Cooking the Books – Susanne Bellamy

Chef with cookbook

Welcome to Cooking the Books! Today’s guest is author Susanne Bellamy whose new release, Second Chance Love, is the third standalone book in the Bindarra Creek Romance series. 13 stories, 13 authors, 13 months! Bindarra Creek sounds like my kind of place; a rural community with an abundance of (well 13, anyway) gorgeous heroes. Here’s the blurb for Susanne’s book.

Blurb:Second Chance Love

When Claire Swenson inherits her great-aunt’s home and returns to Bindarra Creek as town librarian, Angus McGregor is the first person she meets.

The second is his eleven-year old son.

Just because Angus wants a second chance doesn’t mean that Claire will put aside her determination not to commit to a relationship.

No matter how sexy he is, or how well they work together as they fight for the community and to save Angus’ property.

Can he convince Claire that love is sweeter the second time around?

So over to Susanne who’s going to share a foodie moment from Second Chance Love and the recipe for a delicious no-bake slice!

Angus McGregor and his 11 year old son, Oliver, invite Claire to their home. As teenage lovers, Angus loved and lost Claire. Returning to Bindarra Creek after the death of her great-aunt, Claire is working temporarily in the town library. She has no plans to stay but Angus is waging a campaign to woo and win her this time around. The first step is dinner.

Mrs. Teasley entered, bearing a large tureen which she set down in the centre of the table beside a bowl of mixed green vegetables. “Here we are, fresh caught by the men this morning. Enjoy your meal.” She smiled as she left the dining room with the entrée dishes stacked on a tray.

Claire lifted the lid and sniffed appreciatively before turning to Ollie. “I smell ginger.”

“Green ginger wine and a hint of garlic. I know that much about the recipe.” Angus reached for another bread roll and split it open.

“Is that crayfish I see?” Claire looked at Ollie.

Eyes bright, Ollie nodded. “Dad and I went yabbying this morning. Caught a whole bucket load. Have you ever gone yabbying, Miss Swenson?”

“No. Is there a special technique to catch them?”

“We use meat attached to a piece of string. Drives them crazy.”

Angus pushed the tureen closer to Claire. “Ollie swears that using lamb’s fry brings the biggest ones out of hiding. Please, help yourself, Claire. It’s Mrs. Teasley’s secret ginger and garlic crayfish recipe, passed down through the generations of her family.”

Since I didn’t have a photo of this dish, I’ve included a recipe that I have made often for family and friends, which I ‘gave’ to Claire.

Ginger Biscuit SliceNo bake Ginger Biscuit Slice

250g pkt milk arrowroot biscuits

120g unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup condensed milk

¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar

60g chopped walnuts (or pecans)

1 tsp ground ginger

Icing:

90g softened unsalted butter

90g cream cheese

1 ¾ cups icing sugar

¼ cup cocoa, sifted

Method:

Grease a shallow lamington (or similar) tin, approx. 20cm x 30cm.

Crush milk arrowroot biscuits (not too finely).

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, condensed milk, sugar, walnuts and ground ginger. Add crushed biscuits and gently fold through.

Spoon mixture into prepared tin and press in firmly using your fingertips.  Smooth over with back of a spoon (dipped in hot water if necessary).

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To make chocolate icing:

Place all icing ingredients in electric mixer and beat until smooth.

Spread thin layer of icing over the slice. Refrigerate until icing has set.

To serve, cut into fingers approx. 5cm x 2cm.

**If desperate, I pop the tray into the freezer. Works a treat😉

Bio: 2011 - headshots

Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. One Night in Sorrento almost wrote itself after her travels in Italy, and her next release, Second Chance Love, was inspired by a stint teaching in far north-west Queensland in a rural setting where a sense of community was strong. While most of her stories are set in the present day, she has also enjoyed dipping into the future and the past.

Her Hawaiian novels are inspired by a lifelong fascination with the country and reading too many books and watching too many movies set there.

Susanne’s heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia, with their dog.

Susanne is a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the recent Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a part-time editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers.

You can find me at the following:

  1. Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7
  2. Twitter            https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy
  3. Website           http://www.susannebellamy.com/
  4. Pinterest          http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/
  5. Goodreads       https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6869630.Susanne_Bellamy

e-book: http://www.amazon.com/Second-Chance-Bindarra-Creek-Romance-ebook/dp/B015JLML92

and print: https://www.createspace.com/5670189Welcome to Cooking the Books where I’m joined by Susanne Bellamy.

