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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

 

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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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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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The footy season is now well and truly over, with my beloved Sydney Swans safely tucked up on holidays so I think it’s time to bore you with my golf game instead… or perhaps not. As my dad so loves to say, us Heins weren’t meant to play golf. A truism I sadly keep proving each week.Australian author Kate Belle

‘Tis a good thing then that I have all the deliciousness that is Friday Feast to keep you entertained. And this week’s guest is hugely entertaining too!

Multi-published Melbournian Kate Belle’s latest novel The Yearning is a must read. There was so much I related to with this book – the setting, the era – but it was the compelling story and Kate’s mastery of language that I adored most. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially if you were a child of the 70s.

Take a look…

 

THE YEARNING

 

Cover of The Yearning by Kate BelleIt’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

 

Intrigued? Of course you are! The Yearning is available now from Amazon for your Kindle e-reader or reading app, Kobo or iTunes. For the print book visit Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Eltham Bookshop and other independent book stores, or your local chainstore.

Unsure? Then read an extract here. You’ll be hooked, believe me.

Now please welcome Kate who is generously sharing a wonderful family recipe. Just the sort of Friday Feast I love.

 

Christmas Hand Me Downs

 

Hi Cathryn and readers. What a boon to finally get a guernsey on the famous Friday Feast. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time and even though I’ve literally had MONTHS to consider what to write about, I still can’t decide what recipe to share with you.

After checking the recipe index and seeing the poorly state of the vegetable list, and because I’m a vegetarian, I thought perhaps I should do a vegetable recipe – like creamy mashed potatoes, lemon & butter beans, or roast vegetable medley. But that seems a bit mumsy and boring and ‘eat up your veggies before you have dessert’. (Although there is nothing dull about the way I do veggies. Plenty of good quality butter, salt, pure olive oil, black pepper and cream. I’ve already told my doctor I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Bugger the cholesterol.)

But at heart (the part that’s still beating after all that fat) I’m a cake and pastry girl with a natural leaning toward carby, home-baked fare, and this is the time of year I embark on my boiled fruit cake, white chocolate white Christmas,Calendar showing Kate's pudding day and plum pudding.  So, against the repressed murmurings of my must-eat-wholesome-low-fat-food-fairy, I’m going to treat you to a special Christmas recipe that was passed to me by my dearly beloved’s ex-wife (yes, you read that right), who in turn inherited it from her Great Auntie Flo.

There are so many things about this recipe that appeal to me. Firstly, it’s been handed down three generations. Its history is as long as my list of ex-lovers and I can’t help wondering how many Christmas tables it has graced in the last century. Secondly, the family this recipe originated from were teetotallers and it contains so much alcohol there’s no need to refrigerate it. It just sits in its pudding bowl in a cool, dry cupboard for months developing mouth watering celebratory flavour. Thirdly, I love that it’s a second hand recipe. It goes well with my second hand kitchen utensils, second hand pets, husband and aprons. We are a fully recycled household so it seems appropriate to offer Friday Feast up a second hand heirloom recipe I’ve appropriated from someone else’s family.

Kate's pudding day ingredientsEvery October this recipe makes an appearance at my kitchen bench on a Saturday I’ve allocated for pudding making. Be warned, this pudding is a serious and messy commitment, but well worth it. The pudding itself is medium weight, very dark and moist. The amount of butter in it makes it very rich necessitating only small servings. One pudding goes a long way. I recommend you start early in the day and have no other plans. My first attempt at Auntie Flo’s pudding (actually, my first attempt at any Christmas pudding) took a day and a half (my fault, not the pudding’s) and almost put me off the whole exercise. But with practice I’ve got the preparation down to about four hours. With up to six hours boiling time on the stove top that’s the day done.

The recipe itself is photocopied from a cookbook and includes a footnote about how individual members of the family prefer their pudding served – X: bit of custard, Y: piles of brandy cream, Z: a smidget of cold whipped cream – which is a delightful addition and brings extra warmth to the experience of making it.

All in all, it’s a recipe befitting a writer. It brims with mysterious back story, has great depth of character and a compelling and involved plot that leads to a profoundly satisfying climax.

Just one more thing – the secret to the inherent goodness of Great Auntie Flo’s Christmas pudding isn’t in the butter, the dried fruit or even the booze. It’s in the Christmassy feelings that flourish as you get your hands utterly sticky and hum your way through your daggiest Christmas music while you work. (Yes, you must!)

