FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Diener

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Miss Phoebe Hillier has been living a lie, too…

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

And now the killers have set their sights on her…

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

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

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

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

Travel By Taste Bud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almond Macaroons

Michelle's Macaroons


200g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

sprinkle of ground cardamom

2 egg whites

rose water

whole blanched almonds


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


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

Speaking of brilliant, we have a giveaway.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Diener

  1. AvatarRachael johns

    Ooh it’d have to be Yorkshire Puddings!! Yum reminds me of where my family come from, although not quite Yorkshire! Thanks for the recipe! They look delicious and like something even I’d be able to manage!!

  2. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Hi Michelle and Cathryn! Where to start?? For me it would have to be South of France too, Cathryn. A beautiful daube that is easy to replicate at home and perfect for winter. We had a memorable one in Avignon, beautifully rich and with the hint of orange peel, garlic and thyme. I love the way they marinate the meat in the red wine for a day before even starting to cook it. Congratulations on the release of A Dangerous Madness, Michelle. It sounds exciting!

  3. AvatarMichelle Diener

    Thank you, Louise. I love Provence as well.

    One of my favorite recipes is navette de chandeleur, which is a orange blossom flavoured biscuit from Provence. If I could have included it in my novel Banquet of Lies, I would have, except it seems not to have been made during the Regency period, only afterward.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Sigh. The south of France. So wish I was there right now. Your daube, Louise, makes me think of gardiane de taureau. We had a lovely one in Aigues-Mortes on a winter’s day, after a morning spent sightseeing. Perfect!

  4. AvatarIris

    This bikkies look absolutely delicious!!!

    Unfortunately, my diet nowadays it very restrictive, but I always loved the Mexican Fajitas or the Italian Ricotta/Spinach Canelloni … and it goes without saying that I miss “my” German food, nice sauerkraut with liver dumplings … YUM !

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      They look super tasty, don’t they, Iris. Just the thing to enjoy with a cuppa. LOVE to hear someone else who’s a fan of spinach and ricotta canelloni. I adore that so much. In fact, I might even make some this week now you’ve put it in my head!

  5. AvatarMargareta

    Gosh, mine would have to be savory steak toasties. I know, boringly Australian but it takes me back to my time on cattle stations up north. The sauce changed as you crossed the inland Qld border, from tomato (southern states) to BBQ ( northern) in a few Kms. The toasties are smothered in rich BBQ sauce, yummy grass fed beef diced, grated cheese & and anything else you have in fridge as a topping. Very yum especially at smoko after a full morning in paddock.
    I LOVE the covers on these books and would just love to read one!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I bet they were yum, Margareta! Funny you should mention the sauce thing. My other half, being a far north Queensland country boy, loves BBQ sauce and will put it on anything (sigh) but I’m from SA and it was tomato all the way. Interesting!

      Michelle’s books are brilliant. I just love them. A Dangerous Madness is on my reader ready for devouring now but I can highly recommend Banquet of Lies. Great drama, romance and lots of good food too! I made Jim read the Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series and he enjoyed them too. Probably the first romance novels he’s ever read, come to think of it.

  6. AvatarMeredith Pynsent

    Hi Michelle and Cathryn! I love Indian food but it doesn’t, strangely enough, remind me of India. Mainly because I’ve never been there:) but it does remind me of when my friend and I were travelling around England and Scotland, when we were much younger and lighter! One of the places where you were guarenteed a good feed for an equally good price were the many Indian restaurants we found along the way. For some reason, even though I love the Indian food here, it doesn’t taste quite the same as that time in my life:) Your books sound amazing Michelle, the lovely Miss Cathryn is slowing sending me into insolvency with all these fab new authors I have to read!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      LOL on the Indian food, Meredith! I remember having an awesome Indian meal in Prague of all places. We really must remedy this not having been there. ‘Tis very remiss of us!

      I have LOADS more good authors visiting Friday Feast to tempt you with too. Stay tuned!

    2. AvatarMichelle Diener

      Hello there, Meredith. England and Scotland do have great curries. I should actually say Indian food reminds me of where I grew up, Durban, on the east coast of South Africa. There is a large Indian population there, and the Indian food in Durban is as good as you’ll get anywhere in the world. The spice markets on the weekend was a favorite place to go.

  7. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

    This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Margareta who has won her choice of either A Dangerous Madness or Banquet of Lies.

    Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you back again soon!

Comments are closed.