Cooking The Books – Nicole Hurley-Moore

Chef with cookbookToday’s guest has hit on the perfect recipe for the cold, wet weather we’re having in Melbourne. When it rains like this I just want to fire up the oven and start baking. So welcome to Nicole Hurley-Moore, an Australian writer of historical romance and the only person I know brave enough to work her way through Larousse Gastronomique! Now there’s a challenge. Here’s Nicole.

Hi and thanks for having me today on Cooking the Books!!nicole hurley-moore
My latest novel, Dancing on Air is a sweet Victorian era romance with a little spice. In a way, it reminds me of my great, great Aunt Ethel’s gingerbread cake recipe. Not only is it sweet with a touch of spice but it almost fits into the right time period.

bigstock-Ginger-Cake-paidforThis recipe doesn’t make a huge deep cake and the mixture is a little thin (so don’t worry!).

¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter
¾ cup Golden Syrup
2 cups of plain flour
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda (bi-carb)
1 cup of hot water
2 beaten eggs

Mix sugar, butter and golden syrup together.
Then add flour and spices.
Mix the baking soda and water together and then add it to the mixture.
Finally add the two eggs and mix well.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 30-50 minutes.

Dancing on Air official imageBlurb:

Cinderella meets Swan Lake in a cross-class, Victorian novel about a ballerina, an aristocrat, and the space in between them.

Lisette yearns for freedom, security and love, but none are offered on the run-down stage of The Imperial Theatre. Instead she has hard work, a tyrannical aunt, and the hope of one day becoming a prima ballerina. Dancing on the stage she catches the attention of two powerful men: Lord Gainswith and Lord De Vale.

Lord Evander Gainswith never expected to fall in love, let alone with a woman so wholly unacceptable to his family and his peers. The sinister Lord De Vale covets Lisette’s youth and strength, and is willing to pay well for it. Lisette may dance roles in fairy tales and fantasies, but the real world is about to intrude, bringing with it the harsh realities of life for a young girl with dreams of rising above the demimonde.


London, 1884

Lisette was weightless as she leapt into a grand jeté across the stage. She was free and in that moment her heart soared past the walls of The Imperial Theatre. She landed lightly and began the fouetté en tournant, whipping her leg from fourth position to behind her knee; she created impetus to spin on pointe. After the eight revolutions, she planted her feet and lifted her hand in the air, stopping in front of her aunt. There was a slight wobble in her legs and she tried not to wince. Fixing a smile on her face she prayed that her aunt had not noticed. Lisette had wanted perfection but had fallen short. A trickle of sweat slid its way down the middle of her back, her heart beat rapidly and she tried to catch her breath as her aunt stepped forward.

Marie Devoré regarded her niece for a second. Her eyes bore into Lisette’s before she raised her hand and slapped her across the face.

Lisette’s head jerked to the side as the burning sting radiated over her cheek.

‘What was that? A farce…? A comedy perhaps?’

‘No, Aunt Marie, I am sorry that I wobbled,’ she said as she looked at the well-worn wooden floor and resisted the urge to cradle her cheek.

‘When you finish, the movement must be sleek, clean and set in stone, without any trace of a tremble.’

‘Yes, Aunt.’

‘Go, out of my sight. Prepare the costumes for tonight’s performance,’ Marie said with a wave of her thin hand. ‘You will practice again tomorrow. Without the wobble.’

Lisette bowed her head before running off into the wings of the stage. She ran as fast as she could past the burgundy velvet curtains, beneath the scenery fly and the rigging, down the narrow flight of stairs that ran beneath the stage, until she was in the cool and narrow corridor, which led deeper into the bowels of the theatre.

Her cheek burned but it was the sting of failure that hurt all the more.

Thanks for being my guest today, Nicole. You can find Nicole and her books here:





Escape Publishing



Cooking The Books – Juliet Madison

Chef with cookbookToday we welcome author, Juliet Madison whose debut release has an intriguing premise. What happens when you wake up to find you’ve missed the last 25 years? I love books that play with time and when it’s done with humour it’s right up my alley. Juliet is offering commenters an opportunity to win a $50 Amazon voucher (details below). But first, let’s have some fun!

Thanks Louise for having me on your blog today to talk about the food in my debut novel, FAST FORWARD, a romantic comedy about a model who wakes on her twenty-fifth birthday to find she’s now a fifty-year-old housewife married to the nerd she used to tease in high school.Juliet_Madison300dpi

Fast Forward is mostly set twenty five years into the future, so when I was writing it I had to think realistically about what food might be available. It’s not too far from now, so it’s likely that most things would be the same, but I made sure to add a few interesting twists in the food department!

