Tag Archives: easy recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

13 Replies

Greetings my little Feasty elves, and welcome to the penultimate edition of Friday Feast for 2014. Yes, only one more to go before we take our annual break, but what delights we have for you! This week, everyone’s favourite rural romance author, a super tart and a book snippet you will adore.

But first, Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news… My putter is broken. It  looks perfectly intact but clearly it has developed a major fault because it refuses to tap balls into holes. I think Santa should bring me a new one for Christmas. One of those flash custom-made Scotty Cameron ones. In Sydney Swans colours. That’ll solve it, surely…

Author Rachael JohnsNow to my delicious guest, rural romance star and good buddy Rachael Johns. Rach, as you all know, has this year been delighting readers with the latest in her Bunyip Bay series Outback Ghost, but did you know she also has some fabulous novellas out? The first in the Wildwood Point series was The Kissing Season but now there’s a follow up, and just in time for Christmas too.

Check out…

THE NEXT SEASON

The Next Season by Rachael JohnsSometimes going home is the hardest thing you can do… and sometimes the hardest thing turns out to be the best.

When Zoe Bennett’s boyfriend cheats on her, leaving her homeless, jobless and practically broke, she returns to the only place she’s ever felt safe and at home – Wildwood Point.  She hopes to heal her heart and find a job to get herself back on her feet – but she has forgotten how small Wildwood Point is.

Until a couple of months ago Shaun Elliot’s life was sweet – a job he loved and big plans for the future. Until, that is, his long-time girlfriend turned down his romantic New Year’s Eve marriage proposal in front of all their family and friends. Angry, hurt and feeling like he is the laughing stock of small town Wildwood Point, Shaun has sworn off relationships while he works out what to do with himself and his life.

The last thing he needs is to find his high school sweetheart stranded on the side of the road. She broke his heart when she left him seven years ago, but he’s never been the type to ignore someone who needs help…

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And the ebook could be yours with just a few clicks. Buy from Amazon Aus, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks or direct from the publisher Harlequin.

All loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy a tasty time with Rach.

The Season To Be Sweet

We all know I am a massive fan of Cathryn and in awe of her marvelous cooking (and all the fab guests on Friday Feast), so whenever she asks me if I want to come on her blog and share a recipe, I tremble. But like many people, I don’t know how to say “no,” so here I am!

As Cathryn mentioned I’ve got a new novella out now called THE NEXT SEASON, and surprise surprise, this little story features a chocolate café and therefore I name a lot of lovely cakes and treats.

Here’s a little snippet from the story about one of these desserts:

‘Hi, ladies. What can I get for you?’

None of the four women at the table even glanced her way. They were engrossed in conversation.

‘I shouldn’t have come,’ said an immaculately groomed bottle-blonde before covering her face with her hands. ‘This is so awkward.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ said her red-headed, big-busted friend. ‘This is your town as much as his now and you both need to learn to live in it separately.’

The penny dropped and Zoe only just managed to cover her gasp. The blonde was Melissa? Her grip tightened on her order pad while the conversation continued before her as if she were invisible.

‘Yes, but it’s his sister’s café,’ Melissa whined. ‘Surely there are boundaries.’

Yes, girlfriend, there are. Zoe’s jaw clenched as she tapped her shoes against the floor and contemplated the things she’d like to do to Shaun’s ex. Perhaps Melissa would order a molten lava cake too and then Zoe could accidentally drop the hot dessert in her lap, leaving a nasty stain on her white skirt. She’d felt so angry when he’d told her about Melissa. Maybe she had no right to feel this way—she’d turned down his proposal once too—but that was different. They’d only been eighteen years old for crying out loud. Every one knew marriages between people so young never lasted so she’d probably done him a favour. But it sounded like this Melissa had totally strung him along. And now here she was, flaunting herself in his face. Not even the decency to keep away.

Zoe found herself turning to look at him and her heart cramped at the expression on his face. Melissa being here must be simply awful for him. She looked back to her customers and cleared her throat. ‘Are you ladies ready to place your order?’

All four heads snapped up to look at her as if they’d only just realised she were there. She smiled down tightly at them, a little shaky about being rude, but knowing—considering who sat at this table—that her boss would likely be lenient if they complained.

‘I’m sorry,’ Melissa gushed, then after another quick glance in Shaun’s direction, she asked, ‘What do you recommend?’

‘The molten lava cake,’ Zoe retorted without having to think twice. She wouldn’t really dump it in Melissa’s lap, but…

Now unfortunately I have NO idea how to cook one of those delicious-sounding creations but would love for someone to cook for me.

So, I’m going to be a little contrary and not share you a recipe that would complement the story, but rather something I experimented with a few weeks back. I’ve got very fussy eaters and so meals are usually boring and bland in our house, but every now and then I decide to surprise everyone with something different, fully expecting that no one (aside from hubby and I) will actually eat it.

