Cooking the Books – Susanne Bellamy

Chef with cookbook

Welcome to Cooking the Books! Today’s guest is author Susanne Bellamy whose new release, Second Chance Love, is the third standalone book in the Bindarra Creek Romance series. 13 stories, 13 authors, 13 months! Bindarra Creek sounds like my kind of place; a rural community with an abundance of (well 13, anyway) gorgeous heroes. Here’s the blurb for Susanne’s book.

Blurb:Second Chance Love

When Claire Swenson inherits her great-aunt’s home and returns to Bindarra Creek as town librarian, Angus McGregor is the first person she meets.

The second is his eleven-year old son.

Just because Angus wants a second chance doesn’t mean that Claire will put aside her determination not to commit to a relationship.

No matter how sexy he is, or how well they work together as they fight for the community and to save Angus’ property.

Can he convince Claire that love is sweeter the second time around?

So over to Susanne who’s going to share a foodie moment from Second Chance Love and the recipe for a delicious no-bake slice!

Angus McGregor and his 11 year old son, Oliver, invite Claire to their home. As teenage lovers, Angus loved and lost Claire. Returning to Bindarra Creek after the death of her great-aunt, Claire is working temporarily in the town library. She has no plans to stay but Angus is waging a campaign to woo and win her this time around. The first step is dinner.

Mrs. Teasley entered, bearing a large tureen which she set down in the centre of the table beside a bowl of mixed green vegetables. “Here we are, fresh caught by the men this morning. Enjoy your meal.” She smiled as she left the dining room with the entrée dishes stacked on a tray.

Claire lifted the lid and sniffed appreciatively before turning to Ollie. “I smell ginger.”

“Green ginger wine and a hint of garlic. I know that much about the recipe.” Angus reached for another bread roll and split it open.

“Is that crayfish I see?” Claire looked at Ollie.

Eyes bright, Ollie nodded. “Dad and I went yabbying this morning. Caught a whole bucket load. Have you ever gone yabbying, Miss Swenson?”

“No. Is there a special technique to catch them?”

“We use meat attached to a piece of string. Drives them crazy.”

Angus pushed the tureen closer to Claire. “Ollie swears that using lamb’s fry brings the biggest ones out of hiding. Please, help yourself, Claire. It’s Mrs. Teasley’s secret ginger and garlic crayfish recipe, passed down through the generations of her family.”

Since I didn’t have a photo of this dish, I’ve included a recipe that I have made often for family and friends, which I ‘gave’ to Claire.

Ginger Biscuit SliceNo bake Ginger Biscuit Slice

250g pkt milk arrowroot biscuits

120g unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup condensed milk

¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar

60g chopped walnuts (or pecans)

1 tsp ground ginger


90g softened unsalted butter

90g cream cheese

1 ¾ cups icing sugar

¼ cup cocoa, sifted


Grease a shallow lamington (or similar) tin, approx. 20cm x 30cm.

Crush milk arrowroot biscuits (not too finely).

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, condensed milk, sugar, walnuts and ground ginger. Add crushed biscuits and gently fold through.

Spoon mixture into prepared tin and press in firmly using your fingertips.  Smooth over with back of a spoon (dipped in hot water if necessary).

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To make chocolate icing:

Place all icing ingredients in electric mixer and beat until smooth.

Spread thin layer of icing over the slice. Refrigerate until icing has set.

To serve, cut into fingers approx. 5cm x 2cm.

**If desperate, I pop the tray into the freezer. Works a treat 😉

Bio: 2011 - headshots

Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. One Night in Sorrento almost wrote itself after her travels in Italy, and her next release, Second Chance Love, was inspired by a stint teaching in far north-west Queensland in a rural setting where a sense of community was strong. While most of her stories are set in the present day, she has also enjoyed dipping into the future and the past.

Her Hawaiian novels are inspired by a lifelong fascination with the country and reading too many books and watching too many movies set there.

Susanne’s heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia, with their dog.

Susanne is a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the recent Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a part-time editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers.

You can find me at the following:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter  
  3. Website 
  4. Pinterest
  5. Goodreads


and print: to Cooking the Books where I’m joined by Susanne Bellamy.

Cooking The Books – Leesa Bow

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking The Books! I’m excited because my guest is good friend and NA author Leesa Bow. You may remember that last time she visited, Leesa shared tips and recipes for cooking for hunky football players. This time she’s done a 180 degree turn and is on an entirely more feminine track. Here’s Leesa!



