Book Launch: Find Your Creative Mojo – Josh Langley

Yesterday I was privileged to attend the launch of the new inspirational book by Josh Langley. Josh knows how to encourage, support, inspire… all whilst enjoying life’s journey.

I love the heading of the first chapter: “If you have a heart, you can create art.” This says it all.

 

Thanks Josh for your continued support of my creative journey.

Review: Hive – A.J Betts

Hive

Hive (Hive #1)

A J Betts

Pan

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760556433

 

Description:

All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.

 

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.

 

Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

 

A drip? It doesn’t make sense.

 

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.

 

Curiosity is a hook.

 

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

 

 

My View:

Let’s start by admiring the spectacular cover art with its gold embossing, award winning I would suggest.

 

The narrative is simply driven, and quietly spoken which belies the horrors of the actual landscape. Through Hayley’s eyes we explore a futuristic world where the division of labour determines an individual’s existence and pathway to adulthood, a world where dissidents are not tolerated.

 

 

A J Betts has quickly established this “other world”, the main characters and a mystery that is just starting to be unravelled by Hayley in this, the first book in the Hive series. Hayley is the perfect vehicle for us to explore and experience life in the Hive.  She has a naivety, curiosity and intelligence that connects her to the reader.  We care about Hayley. “Does it ever feel to you like life is a puzzle? “ I nodded. It did. “It’s not like that for everyone you know…. For most people life just happens and they don’t ask why or how. They don’t notice the gaps between the puzzle pieces, or wonder what they mean.” (p.243) Hayley is a naturally curious person, and you know what happened to the cat….

 

A great read that will leave you wanting more. A read that all ages can embrace. A read that will leave you thinking, thinking…so many unanswered questions, so much material here to stimulate discussion.

 

 

 

 

Review: Heaven Sent – S.J. Morgan

Heaven Sent

Heaven Sent

S.J. Morgan

MidnightSun Publishing

ISBN: 9781925227451

 

Description:

At almost sixteen, Evie’s life isn’t all she’d hoped it would be. She lives in the dodgy end of town with her mum and her mum’s deadbeat boyfriend, Seb; and adolescent scoliosis means Evie’s forced to wear a back brace until she’s stopped growing.

 

Then one night, she meets Gabe. Breathtakingly handsome, he crashes, spectacularly, into Evie’s life. He says their meeting was no accident and convinces Evie he’s been sent to turn her fortunes around. Evie’s best friend, Paige, dismisses him as a pot-head, but Paige has issues of her own and has started spending all her time chasing older men instead of higher grades.

 

As the weeks go by, Evie’s luck seems to be on a constant upswing and she begins to wonder if she and Gabe really were ‘meant’ to meet; even if she’s noticed that so many aspects of Gabe’s story don’t add up…

 

But there’s someone else waiting in the wings and, for Evie as well as for Gabe, life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

 

 

My View:

For some reason I do not read a lot of YA novels – and yet each time I do I ask myself why I do not seek out more of this genre?

 

This book is a fabulously satisfying read; the characters are well developed, the situations/issues raised are illuminating, thought provoking and the narrative was engaging and SATISFYING, yes I know that word again.

 

You really will enjoy reading this novel.  J

 

 

 

Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookies: Love Laugh Bake! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer

 

BISCUITS, BISCOTTI & COOKIES,
EASY LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES 
“When I’m craving a simple yet satisfying cookie, I often turn to my mother’s tried and tested recipe for lemon
shortbread. The dough can be made by hand in minutes, but if you are in a hurry, a stand mixer fitted with
a paddle attachment will do the job for you in a matter of seconds. The almond meal adds moistness and
longevity to these cookies, and the potato starch helps create an ineffably light texture.” p193

100 g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting (optional)
150 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g (1¹⁄³ cups) self-raising flour
50 g (½ cup) almond meal
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (or 2 small ones)

Cream the icing sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or use
a wooden spoon (the old-fashioned way is more laborious, but that’s how my
nonna used to make these!).

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to incorporate. Roll the dough into
a log. Wrap it firmly in plastic film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Take the dough log out of the fridge and cut into 1 cm thick rounds. Place
them on the prepared tray, leaving plenty of room for spreading, and bake for
12–15 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve as
they are or dusted with extra icing sugar.
MAKES 10–12

 

LLB_Cookies_EasyLemonShortbreadCookies

Focaccia with Peaches, Goats Cheese and Prosciutto: Love Bake Laugh! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer

“I have included a recipe for focaccia in most of my books and television shows, and I suppose this goes to show
how much I adore this type of bread. Traditionally, focaccia originated in the coastal town of Genoa, on Italy’s
west coast, where the artisan bakers created a soft dough flavoured with local extra-virgin olive oil. The end
result is a soft and bouncy bread, dotted with holes moist with oil and flavoured with plenty of sea salt. The
dough also contains another ingredient often used in Italian bread making: barley malt syrup. This dark brown,
thick and sticky sweetener can be found in most good delis, but if it is too hard to come by, use honey instead.
(Please note that if you make this substitution, your focaccia will not be suitable for vegans.)” p.110