The recipe I want to share today, was tweeted by my friend author Jen Tucker on Twitter a few weeks back and although I cannot find the link or what it was called, I do remember how I made it and how good it tasted. I also remembered it was easy and didn’t take long and that’s what I like in a recipe because that means more time for writing AND reading!

So here goes!! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Maple Syrup Flan

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Maple Syrup Flan

What you’ll need:

*2 large sweet potatoes or 1 sweet potato and half a butternut pumpkin.

*olive oil

*6 rashers of bacon

*Maple syrup

*2 tablespoons caster sugar

*2 large onions

*a handful of grated cheese

*Cream to paint over pastry

*2 cups of plain flour

*145g butter

*2-3 tablespoons of iced water

What I did:

1. Chop up the potatoes and pumpkin into 1cm-ish cubes, toss in oil and then drizzle maple syrup over the top and put in a hot oven to roast until tender. I’m not going to tell you how long or give you an exact temperature, because I’m the world’s worst roaster and I’m sure most of you will do a much better job than me.

photo 1

2. While potatoes are roasting, make the short-crust pastry – I think homemade is best for this recipe and trust me, if I can make it, so can you. I used Donna Hay’s recipe, which you can find here: Donna Hay: Basic Shortcrust Pastry

3. While pastry is in the fridge (according to above recipe) and potatoes roasting, slice the onions, add a pinch of salt and cook them until tender. Take off heat and stir in sugar.

4. Slice up bacon and fry in a pan.

5. When the potatoes are roasted and the onions and bacon ready, roll out the pastry to a large round about 5mm in depth. Lay pastry in a pie flan/tin and then layer in the filling – potatoes, bacon, onion, cheese, and repeat.

6. Fold up the pastry at the edges (see picture) and then brush cream over the top.

photo 2

7. Bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes or until pastry is cooked and golden.

8. Serve warm and enjoy!

 

Oh, I will enjoy, Rach, because that sounds amazing. And we can all kid ourselves that it’s marvellously healthy because of the veg. What a win!

Hmm. I’m wondering what it’d be like with fetta… might have to test this out.

Okay, my scrumptious Feasty elves, what’s your favourite tart or flan? Are you a sweet or a savoury person? Maybe you get wobbly legs at the sight of a beautiful quiche Lorraine or perhaps a tangy lemon tart is more your go.

Me, I love a good frittata. They’re easy to make, make great leftovers or picnic food and, as long as you have eggs, you can stuff them full of whatever happens to be in your fridge. Although now that I’ve mentioned quiche Lorraine I have a terrible craving for that… In fact, I might make one for dinner.

So come along, share your tarty love. We’d love to hear all your clever suggestions!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Jodie Blight

7 Replies

Season’s greetings! Or should that be summer greetings? Either way, welcome to the plumptiousness that is Friday Feast.

I am SO EXCITED TODAY! Seriously, you have no idea. Why? Because today we host our first cookbook author. *cue much squeeing and stamping of feet* Yes, my little puddings, the Feast is going professional.

But first, to the utter unprofessionalism that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf… Oh, who cares? I don’t. I played poo, yada yada. Good. Now that’s out of the way we can move on to our guest.

Jodie Blight is a Melbourne mother of two young boys who has just launched Summer TABLE, a beautiful and accessible cookbook designed to make your life easier.

Jodie Blight, author of Summer TableJodie’s book draws on her experiences of having been a high flyer in finance, turned full-time mother, living in and out of Australia. During four years in Holland raising her family, she lived in a small Dutch village, with no takeaway food shops and where the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and didn’t open on Sundays. Jodie was forced to creatively plan and prepare her family meals. This is where the concept of Summer TABLE was born.

And what a concept! Summer TABLE shows how leftovers can be easily transformed, plus half the recipes take less than 15 minutes to prep and cook, and Jodie offers a step by step guide to cooking, storing and keeping food to help time-poor people get the most out of each supermarket visit.

Seriously, you do not want to miss this…

Summer TABLE

Summer TABLE cookbookSummer TABLE answers the age old question, ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ with over 100 recipes for fast, delicious and healthy meals for every night of summer.

Not only does it solve the dinner dilemma but the shopping dilemma too! Incorporated within the book is a free App – scan a QR code from a recipe in the cookbook and produce a shopping list on your smartphone, with all the items you need sorted into the supermarket sections. A brand new concept of bringing the old world of a hard copy cookbook and combining it with the new world of technology. A first in the cookbook world!

The reviews from those who have purchased Summer TABLE have been nothing short of fantastic. Founder of Carman’s Fine Foods Carolyn Creswell says Summer TABLE provides helpful inspiration for her and her husband juggling work and family: “With a busy family, we struggle with the challenge of creating interesting and healthy dinners every night of the week. Getting dinner on the table fast is a necessity, but being suitable for both kids and adults is essential. The homemade pizzas are a favourite in our family. Summer TABLE will inspire you for a summer of family meals with fantastic flavours”.

Summer TABLE is available from many independent bookstores across Australia, Dymocks, Big W and www.hellotable.com.au.

