Cooking The Books – Bernadette Rowley

Chef with cookbookToday we welcome Destiny Romance author Bernadette Rowley to Cooking the Books. Bernadette lives in Townsville and writes fantasy romances jam-packed with lords and ladies, witches and all manner of supernatural beings. Today she’s talking about the food that features in her book, Princess Avenger. Welcome Bernadette!

Hello everyone and thank you, Louise, for inviting me.  Destiny Promo Photo

I spend a good portion of each day living in a fantasy world whose culture is medieval in its level of sophistication. So along with that comes the inherent problems in a world which is technologically primitive. There is no refrigeration, cooking takes place over fires and much of the meat is salted. There was also a big difference in what was eaten by the masses and what was consumed by the wealthy. Added to that, the location of the city or town would dictated the types of protein consumed eg towns near the sea obviously consumed a lot of fish and crustaceans.

The Kingdom of Thorius is my fantasy world and in Princess Avenger, most of the action takes place in the castle or on the streets of Brightcastle which is both the name of the palace and the town. As with many stories, much of the interaction between characters occurs during meals though when an avenging princess is your heroine, there’s a fair bit of ‘street fighting’ as well. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Feeling his eyes upon her, Alecia looked at the seat to her father’s left and the breath caught in her throat. The piercing gaze of her dark rescuer trapped her. Why was he here, in her home, at her table, on the very day she had slipped his grasp and vowed to avoid him? This could be no coincidence. Her secret was out. The room lurched and Alecia staggered towards the nearest chair. The captain was on his feet and at her side as if by magic, his palm cupping her elbow and his other hand at her waist.

Twice in one day he had laid hands upon her and now his heat seared through the flimsy fabric of her gown. He was so hot! Alecia did not look at his face, desperate to delay the moment when her deception, her crime, would be exposed.

‘Vard Anton at your service, Your Highness,’ he said, his voice rumbling through her core. ‘Allow me.’ He pulled the nearest chair from the table and seated her.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverThis is the first meal Vard and Alecia share but not the last. They dine on warm crusty bread with spicy vegetable soup followed by roast pheasant and boiled potatoes. Desert was dried and honeyed fruit in thick custard and the wine would most likely have been red.

At Alecia’s table, the bread was made from milled wheat much as ours is today but the poorer folk ate darker coarse bread made from rye or barley. The bread might even have been baked without yeast and so these loaves were very flat. Vegetables usually consisted of rape, onion, garlic and leek and food was spiced with pepper, cloves, ginger, saffron or mustard.

The roast pheasant would have been killed fresh that day and other birds eaten were geese and chicken. Beef, bacon and lamb graced many royal tables as well as wild deer but hare and rabbit were mainly eaten by the poorer folk.

In the case of animals that were raised for food, many were slaughtered in autumn so they didn’t have to be fed over winter. The meat was preserved by burying in salt or soaking in brine. This meat had to be rinsed several times before adding to dishes. Spices and sauces were used to mask the salty taste.

Now for desert, likely fruits were apple, pear, quince and peach as well as oranges, lemons and berries. Apart from being candied, fruits were also dried. Any food that couldn’t be preserved was only eaten in season.

Imagine the amount of time each day that was devoted to preserving and preparing food and that’s after it was grown or caught. The water was often unclean and so most people drank wine or ale.

By our standards today, my fantasy characters had a limited diet and the recipes would have been much more basic than we’re used to. They were likely deficient in many vitamins and minerals and that would be true, to a certain extent, for royalty as well.

To create my fantasy world, I do a fair bit of research, usually on an ‘at need’ basis rather than having a perfectly laid out world before I start a story. It also helps that I’ve ‘lived’ in these types of high fantasy worlds since my early teens when I began reading Tolkien and Terry Brooks. Some of the world building is just there in my head and very familiar. I think that’s why I don’t have long world-building descriptive passages, just sketching enough of the world and allowing the reader to imagine the rest.