Cupcakes Make Me SmileLeesa Bow portrait

Thanks for having me on your blog Louise.

Admittedly, I’m a sweet tooth, which doesn’t help my hips or waistline at this time of year. When granted the liberty of cooking anything I like, it would generally lean toward a cake, slice, or some dessert over a savoury meal. Unfortunately it’s a trait I have passed onto my daughters and when the females in the household (there are five of us) are suffering a difficult ‘time of the month’ an awesome sweet dish is baked as a ‘pep me up’ reward.

Valentine cupcakesIn my book, Charming the Outback, Maddy likes to bake cupcakes to help clear her thoughts. Maddy’s signature cupcakes are topped with honeycomb and melted chocolate over chocolate cream icing. Cooking for stress release is about the end product making you smile, and enjoying the sweet reward of your labour. One thing I learned from baking and decorating cupcakes is to ignore the mess, as the dishes pile up quickly, and flour coats everything.

Recently, at my eldest daughter’s baby shower, the baby boy and girl themed cupcakes were a hit! Topped with little baby footprints, the pink and blue cupcakes put a smile on the guest’s faces.Cupcakes

For me, cupcakes are all about making people smile. Each bite of creamy icing is filled with heavenly yumminess. Not only do they look enticing, they are mouth-watering delicious, and I don’t feel as guilty eating one because they are only bite-sized. Right?

My favourite would have to be red velvet. What is yours?

Leesa Bio:

Leesa is a romance author who writes new adult romance about second chance love. Leesa also likes to writes stories with a sport theme.

Released in September Charming the Outback is the second book in the Player series.

Leesa’s next book Jardine will be released in December.















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Cooking The Books – Carla Caruso

Chef with cookbook

Welcome to Cooking The Books! Today’s guest is the super-delightful Carla Caruso and she’s talking about a food fashion that’s here to stay.  I’m not sure what we all did before someone decided it would be a great idea to throw a bunch of salt into caramel and see what happens. Turns out it’s pretty terrific. Besides having such excellent taste, Carla writes delicious rom-coms and she’s here today to share a recipe and tell us about her new rom-com mystery series!


Carla Caruso - author picSalted caramel. Who bl**dy invented that stuff? Whenever the double-trouble of a flavour is mentioned as part of some grub – from popcorn to ice cream – I have to buy it. (Cripes, I just Googled it and discovered there’s also a salted caramel martini. Talk about dangerous.) Confession: I once ate half a jar of salted caramel sauce while typing away at my computer one night.

I also know Celeste Pretty, the heroine of my new rom-com mystery series, would be a salted caramel fan. (The first book in the series, A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1, is out October 1, by the by!) Celeste is a neat-freak professional organiser – de-cluttering people’s homes and offices for a living – who keeps getting caught up in messy mysteries with a sexy builder (Lenny Muscat).

A Pretty Mess by Carla CarusoShe has a chin-length, honey-brown bob – so has a bit of a caramel look going on! – and wears a tonne of beige, being a classic sort of dresser. Plus, as Nigella Lawson says, having salted caramel ticks off “the holy trinity of sugar, salt and fat” in one go – and Celeste does like to multitask.

Salted caramel really is the perfect pairing. A little like Celeste and Lenny … possibly. Of course, you’ll have to read the series to find out if this is true 😉

I nicked this recipe for Salted Caramel Fudge (, below, from (Love that site!) After all, Celeste Pretty is just the type to follow a recipe to the letter. This fudge is so moreish, it’s embarrassing how many trips you’ll make to the fridge to indulge…




395g can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons glucose syrup

1/4 cup golden syrup

125g butter, chopped

180g white chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Salted caramel fudgeStep 1: Grease pan a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.

Step 2: Place condensed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.

Step 3: Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Sprinkle with salt, pressing in with the back of a spoon to secure. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.

Step 4: Cut into 2.5 cm pieces. Serve.


More on A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1 here:

And on moi here:

Rebellious Women of the Aristocracy: Some Literary Heroes

Red Dirt DuchessMy latest release, Red Dirt Duchess, is set partly in the Australian outback and partly in an English stately home.

I’ve wanted to write a story about the English aristocracy for ages but I’m just an ordinary Australian. In order to make my aristocratic family believable, I needed to capture the tone and cadence of their speech and the type of language they might use.

To help with this, I drew upon the work of three of my literary heroes: Nancy Mitford, Elizabeth David and Mary Wesley.

