Baked Risotto with Pancetta & Sugar Snaps : Dinner Express – George Georgievski

Dinner Express

George Georgievski


Pan Macmillan Aust

ISBN: 9781760988463

Chuck it in, it’ll be right! This is the attitude I take whenever I make this risotto. I’ve tweaked
the recipe a few times since first eating it at my sister Suzy’s place many, many years ago. The
pancetta is the secret: the smell and crispness is next level and I highly recommend you add
a few extra slices for yourself while no one else is looking. Let’s get crackling, I mean cracking

Grab all of this
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
440 g (2 cups) arborio rice
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Vegeta stock powder
300 g sliced pancetta
100 g (1 cup) sugar snap peas, trimmed
50 g salted butter
75 g (¾ cup) grated parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
60 g baby rocket

Dinner Express by George Georgievski, Published by Plum, RRP $26.99, Photography by Nikole Ramsay

It’s time to do this
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the vegetable oil in a flameproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the rice and give it a good stir for about 1 minute, then add 250 ml (1 cup) of the vegetable stock and let it simmer until the stock has almost disappeared. Pour in the remaining vegetable stock and the Vegeta, then cover with the lid or foil and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the pancetta on the prepared tray and bake in the oven for the last 15 minutes of the risotto cooking time, until crisp. Keep an eye on it as the thickness of the slices will determine just how quickly they cook.

Now blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Remove the risotto from the oven and stir through the butter, parmesan, olive oil, sugar snap peas and half the rocket. Scatter the remaining rocket over the risotto and position the pancetta
on top (making sure you eat a few slices while no one is looking). Divide among shallow bowls and serve.

Did you know?
If you’re vegetarian, replace the pancetta with finely sliced tofu sprinkled with smoked paprika and salt. Cook for the same amount of time and scatter over the top before serving. You could also use ‘facon’ (fake bacon) instead, along with vegan cheese and butter to make the risotto
entirely vegan.

Some people say that you need to add dry white wine before the stock for it to be a real risotto, but my little peeps simply don’t like the taste, so I exclude it and add the Vegeta stock powder instead.

Review: The Torrent – Dinuka McKenzie

The Torrent

Dinuka McKenzie

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460760192

RRP $32.99


A loving husband lost to devastating summer floods. A teenage girl injured during a robbery. Two seemingly unconnected cases that will push a detective to the brink.

An atmospheric, compelling new voice in Australian crime fiction.

In Northern New South Wales, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is exhausted and counting down the days. But a violent hold-up at a local fast-food restaurant with unsettling connections to her own past, means that her final days will be anything but straightforward.

When a second case is dumped on her lap, the closed case of man drowned in recent summer floods, what begins as a simple informal review quickly grows into something more complicated. Kate can either write the report that’s expected of her or investigate the case the way she wants to.

As secrets and betrayals pile up, and the needs of her own family intervene, how far is Kate prepared to push to discover the truth? 

My View:

Dinuka McKenzie is the 2020 winner of the Banjo Prize for fiction. This debut work introduces us to the main characters, the locations, the culture, and nuances of daily life for the protagonist and her family. This is a very “human” look at policing in regional areas, of women’s lives ( it was pertinent that I read this around the marking of International Women’s Day) for I believe this is also a feminist novel. If I was still in uni I would say this could easily be a required read – looking at the intersection of gender, culture and power in Australia but I am not, I have my degree, so I will just say this; this is a book that has worked hard to get the reader to “know” the characters and the landscape of this book of crime fiction. Once we have fully immersed ourselves in this “space”, the pace picks up and the intrigue deepens. What once once a slow burn hisses and spits, the temperature hot hot hot!

A very satisfying read, a very human perspective of life , of crimes committed and their consequences, of looking deeper at situations, of what if’s and what now? I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I do love a character lead book of crime fiction.

Angelic Prawn Pasta : Dinner Express -George Georgievski

Dinner Express

George Georgievski


Pan Macmillan Aust

ISBN: 9781760988463

Prawns are easy to prepare and quick to cook, making them the ideal dinner for when you
want to chill out and watch Netflix. These days, supermarket delis have some pretty awesome
stuff on offer, including garlic-marinated prawns, which I use in this recipe. In Italy, they never
add parmesan to seafood pasta dishes, so don’t tell anyone if you sprinkle some on top
.” p100


Grab the following
500 g dried angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 kg marinated garlic prawns from the deli counter
150 g (1 cup) mixed medley cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon salt flakes
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 baguette, sliced, to serve (optional)

Dinner Express by George Georgievski, Published by Plum, RRP $26.99, Photography by Nikole Ramsay.