When my character, Kelli Crawford (Kelli McSnelly in the future, thanks to an unfortunate surname by marriage), wakes up in the future, she gets treated to a birthday breakfast of smoked salmon, eggs, grilled tomato, and warm buttery toast. Big deal, you might think, but… there is something different about the eggs in the future. They are yolkless. Yep, those delicious orangey-coloured centres that make the eggs delicious are gone. Not from all eggs, just some, so that those ultra health-conscious types can get their protein without all the extra fat and cholesterol. Not only that, but they can be cooked in an instant thanks to the Kitchen Assistant machine which is a staple household appliance in the future. Simply pop the egg in a chute, and voila – out pops a boiled egg a moment later. No mess, no fuss. Kelli’s son complains about this ancient machine though, he thinks they should upgrade to the new version which also peels the egg shell for you.

Here’s a snippet of the ‘yolkless egg scene’…

FASTFORWARD-JulietMadison I dug the spoon in a second time and then paused, my eyebrows drawing together.

“There’s no yolk in my egg,” I remarked.


“So? Eggs have yolks. Why doesn’t this one?”

“You always prefer to have the yolkless eggs, Mum,” Ryan said.

Yolkless eggs? If I wasn’t so confused and distraught at my predicament I’d jump for joy at the brilliance of it. “Oh, um, of course. I just thought with it being my birthday and all … ”

“Oh, you wanted a treat. I should have thought, sorry,” Ryan said.

There’s nothing fancy about coffee in the future, but due to an increased prevalence of addiction among people, it is now easier than ever to get a fix. Most car models come complete with an inbuilt coffee machine. This delivers the warm liquid to your taste buds through a straw that protrudes from the dashboard, perfect for keeping the driver awake on those long trips.

 My eyes darted all around the car. Holographic GPS map just under the windscreen, a small steering wheel that resembled an Xbox controller and a—what was that? I tugged on what looked like a straw and a smaller straw shot through the middle.

“Oh yeah, good idea. I’d love some coffee,” Ryan said, sipping on the straw on the driver’s side. “Not that I need any more stimulation, but who cares!”

 After a hearty breakfast and an endless supply of coffee, Kelli is still hungry. She can’t believe how she went from being a twenty-five-year-old model who only needed to graze throughout the day, to a middle-aged mother with indigestion and an appetite to rival a teenage boy. Her daughter has the same problem, but she has an excuse – she’s ‘eating for two’, here’s a snippet from their morning tea together…

 “What would you like?” I asked.

“Hot chocolate and a slice of chocolate mud cake. With chocolate ice cream on the side. And chocolate sprinkles.”

Okay, the resemblance ends there. No way would I eat that amount of chocolate in one month let alone one day. Although at the mention of the word chocolate, my stomach grumbled and my previously dry mouth salivated. Chocolate cake would be nice, just this once. It was my birthday and this technically wasn’t my real body. Besides, it’s beyond help anyway, might as well indulge.

And what birthday wouldn’t be complete without a Birthday Lunch? Kelli is treated to a meal at fancy cafe (and her stomach’s still grumbling!)…

 I assessed the menu options and resisted the urge to express shock at the prices. Not to mention some of the strange food combinations. By the looks of it, genetic modification really did take off, despite all the protests. Turken, cranberry and camembert melt on broccolato rosti. What the heck was that? Turken … aha! Turkey Chicken. Broccolato …  ah, so someone had found a way to genetically combine a potato with broccoli, huh? Ingenious for all the vegetable haters/potato lovers out there.

“What will it be, madam?” the waiter asked me as he approached.

Madam, or in other words … old woman. I was used to being called Miss and Love and Sweetie.

“I’ll have the turken, thanks.” I swallowed a giggle.

With all the genetic modification going on these days, it makes you wonder if some day there will be much left in its natural state. It’s kind of freaky thinking of two different foods becoming one, but it’s fun to consider it when you’re writing about the future 🙂

At Kelli’s fiftieth party, there’s not a lot mentioned in the food department, mostly because Kelli is too busy dealing with a potentially life-threatening underwear issue, strangers wishing her happy birthday, and downing as much alcohol as she can get her hands on. Champagne is still popular, but served in what look like test tubes, and green-tinged lime mineral water seems to be the non-alcoholic beverage of choice. Chocolate also makes an appearance (naturally). Guests are treated to chocolate truffles with irresistible names:  Chocolate Dream, Chocolate Passion, Chocolate Scandal, Chocolate Secret, and Chocolate Love.

