From Recipes to Romance

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We’ve recently launched our new Ruby Fiction imprint and with the launch came the release of our first Ruby book – The Best Boomerville Hotel  by Caroline James. To celebrate this exciting occasion we have Caroline on the blog today revealing a little bit about her writing journey AND, if you read right until the end, you might find a rather special competition too! 

Many little girls like to make up stories and even one day write them into a book. It was always my dream but as I grew up, it was one that I never imagined would come true.

I went to an all girl’s grammar school and absolutely hated it. The only classes I took a passing interest in were cookery and English and those because the teachers terrified me. It was a very unhappy time. My working life took a very different direction from the one my parents had planned and instead of taking further education, to their horror, I left home and worked on the south coast, waiting table and washing pots. Eventually, I knew I needed more education and in free time, at college in Bournemouth, I would wander along the beach, staring up at the cliff-side hotels, dreaming of owning my own. That was a dream I knew I could make come true if I worked hard. Writing however, was a dream too far as I never imagined being good enough to put pen to paper.

Fast forward many years.

I got my beautiful hotel. A country house in the Lake District. In fact, I got many things including a great career in the hospitality industry working with some of the best chefs in the business. Food was my life and had given me a good living. But there was still that nagging dream, that unpublished book and an unanswered question – could I write? A story had been in my head for years, based around a hotel. One day I had an epiphany. I would die wondering if I didn’t get my bottom on a chair, fingers on a laptop and brain in gear. And so, I stole every hour that I could from a manic schedule and wrote the story. It took me a year. My elation at having completed my first manuscript soon evaporated as no one was interested and the rejection slips piled high. In desperation, I learnt how to self-publish and was completely gobsmacked when the book went to number three in women’s fiction on Amazon. I’ve never looked back and five books on and five years later, my new book, The Best Boomerville Hotel, is published by lovely Ruby Fiction.

I never thought my recipe writing years would turn to romance writing but I am so thankful that they did.

The Best Boomerville Hotel is now available to purchase in eBook. Click on the banner below for purchasing options. 

BBH OUT NOW

For more information on Caroline James:

Follow her on Twitter: @CarolineJames12
Like her page on Facebook: Caroline James
Check out her website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

COMPETITION TIME!

And now for a very special competition for a chance to win perhaps the cutest prize we’ve ever had the pleasure of giving away! Meet Boomerville Bertie …
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If you’d like to win Bertie (who comes in his very own branded Boomerville small draw-string bag) then simply answer the following question:

Where is the Best Boomerville Hotel set? 

If you know the answer please email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Boomerville competition’. The deadline for entries is Monday 26th March. 

Good luck!

Southern Temptations by Luscious Lily

Sugar & Spice

This is my story! Luscious Lily.

Hi y’all and welcome to ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’ Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and I’ll share a few of my cooking secrets with you. Southern women are born knowing how to cook and to us there’s nothing better than feeding a house full of people we love. My recipe today is a special one for us ladies. I grew up listening to my Mama and her friends sitting together on our front porch indulging in some gentle gossip and cake baking one-upmanship. Everyone had her own specialty and they weren’t always generous when it came to recipe sharing. I’ve heard more than one lady accused of missing out an ingredient on purpose. It would always be strenuously denied…but everyone knew the truth.

If you can picture spring time in the South you’ll understand why I picked ‘Luscious Lily’s Lemon Squares’ to share with you today. The air is warm, the blossoms are heavy on the trees and the humidity isn’t yet wrecking havoc with your hair. A pitcher of iced fruit tea sits on the table along with your best crystal glasses. There are starched linen napkins, never paper, or one of the long line of Southern grandmothers (with a smile on their face and a spine of steel) will come back to haunt you. The napkins are essential to wipe the powdered sugar off your fingers because these lemon squares are dredged in it as soon as they come out of the oven and the darn stuff sure does get everywhere. These cakes are a manifestation of the true Southern woman with their buttery crumb base, a sharp lemon centre and all hidden under a covering of sweet sugar.

Always remember to toss in a little love when you’re cooking and you can’t go wrong! Y’all come on back soon for more of ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’

Lemon SquaresLEMON SQUARES

1 ½ cups (190g) all purpose (plain) flour

3/8 cup (45g) powdered (icing) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml)  salt

¾ cup (170g) butter or margarine, softened

 Rub above ingredients together until it starts to stick together (butter can still be in small lumps). Press into a greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (180C) for 15 minutes.

While that is in the oven cooking mix up the top layer.

 3 eggs

1 ½ cups (300g) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml) baking powder

4 ½ Tablespoons (65g) all purpose (plain) flour

4 ½ Tablespoons (65ml) lemon juice

½ teaspoon (2ml) grated lemon rind

 Combine above ingredients and pour over baked layer. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F (180C) for 25 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar (icing sugar). Cut into squares to serve.