Time to get cracking
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over high heat. Add the angel hair pasta, but don’t break the pasta in half as this is a big no-no in Italy. Cook the pasta according to the packet
instructions, until al dente.

While your pasta is cooking, grab a large frying pan, add the olive oil and place over medium heat. Drop in the garlic prawns and cherry tomatoes and cook, turning occasionally, for 3–4 minutes, until the prawns are pink and cooked through. Using tongs, lift the cooked pasta from the boiling water and add
it to the cooked prawns and tomatoes, along with 125 ml (½ cup) of the pasta cooking water. Sprinkle the salt over the top, add the parsley and toss together until warmed through.

Divide the pasta and prawns among bowls and serve with some sliced baguette, if you like.

But wait, there’s more!
Angel hair pasta is a thin, noodle-like pasta, but you can use other varieties, too, such as spaghetti or tagliatelle.
You can add dried chilli flakes or sliced fresh chilli to the garlic prawns. The heat takes this dish to the next level, but remember your little humans might not like the spice.
Supermarket deli counters sometimes sell different varieties of marinated prawns, so don’t be afraid to try them out.

Review: I Am A Killer -Danny Tipping & Ned Parker

I Am a A Killer

Danny Tipping & Ned Parker

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781529065176


What goes through the mind of a killer when they commit murder? Based on the massively successful Netflix documentary series of the same name, this book features ten of the most compelling cases from the first two series and is full of exclusive never-seen-before material.

The authors, Ned Parker and Danny Tipping secured exceptional access to high-security prisons across America. The majority of the killers will die in prison – either by serving their sentence of life without parole or they are on Death Row, waiting to be executed. In each of the cases the inmate speaks openly about themselves and reflects on their life and their crimes. To gain a complete picture of the impact of the murders the authors spoke to both the families of both the perpetrators and the victims, and those in law enforcement who were involved in the case, leaving it up to the reader to make up their own mind about the killers and their crimes.

The book draws on handwritten letters from the inmates and full transcripts of the interviews to tell each story, and features exclusive material including personal pictures, crime scene images, and original police and court documents, this is a fascinating and detailed look at some of America’s most gripping murder cases.

My View:

This was a fascinating read. It did not glorify the crimes or those who committed them it merely reflected on circumstances, spoke to a few people involved in the situations to try and share a balanced view of the prisoner and life before and after they committed murder, on the what if’s ( or maybe that was what I added in my own head as I read), spoke of the legal systems; its complexity, it’s regional variances, it’s failings.

The book ( the lives of most in this book) is a sad reflection on how society has failed so many. Pick it up, read it and make your own conclusion. I would like to think that most in this book will get a second chance to have all their stories heard and then be judged accordingly.

I hope that those who determine where our taxes are spent read this book and realise money spent on drug rehabilitation programs ,on education for all, on domestic violence shelters and support, on child welfare, is money well spent. Think long term results or consequences, it’s your choice.

Mexican Style Chicken and Avo Salsa: Dinner Express – George Georgievski

Dinner Express

George Georgievski


Pan Macmillan Aust

ISBN: 9781760988463

I’ve been making this dish for ten years and, in my opinion, it has one of the best flavour
combos: lime, coriander and avocado. When I make it we usually sit in front of the TV and
scoop portions into our bowls. All you can hear is crunch, crunch, crunch – I love it! I always
add the chilli on the side as my little humans Anela and Kiki would lose it if they ate chilli.
There are a few ways you can serve this dish, but I’m going to focus on the fun way to eat it.
” p114

Dinner Express by George Georgievski, Published by Plum, RRP $26.99, Photography by Nikole Ramsay.

Go grab this stuff
1 supermarket whole roast chicken
juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges to serve
250 g (1 cup) natural yoghurt
1 long red chilli, sliced (optional)
230 g packet of traditional corn chips

2 avocados, diced
½ red onion, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked and finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt flakes

Rock it like this.