Princess Avenger

Passionate and headstrong, Alecia is no ordinary princess. Angered by the cold-blooded murder of her first love, she sets out to avenge his death.

Army Captain Vard Anton, the epitome of masculine strength and grace, is dealing with some dark secrets of his own. When he is appointed Alecia’s bodyguard, both find it hard to ignore the chemistry between them.

With assassination attempts and the threat of an arranged marriage looming over her, Alecia realises her time is running out. But Alecia’s biggest battle is the one within as she tries to suppress the raging desire she feels for the powerfully attractive Vard.  Can Alecia resist Vard while trying to exact revenge and avoid the lecherous attentions of her husband-to-be? Will the power of love and desire be enough to unite Alecia and Vard forever?

You can find Princess Avenger here:

and Bernadette here:

Cooking The Books – Sandra Harris

Chef with cookbookThis week we welcome Aussie author Sandra Harris and she’s offering us that tastiest of treats – a call story, together with a recipe for yummy grain free scones. And Sandra is also offering a kindle copy of ‘Alien, Mine’ to one lucky commenter this week. Welcome Sandra!


Where to begin? Probably with my fabulous CP, C.T. Green, nag, nag, nagging me (as a good CP should) to submit to certain e-publishers she had a ‘feeling’ about. Turns out she was right and I received not one, but two offers for ‘Alien, Mine‘.

I sent off a query letter to the first company and received a request the next day for a full. I couldn’t believe it! I’d opened that email all unsuspecting for surely publishing houses didn’t get back to authors that quickly? A couple of days later I submitted to Soul Mate Publishing. Not long after, I received a request for a full from their senior editor. I sent it off and on the 20th November, 2012, Debby (the senior editor of SMP) sent a nice reply thanking me, said she looked forward to reading the rest of the story and I could expect to hear back from her within four weeks.

Meanwhile I was managing the RWAus STALI (Single Title and Loving It) contest, so I was kept busy from twiddling my thumbs and not letting my head get too large, because ya know, I’d had two offers. *Tongue-in-cheek*

AlienMineFinalOn the 22nd November I heard back from the first publisher. I eyed the header identifying the sender of the email and swallowed. Moved the mouse to open it, hesitated. Grabbing my courage I opened the darn thing and discovered a contract offer. You could have knocked me over with a feather!

Five days later I received a reply from Debby at Soul Mate Publishing offering me a contract for ‘Alien, Mine.’ In her email she said:

“Normally I take about 4 weeks to respond, but I was able to spend time reading this weekend and couldn’t put yours down. You are an excellent writer with great world building skills and characterization.”

Oh dear, I feel a head swell coming on. Trying to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, I requested some time from both publishers to look over their contracts.

Initially I decided to go with the more established publishing house, though their romance imprint is a new addition to the company, they have been around for nearly one hundred years. However, I did not contact them immediately to accept as I was having an agent look over their contract. But once I’d made that decision something kept nagging at me (I seem to get a lot of that) about Soul Mate Publishing. I kept thinking I’d made the wrong decision. So, I changed my decision to SMP and have been happy with it since. So on 15th December, 2012 I signed with Soul Mate Publishing.

Grain Free SconesGrain free scones


  • 1 ½ cups of an even mix of soya and tapioca flours.
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda mixed with ¾ teaspoon citric acid.
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • pinch salt


  1. Preheat oven to about 200C
  2. Mix the flours, baking soda, citric acid, sugar and salt together.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft.
  4. Add half the flour mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the remainder of the flour mixture then the milk.
  6. Mix to a soft dough on speed 1.
  7. Spoon into a non-stick muffin pan or paper muffin patty cases. *
  8. Bake for 10—15 minutes.

*Do not knead this mixture as you would ordinary scones. It is extremely moist



Torn from modern day Earth and stranded on the far side of the Galaxy, Sandrea Fairbairn must use every particle of courage she possesses to adjust to her new life and live for tomorrow/a new day.

