Cooking The Books – Helen Lacey

Chef with cookbookThere’s something so lovely about discovering the flavours that are near and dear to people in other parts of the world. Cooking the Books welcomes Helen Lacey back to the kitchen with a warming winter dish that makes eastern Europeans weep. I love the idea of the family in Date With Destiny, Helen’s latest book for Harlequin Special Edition because tradition,  love and family are all so beautifully entwined. And thanks to Helen, one lucky commenter will receive a copy of Date With Destiny.

Hi Louise…. Thank you for having me here today.Helen

In my current Harlequin Special Edition release my hero, Cameron is Polish. This was the first time I’d written a character with that kind of background and I wanted him to come from a close family steeped in tradition. So, what’s more traditional than Polish food. I’d never tasted cuisine from that culture either, so I took a little voyage of discovery on the internet and tracked down some traditional recipes and foods.

In one scene my hero is with his mother and sister and as his mother complains about his still single status, she packs him some Golabki (pronounced gaw-WOHP-kee) to take home. So I figured if I’m going to write about this meal I should try it and see what it’s like.

Firstly, I should admit that I’m not a fan of cabbage. But these looked interesting and tasty so I gave it a go and they didn’t come out too bad at all for a first attempt. Secondly, I apologise to any Polish readers who spot errors….they are my own and not my characters 🙂

Golabki  cabbage rolls

1 Large cabbage

½ kg (1.1 pd) minced or ground beef

½ kg (1.1 pd) minced or ground pork. (I think some people use turkey mince as another option)

1 onion chopped

1 egg

¼ teaspoon cloves (ground is best)

2 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper

3 cups tomato puree (I saw some recipes using pasta sauce)

2 cups cook rice (I used brown the first time, white the second batch – white was better)

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup stock (beef or veg)

4 tbsp Lemon juice

I cup sour cream

(After I made this I saw another recipe that had a grated apple in it, which sounded great)

Pre heat oven

Trim and core cabbage and cover in boiling water to soften for about 3-5 mins. Then drain. Remove 15 leaves and cut/shred up rest of cabbage. Butter a baking pan and spread shredded cabbage in tray and sprinkle with ground up cloves.

In another bowl combine beef and pork, onion and garlic, salt and pepper and egg (and the grated apple if you use it). Cook in frying pan until meat is mostly done and drain off any excess grease. Mix in rice. Place ½ cup mixture into the centre of each leaf and roll up, folding the ends. Place each roll seam down on top of the shredded cabbage. Pour stock/broth over cabbage. Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins.

Combine the sugar, tomato sauce/puree and lemon juice and after rolls have cooked for 35 mins pour tomato mixture over and cook uncovered for 15-20 mins.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

And enjoy!

Lastly, one of the most rewarding things about writing romance is that part of the hero and heroine’s journey towards love really can be about everyday things….like cooking and eating. Whether it’s creating a heroine who’s a train wreck in the kitchen, or a hero who’s a whizz  (and let’s face it, men who can cook are sexy). It’s often the small things that make characters feel real, and to deliver the promise of the back blurb.

It’s been a buzz to be here today and share a little about Date With Destiny with you and I have a copy to give away to one commenter.

Date With DestinyAbout Helen
Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew writing romances was what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.

She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams. She now works part time in her sister’s bridal shop, where she gets to meet fascinating people, some of whom might one day end up being in one of her books.

From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband, many horses and three spoiled dogs.


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Date With Destiny

Financier Grace Preston did fourteen-hour days in New York City. She didn’t do small towns in Australia. Not since she’d fled almost twenty years ago. But when a personal trauma sent her home-with a secret she couldn’t reveal-the last person she needed was her first love.

Local cop Cameron Jakowski had loved Grace for most of his life. But he wanted marriage and family and she didn’t. He was small town, while she was big city-and lived half a world away. But for now she was right here-a walking, talking temptation. One he managed to avoid…until he made one mistake. He kissed her. And reawakened the passion that could change their lives…forever.

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Harlequin US


Amazon UK


Powell’s Books



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Cooking The Books – Helen Lacey

Chef with cookbookThis week we feature the very best kind of cooking. Food that not only tastes good but carries with it history, memory and identity.

I’m thrilled to welcome Helen Lacey to ‘Cooking The Books’. Helen writes wonderful stories for Harlequin Special Edition. With to-die-for heroes, feisty heroines and conflicts that will have you turning pages long into the night, Helen knows a thing or two about how to mix love and emotion. And isn’t that the most dreamily romantic cover you’ve ever seen?

Helen has a giveaway for one lucky commenter and the details are at the end of the post. But first, here’s Helen.

I love to cook and especially love cooking for other people. When I’m starting a new book and working out what my characters are like, one of the things I decide is whether or not they know their way around a kitchen.Helen

In His-And-Hers Family, the heroine, Fiona Walsh is a competent cook and likes to make cakes and brownies. Since this is a twist on a reunion story – because Fiona is reunited with the daughter she gave away fifteen years earlier – it was fun for them to have some mother/daughter moments in the kitchen. Enter the hero – her daughter’s adoptive uncle and now guardian – and I discovered they were often coming together as a family over food.

AustCoverHisAndHersI also like playing around with recipes and cooking meals that lend themselves to my Welsh heritage. My mother is a great cook, as was my grandmother and as a child I can remember watching my mother bake pies every Sunday. The way she makes pastry still amazes me – no recipe, no measuring cups ….. just a dash of this and little more of that. She also makes Bake stones or Welsh Cakes as they are sometimes called (picau ar y mae) in the Welsh language. This name came from the fact they were traditionally cooked on a bakestone or griddle on an open fire or cooker. Welsh cakes are made from flour, sultanas, raisins, and/or currants, and may also include such spices as cinnamon and nutmeg. They are roughly circular, a couple of inches (4–6 cm) in diameter and about half an inch (1–1.5 cm) thick. And they taste awesome.

Welsh Bake stones recipe

1 cup of currants (I prefer to use these and my mother insists they are better than sultanas)

2 cups self-raising flour

230 grams butter

1 cup caster sugar

1 egg whisked and add a little milk


1. Mix together the sugar and sifted flour

2. Add butter to the flour/sugar mix and gently rub together (keep hands cool)

3. Gradually add the egg/milk, mixing by hand until you have a dough that is firm enough to roll out (You might not need the whole egg mixture and use a light touch when doing this))

4. Roll out to about 12mm (or 1/2 inch) thick before cutting out (my mother always uses a fluted cutter)

5. Cook on a warm bakestone (Or you can use a thick non stick frying pan) until golden brown on the outside and cooked through in the middle

6. Then dust with a little sugar

7. Lastly . . . eat! I defy you to stop at just one.

His-And-Hers Family2If you have a recipe that’s a ‘tradition’ in your family I’d love to hear about it. I have a copy of His-And-Hers Family to give away to one commenter.

Lou – Helen, thanks for that wonderful recipe and sneak peek into His-And-Hers-Family. I reckon these would be dead easy to make just about anywhere (including my much loved camping trips).

Comments will be open until 9.00 am Tuesday 12th AEDST. 

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