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Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

??????????????????????

Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

If you’d like to learn more about Tricia and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jodi who has won a copy of Tricia’s Right As Rain. Thanks to everyone who took part. You made this Friday Feast a blast. Hope to see you again soon!

 

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Welcome to the first Friday Feast of autumn 2014.

To celebrate, we have suitably fabulous author sharing her latest release and a delicious recipe that  will have your tastebuds dancing. But first, the news you await every week from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It rained so hard last weekend that my round was washed out. Naturally, this occurred right when my game was coming together. The Great Golfing God has it in for me, the sod. Hmph.Author photo of Margareta Osborn

But enough of that, let’s get onto the really important stuff: BOOKS and FOOD!

My guest this week is Margareta Osborn, best-selling author of rural-set romances Bella’s Run, Hope’s Road and A Bush Christmas. Not only does Margareta write great heroines, she is one herself as a volunteer fire-fighter, recently helping to fight the choking Hazelwood coal mine fire in Gippsland, among other incidents.

Margareta’s new release is Mountain Ash and the premise will have you hooked!

 

MOUNTAIN ASH

 

Cover of Mountain Ash by Margareta OsbornAfter years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling.

Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo …

Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry.

But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.

Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

 

Doesn’t that sound like a riveting read? Which is why you should be clickety-clicking right now on these ‘buy’ links. For the paperback, visit most excellent Australian online bookstore Booktopia. You can also try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, your local independent, or your nearest chain store. For the ebook try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play or your favourite online retailer.

Loaded up? Good. Because you’ll need something delicious to snack on while eating and Margareta has just the thing!

 

Cooling It

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me back on your blog. It seems like we’re  making this a yearly event!

Seeing the last few mornings up here in the Gippsland hills have had a snippet of autumn in the air (you can feel it, taste it, smell it), I had thought to give you a yummy autumn cum winter-ish recipe to get us in the mood for all that cool weather with it’s comforting, scrumptious food to come.

BUT … then we hit today.

Outside the temperature is in the mid 30’s and there’s a blistering hot wind blowing itself into frenzy. The dust is spinning into willy-willys and I can see what’s left of our pasture shrivelling before my eyes. So, I can hardly talk about warming casseroles and oozing puddings with all of us sweltering like lizards on a pile of hot rocks. Summer is obviously not done yet. In addition, the fire pager’s doing a dance on my desk requesting change-over crews for tonight, as the people of Gippsland have also been fighting bushfires, yours truly included. In fact it’s a wonder anyone in this part of the world is going to have time to read my latest novel MOUNTAIN ASH (just released on March 1, 2014) until autumn – and relief from the heat – arrives! The tagline of my latest novel, reads, ‘In matters of the heart she’s playing with fire …’. Unfortunately it’s a tad apt at the moment in this part of the world. And that’s before you throw in a devastating love triangle twist.

So maybe it’s time to head back to the kitchen and make the most decadent treat to cool off. I made this stunning looking, deviously simple and delicious ice-cream cake for Christmas lunch. It was a H.I.T. (in capitals!)

 

Ice-Cream Cake

 

Margareta Osborn's Ice-Cream Cake

Ingredients:

3 litres of vanilla ice-cream

400 g of chocolate honey-comb pieces, chopped into chunks

220g bottle of chocolate Ice-Magic

Fresh berries (I used strawberries & would’ve added raspberries if I’d had some) & icing sugar

Put 3 litres of ice-cream into a big bowl. (It needs to be BIG, trust me.) Leave to soften for 10 minutes (don’t let it melt).

Gently fold in the chopped honeycomb. (I did this in two bowls as one wasn’t big enough.)

Grease a 22cm spring-form tin. Line base and sides with 2 layers of baking paper. I suggest you go 2-3cm above the edge of the pan with the paper, creating ‘hungry-boards’, so you can get all that yummy ice-cream into the tin.

Spoon ice-cream and honeycomb mixture into the tin and level with a knife or spatula. Freeze overnight.