Eugen Mhartak, a general in the Tri-Race Alliance Army, refuses to bow to the merciless Bluthen. Haunted by the loss of far too many innocent lives he has vowed to drive the ruthless invaders from Alliance space.

The strength and valour of Eugen Mhartak attracts Sandrea as no man ever has, but she struggles to read the enigmatic general’s heart. Determined to help him triumph over the Bluthen she uncovers a diabolical plot against the Alliance.

Drawn by the courage and exotic beauty of Sandrea, Mhartak battles to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural differences that separate them and claim her ardent interest. He must conquer his deepest fears to be the man she needs. When his principles are betrayed by his own government and he is faced with the impossible prospect of taking Sandrea’s life in order to save his home planet, Mhartak desperately searches for a way to keep safe both his world and the magnificent woman who has stolen his heart.

Buy Links

SoulMate Publishing        Amazon      Amazon UK

Sandra Harris on the web:

Website    Facebook   Twitter   Author Page

Born in the far north of Australia, yearly cyclones, floods and being cut off from civilization for weeks at a time were the norm. An outrageous imagination helped occupy Sandra’s mind.

An abiding interest in astronomy and a deep-seated need to always see the good guys win naturally influences her writing. Not satisfied with the amount of romance in science fiction novels she set out to redress the balance.

She currently lives in sunny South East Queensland, Australia, with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who doesn’t seem to realize she comes from royalty and should act in a more appropriate manner.

Cooking The Books – Sasha Cottman

TChef with cookbookoday it’s my pleasure to welcome regency historical author, Sasha Cottman to the kitchen. Sasha’s debut novel for Destiny Romance, Letter From A Rake, features an unconventional heroine, a mysterious letter and a to-die-for hero. I’m so pleased that Sasha is taking us inside the Regency kitchen and cooking an authentic dish from the era. As a cookbook lover I’m very fond of these recipes and love to see how they translate to the modern day.  Welcome, Sasha!

sasha cottman author pic

While writing LETTER FROM A RAKE I researched the food and drink of Regency England and discovered some fabulous recipes. Fortunately, many of the recipes have been translated into modern English so that the home cook of the 21st century can replicate them.

The supper table of the London ton was a crucial part of the evening entertainment for balls and parties. Lay out a poor supper selection and you could be guaranteed that your next party invite would go to the bottom of the pile. Sweet pies and tarts were an integral part of the wonderful dishes offered up to guests.

apple tarts ready for the ovenApple and cinnamon tarts.

3/4 cup of pureed apple (any fruit preserve will do).

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 pack of frozen pastry tart shells (or you could use filo pastry)

½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Ice cream/cream to serve.

Place the tart shells on a piece of ungreased baking sheet, (unless they come in foil cases which mine did so you won’t need the paper), place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Take the shells out of the oven and spoon the apple puree into the shells. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top and then finish off with the cheese.

Place in the oven at 180C/350F for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve warm with cream, or ice cream.

The cheese melts beautifully over the apple and

Makes approx 12.

About Letter from a Rake

The unconventional Miss Millie Ashton, recently arrived from India, finds England a cold and dismal place. The fashionable ladies of London society look down their noses at her and it isn’t long before Millie is planning her return to the country she considers home.

When Millie befriends the high-spirited Lucy Radley, she also meets Lucy’s handsome brother, ‘Alex the Great’ and things take a turn for the better. Alex, the Marquess of Brooke, is considered the most eligible bachelor in London, yet he appears fascinated by the independent Millie.  Against the odds, their unlikely friendship deepens. But Alex has a secret and when a love letter goes astray, it threatens to destroy all their happiness…

letter from a rake cover picExcerpt from Letter from a Rake

At a ball to welcome home her family from their long stay in India, Miss Millicent Ashton meets Lady Lucy Radley.  Millie has been having a hard time adjusting to life in England and is yet to make friends.