Cooking the Books…with Sasha Cottman

Chef with cookbookWelcome back to Cooking the Books, a place where I talk to writers about books and food. Today’s guest is Sasha Cottman, the acclaimed author of the Dukes of Strathmore series. I’m very excited because the third book in the series, The Duke’s Daughter, was released this week and I finally get to read Lucy’s story. Despite Sasha’s entertaining forays into Regency cookery, a favourite which you can see here, she is visiting today with a thoroughly 21st century innovation. Welcome, Sasha!

              

               SALAD IN A JARsasha cottman author pic

Ok, stay with me on this, I know it sounds all hipster like but this is such a brilliant idea I wish I had invented it, trademarked it and then listed it on the stock exchange. I would have made a fortune and be writing this blog post from my private island instead of my chilly writing room.

I have been trying to eat healthier for a while now and failing miserably. I blame a love for all things crunchy, wine and Lindt chocolate, though not necessarily in that order.

Anyhoo. I was on the internet and came across a Buzzfeed post on low carb healthy food. Salad in a jar was one of the things that got a mention, so I decided to try the idea.

DSC_0370A quick trip to my local bargain store resulted in the purchase of 5 glass jars. At $2.50 each they were a bargain. I thought 250mls was a bit small for a lunch size salad, but I was to be proven wrong. They hold a lot of salad!

I have been taking the salads to work for nearly two weeks now and I’m pleased to say the bathroom scales are starting to show the results. My vegetable intake has also risen considerably. If you buy a lot of the ingredients in the pre-cut and washed packs that will also save you time.

Ingredients for your salad

Well you can pretty much put in the salad whatever you like. Some recipes had red peppers and tomatoes, both of which I don’t eat, but make up the salad jars to suit yourself. I have seen recipes with lentils, mung beans, tofu, fetta, strawberries, cucumber and quinoa.

My Saladingredients

INGREDIENTS.

  • Baby kale, chopped
  • Continental parsley, chopped
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaked almonds
  • Ricotta cheese. A generous tablespoon per jar.
  • Firm pear (it adds a nice sweetness).
  • Cooked chicken breast pieces. I used about 300gm.
  • Sliced button mushrooms
  • Coleslaw. I have corn and beetroot in my coleslaw but make it anyway you like.
  • A big bag of mixed, washed lettuce leaves. In the end for 5 jars I used about 350gm of leaves.

DRESSING

  • You can make your own dressing or be like me and find a nice simple salad dressing in the supermarket. I frankly don’t have time to spend a whole Sunday afternoon making lunches for the week, and also I don’t think the whole eating healthier lark works if you have to put a huge effort into making meals.One simple dressing you can make is a sesame lemon one.
  • 2tbs tahini,
  • 2tbs lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
  • 2tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of honey. A bit of salt and pepper if that is to your taste.

completed jarsThis will make enough for 4 salad jars. In my recipe I simply used 2tbs of salad dressing I bought in the supermarket.

METHOD

  • Wash the jars in hot water and let them dry upturned on a clean tea towel.
  • Cut all the ingredients up and have them on a chopping board.
  • Put the salad dressing in the bottom of each jar. This allows it to stay at the bottom or at least not leak out the top if you tip up the jar. The greens should go in later that way they will stay away from the dressing and remain crisp.
  • Next put either the meat or mushrooms on top. They will best absorb the dressing if the jar gets tipped up on your way to work.
  • Then layer the rest of the ingredients, in each of the jars, finishing with a good fistful of the lettuce leaves.
  • As I said the jars will hold a surprising amount of salad. Put the lids on the jars and close them tightly.
  • Refrigerate the salad until you need it. The jars of salad should keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. At work or home, then get a plate or large bowl and turn the salad out of the jar.
  • Enjoy.

Thank you Sasha! Despite how cold it is in Melbourne at the moment, spring is just around the corner and your salad in a jar will be perfect for getting-into-shape for summer. Now let’s check out your gorgeous new release!

The Duke's Daughter Cover (533x800)

When handsome army officer Avery Fox unexpectedly inherits a fortune, he instantly becomes one of the season’s most eligible bachelors. More accustomed to the battlefield, he has no patience with the naive debutantes who fill the ballrooms of London.

Honest and impetuous Lady Lucy Radley is a breath of fresh air, guiding him through the season and helping him to avoid any traps. So when Avery is left with little option but to marry Lucy, he can’t help but feel he’s been manipulated. Nor can he shake the feeling that a duke’s daughter should be out of his reach.