Not only have I long been beguiled by their words, and in the case of Elizabeth David, her recipes, but by their rebellious reputations.

Each of these amazing women was born into a life of privilege that could have sailed seamlessly and silently to a dignified conclusion without creating a ripple. They each made conventional marriages to the “right” sort of men yet quickly moved beyond them, choosing a harder path. They lived life on their own terms instead of following the dictates of their class.

As rebellious women went, Nancy was by no means the wildest of the infamous Mitfords. That one aristocratic family should untitled (2)produce as daughters a communist, two fascists (of different flavours) and a duchess says a lot about their family dynamic. I imagine family get-togethers would have been extraordinary! Yet, despite the enduring legend which has grown up around them, it is Nancy’s sparkling comedies set within an aristocratic family loosely based upon her own that shine. The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate and Don’t Tell Alfred are required reading for the devoted anglophile as well as the author trying to find the voice of that class.

images6I1K2GZ2Elizabeth David travelled widely and wrote a series of classic cookbooks and collections of published articles. Authoritative and imperious, her writing paints a vivid picture of a privileged life. With David, it’s all about ‘tone’. Her rigorously elegant prose is measured but evocative.

At 70, Wesley published her first novel and went on to publish ten more. I would love to have known this untitled (3)incredibly free-spirited woman (there’s a reason her biography is called Wild Mary). Her novels are full of black humour and poke and prod at the underlying seamy side of many upper-class families. In honour of Mary, I’ve included a little bit of seamy in Red Dirt Duchess.

Mitford’s and Wesley’s novels, and David’s writing, have allowed me glimpses into the lives of the upper-classes, a world I could otherwise only imagine from behind the velvet rope in a stately home tour. Here’s an interaction between my hero, Jon, his mother, Diana, and the heroine, Charlie. Barker is the butler and Vera is an elderly lady staying with the family. They have had a very trying day 🙂

Barker started to pour the tea as Jon ambled hopefully towards the drinks table. A cluster of almost empty decanters, more show than substance, sat on a silver tray.

‘What do you do in Australia, Charlie?’ Diana asked.

So the day was about to grind to its inexorable conclusion. Jon picked up a decanter and tipped it a little to the side, trying to work out what was inside. Quite frankly anything would do. He poured a generous amount into a glass and turned back to face the room.

‘I run a pub.’

Barker dropped a cup on its saucer with a clatter and murmured an apology. A small silence ensued.

‘A pub?’

Jon sighed. ‘A public house, mother. A drinking establishment. There is one in the village.’

‘I know what a pub is, Jon,’ Diana snapped. She turned to Charlie, her lips pursed, her back rigid with disapproval. ‘I see. You’re a barmaid.’

Jon sucked in a deep breath and turned just in time to see the level stare that Charlie gave his mother. He didn’t trust the slight smile on her lips. He hadn’t seen that since Bindundilly.

‘Oh, I’m so much more than that.’

Was that a small, suggestive wink she’d given his mother? Jon closed his eyes and said a prayer, although he wasn’t sure for whom. All he knew was that there was a tension that had been strained to breaking point today. It was about to snap.

‘I clean the toilets and make the beds as well.’ Charlie gave Diana a cheesy smile, letting her vowels broaden a little.

‘Really,’ Diana said faintly.

‘Charlie owns the Bindundilly Hotel, mother. She’s a businesswoman.’

Diana accepted tea from Barker, picked up the spoon and stirred it quietly, three times clockwise, just as she always did before placing the spoon back on the saucer. ‘And is business good in this Bindundilly place?’

Charlie stirred her own tea a little less quietly, then looked at the spoon as she removed it from the cup.

Please don’t.

She placed it neatly on the saucer. ‘Very good, thank you. Mind you, I’m the only business in town so it’s hard to assess just how good that is.’

His mother seemed to have run out of conversation. Possibly she was angrily fantasising about castrating Jon, although that would be rather counter-productive in the circumstances.

Charlie paused and cocked her head to one side, thinking. ‘Come to think of it, there is no town. There’s just the pub and nothing but desert in every direction for four hundred kilometres.’

‘Indeed.’ His mother was staring at Charlie, her eyes wide with horror, perhaps trying to imagine such a life.

‘But as long as the truckies keep stopping, I’ll be right,’ Charlie finished cheerfully, as though she’d just completed a complicated balance sheet and realised everything would be fine for the next year.

