Friendship…How Well Do You Really Know Someone?

Female friendships  – start a trend and celebrate them on Valentines Day #BFF

To win a copy of this intriguing book – in the comments tell me which WA author praises this read. (Hint – see here) 

the-fifth-letter

The Fifth Letter

Nicola Moriarty

HarperCollins Australia

ISBN: 9781460751312

Description:

How well do you really know your friends?

Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year to reconnect and take a break from the demands of their everyday lives. Now in their thirties, commitments have pulled them in different directions and the closeness they once enjoyed growing up seems increasingly elusive.
This year, determined to revive their intimacy, the four friends each share a secret in an anonymous letter to be read out during the holiday. But instead of bringing them closer, the revelations seem to drive them apart.
Then a fifth letter is discovered, and it becomes clear that one of the friends is hiding something sinister. Suddenly it seems that one of the women is in serious danger. But who was the author? And which of them should be worried?
The Fifth Letter examines the often complex nature of women’s friendships, the loyalty and honesty that they demand, and the battle to hold onto relationships that once seemed essential but are now outgrown.

****This giveaway is open to Australian resident only. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia  for generously supporting this giveaway. Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

 

 

Ahhhh Romance

For the romantics or those in love or those who  just enjoy reading about love in all its shapes and forms…a give away just for you. For your chance to win a copy of this uniquely Australian voice – in the comments tell me one of the regions this novel is based in.

the-dangers-of-truffle-huntingThe Dangers of Truffle Hunting

Sunni Overend

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752104

Description:

True desires will be unearthed…

A delightfully sexy story that spans the Australian wine country, the French provinces and hip inner Melbourne. Perfect for fans of Zoe Foster-Blake and Candace Bushnell, and for readers who relish fabulous food and wine.
Kit Gossard’s life is neatly mapped out. A secure photographic job. A partner ready to commit. A wedding in the family vineyard for her mother to preside over. So why the apprehension? Why a hunger for something … more?
Then someone new appears. Earthy, reserved, magnetic, this new man brings out feelings Kit has long suppressed, and suddenly she can’t contain her simmering discontent.

Black truffle hunting, illicit pastry lessons, vine fruit on flesh — Kit is seduced. It feels so right. Before it all goes wrong. Should she retreat to the predictability of life before? Or is the safe option the most perilous of all?

**This giveaway is open to Australian resident only. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia  for generously supporting this giveaway. Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

Sweet as….Icecream

The first of my Valentine’s Day book giveaways – doesn’t this one sound inviting and perfect for a Valentine’s Day read for yourself or to to give to someone you love?   To win a copy of this moving novel, in the comments section of this post, share your favourite ice cream obsession. the-icecream-makers

The Ice- Cream Makers

Ernest van der Kwast

(trans. Laura Vroomen)

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321203

Description:

**Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Many thanks to Scribe Publications for generously supporting this giveaway.Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

 

 

 

Love and Caramel Kisses

Is baking the way you demonstrate your love?  It is for me, I love cooking for the people who are the most important in my life. Here is another recipe to tempt you into the kitchen this Valentines Day, Simmone Logue’s Caramel Kisses from In the Kitchen:

In The Kitchen

In the Kitchen by Simmone Logue (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99)

Caramel Kisses

Makes 36

Preparation 40 minutes

cooking 30 minutes

These are just so good, and not too big, so you don’t feel guilty when you indulge in one — although it’s very hard to stop at just one! These caramel kisses freeze brilliantly in an airtight container, so you can make up a huge batch by doubling or tripling the recipe, and getting the kids to help press the biscuit mixture into your mini muffin tins. I like to give them as gifts to my friends and family, who find them irresistible.” p.186

 

simmone-logue_caramel-kisses-sml

vegetable oil spray

 

Biscuit base

200 g (7 oz) digestive biscuits (cookies)

40 g (11⁄2 oz/scant 1⁄2 cup) desiccated coconut

30 g (1 oz) light brown sugar

50 g (13⁄4 oz/1⁄3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

80 g (23⁄4 oz) unsalted butter, melted

80 ml (23⁄4 fl oz/1⁄3 cup) golden syrup or treacle

1 tablespoon milk

 

Caramel filling

400 g (14 oz) tin condensed milk

50 g (13⁄4 oz) unsalted butter

50 ml (13⁄4 fl oz) golden syrup or treacle

 

Chocolate ganache topping

100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) thin (pouring/whipping) cream

100 g (31⁄2 oz) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Lightly spray three 12-hole mini muffin tins with vegetable oil spray.

 

To make the biscuit base, use a food processor or blender to whiz the biscuits into fine crumbs. Tip the crumbs into a bowl, add the coconut, sugar and flour and mix together. Pour in the melted butter, golden syrup and milk and mix until combined.

 

Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and roll it into a small ball, then press it into one of the muffin holes, and all the way up the side, as if you were making a little clay ‘pinch pot’. Repeat with the remaining biscuit mixture.

 

Combine the caramel filling ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken. Pour the caramel into a jug with a good spout, then three-quarters fill the biscuit cases with the caramel, leaving room for the topping.

 

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

 

To make the topping, heat the cream in a small saucepan until it is quite hot. Whisk in the chocolate until the ganache is nice and thick, and all the chocolate has melted. Pour the ganache into a small jug, then pour this shiny chocolate topping onto your little caramel kisses.

 

Place the caramel kisses in the refrigerator to set; they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Sweet Surprises

It is almost Valentines Day…again..already, and what better way to say I Love You than sharing a meal or a sweet treat made with love?