From the wildly beautiful Scottish Highlands to the elegant soirees of Paris, Avery and Lucy go on a journey that is full of surprises for them both.  But will their feelings for each other be strong enough to overcome the circumstances of their marriage and survive the ghosts of Avery’s past?

THE DUKE OF STRATHMORE SERIES:

Letter from a Rake

An Unsuitable Match

The Duke’s Daughter

The Duke’s Daughter is available as an ebook at the following eretailers:

Amazon.Com

Amazon Australia

Amazon UK

iTunes

Googleplay

Kobo

JBHiFi

Author Bio:

Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.

Her first published novel, Letter from a Rake was a finalist for the 2014 Romantic Book of the Year.

Sasha lives with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who demands a starring role in the next book. She has found new hiding spots for her secret chocolate stash. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while trying to deal with her bad knee and current Fitbit obsession.

You can follow Sasha and find out more about her and her books on her website:

http://www.sashacottman.com

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/sashacottman

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sashacottmanauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7136108.Sasha_Cottman

Cooking The Books – Madeline Ash

Chef with cookbookWelcome to 2015 and another year of Cooking the Books. I’m thrilled to kick the year off with one of my favourite authors. Madeline Ash writes beautifully moving stories wrapped in layers of sparkling humour and sexy times. To die for heroes, wonderful heroines and truly unique stories make her an insta-buy for me. Madeline’s latest release Love & Other Lies is no different. Welcome, Madeline!

MadelineAsh_ProfileThanks for having me today, Louise, it’s wonderful to back on such a delicious blog! I’d love to talk about the subjective nature of taste. It’s fascinating. We all have foods and flavours that we simply won’t go near. I don’t mean by choice, like vegetarians avoiding meats, but because it just tastes foul!

 

The heroine in my latest book, Abby, has a strong aversion to bananas. She can’t handle the fruit itself or any banana flavoured goodies. Abby is also a compulsive liar. Or, she used to be – she’s reformed at the start of the story.

At one point, when Abby fears she’s lapsed and will have to rebuild her life all over again, her friend (and café owner) dishes her up a banana muffin for breakfast. Her friend is using it as a test.

“Abby drained her latte in a few long swallows. ‘Add to that, I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours. There’s a trigger-happy man with a nail gun inside my skull. My stomach’s an anxious, ravenous mess and you know I hate banana muffins.’

Jenny folded her arms. ‘And if you’d truly reverted to lying, you wouldn’t have reminded me.’”

If she’d lapsed into lying, the full mess of it, Abby probably would have eaten the muffin. Personal preference never had any bearing on what came out of her mouth (or what went in it). Also, since reforming, she only speaks the truth, even if it offends people. And telling someone that you hate the breakfast they’ve given you is a bitch-slap of truth! I loved using her dislike of food to mark her behavior.

As for me, I don’t mind bananas (their texture is another matter). They’re jam-packed with goodness and make pretty delicious muffins when paired with their best friend, chocolate. Today I’d love to share this tasty recipe from a muffin book I often tug from the cupboard when I’ve got friends coming over.

Instead of typing it out, I’ve taken a photo so the stains act as proof of how delicious they must be – made time and time again!

Madeline's Recipe book

I’d love to know about you – are there any foods or flavours that you simply cannot tolerate, even to be polite? As for me, don’t even say seafood!

Thanks, Madeline! I can’t think of a single flavour I don’t like although I find some flavours in unusual carriers very off-putting eg. savoury ice creams – Louise

About Love & Other Lies by Madeline Ash

 

Love & Other LiesSmall town vet Abby Benson has fled to the country to put her shameful past behind her. She’s just beginning to find her feet again when handsome stranger, Rue Thorn, arrives in town and begins to stir things up. Rue is gorgeous, kind and thoughtful and the two share an instant attraction. But convinced he’ll despise her if he learns about her history, Abby reluctantly keeps him at arm’s length. Determined to win Abby over, Rue tries to reshape himself as the sort of guy he thinks she might be interested in. And for a while it seems his act is working. But when he finds out that Abby has been lying to him, it isn’t long before everything start to unravel … A moving story of trust, forgiveness and the power of love from the author of Uncovered by Love and The Playboy’s Dark Secret.

Find Love & Other Lies on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

Visit Madeline’s website, or find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Cooking The Books – Leesa Bow

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking The Books! I’m excited because my guest is good friend and NA author Leesa Bow. You may remember that last time she visited, Leesa shared tips and recipes for cooking for hunky football players. This time she’s done a 180 degree turn and is on an entirely more feminine track. Here’s Leesa!