Using your hands, peel away the chicken skin and discard it. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all – I sometimes like to leave the skin on for that extra fatty flavour. Remove the chicken meat from
the bones and use two forks to shred the meat. Pop the chicken in a bowl and clean your chopping board.
Time to make the avo salsa. Place the avocado, onion, tomato and coriander in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and salt, then drop in the shredded chicken. Give it all a good mix. Stir the lime juice into the natural yoghurt for extra tang, then transfer to a small serving bowl.

To serve, pile the chicken mixture onto a chopping board and place the lime yoghurt alongside for dipping. Arrange the corn chips around the chicken, or put them in little metal buckets
for that semi-fancy look. Top with the chilli (or serve it in a bowl alongside) and add some lime wedges for squeezing over.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Josh Kemp

Author bio: Joshua Kemp is an author of Australian Gothic fiction. His short stories have been published by Overland, Kill Your Darlings, Seizure, Tincture and Breach. He’s been shortlisted for the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award and longlisted for the Fogarty Literary Award. Banjawarn is his first novel.

Welcome to my blog Josh. Josh is a Western Australian author and recent winner of the Dorothy Hewett prize. Let’s chat books, writing and travel.

RWR: When you started writing this novel Banjawarn, did you have it in mind to enter the Dorothy Hewitt prize? Congratulations on the fabulous outcome.

 J: Thank you so much! No, I really wasn’t planning on entering it into the Dorothy Hewett Award at all. In fact, when I finished the first draft for Banjawarn, I realised it was sitting at around 125,000 words long, and most literary competitions are open for novels between 30,000 and 100,000, so it was way over the limit. It was just pure luck that I saw the Dorothy Hewett was open to manuscripts which were a bit longer than most other competitions. I thought why not just send it off and see what happens? But no way would I have expected to become a joint winner alongside Kgshak Akec. Still can’t believe it if I’m honest.

RWR: How long did it take you to write?

J: The novel was written in three and a half months. I know that sounds like a short amount of time but I really can’t stress how much I lived and breathed Banjawarn for that period. I’d start early in the morning, write until midday, take a two-hour break, then keep writing through the afternoon, and go off to work at night. The bucket loads of caffeine helped too.

RWR: How did you research this novel?

J: The research was predominantly conducted over Trove. The novel deals with the colonial history of the Kalgoorlie and Northern Goldfields region so Trove allowed me to access newspaper articles and police journals from that time. I also found an amazing book called 110 Degrees in the Waterbag by Criena Fitzgerald and Lenore Layman which was really well researched and helped me understand so much about the area I was writing about. The rest of the inspiration came from spending time in Kalgoorlie, Leonora and The Terraces, mostly just from the experience of bushwalking.

RWR: Where is the novel set?

J: The novel covers a 600 km stretch of road through Western Australia, starting at Peak Charles National Park, moving to the town of Kalgoorlie, then to Leonora and Gwalia in the Northern Goldfields, and ultimately ends up at a very remote outback station called Banjawarn. This moving around allowed me to write about these places I love so much and really cram a bunch of local detail into the novel.

RWR: How would you describe this book?

J: Banjawarn fits very nicely into the Australian Gothic mode, a form of fiction which has always interrogated the darker side of our society and history. But I’ve also had many readers tell me the story works really well as a Western. I hadn’t considered that at all while writing, but it makes sense as the novel is preoccupied with how frontier history has had such a grave impact on Aboriginal Australians and the natural landscape. There’s also a little bit of Psychological Horror in there too, reminiscent of Gerald’s Game or The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. I’m a big horror buff so that influence was always going to sneak its way into the work.

RWR: What prompted you to base the writing in this location?

J: I’m obsessed with bushwalking, and one of my favourite places to hike is in breakaway country. Breakaway is a mesmeric landscape in which the laterite and granite has weathered into misshapen cliffs, and there’s this amazing juxtaposition of colours in the rocks, from the brightest tangerine to deathly pale white. Back in 2020, I was researching where I could go hiking next, and discovered there was a massive area of breakaway country near Leonora, called The Terraces. If, or when, you read Banjawarn, you’ll see The Terraces play a large and very important role in the novel.

RWR: What type of car do you own? How did it survive the outback trip?

