Welcome to the second post in my Food In Fiction Series.
I have noticed more and more the tie-in between food and fiction. As foodies, I am sure you love when food takes center stage in a novel and when the author kindly includes some recipes, well that is just an added bonus.
My title this edition is The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond (aka children's author Sue Mongredien, who also writes as Daisy Meadows).
I was in the middle of reading a library copy of this book when I headed off on holiday, so I took it with me and finished it off on the plane. A flight has never gone by so quickly or been quite so pleasant. A great book which I couldn't put down.
Lucy has kindly given permission to print a recipe from the book and taken part in an interview, which is further on in the post.
The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond
..... is the story of Evie, who at the ripe old age of thirty two hasn't exactly set the world on fire. She doesn't have a mortgage, a successful career or a family, unlike her two sisters, who seem to have it all. She is definitely the black sheep in the family. What she does have is a rather boring boyfriend who would rather squirrel his money away than spend it on her and a succession of rather hellish temp jobs.
Things change for Evie when her beloved Aunt Jo dies in a car crash and leaves Evie her Beach Café in Cornwall. Of course Evie's family think this is a big mistake. How can Evie run a business? This makes Evie even more determined to take over the cafe and to prove her family wrong, so Evie packs up her life and heads to the coast.
Evie has wonderful memories of her time in Cornwall helping her aunt in the cafe, but when she gets there everything seems very different from what she remembers. The cafe looks a little rundown, the staff are worse than useless and the locals are openly hostile. Evie begins to wonder if she has made her worst decision yet.
After her chef walks out Evie realises she cannot open the next day without something to offer her customers and so sets about making some scones using her aunt's recipe. It takes her a few tries, but she gets there in the end...
.... and Lucy has kindly included the recipe at the end of the book for us to try.
The perfect scones to fill with jam and cream for afternoon tea.
- 350g self-raising flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 85g butter
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 175ml milk
- 1 egg, beaten (to glaze)
1. Heat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into cubes then rub in to the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then make a well in the mixture.2. Warm the milk then pour into the dry mix and stir to combine to a dough.3. Sprinkle your work surface and hands with flour, then tip out the dough. Fold it over a few times, then pat into a round approximately 4 cm deep.4. Take a 5cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Cut four scones from this round, then reshape the remaining mixture to cut another four. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, and put on a baking tray. 5. Bake for 10 minutes until risen and golden.6. Serve your scones warm or cold, with butter, clotted cream and jam, plus a pot of tea and your nicest crockery. Sea view preferable but not essential. Enjoy!
DetailsTotal time: Yield: serves 8
Interview with Lucy Diamond (aka Sue Mongredien)
1. Evie starts of as a reluctant cook with some memorable disasters, moves on to the determined-to-have-a-go stage and then on to become a fairly competent cook. Do you associate with one of these stages yourself or do you really love to cook?
I really love to cook, although I've certainly had my fair share of disasters. Now that my children are a bit older and I have more time on my hands, I've actually really enjoyed being more experimental in the kitchen and trying new recipes. There's something so creative about cooking that appeals to me - and I must confess to enjoying eating the results too.
2. Do you have a dish that is a family favourite?
There are five of us in our family and I think we'd all have the same reply to this question: Sunday dinner. My husband usually cooks this (hurrah!) and he does the most amazing roast potatoes - fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. He took a tip from Jamie Oliver and always gives them a gentle squashing with a potato masher halfway through roasting. It works!
3. Do you have a culinary party piece for dinner parties?
I don't have a specific dish I wheel out each time, I tend to make something different according to who's coming round, and what time of year it is. A big bowl of pasta and a variety of salads is always a good standby option though. And a fabulous pudding, of course...
4. Is there a cookbook you find yourself returning to again and again?
I love Nigella's books - I've done a lot of baking from her Domestic Goddess book. I've tried lots of Jamie Oliver's 30-minute dinners too, although I've never yet managed to do everything in just half an hour! I've recently bought the 'My Daddy Cooks' book which has some brilliant, easy and foolproof ideas for family meals in too.
5. Now, back to your own books. Where do you write and are you a fan of good old pen and paper or do you work on a computer?
My office is down at the bottom of our house and was once used as the coal cellar in Victorian times, I believe! Now it is lovely and light, with French windows opening onto the garden. I write everything on a computer - I find it much easier to edit that way. Plus I can type much faster than I can write, after years of office slavery.
6. How does it feel when you finish a book? Are you reluctant to let it go or does closing the last page mark an end for you?
Finishing a book is the most wonderful feeling - a massive sense of achievement. I'm always rather sad to say goodbye to the characters, as I come to really know them over the writing period and would happily keep tweaking the text forever, given half a chance. It's a strange feeling when you've gone through the final set of proofs and know that, that's it, there will be no more changes, and it's off to the printers. Exciting, but nerve-racking too. Then, of course, it's straight onto the next book and it all begins again...
7. Would you ever return to a character or community to write more books?
Yes, I think it's possible. I never wrap everything up too tightly for my characters, so definitely feel there are stories still to tell. Not that I've got around to telling them yet, of course, but I'm not ruling anything out!
8. And finally. Evie bakes scones in an attempt to fill the cafe's empty cake stand and you have kindly given us the recipe. So, I have to ask you where you stand on the eternal scone debate that rages between Cornwall and Devon. What goes on first the cream or the jam?
Ha! I think I will be diplomatic and say that, as long as there is cream AND jam on my scone, then I don't mind which way round they go. It still tastes delicious!
A big thank you to Lucy for the recipe, the interview and for writing such fabulous books.
Disclosure Statement: I did not receive a review copy of this book or any other incentive. This was a title I borrowed from the library and loved so much, that I decided to review it. The opinions I have expressed are my own.