 

Auntie Flo’s Christmas Pudding

 

Ingredients for 1 standard 2 ½ pint pudding (Use as best quality as you can manage – no substituting!)

Daggy Christmas CD – push play and turn up loud

250g currants

250g sultanas

250g raisins

90g candied peel

½ cup blanched chopped almonds

70g minced fresh apple

125g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

250g suet (or butter if you’re vegetarian)

250g soft breadcrumbs (I blitz day old bread in the food processor)

125g soft brown sugar

Grated rind 1 orange

2-3 eggs (free range of course)

1 tblsp brandy

2 tblsp rum

200ml beer (heavy only)

Method

Chop up dried fruit and nuts and combine with minced apple.

Chopping ingredients for the Christmas pudding

Sift flour with salt and spices into large mixing bowl (big enough to take the rest of the ingredients)

Grate the butter/suet into flour and rub in well (this gets very sticky but is quite enjoyable if you give in to it)

Christmas pudding preparation - rubbing butter or suet into flour

Add breadcrumbs, sugar and grated orange rind and mix with hands until even.

Mixing Christmas pudding by hand

Mix in fruit and nuts (yes, using your hands)

Beat eggs, adding brandy and rum (you can use a utensil for this bit)

Mix boozy eggs and beer to other ingredients and mix thoroughly into a soft mixture (okay, you can use a wooden spoon for this, but really, it’s better with hands :-))

Kate Belle's Christmas Pudding mix

Grease the pudding basin well (with butter) and line the base with baking paper. Press the mixture into the basin, pushing out all air pockets until the basin is brimming with yummy pudding.

Cover the top with a double thickness of greased baking paper followed by a double layer of tin foil and tie down tightly around the bowl rim with strong string, making a string handle for ease of removal from the boiling pot.

Pudding bowl preparation

Put the pudding bowl into a huge saucepan on the stove top and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin. Cover and boil for 6 hours (NB I usually make 2 smaller puddings by dividing this mixture in half and boil them for half the time). Keep an eye on the water level and top up as necessary. Too much water will soak into the pudding and make it gooey, not enough will make the pudding dry.

Allow pudding to cool and store for 2-3 months in cool, dry, dark cupboard. Cook it for a further 2 hours (adjust time according to pudding size) on Christmas day.

Serve with copious quantities of the reveller’s choice of brandy cream, custard, cream or icecream (or all of them!) and devour lustily.

Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe your family serve up every year?

 

Ooh, Kate, I could wrap you in a big Father Christmas hug! What a gorgeous post, and thanks so much for sharing such an important recipe with everyone at Friday Feast. I can just picture you now, boogie-ing to Jingle Bell Rock as you rub butter into flour or mix ‘boozy’ eggs.

So Feasters, do you have a Chrissy recipe that’s adored? I’ve got to brag that I make a mean Christmas cake, completely overloaded with brandy-soaked fruit. Because we tend to travel interstate, alternating between far north Queensland and south-east South Australian I haven’t had much of chance to create our own tradition, but we do get to savour other’s.

What about you? Do you get in the spirit with rum balls? Maybe fruit mince tarts? Or perhaps you have a special way with turkey? We’d all love to hear. Your tradition might inspire a new one for the rest of us.

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

 

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And so our favourite day of the week comes around again. What have you planned for the weekend? I’m feeling a tad bereft because there’s no more footy. Fortunately, I have boxed sets of my beloved Sydney Swans Premiership seasons to see me through the dark times. And lots of books. Lots and lots of books, including the debut release of this week’s Friday Feast guest, Victoria Purman. Austrlalian author Victoria PurmanAnd I tell you, if there was ever a story to put you in the mood for a long Aussie summer it’ll be Nobody But Him.

I met Victoria recently at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle and was immediately struck by her professionalism and easy going nature. Then again, she does hail from South Australia, my home state, so these things are to be expected.

Nobody But Him is the first in Victoria’s Boys of Summer trilogy (earworm anyone? Since I typed that all I can hear is Don Henley) and has just hit the shelves. Take a gander at this bronzed Aussie!

 

NOBODY BUT HIM

 

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman coverShe didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

 

You can own your own copy of Nobody But Him with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Buy direct from the publisher Harlequin or try most excellent Australian bookseller and ARRC sponsor Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes and the new BigW ebook store.

