Award winning author, Sasha Cottman is visiting my parlour today to talk about her latest Regency romance release in the The Duke of Strathmore series, The Duke’s Daughter. I’ve read the first two books in the series – Letter From a Rake and An Unsuitable Match – and loved them both so I’m certainly looking forward to reading the next instalment. Sasha shares an excerpt from The Duke’s Daughter and a classic French recipe from the Regency era (which I must try – I love cooking).
Welcome and take it away, Sasha…
The Regency recipe I am sharing is cassoulet in honour of Paris where part of The Duke’s Daughter is set.
He chuckled softly. It was Tuesday. Madame Dessaint always cooked cassoulet on Tuesdays.
The Duke’s Daughter
Cassoulet is a traditional French, slowed cooked casserole. The dish is named after the earthenware pot in which it is traditionally cooked in, the cassole. Varying meats can be used in the recipe including duck, goose and even mutton (lamb). For this recipe we used chicken.
1 cup (215g) dried cannellini beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
500 g pork belly cut into small pieces
200 gm bacon cut into small pieces.
2 garlic or spicy sausages.
2 piece of chicken Maryland (or breasts)
2 brown onions roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary (fresh is best if you can find it).
400 g can chopped tomatoes
1 litre of chicken stock
1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs
30g melted butter
This is a good Saturday afternoon recipe. If you start it mid- afternoon, it will be ready in time for dinner.
Soak the cannellini beans in a bowl of fresh water overnight. (Or you could use the tinned variety, washed and drained if you want to cook the recipe all in one go).
Preheat the oven to 140C/280F
Cook the pork in a stovetop pan. Recipes often call for small batches, but if you have a big enough pan then you can cook it all in one go. It will take about 6 minutes to brown the pork.
Set the pork aside in a large bowl.
Next cook the bacon in the pan until it is brown. Then put it in the bowl with the pork.
Then cook the sausages in the pan until well done. After you take them out of the pan, slice them up thickly and put them in the bowl with the pork and bacon.
Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes either side until browned. When cooked put them in the bowl with the rest of the cooked meats.
Now cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until they are soft. Add the pork, bacon, sausage and chicken back into the pan. Add the thyme and rosemary.
Drain the beans which have been soaking. Add the bean, tomatoes and stock to the pan. Heat for 2 mins.
Transfer all the ingredients to a casserole dish and cover (unless of course you have been using an oven proof pan on the stove top which is very clever of you).
Bake the cassoulet, covered for 1 ½ hours.
Take the cassoulet out of the oven and cut up the chicken pieces before returning them to the dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle this mix over the cassoulet and then bake the cassoulet uncovered for another 40 minutes in the oven until the top is golden.
Remove from the oven and serve.
Serving it with bread is a nice touch as you can use the bread to soak up any of the lovely remaining juice in the bottom of the cassoulet.
Excerpt from ‘The Duke’s Daughter’
By every measure of her own behaviour, Lady Lucy Radley knew this was the worst.
‘You reckless fool,’ she muttered under her breath as she headed back inside and into the grand ballroom.
The room was a crush of London’s social elite. Every few steps she had to stop and make small talk with friends or acquaintances. A comment here and there about someone’s gown or promising a social call made for slow going.
Finally she spied her cousin, Eve. She fixed a smile to her face as Eve approached.
‘Where have you been, Lucy? I’ve been searching everywhere for you.’
‘I was just outside admiring the flowers on the terrace.’
Eve frowned, but the lie held.
Another night, another ball in one of London’s high-society homes. In one respect Lucy would be happy when the London social season ended in a few weeks; then she would be free to travel to her family home in Scotland and go tramping across the valleys and mountain paths, the chill wind ruffling her hair.
She puffed out her cheeks. With the impending close of the season came an overwhelming sense of failure. Her two older brothers, David and Alex, had taken wives. Perfect, love-filled unions with delightful girls, each of whom Lucy was happy to now call sister.
Her newest sister-in-law, Earl Langham’s daughter Clarice, was already in a delicate condition, and Lucy suspected it was only a matter of time before her brother Alex and his wife Millie shared some good news.