Just before serving tip ice-cream cake from tin (I removed sides of tin along with the paper, laid a plate on the ‘top’ and tipped the cake upside down so the bottom became the top.) Drizzle immediately with Ice Magic, allow a minute or so to harden then top with fresh fruit. Sift icing sugar over the fruit to finish.

This cake goes ultra well with plum pudding but it would be terrific with any other desert or just by itself.

Note: You can replace the honey-comb with other lollies or chocolate bar treats. Let your imagination run wild!

 

Thanks, Margareta. My imagination is absolutely running wild. Imagine this with Smarties or broken up Peppermint Crisp. The possibilities! And so stunning too.

Okay, Feasters, what dish do you like to make that is disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort that went into its creation? I have one that I’ve been making for years – meringue towers with berries. They’re basically glorified individual pavlovas, but constructed in such a way to form an impressive tower on the plate. Dead easy. The only tricky part is piping the meringue into circles and stripes.

So what about you? Can you make a stunning soup in a heartbeat? Whip up a colourful salad in moments that looks like it was taken from the pages of Gourmet Traveller? Make our lives easier so we have more time to spend with friends and family – or reading – and share away!

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

 

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We’re baaaaaack!

Welcome to the first instalment of Friday Feast for 2014. And what a cracking year it’s going to be. Already slots are filling up fast, with a fantastic line-up of authors for your delectation.

How has your summer been so far? Stinking hot no doubt. It’s been a blistery one, that’s for sure. Never fear. You can be super cool with Friday Feast.

And now, because I just know you’re hanging out for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, here’s a quick update: After three-putting 8 out of 18 holes the week before last and too many again last week, I fear my putter has developed yet another fault. Or my brain has. I suspect the latter. Sigh. But at least my new bright purple golfing outfit looks totally groovin’, even if it does make me resemble a grape-flavoured jube.Austrlalian author Victoria Purman

Speaking of groovin’, my guest today hails from my home state of South Australia, which naturally means she’s super talented as well as nice. Victoria Purman hit the charts with her debut novel Nobody But Him. Now she has a new romance on the shelves with the second in her Boys of Summer series.

Take a look at the utterly gorgeous Someone Like You.

 

SOMEONE LIKE YOU

 

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Lizzie Blake knocks on the door of Dan McSwaine’s beach house at Middle Point, she barely recognises the man who answers. What ever happened to the guy who swaggered into her home town with a grin and left wither heart in his back pocket? Lizzie wonders if he’ll ever be that man again – and if she should risk everything she’s built her life on to help him.

Dan can’t normally bear to be more than ten minutes from a hip bar, an imported beer and a group of hot women. So what is he doing holed up in a falling down beach shack at Middle Point? All he knows is that he’s made some crazy decisions since the night a truck slammed into his care and almost killed him. The first one was to think that buying a crumbling piece of coastal real estate was a good idea. The second crazy decision was to try to hide away from the world when a woman like Lizzie Blake is determined to drag him right back into it.

 

Doesn’t that sound delicious? The perfect summer read. And it can be yours with a quick trip to your local independent bookseller or a trip to your nearest chain store. Or you can just click away at these retailers: For the print and ebook, try direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or Booktopia, Bookworld, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW or your favourite store.

All bookied up? Excellent. Now get cool with Victoria!

 

Summer Love Is Like No Other Love…

Neither Is The Food

 

It’s hot where I live.

In South Australia, we’re in the middle of our second heat wave of the summer, during which we’ll have temperatures of 40 degrees and above for ten days or more.  It’s been so hot that we consider 35 a cool change.

Victoria and her mum Emma

Victoria & her mum Emma

When it’s this hot, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

Funny that the heat doesn’t seem to dull my hunger, however.

This recipe is one of my summer standbys – handed down to me by my Hungarian mother, Emma.

You might by thinking that this is just a plain and simple potato salad. But the secret of its Hungarian deliciousness is the eggs – lots of eggs – and those delicious Euro-style gherkins.