 

BASIC FOCACCIA DOUGH
1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon barley malt syrup
or honey
250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
400 g (2²⁄³ cups) 00 or plain flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
VEGAN (IF NOT USING HONEY)

Mix the yeast, syrup or honey and water in a large bowl and stand for a few
minutes to froth up.
Add the flour and olive oil and knead for 3–4 minutes, then add the salt and
knead vigorously for a further 5 minutes until smooth and elastic (feel free to
use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).
Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea
towel and rest for 20 minutes.
Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a rectangle, then fold the top and
bottom thirds into the centre, like folding a letter. Place the folded dough on an
oiled baking tray, cover with a damp tea towel and prove at room temperature
for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

 

FOCACCIA WITH PEACHES, GOAT’S CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
There comes a time, towards the end of summer, when peaches are so cheap it is almost a crime not to buy
them in bulk. This is when I find myself preserving them in syrup for winter or making jams. However, the
flavour of this gorgeous fruit is so versatile that it suits savoury dishes as well, and makes a delightful addition
to the universally loved combination of prosciutto and goat’s cheese.  p.116

1 quantity of basic focaccia dough (see above)
salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
3–4 peaches, quartered, stones removed
150 g goat’s cheese, crumbled
150 g prosciutto, finely sliced

Make and rest the dough as instructed.

Using floured hands, stretch out the dough to cover the baking tray and
sprinkle the surface with salt. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Using your fingertips, press down on the dough to create lots of little indents.
Whisk together the olive oil, water and honey, then coat the peach quarters
with the glaze. Tumble the glazed peaches over the focaccia, letting the juices
run into the holes. Sprinkle with some more salt, then cover and rest for a
further 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Bake the focaccia for 15–18 minutes, then scatter over the goat’s cheese.
Bake for a further 5 minutes or until it looks golden and utterly irresistible.
Take the tray out of the oven and top with the prosciutto. Serve hot or warm.
Any leftovers will be delicious cold too, but focaccia is best eaten on the day
it’s made.

SERVES 6–8

LLB_Breads_Foccacia_

Pretzels: Love Laugh Bake! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer 

 

THE BREAD BASKET
PRETZELS
“If you have travelled around those magnificent lands in the north of Italy, right on the border with Switzerland
and Austria, you may have wondered if all of a sudden you had crossed the frontier! Fair enough too, as
the first language spoken up there is German, and the culinary traditions of the area borrow more from the
neighbouring countries than the rest of Italy. This is where local restaurants offer wonderfully rich cabbage and
pork stews, spaetzle soup, apple strudel and the much-loved pretzel to accompany pints of Weissbier.
The traditional recipe for pretzels is a tricky one. It’s not complicated but in order to achieve the unique chewy
crumb and bronzed caramelised crust you need one crucial ingredient: the very caustic and abrasive lye. It is
true that you only need it at 3% of its strength, but after reading that I would need to protect myself with
thick gloves and safety goggles and (knowing how accident prone I am) I had to come up with an alternative.
Using bicarbonate of soda may make some purists cringe, but I am very happy to say the pretzels taste divine
and my hands and eyes are burn free! ” (p.52)

PRE-FERMENT
375 ml (1½ cups) lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dried yeast
225 g (1½ cups) 00 or plain flour
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup

DOUGH
375 g (2½ cups) 00 or plain flour
40 g unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
salt flakes, poppy seeds or sesame
seeds, to coat

To make the pre-ferment, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl to
form a wet dough. Let it stand for 2 hours or until it looks very bubbly and has
doubled in size.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the risen ferment and knead for 6–8 minutes
or until smooth. Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook if you have one
handy. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and prove at room temperature
for 1½ hours or until more than doubled in size.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Gently scrape the dough out of the
bowl onto a floured surface and form into an oval shape. Cut it evenly into
eight pieces and roll each piece into a long thin rope. Twist the rope around to
form a pretzel shape and gently press the ends into place.
Place the pretzels on the prepared tray, leaving plenty of room for spreading.
Cover with a damp tea towel and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
The pretzels will grow by about one-third during this time.

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the bicarbonate of soda
and barley malt syrup. Working with a few pretzels at a time, drop them into
the simmering water for 1 minute on each side, then lift them out gently with
a slotted spoon back onto the tray. Sprinkle liberally with salt, poppy seeds or
sesame seeds and bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden. Remove and cool
on a wire rack for 30 minutes before eating.

MAKES 8

 

                  

An Evening of Fine Wine and Floral Fantasy

A night on the town tonight; we attended the opening night showcase of Laurie Bullied’s floral art celebrated with fine wines and vermouth by Bettenay Wines and Margret River Nougat and a grazing table presented by Gourmet Food Merchant of Cowaramup – what a lovely evening.