‘What a crush; I didn’t think there were that many families in town at this time of the year,’ observed a young, fair-haired woman who stopped at her side. ‘Though I ought not to complain; at least it keeps me from Lord Ashton’s supper table. My mother says if she sees me near it once more this evening she will have my lips sewn together.’

Millie turned and after taking in the petite pink roses on the bodice of the slender girl’s muslin gown, gave her a wan smile. After the miserable day she had endured, another figure-obsessed miss was last on the list of things she needed.

A spark of mischief glinted in the other girl’s eye.

‘Of course, if you and I just happen to be deep in conversation and stroll slowly by the said table of delights and I lose one of my slippers and…’

‘Your hand reaches out to the table to steady yourself,’ replied Millie, quick on the uptake.

‘At which point, my hand accidentally touches one of those delicious apple and cinnamon tarts…’

‘Then you could only be held to acclaim for your good manners. Since you had touched the food, you could hardly leave it on the table for another guest to eat.’

The other girl giggled, before painting a determined, serious look on her face. She took hold of Millie’s hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze.

‘You know you are right, absolutely right,’ she replied. A grin threatened at the corner of her mouth, but to Millie’s delight, her new acquaintance managed to keep it valiantly at bay.

‘It would be saving my family from the most outrageous of scandals. Why, I should receive a standing ovation the moment that tart touches my lips.’

Millie closed her eyes and sagely nodded.

Letter from a Rake is Sasha’s debut book.

You can find Letter from a Rake here:




Also available at Google Play, Readcloud, Angus & Robertson and

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

Follow her on Twitter



About the Author

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.

Five years ago, Sasha accidentally enrolled in a romance writing course. Other than Pride and Prejudice she had never read a romance book before. She soon discovered that the world of historical romance allowed her to combine her love of history with the passion of romance writing.

Sasha has an MBA as well as post graduate qualifications in electronic media. Having worked as an accountant in a media group for many years, she now finds herself in the unique position of having seen both the business and creative sides of publishing.

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.


Cooking The Books – Jennifer Faye

Chef with cookbookI’m so excited this week to welcome Harlequin Romance author Jennifer Faye to the blog. I love this line with its deeply emotional stories and to die for heroes..all those gorgeous cattle station owners and, in Jennifer’s case, ranchers. They’re the sort of sexy but dependable men that you dream about cosying up with on a cold night. Jennifer has a giveaway of Rancher To The Rescue for one lucky commenter – details at the end of the blog.

And speaking of cold nights, these Enchiladas look like they’d be perfect. Welcome, Jennifer!

Thank you for inviting me to visit. I’m thrilled to be here. Cooking The Books sounds like the perfect match for my debut. Let me tell you why.Jennifer - Author Photo

The heroine in RANCHER TO THE RESCUE is a celebrity chef. Meghan not only can cook up a storm but she also does it standing in front of the television cameras. But she’s most comfortable at home in her kitchen where she likes to experiment and create her own recipes. I must admit I wouldn’t mind being more like her and taking my time in the kitchen. I love the way she is so creative with food.

She doesn’t follow recipes, she invents them. I must admit that I am the worst for following a recipe. I’ll see a dish I like in a magazine or book and take the concept, but end up doing my own thing—adding this, deleting that. Needless to say my cookbooks have been written all over with my revisions. And don’t even ask about the ones I make up on my own.  So when a family member asks for the recipe of something I’ve prepared for an event, I’m at a loss. I have to literally go through the process of making the dish and documenting as I go in order to figure out “how much is a dash?” and “what’s the size of some?”

Here’s a snippet from RANCHER TO THE RESCUE. This is Meghan’s first time cooking solo for the hero. And though she might cook for a living, cooking for a sexy cowboy who can make her stomach flip-flop with just a glance made her nervous, wanting to impress him.

Cash broke into a smile. “Where did you find the recipe? I’ll have to try it sometime.”

The pent-up air whooshed from Meghan’s lungs. “Honest? I mean you aren’t saying this just to be nice?”

