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

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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 – Laura Greaves

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking the Books! My guest is debut Destiny Romance author Laura Greaves. Laura’s release, Be My Baby, is one of Destiny’s new Chick Lit titles and they’ve all been fabulous romps. I’ve just been over to the Destiny website to read the first chapter here and I’m already hooked. So hop on over and have a look. But first, here’s Laura!

 

Thanks so much for having me today, Louise! I’m here to take your readers on a culinary journey through one of the great European foodie 0000008357nations. No, I’m not talking about France. Not Italy either. And nope, it’s not Greece (although dolmades and baklava – yum!)

It’s England.

“England? Did she say England? Home of pork pies, Yorkshire puddings and ‘greasy spoon’ cafes? England, where more ‘beige’ food is consumed per capita than any other country?”

 Yep. That’s the one.

 Just as its weather is unfairly maligned (I mean, what’s not to like about grey skies and drizzle? It’s perfect curl-up-with-a-book weather!) I really think England gets a bad rap when it comes to food. And I should know: I called London home for five years, and now return every couple of years with my English husband.

Just like Anna, the Aussie heroine of my novel, Be My Baby, I lived in the beautiful Borough of Richmond-Upon-Thames and worked as a newspaper entertainment journalist. This meant that I not only had a plethora of lovely riverside ‘gastropubs’ on my doorstep, I also had the opportunity to nibble designer canapés in trendy restaurants (sometimes with a celebrity at the next table).

Forget what you think you know about English food. Here’s five of the best reasons to bring a big appetite to the UK.

1. Indian food. If modern England has a national dish, it is arguably the curry. The UK has large and vibrant Indian and Pakistani communities, which happily means there’s a curry house on virtually every corner, especially in London. I became such a regular at my local Indian restaurant that they stopped asking for my address when I’d call for home delivery. And a night ‘on the tiles’ must always be followed by a late-night stop at an Indian restaurant, if only to marvel at the resplendent 1970s décor most seem to favour.

2. Marks & Spencer Food To Go. Marks & Spencer is a huge department store chain, not unlike Myer or David Jones. But even better than ‘Marks and Sparks’ stores are their food outlets, where you can pick up anything from a freshly-made sandwich or a tub of sweet treats to a bottle of M&S-brand wine or even a full gourmet heat-and-serve meal. It. Is. So. Good.

3. Gastropubs. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that food is often an afterthought in Aussie pubs. Sure, you’ll usually find a decent steak, burger or schnitzel, but that’s about as gourmet as it gets. It’s a completely different story in England, where the rise of the ‘gastropub’ has taken pub grub to the next level. Celebrity chefs are even getting in on the act: Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Fat Duck pub in country Berkshire has been named the UK’s best eatery several times, and Gordon Ramsay’s The Narrow is a must-visit in the Docklands area. Despite the unfortunate name, which conjures up some decidedly not delicious images, gastropubs are a revelation. My tip: take the Sunday newspapers and hole up in a riverside pub on a chilly afternoon.

4. Regional delicacies. Apparently it would take 50 years to eat at every one of the restaurants in New York City. Well, the same could be said for sampling all the regional delights in England. You’ll find more mouth-watering – and often rather peculiar – local foods in this tiny scrap of land than you can poke a whelk at (that’s a sea snail that’s inexplicably popular in London’s East End). Those with a sweet tooth should head to Derbyshire for Bakewell tarts or Devon for an authentic cream tea. Then there’s pease pudding (a fancy pea and ham soup) in Northumberland, sausages in Lincolnshire and scouse – a delectable lamb stew – in Liverpool. Delish.

5. Fine dining. I love a pub lunch, but when a special meal is in order there is a dazzling array of fine dining establishments in Old Blighty. I have two all-time favourite ‘posh’ London restaurants. Locanda Locatelli is helmed by celeb chef Giorgio Locatelli and offers modern Italian fare that’s arguably even better than you’ll find in Italy (and I’ve spent a lot of time eating my way through Italy!) Then there’s The Wolseley, a big, noisy brasserie reminiscent of Parisian cafes with a Euro-style menu to die for. You’re virtually guaranteed a celebrity sighting at The Wolseley. I once found myself at a table next to formidable Vogue editor Anna Wintour (who didn’t eat a bite and kept her sunglasses on through the entire meal).

 As someone who’s had the best and worst of food in England, thank you for the tips, Laura!

Do you have a favourite English food?

BMB_Hi-res About Be My Baby by Laura Greaves

 Ambitious Australian Anna Harding seems to have it all: a glamorous job as a gossip columnist, and a beautiful home in London that she shares with her gorgeous boyfriend, Finn Cassidy. Her only problem is her regular run-ins with their neighbor Luke, who is furious about Anna’s internet shopping constantly being delivered to his place by mistake.

When her flighty best friend Helena winds up pregnant, Anna agrees to be godmother – despite her aversion to children. But then Finn announces he’s moving to Belfast for a great job in television and Helena takes off to Scotland – leaving baby Ivy behind. Suddenly Anna’s perfect life is in pieces as she tries to juggle the baby, her job and a long-distance relationship.