 

 

Cupcakes Make Me SmileLeesa Bow portrait

Thanks for having me on your blog Louise.

Admittedly, I’m a sweet tooth, which doesn’t help my hips or waistline at this time of year. When granted the liberty of cooking anything I like, it would generally lean toward a cake, slice, or some dessert over a savoury meal. Unfortunately it’s a trait I have passed onto my daughters and when the females in the household (there are five of us) are suffering a difficult ‘time of the month’ an awesome sweet dish is baked as a ‘pep me up’ reward.

Valentine cupcakesIn my book, Charming the Outback, Maddy likes to bake cupcakes to help clear her thoughts. Maddy’s signature cupcakes are topped with honeycomb and melted chocolate over chocolate cream icing. Cooking for stress release is about the end product making you smile, and enjoying the sweet reward of your labour. One thing I learned from baking and decorating cupcakes is to ignore the mess, as the dishes pile up quickly, and flour coats everything.

Recently, at my eldest daughter’s baby shower, the baby boy and girl themed cupcakes were a hit! Topped with little baby footprints, the pink and blue cupcakes put a smile on the guest’s faces.Cupcakes

For me, cupcakes are all about making people smile. Each bite of creamy icing is filled with heavenly yumminess. Not only do they look enticing, they are mouth-watering delicious, and I don’t feel as guilty eating one because they are only bite-sized. Right?

My favourite would have to be red velvet. What is yours?

Leesa Bio:

Leesa is a romance author who writes new adult romance about second chance love. Leesa also likes to writes stories with a sport theme.

Released in September Charming the Outback is the second book in the Player series.

Leesa’s next book Jardine will be released in December.

41.CharmingtheOutback_cover

Jardine-cover4-200x300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy Charming the Outback from:

Amazon Aus: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00LNSTXJW

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/Charmingtheoutback

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1oiUqpa

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1rW5WGK

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/charming-the-outback-1

Penguin: http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781760140434/charming-outback

Destiny: http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781760140434/charming-outback

Find Leesa at:

Webpage: www.leesabow.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Leesabowromance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeesaBow

Cooking The Books – Jennifer St George

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking the Books! Today my guest is contemporary romance author, Jennifer St George. Last time we caught up with Jen we heard about her kitchen woes and how they were  all going to be solved with the aid of a Thermomix. Well, let’s find out how that little experiment has turned out, shall we? But before we do, whatever her shortcomings in the kitchen, Jen sure does know how to deliver a sizzling alpha billionaire hero. The latest book in her fabulous Billionaires series was released this month by Destiny Romance. Here’s Jennifer!

 

Why Can’t my Characters Cook For Me?JSG

 

Cooking. It’s not my forte. I’m a very basic cook and will use any excuse to order take away rather than cook a meal. I’d love to be a great cook, and to that end I purchased a Thermomix, which I talked about during my last visit to Cook the Books.

The Thermomix promises that even the most inexperienced cooks will be able to prepare dishes they never before dreamed were possible. It can chop, whip, mix, emulsify, mill, knead, cook, blend, stir, steam, weigh and heat. I was sold.

So, how’s it going? Well, my young daughter can now cook amazing meals, which is fantastic. She is a natural in the kitchen. She’s whipped up tuna pasta, made her own pesto (and now grows her own basil so she can make it fresh from the garden), has produced almost a hundred batches of Anzac biscuits and lots more. She loves it.

How am I going? Well, I’m disappointed because I still have to shop for ingredients and put them in the right order and the right amount. When they make a machine that does that, then I might look like a good cook. I have made a couple of quite successful soups and salads, but I think you need to want to cook to get the best of the Themomix.

Anyway, because I’m such a rubbish cook I consciously ensure all my heroines are brilliant cooks (yes, living out my fantasies through my fiction). They make fabulous meals. I know about amazing meals because I read all those gourmet magazines and indulge in quite a few restaurant meals…I just can’t replicate these mouth-watering morsels in the kitchen, but I can write about them.

My latest release, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon is set in a luxury health retreat. My heroine Poppy effortlessly whips up a meal of carrot and ginger soup followed by chicken with salsa verde and roast courgette and red peppers and finishes the meal with lime and rose sorbet. All organic ingredients and all delicious. Apparently Poppy could have made all these meals in my Thermomix. Shame Poppy is just a figment of my imagination!