My Mum serves it with her special-recipe crumbed chicken – which my three teenage boys aka The Hungry Horde – devour like it’s their last day on earth.

I cook up a huge batch of this salad and have it on hand on the fridge to fill the stomachs of The Hungry Horde with a cold chicken or some snags.

Oh, and it’s delicious with a cold beer.

Oma’s European-Style Potato Salad

European style potato salad

2kg potatoes

8 hard-boiled eggs

1 onion, very finely chopped

Finely chopped gherkins (the European kind)

Lovely mayonnaise – I use the whole egg kind

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes and let them get cold. Peel them and slice them into a huge bowl.

Wait for your eggs to cool and break them up with a fork. I actually use one of this ginchy egg slicer doohickeys, which is fun as well as fast. Add the eggs to your potatoes, along with the finely chopped onion and gherkins.

Add your mayo a tablespoon at a time so you don’t over-mayo.

Stir. Voila! You have your wonderful, eggy deliciousness!

 

Oh, yumptious! Thanks, Victoria. I’m a complete sucker for potato salad at the best of times but add some eggs and we’re talking heaven! Perfect for this time of year, when we’re entertaining outdoors, picnicking and barbecuing.

Would you like to win a Kindle copy of Someone Like You? Well, here’s your chance. Reveal your favourite summer salad and you’ll go into the draw. I have a new one I’m rather enamoured of, made with baby spinach, chick peas, red onion, roasted sweet potato and other goodies, and dressed with a yoghurt and pomegranate molasses dressing. It is beautiful!

So what about you? Are you a traditionalist who loves nothing better than a crunchy coleslaw? Maybe you prefer a touch of exotica with some hot and sour Asian noodles to spice things up. Share away and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Tuesday 11th February. Open to Australian addresses only.

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Iris who has won a Kindle copy of Victoria’s latest release Someone Like You. Thanks to everyone for playing along.

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Welcome to another Friday Feast, this week featuring a must-read author, a delicious dessert and an utterly juicy giveaway!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly. I snuck out for a practice round last Tuesday and played 9 under my handicap. Marvellous, yes? Well, it would have been if I hadn’t then gone out in competition and shot 5 over. Sigh. The great golf god giveth and the great golf god taketh away, the sod.Historical romance author Christina Brooke

Now onto more uplifting things, namely my fantabulous guest Christina Brooke!

If you love historical romance then Christina should be on your must-read list. She’s brilliant! Great dialogue, gorgeous settings and truly memorable heroes and heroines. This is feel-good romance at its best, which is why her books have won and been nominated for so many awards.

Come December 31st, Christina will have a new release hitting the shelves and I can’t wait to read it. Take a look at…

 

THE GREATEST LOVER EVER

 

Cover of The Greatest Lover Ever by Christina BrookeTHE SWEETEST SCANDAL

Beautiful, exuberant, and stubborn Georgiana Black has more spirit than sense – which she learns when an ultimatum to the Earl of Beckenham ends their engagement. Six years later, Georgie is less concerned with impending spinsterhood than with making sure her young sister doesn’t make the same mistakes she did. But soon Georgie stumbles into a scandalous encounter with none other than her former fiance. Beckenham is still breathtakingly desirable – and as iron-willed as ever…

THE TRUEST TEMPTATION

Beckenham’s brief engagement to Georgie taught him one thing – when it comes to a wife, he wants a woman who will do her duty and cause no trouble. When the fiery Georgie falls unexpectedly into his arms, Beckenham remembers just how lushly delectable she is. Suddenly, the idea of actually marrying Georgie is irresistible. Convincing her will take more than a simple proposal, however. In a battle of wills, can passion conquer pride?

 

The Greatest Lover Ever is available for pre-order right now. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, AustralianLondon's Last True Scoundrelor your favourite bookstore or ebook retailer.

Can’t wait to read a Christina Brooke? Then when not try her current release, London’s Last True Scoundrel, or the first in her famous Ministry of Marriage series, Heiresss in Love. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Now you’re loaded up, here’s Christina!

