Cooking The Books – Kate Belle

Chef with cookbookIt seems everywhere I turn at the moment I hear the name Kate Belle. And why not? Kate has been super-busy in 2013 with two releases from Random Romance and the fabulous The Yearning from Simon & Schuster. I’m delighted to host her on Cooking The Books.

Now, this post made me laugh out loud. It harks back to an era of hostess skirts, progressive dinners and everything cooked ‘en surprise’. In honour of that I couldn’t resist illustrating Kate’s gorgeous post with a pic from my own retro cookbook collection. Take it away, Kate!

Thanks Louise for having me visit here at Cooking the Books and hello to all Louise’s faithful readers. Are you ready for a little nostalgic journey into the food of the recent past? Time machine please…

We’re going back, past the 1990’s cultural food explosion, past the 1980’s nouveau food fad, back to a time of Chiko Rolls, Pine Splices, paisley body shirts and flared hipsters. Back to the 70’s.KateBelle-glamfrontlores

The 1970’s is one of the more memorable periods of food history in Australia. The wider population was yet to embrace ‘wog food’ as it was ungraciously known back then. (Thank goodness for a strong program of immigration or we’d still be eating meat and three mushy veg). In the 70’s mainstream Australia was trying to break away from its English colonist food roots, experimenting wildly with colour and ingredients, resulting in some flashy and unappetising dishes.

It was the age of vivid colour. Flavour was sacrificed to the visual impact of a dish, and it had to be bright: green gherkin, unnaturally pink processed meat and bright yellow cheese or pineapple.

A friend of mine collects cookbooks and once showed me a fabulous tome promoting the newly released Glad oven bags. It was filled with stunningly revolting recipes for dishes you wouldn’t dream of serving to your dog. Here’s a couple of samples:


Camembert en Surprise. Photo from Cordon Bleu Monthly Cooking Course

Frankfurt Casserole: into a casserole dish whack a few chopped frankfurts, black olives, chopped pineapple, chopped gherkin, chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, chopped carrots and stock. Stir. Wrap it in a Glad Oven bag and shove it in the oven until the smell overwhelms you and you have to evacuate the kitchen. I imagine when this was served it looked a bit like vomit.

Hawaiian Banana: Take a Glad Oven Bag and place one banana per person inside. Pour in 500mls full fat cream. Tie neck of bag (tightly) and bake in the oven for 30 MINUTES!!! Pour the gooey mess into bowls and consume – if you dare.

Just bloody awful, don’t you think? But these were REAL recipes, tried and tested in the kitchens of Glad Oven Bags! I wonder if anyone taste tested them, or were there inventive wanna-be cooks challenging each other to come up with the most outlandish combination?

I was a country town kid in the 1970’s. Everything we ate was homemade. The ONLY take away available was fish and chips from a local service station. Oh, and pies from the bakery. And, oh boy, did we think they were treats. Even though there were often unnameable grisly bits inside the pie meat, we didn’t care. Our mum’s didn’t make them, so they had to be good.

Yearning lo resI think this is the kind of food my teenage protagonist in my novel, The Yearning, would eat. Her parents are a conservative pair, a sausages, mashed potatoes and frozen peas kind of couple. I reckon she would have had devon sandwiches, or perhaps that god-awful salty meat paste (does anyone remember what it was called?) at school. On tuck shop day she probably ate a cream bun, bursting with fluffy mock cream and a small dot of jam. Back then strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon were only available in summer when in season. The rest of the year you ate apples, carrots, potatoes.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for her immature taste buds to taste her first champagne? Her first Chinese dish? Her first chilli laced stir fry? These new flavours would be a shock, a strange discovered pleasure. As were the many other (perhaps more dubious) pleasures she was introduced to by her much adored teacher, Solomon Andrews. He opens her up to an irresistible new world of ideas and experiences, including food she never knew existed. It’s part of the reason she falls so desperately in love with him. I imagine the Chinese dishes and wine he served to her would have made her feel very grown up and sophisticated.

Do you remember the first time you tasted something new? Or a horrific dish served up to you in the 1970’s?

The Yearning by Kate Belle

It’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.

Read an extract here: (

Buy The Yearning:

Ebook: Amazon ( or iTunes (

Print book: Target, Kmart, Myer, Collins, Dymocks, Big W, Eltham Bookshop and other independent bookshops ( and major airports.

Reading group questions here (

Author Bio

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.





Cooking The Books – Elise K. Ackers

Chef with cookbookThis week it’s my pleasure to welcome fellow Destiny Romance author Elise K. Ackers. Elise was a launch author with Destiny and her latest novella, Ask Me To Stay is the first in a series I’m looking forward to reading. From first hand experience, I know that Elise loves nothing more than a get-together over food and wine so here’s Elise!


Thank you, Louise for having me on Cooking the Books.

Food and drink are such a central part of our lives. They’re the social lubricant for any occasion. How many thousands of squashed chips do we tread on when leaving a stadium after a sporting match? How many popcorn pieces litter the floor of a cinema? And we all have that fun friend with empty beer or wine bottles filling their recycling bin, or that friend who loves to bake and always has enough to share. Food and drink so often makes socialising better.

So it stands to reason that food and drink should make even the toughest of social situations a little easier to bear. It’s done the world over: we attempt to feed those who are grieving.

When there is nothing adequate to say, and there’s nothing we can do to change something terrible – we do what we can. We cook, we bake, we fuss.

And everyone responds to stress differently. Some turn away from food, others overindulge. Some exercise. Some drink.

9781742536118In my latest release, Ask Me To Stay, widower Dean Foster is inundated with food dishes from well-meaning neighbours. At a loss for how to comfort him following the senseless death of his young wife, the Hinterdown locals express their sympathies through comfort food.

And it helps. It’s one less thing for the father of two to worry about; one less thing to crowd his burdened mind. His fridge and freezer are full, his children have things to eat, and strangely enough, the expiry dates of the food mark the passing of time.

His brother Ethan – grossly misunderstood and underestimated due to mistakes in his past – comforts himself with the alternative. At the beginning of Ask Me To Stay Ethan drinks alcohol to to numb his regret. He’s hurting, he’s grieving, and until he finds peace and forgiveness in those he loves, he endures the whispers and condescension of those who would prefer he found comfort in a long run or a lasagne.

I enjoyed writing about Dean and Ethan’s different responses to stress. Food and drink are often mentioned as the brothers struggle to move on from ghosts, and although Ethan didn’t turn to food himself, he certainly uses it to soothe the hurting hearts of the people he loves.

And now, for those who need a bit of comfort, or something hearty on a cold night, I want to share the recipe for my favourite classic comfort food: chicken soup. But with a bit of a kick.

  1. Toss the following into a medium pot: shredded cooked chicken, chicken stock, tin corn niblets, tin cream corn, and a small amount of soy sauce.
  2. When the pot has come to boil, reduce the heat to simmer and add a whisked egg. Stir.
  3. Simmer.

Carrots, celery, a packet of chicken noodle soup, etc are all optional if you have a taste for them. This freezes well and it tastes great.

Ask Me To Stay is the first in a three part novella series with Destiny Romance. Its sequel, Ask Me For More, will be released in July 2013.

Ask Me To Stay: A Homeland Book blurb:

When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn’t expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything – and Ethan’s was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O’Hara, the girl he left behind.

There’s still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back?

This tender tale of love and redemption is the first in a brilliant new series by Elise K. Ackers, author of Small Town Storm and the bestselling The Man Plan.

Elise K. Ackers is from Melbourne, Australia. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense and is published with Destiny Romance and Escape Publishing. Elise is an animal foster carer, a magnet for unusual accidents and an enthusiastic couch commentator.




Cooking The Books – Whitney K-E

Chef with cookbookIt’s rare to see Ireland and cooking written about without a jibe about potatoes or a joke about the peasant origins of that sensible dish, cabbage and bacon. Today’s guest, Whitney K-E,  is talking about men who cook, something close to my own heart. And who could resist adding a dash of Irish lilt to the recipe? Here’s Whitney!

If you haven’t already read What Happens in Ireland (which you should :P), you won’t yet be under the WhathappensinIreland_LRG 2impression that I love a man that cooks. Now, perhaps I don’t love all men who cook (Gordon Ramsey is amusing, but not quite what I’m looking for hehe), but when it comes to my leading man, Jack O’Reilly, I’m drooling over more than just the food.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not the most amazing cook. In truth, I’m not very adventurous nor can I create a tastebud sensation. But Jack O’Reilly certainly impressed me. In my opinion, a man who can cook is a rare breed.

There’s just something sexy about a man who can cook and it seems a lot of heroes in good contemporary romances can.

no_reservations_7Take this guy as a starter – Aaron Eckhart wasn’t very appealing in Batman but look at him in ‘No Reservations’. Ah, the mystical power of the chef’s hat hehe:

Then there’s Mathew Goode who plays the cute and cheeky Irishman Declan in ‘Leap Year’. I have to admit, I have seen this movie a million times and I’m about to watch it again.leap_year11

So what is it about a man who cooks? Now, admittedly, my Jack cooks without his shirt on, but Declan and Nick (Aaron Eckhart) don’t. Maybe it’s their seduction of the tastebuds. But to be honest, they weren’t seducing mine hehe. To be honest, I don’t really know. All I’m willing to put it down to is the mystical power of the chef’s hat/apron.

So there you have it. In romances, our heroes are making more than our poor heroines sizzle.

So what do you think? Do you love a cooking hero?

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this blog post or any of the other blog posts celebrating the release of Whitney’s debut to go in the draw to win one of two prize packs including a PDF of What Happens in Ireland, a handmade ribbon bookmark designed by Swagmaster Designs and a coffee mug. You can join in the fun on facebook here:



Ever wondered what happens in Ireland?

When Australian, Kate Barrow, meets a handsome Irishman in a Dublin bar, she has no idea that he’s about to turn her world upside-down and inside-out.

In Ireland to take on a position on a thoroughbred stud, Kate is shocked when her manager-in-co reveals himself to be the same man she’d met in Dublin.

Jack is drawn to Kate. The problem is, she won’t have him. But Jack has always loved a challenge and the intriguing woman from Oz is one he cannot resist.

Harbouring the sting of another man’s betrayal, Kate is certain she wants nothing to do with love and nothing to do with Jack O’Reilly. But when naked torsos, Mother Nature and dysfunctional umbrellas start plotting against her resolve, she realizes the charms of an Irishman are going to be hard to resist.

If you’d like to read excerpts or buy Whitney’s novel, you can find it at the following:

–       Secret Cravings Publishing:

–       Amazon –

–       Bookstrand –

Or you can add it to your Goodreads shelves:

Whitney KEThe Author:

Whitney K-E is an Australian author writing for Secret Cravings Publishing. Always a lover of the Romance genre, it was no surprise that she one day began to type her first story of love. Now, three years on, she’s contracted her first novel What Happens in Ireland and bringing reader’s tales from the Emerald Ireland to the Sunburnt Country. What Happens in Ireland releases on the 26th of April, so prepare yourself to be charmed by her story and by her characters.

If you’d like to find out more about Whitney or her novel, you can connect with her on:


Twitter: @whitney_ke –


Her blog:

And the Romantic Muse:

Cooking The Books – Jacqui Jacoby

Chef with cookbookIt’s a high stakes zone here today with my guest, Romantic Suspense author Jacqui Jacoby. Jacqui writes “romance with a body count” and her latest release, With A Vengeance, is out now (check out that cover!). Now I don’t expect Jaime, the heroine of With A Vengeance, and I have a great deal in common. However we do share a mutual love of the very best kind of fast food. I’m going to let Jaime tell you about it.


Jaime Cooks for StephenFinalWithAVengeance_250x

by Jaime Reid, star of With a Vengeance

Home Ec.  It was the only D I ever got in school.  Phz Ed I could master no problem.  Math classes, another not so top of the line favorite, I even managed to keep my grades above a B.  But Home Ec.  Not a chance. It might have had something to do with me hating to cook.  Or the fact I knew the chances of me ever having to sew a duffle bag were nil.  I really don’t know what it was about the classes and the way the teachers made me feel.

I do know I never learned to cook and it is a trait I have kept with me all through my life.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to on some nights, that I wouldn’t love to give the cook the night off and create something special for Stephen.  I just have to choose my nights carefully and make sure I have all the ingredients I need to pull it off.

The first thing to consider is no heat is involved. No stove and no oven.  I have to keep this low key and make it as painless as possible.  Then the two of us will get to enjoy the night.

cheese-1-1123-dcgjpg-086066ee270c3c55I like a wine and cheese dinner.

Four Types of Cheese, each with its distinct flavor and texture.

Dried fruit, maybe some apricots and cranberries.


Loaf of French bread

Bottle of a good red wine.  Maybe a 1984 Raymund Burr Cab.  That always hits the right spot.

The finishing touch is important.  You need a dessert that won’t need a spoon.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies are good except for the homemade part.  Putting that together puts me back in the kitchen and the kitchen is the place I want to avoid.

My favorite — and Stephen’s, — if it can be found?  Baklava. Nice sweet and a little bit sticky.  Some thing to lick your fingers afterwards.  It really finishes off the meal and goes good with the wine.

The best thing about this meal?  Besides its simplicity?  It can go anywhere you want.  I may have gotten that D in Home Ec, but I can still manage to pack a picnic basket. The beach, the mountains.  Your own backyard under a full moon.  How about indoors? In front of the fire when it’s just the two of you?

No, I can’t cook.  But that’s okay.  I don’t worry about it too much.  I just do what I can for my man and love the way it makes me feel.

About Jacqui:

Award winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of the Valley of the Sun. Currently adjusting to her new digs, JacquiAuthorPicJacqui is a self proclaimed, self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport. She is a working Mom, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short non-fiction. She can be reached via her web site at

Jacqui Jacoby on the web:

Website          Facebook           Twitter   Author Page


The more she wanted out, the more they dragged her back in!

Daughter to murdered CIA officers, niece to a deputy director, Jaime Walsh has never known life outside the world of espionage. Until a high-action case in Buenos Aires leaves her gutted. Physically, emotionally…and professionally.

She’d planned for her long-overdue vacation to be a time to rest and reassess. With her longtime partner Stephen not far behind, it’s a tropical paradise away from work. A paradise where boundaries will be tested.

From their training days, Stephen Reid has watched Jaime kick ass while performing what has become his second job—watching her back. But now his feelings have grown.

As best friends look at each other in a new light, they like what they see. And Jaime dreams of a new life outside “the company”.

Except someone from their past won’t be satisfied until Jaime and the man she loves are hunted to the brink of death. Now Jaime must find the strength to trust her heart and let go of her fear. Before she loses everything…

Read an Excerpt

Read Reviews

Buy Links:



Cooking The Books – Cathryn Hein

Chef with cookbookReading a fabulous book while having a cup of tea and a slice of delicious home-baked cake is surely one of life’s great pleasures. Today I’m delighted to welcome Cathryn Hein, legendary foodie and the author of gorgeous, heart-warming rural romances. She’s got a terrific recipe that’s just perfect for this colder weather and is all kinds of retro and comforting and just plain yummy. I’m dying to try this date and walnut slice with a lovely cup of Darjeeling. Take it away, Cathryn!

Hi everyone. I was thrilled when Louise invited me on Cooking the Books. Any excuse to talk about my favourite subject!

Being a bit of a cooking nut, it’s so hard not to turn all my heroines into mini-Masterchefs. I would love to feature them whizzing about immaculate kitchens, whipping up truffle-scented soufflés and striking glamorous Nigella poses. But my heroines are country practical sorts, who don’t have time for kitchen fanciness. That doesn’t mean they can’t cook though. Oh, no no! They have the skills. They have the determination. They have an appreciation of food as sustenance for the body, soul and senses. They simply have far better things to do than indulge my foodie fantasies.Cathryn Hein Author Photo

The heroine of Heartland, Callie Reynolds, certainly does. She has a house to pack up, a warty horse to re-home, and a mad, extremely territorial goose to sort out. Since the death of her sister, Callie has run from those who care for her, but the passing of her beloved grandmother has brought her back to Glenmore, the property she’s always loved. It’s also a place filled with memories. Memories that eat at her determination to get in, clean up and get out, and leave her torn between what her heart aches for and the powerful need to honour her sister’s memory.

Among Callie’s precious finds at Glenmore is her grandmother’s recipe book and it’s almost without thinking that she makes one of her and her sister Hope’s favourite treats: a date slice.

Here’s a snippet from Heartland where it features. One of Callie’s later attempts suffers death by horse, but you’ll have to read that bit of fun for yourself!

Heartland_cvr_640x480 Pulling off his cap, Matt followed her inside, expecting to find a room filled with bags and boxes. Instead he found a neat kitchen, its floor swept and the sink and benches tidy. The china cabinet sported knick-knacks on doilies. A roster printed on Royal Hotel letterhead was pinned to the fridge front with faded plastic alphabet magnets. An old cake rack with some kind of slice cooling on top rested on the stove, while the kitchen table sported an open laptop, a notebook filled with Callie’s loopy writing at its side.

He glanced at her but she seemed oblivious to his scrutiny, too busy fetching glasses and a jug of water from the fridge.

‘Take a seat,’ she said, handing him a moisture-beaded glass. ‘Hungry? I made a slice. Nanna’s recipe.’

‘Sure, thanks.’ He pulled out a chair, noticing a cardboard box that had been hidden from view by the laptop’s screen. A blue ribbon lay bundled in the top. He reached out but before he could touch it Callie plucked up the box and moved it to the top of the china cabinet. Nothing about her expression suggested anything other than a person tidying for her guest, but he sensed the rebuke anyway. Whatever the box held, it wasn’t for him to see.

He drank his water, watching her closely as she cut two fat pieces from the slice and placed each on a plate.

‘Date slice,’ she said, sliding the plate in front of him. ‘It used to be our favourite.’


‘Mine and Hope’s.’ She avoided his eye, staring out the window as she rubbed at her tattooed wrist. ‘I’d forgotten about it until I saw the recipe in Nanna’s book.’

The way she looked made Matt wanted to touch her again. Instead he took a bite, mouth filling with moist crumbs, the flavour sweet, spicy and moreish. ‘It’s good.’

Callie smiled and took a sip of water before picking up and biting into her own piece. Her eyebrows lifted. ‘It’s not bad, is it? Not as good as Nanna’s, but nothing to be ashamed of.’

‘Definitely nothing to be ashamed of.’ Matt finished his slice to prove it.

And so I give you not quite Callie’s date slice, but a delicious heirloom loaf nonetheless. Sweet, sticky, nutty and seriously good. This is a Hein household favourite.


50g butter

150g dark brown sugar

250ml water

Generous pinch salt

250g pitted dates

1 teaspoon bicarb soda

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 egg, lightly beaten

300g self-raising flour

100g walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 23x13cm loaf tin.

Place the butter, sugar, salt, water, and dates in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and immediately add the bicarb soda and stir. Beware: the hot mixture will bubble up, possibly overflow if your saucepan isn’t big enough, and turn you into a kitchen crankypants. So choose wisely!

Allow mixture to cool until room temperature, then fold in vanilla, egg, flour and walnuts. Spoon into loaf tin and smooth top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on the cake as sometimes the outside can burn before the centre is cooked and a reduction in temperature may be necessary. It really depends on your oven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely, then slice, eat and smile!

So what recipe triggers fond memories for you? I have a thing about my grandmother’s scones and wonderful afternoons spent in her kitchen, learning to cook delicious country fare. The scent of baking scones will forever remind me of her. That, and her inimitable rabbit stew!

Heartland is available now from all good book retailers, or online from Booktopia. You can also find the ebook at Amazon (for Kindle), KoboBooks and iTunes.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, including excerpts and the story behind each of my novels, please visit my website. You can also connect via my blog, Facebook and Twitter.


A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from Cathryn Hein,

author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.