When Brooke Edwards told me what her story was about, mainly cute guys and food, I was excited. As anyone who knows me knows, food is probably my biggest obsession after books and writing. I asked her if she could send me a blog post with recipes in it, and she did not disappoint. I will definitely make these foods this weekend if I can, and post pictures afterward!
There is also an excerpt of her novella below, because that is what we’re here for. Not my extreme love of everything gustatorially related.
Thanks so much for being here Brooke.
Thank you, Kiyle, for the chance to talk about my new release AND have a chat about one of my favourite topics – food. This was a huge part of Sweet Dreams as it was such a major part of Benji’s life and it was a really easy way for me to connect with him. I spent many hours as a child sitting up on the counter while my granddad tried to avoid my accusing gaze whenever he poured wine into whatever he was cooking. Oh, the innocence of childhood! We won’t talk about how much wine I use in MY cooking. There was enough Chambord soaking the cake in my Christmas trifle back in December that everyone stayed just a little bit longer than planned to make sure they were safe to drive.
Benji probably wouldn’t have supported it, but I’m pretty sure Cara and Dane definitely would have been on board. It’s a good thing for Benji’s sanity that Cara took off globetrotting before Dane came crashing into his life, I think. Back on topic, though, and into the real meat of the matter. My parents raised me to always finish my dinner if I even wanted a peek at dessert, so I’m going to talk a bit about one of my favourite comfort foods. Lasagne is a staple for lots of families, I know, and lots of people have their special tricks or ingredients that make it theirs. My tricks are a visit to the antipasto bar at the local delicatessen and home-roasted garlic cloves – I pack a tub full of semi-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, seared eggplant slices and pickled roasted pepper slices and lay those through each layer. It’s a great way to beef up a sauce if you don’t want meat in it, and if you do have meat in it then you’ve got an even heartier sauce. However you make your sauce, whether it’s from a jar or from scratch, I think it’s incredibly important to simmer all the ingredients together to combine them properly. Adding a can of crushed tomato to whatever sauce you have in a jar is always a surefire way to make it richer. I like to cook some onions in a little butter when I brown the mince before tossing the two together with a generous sprinkle of salt and cracked pepper and some crushed roast garlic, then pouring the sauce in and letting it simmer for a while. I know that some people love it, but I don’t make my lasagne with a béchamel sauce. I layer it with pasta sheets, a thick spreading of the sauce and then a generous handful of grated cheeses. Sharp cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan are my three regulars. As long as your top layer has a solid coating of cheese, you’re golden.
No meal would be complete without dessert, and as a special shout-out to Kiyle, I wanted to share some baked doughnut recipes. There are SO many variations on the baked doughnut thing online that you could literally spend days lost in a Pinterest spiral. Pretty sure that’s happened to Benji a time or two, although croquembouches are more his thing. Bring on the cream puffs, am I right? Anyway – baked doughnuts. If you want to Google a basic baked doughnut recipe, there are SO many online that are really versatile. You can add berries, or flavour them in a million different ways. Dunk them in melted chocolate or fill them with salted caramel, it really is incredibly hard to go wrong with doughnuts. Today, I’m going to talk to you about one of MY favourites. Apple Pie Doughnuts.
Quick rundown on the ingredients: you’re gonna need puff pastry, apple pie filling, brown sugar, butter, some crushed biscuits (Australians should use Digestives, Graham crackers for Americans or whatever biscuit you’d use to make a crumble top or cheesecake base) an egg wash and whatever you want for toppings. Some people like caramel sauce and icecream, others like fluffy whipped cream, some people like them on their own with a big glass of milk. I make my pie filling from scratch – diced or sliced Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg all over low heat and thickened with a little cornflour. Canned pie filling will do the job just as well for these purposes though! Roll it out and cut your puff pastry into rounds – 2 rounds per doughnut. Lay out your base layers on a parchment lined baking sheet and top each one with a big spoonful of your pie filling. (Protip – sugar lovers might want to drizzle some of that caramel sauce through the inside too) Brush some of your eggwash around the edges, put another pastry circle on top and pinch the edges until you have a nicely filled and sealed doughnut. Sift some of your brown sugar through the crushed biscuits and mix with melted butter until you have a nice crumbly mixture. Brush finished doughnuts with egg wash and sprinkle with your crumble. Baking time will depend on the size of the doughnuts and your oven – puff pastry is pretty telling when it comes to being done. Golden and flaky is ideal, I find that mine usually take around 15-20 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, let them cool off while you debate with yourself over what you want on top (or whether you’re gonna share them at all) and then you’re in for a really good time. On that note, and speaking of a good time, I hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt!