Here are a few suggestions to make cooking for that special someone, easy. And if cooking isn’t your “thing” how about gifting a book or two? I will have several to give away in the next few days.

Now what will it be? Moulded Chocolates, recipe by that well known chocolatier Kirsten Tibballs? Or Simmone Logue’s delicious Caramel Kisses?  I’ll post both recipes and you can make that difficult choice or choose to make both 🙂 

 

Moulded Chocolates

Chocolate - Cover

Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs (Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99)

Makes: 50   Gluten-free

Moulded chocolates look like sparkling jewels — the plastic mould makes the chocolate contract and become shiny. Handle the chocolates as little as possible to maintain the shine. You can make these moulded chocolates with milk or dark chocolate if you prefer.” p. 74-77

 

Chocolate Shells

Ingredients

100 g (31/2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (a)

red oil-based powdered food colouring

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (b)

 

chocolate_moulded-chocolates

 

Method

 Temper the chocolate (a) (see pages 12–14). Sift in the red food colouring and mix to combine. Polish chocolate moulds with cotton wool to eliminate any fingerprints. (I have used two heart-shaped moulds for this recipe. All moulds vary in shape and size – select ones you like.) Using your finger or a brush, paint a thin layer of the red chocolate into the base of each mould and scrape the top of the mould with a metal scraper to remove any excess red chocolate from the top surface of the mould.

 

Temper the chocolate (b) (see pages 12–14).

 

Once the first red chocolate layer has set, fill the mould with the tempered white chocolate and scrape the top and sides of the mould to remove any excess chocolate. Tap or vibrate the mould on a work surface from side to side to dislodge any air bubbles trapped on the surface. Turn the mould upside down suspended above a sheet of baking paper and tap it firmly on the side of the mould with a scraper or palette knife to remove the excess chocolate. (Once set, the chocolate on the baking paper can be stored and re-tempered for ‘Sealing the mould’ – see page 77.) Scrape the mould while still upside down to remove any drips of chocolate. Turn the mould the right way up and tap and scrape again if necessary. Place the mould on its side to set or if your room temperature is warm, place for a short period in the refrigerator.

 

Ganache Filling

Ingredients

200 g (7 oz/11∕3 cups) coarsely chopped good-quality milk chocolate

100 g (31/2 oz/2∕3 cup) coarsely chopped good-quality dark chocolate

260 ml (9 fl oz) cream (35% fat)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

 

Method

 Put both chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Put the cream and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, whisking by hand until all the chocolate is melted and combined. Add the butter, whisking to combine. Scrape the ganache down from the side of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap so it is touching the surface of the ganache. Leave the ganache until it cools to just below 30°C (86°F), then use immediately.

 

Transfer the prepared ganache to a piping (icing) bag with a 5–10 mm  (1/4–½ inch) plain nozzle. Pipe the ganache into each chocolate-lined mould, leaving space to seal the mould with more chocolate. (You can also use a teaspoon to spoon the ganache into the moulds.) Leave to cool at room temperature – as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F). If the room is too hot, place the ganache in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 24 hours before sealing, to enable the ganache to firm up. You can also put the mould in the refrigerator, but for no longer than 15 minutes.

 

Sealing the mould
Once the ganache has been setting for a minimum of 1 hour in the mould, temper the remaining white chocolate (see pages 12–14) that was tapped out of the mould. If your mould has been sitting for more than 12 hours, warm the surface slightly with a hair dryer. Place a sheet of baking paper under the mould. Spread a layer of tempered chocolate on the base of the mould and tap on the side of the mould with the handle of a palette knife or spatula to pop any air bubbles. Scrape firmly on the surface of the mould with a metal scraper wider than the mould or a metal spatula. Scrape again if needed and then scrape the excess chocolate off the sides of the mould and repeat the process with the second mould.

Let the moulds sit at room temperature for 10 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Turn the mould over onto a clean work surface and tap to dislodge the chocolates. As soon as they come out, move them gently to the side and tap again if needed. Store the chocolates at room temperature – as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F). If the room is too hot, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

 

 

Meaningful Connections

It is St Valentine’s Day  – a day for sharing, showing and expressing your love for and connecting with the people you love.

If you have an opportunity to some “me” time let me suggest a few titles for your reading pleasure – all share a similar them – connecting with others (reviews to come in the near future).

 

The Lovers

The Lovers

Rod Norland

Hachette Australia

Hodder Books

ISBN: 97814736007002

Description:

She is his Juliet and he is her Romeo, her family has vowed to kill them both.

A riveting, real-life equivalent of The Kite Runner—an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Zakia and Ali were from different tribes, but they grew up on neighboring farms in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. By the time they were young teenagers, Zakia, strikingly beautiful and fiercely opinionated, and Ali, shy and tender, had fallen in love. Defying their families, sectarian differences, cultural conventions, and Afghan civil and Islamic law, they ran away together only to live under constant threat from Zakia’s large and vengeful family, who have vowed to kill her to restore the family’s honor. They are still in hiding.

Summer Harvest

Summer Harvest

Georgina Penney

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9780143797081

Description:

English dog trainer Beth Poole is having trouble getting her life back together after beating a life-threatening illness and divorcing her husband. When her Aussie-soap-obsessed grandma sends her to Australia to recover, it seems a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation while she figures out what’s next…

Our Song

Our Song

Dani Atkins

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471153297

Description:

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured – perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they’ve never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally’s ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Entry Island

Entry Island

Peter May

 Quercus

ISBN: 9781782062202

Description:

When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime’s conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.