Love and the Apple Blackberry Sonker with NANCY SCROFANO

EDITORS NOTE:, I have been having fun reading Nancy Scrofano’s new book AMERICAN HONEY!  Nancy joins us today with a sweet recipe for the sonker,  a dessert that is just as  fun to say as it is delicious to eat.  Check out this Southern cobbler-like dessert that  is inspired from her new novel!

Thank you  to Nancy for joining us and for more information on her new novel, go to: www.nancyscrofano.com

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  The Book:

In my new novel, American Honey, recent high school graduate Olivia “Ollie” McKenna leaves her small town roots in Summerville, Georgia, to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer. With her best friend and older sister in tow, wholesome Ollie travels to the big city to compete in singing contest Atlanta Idol where she meets nineteen-year-old Jack Bradley, a fellow country singer who quickly becomes a close friend. The connection between them is magnetic and an opportunity to sing together could change their lives forever.

The Inspiration: 

I’m a fan of American Idol. I’ve been watching it since the first season, and I wanted to write a story involving a singing competition. I started working on American Honey after watching the season ten finale of American Idol in May 2011. I was inspired by winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina. I also found inspiration for this book from Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally and ABC’s Nashville. I love country music, and the title American Honey comes from a song of the same name by country music trio Lady Antebellum. The message of the song really coincides with main character Ollie’s journey.

 The Recipe:

The sonker is native to North Carolina, Jack’s home state, and his mother’s version of this deep-dish cobbler is legendary. Sonkers are often made with blackberries, a favorite local fruit. Jack tells Ollie that his mom’s famous baked fruit dessert is an Apple Blackberry Sonker. Maybe he would make it himself for Ollie as a friendly gesture or possibly as something more… Wouldn’t that be sweet? Or maybe Ollie would try to impress him with her own version.

 

The following recipe is courtesy of the Hallmark Channel.If you decide to make a sonker, please send me a picture of your finished product. I would love to see it!

appleblackberryINGREDIENTS

Pie pastry for 2-1/2 nine-inch crusts (Store-bought or your favorite recipe. NOTE: If you use pre-rolled store-bought pie pastry, piece it together to make a rectangle. Use the scraps to make the lattice.)

1-1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (3 or 4)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

5 cups of blackberries

3/4 cup of sugar

1/ cup of flour

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

3 tablespoons of butter (cut into small pieces)

DIRECTIONS

Divide the pie pastry into two pieces–one about four-fifths of the dough and the other about one-fifth (for the lattice top). Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Cut up the apples and place them in a large bowl. Toss them gently with the lemon juice to keep them from browning.

Add the blackberries and gently toss. Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough into a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. Line a 9 x 13-inch glass baking pan with the dough. Roll the remaining piece of dough into a rectangle about 10 inches long. Cut it into 1/2-inch-wide strips to use as a lattice top.

In a small bowl, blend the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle a light layer of the sugar-flour mixture over the bottom of the crust. Layer the fruit into the baking pan, sprinkling with the sugar-flour mixture as you go. Dot with the butter. Arrange the lattice strips in an open basket-weave pattern diagonally across the sonker, trimming the dough strips to fit where necessary. Fold in the side pieces of dough to cover the ends of the lattice strips. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the fruit is hot and bubbling and the crust is browned. Let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes, then serve.

Makes 12 servings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdd American Honey to your Goodreads shelf! Follow along with the American Honey Tour via Fictionella! Connect with Nancy at nancyscrofano.com

LOVE: Indie Movies for the RomCom Fix

I love a good romantic comedy. Just hits me right in the warm & fuzzy part of my heart, especially when I add  popcorn, glass of wine and a box of Goobers.   I’m pretty much at maximum joy capacity.

These days, motherhood has made going to the movies low on my priority list.  Free time  means  laundry, writing, dinner with friends or a shower that doesn’t include a toddler coming in and asking me what I’m doing and when I’ll be done.  Sigh.

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Movie time has become something I do at home thanks to  Netflix, Amazon  and iTunes, but I have to admit that the romantic comedy selection has been feeling a little sparse.There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there for that can rival  my list of personal favorites:  40-Year-Old Virgin, Love Actually, The Cutting Edge, Gross Pointe Blank, The Holiday, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Thing Called Love, Sleepless in Seattle.

You know, the gold standards.

