Happy Friday, Feasters! Have you finished cheer, cheering the red and the white yet? I know I haven’t. My beloved Swans’ club song has been ringing joyously in my ears all week. Ahh, the Sydney Swans winning the AFL Grand Final. Now that’s what I call a fantasy come true.
Speaking of fantasy (Enjoy that segue? Perfect way to sneak in a mention of my footy team I thought), at Friday Feast we understand how important it is to keep our horizons broad, so this week we’re spinning off to another realm with Australian author MJ Scott.
MJ Scott’s first novel in the Half-Light City series, Shadow Kin, was a 2011 Australian Romance Reader Award finalist. The second, Blood Kin, released in June this year to excellent reviews, including this one from Seeing Night Reviews:
“Blood Kin had everything I love about Urban Fantasies, kick butt action, fantastic characters, romance that makes the heart beat fast and a plot that was fast paced all the way through. Even more so the villains are meaner, stronger and downright fantastic, I never knew what they were going to do next. You don’t want to miss out on this series!”
Imagine a city divided. A city where human and Fae magic rests uneasily next to the vampire Blood and the shapeshifting Beasts. A city where a fragile peace is brokered by a treaty that set the laws for all four races…a treaty that is faltering day by day.
I didn’t plan on becoming a thief and a spy. But options are limited for the half-breed daughter of a Fae lord. My father abandoned me but at least I inherited some of his magic, and my skills with charms and glamours mean that few are as good at uncovering secrets others wish to hide. Right now the city has many secrets. And those who seek them pay so well…
I never expected to stumble across a Templar Knight in my part of the city. Guy DuCaine is sworn to duty and honor and loyalty—all the things I’m not. I may have aroused more than his suspicion but he belongs to the Order and the human world. So when treachery and violence spill threaten both our worlds, learning to trust each other might be the only thing that saves us.
But even if a spy and a holy knight can work together, finding the key to peace is never going to be easy…
Humans, Fae, a Templar knight, shapeshifting beasts, treachery, how cool does that sound? Very, which I why I’m sure you want to buy yourself a copy right now. You know the drill, clickety-click on over to Amazon, Booktopia or the Bookdepository for the print copy and for the ebook, try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, or discover a full list of retailers on MJ’s website.
And now here’s MJ.
It’s in the genes…
Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me. Love a good chat about food!
My grandfather was a baker. Up at ungodly hours of the morning making bread and biscuits and cakes and all the good things his bakery sold. Sadly he died when I was small, so I don’t have many memories of his actual food and I definitely didn’t inherit his ability to be up before the sun rises but I definitely got his baking bug.
Luckily my mum was a firm believer in letting kids help in the kitchen so I was pretty young when I first learned how to stir cake batter or sift flour or beat eggs. The yen for baking has never left me since that time. Give me a recipe with flour and sugars and butter and eggs and I’m happy. Through in chocolate or cinnamon then I’m in heaven. I also like making bread though that’s for when I’m in the mood for something more involved.
Being a baker, I tend to snoop on other people’s recipes and collect them. My recipe book is full of things titled “So and so’s cookies” or “X’s birthday cake”. Now, I can’t claim that any of my fantasy heroines are domesticated enough to be bakers but none of them would turn down a sweet treat…so if they did cook, they’d turn to something quick and indulgent. So in that spirit, I present a recipe that was long ago wheedled out of one of my friend’s mums, who used to make it for birthday parties. It’s chocolatey and easy to make and pretty fool-proof. It’s not entirely instant gratification because it has to set. Licking the spoon after scraping the bowl is, of course, mandatory because that’s half the fun of baking….seriously, I had a cookery teacher at school who used to tell us not to taste as we cooked…terrible advice…taste away, lick those beaters and enjoy. This is a recipe that can be tweaked to suit your tastes, so feel free to experiment…some tips at the end.
Mrs. S’s Wonderful Hedgehog
500g caster sugar (two cups)
2 dessert spoons of cocoa (you can increase a bit if you like it very chocolate-y)
2 eggs, beaten
375g Marie biscuits (or other plain digestive style biscuits)
A few drops of vanilla essence (if using real vanilla essence, be sparing)
Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from heat and leave for 10 minutes. While the butter is cooling, crush the biscuits. I do this in two batches in a food processor, one batch (about 2/3s) I whiz up very fine and the second batch I leave chunkier as I like biscuit chunks in my hedgehog. Please yourself.
Once butter has cooled, add the sugar and cocoa and mix then add the eggs. Return to a low heat and stir until tiny bubbles start to form on the surface (don’t boil it, you just want it at the point where it starts to go a bit shiny and the sugar crystals have dissolved aka the mixture is smooth on your tongue if you taste a bit).
Remove from heat and add the biscuits. Stir to combine. Pour into a greased or baking paper lined slice tin and refrigerate until set. Some people like to add a cup of choc chips to the top before setting. Once set, remove from tin, ice with your favourite chocolate icing (or not) and cut into chunks about two inches by an inch.
Serve and watch it disappear.
Add a handful of sultanas or chopped nuts at the adding biscuit stage.
Add a bit of cinnamon
Top with other sorts of chopped up chocolate like peppermint crisp
Use a different biscuit type…probably anything that would work in a cheesecake base would work in this.
HEDGEHOG!!!! How’s that for a blast from the past? I haven’t had any of that chocolatey-biscuity scrumptiousness for years, which is really very remiss because I’m sure it’s good for me.
Speaking of good (ha! I’m on fire with the segues), what’s the best recipe you’ve ever “borrowed” off someone. Mrs Coghlan’s lemon butter recipe has to be right up there for me, along with my mother-in-law’s ANZAC biccies. We all have them so why not admit yours? Go on, it’ll be cathartic!