Tag Archives: Macaroons

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!

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

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What a fantastic Friday Feast we have this week! Drape yourself over a lusciously velvet chaise-longue and get ready to indulge because you are about to be delighted (in the politest possible way) by best-selling regency-set historical romance author and two-time RITA finalist, Christina Brooke.

Christina is a bit of a star in the Australian romance writing firmament, being the first Australian to win a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Besides best-sellerdom and RITA finals (the Romance Writers of America’s equivalent of an Academy Award nomination), Christina has also been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best and our own Romantic Book of the Year Award.

In other words, Feasters, she’s a bloody good author!

Her latest release, A Duchess to Remember, is out now. Check it out.




For a lady of breeding and wealth, the Ministry of Marriage can always ensure a suitable match. But sometimes, the heart wants what it wants—in spite of the risks…


Lady Cecily Westruther is nothing if not practical. By agreeing to marry an older duke who already has an heir and a mistress, she can assume a wifely role—without the wifely duties. Only one thing stands in her way—a  letter that could destroy her betrothal. Desperate to retrieve that letter, Cecily must match wits with the most dangerously seductive man she’s ever known…


Disguised as a footman, Cecily gains entry to her adversary’s house—only to be unmasked by London’s most powerful man. Rand, Duke of Ashburn, is accustomed to getting any woman he wants—and he wants Cecily. He will stop at nothing, including seduction, to make her his. But Rand holds a secret more shocking and destructive than that letter could ever be…

“A delightful confection of secrets and seduction…will have readers craving more!”—Tracy Anne Warren on Heiress in Love


Oh, you want that, don’t you? I can see your itchy mouse clicking finger from here. Well here is all the linky goodness you need to indulge.  For Australian readers, try Booktopia and Bookworld.com.au, both of which also have the ebooks. You can also buy the paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon.  For more links, visit the A Duchess to Remember page on Christina’s website.

Now, crook that little pinkie, arrange that napkin, and settle down for a spot of high tea with Christina Brooke!


Living the high life

Hi everyone and thank you, Cathryn, for having me here today for Friday Feast! I love these segments, so I jumped at the chance when Cathryn asked me to write one.

I love writing about food. I often have to cut paragraphs of deathless prose on dining from my Regency-set historicals 

The French said the only good thing about English cuisine is breakfast, but I can’t agree with that. My absolute favorite meal of any must be the English cream tea or, if you want to go the whole hog, the high tea.

Cream teas are what many in Australia call the Devonshire tea: scones with jam and cream accompanied by a pot of tea. The last time I was in England I ate so many cream teas that I didn’t want to look at another scone for quite a while afterward! And of course, here in Australia you don’t get that amazing clotted cream that’s almost as hard as a pat of butter like you do over in England. Certainly not brilliant for the waistline but pure heaven when you’re eating it.

Particularly if you’re eating it in the garden of a stately home or in the Pump Room in Bath.

And of course there’s the cream tea’s fancier, more refined cousin, the high tea. This is usually served on a three-tiered plate, with ribbon sandwiches made of cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and baby capers, ham and Dijon mustard and so forth making up the lowest tier.

Then you have the hot savory tier, which will be tiny quiches, savory tarts, little crostini, pinwheel pancake treats or other tidbits. And on the final level, there are sweets. Bite-sized lemon curd tarts, heart-shaped cakes dusted with icing sugar, pastel macaroons, meringues studded with lavender, and of course the scone, light as air and topped with strawberry conserve and cream.

There is a magical place in Brisbane called “Room with Roses” where I like to go with my mother and enjoy an excellent high tea. Some serve champagne with a high tea but I say you cannot go past a good strong cuppa.

So, given that I’m a historical writer, today I thought I’d bring you a recipe for macaroons from Margaretta Ackworth’s Georgian Cookery Book, edited by Alice and Frank Prochasca:

TO MAKE MACKROONS Take the whites of eight eggs and beate them very well with a white rod. Take a pound loafe sugar very firmly beaten a pound and half of blanched almonds very well beaten with a little rose water. Mix them altogether, put to them a little rose water, so lay it on White Wafers, a spoonful in a Place. Make them up long Ways, Scrape hard sugar on them and bake them.


So what was the best afternoon or morning tea—high tea or otherwise you’ve ever had? One lucky commenter receives a tasty morsel: A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER, signed by yours truly 🙂 


Ahh, macaroons. Such sweetly civilized morsels and a perfect accompaniment to a good cuppa. And now we have whole shops dedicated to them. In fact, I discovered one just last weekend in Hardware Lane in Melbourne, complete with line-up of slavering customers out the door.

So, my lovely Feasters, you heard our fabulous guest, start commenting. There’s a wonderful prize up for grabs.

Best morning tea for me has to be Devonshire tea in Devon, enjoyed outside on a stunning summer’s morning. A good brew, gorgeously light scones, delicious jam and that amazing clotted cream Christina talked about. Nothing special yet somehow absolutely perfect.

Giveaway closes midnight, Tuesday 4th September AEST and it’s open internationally. Yippee!!!!

If you’d like to know more about Christina and her amazing, award-winning books, including the famous Ministry of Marriage series, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part. You all gave Christina and me a lot of smiles. Congratulations to Julie who has won a copy of Christina’s gorgeous new release, A Duchess To Remember.