 

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I’ve been ignoring the chatter that much like Chick Lit the  interest in romantic comedies is dead. That’s just silly talk. Check out this article from NPR written in March, 2013: Are Romantic Comedies Dead.

I’ll never give up on a great romantic comedy, I will stop watching a bad one, but give me a well-made, smart and genuine romantic comedy and I’ll give you my $20 for a price of admission and $40 for snacks and what not!

The lack of quality supply and my own personal demand has forced me to explore  other avenues for getting my romantic comedy  fix.  I’ve stumbled into some really great independents that have the spirit of a fuzzy romance with a streak of irreverence that I adore.

Check out these three smart independents that have made movie-watching fun again. Or maybe it’s the wine & Goobers … (oh never mind :))

 

1. If you like When Harry Met Sally you will like Friends with Kids, this is a  smart, fun and thoughtful comedy that has an interesting angle on friends who get involved. Kinda. They have a baby and promise to keep things platonic and  then chaos ensues. You know how that goes! Really loved this movie and it doesn’t hurt that my boy crush Adam Scott is the hero in this movie.

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2. Take This Waltz appeared on my Netflix because they seem to know I am a sucker for romances. Well, after weeks of skipping it, I finally pressed play and was completely engrossed for two hours. If you like Bridges of Madison of County, this could be an interesting alternative for you! Michelle Williams is awesome and Seth Rogen is still goofy, but endearing. Canadian actor, Luke Kirby is a stone cold fox.  Add it to your Netflix! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1592281/

takethiswaltz3. Safety Not Guaranteed was an unsuspecting sweetheart of movie that really brings it home that there is “a pot for every lid.” Thought this was a great movie, with a great cast, love Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson. And guess what? Despite the smart deliveries, the sarcastic zingers and Aubrey Plaza’s well-known deadpan delivery, this movie is all about the Happily Ever After.

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VALENTINE’S DAY EDITION: HOT CHOCOLATE SOUP

EDITORS NOTE: Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air and chocolate is on the mind today, so what better way to celebrate than with a Hot Chocolate soup from mystery culinary writer, Sharon Moore.  Her new release MISSION IMPASTABLE  is a tasty whodunnit with plenty of inspired recipes to go along with the fun. Thanks for joining us Sharon! Check out her great blog Parsley, Sage and Rosemary for more information on Sharon.

 

HOT CHOCOLATE SOUP

This recipe is not in Mission Impastable, my just-released culinary mystery, but it will appear in Prime Rib and Punishment, the sequel out later this year. Alli, challenges her students at the cooking school to create a dessert soup that could also be a totally new ice cream flavor. They come up with some very interesting ideas! The winner in her class was Hot Chocolate Soup and Hot Chocolate Ice Cream.

 

hot chocolateWhat says love more than chocolate? To make your love scenario even steamier, serve your lover Hot Chocolate Soup on that special day. This soup is hot in more than one way.

Not only do you serve it warm, but the red pepper flakes in the soup add that surprise element you always want to keep in your relationship.

Leftover soup? No problem. Make Hot Chocolate Ice Cream and recall the night you first met this combo.

 

 

Hot Chocolate Soup (serves 4)

2 c heavy whipping cream
2 c milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
4 T sugar
4 oz grated 60-70% cacao chocolate
1 t vanilla
¼ t red pepper flakes
¼ c. toasted coconut
20-2”cubes pound cake or angel food cake

Put cake cubes under broiler. Watch closely. When browned, turn over and brown the bottom. Remove to a rack to cool.

In top of double boiler, heat whipping cream and milk. Slowly whisk in egg yolks and stir until begins to thicken. Stir in sugar.

Slowly add grated chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and red pepper flakes. Serve with five cubes of cake and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

 

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authorsamAfter 39 years as an educator, Sharon Arthur Moore “transitioned” to the life of full-time fiction writer. She’s an intrepid cook, game-player, and miniatures lover. She writes culinary mysteries, women’s fiction, historic

al fiction, short stories, plays, and erotic romance (Under the pen name Angelica French). Sharon has lived in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest and loved every single one of them. Her current favorite region is the desert Southwest. She is married to the most extraordinary man and claims four children, one daughter-in-law, a grandson, and dog Maudie.

