Hello and welcome to Romance Recipes where I am happy to introduce you to a new author and a new recipe! Two of my favorite things! Today I am bringing you author, Louise Reynolds, and her recipe for Colcannon along with an introduction to her book, If I Kissed You. Please join me in welcoming Louise and savor her recipe for Colcannon as you read about her new book!
Thanks for inviting me back to Romance Recipes, Jennifer.
Although a year-round dish, Colcannon is traditionally eaten by the Irish at Halloween so it’s perfect for this time of year. It’s also the sort of simple dish my Irish hero in If I Kissed You would have eaten as a boy in Ireland.
Colcannon at its simplest is potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter and milk. But with the addition of cream and bacon it becomes the most extravagantly wicked mashed potatoes you can imagine. On a cold winter’s night it’s the sort of dish I could happily sit down to all by itself.
1kg (2.2lbs) potatoes, well scrubbed (cut any large ones in half)
100g (3.5 oz) butter
140g (5oz) sliced back bacon, finely chopped
1/2 small Savoy cabbage (or curly kale), finely shredded
150ml (5 fl. oz) double cream
Tip the potatoes into a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 mins, or until the flesh is tender when pierced.
Mash potato until smooth. Heat cream with remaining butter and, when almost boiling, beat into the potato. Add bacon and cabbage to potato and mix. Season as required.
The last thing Nell O’Connor needed was an Irishman sitting in her bar, singing about love.
The plaintive notes from a mandolin had drifted up the stairs moments before, floating effortlessly above the conversational hubbub of the Friday evening crowd. In her office she frowned a little at the unexpected sound, then, as she realised what she was hearing, scrolled through her emails from earlier that day until she found what she was looking for.
The frown deepened as she printed out the email and headed for the stairs, vowing she’d have the agency booker’s head.
Downstairs she sidled behind the long, marble-fronted counter, positioning herself behind an enormous floral arrangement at one end of the gleaming expanse of polished beech, and tweaked aside a palm leaf as though it needed rearranging. From her vantage point between the leaf and a thick tube of red bamboo she eyed the singer.
He sat on a stool in the small performance area set up against the far wall, balancing the mandolin on his knee. A portable magenta stage light licked his glossy dark curls, making him look a little wild: part angel, part devil. Nell glanced down and rechecked the printout of the agency’s email, still clutched in her hand.
There was no doubting he could sing. The tenor voice soared then dropped to a whisper, slipping over words of love and yearning as though he’d crested the highs and plumbed the depths of every wrung-out emotion. His brilliant blue eyes were delicious. Not to mention the broad shoulders under the dark, well-cut jacket, the hint of a dimple at the side of his mouth and the mesmerisingly large hands stroking the mandolin with a lover’s touch.
She almost sighed with pleasure until she caught herself and glanced around her bar. Charcoal-coloured walls, slick surfaces, the row of Spanish designer stools covered in expensive fabric that lined the front of the bar. Modern art and moody lighting. A smart, big city clientele. Successful, fashionable, profitable. That’s what mattered.
Her gaze took in the bodhran leaning against the stool leg, the drum’s stretched skin yellow with age, and the foot drum that he pressed rhythmically, his thigh muscle beneath the faded Levi’s tightening with each movement. No doubt he had a tin whistle and a set of spoons hidden somewhere on his person. Please God, no.
He was wrong, all wrong, but according to the email scrunched in her hand he’d been the only singer the agency could send when the on-the-cusp-of-famous indie singer Nell had booked, a quirky waif with a tatt sleeve and multiple piercings that belied the sweet piping nature of her voice, had cancelled at the last minute. Still, it might have been worse. They could have sent an old man with a fiddle and a repertoire that included ‘The Hills of Connemara’ and ‘The Green Fields of France’, songs guaranteed to make anyone with a pint or two of Guinness in their stomach and a drop of Irish blood in their veins weep like a baby.
Nell’s lips tightened. She didn’t do Irish.
She didn’t do mandolins and bodhrans.
And she certainly did not do songs about love and yearning.
She shook herself angrily. It was all Irish nonsense, the sort of teary sentimentality about dispossessed Celts and fey spirits that had ruined her father, sunk in a fog of alcohol and ancestral longing, and had provided the miserably unreliable backdrop to Nell’s childhood.
She glanced across again and found the singer’s gaze resting on her, the eyes penetratingly direct as he plucked at the strings. The scuff of dark shadow along his jaw gave him a bad-boy look, but just then the corner of his mouth tilted in a grin and a muscle somewhere deep and low in her belly tightened in response.
Sasha had said he was good. As Nell’s best friend and entertainment booker, she was usually right. She’d promised Nell would like him. ‘Trust me,’ she’d said.
Oh, she liked him all right. She crushed the paper in her hand more tightly.
He was still looking at her and belatedly she realised how ridiculous she must seem, peering at him from behind a floral arrangement. But before she could move he gave a slow, bold-as-brass wink. It should have been corny but instead it was cheeky and just cocky enough to make that pesky muscle tighten again.
She let the palm leaf fall back into place and turned her back. Nell would make sure that Declan Gaffney was never booked at the Fitzrovia Hotel again, no matter how attractive he was.
Buy the Book:
Louise Reynolds is an author of contemporary romantic fiction published by Penguin Random House Australia. Born in Sydney, she spent her childhood frolicking on beaches before moving to Melbourne at age 10. After one look at the beaches she got a library card and started to read. It was a logical step to take her love of romance novels to the next stage and tell her own stories.
By day, she works in the commercial lighting industry, lighting anything from bridges to five star hotels. By night, she’s working her way through a United Nations of fictional heroes.
After a lifetime of kissing frogs one finally turned into a prince and she lives with her partner in Melbourne’s inner north. She loves live jazz, cooking complicated meals that totally destroy the kitchen, and dining out. She has embraced Melbourne by wearing far too much black.
You can find Louise at:
Thank you for joining us for another Romance Recipes! I hope you’ll stop by next week to meet another author, try a new recipe and pick up a new book!