Will Finn wake up to himself and return home or will he be swayed by the charms of his seductive producer? Will the irresponsible Helena finally sort herself out with the help of her eccentric great aunt? And will Anna’s life ever be the same, especially after Luke’s unexpected response to the chaos unleashed next door?

Nothing is certain in this entertaining and moving tale about the relationships that matter most.

Connect with Laura:

Buy:  Be My Baby at http://www.destinyromance.com or good book e-tailers.

 

Cooking The Books – Rachael Johns

Chef with cookbookAfter a break of a few months while I ate and read my way around the US, Cooking The Books is back with a brand new swag of terrific authors talking cooking, writing and reading. And what a way to kick off, with gorgeous Rural Romance author, Rachael Johns. If you haven’t heard of Rachael or read any of her wonderful outback romances then, as the saying goes, do yourself a favour and head straight to the buy links at the end of the blog. Here’s Rach!

When the fabulous Louise invited me on her awesome Cooking The Books blog, I said yes, immediately. And then I had a little stress. Because although I used to be quite a good cook, in the last few years, I seem to have lost all talent in this department. Seriously, whatever I used to be able to cook quite well, I can now stuff up even better. IMG_2698%20-%20Copy

So… WHAT could I talk about on Cooking The Books? I could talk about how Faith the heroine from my latest book cooks for comfort and how her expertise at baking helps her win her man. I could maybe even share one of her recipes, but I’ve already shared the only one I can cook without fail on Cathryn Hein’s Friday Feast and if I shared one of the other fabulous things I said Faith could cook, I would have to take photos to show you and THAT would require me actually cooking it. And then because I was doing it for something special, it’s even more certain that I would stuff it up.

So instead of sharing a recipe today, I’m going to talk about my love of recipe books. I’ve had to resist buying more over the last few years because we now live in a very small house and shelf space is rare but I LOVE looking at those coffee table recipe books. I love DREAMING about being a fabulous cook – and yes, mostly I want to bake sweet things.

For the purpose of this blog and so it didn’t go on for pages and pages, I have forced myself to choose my top three recipe books to share with you. In my cooking days (before the non-cooking curse was cast on me) I actually made many of the recipes in these books.

Rachael JohnsMY NUMBER ONE FAVOURITE RECIPE BOOK OF ALL TIME  – Nigella Lawson’s HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS!!

Isn’t the title simply divine? Last year I gave this book to my then publisher as a wedding present as we both share a love of sweet things. I have made a number of things in this book but my faves are the chocolate dishes. I can highly recommend the Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake. The Snickers and Peanut Butter Muffins are also to-die-for!!

A CLOSE SECOND – Donna Hay’s MODERN CLASSICS 1 & 2 (1 is mains, 2 is desserts, so you can probably guess which one is my favourite)!

But I deserve a fair hearing here – I’ve actually made the recipes in number 1 more. For anyone not talented at cooking mains (i.e. me), this book has the simplest dinner dishes ever. The Thai Red Beef Curry page is splattered with curry in my book and I’ve made the basic short crust pastry for a million pies. Yes, I DO make my own pastry thank you very much. From scratch! N.B. This was before I misplaced my ability to cook. The last few times I’ve tried the pastry I managed to stuff it up too!

LAST BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST – The Australian Women’s Weekly WICKED cookbook.

Oh my… my mouth is watering just thinking about this book and I may have to try my cooking luck at making the Cherry Ripe Chocolate Cake again very, very soon. I have made this cake and it’s not too hard AND it’s delicious, but I must also share a snippet about this book and cake. Years ago, I did work experience (during uni) at Cleo Magazine and I can’t remember why but for some reason the cooking people from The AWW brought down this cake to us after they’d baked it for a photo shoot. I decided that very day I needed that book. I’m not sure I’ve tasted a cake I like more since and that is saying something! This book might currently be out of print, but luckily this recipe is available here .

So, that is my Cooking The Books post! I hope you don’t think I’ve cheated sharing my fave recipe books (I DID give you a recipe), but I’d love to hear what your favourite recipe books are. Is there a recipe book you cannot live without? One that I simply MUST add to my collection?

Louise – Thanks, Rach. What a question! I adore cookbooks, from my ratty old collection of Elizabeth David paperbacks (ED, by the way, managed to influence a whole generation of English diners and cooks without benefit of a single glossy photo) right through to my latest acquisition, Bouchon by Thomas Keller. I could bang on for hours about cookbooks but what about you? What is the most used, food-splattered book in your collection?

Website – www.rachaeljohns.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RachaelJohnsRomance?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns

Blurb:

Outback-dreams-bookpageOUTBACK DREAMS

Harlequin Australia, 1st October 2013

 

Faith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction.

Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…??

For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…??

So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges…

Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?

To-buy links:

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

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