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A Family Recipe Book Tour

A Family RecipeOn the book tour for Veronica Henry’s new book called ‘A Family Recipe’, Vervonica shares some of her own favourite recipes.

On my kitchen shelf is a tiny metal box full of index cards, stuffed with recipes from my grandmothers, my parents and me, that I now have in my care. I’ve used many of them throughout my life, as well as adding to the collection. Many of the recipes are reminiscent of important family occasions.

And that was where the idea for A FAMILY RECIPE came from: a little box that holds recipes that relate to the life-changing events of the residents of 11 Lark Hill in Bath, from the war to the present day. Laura finds the box at a difficult time in her life, and uses it to help her move forward.

For this blog tour I am sharing some of my favourite recipes from my own box.

CROQUEMBOUCHE

Birthday cakes have always been important to me – a demonstration of love, but also recognition of a person and what they represent.

When my children were small it was a labour of love to produce something spectacular that didn’t involve huge amounts of skill – I am not in the least bit artistic or crafty, so intricate icing was always going to be out. My eldest son’s first birthday cake was a big round chocolate cake covered in plastic zoo animals: I can still remember buying a bag full from the local toy shop and planting their feet in the sticky icing. I followed that method religiously for years afterwards: making the biggest cake I could manage, then topping it with Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends, Biker Mice, Mutant Hero Turtles … Another favourite was a cake smothered in the contents of a huge bag of pick ‘n’ mix – lurid, additive-laden but a joy to a horde of small boys.

I used plain Victoria sponge, or the miracle that is Coca Cola cake – ruinously sweet but the most forgiving concoction that works every time and is light, fluffy and squidgy.

Now the boys are bigger they have rather grown out of statement birthday cakes. But I’ve had several friends with landmark birthdays recently, and have discovered the joy of a croquembouche. There is nothing guaranteed to bring a bigger gasp of admiration than these gravity-defying towers, and they are surprisingly easy to assemble.

Profiteroles themselves are quite easy to make – use a recipe from your preferred chef of choice (you can’t go wrong with Delia or Nigella) or you can buy them plain from most supermarkets. I like to fill mine with beaten double cream flavoured with Cointreau and a little icing sugar to thicken it up a bit – poke a hole in the bottom of each profiterole and pipe the cream in until its nearly full.

You can buy a croquembouche cone or make one from cardboard. I use melted white chocolate to stick each profiterole to the cone, starting from the bottom and building them up on top of each other in circles. The beauty of a croquembouche is that it doesn’t have to look perfect – a higgledy-piggedly-ness adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Remember to make it on the plate or board you are going to serve it on – it’s very dangerous to try and move it after assembly! Stick it in the fridge to harden the chocolate and strengthen the structure.

Once the tower is complete you can customise them to your heart’s content, depending on whether you are understated and have the nerve to leave them quite plain with just a drizzling of caramel, or if like me you have to throw everything at it! Sugared almonds are a traditional decoration, inserted randomly into the gaps – either gold or silver, or the pretty pastel ones in pink, white and yellow. I dip random profiteroles in white chocolate and roll them in dried flowers, which looks very rustic and pretty – or you could try crushed raspberries. I also highlight the occasional profiterole with edible gold leaf which looks stunning. There are so many pretty edible decorations available – you can go as rococco and over the top as you like. Traditionally they are covered in a web of spun sugar, but I’m way too scared for that …. For birthdays I stick in half a dozen mini sparklers to mark the occasion, or a single one of those fountain candles would be suitably dramatic and showy.

You can pre-order A Family Recipe from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 17th May 2018.