TemptedBy_2b[2]

Thanks, Jen. So what about you, dear reader? Are you an old-fashioned cook who eschews modern gadgets in favour of technique? Or will you grab anything going in order to make life easy?

Author Bio:

Jennifer St George is a romance author whose sexy stories feature courageous, career-minded heroines, strong heroes in glamorous international settings. Out in October, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon is the second book in Jennifer’s Billionaire Romance series.

You can buy Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon from:

Amazon

iTunes

Kobo

Penguin

Google

 

Find Jennifer at:

Facebook

Twitter

Blog and Lovecatsdownunder

Web

 

 

Cooking The Books – Carla Caruso

Chef with cookbook

Welcome to Cooking The Books! Today’s guest is the super-delightful Carla Caruso and she’s talking about a food fashion that’s here to stay.  I’m not sure what we all did before someone decided it would be a great idea to throw a bunch of salt into caramel and see what happens. Turns out it’s pretty terrific. Besides having such excellent taste, Carla writes delicious rom-coms and she’s here today to share a recipe and tell us about her new rom-com mystery series!

 

Carla Caruso - author picSalted caramel. Who bl**dy invented that stuff? Whenever the double-trouble of a flavour is mentioned as part of some grub – from popcorn to ice cream – I have to buy it. (Cripes, I just Googled it and discovered there’s also a salted caramel martini. Talk about dangerous.) Confession: I once ate half a jar of salted caramel sauce while typing away at my computer one night.

I also know Celeste Pretty, the heroine of my new rom-com mystery series, would be a salted caramel fan. (The first book in the series, A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1, is out October 1, by the by!) Celeste is a neat-freak professional organiser – de-cluttering people’s homes and offices for a living – who keeps getting caught up in messy mysteries with a sexy builder (Lenny Muscat).

A Pretty Mess by Carla CarusoShe has a chin-length, honey-brown bob – so has a bit of a caramel look going on! – and wears a tonne of beige, being a classic sort of dresser. Plus, as Nigella Lawson says, having salted caramel ticks off “the holy trinity of sugar, salt and fat” in one go – and Celeste does like to multitask.

Salted caramel really is the perfect pairing. A little like Celeste and Lenny … possibly. Of course, you’ll have to read the series to find out if this is true😉

I nicked this recipe for Salted Caramel Fudge (http://bit.ly/1qYd47D), below, from Taste.com.au. (Love that site!) After all, Celeste Pretty is just the type to follow a recipe to the letter. This fudge is so moreish, it’s embarrassing how many trips you’ll make to the fridge to indulge…

 

 

INGREDIENTS

395g can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons glucose syrup

1/4 cup golden syrup

125g butter, chopped

180g white chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Salted caramel fudgeStep 1: Grease pan a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.

Step 2: Place condensed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.

Step 3: Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Sprinkle with salt, pressing in with the back of a spoon to secure. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.

Step 4: Cut into 2.5 cm pieces. Serve.

 

More on A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1 here: http://bit.ly/1pb3mix

And on moi here: http://bit.ly/1tV82Y3

Fan Girl Friday – Maps Ahoy with Louise Reynolds

I’m preparing to head off on holidays and have my head in a huge map of outback Australia which reminds me of this piece I wrote some time ago for the lovely Paula Roe’s blog, about my love of maps!

POLLY BLOG!

LReynolds1012_0059Maybe it was the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-The-Pooh. Or perhaps the old auto club strip maps my mother thrust at us on the never-ending annual childhood road trips between Sydney and Melbourne. All I know is that I love maps.

There’s an air of expectancy when I open a book and see a map in the front. Either I need to know the lay of the land as in a murder mystery like Minette Walters’ The Ice House. Or it’s an invitation to enter an imaginary place created by an author as in William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.

English County Map 1614

I started to collect maps in my late twenties when I bought a pair of these original maps of English counties dated 1614. I love their beautiful jewel colours, latin names and fancy lettering. They would once have been part of a large and expensive portfolio belonging to a gentleman’s…

View original post 445 more words

Cooking The Books – Sasha Cottman

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking The Books! This week’s guest is fabulous Regency romance author, Sasha Cottman. With both a professional and a writing career, this woman knows a thing or two about managing time. So it’s no surprise that she extends that skill to speedy meal prep. I have to confess I watch people who cook like this much as David Attenborough might observe a rare species, with total fascination.  Sasha’s latest release, An Unsuitable Match, is the second novel in the award-winning Dukes of Strathmore series.

sasha cottman author picOne of the challenges I face when asked to share my favourite recipes and kitchen hints is that I am not much of a cook.