A perfect Christmas present for yourself, friends or family.  Maybe even a Kris Kringle!

So, now that we’ve solved your Christmas present buying dilemmas (you’re welcome, my darlings), please give a big Feasty hello to Jodie. And enjoy!

For Some Strange Reason My Family Insist

On Being Fed Every Single Night!

Summer is my favourite time of the year. The incredible lime green of the leaves, the warm sun high in the sky, the birds singing in the trees – ahhh life is good … but the serenity is always broken by those three chilling words: “What’s for dinner?”

For some strange reason my family insist on being fed every single night!

Coming up with interesting, quick and healthy recipes for dinner every night is enough to send even the best cook into the depths of despair. And when it comes to the Christmas feast, it doesn’t matter whether you are cooking for a few or for a whole tribe, it can be extremely daunting.

So as I see it, my options are:

-prepare for weeks and spend all Christmas day in the kitchen (ignoring the children’s requests for batteries, or assistance to assemble the latest gadget) or …

-relax with a glass of champagne, dodging the toy helicopter hovering above while my ankles get battered by the remote control car below.

Need I say more?

Allow me to take a step back for a moment. The idea for Summer TABLE began back in 2005 when we moved to Europe with my husband’s work. I was a young mum living in a foreign village where there was no takeaway food, the supermarket closed at 5 pm on weekdays and there was no Sunday shopping. I often got ‘caught out’ and had to produce interesting and tasty meals with whatever I had in the fridge. Out of necessity I needed to think ahead, and through my desperation came innovation.

In my attempt to be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ I always cook way too much and our tradition of Sunday roasts with family and friends results in lots of leftovers. As a lover of good food (and I admit, a little frugal), I became accomplished at creating tasty, quick and healthy meals with the abundance of beautiful food left over from Sunday. The best part was no one knew they were eating leftovers (well, not until now).

I set myself the task to use all the leftovers in innovative new ways. As the personal challenge grew, I found myself deliberately making extra for the Sunday roast, since it required no more time or effort. My husband was often surprised at how much food there was and regularly asked, with a concerned look and a quiver in his voice,  “How many people are coming today?”

And Summer TABLE was born.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Christmas. Just in case it does need to be said “I choose the glass of Champagne, while dodging miniature attack missiles”. Surprised????

I have to admit, the best Christmas lunch we have ever had, (and when I say best, I mean most delicious and most enjoyable) was last year. For entree, I bought lots of cooked prawns, already peeled by our wonderful fishmonger Phil, and served them with a Mango and Avocado Salad. It took less than 10 minutes to throw together.

For the main fare, sliced ham and a roast chicken, served with Haloumi and Watermelon Salad and Orange and Fennel Salad. Both salads ooze summer, so beautifully fresh and ridiculously quick to prepare.

I thought I would share all my easy Christmas recipes with you today. Ooops – did you say only one recipe Cathryn? I have never been very good at following the rules when it comes to talking about my favourite topic – FOOD and WINE!

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad

Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 mangoes, cut into cubes

½ red onion, thinly sliced

20 cooked prawns, peeled and deveined

2 avocados, cut into cubes

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

1 long red chilli, chopped (optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

½ tablespoon wholegrain mustard

In a large bowl or on a platter, arrange lettuce, mango, onion, prawns and avocado.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad, and sprinkle with coriander leaves and chilli.

Juicy Roast Chicken

Juicy Roast Chicken from Summer TABLEPrep time 2 minutes  Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes  Total time 1 hour 30 minutes  Serves 8

2 chickens

2 lemons, cut into quarters

4 thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 240C. Place a rack over a deep baking tray and fill tray with water until just below the rack (make sure the chickens are not touching the water). Place a small strip of baking paper down the middle of the rack to stop the chicken skin from sticking. Fill the cavities of the chickens with the cut lemon and thyme and place chickens (starting breast side up) on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Take the chickens out of the oven, remove from the tray, turn them over and put them back on the paper over the rack, breast side down. Then reduce the temperature to 190C and cook for a further hour or until the juices run clear. When cooked remove from oven, cover and rest for 10 minutes.

This method will produce the juiciest roast chicken you have ever tasted. Serve with some gravy using the juices from the tray, with its subtle lemon flavour.

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad

Haloumi and Watermelon Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 2 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

¼ watermelon

180 g haloumi, 1 cm thick slices

1–2 tablespoons olive oil

lemon juice

Yoghurt dressing

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon mint sauce

1 handful mint leaves, chopped

Cut watermelon and haloumi into 1 cm thick slices with a similar shape and size.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Toss haloumi slices in the oil, then fry the cheese for 1 minute each side until golden brown.

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Arrange the haloumi and watermelon in alternating layers across a plate. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Best served while the cheese is still warm.

