FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

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

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

But now to our guest..

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


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

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

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

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

Now enjoy something buonissimo from Fiona!

Sunny Food!

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

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

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

Pizza at Gubbio

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

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

Pizza ready for baking

Fiona's cooked pizza

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

30 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

  1. AvatarMelissa Berger

    Cathryn, I always love reading your Friday Feast, always entertaining! And, even better when it features one of my favourite authors!!
    Fiona, I agree, we always put too much on our pizzas but they still taste so good!!
    We made Wood Fired Pizzas in our Chimenea the other night – oh boy, they were DELICIOUS!! And, funnily enough , my favourite was the Margarita Pizza – just tomato, garlic, cheese & a little but of fresh basil – that’s now my favourite Italian meal!!!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      In your chimenea, Melissa? What a fantastic idea! You’d get all that wonderful flavour too. So important.
      Lovely to hear you enjoy Friday Feasts. They’re such fun. Wonderful recipes. And books. And authors!

  2. AvatarChristine Stinson

    Homemade pizzas – yum. We do the decorate your own pizza here: I make the bases and let whoever’s here for dinner choose what they want on top. Congratulations on ‘The Sunnyvale Girls, Fiona, thanks for another enjoyable Friday Feast, Cathryn, and GO THE SWANNIES!

  3. AvatarFiona Palmer

    Thanks Melissa and Christine! I’ve just got back from our tour of WA so i’m just catching up on everything. Thanks Cathryn for having me! 🙂

  4. AvatarSilvana Maggi

    Growing up with an Italian grandfather, my favourite dish would be his home made gnocchi. Every year for either easter or xmas we would help him make it.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I had to look up what spumoni was, Dana. Delicious looking is what it is! I’ll have to keep an eye out on restaurant menus so I can give it a taste test. As for calzone, I’m with you there. A bit naughty but oh so nice!

      Thanks for dropping by. All the best in the giveaway.

  5. AvatarNicola

    Coming from an Italian family any food my cooks is on the favourites list but my favourite of all time would have to be simple old Lasagna. I can’t eat it anywhere else after eating Nonnas which is completely homemade with homemade lasagna sheets and homemade sauce. Yummy! As for The Sunnyvale Girls, I bought a copy yesterday and read half of it but I can give it to one of my many friends who also love Fiona because who can resist a signed book? 🙂

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I agree, Nicola. Very hard to resist a signed copy from a favourite author. Makes it extra special!

      As for lasagna, sigh. I so, so love that dish. It’s one of the most comforting, heart-warming recipes ever invented. I’m really looking forward to my basil taking off so I can make pesto lasagna. That’s like summer in every mouthful.

  6. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    Fiona I’m with you on the wraps for pizza bases, yum yum. I’ve been using them to make pizza’s for years, I use mountain bread wraps because they are so thin we pop them under the grill and they go nice and crispy. And we always overload our pizza’s it’s the only way we’ll eat them. We had them last night for tea, soooo good!
    I was in a small town near Venice 30 years ago my friend and I dined in this cute little restaurant and I still remember having the scrummiest pizza so of course my favourite italian dish would just have to be Pizza and I know this is not a dish but I love love love cannoli’s they’d have to be my all time favourite italian dessert.

    Congrats on your new release Fiona! And Cathryn so sorry your beloved Swannies lost!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      LOL on the overloading pizza, Sue! At least with the mountain bread your base will stay crispy.

      Cannoli is beeeeoooootiful! Really luscious and naughty. But we all need a bit of naughtiness in our lives!

      Swannies, yes. I’m pretty devastated.There’s losing and then there’s getting annihilated… It was painful, very painful, especially after the season we’d had. But thanks for the sympathy. We’ll just have to bounce back and take it all the way in 2015.

  7. AvatarAndrea Cook

    I just love Fiona Palmers books they are just fantastic. I can be sure it will be a book I won’t put down maybe when whipcracking championships are over I might have a chance to catch up on a few books. And thanks for sharing Fiona I will have to try putting pizza on wrap bases as I’m wheat and yeast intolerant but cheat know and then. It’s a challange having IBS as well.
    As for Italian things I like pasta although it’s now off the list for me, I enjoy pizza to but that’s an occasional treat. Maybe I can enjoy them more often thanks to Fiona tip. Lol. Not sure if this qualifies but I love lasagne. Yeah it’s an Italian dish but my mum does her own version and it’s just delicious. So although it is Italian I think mums version has some Aussie style in it. Two dishes you can’t beet of mums are her lasagnes and her spaghetti bowl. Mind you she uses the same mince recipe for both. She will fry up onions and cook mince meat then add tomato soup and to thicken it she uses mixed up gravy. For her lasagnes she will use the same sauce sometimes with white sauce other times with cheese sauce. It’s just layers of lasagne sheets white/cheese sauce and the meat sauce. And she tops this with greatest cheese. Oh so yummy.
    Speaking of lasagnes my sister was told by her naturopath that she was meant to eat more tofu into her diet and cut back on paster so instead of using lasagne sheets she uses cut up tofu instead. I’ve had it and it’s not bad. But no one beets my mums lasagne ever. Good luck to all people who enter.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      That’s amazing about the gravy in the spag recipe, Andrea. I’m intrigued now. I bet it gives a really meaty flavour to the spag and the lasagne. My mouth is watering over the thought of all that tasty mince and cheese sauce at the moment. Such a shame we’re having salad for dinner. I’d much rather pasta now!