I love food and if given a nice quiet Sunday afternoon I will happily spend it in the kitchen.

My problem stems from the fact that I have a full time career, a family and somewhere in the middle of all that I am also a published author.

Which brings me to my style of cooking.

I am the Usain Bolt of the kitchen… the faster the better. My current personal best is 6 minutes from start of cooking to serving.

You know those bags of pre-cut vegetables in the supermarket and the 90 second rice? I am the person who unashamedly buys them!

Today’s recipe is one of my cooked in under 15 minutes specialities.

Sasha's CTBPesto Chicken Pasta.

Ingredients

  • Four Skinless chicken thigh fillets, sliced and chopped into small squares.
  • Three good handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves.
  • Some extra virgin olive oil.
  • Angel hair pasta (it cooks in 2 minutes and I always have some in my pantry).
  • 1 small jar of pesto.
  • Grated parmesan cheese. (You can buy it in packets in the fridge section of your supermarket).

Method

  • Put water on to boil for the pasta.
  • Cut up the chicken and lightly cook it in a frying pan with a little of the oil.
  • When chicken is cooked, turn down the heat and add the baby spinach leaves. Once the leaves are wilted, take the pan off the heat.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2 mins. Drain pasta and serve into bowls.
  • Put the chicken mix back on a medium heat on the stove top for 1 min and mix through 3-4 heaped teaspoons of the pesto sauce.
  • After the chicken is warm again, serve over the top of the angel hair pasta.
  • Top with a generous serve of the parmesan cheeseYou could add other vegetables to the mix if you so desired. I have added finely cut broccoli and even mushrooms. Remember the smaller the piece, the quicker it cooks.

 

An Unsuitable Match Hi Res Cover PicEXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE

 I dream of the hours when you and I can finally be alone.

Softly sharing whispered words of love.

 

London, Mid-Summer , 1817

 As the carriage slowly snaked its way up Park Lane, Clarice picked at a loose piece of thread on her gown. No matter how hard she pulled, it refused to come free.

She sighed, dreading that this  was a sign of things to come. Tonight was going to be a trial, no matter what.

And I have no-one to blame but myself. You could have done it all in private, but no, you had to go and make a huge public scene. Well done, Clarice. Well done.

‘At this rate we shall have to get out and walk if we are to arrive at the  dinner on time,’ Lord  Langham grumbled.

Stirred from her thoughts, she looked across the carriage to her father. Everyone, it would appear, was headed to Strathmore House for the wedding celebrations of the Marquess  and Marchioness of Brooke. It had taken them nearly an hour to get this far in the slow-crawling line of carriages.

‘We could turn the horses around and go home,’ she offered.

He shook his head. Reaching out, he took hold of her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

‘We have to do this, my dear. We must show the rest of society that you are not crushed by the unfortunate event of your failed betrothal to the groom,’ he replied.

She mustered a hopeful smile for him. Her father was right, of course. If she stayed away from the wedding celebrations it would only confirm what the rest of the ton no doubt thought of her. She was  Lord Langham’s poor little broken bird. An object of pity.

‘Yes, of course, Papa,’ she replied.

The truth was, she didn’t particularly mind what the rest of London thought of her. In fact, she rather preferred they didn’t think of her at all. Being unremarkable was at times a blessing.

She shifted in her seat and forced herself to sit upright. As she straightened her back, the tight garments under her gown shifted and eased. She took in a shallow breath. The discomfort meant little. For her father’s sake she would endure far worse.

Tonight she would stoically bear all the whispers and sly looks that came her way. This evening was for her father. London’s elite would know Henry Langham was a man capable of forgiveness. But Clarice knew there was a limit to her father’s magnanimity.

She knew she could never confess her terrible crime against him. To have him know that she had stolen from him the thing he had held most dear. Earl Langham might forgive others for their sins against him, but Clarice knew there could be no forgiveness for what she had done.

An Unsuitable Match is available at the following places.

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You can follow Sasha and find out more about her and her books on her website:

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Bio:

Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.

Sasha lives in Melbourne with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who thinks sitting on the keyboard is being helpful. Her family have managed to find all but one of her secret chocolate hiding places.

When not writing, she is busy working full time as a Chartered Accountant. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while devising new ways to torture her characters.

Letter from a Rake:

Finalist 2014 Romantic Book of the Year. (Ruby).

