05 June 2011

Food In Fiction #1 - The Love Verb

I have noticed more and more the tie-in between food and fiction. As foodies, I am sure that you too love when food takes center stage in a novel. When the author kindly includes some recipes, well that is just an added bonus.

I have started taking note of some of the novels I have enjoyed where food has featured and bookmarked some of the recipes to try. So, I thought why not start a new series and share some of the books with you. I am calling this series 'Food in Fiction'. I do hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to read some of the titles I review. If any of you come across a 'Food in Fiction' book you enjoy, then please do join in and feel free to use the logo. We can have a bit of a foodies book group. Let me know if you review a book and I will link to your review in my next 'Food in Fiction' post.

I am starting my series with The Love Verb by Jane Green.

I first came across Jane with her book called Bookends, which was published in 2000. I really enjoyed it. Bookends is the story of three friends Cath, Lucy & Si and their life and loves as they run a book cafe called Bookends. I have been hooked since then and opened each new book with glee.

Jane's latest novel The Love Verb is a heart wrenching, but life-affirming story about a family and how they all pull together when they need each other most.

Callie is the steady one in the family. She is the one who holds everything and everyone together. She seems to have it all. She is a successful photographer with a handsome workaholic husband and two children she adores. She loves her life and wakes up every morning appreciating just how happy and lucky she is.

Her sister Steff is the wild child of the family, flitting through life from job to job and boyfriend to boyfriend, without a care or any responsibility. Her latest job bemuses her family. She has become a vegan chef, even though as far as her family know, she can't cook.

Then there are Callie's parents, Walter and Honor divorced for decades and barely speaking.

Callie is the common denominator for them all and when she has life changing news, they all have to come together to support her and put aside their own problems.

Steff feels helpless, so does the only thing she can to help her sister, she cooks. And so we travel through their story, recipe by recipe.

Jane wrote The Love Verb while she cared for her friend Heidi as she fought breast cancer. A battle I am sad to say she lost. This isn't Heidi's story, but Jane used her experiences with Heidi as the inspiration for this novel. Jane and her publisher Penguin Books teamed up with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to raise awareness of this sadly, very common disease.

A lover of food herself, Jane has included her own family recipes in The Love Verb and I tried out her Almost Flourless Orange Cake with Marmalade. I have been given kind permission to share the recipe with you.

Almost Flourless Orange Cake with Marmalade
by Jane Green
(recipe from The Love Verb)

1 orange
3 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds
½ cup marmalade
icing sugar for dusting
Optional: small carton of whipping cream, rind of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8" springform cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper.

Put the orange in a pan, cover with water and simmer for an hour (or nuke in a microwave for around 25 minutes) until soft. Cut the orange in half, remove pips and puree in a food processor.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Fold in the flour, baking powder, almonds and orange puree. Pour into the tin and bake for an hour.

Melt the marmalade in a small pan then pour through a fine sieve, pressing to get all the juice out. Spread the rind-free juice over the cake.

When cool sift icing sugar over the cake. Mix whipped cream with the orange rind and serve alongside.

I loved this cake. I would call it a dessert cake, if you know what I mean? It was moist and soft and a real treat when served with a dollop of orange scented cream. I was lucky enough to have some homemade Grapefruit Marmalade courtesy of my friend Trudi's husband and a very fine marmalade is was (thank you muchly Donald). I didn't bother sieving the marmalade as I wanted the bits of rind in the glaze and it worked very well. I just wish I had taken a photo of a slice of the cake so I could show you the lovely soft yellow crumb.

Jane has produced a recipe booklet for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity which can be downloaded here. If you would like to make a donation, you may do so here.


  1. Mmm that does look good, know what you mean about it being more of a 'dessert' cake, I can imagine it having a lovely texture with the almonds in!

    Have read a few of Jane's books before and enjoyed them, though this sounds like will have me weeping lol!

  2. It looks like it would be delicious served with plenty of orange segments and creme fraiche. Yum!

    I'll look out for more of your 'Food in Fiction' posts too - most of the books I read don't really contain much food.

