or direct from the publisher Etopia Press.

Now get your spoon out for Elizabeth’s delicious recipe!

Taking It Slow

At this time of year, time turns home and hearth, simple comforts that warm the heart and warm the soul.

I was guilty (perhaps still am guilty) of trying to do things in a rush – waiting for the next big project, the next excitement, the next thrill.

I am learning to slow down. Appreciate each moment for its own sake, valuing the here and now, knowing that this day, this hour, this second, once gone is gone forever.

One of the things I was guilty of taking a shortcut on was this ubiquitous dish. I didn’t treat it with respect. It was just something that came out of a pack – often as a flavouring for other dishes – Apricot Chicken, for instance.

French Onion Soup is simplicity itself, but taking the time makes you appreciate the little things.

One of the things you’ll need for this recipe is time, but that’s a good thing. In this fast-paced world we need to unplug from technology and spend time thinking, reflecting or even gathering the family or friends around the kitchen for a chat.

This French Onion Soup recipe is just the thing to bring people together.

French Onion Soup

Elizabeth Ellen Carter's French Onion Soup

60g butter

2 tbs olive oil

1kg thinly sliced brown onions (you’ll need about 8-12 depending on size)

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs plain flour

4 cups beef stock

Weighing onions for the soupOnce you’ve sliced the onions, add your olive oil and butter. Wait for the butter to melt and start bubbling away.

Then add the onions (I use a mix of brown, white and red – whatever’s handy) and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Caramelising onions

It may look like a lot of onions but over the next 40-50 minutes they will break down, releasing beautiful aromatics that will have people wondering when dinner will be ready.

Chat, enjoy a glass of red wine (I prefer a dry Shiraz), but be sure stir the onions regularly

This step cannot be rushed. The onions need to wilt, brown and begin to caramelise.

Caramelised onions

Add the brown sugar to aid the caramelising process. The savoury of the onion and sweet of the sugar is just delicious.

After 10 minutes of stirring, add the flour to help add a little thickness to the soup. Stir for two minutes and add the beef stock.

Beef stock added to onions

Allow the flavours to combine on a low simmer for the next 15 minutes.

Serve with cheesy bread – but any bread will do. We had ours with olive sourdough. Delicious!

I’d like to give away a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession.

Just tell me what recipe brings your family together?

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Oh, I ADORE French onion soup, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. You are spot on about taking the time to caramelise the onions. That is definitely a stage that can’t be rushed. Hmm. I have a real hankering for this soup now. Might have to put it on this week’s menu!

By the way for anyone who’s interested and looking for a treat, if you happen to be in Melbourne check out Bistro Guillaume at Crown Casino. The French onion soup there is divine. Actually, everything at the restaurant is beautiful. I may have to sneak in a visit when I’m down for the Romance Writers of Australia conference this month.

Now, lovelies, did you see that Elizabeth has a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win an ebook copy of both Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession, simply reveal what recipe brings your family together.

Perhaps you have a favourite soup or maybe it’s the good old roast that makes you think family. I’m not sure we really have a recipe that gets our family together but you can’t beat a good old barbecue for family fun, burnt snags and all. And it saves on the washing up!

So what recipe or food gets your family together? Reveal all and you’ll be in the draw. Easy!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 11th August 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay. You can easily read ebooks on your phone, tablet or computer via any one of the many apps available.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Ireland

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Hello, Feasty lovelies. I hope today finds you warm and dry and not turned into an icicle. But if you are, never fear because Friday Feast is bound to warm those cockles! This week we venture back to the country with our favourite genre, rural romance. Plus we have a beautiful winter stew recipe and the chance to win a signed copy of our feature book. Read on!

I suppose you want to hear Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news? No? Excellent, because I don’t really feel like discussing it. The only good tiding is that I didn’t finish last in the comp, Author Lisa Irelandalthough I deserved to. Lovely weather though, once the sun came out. Maybe next week I’ll have something positive to say. We can only hope…

Now to the real reason your here: books, food and lovely authors!

This week’s guest is rural romance author Lisa Ireland. Lisa’s debut novel Breaking The Drought was an instant hit. Understandably too. Everyone loves a city girl goes to the country story and having experienced such a move herself, Lisa knows exactly how it feels. Her second novel is Feels Like Home and looks and sounds a stunner. Check it out.

FEELS LIKE HOME

Feels Like Home by Lisa IrelandLisa Ireland, a brilliant new voice in rural romance, invites you to Linden Gully and the wedding of the year… 



When celebrity novelist Johanna Morgan surprises everyone by arriving back in Linden Gully three weeks early for her best friend’s wedding, she’s shocked to find her ex-boyfriend Ryan Galloway is back too and well-integrated in the community as the local vet. 



Jo’s maid-of-honour duties are not the only thing that’s brought her home. The family homestead of Yarrapinga is now her responsibility, and Jo needs to decide whether to keep it – and replace old memories with new ones – or sell it and cut off all ties to her childhood and her home. 