Okay, now my stomach is grumbling. 😉

Which of the above chocolate truffles would you like to eat if you had the choice? Or which two foods would you would like to see combined in the future? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or a $25 Amazon gift card. Comment on other blogs during Juliet’s February blog tour for more entries into the draw! Winners drawn 1st March.

You can also win a bonus $25 gift card by purchasing Fast Forward and emailing your receipt to fastforwardbook (at) gmail (dot) com – replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .


Aspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?


Escape Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes/iBookstore, Kobo.

Connect with Juliet online:

Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

Cooking the Books – Alissa Callen

Chef with cookbookThis week’s guest is debut author, Alissa Callen, who shares a heartwarming story about using food in a very unusual and creative way. Her recipes took me straight back to childhood and the simple pleasure to be had from cramming one’s mouth full of things almost totally comprised of sugar and butter.

Not only is Alissa a talented writer with – wait for it – two releases out simultaneously (see the bottom of the post), but she’s an especially nice person. Welcome, Alissa!

imageThanks so much Louise for having me on your scrumptious blog. What Love Sounds Like is a story filled with self-discovery, romance and sugar-loaded foods starting with the sound ‘c’. Mia Windsor, an outback speech pathologist, uses food as a fun way for orphaned four-year-old Tilly to practice her clear ‘c’ talking. Whether it be eating pop corn to discover where the back of the throat ‘c’ sound comes from or using fruit loops to make the sound correctly, food is a vital ingredient of Tilly’s speech therapy. But in What Love Sounds Like food also serves a symbolic purpose.


Photo – Gabrielle Battiestel

Corporate-cynic, Kade Reid adheres to a single edict, money is as important as breathing. To a man denied a childhood, who had share portfolios instead of toys, food is purely for sustenance and not to be savoured. When he enters the drawing room of historic Berrilea and sees his ward, Tilly, dressed in a mini chef’s hat and apron ready for her first speech therapy lesson he is far from happy. But slowly he is drawn into Mia and Tilly’s world of popcorn, ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies. When he brings home gelato from a Sydney business trip and initiates a picnic by the river, the tubs of gelato symbolize that he is embracing his feelings as well as his taste-buds.

Food is also symbolic for Mia Windsor. It is through food that she communicates the emotions that she refuses to acknowledge. To protect against abandonment she shrink-wraps herself in professionalism and stifles all yearnings for love or a family. But through cooking with Tilly and making Kade the birthday cake he’d never had, Mia reveals she is far from detached.

So, food, on all levels, is an integral component of What Love Sounds Like. Food helps Tilly master the ‘c’ sound. Food links Kade to the childhood he’d never had. And for Mia, food proves that beneath her crisp professionalism she’s as sweet as the caramel popcorn an unimpressed Kade must try.

Now for the yummy part … recipes of the sugary delights that appear in What Love Sounds Like.

Ⓒ Agg - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ Agg – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Caramel Popcorn


Popped corn (in machine, microwave or saucepan)

75g butter

½ cup caster sugar

1 ½ cup golden syrup

2 tsp hundreds and thousands sprinkles (optional)


Grease a cooking tray and spread out cooked popcorn.

On stove heat butter, sugar and golden syrup until smooth, then boil for 5 mins without stirring.

Pour over popcorn and carefully turn popcorn to coat evenly. Sprinkle with sprinkles and allow to cool. Break into chunks.

Ⓒ ljansempoi - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ ljansempoi – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ice cream


200 ml condensed milk

500 ml thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla

Treats – sprinkles, lollies, crushed up chocolate biscuits etc or pieces of fruit.


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until thick and stiff. Stir through any treats or fruit. Put into container, cover with cling firm and freeze until solid.


Ⓒ Cenorman - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ Cenorman – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Lemonade Scones


4 cups self raising flour

300 ml cream

1 can (375ml) lemonade

sultanas (optional)


Gently mix all ingredients until just combined. Can roll out on floured board and cut out or just spoon onto greased cooking tray in clumps.

Cook in 225 degrees C oven (205 for fan-forced) until pale golden. Enjoy.

Thank you, Alissa. Mia sounds just gorgeous and I can’t wait to read What Love Sounds Like.

What Love Sounds Like is available from Escape Publishing

image-1Beneath Outback Skies is available from Random House as a launch title from their Random Romance list.

And Alissa Callen can be contacted via her website or face book . (