Orange and Fennel Salad

Orange and Fennel Salad from Summer TABLEPrep time 10 minutes   Cook time 0 minutes   Total time 10 minutes   Serves 4

4 handfuls mixed lettuce leaves

2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 bulb fresh fennel, finely sliced

½ red onion, finely sliced

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

Dressing

3 tablespoons orange juice

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white condiment (white balsamic vinegar)

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Place lettuce, oranges, fennel and onion in a salad bowl or on a platter.

To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad and toss together.

Sprinkle with coriander.

There you have it. A Christmas feast ready in moments. For the sake of completeness, I feel the urge to give you a few ideas on wines to serve with these dishes. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to their favourite beverage and any of these dishes would be perfect served with bubbles or beer. But in case you are looking for some inspiration, these are my suggestions:

Prawns served with a crisp Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2014 SA (my personal favourite)

Juicy Roast Chicken served with a fruity Fraser Gallop Chardonnay 2013 WA

Ham perfectly matched with the Christmassy flavours (raspberry, cherry and spice) of a NV Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz Vintage.

And my final thoughts on the Christmas Feast, what to do with the leftovers? Surely I can’t be the only one who cooks way too much for Christmas day. How about using the leftover chicken for a Chicken and Nectarine Salad the next day?  Or try Vietnamese Chicken Noodles, Chicken San Choi Bow or a Caesar Salad, just to name a few. When you have eaten all the ham sandwiches you can eat, and you can’t face one more morsel, why not make Pea and Ham Soup and freeze it for winter! Crazy huh!

We are all busy and want quick, healthy and delicious meals. Thoughts of planning the Christmas feast shouldn’t drag us down. Christmas means fun, soaking up the sun, laughing with family and friends, and enjoying fresh, delicious food without the stress. Hopefully Summer TABLE will inspire you to put variety and zest back on your table.

Jodie

 

Thank you, Jodie. You have been wonderfully generous giving us not only ideas for stress-free Christmas cooking, but a great insight into what Summer TABLE has to offer. And suggested WINES!!! *faints*

So, my darling Feasty lovelies, time for a little sharing. What are your tips for a stress-free Christmas?

I’ll let you in on mine: let someone else do it. Yes, I know, not very helpful but it does make for enjoyable entertaining. Other than that, seafood n salad. Can’t beat it.

What about you? Maybe you buy delectable items in or make gourmet delights and freeze them in advance. Share your tips and help us all get through the silly season. God knows, most of us need all the help we can get!QR Code for Summer Table

If you’d like to learn more about Jodie and her cookbooks, please visit her website Hello TABLE. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter using @HelloTABLE

Want to test out Jodie’s app? Scan this QR code with your smartphone and learn how it all works!

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

24 Replies

Hello Feasters, and welcome to the devilish deliciousness that is Friday Feast! This week is pure gold, with a gold standard rural romance author, an 18 carat cover and a golden syrup based dessert to die for. So read on…

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. On Monday I trekked up to Windsor to play in the final of the Women’s Golf Nepean Silver Brooch thing that I somehow qualified for. The course was lovely, my playing companions too, and… wait for it… I didn’t disgrace myself! Mandy MagroActually, I played quite well. I know, amaaaaazing. Who’da thunk it? Not me, that’s for sure. I was predicting duffed shots and a score that read like cricket a innings.

Speaking of amazing…

My Friday Feast guest today is Mandy Magro, a Queensland country gal who has quickly become one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors. Her books are lush with outback imagery, emotional and a bit sexy. This isn’t a gal who keeps the bedroom door closed on her heroes and heroines!

Mandy’s latest book is Country At Heart. Take a look.

COUNTRY AT HEART

Country At Heart by Mandy MagroA wounded soldier and a free spirit, both determined to follow their dreams – can their love survive?

The Army, protecting the country he loves, and his dearly beloved explosive detection dog Indy are Dean’s life – he can’t imagine doing anything else. But life has other plans for Dean when he and Indy are wounded in action in Afghanistan and sent home to his family’s seaside horse property, Whispering Meadows, to heal.

Free-spirited Summer has agreed to spend one last holiday with her parents at their luxurious vacation home, despite her father’s resistance to her plans for her career. But events take an unexpected turn when Summer and Dean meet and discover that love at first sight truly exists.

But can they overcome the very real challenges of coming from different sides of the tracks? And when Summer has to face the unpleasant truth about an old friend, as well as come to terms with the after-effects of a bewildering assault, she has to make a heartbreaking decision about their relationship. Can Dean’s love ultimately sway her?

‘A timeless tale of love and war brought to vivid life from war-torn Afghanistan to country Australia’ –TONY PARK, bestselling author of The Delta and Ivory

Doesn’t that sound a cracking read? You can have your hands on it in a jiffy with just a few clickety-clicks. For the paperback, visit Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. For the ebook, click on over to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or buy  direct from the publisher Harlequin.

All stocked up? Excellent. Now for more gold, thanks to Mandy!