Ryan has brought his young daughter home to Linden Gully to provide stability after the death of her mother. The last thing he needs is Jo’s return, and all of the emotional turmoil that she brings with her. 



Thrown together as attendants at their best friends’ wedding, Jo and Ryan have no choice but to grin and bear all the tension. But it’s not only resentment lingering between them. The attraction is still there, and the heat and the memories. 



They say you can’t come home again, but maybe, for Jo and Ryan, home is not just a place, but a state of the heart.

Doesn’t that sound fun? Wedding stories are great. You can have this one with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Roberston. Or try Fishpond, QBD the Bookshop, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, All Romance eBooks, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Set? Good. Now come get lovely and warm with Lisa.

Take Me Home, Country … Stew

Recently I received an invitation that got me reminiscing about my childhood home. The invitation was from Wyndham City Council, who asked if I’d like to hold the launch of Feels Like Home in their Werribee CBD Library.

I grew up in Werribee. These days it’s a fast growing outer western suburb of Melbourne, but when I was little it was a small country town. There was one main street with all the shops, everybody in town knew each other, and there were as many sheep in the municipality as there were people, if not more.

The idea of going back to my hometown for the launch has brought back many happy memories of my time there. I find myself thinking back to days building cubbies in the paddocks near my house, tadpoling in puddles at the base of the no-longer-existent “Sandy Hills” and of happy times spent at the dining table of my family home.

My father insisted the evening meal was eaten at the dining table every night. The TV was off and we talked about our day. I can remember thinking this was the most tedious thing on earth when I was a teenager, but now looking back, some of my fondest memories involve meals at that table. Now I make my kids sit at the table for dinner each night. I’m sure they’ll thank me for it … eventually!

There are certain foods that take me back to that happy time: Lamb Shank and Pearl Barley Soup (my Nana’s recipe, but Mum always made the nicest version – one that I simply cannot replicate no matter how hard I try!; Pavlova – once again a delicacy that only Mum could make perfectly; and Nana’s Perfect Sponge Cake – I won’t even attempt that one.

But there is one family recipe that I excel at. I am no cook, but this is a recipe that is impossible to mess up. It’s Mum’s Beef and Winter Veggie Stew. Being a fan of simplicity I’ve adapted it to work in my slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

(Serves 4-5)

Slow Cooker Beef and Winter Veggie Stew

Ingredients:

500 grams diced beef (use a cheap cut – you’re slow cooking it so no need to spend a fortune!

2  – 3 medium carrots sliced

2 medium parsnips sliced

1 small sweet potato diced into 1 cm cubes

Gravy (more on this later!)

Method:

  1. Turn on slow cooker to allow it to warm before adding ingredients.
  2. Add all the vegetables to the low cooker – carrots on the bottom (as these take the longest to cook.)Layering veg in slow cooker
  3. Brown the beef in a frying pan. Add to slow cooker, but reserve the pan juices to use in the gravy (if desired.)Browned beef added to cooker
  4. Make gravy.

You need two cups of thick gravy for this dish. There are endless methods to make gravy so choose whichever method works best for you. Here’s my method:

Mix 3 tablespoons of gravy powder into 2 cups of beef stock. Pour into frying pan containing reserved juices from beef. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until gravy thickens.Making the gravy

  1. Pour gravy over ingredients already added to slow cooker.Stew ready for cooking

Cook for 4 hours on High or 6-7 hours on Low (times may vary depending on your slow cooker.)

Voila! You are done!

Serve with sides of mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

I’d love to hear about your family recipes. What are the dishes that remind you of home? Tell me in the comments for the chance to win a signed copy of Feels Like Home.

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Thanks, Lisa. Slow cooker recipes are beloved by many (especially authors so they can spend more time writing), and this sounds delicious and easy. Not to mention ideal for the woolly weather we’ve been experiencing.

But did you hear that, readers? Lisa is offering you a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, for your chance to win a signed copy of Lisa’s brand spanking new rural romance, Feels Like Home, simply share which dishes remind you of home.

Easy for me. My mum’s pea and ham soup was a winter wonder in our house. Perfect for slurping with buttered toast after a morning spent outside freezing on the hockey field or riding. Mum, bless her, really hated cooking but that soup was special.

What about you? What special dish makes you feel like home? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 21st Juky 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her book, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter using @LisaIreland66.

And while you’re thinking about the dish that reminds you of home, why not have a look at Lisa’s trailer for the book. It’s lovely!

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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

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

Eh hem.

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

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

LIMBO

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

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

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

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

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

Now settle back and enjoy!

2 Ingredients, 1 Crockpot

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

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

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

PEA AND HAM SOUP

Ingredients

Pea and Ham soup ingredients - bacon bones and dried peas

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

2/. A packet of dried peas.

And that’s it…

Method

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

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

Preparing pea and ham soup

Put crockpot on low.