Veronica Henry

Veronica HenryVeronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for ‘The Archers’, ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Holby City’ amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA Novel of the Year award for ‘A Night On The Orient Express’. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into this?
    I started out typing scripts on ‘The Archers’ and it was there I realised that people need an escape from everyday life, whether from books or radio or TV. I learned a lot about storytelling from reading the scripts and hearing them recorded in the studio. I went on to become a script editor for ITV, then when I had my first child I jumped over the fence and wrote scripts for ten years. I wrote for ‘Doctors’ and ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Holby City’. Then in 2000 I realised my real love was for books and by a miracle I got a book deal! I’m now on my 17th novel.
  2. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship. When it’s going well it’s as if someone is dictating the story to you and it just flows through your fingers. When it goes badly you can’t imagine being able to write another word. I like naming my characters, and decorating their houses – that can hardly be called work! I also like the big emotional turning points: the confrontation or the revelation or the secret encounter And parties – I love writing a party. There are always so many things going on underneath the surface glitter.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oscar Wilde, Jilly Cooper, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. There would probably be wine too!
  4. What do you think makes a good book?
    Character character character. As long as you care about the characters, you will be engaged – even if you don’t actually like them.
  5. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    I’m not a massive fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – I know that’s controversial, but I find it a bit irritating. Though I suppose that hasn’t been hyped as such!
  6. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    I absolutely love ‘The Railway Children’. It’s a wonderful book but the film version wrings every drop of emotion from the pages.
  7. Who is your all time favourite character from a book?
    I’m a little bit smitten by Boris from ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt – he is so naughty and dangerous and reckless and ingenious. He would never bore you. And I am fatally attracted to unsuitable men.
  8. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I would learn to worry less and care more. If you enjoy your writing, it shines through in your work.
  9. The “Forever House

  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain and ‘Madame Bovary’ in French to give me a challenge to occupy my mind.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    All budding writers should remember that anyone can start a book, but not everyone can finish one. So keep going until you reach the end. Writing is an endurance test. It’s not enough to have a brilliant idea. It’s got to keep going for at least 300-odd pages.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My miniature Schnauzer, Zelda – who is named after Zelda Fitzgerald.
  13. And finally Veronica do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m writing my seventeenth novel – I can’t believe it. It’s still quite early stages – but I met someone last night and our conversation sparked something that gave me the missing ingredient. That’s why I love writing – a random encounter can develop into something really exciting.

    Oh – and my sixteenth novel ‘The Forever House’ is out now!

Follow on Twitter Veronica Henry for updates

You can buy The Forever House from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Between Sisters By Cathy Kelly

Between Sisters‘Between Sisters’ is the latest book by bestselling Irish author, Cathy Kelly.

Cassie has spent her married life doing everything right – making sure her children have the perfect life, being a devoted wife and a dutiful daughter-in-law. Although it’s left her so exhausted that ‘wine o’clock’ comes a little earlier each afternoon. Her sister Coco runs a vintage dress shop and has shied away from commitment over the years. Coco believes men complicate things, and she’s got enough to contend with. Until a face from her past returns. Watching over them is grandmother Pearl, tucked away in her little house in Delaney Square. But something is keeping her awake at night. Was she right to do what she did all those years ago? And then there’s Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who’s battled demons of her own in the past and come out on top. Now Elsa faces one final fight – but it will require more bravery than anything which has come before.

Cathy Kelly is a relatively new author for me, even though she’s been writing for a number of years, this is only the second book that I’ve read by the Irish writer.

The story is seen through many perspectives of the various women living in Delaney Square, where sisters and best friends Cassie and Coco were brought up by their grandmother when their own mother mysteriously disappeared. Now, grown up married with children and have successful businesses, both women have been effected in both ways by their mother leaving. Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are frequent with the women resulting in issues with partners and family. Their grandmother Pearl has always been there for them, offering words of wisdom and support but she herself has her own cross to bear with secrets of her own. Across the water, successful television star Elsa, has battled demons of her own and wants to make up for lost time.

In the story there are a number of smaller sub stories riddled throughout the book, introducing new characters and dramas and the way that Cathy writes it is quite genius as they flow seamlessly into one another coming together neatly in the end.

The story flows at a lovely pace, filled with Irish warmth and charm and with such likeable and relatable characters made the book an enjoyable read. Packed with issues such as alcoholism, abandonment and strokes, the book deals with modern lives and the problems that society have to face.

A warmhearted and tender tale, that warms the cockles of the coldest of hearts, ‘Between Sisters’ is a beautiful story about the importance of family.

You can buy Between Sisters from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Cathy Kelly

Cathy KellyCathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. Cathy juggled her job with writing in her spare time, and her first novel, ‘Woman to Woman’, was published in 1997. It went straight to number 1 on the Irish Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists. She lives with her husband, John, their young twin sons, Dylan and Murray, and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for Unicef Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.