The Sweet Side Of Life…

Thanks for inviting me back to your mouth-watering Friday Feast, Cathryn. I just adore anything to do with food – recipe books, growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and eating it! I will admit I do like to eat healthy – the majority of the time. But then there are the moments when I crave comfort food, the kind of stuff you eat with a stupid grin while fighting the urge to lick your bowl clean.

So, I’m very excited to share my favourite dessert with you, Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding. My mouth is watering just thinking about its delicious golden gooiness.

Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding

Mandy Magro's cooked Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding

Ingredients

150g soft brown sugar

150g softened butter

1 lemon – zested

3 eggs, beaten

150g self raising flour, mixed with a pinch of salt

10 tablespoons golden syrup

Method

  1. Butter a 2-pint (1.1 litre) pudding/steamer dish. Put the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until pale and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest and eggs (add a couple of tablespoons of the flour to help), and then fold in the flour. Mix in 5 tablespoons of golden syrup – or a little more if you like. Put the other 5 tablespoons of syrup – or a little more if you like – in the bottom of the steamer dish. Spoon the pudding mixture on top.
  2. Secure the lid on the steamer basin.
  3. Place the steamer basin in a large pan on an upturned saucer (to stop it touching the base of the pan) with simmering water coming a third of the way up the sides of the dish. Steam for 2 hours, checking the water now and again and topping up if needed.
  4. (This is where my inner-child comes out and I lick the bowl!)
  5. Rest the pud for a couple of minutes before turning it out (you may need a palette knife to loosen)
  6. Serve with lashings of cream, or ice-cream, or custard, or all three – why not live it up! 🙂

So there you have it, my wickedly full-fat over-indulgent syrup pudding. I promise every single mouthful will be worth the sin of it!

Happy cooking, and eating!

Mandy

Happiness indeed! Thanks, Mandy. What a beautiful recipe you’ve shared. Golden syrup is a bit like condensed milk I think. There is no bad recipe with it in!

I adore classic puds like this. They’re tried and true, and so very comforting. They also look great and taste divine.

Okay, my darling Feasties, what is your favourite naughty pudding or dessert? One that is so, so bad it’d clog an elephant’s arteries but you can never resist?

For me, it would have to be caramel tart because it reminds me so much of my childhood. And Mum opening the condensed milk tin too early and painting the ceiling in hot caramel. Funny to me, but not even remotely funny for her. Imagine trying to clean that off! I could also add the Chocolate, Walnut and Prune cake that I recently discovered in the November Gourmet Traveller to the list. That cake is AMAZING.

So what about you? What’s your favourite naughty dessert? Curious minds want to know so we can go and try it too!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

21 Replies

Greetings, Feasty lovelies, and welcome to another tastebud tantalising edition of Friday Feast. This week: rocking on with a bargain priced Rocking Horse Hill, getting stoned with fruit (well, maybe not high but certainly very happy), and a book giveaway you will luuuurve.

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m on the improve, oh yes I am. And I can Cathryn ready to golfprove it because I only hit ONE ball into a dam on the weekend… I think. It’s entirely possible I blocked memory of the others. All this ball loss does get traumatic at times. Not to mention expensive.

But onto some Feasty goodness. This week you have ME as the guest and I have a treat for you too. A few of them, in fact.

Now, in case you haven’t heard, the ebook of my fourth rural romance Rocking Horse Hill is currently on sale for only $4-99 across all platforms. A saving of eight dollars of the normal retail price. How’s that for a bargain? And it’s a great read, if I do say so myself!

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Like the sound of that? Then grab it now at a rocking price. Try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi. Prefer the smell and feel of paper, then clickety-click on over to Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. Or why not pop into your favourite local bookshop or chain store?

Stocked up? Excellent. You can now come and get stoned with me.

Ahem.

Summer Lovin’

Today I made my first cherry purchase of the season.

What? Not impressed? Huh. Fine. I know this may not sound much to you, but it matters bigtime to me. You see, I don’t just love cherries, I worship them. They are by far my favourite fruit. Come cherry season I cannot stuff enough of those babies into my mouth.

I like the way they burst. I like the intensity of their flavour. I like that funny sensation I get when my front teeth pierce the skin. I like how they colour my fingers all pink. I like how you can be munching through a bowl, thinking how delicious they are, and then suddenly get one whose sweet amazingness outshines all the others and makes your brain go all bright like it’s been filled with sunshine. I like how deeply, almost sexily red they are. I like to stroke them…

*cough*

Sorry, but I did say that I worshipped them.

Anyway, today I scored my first batch of new season cherries and I had plans for these things. Cooking type plans. I was going to turn those plump little morsels into a beautiful French dessert. Until I ate one…. um, okay, I ate many. Then I thought: Why waste my darlings on a dessert when I can scoff them pure and whole, the way nature intended?

So I turned to summer’s third best stone fruit, the humble apricot (the second being nectarines). Now normally it’s hard to go past a beautifully blushed apricot but when there are cherries being all Eat me! Eat Me! it’s easy. I mean, apricots  are all demure peachy blush while cherries are vibrant and siren-like. If cherries were a man they’d be… I dunno. Think of someone dark ‘n hot ‘n dangerous maybe. Someone sultry and sexy, with smooth skin and taut muscles and long lashes and brown come-hither eyes.