 

From Greatest Lover To Greatest Christmas!

 

Hello everyone and thank you so much to Cathryn for having me here today. I LOVE food—eating it, talking about it, exchanging recipes—so the Friday Feast is perfect for me!

I do love cooking—baking, in particular—but I have to say that running a family and a writing career doesn’t leave me a lot of time or patience to do very fiddly dishes.

So nothing pleases me more than when I find a dish that looks complicated but actually is very easy to put together. That’s definitely true of the Christmas Ice Cream Cake I have to share with you today.

I made this last year for Christmas Day and it was a huge hit. Christmas Day in Australia is almost always ridiculously hot and while plum pudding might be traditional fare, it’s not much fun to eat in the middle of the day in the middle of summer. Particularly if you’re like half of my family and loathe dried fruit!

Donna Hay is always a wonder when it comes to easy delicious cooking and this recipe is from her December 2012 “Celebrate” Magazine. She calls it a Honeycomb and Caramel Trifle Log.

So here’s how you make it. This is so simple! It does take time, because the layers have to be frozen separately, one at a time. But the beauty is that you can prepare this dessert well in advance of the day itself so you don’t have to be baking or stirring in a hot kitchen on Christmas Day. And it keeps for a long time, too.

 

Christmas Ice-Cream Cake

 

*Grease and line a  2 litre capacity rectangular loaf tin with baking paper.

*Crumble 120g of store bought sponge cake into a bowl, douse with 2 tablespoons of sweet sherry and leave a few moments to soak in.

*Mix 200g of store bought vanilla ice cream with the sherry-soaked cake crumbs. Pour ice cream mixture into loaf tin and smooth out so it’s level.

*Place 8 plain chocolate biscuits over the layer of ice cream, overlapping them slightly. You might have to improvise a little, depending on the type of biscuit available but any kind of arrangement will get the job done.

*Freeze for 2 hours.

*Mix 160g or ½ cup of store-bought caramel or dulce de leche with 200g of vanilla ice cream.

*Pour caramel ice cream mixture on top of the frozen sherry cake and biscuit layer, finishing with another layer of 8 chocolate biscuits.

*Freeze for 2 hours

*Final layer is 100g smashed honeycomb shards mixed with 300g vanilla ice cream. Pour over the first two layers and freeze for 2 hours. If you can’t find plain honeycomb and can’t be bothered to make it, a smashed up Violet Crumble bar is fine.

I made a kids’ version of this cake as well, with chocolate, caramel and vanilla layers and topped it with M&Ms. They loved it! There’s really no limit to the variations you can make with this cake. You can just choose your three favourite store-bought ice cream flavors and use those.

This photo is of the version I made last week. Unfortunately, I came down with chicken pox in between the second and third layers so this one only has two layers! But you get the idea of how great the cross-section will look when it’s finished.

photo

A very merry Christmas to you all and I hope you have a wonderful and stress-free holiday!

What about you? What’s your favourite hot weather dessert? Do you like to eat traditional plum pud on Christmas Day or do you have another tradition you’d like to share?

 

I am groaning with need here, Christina, and not only for The Greatest Lover Ever! That dessert looks absolutely divine. What a brilliant alternative to the traditional Christmas pud. I’m definitely putting this recipe on my Chrissy list. Delish!

Now, my Santa-hatted Feasters, would you like to win yourself a signed advance copy of The Greatest Lover Ever? Of course you would! Then get your thinking caps on and tell us what your favourite Christmas or hot weather dessert is. I’m a bit of a sucker for good old fruity pud, but I’m also a big fan of my White Chocolate Decadence. And really, you can’t beat an old-fashioned icy-pole on a hot day either. Not exactly fancy, but it certainly does the job!

So share away and we’ll put you in the draw. But be quick about it. Closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 10th December 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Christina and her truly wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won an advance copy of The Greatest Lover Ever. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope you had as much fun as we did!

