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 (, below, from (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…




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:

And on moi here:


Cooking The Books – Jennifer St George

Chef with cookbook

Today’s guest is the lovely Jennifer St George and her latest book for Destiny Romance, Seducing The Secret Heiress, is a fabulous sexy read with a whole lot of food fun thrown in. Take it away Jennifer!   JSG

Louise, thanks so much for hosting me today.  Your food-themed blog series couldn’t be a better match for my recent release, Seducing the Secret Heiress.  The story is set around a reality TV cooking show. The contestants have to cook meals for first-class airline passengers who, along with professional chefs and the general public, cast their votes each week from 30,000 feet. The concept was inspired by MasterChef but with a twist.

My Australian heroine, Charlie, cooks up some interesting dishes towards the end of the book including Accidental Liar’s Terrine which features ingredients including Ignorant Little Rich Girl Minced Chicken, Billionaire Mixed Herbs and Cheating Fiancé Vinegar!

Seducing the Secret Heiress CoverI was inspired to write about a reality TV Show as I took part in the Australian version of Dragon’s Den. Just the harsh spotlights alone are enough to raise your heart rate.  Add judges, camera close-ups and a Director and the experience is really very intense, but exhilarating at the same time. I thought this pressure-cooker environment would make good fodder for a sexy romance.

I like cooking, but I’m not very good at it. This might have something to do with the fact that I never measure anything. I’ve been to cooking classes with some great chefs including Ben O’Donoghue and Steven Snow but their fabulous talent just hasn’t rubbed off on me. Sad but true. My ‘whizz in the kitchen’ sister-in-law always despairs when she comes into my kitchen.  I don’t have any measuring cups, sharp knives or a cupboard full of staple ingredients. Strangely, she doesn’t seem to think a shelf full of the cookbooks with pretty pictures compensates for this.

So, it was great fun writing a character who could turn the simplest meal into an understated extravaganza. Charlie possesses a natural flair for flavours and presentation. Even though my story is predominately set in London, Charlie differentiates her cooking by using Australian ingredients including macadamia nuts and Barramundi. She never burns anything.

But the food doesn’t always stay on the plate! The story also features a sexy food fight which is one of my favourite scenes in developing the passion between Charlie and gorgeous hero, Gabe.

I may not be a very good cook, but I do have a talent for eating out. I love everything from romantic candle-lit dinners in Michelin Star restaurants to a trip to the local curry house.  As long as I’m not cooking, I know the meal will be delicious.  And for a girl who can’t cook, I do seem to have collected an over-abundance of cooking magazines.  You can barely walk through our living room without knocking over a stack of Delicious or Donna Hay magazines.  I can name what’s in season, it’s just I’m likely to burn it if it comes near my stove.

I love the way food brings people together, but in our house, this is more likely to happen over a Thai takeaway.

Here’s a taste of what Jennifer’s book has in store:

Diamond heiress, Charlotte Wentworth, is passionate about two things – cooking and her billionaire fiancée, Paul.  That is, until she finds Paul has been unfaithful. Shocked, she flees to Europe where she is determined to build a life of her own without her family’s name, fortune or connections.  When she meets gorgeous Englishman, Gabe Grenville, a famous reality TV producer, sparks fly. Charlotte passes herself off as a lowly catering assistant but soon finds herself a star on his TV cooking show. But how will he react when he discovers Charlotte’s true identity? And Paul has not given up – he has his own agenda for forcing Charlotte to return to Australia and marry him.

Will their love turn into a recipe for disaster? Or will it turn out to be a perfect concoction?

You can find Jennifer here:

Website           Facebook       Twitter

Seducing The Secret Heiress is available from:




Destiny Romance