Washed new season cherries and apricots

But I digress… cherries kind of have that effect.

Because this Feast is about Rocking Horse Hill, and with the heroine Emily Wallace-Jones being such a wonderful cook and gardener, I needed a recipe that she would make and share with friends and family. She’s a seasonal girl, our Em. She likes to let nature dictate what’s on the menu. And in summer, with her orchard in full production, you can bet she’d be inundated with stone fruit.

I think – no, I know cos she is, after all, my invention – that a lovely French clafoutis would be exactly the dish she would cook.

Have you ever had a clafoutis? It’s one of the world’s easiest desserts to make and one whose success relies almost entirely on the quality of the fruit used. So choose that fruit wisely. You can use anything really, but beautifully ripe stone fruit always works well. Cherries are traditional but I just couldn’t bring myself to cook my precious batch. So apricots it is. I can sacrifice them.

This recipe has been adapted from the clafoutis recipe in Bien Cuisiner du marché à votre table by Marie-Claude Bisson, a lovely big fat 800 recipe cookbook that’s well worth buying if you love French family food and don’t mind a bit of translating. Some recipes I’ve seen call for almond flour and whatnot but that sounds far too heavy. This clafoutis produces a silky light custard with the fruit juices running through. It’s easy and beautiful and very moreish.

Apricot Clafoutis

The baked apricot clafoutis served with a drizzle of cream.

Ingredients

4 eggs

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

80g plain flour

60g butter

250ml milk (or use 125ml cream and 125ml milk for a richer result – but straight milk works fine)

500g apricots or the fruit of your choice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C.

If using smaller fruit like cherries, stone and keep whole (there’s a special depipping gadget for this – or you can halve them, whatever you like). For larger fruit, remove the stone and cut in half and place in a ceramic dish cut side down (or up, if you prefer that look).

Beat the eggs, salt, vanilla and sugar until pale and creamy.

Sift the flour nice and high over the egg mixture and fold in. Melt 30g of the butter and gently stir that into the egg mixture along with the milk. The mix will be quite liquid but airy.

Pour over the fruit. Dot with remaining butter. Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the shallowness of your dish, your oven’s temperament, the alignment of the stars etc etc. Remove and sprinkle with extra sugar while it’s still hot.

Serve with cream and smiiiiile at all that summer goodness.

Serves 6.

 

Doesn’t that sound easy and delicious? Believe me, it is.

And because this post is about Rocking Horse Hill being bargain priced and not just my cherry obsession, I think we should celebrate the fact with a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win a pretty purple paperback copy of Rocking Horse Hill, signed to you or whomever you like in case you want to give it away as a present (now there’s a Christmas gift idea for the reader in your circle). But as always you have to work to be in the draw, oh yes you do!

I want to know your favourite summer fruit and how you like to prepare and eat it. Naturally, there will be bonus points for anything involving cherries.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 18th November 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, then take a leisurely stroll around my website. While you’re there, sign up to my newsletter which delivers all my book news direct to your inbox along with exclusive goodies and giveaways. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter using @CathrynHein.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Maria who has won a signed copy of Rocking Horse Hill. Thanks to everyone for joining in the fun. Lots of fruity ideas! 

FRIDAY FEAST with Louise Reynolds

32 Replies

Welcome, welcome to another truly splendiferous Friday Feast. This week: get down and dusty with a duchess, cop these pears, and a rural romance giveaway!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite a rather lacklustre performance last weekend in round two of the club championships, I’m still running fourth. A great surprise, believe me. But with two rounds still to play and TWENTY-FIVE strokes to make up before I even come close to the leader, there’s not much chance of a podium finish. Still, in the world of golf anything could happen. The Great Golfing God may shine on me, the leader might get the yips, and pigs might fly. Stay tuned for a miracle. Or not.Author Louise Reynolds

I’m thrilled to host contemporary romance author Louise Reynolds this week because not only is she a truly lovely lady who writes wonderful rural stories, she’s also a dedicated foodie. The best of people! Louise’s previous novel Outback Bride was a delight, the story stretching between Melbourne and dusty Jindaburra and featuring a lizard race and even a pony. With her new release, Red Dirt Duchess, she’s gone even further afield, mixing English society with the red soil of outback Australia.

Check it out…

RED DIRT DUCHESS

Cover of Red Dirt Duchess by Louise ReynoldsWhen English society playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley is sent to outback Australia after a disastrous affair with his editor, all he wants is to take a few pictures, do a quick interview and get back to his usual life of luxury as soon as possible. Until he meets his host, the irresistible Charlie Hughes, and suddenly the back of beyond is a lot more appealing.