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

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

Pea and ham soup

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

Amy's red wine recommendation

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

Pea and Ham soup

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

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Greetings my book and food loving lovelies, and welcome to another bright and shiny edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing host to one of Australia’s most popular rural authors, revealing her stunning new novel, and setting your mouth a-watering with a comforting lamb shank recipe.

But first, the horror story that continues to be Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sliding backwards, folks. Backwards, fast and red-faced and silently screaming. I laughed at the end of my round last week but that only to stop myself from crying. I played so terribly that my nett score was worse than what my gross score should have been had I played anywhere near my handicap. In non-golfing terms, I was poo. Oh, well. Dare I say it again? The only way is up!

Author Fleur McDonaldAnd so we go upwards and onwards to this week’s Friday Feast guest, Fleur McDonald.

I’m sure Fleur needs little introduction. Since her debut novel Red Dust boomed on the Australian literary landscape her books have been best-sellers and Fleur has earned a special place in many reader’s hearts. With stories that reflect and celebrate our Australian heartland and farmers, Fleur has indeed become the “Voice of the Outback”.

Fleur’s latest novel is Emerald Springs. Check it out.

EMERALD SPRINGS

Cover of Emerald Springs by Fleur McDonaldAfter finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to her home town. Determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty, she works hard to prove herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the bags of cash into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying smash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she finds out that she and her boyfriend Paul are the objects of suspicion.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits . . .

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Doesn’t that sound a page turner? And you know being from Fleur the story will have real authenticity. Emerald Springs is published by Allen & Unwin and on sale now. But you can buy right this moment with just a few clickety-clicks from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, Dymocks, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, or your favourite independent book retailer or chainstore. Also try Amazon.au, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Time to get comfortable with Fleur.

Fire Food

Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on. I often read your Friday Feast blog and mouth is usually watering by the end of it all!

I have to admit I come from a family don’t really enjoy cooking or the finer details of food, so I think it surprised everyone when I announced my love of cooking (and certainly eating!)

My mum is a standard chops and three veg type lady, where as I love to experiment and play around. I love it even more when my partner helps me in the kitchen. Garry tends to be my sous chef. We really enjoy mucking around while we’re cooking and of course we always cook dinner with a glass of wine or a beer in hand.

I’m going to share one of my hearty winter recipes that kids love, today. Esperance has been experiencing a bit of winter in the last week, so I’ve started to drag out the old favourites.

Also I’ve got to admit, this is the time of year I really love writing and brain food is needed. When writing Emerald Springs, I spent a lot of time sitting next to the wood fire, which has a grill on top of it and cooking on it. Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks was cooked more than once, on top of the fire (which I know goes against the recipe but it still works – and isn’t that the best thing about cooking? The trial and error part!).

So here you go…

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

1 cup of plain flour

8 large French-trimmed lamb shanks

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of beef stock

¾ of red wine (and I give you permission to drink the rest of the bottle!)

1/3 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of corn flour

2 tablespoons of cold water.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat the lamb shanks with flour and cook in bathes on the stove until browned, then pop them into a large roasting pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until soft, then add stock, wine and maple syrup, stirring to combine. Then pour over shanks. Before roasting for about an hour, covered.

I love serving this with mashed potato (with grated onion in it) and steamed cabbage. Now not just any steamed cabbage. If you fry up a bit of bacon and add some Worcestershire sauce, before putting the cabbage in, it changes the whole idea of steamed cabbage!

 

You’re a woman after my own heart, Fleur! Lamb shanks are a huge favourite in our house, especially in the winter months. They’re wonderfully comforting. I love the addition of maple syrup to yours. I can imagine that adds even more sticky lusciousness to the final dish. Will definitely have to test this out. And I particularly adore your cabbage tip. That’s a good one!

So, my cuddly little Feasties, running with Fleur’s tip, what’s yours for brightening up a plain veg?

Do you add balsamic and bacon to your Brussels sprouts (learned that one from Helene Young) or perhaps sprinkle your asparagus with butter and toasted flaked almonds? Maybe you jazz your carrots up with a drizzle of honey?

I’m a firm believer in cheese sauce on cauliflower. That is heaven. Pure, mouth-watering heaven. Sigh. Want some now.

Enough of my drooling. Let’s get sharing our vege brightening tips and make each others’ days!

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

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

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

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

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

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

 

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

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

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

 

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

Please welcome Leisl to Friday Feast!

 

WINTER IS A SOUPADOUPASOUPFEST

 

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

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

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

Yum!Spinach and rice soup in a bowl

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

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

 

MINESTRONE SOUP

Minestrone soup in the pot

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

½ celery (chopped roughly, leaves and all)

2 zucchini (grated)

1 parsnip (diced)

2 swede (diced)

4 carrots (grated)

Tin of red kidney beans (washed)

Tin of chick peas (washed)

1 ½ cups pearl barley (washed)

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

2 tins chopped tomatoes

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

4 litres vegetable stock

Basil (chopped)

Chili (chopped – or 1 tbls sambal oelek)

2 pinches of ginger

2 pinches of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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