      Wishing you all the best in the whip cracking championships. How you whip them into a frenzy!!!

  8. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Hi Cathryn and Fiona! Love good pizza and I fall into the “less is more” camp as far as toppings go. Favourite Italian dish is Salad Caprese. I like to use ripe heirloom tomatoes in different shapes and colours and a really good torn buffalo mozzarella. For me, this dish epitomises the value of a few top quality ingredients. Congratulations on The Sunnyvale Girls, Fiona!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      And the perfect dish for summer, Louise. A celebration of sunshine!

      With you on the less is more pizza front. Good mozzarella, lovely basil, a home-made tomato sauce and maybe a bit of prosciutto or we add strips of a locally made casalinga. Very yum!

    1. AvatarFelicity Staveley

      Sorry the rest of my post didn’t work. I meant garlic bread. Also Flick what a great name for a country girl.

      1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

        That’s okay, Felicity! We’ve got it now.
        Flick is indeed an excellent name for a country girl! And city girls too. I had a Felicity/Flick in Rocking Horse Hill. And I think Helene Young had one in Half Moon Bay. Funny how a name will get spontaneous favour. It happens a lot!

  9. AvatarDelores Bebbington

    Hello Fiona and Cathryn. I met Fiona and Rachael Johns at the Capel RuRo tour and after listening to Fiona’s account of her tour to Italy and all the research that went into it I can’t wait to read Sunnyvale girls. when I first read about the entry for the Friday Feast I thought you were asking for the recipe and spent a lot of time trying to work out amounts that I use when I make the family lasagne`. I realise now after reading other posts that it was just sharing which recipe was the favourite in your home. My family really love our lasagne` which came to me via a chef from an authentic Italian restaurant. It is made with the usual ingredients, but I add super freh lasagne, herbs-parsley, basil, oregano and thyme and also add red and green capsicum and sliced mushrooms. I mix the cheeses,; mozzarella and parmesan and there is a secret ingredient which I am guessing is the selling point and creates a very filling and satisfying meal. sorry this is so long-winded. I wish Fiona the best for ‘Sunnyvale Girls’.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      No, Delores, we never make you work hard on Friday Feast! It’s all about fun.

      Another lasagne. Just goes to show how much of a beloved Italian dish this is. Lovely that you have a recipe passed from an authentic restaurant. That makes it special, along with those personal touches we all add, like your secret ingredient (I wonder what it is!).

      I have The Sunnyvale Girls on my reading list too. I’m sure we’ll both have a wonderful time with it. It’s being RAVED about!

  10. AvatarChristine Hann

    Hi Cathryn, Thanks for running this wonderful competition… even though I’ve left it to the last minute! Met Fiona, and Rachael, on their recent RuRo trip at Bunbury – so interesting to speak with/listen to, and all round nice ladies. Very jealous of Fiona’s trip to Italy! May fav Italian recipe is Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni. So simple with very fresh ingredients (minus the pasta tubes I use being dried not fresh, lol). And I also agree with Felicity about bruschetta – so delicious with a great caramelized balsamic vinegar! Very hungry now, best go cook some dinner!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Better late than never, Christine! Am smiling here at your mention of spinach and ricotta cannelloni because that was exactly what I had planned to make for dinner. But I’ve changed my mind and am now making Greek pastitio. Cannelloni can be next week!

      All the best in the giveaway draw. I’m very jealous of all of you who saw Rach and Fee talk on their recent tour. I would have so loved to have tagged along.

  11. AvatarKirrily Cant

    I’m afraid that I am not much of a cook, and I truly only have a kitchen because it came with the house BUT we do love a good pizza, lasagne and garlic bread. And if someone actually creates them from scratch and they don’t come in a packet, a square box or originate in a chemistry experiment and end up in a jar, then all the better!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Ha ha ha! Well, we can’t all love our kitchens, Kirrily, and my mum was never a cook either. She’d much rather be doing something else. Anything else, really!

      Thanks for dropping by!

  12. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

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

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