‘Truckies,’ Diana echoed, her gaze locking on Jon. He took a deep swallow from his glass. He didn’t know what of, but it sure felt good.

Vera woke with a light snort. ‘Truckie? What’s a truckie?’

Jon squeezed his eyes shut. This was priceless; in some ways the best fun he’d had in years.

‘Never mind, dear,’ said Diana.

‘It’s a lorry driver, Vera.’ Jon said. ‘You know, massive great lorries driven by men with strong, hairy muscled arms. Some women find it quite —’

‘That’s enough!’ Diana cut in. She really looked quite pale, no doubt imagining the countless lorry drivers that had passed through Bindundilly but hopefully not through Charlie.

She turned to Jon with a regretful smile that didn’t fool him. ‘Vera’s terribly tired, darling, and I’m afraid there’s not much for dinner this evening. I expect we’ll just boil some eggs or something.’

He could take a hint. He drained his glass and set it back on the tray. ‘That’s all right. I’ll take Charlie down to the Three Crowns.’

His mother rose to her feet and gave him a pointed look. ‘Excellent. I should think she’ll feel right at home.’






Twitter: @LouiseHReynolds



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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Cooking The Books – Louise Reynolds + Giveaway

Chef with cookbook

Cooking breakfast for someone you love must be one of the most romantic things you can do. The hot, sweet part of the night is over and now one of you needs to provide fuel. I always like the idea of a man cooking breakfast. It’s sexy, capable and in the hands of the right person, can be very expressive.

So when Jake, my hero in Outback Bride, makes breakfast for Lara the morning after they’ve made love, I wanted it to be special. But he’s an outback guy so he doesn’t have smoked salmon, croissants or bircher muesli. He’s got bread, bacon and eggs – and his goddaughter sitting at the kitchen table. Here’s what he does with them: OutbackBride_cover

Damn, but it was a great morning. Jake took a knife and cut a ragged heart shape in the centre of a thick slice of stale bread and slipped it into the hot fat in the pan, admiring his handiwork. Today called for something beyond the usual biscuit-cutter circle, and an egg would run as easily to the edges of a heart shape.

Jessie sat at the table spooning cereal into her mouth. Every minute or so she grabbed a soggy cornflake and tried to feed it to her doll. Usually the milk dribbled across the table annoyed him, and personally he expected Barbie would rather have a double-shot skinny latte but this morning he just smiled.

The old pipes hammered with the sound of water heading to the bathroom where Lara was no doubt slicked with hot soapy water. Jake closed his eyes and offered a prayer of thanks then slid a guilty look across at Jessie.

They’d been quiet. Real quiet. It had been like fooling around as a teenager, trying not to make any noise. But that had only served to intensify the emotion. Moans had been smothered with deep kisses that had led to a lot of groaning. He’d slapped a playful hand over her mouth and she’d licked it softly then taken his fingers into her mouth one by one until she’d melted, her eyes going hazy and unfocussed. Then, when she’d started to move and the bedsprings creaked, he’d stilled her and pulled her closer. Their first time had been slow and intense. Deep.

Should he even be thinking about this stuff with a child in the room?

He’d fix those bloody springs. Soon. Better still, he’d jump on the net right after breakfast and order a new bed. King size. Well-sprung. He flipped the bread and cracked a fresh egg into the heart shape. He was an artist.

Footsteps sounded in the hall. He wanted to turn and take Lara into his arms but he kept his eyes on the pan, not wanting to look too eager.

‘Well, hey, my two favourite people.’

As good mornings went it suited Jake just fine and now he turned. Lara stood in the doorway wearing tracksuit pants and a T-shirt and towelling her hair dry before twisting the thick length into a loose coil and letting it fall over one shoulder. Her face was scrubbed and pink, her eyes sparkling.

‘Just in time. I made breakfast.’

Heart-shaped toastAnd he can cook.’ The private look she sent him ricocheted straight to his loins. Jake grabbed a plate and slid the fried toast and egg on to it, draping a little crispy bacon to the side.

Lara dropped a kiss on the top of Jessie’s head and sat in the chair next to her. Feeling slightly embarrassed, he placed the plate on the table. She looked at it, then rotated it and cocked her head to the side. Okay, so the egg white had spilled over the edges and the heart shape was a bit blurry. Finally she blushed as a small smile crept to her lips.

So what about you? What’s your favourite breakfast to serve your beloved? Or is there something you’d love to try? I have a kindle copy of Outback Bride OR a print copy of  Her Italian Aristocrat to give one commenter.

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