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 – 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.

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes

GooglePlay

JB Hi Fi

Sainbury’s

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

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.