 

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And another joyous Friday arrives, the last before the silly season begins in earnest. Isn’t it amazing how fast this year has gone? I feel like I say that every year but for some reason 2013 feels especially speedy. Still, it’s nice to get all Christmassy as today’s guest is about to. But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf WeeklyPamela Cook author

In an about turn, I played okay and didn’t lose a single ball in the water or have an embarrassing airy. In fact, my score was so okay that I dropped half a stroke off my handicap. I tell you, those golfing gods move in very mysterious ways. Rotten teases.

Enough of that. Time to raise your glasses to my rural romance writing guest Pamela Cook. Pamela’s debut novel Blackwattle Lake scored rave reviews and now her next novel has hit the shelves. Essie’s Way is guaranteed to be another booming success. Check it out…

 

ESSIE’S WAY

 

Cover of Essie's Way by Pamela CookA captivating story of family, love and following your heart, from the author of Blackwattle Lake.

Miranda McIntyre thinks she has it all sorted. She s a successful lawyer, she s planning her wedding and ticking off all the right boxes. When searching for something old to go with her wedding dress she remembers an antique necklace from her childhood, but her mother denies any knowledge of it. Miranda is sure it exists. Trying to find the necklace, she discovers evidence that perhaps the grandmother she thought was dead is still alive.

Ignoring the creeping uncertainty about her impending marriage, and the worry that she is not living the life she really wants, Miranda takes off on a road trip in search of answers to the family mystery but also in search of herself.

Ultimately, she will find that looking back can lead you home.

 

Doesn’t that sound lovely? Nothing quite like a finding yourself story and you can have this one in your hot little mitt with just a few clickety-clicks. For the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookstore, Angus & Robertson, your local chainstore or independent book retailer. If ebooks are your go, Essie’s Way is available for immediate download from Kobo, iTunes, Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks or your favourite e-tailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Time to get Christmassy!

 

In The Spirit!

Hi Cathryn

Lovely to be visiting the Friday Feast again especially as Christmas approaches and we all start to think about what we’ll be eating and drinking over the festive season.

This year my family and I are doing something verrrryyyy special – heading to Austria for a white Christmas and a 2 week ski trip. Prior to arriving in Kaprun, the village where we’ll be staying, we’ll be checking out the Christmas cheer in London and Paris. My husband and I had a white Christmas many years ago and I’m really looking forward to having such an amazing experience with my three daughters. We’ll also be sharing it with close friends who are currently living in the middle east and joining us in Kaprun.

An Austrian Christmas market stall

So to get in the mood I thought I’d do a little research into what traditional Christmas fare is in Austria. Here’s what I discovered:

  • During Christmas, people head to traditional Austrian Christmas markets which are present in almost every single town, large or small. Vienna, Austria’s capital, conducts around 25 markets along with small huts to provide shoppers with presents, food and, the soul of the festival, sweet wines. Other stands provide decorations, art and craft, toys and jewelry etc.

Can’t wait to check out the markets and do a little wine tasting!

  • A traditional Austrian Christmas dinner includes “Gebackenerkarpfen” or fried carp, “Sachertorte” or the chocolate and apricot cake, chocolate frosting served along with Christmas cookies.

Not sure about the fried carp but the chocolate torte and the cookies sound pretty delicious.

  • A traditional Christmas feast includes goose and ham served with gluhwein and rum punch

I’ve never had goose – nor cooked it – but I’m willing to give it a try. And the gluhwein sounds like the perfect beverage to wash it down.

I’ve certainly drunk a few glühwein’s in my day but I’ve never made it so I looked up a recipe to take with me – apparently it’s all in the mixing!

 

GLÜHWEIN

The secret to getting a great Glühwein is the right mixture of red wine, cinnamon stick, sugar, oranges and cloves.