Running the pub is a labour of love for Charlie and she has no desire to ever leave the tiny town of Bindundilly. That is, until Jon discovers an old painting that raises questions about both their lives. Charlie impulsively decides to follow him to London, and as the feelings between them begin to deepen, she starts to wonder if there’s more to life than the pub. But at Jon’s family home, the magnificent Hartley Hall, they become acutely aware of the differences between them, and it soon seems clear they have no future together – especially if Jon’s mother has her way.

Family and tradition threaten the course of true love in this warm and witty novel from the author of Outback Bride and Her Italian Aristocrat.

Doesn’t that sound fun? Red Dirt Duchess is available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, direct from the publisher Destiny Romance, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now that you’re loaded up with some great Aussie reading, help yourself to the deliciousness that is Louise!

A Fine Pear!

Thanks for having me back on Friday Feast, Cathryn!

One of my favourite things to cook with is pears. This humble, cheap ingredient is incredibly versatile. It turns up in numerous salads, sits proudly on a cheeseboard and has a natural sweetness that works well with so many things from walnuts to pork and duck.

Pears also have a porous flesh which takes up colour beautifully. For many years one of my go to winter desserts has been Marcella Hazan’s Pears Braised in Red Wine and Bay Leaves, where long cooking results in deep ruby coloured pears and a dense delicious syrup. More lately, I’ve been making Saffron Pears.

I could riff endlessly on this recipe. A little amaretti biscuit on the side and a splash of amaretto on the pear at serving time gives it an Italian edge. Strew some pomegranate seeds around the dish and it’s suddenly a vibrant Middle Eastern feast for the eyes. A pool of Crème Anglaise drags it firmly back towards the English Channel.

It’s dead easy and very delicious. If you use good quality saffron your pears will be the colour of a Buddhist’s robes.

Marieke’s Saffron Pears

(recipe Marieke Brugman via Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion).

Saffron Poached PearsIngredients:

6 firm Beurre Bosc pears with stalk attached.

2 cups white wine

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

½ teaspoon saffron threads

Chopped green pistachios

Method:

Dissolve sugar in the water and wine over med heat. Add vanilla bean.

Saffron Pears CookingPeel the pears leaving stalk attached and cut a slice off the bottom so they will sit upright when serving. Add pears to the syrup with the saffron.

Cook at a bare murmur for about one and a half hours. The saffron will give off its colour and aroma and gradually turn the pears a stunning saffron gold. Turn them over every so often as they bob around in the syrup. Cool in the syrup.

 

Oh, I ADORE poached pears, Louise, so this sounds perfect. Simple to prepare and glamorous on the plate too. Now there’s a dessert to impress cook and guests alike.

Now, my darling Feasties, because Louise is so lovely and wants to spread her warm Australian stories far and wide, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win yourself a Kindle ebook copy of Red Dirt Duchess, just by answering a super simple question.

What is your favourite fruit recipe?

Could it be another simple dessert like stewed prunes or a humble apple crumble? Perhaps it’s a recipe for mango fool or a traditional cherry clafoutis. Whatever your favourite, share in the comments and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a Kindle ebook copy of Red Dirt Duchess.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 28th October 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Louise and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @LouiseHReynolds, Facebook and her blog (which also features fab foodie series, Cooking the Books).

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Cath who has won a Kindle copy of Red Dirt Duchess. What a ball she’s going to have with that! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun. You all made me so hungry!!

FRIDAY FEAST with Sarah Mayberry

44 Replies

It’s Friiiiiday and what better way to celebrate this most favourite of days than with fantastic food and fabulous fiction?

I know… FOOTY! Yes, my darling Sydney Swans AFL team had a win. About time, too. This losing business was leaving me very flat. I think that’s what’s been affecting my golf. I had the footy sooks. Speaking of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I played rather well last week. For nine holes. Then it all collapsed in a muttering heap. But for nine blissful holes it was happening. No balls in the water, no thieving crows to upset me. Lovely.Author Sarah Mayberry

Speaking of lovely (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), today’s guest is most certainly that. Lovely, and an amazing author. It’s no wonder I have serious fangirlness. Sarah Mayberry writes amazing books with brilliant dialogue and storylines that hook you from the first page. I’ve just finished reading the first of her April releases, Satisfaction. Oh boy, was that good. Really, really good, but I’ve come to expect that from Sarah. Which is why I’m very excited about her second April release, Her Kind of Trouble. Can’t wait to read this one!

HER KIND OF TROUBLE

Cover of Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah MayberryIt takes one to know one 

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they’re a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And everything that happens between them proves her right. Even better, they both agree their one night together is all they’ll share. 

Now, years later, Seth remains one of Vivian’s favorite memories. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because when she sees him again he’s still sinfully attractive. More than that, she actually likes the man he is. When Seth suddenly becomes a full-time dad to a newborn, Vivian falls hard. Despite the changes, however, she knows Seth will never settle down. And he will definitely never commit to one woman. So she needs to strengthen her defenses before she gets into real trouble!

