1.Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods (ie cheese or chocolate)?
I am more of a savoury-toothed tiger, ESPECIALLY if the savoury food in question is cheese. Squoodgy camembert, crumbly chedder, glowering Stilton – the stuff that dreams are made of!
2. Red wine or white? (wine obviously)
Do I have to choose? Red, if I have to. Goes better with cheese! And steak. Even salmon, oddly enough.
3. Do you have a favourite food memory?
Many! But one was definitely the first time I went to a very flash restaurant. I had been inveigled into going by a persuasive friend who offered to pay for the Dom Perignon. We were both students and emphatically could not afford it, but we blew the dough and had a whale of a time. My favourite part of the meal was having steak tartare, mixed at the table by a gloriously flattering waiter who buttered us up by saying that it wasn’t often that he had lady gourmets in the restaurant.
We knew it was a line, but we were having so much fun that we didn’t care!
4. Does food feature in your novel(s)?
I doubt I could write a story that doesn’t feature food in some way or another.
It’s too much a part of life. The heroine in Rules are for Breaking, Jo, isn’t much of a cook, so she
is very susceptible to being wooed with food and Declan (the hero) takes full advantage of that weakness!
5. What recipe are you sharing with us and why?
I’m giving you my recipe for gluten-free brownies because, although I generally prefer savoury, it’s great to have something sweet around for visitors. This recipe makes two pans worth, but don’t let that put you off as they freeze really well and are delicious.
375gr unsalted butter
375gr good quality dark chocolate*
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla essence (yes, tablespoon. Big recipe)
500gr caster sugar (or normal white sugar is fine)
225gr gluten-free all-purpose flour (or regular plain flour for non-gluten-free)
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag white choc chips (choc bits) (approx 250gr)
Preheat the oven to 180C and get out two slice pans. If you don’t have any, you can use a roasting tin. Line both base and sides with baking paper, leaving an overhang on both sides.
Melt the butter in a large pyrex bowl (or similar – do not use plastic for this, the butter will destroy it) in the microwave. While it is melting, break or chop up the chocolate. When it is melted, stir in the chocolate until it is melted. (You can also do this over simmering water in a pan if you like.)
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in another bowl. (You can use a hand whisk. It’s not hard.) Then beat this mixture into the chocolate mixture. This will take a little work as the mixture is big now, but you can still do it by hand!
If you did the butter and chocolate mixture on the stove, let it cool a bit before adding the eggs and sugar. If you did it in the microwave, it will have cooled down as the chocolate melted, so you don’t need to wait – an advantage of the microwave method!
Measure the flour and salt into a sieve and sift over the chocolate mixture, then beat it in. When the mixture is combined, stir through the choc chips.
Pour into your prepared (lined) pan. You will probably need to spread it out, as it is a dense, slow-flowing mixture. Don’t worry too much about pushing it into the corners, though. It will settle itself.
Bake for 25 minutes. When it is ready, the top will be pale brown and cracking, but the insides will still be gooey. I found 25 minutes was exactly right. Don’t overcook them. You don’t want them to be dry. If you think they’re really undercooked, give them another five minutes and look again.
These are much easier to cut if you let them cool completely before cutting. I usually make them the day before, but if I am running late, I wait until the pan is cool enough then stick the whole thing in the freezer to get cold before cutting. You can lift the uncut brownie out of the pan before putting it in the freezer, but if it is still hot, it will probably crack.
These are magnificent warm, with cream, for desert, at room temperature for a soft, chewy afternoon tea, or chilled or even frozen for lunchboxes. The flavour and texture varies according to the temperature and experimenting is fun!
This recipe is based on one in Nigella Lawson’s Domestic Goddess Cookbook, adjusted to be nut and
Links are as follows:
This is my excerpt. It’s not food-related, sadly. Those bits didn’t excerpt very well. This is the first time that Jo sees Declan – only she doesn’t know it is Declan at the time…
In reply, Kate grabbed her hand and spun her around so that she was looking out of the large front window of the gallery.
‘Okay, Jo, if you’re so over men, tell me what you see.’
Parked in the space right outside the window was a hulking four-wheel drive, but Jo knew that the car wasn’t what Kate
was asking her to look at. No, Kate was talking about the man who was standing with his back to them, reaching into the back seat. His rear view was certainly worth looking at. From their seated position, they had a direct line of sight to his bum – and it was a bum of superlative cuteness. He was leaning forward just enough for the fabric of his faded jeans to mould over the sweetest, roundest butt cheeks Jo had seen in a long time.
Jo felt her breath shorten as she ogled the hard muscle of his behind. Then her eyes strayed to where the worn fabric
stretched over a thigh that looked firm enough to bounce golf balls off, and she felt her fingers twitch involuntarily with the urge to test that hardness first-hand.
Then he straightened up, and gave her the full benefit of his upper body. If she had had any doubts before, they were put to rest now. This was a man who had either been unfairly blessed in the muscle department, or who worked out. A lot. He wasn’t excessively tall – only a couple of centimetres taller than she was. But since she stood just shy of six foot
herself, that was enough. Any more height might have diluted the effect of the broad shoulders, the muscular upper arms, the perfect inverted triangle of his back… Jo stopped her mental checklist.
Forget about Declan. This guy was her type. The type it never worked with, true; the type she had nothing in common with, but who never failed to raise her blood pressure and make her rush in where sense and experience should tell her to run in the other direction. Against her better judgement, Jo found herself licking her lips and, before she could stop herself, she let out a heartfelt ‘Phwoar!’
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
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