Ingredients (serves 10):Gluhwein

2 bottles of good quality red wine

2 cups of water

6 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 oranges – cut into bite-size pieces

oranges for decoration

How to make it:

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring it close to boil. For additional taste, cut 2 oranges into bite-size pieces and add to the wine. Let simmer. Remove clove and cinnamon stick before serving it into lightly pre-warmed glasses. Decorate glasses with an orange slice.

 

So this Christmas instead of our usual BBQ and a swim in the pool we’ll hopefully be sipping our glühwein while the snow falls outside and a nice fat goose roasts in the oven. I’m also hoping that we’ll come home with all our limbs in fact and while I know the bank balance will be a lot lower (ie nonexistent!) I know it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

And a very merry Christmas to you too, Pamela, even though I’m insanely jealous of you right now! I’m not a skier at all, but there’s something completely magical about snow at Christmas. Such a contrast to Australia’s usually blistering days, and perfect for naughty fattening things and cockle-warming drinks.

So, Feasters, let’s get the Christmas spirit moving with your most memorable or favourite Christmas location. Are your fondest memories from big family lunches at grandma’s, and a table groaning with five different roasts even though it was 35 degrees outside? Or was your best Christmas spent snuggled up somewhere exotic with nothing but your beloved as a present?

I’m torn between home Christmases with the family and the enormously raucous Christmas lunch we hosted one year in Aix-en-Provence, France. The food was amazing, way too much wine was drunk and I distinctly remember an unsteady bunch of people dancing on the balcony to Kung Fu Fighting. I still cringe at what the neighbours must have thought…

Go on, share where your fondest Yuletide memories lie and make us all envious. You might even give us ideas!

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

 

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Whoop! It’s Friiiiiday. And an especially good one for me because I’m on the cusp of handing in the first round of my Rocking Horse Hill edits. Plus I have a super-cool new guest for you. But first, the moment you’ve been waiting for, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly.

I had an airy. Yup, I took a swing and missed the ball completely. And this was after I’d taken a penalty drop as punishment for hitting my ball into a water hazard. About sums things up, really. Ahh, well. At least it wasn’t Sarah Mayberry author photoon the first tee in front of everyone. One must be thankful for small mercies.

Now to my guest. Please excuse me while I have a major fan-girl moment, cos Sarah Mayberry is all kinds of awesome. Not only is she a most splendiferous super-selling romance author, she writes for Australia’s longest surviving serial drama, Neighbours! Sarah has also co-created her own TV drama called Karaoke High (sounds like my kind of school), occasionally helps out on other shows, and consults on movie projects. See? Told you she was cool.

Sarah’s latest release is Her Favourite Rival, a book I just loved. The zing between the hero and heroine, both beautifully drawn characters, is perfect. If you want a feel good book, the sort you’ll want to cuddle afterward because you had such a good time, then this is it.

 

HER FAVOURITE RIVAL

 

Cover of Her Favourite Rival by Sarah MayberryA new meaning for office politics!

Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she’s up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way – including Zach Black. He’s hot, smart and the competition. When they’re assigned to the same project, she’s shocked at how much she actually likes about him….and how much she misjudged him.

Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach – and indulging in an affair that’s against company policy. And the stakes rise when it’s clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn’t want to lose either the promotion or the guy…

 

Trust me, this is a cracking romance. And there’s a related book, too – Her Favourite Temptation – which is equally as good.

You can purchase Her Favourite Rival right now direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or try your local book or chain store, or that most excellent of booksellers, Booktopia. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes, BigW ebooks or your favourite retailer.

Now that you’re all loaded up, go have some foodie fun with Sarah.

 

Contraband Cake

First up, a big thanks to Cathryn for inviting me to talk about one of my favourite things today – food! It took me ages to decide what recipe I wanted to share with everyone, and I finally fell back on a cake that has been living in my subconscious for the past few months – a sure sign that it’s time for me to bust out the bundt tin and make it again!