“As she always does, Mayberry has delivered a passionate, psychologically astute romance with a hero and heroine who are both charmingly flawed. The pages practically turn themselves” –  New York Journal of Books.

They do! Pick up a Sarah Mayberry and you’ll be hard pressed to set it down. Which is why you want to buy Her Kind Of Trouble right now. Oh, yes you do! For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publisher Harlequin or Mills & Boon Australia, or your local chain store. For the ebook click on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now, have fun with Sarah!

Cravings

One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to give my characters the cars, houses, wardrobes and shoe collections I would love to have in real life – and I also get to feed them. I don’t think I have ever fed one of my characters something that I personally can’t stand. That would be so…wrong. More often than not, they get to have something I am craving or something I wish I could try again. Her Kind of Trouble is no exception to this rule.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for you, but there is some sadness mixed in with the sexy times and romance in this book, and at one point the heroine comes over to the hero’s house and cooks him dinner before lining up the shot glasses, breaking out the tequila bottle and helping him deal with his feelings.

Here’s a little excerpt from the scene:

“How’s your liver?” she asked as she reached for the tequila bottle.

“I own a bar, remember?” There was a good measure of his old cockiness in his response.

“Big talk, Anderson. Let’s see you put your money where your mouth is.”

“That doesn’t even make sense. You bought the tequila, remember?”

“You know what I mean.”

“To Lola,” she said solemnly.

 Grief raced across Seth’s face like a cloud across the sun. Then he blinked and nodded and raised his own glass. “To Lola.”

They both licked the salt off their hands before knocking back the tequila and sucking on their lime wedges. Vivian inhaled sharply as the alcohol seared its way down her throat to her belly.

“Oh, man, I hate tequila,” Seth said.

“I know. You could so strip marine varnish with this stuff. Brutal.” She poured them a second shot as she spoke, and Seth reached for the salt cellar.

“Gives the worst hang-overs, too,” he said.

“No way. Nothing is worse than a champagne hangover,” she said, sliding his shot across the table toward him.

“Talk to me tomorrow,” he said knowingly.

They both threw back their second shots, Seth wincing as though he’d just swallowed acid.

“Feeling alive yet?” she asked him.

Before she gets Seth drunk, however, Vivian cooks him dinner – Mexican, Vivian style. I LOVE Mexican, always have, always will. Here is my chicken fajitas, Vivian style, as featured in Her Kind of Trouble.

Vivian’s Chicken Fajitas with Two Salsas

2 chicken breasts

2 medium Spanish/red onions

1/2 a fresh pineapple

1 fresh lime

A handful of fresh mint leaves

A ripe avocado

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes

Burritos/soft tacos of your choice

Olive oil

Portuguese chicken/Cajun Chicken spice mix or other spicy chicken seasoning of your choice

1. Slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, then coat them with the spicy chicken seasoning of your choice. I’ve found both Cajun Chicken and Portuguese Chicken seasoning to be good. Pour olive oil into a frying pan and cook.

2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the Spanish onions finely and separate into two bowls, half per bowl.  Slice the pineapple, removing skin and hard core, then finely dice also. Mix the pineapple with one portion of onion, then slice the mint leaves finely and add to the same bowl. To complete the pineapple/mint salsa, squeeze the juice from a fresh lime and mix through the pineapple and mint.

3. Dice the avocado and add to the second bowl of diced onion. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice finely. Add to the second bowl, season with salt and pepper. You can also add a dash of olive oil at this point if you like.

4. Place your cooked chicken, bowls of salsa and warmed tortillas onto the kitchen bench or table, and invite your family and friends to assemble their own fajita.

The mix of the tart pineapple and lime juice with the mellow avocado and spicy chicken makes this one of my favourite easy summer meals. I think Seth liked it quite a bit, too! I hope you enjoy!

 

I will most assuredly, Sarah! Thank you. What a zingy fast meal, perfect for whipping up mid-week or weekend lazing with a margarita in hand.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, Feasters, we know you love a giveaway and Sarah has a beauty! Simply reveal your favourite spicy dish and you’ll go into the draw to win not only a paperback copy of Her Satisfaction by Sarah MayberryKind Of Trouble but also an ebook copy of Satisfaction AND a packet of the world’s best biscuit, Tam-Tams!

How’s that for a prize? Told you it was a beauty. So start sharing your favourite spicy foods and get yourself in the draw.

I don’t even have to think about what my favourite spicy dish is. I have a dead simple rice noodle and pork stir-fry recipe using chilli bean sauce that I just love. Like, really love. To the point that I could eat it every night for a week, easily. But what about you? Maybe you love a fiery rogan josh? Perhaps a Moroccan tagine is more your go. What about a bit of well-seasoned chorizo? There are plenty out there and your favourite could make you a winner. And a very happy reader!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 15th April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Julie who’ll be not only enjoying Sarah’s wonderful books but soon tasting Tim-Tams! Thanks to everyone else who played along in the Friday Feast fun. Wonderful comments as always.