  3. Hey Anne, it is all done in a very positive way. Well as positive as it can be. Jane handled it very sensitively.

    That sounds like a brilliant idea C, yum!

  4. What a great idea!!! I'm going to look this book up just as soon as I can. I've got a fave book that links back to food often but unfortunately there are no recipes in it, I was there was the 'Dead Fly Cemetary' cakes sound like a real treat lol. And then there is Harry Potter ....

  5. Jac, this is a brilliant idea! I love the sound of this book and will add it to my list of must reads. This cake looks wonderful and I bet was lovely and moist.


  6. Hey Chele, If you wanted to join in you could still review a book that has foodie leanings even if it doesn't have recipes. If you wanted a recipe, you could research one to link with it.

    It was lovely and moist Maria. Glad you like the idea :)

  7. ooh I have read lots of books with foodie themes. I might just have to tell you about them on my blog, they are not generally demanding books, but a lot of fun.

  8. Sounds like a plan Janice :)

  9. Nice idea. I will certainly join in next time I read a book with food in.
    This cake looks yummy!

  10. Gorgeous post and gorgeous recipe, I love food fiction, have you read adriana trigiani's writing? Loved your piece, great idea for a theme, Marie x

  11. Thanks Louise :)

    Thanks Marie. No I haven't read Adriana Trigiani, although I know she is popular.

  12. What a neat post and that cake looks superb. I love orange/almond cake and the marmalade is a nice touch. The book sounds good, too. :-)

  13. What an elegant bake - love your photo!

  14. lovely cake and lovely idea - I love books that combine food and fiction - if you are into crime fiction and haven't already discovered kerry greenwood's corrina chapman's bakery mystery series - they all have a few recipes in the back that relate to recipes that are part of the story - based in Melbourne too! I had a favourite childhood storybook with recipes - wonder if I still have it

  15. I love books that allow us to ponder food and it there is a recipe all the better.

  16. This is a great post idea. As I've become more interested in food I notice it in television, books, movies and of course music. It continues to inspire me. I'll have to check out this book.

  17. Thanks CC :)

    Hey Johanna, I have been reading some cupcake bakery murder books. A friend saw them and thought of me. Not the murder you understand. Hehe! Will have to check those out.

    We are all just food mad, aren't we Val :)

    I can't really say I have heard much about food in the music I listen to, but you listen to a much wider spread of music than me.

  18. This cake makes me wish we had done more baking when I was a culinary school student (I wrote about it here, if you're interested: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood" http://amzn.to/eOKJWw - on Amazon Kindle). Ah well - time to get our my marmalade!

  19. Here from Tots 100... (well done for being so high up!!) Love Jane Green too, so will go out and get the book... and try that YUMMY recipe. Will be back!

  20. I've recently started reading a series of murder mysteries where the main character runs a coffee shop - I reviewed it on Goodreads if you're interested:
    Can't wait to see more in your series of foodie book reviews :)

  21. Well plugged Culinary Schools :)

    Hey Ladybird World Mother, thanks for stopping by. I know you will enjoy the book and recipe :)

    Hi Rachel, thanks for the tip, I am off to have a read.

  22. Sounds like a great book AND the cake looks marvelous. Yes, It'd be just perfect with some orange whipped cream on top!

  23. I will definitely try the orange whipped cream next time Barbara, although I am thinking that would be rather fab with a chocolate cake too.

  24. I have this book too and posted on another recipe - the chocolate and banana loaf - forbthe publisher. When I read the book I loved the sound of this flour less cake. You've just reminded me it's on my to make list.

  25. Hi! i've read the book and the recipes are very intersting, This one really caught my eyes! How do you simmer the orange? Do you peel off the skin? Your cake looks amazing! I would love to try too..

    Have you read Meet Me at the cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan..If you havent, you should read it!! I love it!! And also The Beach Cafe by Lucy diamond!

  26. Hi Miss Cake Baker, lovely to meet you. I will have to have a look at your recipe.

    Hey Happyichigo, nice to meet you too and no I haven't read those books, although I love both authors. Will have a look for them today.

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x