Greetings once more from the food and book marvel that is Friday Feast. This week: an important announcement, a tasty tagine and I bore entertain you once again with that most splendiferous of rural romance novellas, Summer and the Groomsman.
Did you know this series has been going for over four years now? That’s a loooong time in bloglandia. Every week for eleven months of the year we’ve had Australian authors sharing their latest releases and mouth-watering recipes, and it’s been a blast!
But it’s also been quite time consuming and has on more than one occasion taken me away from my writing. Given that I have plans for world literary domination (and, really, who doesn’t?) I need to take a bit more care of my writing time, so it is with no little sorrow that I inform you that Friday Feast will soon be ending as a regular blog post. It will, however, pop up from time to time when I or one of my lovely author friends are in the mood for some foodie fun.
Righty-o, let’s return to normal programming with the dubious joy that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.
Steady is the way I’d describe my golf game at the moment. Nothing special but kicking along nicely, which is good. One doesn’t want to peak too early when next week sees the ladies Medal of Medals playoff, and this one is going to be hard-fought, let me tell you. This competition takes all the year’s monthly medal winners and pits them against each other in one round, like a best of the best battle. It’ll be tough and competitive, and as convivial as all our games are. I’ll probably get all nervous and screw it up as usual, but that’s okay. The sun will hopefully be shining and the ladies will be their normal lovely selves and we’ll all have a great day regardless.
And now, another gawp at Summer and the Groomsman because I know you can’t get enough of Mr Sexy on the cover. I certainly can’t!
SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN
After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.
Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.
When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.
Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?
Can’t stand ebooks? Stay tuned for news on the print edition, coming soon!
Now for some talk about…
We love a good tagine in the Hein house. They’re so easy and great for a Friday night when we’re after something set-and-forget. With their lovely spices and addition of dried or fresh fruit these are the casseroles of the Middle-East and Mediterranean, but unlike normal casseroles which tend to favour the cooler months, tagines suit warm weather dining too.
I probably don’t need to tell you that tagines are named after the conical cooking vessel in which they’re cooked. I have two of these now. The first tagine is a traditional terracotta version that you have to soak overnight in water to ensure the pottery is moist enough to cope with cooking heat, and, I suspect, also adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the end dish.
Stupidly not having brought one home from France with us (where we could have snaffled one for about €5), back then we had to hunt around to find our terracotta tagine. Now these things are everywhere and made out of everything from stainless steel to ceramic, cast iron, copper and combinations in between.
One of the things that disappointed us about our terracotta version was its small size and shallow bowl. More than half a kilo of meat and it would overflow. As we like to cook double amounts and freeze the rest for lazy times this was a bit of an inconvenience, leading us to keep an eye out for a new one.
Cast iron looked cool but would have weighed a tonne. Because of the soaking necessity, a large terracotta one would have been bothersome and require too much forward planning. The ceramic ones were okay but… nah. Then we spotted the Scanpan version and were lovestruck. So shiny, so pretty, so perfect in its sleek dimensions. Best of all, so easy to clean and no overnight soaking required. We had to have it.
And it’s proved a cracker! I’m your basic overexcitable home cook and don’t for one second consider my food authentic to any cuisine, and our tagines probably don’t even come close to the unique flavours of the traditional, but they’re pretty bloody tasty all the same. Lamb with dates, beef with raisins, meatballs in tomato sauce with baked eggs… we’ve made all sorts.
One of our favourites though, is the one I’m going to share today: Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates. I have a feeling the original recipe was torn out from a newspaper but, as usual, we’ve tweaked the ingredients and method to suit our own tastes and cooking laziness. With its gold and lemony hues it looks like a summer dish, and the flavours? Sweet, spicy and lovely. And now we have a larger tagine we can make it in the full amount and have leftovers.
No tagine? Never fear! Simply use a normal casserole.
Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Dates
4 chicken marylands, thigh and leg separated
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons paprika dolce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed, rinsed and pith sliced finely
1/2 lemon, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
2 onions, finely chopped
8 fresh dates, pitted and cut into halves crossways
Mix spices, garlic, ginger, preserved lemon and lemon slices together with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in chicken pieces and toss until well coated in the spice mix. Leave to marinate for an hour.
Heat the tagine base over medium heat. Add a splash or two of olive oil and throw in sliced onions. Cook, stirring, until a few minutes until softened then add 250ml of water and mix. Add chicken and stir then top with tagine lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add dates and bake a further 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Season well, sprinkle with coriander and serve with couscous to mop up all the lovely spicy juices.
So Feasty ones, what’s your favourite cooking vessel? Or maybe you prefer a no-fuss barbecue or not to cook at all?
Besides my tagine, which I luuurve, and my wok which I’d be useless without, my favourite dish is probably my super-sized copper pan. It makes the best casseroles, even beating the enamel-coated cast iron pots for delicious results. No idea why but I imagine it has something to do with the evenness of its heat distribution. I also have a thing about my Le Creuset terrine. It just looks fab!
What about you? Share away. You might convince us of the need for something shiny and new.
If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, have a potter around the website where you’ll find cool things like The Story Behind pages for each of my books, and more. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.