Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

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 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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Now, Feasters, lay down that checked tablecloth, plonk that bottle of chianti on top, shuffle the iPod to That’s Amore and channel your inner Sophia Lauren, because this week on Friday Feast we’re talking everyone’s favourite Neapolitan snack food, PIZZA.

And who better to discuss such a worthy topic than USA Today bestselling author and Romance Writers of Australia President Rachel Bailey. Hanging with the movers and shakers. Yep, that’s us.

Besides walking the corridors of power in RWA central, Rachel writes deliciously intense, fast-paced modern romances for Harlequin Desire. Now, if you’ve never read a Desire, then I suggest you duck down to your nearest store and grab yourself one (preferably a title by one of our many, very talented  Australian authors) because they are fabulous reads. Powerful, passionate and provocative. The sort you can’t stop gobbling down. A bit like pizza, really.

A prime example of what Desires are all about is Rachel’s newest release, What Happens in Charleston…  Take a look.


What Happens in Charleston…

Money has always given Matthew Kincaid whatever he wanted. Yet now his son needs something even his millions can’t buy. The widower’s sole recourse is the surrogate who gave birth to his child – for she is also the boy’s true biological mother.

Susannah Parrish needs no prodding to offer her assistance – a child’s life is at stake. But to their mutual surprise, the minute she’s back in Charleston and residing in Matthew’s home, passion consumes them. Is this a relationship doomed by deception? Or is it the one chance at a love they both secretly crave?


I’d buy this book from the title alone but that blurb? Ooh, la la!

Now here’s Rachel.


Two People, A Paddle and a Pizza Stone

Hubby and I went for a great lunch at a friend’s place a couple of months ago where we had pizzas that our friend made on his new pizza stone. We were hooked. It all looked so easy and the result was scrumptious. We couldn’t wait to buy our own stone and make great pizzas ourselves.

I should say at this point that I’m very fond of food. This will surprise no one who knows me. Or, I guess, anyone who’s read one of my books because I usually mention food somewhere (though sometimes I’m more subtle than others).

For example, in What Happens in Charleston…, Susannah is staying with Matthew and his little boy while the boy has some medical treatment and she takes on the job of cooking the meals. And every night, she ends the meal with a rich, decadent, sinful dessert. Coffee and hazelnut cheesecake. Crème brulee. Triple chocolate mousse.

Let me tell you, coming up with the actual desserts Susannah made was no chore – it was one of my favourite parts of writing the book. Hubby and I love eating dessert and love discovering and making new ones. In fact, we love cooking and experimenting with new methods and ingredients for savoury food as well.

So buying a pizza stone and making our own pizzas should be a cinch, right? Hmmm…

The first time we used it, hubby made a gorgeous roast pumpkin and caramelized onion pizza with a herbed tomato sauce over the home-made base. Only problem was, it was completely baked *onto* the stone. We had to pull it away, bit by bit, meaning the toppings fell off as we did. Once it was free (and we’d left half the thickness of the base on the stone), we reassembled the toppings and served. The base (what was left of it) wasn’t cooked through, but other than that, it was delicious.

Afterwards, I did something only the truly desperate do – I read the instructions. Oh, you’re supposed to put the stone in a *cold* oven? Well, that would probably make a difference. We had made sure the oven was up to temperature before putting the stone in. Right, we’ll know better for the next pizza.

The second time we used it, we were careful to assemble the pizza on the stone *before* we turned the oven on. This pizza was olive, fetta, semi-dried tomato and char-grilled capsicum. I couldn’t wait! We were ready to pop it in the oven when I had an idea so brilliant, so fiendishly simple, that it will impress you. I decided to read the instructions to the *end* (instead of stopping after the bit about a cold oven like last time).

Turned out we had a slight problem. Yes, the stone goes into a cold oven and warms more evenly as the oven heats up, but the stone goes in that cold oven *without* the pizza. Oh.

It made total sense – a hot pizza stone would sear the bottom of the base enough that it wouldn’t stick. Brilliant! Problem was, our pizza was already on the stone and not keen on coming off again. It took four hands and several kitchen implements but we eventually got the base off, onto the floured paddle that had come with the stone (we’d wondered what that was for!), cleaned the stone and put it in a cold oven.

The resultant pizza was again delicious, if slightly misshapen after all the extra handling.

This weekend we’re planning on making our third pizza on our new pizza stone. We intend to 1) heat the pizza stone in a cold oven until it’s hot, 2) make the pizza on the paddle (that has a layer of flour to stop it sticking) before slipping it onto the stone, and 3) have different toppings to the first two.

So I’ll make you a deal: I’ll share our easy peasy pizza recipe if you give me some suggestions for vegetarian-friendly toppings for our third attempt. I’ll give away a copy of What Happens in Charleston… to one commenter.


Easy Peasy Pizza Base:

1¾ cup self raising flour

½ cup grated cheese

¼ cup oil

½ cup hot water

Mix together and press into the base / plate / pizza paddle.

Then I spread with a tomato-y base (fried onion and garlic, with tinned tomato added when onion is cooked, and herbs to taste). Or with pesto, depending on my mood. Then top with all manner of yummy toppings and bake for 35 minutes.


Ahh, pizza, such a joy. Although perhaps not so much when it sticks to the stone. Thanks, Rachel, for your hugely entertaining post. Glad that stone is coming good for you. We love our ours at Chez Hein. We had two until I dropped one on the tiles and shot stone shards all over the kitchen and into my foot. There was a stage when we used to sprinkle the surface with polenta before slapping on the pizza, but now we just turn the oven up to flat out and the stone gets so hot the dough seals straight away. Not as good as a proper pizza oven but it beats a takeaway any day.


So, Feasters, you heard Madame Prez, share your favourite vegetarian pizza topping and you could win a copy of her fabulous new Desire release, What Happens in Charleston…

Entries close midnight AEST, Tuesday 27th March 2012. Open internationally.


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


This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Imelda. A copy of What Happens In Charleston… will be winging its way to you soon. Thanks to all who visited and commented. We had some absolutely delicious-sounding suggestions for pizza toppings.  Enough to keep Rachel (and the rest of us) going for quite a while.

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