J: I go on a lot of outback trips so I was well-prepared, haha. I did live out my white Prado (the same car Hoyle drives in the novel) for three weeks but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. It’s actually quite comfy. When I’m putting a novel together in my head, I need peace and quiet, solitude and the bush, so it wasn’t a trial at all. Sometimes I wish I could live like that all the time, strange as that may sound to some. The car did just fine, I was the one who got injured when I took a fall in The Terraces and sliced my pinkie finger open on a piece of sharp granite. But it all turned out fine; the lovely people at the Leonora hospital had me patched-up in no time.

RWR: What’s next for you?

J: I’m already planning my next creative work. Considering Banjawarn turned out to be 125,000 words long, I’d like to write something a bit shorter. Possibly a novella? I really admire novellas as I think it requires more discipline as an author to get them right. Apart from that, I’m just looking forward to Banjawarn going out into the world.

RWR: Where can readers purchase your book from?

J: The novel will be available from all good bookstores when it’s released on February the 7th, but if you don’t feel like wandering down to your local store, you can also purchase it from the University of Western Australia Publishing website,

RWR: Are you doing any author talks? If so can you share the details?

J: I’m so excited to be talking at the Perth Festival’s Literature and Ideas Weekend. I’ll be discussing the writing of Banjawarn with fellow Gothic-fanatic Catherine Noske, author of the brilliant The Salt Madonna. Our talk goes for 45 mins and will take place on the Upper Lawn at the Fremantle Arts Centre on the 26th of February.

RWR: Thanks so much for spending time with us today Josh and talking about your adventures writing this amazing book. The landscapes here really do speak to me and I am sure they will to many others.

What I Am Reading This Week


Josh Kemp

UWA Press



Winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

Garreth Hoyle is a true crime writer whose destructive love affair with hallucinogenic drugs has sent him searching for ghosts in the unforgiving mallee desert of Western Australia. Heading north through Kalgoorlie, he attempts to score off old friends from his shearing days on Banjawarn Station. His journey takes an unexpected detour when he discovers an abandoned ten-year-old girl and decides to return her to her estranged father in Leonora, instead of alerting authorities. Together they begin the road trip from hell through the scorched heart of the state’s northern goldfields.

Love, friendship and hope are often found in the strangest places, but forgiveness is never simple, and the past lies buried just beneath the blood red topsoil. The only question is whether Hoyle should uncover it, or run as fast as his legs can take him.

Banjawarn is an unsettling debut from Josh Kemp. Echoing Cormac McCarthy’s haunting border trilogy and narrative vernacular that recalls the sparse lyricism of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton, this is a darkly funny novel that earns its place amongst the stable of Australian gothic literature.

This week ….

This week sees another work by a West Australian author land in my post box. I think this is the year that WA authors will shine. Banjarwarn is the debut novel, winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript written by Josh Kemp, a resident of the South West of Western Australia.

This book is about landscapes both familiar and alien, and sometimes they are both at the same time. 🙂 The red dirt, the remoteness, the regional towns of Kalgoorlie and Leonora are all too familiar, we took a caravan trip through these towns ( and further) last year ( and lots of my recent abstract landscapes were inspired by these areas, their remoteness, their bold colours, their atmosphere). Kemp captures these moody, vast, isolated, locations perfectly.

The landscape of drug abuse – PCP and ‘meth is one I am not so familiar with and Kemp paints a picture that shocks and yet informs and somehow is empathetic.

This book defies being defined as this or that. It is a love story, it has gothic echoes, it is a story of drug abuse, it is a story of compassion and friendship…it is a story of a harsh landscape and ultimately it is a story of hope.

I do hope you get an opportunity to read this one.

PS the cover art perfectly depicts the remote and wild country that the book rests on.

Review: Blind Date – Brenda Chapman

Blind Date

Hunter and Tate #1

Brenda Chapman




Nobody’s safe when a killer has you in their sights.

True crime podcaster Ella Tate is shaken to her core by the horrific assault and murder of Josie Wheatly, a teacher she has never met … because not only had Josie moved into Ella’s vacated apartment three months earlier, but her Facebook photos reveal a striking resemblance between the two women.