Winner 2013 Book Junkies Choice Award for Historical Romance.

Finalist in the ARRA Awards Best Historical Romance and Best New Author.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebellious Women of the Aristocracy: Some Literary Heroes

Red Dirt DuchessMy latest release, Red Dirt Duchess, is set partly in the Australian outback and partly in an English stately home.

I’ve wanted to write a story about the English aristocracy for ages but I’m just an ordinary Australian. In order to make my aristocratic family believable, I needed to capture the tone and cadence of their speech and the type of language they might use.

To help with this, I drew upon the work of three of my literary heroes: Nancy Mitford, Elizabeth David and Mary Wesley.

Not only have I long been beguiled by their words, and in the case of Elizabeth David, her recipes, but by their rebellious reputations.

Each of these amazing women was born into a life of privilege that could have sailed seamlessly and silently to a dignified conclusion without creating a ripple. They each made conventional marriages to the “right” sort of men yet quickly moved beyond them, choosing a harder path. They lived life on their own terms instead of following the dictates of their class.

As rebellious women went, Nancy was by no means the wildest of the infamous Mitfords. That one aristocratic family should untitled (2)produce as daughters a communist, two fascists (of different flavours) and a duchess says a lot about their family dynamic. I imagine family get-togethers would have been extraordinary! Yet, despite the enduring legend which has grown up around them, it is Nancy’s sparkling comedies set within an aristocratic family loosely based upon her own that shine. The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate and Don’t Tell Alfred are required reading for the devoted anglophile as well as the author trying to find the voice of that class.

images6I1K2GZ2Elizabeth David travelled widely and wrote a series of classic cookbooks and collections of published articles. Authoritative and imperious, her writing paints a vivid picture of a privileged life. With David, it’s all about ‘tone’. Her rigorously elegant prose is measured but evocative.

At 70, Wesley published her first novel and went on to publish ten more. I would love to have known this untitled (3)incredibly free-spirited woman (there’s a reason her biography is called Wild Mary). Her novels are full of black humour and poke and prod at the underlying seamy side of many upper-class families. In honour of Mary, I’ve included a little bit of seamy in Red Dirt Duchess.

Mitford’s and Wesley’s novels, and David’s writing, have allowed me glimpses into the lives of the upper-classes, a world I could otherwise only imagine from behind the velvet rope in a stately home tour. Here’s an interaction between my hero, Jon, his mother, Diana, and the heroine, Charlie. Barker is the butler and Vera is an elderly lady staying with the family. They have had a very trying day🙂

Barker started to pour the tea as Jon ambled hopefully towards the drinks table. A cluster of almost empty decanters, more show than substance, sat on a silver tray.

‘What do you do in Australia, Charlie?’ Diana asked.

So the day was about to grind to its inexorable conclusion. Jon picked up a decanter and tipped it a little to the side, trying to work out what was inside. Quite frankly anything would do. He poured a generous amount into a glass and turned back to face the room.

‘I run a pub.’

Barker dropped a cup on its saucer with a clatter and murmured an apology. A small silence ensued.

‘A pub?’

Jon sighed. ‘A public house, mother. A drinking establishment. There is one in the village.’

‘I know what a pub is, Jon,’ Diana snapped. She turned to Charlie, her lips pursed, her back rigid with disapproval. ‘I see. You’re a barmaid.’

Jon sucked in a deep breath and turned just in time to see the level stare that Charlie gave his mother. He didn’t trust the slight smile on her lips. He hadn’t seen that since Bindundilly.

‘Oh, I’m so much more than that.’

Was that a small, suggestive wink she’d given his mother? Jon closed his eyes and said a prayer, although he wasn’t sure for whom. All he knew was that there was a tension that had been strained to breaking point today. It was about to snap.

‘I clean the toilets and make the beds as well.’ Charlie gave Diana a cheesy smile, letting her vowels broaden a little.

‘Really,’ Diana said faintly.

‘Charlie owns the Bindundilly Hotel, mother. She’s a businesswoman.’

Diana accepted tea from Barker, picked up the spoon and stirred it quietly, three times clockwise, just as she always did before placing the spoon back on the saucer. ‘And is business good in this Bindundilly place?’

Charlie stirred her own tea a little less quietly, then looked at the spoon as she removed it from the cup.

Please don’t.

She placed it neatly on the saucer. ‘Very good, thank you. Mind you, I’m the only business in town so it’s hard to assess just how good that is.’

