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.

 

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Cooking The Books – Sasha Cottman

TChef with cookbookoday it’s my pleasure to welcome regency historical author, Sasha Cottman to the kitchen. Sasha’s debut novel for Destiny Romance, Letter From A Rake, features an unconventional heroine, a mysterious letter and a to-die-for hero. I’m so pleased that Sasha is taking us inside the Regency kitchen and cooking an authentic dish from the era. As a cookbook lover I’m very fond of these recipes and love to see how they translate to the modern day.  Welcome, Sasha!

sasha cottman author pic

While writing LETTER FROM A RAKE I researched the food and drink of Regency England and discovered some fabulous recipes. Fortunately, many of the recipes have been translated into modern English so that the home cook of the 21st century can replicate them.

The supper table of the London ton was a crucial part of the evening entertainment for balls and parties. Lay out a poor supper selection and you could be guaranteed that your next party invite would go to the bottom of the pile. Sweet pies and tarts were an integral part of the wonderful dishes offered up to guests.

apple tarts ready for the ovenApple and cinnamon tarts.

3/4 cup of pureed apple (any fruit preserve will do).

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 pack of frozen pastry tart shells (or you could use filo pastry)

½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Ice cream/cream to serve.

Place the tart shells on a piece of ungreased baking sheet, (unless they come in foil cases which mine did so you won’t need the paper), place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Take the shells out of the oven and spoon the apple puree into the shells. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top and then finish off with the cheese.

Place in the oven at 180C/350F for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve warm with cream, or ice cream.

The cheese melts beautifully over the apple and cinnamon.apple

Makes approx 12.

About Letter from a Rake

The unconventional Miss Millie Ashton, recently arrived from India, finds England a cold and dismal place. The fashionable ladies of London society look down their noses at her and it isn’t long before Millie is planning her return to the country she considers home.

When Millie befriends the high-spirited Lucy Radley, she also meets Lucy’s handsome brother, ‘Alex the Great’ and things take a turn for the better. Alex, the Marquess of Brooke, is considered the most eligible bachelor in London, yet he appears fascinated by the independent Millie.  Against the odds, their unlikely friendship deepens. But Alex has a secret and when a love letter goes astray, it threatens to destroy all their happiness…

letter from a rake cover picExcerpt from Letter from a Rake

At a ball to welcome home her family from their long stay in India, Miss Millicent Ashton meets Lady Lucy Radley.  Millie has been having a hard time adjusting to life in England and is yet to make friends.

‘What a crush; I didn’t think there were that many families in town at this time of the year,’ observed a young, fair-haired woman who stopped at her side. ‘Though I ought not to complain; at least it keeps me from Lord Ashton’s supper table. My mother says if she sees me near it once more this evening she will have my lips sewn together.’

Millie turned and after taking in the petite pink roses on the bodice of the slender girl’s muslin gown, gave her a wan smile. After the miserable day she had endured, another figure-obsessed miss was last on the list of things she needed.

A spark of mischief glinted in the other girl’s eye.

‘Of course, if you and I just happen to be deep in conversation and stroll slowly by the said table of delights and I lose one of my slippers and…’

‘Your hand reaches out to the table to steady yourself,’ replied Millie, quick on the uptake.

‘At which point, my hand accidentally touches one of those delicious apple and cinnamon tarts…’

‘Then you could only be held to acclaim for your good manners. Since you had touched the food, you could hardly leave it on the table for another guest to eat.’

The other girl giggled, before painting a determined, serious look on her face. She took hold of Millie’s hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze.

‘You know you are right, absolutely right,’ she replied. A grin threatened at the corner of her mouth, but to Millie’s delight, her new acquaintance managed to keep it valiantly at bay.

‘It would be saving my family from the most outrageous of scandals. Why, I should receive a standing ovation the moment that tart touches my lips.’

Millie closed her eyes and sagely nodded.

Letter from a Rake is Sasha’s debut book.

You can find Letter from a Rake here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Letter-From-Rake-Destiny-ebook/dp/B00DGLWEYK

Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=letter+from+a+rake

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/letter-from-a-rake/id662840513?mt=11

Also available at Google Play, Readcloud, Angus & Robertson and Booki.sh

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

About the Author

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.

Five years ago, Sasha accidentally enrolled in a romance writing course. Other than Pride and Prejudice she had never read a romance book before. She soon discovered that the world of historical romance allowed her to combine her love of history with the passion of romance writing.

Sasha has an MBA as well as post graduate qualifications in electronic media. Having worked as an accountant in a media group for many years, she now finds herself in the unique position of having seen both the business and creative sides of publishing.

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.