Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Well, it is a cold, cold day here but at least I don't have ice on the inside of my windows this morning, so it must be warming up. Slightly!

I have something today that will heat you up, I hope.

Welcome to my new feature - Cooking the Books - in which I'll be spotlighting one of my books each day with a recipe that matches the theme of the story. My very clever, amusing and vastly talented sister, Lynne Gilkes (yes, that is how she prefers that I introduce her) has provided the recipes, because I can't cook much beyond Yorkshire pudding and jam sandwiches.

Today's offering is the first book in my Sydney Dovedale series, THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE. Since Sophie is a lady who keeps her spicy true-self well hidden under a demure, sweet exterior, the recipe my sister chose is Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream.


Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream

Ice cream

3 red chillies, sliced
600ml double cream
¼ tsp chilli powder
4 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
50g dark chocolate, chopped

Candied chillies, optional

2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
100g sugar
100ml water


 To make the ice cream, place the chillies and cream into a saucepan. Warm until just below boiling and then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the cream and discard the chillies and seeds. Add the chilli powder and reheat the cream until just below boiling, stirring continuously.

Place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl, mix together then slowly pour the cream over the egg mixture, stirring continuously. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan, add the 150g broken chocolate and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little and then put in the fridge to chill.

Once cool, stir in the 50g chopped chocolate. Set the timer on your ice cream maker for 25 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the paddle running and leave to freeze churn. If you prefer a firmer consistency, place the ice cream in your freezer for 20-30 minutes.

To make the candied chillies, place the ingredients into a pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve. Reserve 1 tbsp of the liquid and discard the rest. Stir the reserved liquid into the chillies, leave to cool then sprinkle over the ice cream to serve.

Tip: Home-made ice cream is best taken out of the freezer 20-30 minutes before serving.

* * * *

Sophie continued her sewing. She should have known better than to raise the subject of economy, for any advice she tried to give Lavinia dropped into small, ineffectual ears muffled by ringlets and attached to a very small brain incapable of understanding any will but its own.
"To be thus attacked and criticized in my own home. Me, a married woman of consequence and property, from good family and well brought up! To be lectured daily by a tight-lipped spinster who’s here only on my husband’s charity. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I am outraged that you think to tell me how to behave!"
 The wisest course of action would be to ignore her. After all, Sophie should be accustomed to it by now. It was apparently her lot in life to always be in the way, unequal to anything and unwelcome to everybody. But even as her conscience politely reminded her she was almost thirty and ought to be darning stockings by the fire with her aunt, only occasionally discussing the ins and outs of her health with no one who cared, she simply must relieve her anger somehow.
She was supposed to be a reformed character these days. Alas, the same naughty, rebellious imp that once urged her to leap from a balcony, not knowing how far she had to fall or what lay directly below, thrived inside her still. It would not sit in a corner and be quiet.
 She stood quickly, set aside her sewing, and walked out into the yard and round the corner. There she waited a moment, fists at her side, gaze darting back and forth.
"Put upon," she muttered. "Put upon?"
 She turned in a tight circle, bristling with anger.
Aha! There were two large sacks of chicken feathers and goose down against the wall, waiting for the pillowcases she and her aunt were sewing. Grabbing a stick from the woodpile, she ran up to the sacks and began beating them, imagining they were her sister-in-law.
"You should be put upon and often," she hissed. "And if your husband dislikes the duty, I’ll gladly do it!"
A cloud of feathers flew up as the first sack burst open, and she found the sensation so satisfying she turned her wrath on the second sack, until the air was full of feathers. She swung that stick so wildly she heard the stitches ripping at her shoulder, but it felt too good to stop. When she tossed the stick aside, she picked up the sack and emptied the last of the feathers, shaking it hard overhead. "One of these days," she gasped, "I’ll clap the side of your big head with the bacon kettle!" Dropping the sack to the ground, she stamped on it, grunting.
"I beg your pardon, madam, I tried the bell by the gatehouse, but there was no reply."
She spun around and found him right behind her, his hat under one arm, a pair of darkly curious eyes studying her in part bewilderment, part amusement.
Goose down drifted all around her, and her hairpins were falling loose, but she was frozen to the spot.
* * * *
Would you like to win a copy? Go to my Facebook author page, like it and leave a comment. thanks!


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