 Sugar & Spice by Angela Britnell that features the lovely Luscious Lily  is available as an eBook today and in paperback from 7th May 2014.  Check her out here…

 

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 4

choclit-logoxmassmallerChristmas wouldn’t be the same without those special dishes we all look forward to, the ones you can’t have any other time of the year (which is probably just as well for the sake of our waistlines!). Today we thought we’d tell you about some of our favourites, and there’s definitely a lot of variety here!

KateMy favourite Christmas food is, well no surprise, it’s a drink! Mulled wine, or even better, mulled cider. I make it with sweet cider and spiced vodka (add a couple of cinnamon sticks, a handful of cloves, a crushed nutmeg and some orange peel to a bottle of vodka and let it steep for a week or two. (This is also really good in hot Vimto if you’ve got a cold!).

clxmassprouts1JaneI love sprouts (which might be why I’m single.) So I have to say, my favourite recipe would be lightly cooked sprouts, tossed in butter with bacon and chestnuts. And maybe, if one is feeling racy, just a dash of whisky cream. True decadence . Windy decadence …

Sue – Chocolate. Sorry not to have something more original to contribute, here! But I am a chocoholic. Unfortunately, I have to severely limit my intake as it’s one of my migraine triggers. I probably don’t limit it enough as I have a migraine just about every Christmas …

Chris – My favourite food, no matter what the time of year, is always really good fresh bread. We’re currently using a sourdough recipe which produces a lovely, crusty versatile loaf. Getting the sourdough starter (levain) is a bit of a faff, but the results are well worth it. Take a look at levain recipes online if you’re interested. I’d tell you here, but it would take more space than I’ve got!

clxmas14sausagerollsLinda – This has to be sausage rolls! I eat them (well, just a couple!) on Christmas Eve with a glass of sherry as my husband and I open our presents before we go to bed – too much to do the next day to be doing it then! Now, sausage rolls are full of the bad fats which is why I don’t make them very often. But I always use unsalted butter when I do, and self-raising flour. I make rough-puff pastry with a ratio of 8 oz of flour to 6oz grated butter, mixed in with the blade of a rounded knife, not the fingers. Then roll it out like flaky pastry once you’ve added cold water to mix. Let it rest for ten minutes or so while you get on with the sausage meat bit. I always use skinned organic sausages (a pound or so) from my local farm shop to which I add a couple of grated shallots, the same volume of grated dessert apple, and half a dozen fresh sage leaves chopped finely. I divide the pastry into three, ditto the sausage meat mixture and make three very long sausage rolls which I then cut on the diagonal into about 40 baby ones. Prick with a fork then glaze with an egg and milk wash. Twenty minutes in the oven on Gas 5 does it for me….but keep an eye on them. Naughty, but oh so nice.

Margaret – I love oven-baked Conference pears with a sweet cranberry and red wine sauce.  They go particularly well with chocolate brownies.  The red of the cranberries and the green of the pears always looks very Christmassy to me.

EvonneXmas pudding – preferably homemade and with traditional white sauce, not cream or brandy butter.

clxmasmeatballsChristina – Swedish meatballs. I know they can technically be eaten any time of year, but I only make them at Christmas because it’s very time-consuming. I have a special recipe, given to me by a cook my grandmother used to employ for special dinner parties, and she always said to me “people go mad when it comes to meatballs, you know, they can never get enough” – I know what she meant!

Liz – Yorkshire Tea Bread.  It’s very easy to make, and when it’s made, sliced and spread with butter, it’s absolutely delicious.  It keeps very well too.  (If anyone would like the recipe for this, Liz is happy to supply it – e-mail or DM her direct).

Henriette – I love the traditional Danish Christmas dinner, consisting of roast pork with crackling, served with caramelised potatoes, red cabbage and redcurrant jelly.  This is then followed by a cold rice pudding flavoured with vanilla, served with warm cherry sauce.  Just thinking about it is making my mouth water …

JulietHere’s a recipe for Chestnut and Sausagemeat Stuffing, which gives turkey or chicken a great lift. Melt a knob of butter in a pan. Add 1 large onion (peeled and finely chopped) and fry until golden. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add 2 large cooking apples (peeled, cored and chopped), 200g pork sausagemeat, 100g fresh white breadcrumbs, and a 400g can of unsweetened chestnut purée. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir well to combine thoroughly. Put in the turkey/chicken cavity just before roasting, or cook in a separate covered dish on a moderate oven for 1 hour (timings very approximate, especially after the pre-dinner drinks!).

What’s your favourite food at Christmas? Please share! And don’t forget to come back tomorrow, when we’ll be chatting about some very special tree decorations (and there’s another book to be won too!)