For herself, this season had been an unmitigated disaster on the husband-hunting front. The pickings were slim at best. Having refused both an earl and a viscount the previous season, she suspected other suitable gentlemen now viewed her as too fussy. No gentleman worth his boots wanted a difficult wife. Only the usual group of fortune-hunters, intent on getting their hands on her substantial dowry, were lining up at this stage of the season to ask her to dance. Maintaining her pride as the daughter of a duke, she refused them all.
Somewhere in the collective gentry of England there must be a man worthy of her love. She just had to find him.
What a mess.
‘You are keeping something from me,’ Eve said, poking a finger gently into Lucy’s arm.
Lucy shook her head. ‘It’s nothing. I suspect I am suffering from a touch of ennui. These balls all begin to look the same after a while. All the same people, sharing the same gossip.’
‘Oh dear, and I thought I was having a bad day,’ Eve replied.
‘Sorry, I was being selfish. You are the one who needs a friend to cheer her up,’ Lucy replied. She kissed her cousin gently on the cheek.
Eve’s brother William had left London earlier that day to return to his home in Paris, and she knew her cousin was taking his departure hard.
‘Yes, well, I knew I could sit at home and cry, or I could put on a happy face and try to find something to smile about,’ Eve replied.
Eve’s father had tried without success to convince his son to return permanently to England. With the war now over and Napoleon toppled from power, everyone expected William Saunders to come home immediately, but it had taken two years for him to make the journey back to London.
‘Perhaps once he gets back to France and starts to miss us all again, he shall have a change of heart,’ Lucy said.
‘One can only hope. Now, let’s go and find a nice quiet spot and you can tell me what you were really doing out in the garden. Charles Ashton came in the door not a minute before you, and he had a face like thunder. As I happened to see the two of you head out into the garden at the same time a little while ago, I doubt Charles’ foul temper was because he found the flowers not to his liking,’ Eve replied.
When handsome army officer Avery Fox unexpectedly inherits a fortune, he instantly becomes one of the season’s most eligible bachelors. More accustomed to the battlefield, he has no patience with the naive debutantes who fill the ballrooms of London.
Honest and impetuous Lady Lucy Radley is a breath of fresh air, guiding him through the season and helping him to avoid any traps. So when Avery is left with little option but to marry Lucy, he can’t help but feel he’s been manipulated. Nor can he shake the feeling that a duke’s daughter should be out of his reach.
From the wildly beautiful Scottish Highlands to the elegant soirees of Paris, Avery and Lucy go on a journey that is full of surprises for them both. But will their feelings for each other be strong enough to overcome the circumstances of their marriage and survive the ghosts of Avery’s past?
THE DUKE OF STRATHMORE SERIES:
Letter from a Rake
An Unsuitable Match
The Duke’s Daughter
Sasha Cottman’s debut novel was published in 2013. Letter from a Rake, was a Romantic Book of the Year finalist in 2014 and won the Book Junkies Choice Award in 2014.
Her books are centred on the theme of love, honour and family. Her current book series, The Duke of Strathmore, covers the story of the love lives of a group of siblings and their cousins.
Sasha’s second novel An Unsuitable Match, was a four time ARRA finalist in 2015. The third book in the Duke of Strathmore series, The Duke’s Daughter, was released in August 2015.
Sasha divides her time between the city of Melbourne, Australia and her family beach retreat at Torquay. She and her family have discovered all the places the family cat disappears to whenever it realises they are about to head home on a Sunday night.
Before accidently enrolling in a course for romance writers a number of years ago, she had always had a love of history. While her writing career may appear at odds with her professional career as a finance executive, it means she can spot a poorly written company board report at twenty feet.
A self-confessed ‘hopeless’ cook, she writes a blog, In the Regency Kitchen, where she recreates recipes from the Regency/Georgian era. Her family have so far managed to survive being the test subjects of her culinary efforts.
The little time she has left during the week and weekends is spent trying to beat her husband at Fitbit challenges and trying to find where the pair to that sock really went.
Sasha is published by Destiny Romance a digital imprint of Penguin Random House.
To connect with Sasha:
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Sasha’s newest release The Duke’s Daughter is released through Destiny Romance.