Seriously, it makes me proud to see so all the Australian stories dominating our bricks and mortar stores and virtual shelves at the moment. Anyway, enough of me, here’s Victoria!

 

 

Lock, stock and barrel

 

Has anyone else ever wandered the supermarket aisles and become increasingly concerned about the growing profusion of packet mixes and insta-meals?

I get the heebie-jeebies every time I read the back of the label and barely recognize anything that seems like real food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a working mother of three teenagers and I’m certainly not averse to doing whatever it takes to feed the Hungry Horde.

And I’m not what you might call a health nut, either. Those who know about my consumption of wine and chocolate know this to be true. (To those who don’t know me, I consume a lot of wine and chocolate.)

But I don’t want my kids to be loaded down with salt and preservatives and chemicals when I can make the real thing at home – salt and preservative free – for much less.

Hence my recipe for my weekly, reliable standby: Chicken Stock.

I approach cooking as I do writing a book.

On the surface, it’s all exciting – doing the shopping, looking at the labels and the recipe books, making everything look beautifully plated up and Master Chef-y.

The writing equivalent is spending lots of time online with search engine terms that include “shirtless” and “man”; thinking about your cover; and how famous you’re going to be when it sells squillions.

But when you get down to it, there are some basic you shouldn’t ignore.

No matter what genre you write in, every book needs a solid story at its heart.

I think of my Chicken Stock that way – a solid base of flavour for a zillion meals.

I’m not kidding when I say Chicken Stock is easy. The Hungry Horde doesn’t have time for complicated.

I cook up a batch on the weekend and have it sitting in the fridge so I can scoop out what I need during the week for meals in the slow cooker, casserole dishes, stir-fries or soups.

It’s especially handy for those dreaded days when all you have left in the fridge is a couple of near-dead zucchinis, a floret or two of broccoli and a cauliflower (you know, the one you bought in the vain hope that your kids would actually eat it).

Gather the veggies, chop finely, cook them all up in the stock until tender, give it a whizz and voila – vegetable soup. My kids love it. Even when I tell Boy13 there’s zucchini in it.

 

Victoria’s Chicken Stock

 

  • Chicken carcasses (I use two because they come that way in the supermarket). Don’t worry about trimming off the fat – while important, that comes later.Stock pot with chicken carcases
  • Veggies – celery, carrots, onion, minced garlic
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish)
  • Water

Use a big stock saucepan and place the chicken bones in it.

Raid the fridge for whatever veggies you have. I always keep a few celery leaves and stalks in the freezer (did I mention I hate wasting food?) and pop them in to the saucepan with an onion chopped in half (you don’t even need to peel it), and a roughly chopped carrot. Add some minced garlic (from the jar I have in the fridge), a little pepper, and add water until the chicken bones are covered.

Bring to the boil.

Chicken and vegetables in the stock pot ready for boilingWhen it’s boiling, turn down to simmer and let the magnificent aromas fill the house. I usually leave it for about an hour, so the flavours really intensify.

Let the stock cool, and then strain out all the chicken and the veggies. Pour into a container and chill overnight. This step is really important, as the fat congeals at the top and can be easily scooped off the next day.

Your stock is ready, totally delicious and made from real food.

Make soup! Add to day-old rice in a wok and it will taste delicious! Use a cupful any time a recipe calls for stock cubes or stock powder!

Here’s stir-fry rice I made with the stock. The Hungry Horde loved it.

 Stir fried rice made with Victoria's chicken stock

 

Ahh, Victoria, you’re a woman after my own heart. Actually, can a girl say that or is that a man to woman thing? Hmm. Dunno, but you’re definitely a kindred spirit with all that wine, chocolate and home-made stock. Must be our South Australian genes!

Now, my darling Feasters, don those bikinis and budgie smugglers and channel your favourite summer past-time because Victoria has generously offered a most fabulous giveaway. Reveal what you like to get up to over summer and you could win yourself a copy of Nobody But Him. Perfect relaxation material.

Me? Over summer I play golf and eat lots of seafood washed down with wine, which is probably why my golf game is terrible…

What do you get up to for summer fun? Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th October 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

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 Kerrie who is in for a whole lot of reading fun with Nobody But Him. Thanks to everyone who joined in. 

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