Hello and welcome to Romance Recipes! Every Thursday and Friday I will introduce you to a new author and a new recipe! Two of my favorite things! This week I am bringing you author, Sophie Pembroke, and her recipe for Smoked Haddock and Spring Vegetable Risotto along with an introduction to her book, An A to Z of Love. Please join me in welcoming Sophie and savor her recipe for Haddock and Vegetable Risotto as you read about her new book!
Food for Thought
I’ll admit it. My books tend to feature a lot of food. And I’d be lying if I pretended this wasn’t, in large part, because I love to eat, and to cook. My blog, at www.SophiePembroke.com, tends to be more about cake than books. The first novel in my Love from Wales series, Room for Love, is set in a remote Welsh Inn, and the kitchen (and wedding breakfast!) are of vital importance to the story…
The second novel in the series, An A to Z of Love, which was released last month, has an even more obvious foodie theme – the hero is a seafood chef!
Charlie Frost moved to the tiny seaside town of Aberarian, where the book is set, two years ago, ready to start his dream life – running his dream seafood restaurant, living with his dream woman in his dream cottage up on the cliffs. But then his fiancée Becky ran out on him, and now StarFish is losing customers, the cottage is falling down – and Charlie’s starting to lose hope.
But my books aren’t just about food. They’re about community. And everyone knows that nothing builds a community like eating and cooking together. At the start of the book, Charlie’s the outsider, and hardly any of the locals eat at StarFish, forcing him to rely on the dwindling tourist trade.
But when Becky returns to town with a plan that could change Aberarian forever, and Charlie’s best friend, Mia, takes a stand against her, Charlie finds himself drawn into the community fight to save their town, and his restaurant – and is drawn ever closer to Mia…
Charlie has kindly given me permission to share one of his favourite recipes here with you – and I highly recommend it – so yummy!
Smoked Haddock & Spring Vegetable Risotto
- 300g smoked haddock
- 300ml milk
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 300g risotto rice
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 10g butter
- 1 large courgette, diced
- Handful of frozen petit pois
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat oven to 200°C. Lay fish in a dish, cover with milk and 300ml stock. Add the bay leaves and rosemary, then poach in the oven for 20 minutes
- Strain cooking liquid into a jug and add the rest of the stock
- Heat oil and butter in a wide pan. Fry the spring onions for a few minutes, then stir in the rice
- Add the stock and milk, a ladleful at a time
- Halfway through, add the vegetables
- When the rice and vegetables are cooked, and all the stock absorbed, add the parmesan and flake through the fish
Doesn’t that sound good? And while you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity to make it, here’s a glimpse of Charlie at work in his kitchen:
Charlie left Becky to deal with her guests, muttering something about the starters, and hightailed it into the kitchen while he tried to remember what he was supposed to be cooking. He pulled out his favorite frying pan, grabbed a dish full of calamari and marinade from the fridge, and was halfway through heating the oil when the kitchen door creaked open just enough for Mia to slip through the gap.
“What’s going on here?” Mia asked without preamble, her tone more astonished than curious. “Really?”
Charlie shook his head as he dropped the rings of seafood into the hot oil. “Haven’t the foggiest,” he lied, hating himself. “She says she wants to spend time with me.”
Mia was quiet for a moment before saying, “You’re getting back together with her, aren’t you?”
Charlie turned to look at her, where she stood, door behind her, arms wrapped around his favorite of her tea dresses–pale pink roses blooming over a navy background. She looked as tired as he felt, and he wondered what would happen if he just kissed her. If he just told her how he felt.
But she wasn’t ready. She might never be ready. And he was sick of being patient. So what he actually said was, “What does it matter if I am?” Meaning, ‘what does it matter to you?’
Mia blinked. “What does it matter? Charlie, of course it matters! Don’t you remember…” She shook her head. “Of course you do. You know what she did to you. And you’re going to get together with her anyway, aren’t you?”
He wasn’t, Charlie was almost certain. Not while he had a say in the matter. Of course Becky wasn’t always the best at hearing the word no when she didn’t want to.
But, then, why shouldn’t he? Becky was making a real effort. She planned to stay in town. She seemed genuine this time. And he had loved her, hadn’t he? He’d been crazy about her, once. Was it so absurd to consider a second chance?
He shook his head. It was still pretty absurd.
Charlie realized he hadn’t given Mia an answer at the same time she decided he wasn’t going to. “Charlie…” She paused, apparently searching for just the right words to convince him. “I know you loved her. I just think you’d be making a terrible mistake if you get back together with her. And as your friend, I don’t want to see you get hurt again.”
It was perfectly reasonable. Hell, Charlie even agreed with her. But that didn’t stop the anger bubbling up inside him at her words. Because who was she to tell him what might hurt him when, it turned out, hearing her say she wasn’t ready was more painful than anything Becky had done lately?
Charlie gave the frying pan a vicious shake, knowing the calamari were beyond overcooked. He’d serve them to Tony anyway, to watch the other man try to chew the rubber bands, except he had too much professional pride. He’d have to start again. “My love life is none of your business.”
“I’m your best friend, and your happiness isn’t my business?” Mia asked.
Charlie tossed the pan into the sink, sending loops of squid flying across the surface. “These are ruined.” He moved to the fridge and yanked open the door, pulling out an emergency tray of calamari.
When he turned, Mia already had the kitchen door open. “I’ll stop disturbing you, then,” she said, and Charlie knew she was putting as much distance between them as she could. Knew that even if she was ever ready, she might not be ready for him.
He selected his second best frying pan with a sigh and wished like hell the night was over already.
Sophie Pembroke has been writing romance for years, ever since she stayed up all night reading Mills and Boon novels as part of her English degree at Lancaster University. She loves to set her contemporary romance stories in the places she has lived – from the wilds of the Welsh mountains, to the gentile humor of the English country village, or the heat and tension of a London summer. She also has a tendency to make her characters kiss in castles.
Currently, she makes her home in Hertfordshire, with her husband and daughter. She writes love stories in her little spare room office, while drinking too much tea and eating homemade cakes. Or, when things are looking very bad for her heroes and heroines, white wine and dark chocolate.
Sophie keeps a blog at www.SophiePembroke.com, which should be about romance and writing, but is usually about cake and castles instead.
An A to Z of Love
Ebook – $5.99 / £3.97
Everyone’s talking about Mia Page. Again.
Mia Page has been the subject of gossip in Aberarian for half her life, ever since her father ran off with his secretary–and the contents of the local museum safe–when she was fourteen.
Still, Mia loves her hometown, loves working at the A to Z shop, eating seafood with her best friend Charlie at his restaurant, catching the classic midnight movie at the crumbling Coliseum cinema. And if she ever wonders if things might be even better if Charlie were more than just a friend, well, it’s only an idle thought in a lonely moment. After all, friendship always trumps romance, doesn’t it? And she’s never been one to rock the boat.
But everything she loves is suddenly under threat from Charlie’s ex-girlfriend, Becky, and her plans to turn Mia’s beloved Coliseum into a casino, transforming the sleepy seaside town forever. As Mia tries to pull the people of Aberarian together to save the town they adore, her father reappears, and people start asking what he wants to take from them this time…
WARNING: Some sexual scenes. Also contains seafood.
www.SophiePembroke.com ~ Friends, Family & Falling in Love
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Thank you for joining us for another Romance Recipe! I hope you’ll stop by next week to meet another author, try a new recipe and read a new book!