His mother seemed to have run out of conversation. Possibly she was angrily fantasising about castrating Jon, although that would be rather counter-productive in the circumstances.

Charlie paused and cocked her head to one side, thinking. ‘Come to think of it, there is no town. There’s just the pub and nothing but desert in every direction for four hundred kilometres.’

‘Indeed.’ His mother was staring at Charlie, her eyes wide with horror, perhaps trying to imagine such a life.

‘But as long as the truckies keep stopping, I’ll be right,’ Charlie finished cheerfully, as though she’d just completed a complicated balance sheet and realised everything would be fine for the next year.

‘Truckies,’ Diana echoed, her gaze locking on Jon. He took a deep swallow from his glass. He didn’t know what of, but it sure felt good.

Vera woke with a light snort. ‘Truckie? What’s a truckie?’

Jon squeezed his eyes shut. This was priceless; in some ways the best fun he’d had in years.

‘Never mind, dear,’ said Diana.

‘It’s a lorry driver, Vera.’ Jon said. ‘You know, massive great lorries driven by men with strong, hairy muscled arms. Some women find it quite —’

‘That’s enough!’ Diana cut in. She really looked quite pale, no doubt imagining the countless lorry drivers that had passed through Bindundilly but hopefully not through Charlie.

She turned to Jon with a regretful smile that didn’t fool him. ‘Vera’s terribly tired, darling, and I’m afraid there’s not much for dinner this evening. I expect we’ll just boil some eggs or something.’

He could take a hint. He drained his glass and set it back on the tray. ‘That’s all right. I’ll take Charlie down to the Three Crowns.’

His mother rose to her feet and gave him a pointed look. ‘Excellent. I should think she’ll feel right at home.’

 

Buylinks:

www.amazon.com/Red-Dirt-Duchess-Louise-Reynolds-ebook/dp/B00LNLZ1R

https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/red-dirt-duchess/id897692738?mt=11

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-au/Search?Query=Red+Dirt+Duchess&fcmedia=Book

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Louise_Reynolds_Red_Dirt_Duchess?id=KRv8AwAAQBAJ

 

Web: www.louisereynolds.net

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Twitter: @LouiseHReynolds

 

 

Outback Dining – Kangaroo: A National Symbol or Dinner?

Chef with cookbookThe outback is dotted with lonely pubs, many of them legendary. Their names drip off the tongue: Oodnadatta, Tibooburra, Innamincka, Birdsville and Tilpa. They are quirky, much-loved institutions, small oases where the long distance traveller can find companionship, fuel, cold beer and meals. There is nothing better than arriving at one after a long day’s driving along red dust roads.

I drew on several of these pubs to create the Bindundilly Hotel in Red Dirt Duchess, the place my heroine, Charlie, calls home. Red Dirt Duchess

One thing they nearly all have in common is their meals. They’re usually a straight up and down affair based around grills with chips. Even a side of fresh salad might be asking too much in some of the remotest parts. This is the sort of food I had Charlie serve to English aristocrat Jon, a man used to dining in the finest restaurants.

However there are outback pubs that are turning that often dismal dining experience on its ear. Take the Prairie Hotel at remote Parachilna in South Australia’s spectacular Flinders Ranges. They have made a specialty of cooking wild animals: kangaroo, camel and emu

Although we know that kangaroo is a meat that’s lean and high in protein, I have to confess I find it hard to sit down to a meal of it. I have no problem with baby veal or suckling pig so it’s not the ‘cuteness’ factor that makes me squirm.

So what’s my problem?

Maybe it’s because it’s wild food but I love field mushrooms and wild greens, quandongs and saltbush. But at Parachilna it’s not about wild. They call their offerings ‘feral’.

untitledBefore you reach for the bag, Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine calls dining at the Prairie Hotel one of 20 not to be missed outback experiences.

A short trip through their menu gives us emu liver paté, smoked kangaroo, kangaroo tail ragout, camel sausage and emu fillet mignon. And to be fair, they are exquisitely prepared and served with a style more fitting a trendy inner urban restaurant.

All of this is good. Ecologists stress that eating sustainably resourced indigenous animals takes demand from farmed introduced species which are far more destructive to the habitat. I need to broaden my culinary horizons.

I’m heading out to Parachilna again in 6 weeks and I’m determined to try the tasting plate.

But what about you? What’s the most unusual wild food you’ve eaten and where was it?

You can find me here:

Web: www.louisereynolds.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseReynoldsauthorpage?ref=hl

Twitter: @LouiseHReynolds

 

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