As part of the virtual book tour to celebrate thepublication of new novel Strings Attached, I would like to welcome indie authorMandy Baggot on Jera’s Jamboree.
Mandy is sharing with us much more than the book information today! Finger Food, the catering company that George owns, is central to the plot in Strings Attached ……… so after the book information, we have an interview with Mandy and a delectable treat to feast your stomach on. That’s not all – one lucky reader will win a signed copy of Strings Attached! Keep reading to the end of the post to see how you can enter this giveaway.
Mandy started writing at school where she penned aFootballers’ Wives style script involving her friends, New Kids on the Blockand the England football squad.
In 2008, Excess All Areas was published and achievedexcellent reviews and in 2010 Breaking the Ice was published. February 2011 saw the publication of KnowingMe Knowing You, which has been warmly received.
Introducing ♪♫•☆* Strings Attached *•☆♪♫ which is Mandy’s fourth novel.
Between the past and the future there arealways strings attached
CatererGeorge Fraser has a mission. She’s going to prove everyone wrong. Ambitiousowner of catering firm Finger Food and black sheep of her family, she’sdetermined to succeed in business where she’s so far failed in her personallife. Asked to cater for gorgeous rock star Quinn Blake’s after-show party herlife suddenly takes a turn for the dramatic.
Magneticallydrawn together, George and Quinn embark on a relationship that no one must knowabout. But is Quinn everything he seems or is there more to his star life thanhe’s telling her?
Thingshot up when George is invited to the wedding of the millennium and herintegrity very soon becomes compromised.
With celebrity obsessed colleagueMarisa in the mix and her beloved Adam spending more time in her life canGeorge keep her secrets and hold on to her ambition, or will love finally getin the way?
‘aplot twist straight out of Dallas’ – Jane Holland – formerly Embrace Books
Strings Attached is available to purchase for £8.99 from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Waterstones, W H Smith, Barnes &amp; Noble on-line. Also Kindle from Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com
Mandy is sharing with readers one of the recipes thatcaterer George creates for one of Quinn’s after-show parties but before shedoes that, I asked her some questions:
Georgeis a rock music-loving chick. What madeyou decide that she was going to have her own catering business?
Firstly, I needed an original wayfor my two characters to meet. I didn’t want George to be a fan of Quinn’smusic and meet him as a ‘groupie’ and I didn’t want her to get a job workingalongside him. She had to be strong and independent from the beginning and meethim on equal terms. I also wanted to show the hard working side to George andhave her doing a job people wouldn’t necessarily expect from what we learnabout her character. I think cooking grounds her and because it requirespatience, concentration and organisation its so far removed from what she’s hadin her life its almost escapism for her.
FingerFoods plays a pivotal role in Strings Attached. Did you already have a love of ‘different’ foods or did you have to research?
There is not much I love morethan a buffet! I am a savoury girland the first to the canapés at parties! I would love to say now that I gotmyself invited to several celebrity parties and sampled all they had to offerbut sadly, no. I did do lots of internet research though. I didn’t want Georgeto just knock up a few tuna mayo vol-au-vents because she is supposed to be atthe very top of her game so she had to be doing something different. Iresearched canapés and chose my favourite, different sounding ones for herrecipes. She does make prawn and Tabasco at one point though – that one’s madeup, I just thought it sounded yummy. I wouldn’t be able to make it though, I’mallergic to prawns!
Thereare some unusual foods served at the after-show parties (and the wedding!) Where did you find the inspiration forGeorge to be experimental? Did you tryout any of the recipes yourself?
I haven’t tried any of the recipes!Shall I lie and say I have? Shame on me! The wedding meal is one of myfavourites! As the wedding is in Spain (I’m trying very hard not to add anyspoilers here! We will not say who is getting married!) I wanted George tothink about this and use it to her advantage. So she chooses local citrusfruits for the starter and follows this theme, the lemon infused rice with themain course, through to the pudding of chocolate orange flan. The pudding alsoinvolves chilli cream and I have had the pleasure of eating that! It is a verystrange combination but it definitely works!
