Cooking The Books – Madeline Ash

Chef with cookbookWelcome to 2015 and another year of Cooking the Books. I’m thrilled to kick the year off with one of my favourite authors. Madeline Ash writes beautifully moving stories wrapped in layers of sparkling humour and sexy times. To die for heroes, wonderful heroines and truly unique stories make her an insta-buy for me. Madeline’s latest release Love & Other Lies is no different. Welcome, Madeline!

MadelineAsh_ProfileThanks for having me today, Louise, it’s wonderful to back on such a delicious blog! I’d love to talk about the subjective nature of taste. It’s fascinating. We all have foods and flavours that we simply won’t go near. I don’t mean by choice, like vegetarians avoiding meats, but because it just tastes foul!


The heroine in my latest book, Abby, has a strong aversion to bananas. She can’t handle the fruit itself or any banana flavoured goodies. Abby is also a compulsive liar. Or, she used to be – she’s reformed at the start of the story.

At one point, when Abby fears she’s lapsed and will have to rebuild her life all over again, her friend (and café owner) dishes her up a banana muffin for breakfast. Her friend is using it as a test.

“Abby drained her latte in a few long swallows. ‘Add to that, I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours. There’s a trigger-happy man with a nail gun inside my skull. My stomach’s an anxious, ravenous mess and you know I hate banana muffins.’

Jenny folded her arms. ‘And if you’d truly reverted to lying, you wouldn’t have reminded me.’”

If she’d lapsed into lying, the full mess of it, Abby probably would have eaten the muffin. Personal preference never had any bearing on what came out of her mouth (or what went in it). Also, since reforming, she only speaks the truth, even if it offends people. And telling someone that you hate the breakfast they’ve given you is a bitch-slap of truth! I loved using her dislike of food to mark her behavior.

As for me, I don’t mind bananas (their texture is another matter). They’re jam-packed with goodness and make pretty delicious muffins when paired with their best friend, chocolate. Today I’d love to share this tasty recipe from a muffin book I often tug from the cupboard when I’ve got friends coming over.

Instead of typing it out, I’ve taken a photo so the stains act as proof of how delicious they must be – made time and time again!

Madeline's Recipe book

I’d love to know about you – are there any foods or flavours that you simply cannot tolerate, even to be polite? As for me, don’t even say seafood!

Thanks, Madeline! I can’t think of a single flavour I don’t like although I find some flavours in unusual carriers very off-putting eg. savoury ice creams – Louise

About Love & Other Lies by Madeline Ash


Love & Other LiesSmall town vet Abby Benson has fled to the country to put her shameful past behind her. She’s just beginning to find her feet again when handsome stranger, Rue Thorn, arrives in town and begins to stir things up. Rue is gorgeous, kind and thoughtful and the two share an instant attraction. But convinced he’ll despise her if he learns about her history, Abby reluctantly keeps him at arm’s length. Determined to win Abby over, Rue tries to reshape himself as the sort of guy he thinks she might be interested in. And for a while it seems his act is working. But when he finds out that Abby has been lying to him, it isn’t long before everything start to unravel … A moving story of trust, forgiveness and the power of love from the author of Uncovered by Love and The Playboy’s Dark Secret.

Find Love & Other Lies on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

Visit Madeline’s website, or find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Outback Dining – Kangaroo: A National Symbol or Dinner?

Chef with cookbookThe outback is dotted with lonely pubs, many of them legendary. Their names drip off the tongue: Oodnadatta, Tibooburra, Innamincka, Birdsville and Tilpa. They are quirky, much-loved institutions, small oases where the long distance traveller can find companionship, fuel, cold beer and meals. There is nothing better than arriving at one after a long day’s driving along red dust roads.

I drew on several of these pubs to create the Bindundilly Hotel in Red Dirt Duchess, the place my heroine, Charlie, calls home. Red Dirt Duchess

One thing they nearly all have in common is their meals. They’re usually a straight up and down affair based around grills with chips. Even a side of fresh salad might be asking too much in some of the remotest parts. This is the sort of food I had Charlie serve to English aristocrat Jon, a man used to dining in the finest restaurants.

However there are outback pubs that are turning that often dismal dining experience on its ear. Take the Prairie Hotel at remote Parachilna in South Australia’s spectacular Flinders Ranges. They have made a specialty of cooking wild animals: kangaroo, camel and emu

Although we know that kangaroo is a meat that’s lean and high in protein, I have to confess I find it hard to sit down to a meal of it. I have no problem with baby veal or suckling pig so it’s not the ‘cuteness’ factor that makes me squirm.

So what’s my problem?

Maybe it’s because it’s wild food but I love field mushrooms and wild greens, quandongs and saltbush. But at Parachilna it’s not about wild. They call their offerings ‘feral’.

untitledBefore you reach for the bag, Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine calls dining at the Prairie Hotel one of 20 not to be missed outback experiences.

A short trip through their menu gives us emu liver paté, smoked kangaroo, kangaroo tail ragout, camel sausage and emu fillet mignon. And to be fair, they are exquisitely prepared and served with a style more fitting a trendy inner urban restaurant.

All of this is good. Ecologists stress that eating sustainably resourced indigenous animals takes demand from farmed introduced species which are far more destructive to the habitat. I need to broaden my culinary horizons.

I’m heading out to Parachilna again in 6 weeks and I’m determined to try the tasting plate.

But what about you? What’s the most unusual wild food you’ve eaten and where was it?

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Twitter: @LouiseHReynolds






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