  1. To the readers of the blog, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    I wanted to write even as a kid and used to tell stories to my little sister. I was the annoying kid whose essays were read out in class! started off as a journalist but I found I wasn’t tough enough for it, although it’s a fabulous learning experience for writing. My first novel, Woman to Woman, was published in 1997. I continued to work as a journalist until three books were published at which point I decided to make the plunge to be a full time novelist. Now, I’ve written sixteen novels, with It Started in Paris being the most recent. I’m currently writing my seventeenth.
  2. Before you became an author time writer, you were an agony aunt, do you have any interesting stories to tell from this previous role?
    I feel that it’s important to protect the anonymity of the people who wrote to me – their stories were so personal, so sad and it would be wrong to talk about them. A few, like one horrific one from a paedophile seeking absolution, do stand out. I like to say that doing this was like getting a PhD in human beings.
  3. What authors do you admire?
    I love writers within my own genre, like my wonderful Irish friends, Marian Keyes, Emma Hannigan, Patricia Scanlan and Ella Griffin, and I also adore
    Maeve Binchy, Colette and Molly Keane.
  4. What is your favourite part of the writing process?
    There is huge relief to be had in pressing send when it’s finished. The relief! However, I don’t think you can write if you don’t love it, so I love coming up with the characters and getting involved with creating this whole world of people with their lives and traumas and, finally, their triumphs! I do like happy endings but my endings are not always – I hope – obvious.
  5. How would you describe your writing?
    I think this is an impossible question! I write what I would like to read: words that consume me, comfort me, challenge me. I like to write about real people in real worlds where we are not rescued by a knight on a white horse but have to rescue ourselves!
  6. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
    Probably getting my first book published because without that, there would be no career!
  7. The cover for ‘Between Sisters’ is particularly beautiful. Do you have much input into the design for the cover? And do you, yourself judge books by their cover?
    Thank you, I love it. The cover design process is great fun.All authors have cover approval but really, the hard work is in the cover department who come up with visuals which the publishers, myself and my agent discuss. I have never judged books by their covers – I am a child of the library where covers years ago were often very bland and I found such glorious writers there.
  8. Tell me about your role as an Ambassador for Unicef Ireland.
    I became involved with UNICEF nine years ago and it has been a huge joy. It means I get to travel to places and see how people with nothing live, and I can then come home and tell the world about it. I like to see it as using my voice to help people with no voice.

    Over the years working for UNICEF, I’ve been to Rwanda and Mozambique where I’ve seen mothers with HIV/AIDs holding onto their children and staring blindly ahead while they talk about who will mind their baby when they’re gone. There are no words to comfort and you instantly put yourself in their place, imagining if you were dying and there was nobody to protect your child from a future which, without UNICEF’s help, can include starvation, abuse and abject poverty. In Mozambique, a child dies of malaria every fifteen minutes when a simple mosquito net costing about six dollars can save the same child’s life. But these people can’t afford six dollars.

  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    A. Probably the complete works of Trollope – Anthony.
    B. ‘The SAS Survival Guide’ (which I actually own) because then I would survive.
    C. the works of Wodehouse so I could giggle.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Write often, every day if you can. Edit, edit and edit. Many writers write books but never go over them again. The first pages need to leap out at the reader. There’s no point saying your novel gets interesting in chapter four. The agent and publisher will have stopped reading by then. I have a section on advice on my website http://cathykelly.com/advice. I would highly recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. Also, naturally, read all you can. Reading helps you to learn the craft of writing and while enjoying a truly enriching hobby at the same time.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Strong coffee!
  12. And finally Cathy, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    Thank you for asking. I am writing my next novel due to my published in 2016. I love hearing from readers either through my website or Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Cathy Kelly on Twitter Cathy Kelly for updates or check out her website at Cathy Kelly

Handwritten Girl Takes Part In The Summertime Book Tour

I am delighted to be part of the book tour for the release of Vanessa Lafayre’s new book, ‘Summertime’. Check out Handwritten Girl on Friday 16th January to read Vanessa’s writers tips plus a signed book giveaway!

'Summertime Book Tour