Withthe powerful connection between George and Quinn, do you believe the way to aman’s heart really is through his stomach?
Quinn is a big eater! He doesn’tsit still very often, he’s always on the go and therefore he has a big appetiteand not just for food ladies! He’s eaten half a tray of canapés before theymeet so who knows? Maybe prawn and Tabasco is an aphrodisiac?! When they meetthere is more than 240 volts charging the air that’s for sure!
What’syour own personal favourite food?
Without a doubt, if I had to pickone food to eat all day every day it would be mashed potato and I am talkinginstant powdered mash! It is a comforter! A reliable hearty feast available inseconds whenever you want it. I even took a pack to the Romantic NovelistsConference this year in case I was peckish! But I also have a love for myChinese takeaway Pearl River, in Durrington. They have an unrivalledcombination of chicken curry, egg fried rice, sweet and sour chicken balls andcurry sauce I tend to have on at least a monthly basis! You can see why I haveto do regular Zumba! But apart from these unhealthy treats, I love fresh greenveg (courgette, broccoli, green beans), I havesalad most nights (but with loads of olives because I love them too!) and I ama fan of roast dinners. Oh and I have been known to eat the odd porkscratching! I am so bad!
Andfinally, are you as experimental as George with your cooking at home?
Sometimes and Mr Big isn’t sokeen on my experiments, he’s a traditional kind of guy – a challenge whenyou’re married to me! I do try and make him try different combinations of foodbut it never turns out well! I pepped up a chicken curry once with some oliveslices and those were picked out and put to one side. I often tell him we’rehaving chicken when it’s really Quorn – he doesn’t usually notice! Oh and thesausages with salsa weren’t particularly well received either – now you knowwhy we have takeaway!
Thank you for sharing with us Mandy.
Now on to one of the recipes that George uses in Strings Attached:
Smoked Salmon Canapés
Buttery and flaky, these hors d’oeuvres are likelittle tarts, only simpler to make. Follow our topping suggestions, or try yourown: sautéed mushrooms and stilton cheese, caramelized onions and anchovies,gruyère and chopped toasted walnuts … let your imagination be your guide.
· 3/4 cup unsaltedbutter
· 2 1/2 cups all-purposeflour, plus more for rolling
· 1/2 teaspoon coarsesalt
· 1 large eggplus 1 egg yolk
· 3 to 4 tbsp.ice water
· 2/3 cup crèmefraîche
· 5 to 6 oz.smoked salmon
· 2 1/2 tablespoons brinedcapers, chopped
· 1. Cut butter into 1/2-in. cubes and freeze in a single layeruntil very cold, 10 to 20 minutes. In a food processor, whirl flour and saltuntil blended. Add butter and pulse on and off just until bits of butter areabout the size of peas. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and yolk with 3 tbsp.ice water. Add egg mixture, about half at a time, and pulse just until evenlymoistened and holding together (you may need to add 1 more tbsp. ice water asyou’re pulsing).
· 2. Flatten the dough into 2 rough squares, each about 6 in.wide. Wrap squares in wax paper. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 3days.
· 3. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from refrigerator andlet stand 5 minutes. Unwrap and, on a lightly floured surface, roll doughhalves into 1/8-in.-thick squares, 10 to 11 in. each.
· 4. Transfer each square to a rimmed baking sheet and prickall over with a fork. Bake until medium brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on pan,about 30 minutes. Spread with crème fraîche, dividing evenly, and top withsmoked salmon and capers. Cut into 2-in. squares.
Note: This dough is the ultimate kitchen workhorse: It’s fastto make and will keep in the freezer for up to a week (let it thaw 1/2 hourbefore rolling out, or until it’s pliable) or in the refrigerator for 3 days.You can also bake the dough a day ahead and top it just before serving. Thisrecipe can easily be doubled, but if you want to triple or quadruple it, make 2separate batches of dough.
Please take time to visit all blogs involved in the virtual book launch of Strings Attached. There is something different on each blog! Guaranteed to entertain you.
Strings Attached –Book blog tour
Giveaway of SIGNED paperback is now INTERNATIONAL