Like any self-respecting romance writer, I have been having a love affair with cake in all its forms all my life. Pretty much anything goes for me, except that horrible thick marzipan icing – blurg. Otherwise, if its made from sugar, fats and flour, the sky is the limit. When we were kids, I can remember my mum making brandy alexander cakes, and piping cream into sponges and chocolate cakes. Because my mother was nothing if not modern, she was an early adaptor of the packet cake mix, and more power to her. Us kids definitely didn’t know the difference! Helping her cook and then fighting with my siblings for first go at the bowl and the beaters are some of my fondest and yummiest memories. In fact, there was a time there where I was convinced that cake actually tasted better as a batter than it did cooked. Crazy times, indeed.

I should probably confess up front that today’s recipe was stolen from a magazine when we were living in New Zealand. It was a very old, tatty magazine, the type that kicks around a cafe until it is actually a biological hazard it’s so old. Nevertheless, I employed the usual covert stratagems in order to liberate the recipe page from the clutches of the magazine’s binding – my husband was appointed lookout and instructed to cough loudly as I tore out the page as discreetly as possible. This was – obviously! – in the days before iphones and whatnot. Nowadays I just boldly take a picture of the recipe on the page.

The thing was, once I saw the picture of this finished cake and read the instructions, I knew this cake was for me. It’s moist, it’s got dates in it, and there is chocolate. Oh, and there’s alcohol. It’s hard to argue with all of the above, don’t you think? It’s not a cake you want to inflict on a family gathering – the kids will be very sulky because they can’t have any because of the alcohol – but it’s fantastic as a dessert cake. I am actually drooling a little while typing this.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my recipe, I hope you get a chance to make it and enjoy:

 

Coffee Drizzle Cake with Dates

Photo of coffee drizzle cake with dates

Serves 8

Cake

225g/8oz butter, softened and chopped

2 cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 eggs

150g/5.5oz ground almonds

1 1/3 cups self raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarb of soda

30g/1oz of cocoa

1 1/4 cups espresso coffee, cooled

1/2 cup buttermilk

Syrup

200g/7oz fresh dates, pitted, cut into slivers (if fresh dates aren’t available, dried are fine – pit them and cut them into slivers, then soak them in boiling water to soften them before soaking them in the brandy/cognac)

3 tablespoons of brandy/cognac

3/4 cup of caster sugar

1/4 cup espresso coffee

Pour the brandy over the slivered dates and set aside to soak for an hour. Turn the mixture over every now and then to distribute the brandy/cognac.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 F/Gas mark 5. In a mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each.

Sift the flours, bicarb of soda, cocoa and a pinch of sea salt over the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and cooled espresso and whisk until smooth. Spoon into a well-greased 24cm non-stick fluted (bundt) cake tin. (You can use a standard round or square tin, too, just adjust the cooking time to suit). Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. ( I cooked this recently in my new fan-forced oven and it took only 35 minutes, so perhaps check on the cake a few times the first time you make it.) Let it stand in the tin for 10 minutes before easing the sides and then turning the cake onto a wire rack.

For the syrup, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring until a golden caramel. Remove from heat, add the 1/3 cup of espresso – being very careful, as the sugar will spit. Stir until smooth.

Top the cake with the slivered dates, then use a spoon to drizzle the syrup evenly over the cake. Serve with ice cream or double cream.

I promise that this cake is delicious, grown up and irresistible in the extreme. And now I have to make it, because I need to taste it again. Num num num.

Thanks for having me, Cathryn, and I hope you all enjoy.

 

I most definitely shall enjoy, Sarah. That cake is right up my…er…cakehole! Anything with dates in it is a winner I always think. And cognac. Plus it looks so pretty!

Hmm, which has me thinking… What’s your favourite adults-only food? I luuuurve tiramisu, and make a rather delish version with Tia Maria added the sponge biscuit soaking mix. 

What about you? Do you have a favourite dish full of contraband? Like to share? You never know, your idea could make it onto someone’s next home alone menu…

If you’d like to learn more about Sarah and her books (read them, they’re fab!), please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.

 

THE OUTBACK HEART

 

The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.

 

Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.

 

Pizza Passion

 

Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂

 

Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.

 

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