Dane waltzes in again after three weeks of nonstop texting, flirting and interrogations about “why you’re smiling like a teenager with a new porn stash” from Sienna. It’s Saturday afternoon, right before close, and the only reason Benji knows that the figure coming through the door is Dane is the fact that he’s wearing an orange beanie almost identical to the one he stole from Glen’s head the first day they met, sunglasses and a bright violet NYU hoodie. He looks ridiculous and Benji starts laughing the second he puts the tray of tarts down.
“You missed blending in half a mile back that way,” he says in lieu of a greeting and Dane just grins, wide and bright and plucks the sunglasses off his face when he’s sure they’re alone. Dane locks the door behind him with a sense of familiarity that makes the tiny, hopeful part of Benji squirm with joy.
“That may be true but no one expects a celebrity to dress this terribly,” he says with a wink and with the full force of that grin on him for the first time in weeks, Benji gets a little weak in the knees. The tight, lingering hug that comes after makes him decidedly wobbly on his feet but it’s nothing compared to the butterflies that fill his insides when Dane casually presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth like that’s something they’ve done a thousand times before. Benji still hasn’t managed to get a word out by the time Dane has crossed to the apron rack and fastened the bikini apron around his waist again, turning around with an expectant look on his face and a glint in his eyes.
“So,” he says and Benji blinks. “What’s on the list for tonight?”
Benji glances at the list pinned to the board. “Uh, a bunch of cakes for some business function.”
Dane rubs his hands together as he steps right into Benji’s space. Benji looks at him, eyes wide, and Dane smiles so wide that the corners of his eyes crinkle. “Better get on with it,” he says, brushing up against Benji on his way to the bench. “I was hoping we’d be home in time for Saturday Night Live.”
Benji sucks in a surprised breath. There’s really no alternative meaning to that statement and if that’s where they’re heading without having to have some big emotional reveal or conversation about it, he is so down with it. He has no plans, Sienna scheduled to oversee pickup for the cakes the next day with the business function. Everything seems to have lined up perfectly.
“We can take these leftovers, right?” Dane asks as Benji carefully closes the refrigerator on the completed cakes a few hours later, not able to drag his eyes away from the pile of cake shavings and excess decoration. He licks his lips. “And that frosting stuff. The chocolate one?”
Benji, in the middle of untying the horrible knot he ends up with every time he wears the old blue apron, considers rolling his eyes before he thinks about what they can do with the ganache. The image of Dane licking his lips flashes across his eyes again and once that reality settles in his mind he nods fervently.
“Yes, we can take the ganache,” he says, slightly manic. His fingers tear right through the old, worn string and he wriggles his way out of the apron without even bothering to hang it up.
For the chance to win a $5 Amazon GC, suggest the most delicious doughnut combination you can think of and don’t forget to leave your email address! Kiyle and I will select a winner after 24 hours. Also feel free to find me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or even drop me an email, I am always up for talking about food or pictures of food. Also for chatting about my books, but mostly the food.
Sweet Dreams is available on Amazon and through KU here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSJDGDQ?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660 and you can catch me online in the following places: Facebook at www.facebook.com/brookeedwardsauthor
Website: www.brookeedwardsauthor.com Twitter: @brookeedwardsau Instagram: @brookeedwardsauthor
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org too!
After you read Sweet Dreams check out my newest book Trust Trade!
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.