Heartbreak Tips & Heartbreak Heaven with Sue Watson

EDITORS NOTE: Happy to introduce Chick Lit friend from across the pond, Sue Watson, who dazzles with  her delicious reads, FAT GIRLS and FAIRY CAKES and YOUNGER, THINNER, BLONDER.   Make sure to read the directions to Heartbreak Pavlova, they are hilarious!  Thanks Sue! ~

HEARTBREAK TIPS & HEARTBREAK HEAVEN 

I haven’t had a ‘heartbreak’ Valentine’s Day since I met my husband a few years back – I hope that doesn’t sound smug, because trust me I’ve done my time with Valentine. I’ve sat on that back row watching the other girls get the flowers, cards and romantic Valentine dinners, and pretended I hadn’t even noticed the date. I’ve helped my pretty friends ‘guess who could it possibly be?’ from a long list of suitors sending chocolate hearts and touching declarations of anonymous love to them. And yes girls, I’ve cried into my pillow andshouted ‘stop Mr Postman’ in true Karen Carpenter style … which, I’ll admit, was a little weird.

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But take it from me, when you’re standing on the sidelines watching the rest of the world fall in love there is an alternative. Baked goods. They just don’t let you down the way men do, and like Indira the feisty funny heroine in HEARTBREAK CAKE I have a weakness for ‘fresh from the oven stuff.’ I lust for Indira’s cardamom muffins, her fig and cherry scones and don’t start me on the chocolate ganache wedding cakes with candied bacon bits.

So for those of us still waiting for the chocolate heart, the dinner a dieux and the Valentine cards dropping on the mat trust me, they will come, but in the meantime, embrace Valentine’s Day.

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Make it extra special whether you’re with the one you love or on your own. Like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s day is the best time of the year if you’re holding the right hand – and the worst if you’re not.

So if you’re holding the wrong hand let go now, and if you’re single, call off the search and celebrate your status. And nothing says ‘single and happy,’ like sugar and whipped cream. Who needs a man when those bad boys are working it?

My advice this Valentine’s Day then, is to forget your ‘ho on the go’ bags, stay home and let crispy meringue and softly whipped cream give you all the TLC you need.

With this in mind, here’s my prescription recipe for ‘Heartbreak Pavlova.’ This little slice of ‘Heartbreak Heaven,’ is to be taken liberally on Valentine’s Day with a large sprinkling of Cindy Arora’s delicious ‘Heartbreak Cake,’ – the perfect Valentine’s celebration. ‘

Enjoy!

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Recipe for Heartbreak Heaven Pavlova

1 copy of Heartbreak Cake

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt
1 cup and 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar

Filling
1 ½ cups of heavy cream whipped
350 g (1 and ½ cups) raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants

a little powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C) .

DIRECTIONS

Measure the sugar and put aside, now put the egg whites in a large clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Stop! Before you set off, don’t get too whisk-happy because over-whisking will cause a major collapse! Girl, just keep whisking and checking until you can turn that bowl upside down without the snowy white fluff sliding out and ruining your hair.

When the egg whites are at ‘upside down stage’ – whisk in the sugar slowly a large tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is incorporated. Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, forming a heart-shape (you can draw this on your grease proof paper or simply just think of the one you love as you dollop).

Now using the tip of a skewer, make little swirls in the meringue all round the edge, lifting the skewer up sharply each time to leave tiny peaks. This will look like you know what you’re doing – even if you don’t! Then place the baking sheet in the oven, immediately turn down the heat to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave it to cook for 1 hour.

While the heavenly meringue is cooking, take out your copy of ‘Heartbreak Cake’ (on kindle or paperback) and read about Indira and her scandalously sweet, cake-filled love life.

After an hour of reading turn the oven off, but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it’s completely cold. You could even bake this the night before, take the book to bed and allow the meringue to completely cool overnight in the oven (you won’t be able to put the book down so will be up all night too).

To serve the Pavlova, put the book down and lift it from the baking sheet, peel off the paper and place it on a serving dish. Then just before serving, spread the whipped cream on top, arrange the fruit on top of the cream and dust with a little sifted sugar.

Put the kettle on, serve cut into wedges (remember it’s not for sharing!) and carry on reading ‘Heartbreak Cake…’ .

My heart-shaped Pavlova serves 5… but hey, that’s just a number, if you need to eat it all!

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About Sue: I was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC I worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day I might escape to the country and turn it all into a book. For more information: http://fatgirlsandfairycakes.blogspot.co.uk