Within days, two people close to Ella are harmed, and she fears that she’s become the target of twisted revenge from her crime-reporting days. Reluctantly teaming up with her neighbour Tony, a hairdresser who loves the finer things in life, and Liam Hunter, the persistent detective assigned to the cases, Ella struggles to stay one step ahead before she becomes the target of the final kill.

My View:

It is no secret that I have been a long time fan of Brenda Chapman’s,  The Stonechild and Rouleau police procedurals. After I finished the last in that series, I did wonder what we might expect next from this accomplished author, I was so pleased to discover Blind Date.,

In Blind Date Chapman has created another very followable partnership of crime investigators- Ella – true crime pod caster/journalist and Hunter, cop. I like this this team. We learn a lot about Ella in this read, her past, her family, her trauma, her resilience. Hunter’s role in this book, whilst important, was not the focus and I am sure that in the next book in the series we will get to know Hunter a lot better.

Character lead crime fiction is one of my favourite genres and if its one you love you will not go wrong picking up a copy of this just released book. I cant wait to read more about Ella Tate and Liam Hunter

Review: Muster Dogs – Aticia Grey

Muster Dogs

Aticia Grey

ABC Books



An outback story of kelpies, red dirt and the future of a family farm.

Life on the land is often boom or bust, forever at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Aticia ‘Teesh’ Grey took on the manager’s role on her family’s West Pilbara cattle station a few years after picking up her first team of kelpies. Almost immediately she was faced with a severe and devastating drought that forced her to question everything she thought she knew about the fragile country of her home.

Through the heartbreaking rollercoaster journey that followed, Teesh’s loyal canine companions proved invaluable as she and her family worked towards securing the property’s future. The versatility of these amazing dogs took the station in directions no one anticipated.

In 2020, Teesh got the chance to showcase the potential of working dogs more widely. Joining the ABC TV series Muster Dogs, Teesh and four other farming families took on the challenge of training new kelpie pups and testing their worth on the properties they run. Through this experience they showed the bonds that are formed between human and dog and vividly demonstrated a positive environmental future for farming in rural Australia.

This is a story of love, laughter, loss and hope, as Teesh finds her feet in an ever-changing world with the help of the dogs who have stood by her side through it all.


‘Kick your boots off and settle in for a wild journey of love and heartbreak, from the most inspiring cattlewoman I know …’ Margareta Osborn, author and grazier

‘Evocative, authentic and freshly engaging account of pastoral life … reads like a Wild West adventure story … At the end of this journey Grey recounts her transformative shift to a regenerative agriculture approach that puts the landscape first so as to begin healing ‘Country’. What is optimistically promised is a fuller, less stressful lifestyle and healthier, more productive livestock’ Charles Massy, author and voice for regenerative agriculture.

My View:

Escape to the country where the land is hard, dry, red and barren. Escape to the country to find your best friends. This read is engaging, heartwarming and will open your eyes to a landscape you only thought you knew before your opened this book or watched the TV series ( I haven’t watched the TV series, but you don’t need to to appreciate the honest, visual writing here in.) This is a love story between a woman, her working dogs and they land they inhabit.

A great read.

Review: Wild Dogs – Michael Trant

Wild Dogs

Michael Trant

Bantam Australia


RRP $32.99


Wild Dogs is a page-turning action thriller set in the WA outback, introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher

‘Tough, fast and hard – my kind of book.’ -Lee Child

In the drought-ridden rangelands of Western Australia, Gabe Ahern makes his living trapping wild dogs for local station owners.

Still coming to terms with his wife’s death – and the part he played in it – the old bushman leads a solitary life. Until one morning, when he rescues a young Afghan man, Amin, from certain execution.

Now, with a gang of people smugglers on his tail and the lives of Amin’s family on the line, Gabe is drawn into a ruthless game of cat and mouse. His main opponent is Chase Fowler, a kangaroo hunter with bush skills as wily and sharp as his own.

As the old dogger and roo-shooter go head to head, Gabe will need all his cunning to come out of this alive…

Wild Dogs is a just-one-more-chapter thriller that kept me up long after lights out.’ -Jack Heath 

My View:

Firstly I would like to disagree with the statement” ….introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher“. This book is so much more interesting, complex, taut, gutsy, and raw; so much better than any Jack Reacher (apologies Lee Child, nothing personal).

WOW!!! That about sums up my reaction to this book. Read it, I think you will agree with me. 🙂