“Me? Nice? Never.”

She started to laugh. “Would you quit joking around?”

“You still didn’t say where you got the recipe.”

She sat up a little straighter. “That’s because I didn’t have a recipe. I made it up.”

He grabbed her fork and held it out to her. “Then I suggest you try your own dish.”

He had a good point. She’d been so wrapped up in his reaction that she’d forgotten to have a bite. How could she let this man’s opinion matter so much to her? When had he become so important?

By dwelling on this current of awareness sizzling between them she was only giving it more power over her. And the last thing she or her baby needed was another complication—even if this complication came with the most delightful lips that evoked spine-tingling sensations.

She stared down at her untouched food.

Concentrate on the food—not the cowboy.

I thought it might be fun to share one of the recipes that my family lassoed me and made me document. It’s a dish that Meghan would definitely cook up in her kitchen…although spicy food isn’t the only thing heating up her kitchen these days. 😉

Enchiladas Step 1

Enchiladas Step 1

4 chicken breasts (approx. 2 lbs) – cooked and shredded

16 oz sour cream

1 large onion

2 – 28oz cans of enchilada sauce

2 – 4 oz cans of diced green chilies

18 corn tortillas

2 – 8 oz bags of Mexican style cheese

Enchiladas Step 2

Enchiladas Step 2

Serve with fresh tomatoes – diced, lettuce, refried beans, and Spanish rice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray.

Coat bottom with thin layer of enchilada sauce.

Layer bottom with 6 tortillas.

Add chicken (½ of total amount).

Add ½ of the diced onion.

Add (1) can of green chilies.

Enchiladas Step 3

Enchiladas Step 3

Dab on ½ of the sour cream.

Add ½ can enchilada sauce.

Add cheese (1/3 of all cheese).

Layer on 6 more tortillas.

(repeat layers, starting with the remaining chicken and following instructions until you have a new layer of six tortillas)

Add enough enchilada sauce to make sure to you completely cover each tortilla.

Add remaining cheese.

Bake 45 minutes or until cheese browns.

Let cool for 15 minutes and then enjoy. 🙂

Enchiladas Step 4

Voila! Enchiladas Step 4

I know any time I get the clan together, I can count on enchiladas being requested. And the best part is that there isn’t a lot of mess. I like one dish meals.

So, what recipe is a family favorite of yours? One commenter will win a copy of Rancher To The Rescue. (Print to US commenters, kindle for non-US commenters).

Author bio:

Jennifer Faye has spent most of her life with her nose in one book or another. It was only natural that she dreamed of becoming a romance writer and spinning the tales of the imaginary people running around in her mind. But first life took her on a couple of detours. Refusing to give up on her dreams, she finally succeeded in getting her name on a book cover. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her very, very patient husband, one amazing daughter (the other remarkable daughter has flown the coop to chase her own dreams) and two spoiled rotten cats. When she’s not glued to her laptop writing another contemporary romance (which isn’t often) or enjoying some family time, she loves to get lost in a good book, cross-stitch, embroider, quilt, knit, watch hockey (go Pittsburgh Penguins!), and garden. Jennifer loves to hear from readers–you can contact her via her website.

You can also find her at these other locations:

JPEG - Rancher to the RescueFacebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+ / Tumblr


And online at Amazon, Amazon-UK, Barnes & Noble, and other online outlets.


Damsel in a wedding dress!

Jilted at the altar, celebrity chef Meghan Finnegan flees the scene–and the baying press–only to run straight into the muscled torso of Cash Sullivan.

The former rodeo champion knows what it’s like to have your life crumble in the spotlight, so he offers Meghan a place to lie low at his ranch.

Fresh air, no paparazzi and the brooding rancher’s lazy smile are making Meghan not want to leave her sanctuary. But she and her unborn baby can’t stay here forever…can they?

Cooking The Books – Emmie Dark

Chef with cookbookIt’s not often I get a Billy Joel earworm but this week I have Harlequin SuperRomance and Destiny Romance author Emmie Dark to thank for putting me in a New York State of Mind. When she told me she was headed to the Big Apple, I asked her to be our correspondent. I begged her to do some very New York eating at a typical NY deli. I wanted brisket, pastrami and pickles. As you will see, she’s lukewarm about the pickles but I can’t think of Crossing Delancey without looking at pickles as a fabulous way to a woman’s heart. Welcome Emmie!!


Adventure at Artie’sEmmie Dark

by Emmie Dark

Louise sent me off to New York with a pretty specific mission for this blog post: I was to find and document a meal at a traditional New York deli. Never one to turn down an adventure, I agreed and, last week, set off to fulfil my commitment.

My first task was to chose where to go! I did a quick Google search on “Best New York delis” and luckily the number one on the list just happened to be in the same neighbourhood as some other places I wanted to visit. So it was off to “Artie’s”.

Arties NYC

Artie’s is on the Upper West Side and I caught the subway to get there. I felt like quite the local, because I’d used the subway a few times in previous days, so I actually knew where I was going and which train to catch. I was even confident enough to pop earphones on for a bit of subway soundtrack.

(As an aside, don’t you love it when your “random” music selection throws up the perfect song for the occasion? I got two Aussie songs that felt particularly right for my subway trip: City Calm Down’s “Pleasure and Consequence” made me feel like I was in an indie film (“lone but scrappy gal takes on big city and wins!”) and Hilltop Hoods’ “Nosebleed Section” had me right at home with a little hip hop amongst my homies.)

The inside of Artie’s with its red Laminex tables delivers the true diner/deli experience. Inside Arties NYC

And I loved a couple of the signs around the place – particularly the one advertising their catering service: “My son’s becoming a doctor party! Deli platter with Artie’s famous pastrami, corned beef, fresh turkey breast & corned beef!”

Because I was looking for breakfast, I steered away from the sandwiches. But I knew Louise expected a traditional deli meal, so I chose a pastrami omelette. All meals are served with pickles and coleslaw, which are brought to your table as soon as you order.Arties NYC - Condiments

Pickles? I don’t mind them, but these were especially vinegary and sharp. Not for me. And the coleslaw was very creamy and pretty tasteless to be honest. So also not for me. So far, strike one for Artie’s.

There were various sides you could order with your breakfast. I went for potato pancakes, not entirely sure what to expect, but I did think they would be something between a traditional pancake and a hashbrown. No. They’re more like potato croquettes and they’re served with apple sauce and sour cream. I didn’t love them, but I didn’t hate them either. Arties NYC - Breakfast

As for the omelette? Seriously, this was one of the most unusual breakfast foods I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t, as I’m used to, a folded-over melding of eggs and extras (pastrami in this case). Instead, it was more like a crepe – a very fine layer of egg folded over and over, with chunks of pastrami between the layers.  Someone told me this is an Italian way of making omelettes, but I’ve never seen it before.

(I’m not sure if you really wanted to see a close-up of my half-eaten breakfast, but this was the only real way to show you the layer thing I’m talking about.) Arties NYC - eaten breakfast

Despite the unusual construction, the omelette was quite delicious and the pastrami chunks were satisfyingly salty.

I also managed to get a cup of herbal tea – although judging from the somewhat crumpled tea bag, I got the feeling it might have been dug up out of a jar put to the back of their darkest, dimmest cabinet with a label that said something like, “Fancy schmancy tea for uppity people who think they’re too good for our coffee” or something similar.

Unfortunately I was full and didn’t have time to fit in dessert. But I really wanted to try another New York staple, the black-and-white cookie. Luckily I got to have one a week later…

The Ritz - tea

…during afternoon tea at The Plaza. Yes, just a little different from Artie’s! But that’s another story…

Emmie’s latest SuperRomance release “Just For Today…” came out in June and is available now in North America, Australia and New Zealand or online. []

You can find Emmie on the web: