The Sunshine and Biscotti Club

It’s one month today until The Sunshine and Biscotti Club hits the shelves. I thought you’d like to  have a peek at the cover and read the blurb…

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I don’t know if the book an author has just finished is always their favourite, but that’s usually the way it is for me and this is no exception. I loved writing this story and getting to know these characters – I’d book a quick return trip to The Sunshine and Biscotti Club in a heartbeat. I’d love to know what you think if you pick up a copy! Will be available in eBook and in the shops May 19th. (You can preorder now if you like!)

Jenny x

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors. But the guests have other things on their minds…

Libby: The Blogger
Life is Instagram-perfect for food blogger Libby…until she catches her husband cheating just weeks before her Italian cooking club’s grand opening.

Evie: The Mum
Eve’s marriage isn’t working, but she’s not dared admit it until now. A trip to Italy to help Libby open The Sunshine and Biscotti Club might be the perfect escape…

Jessica: In Love with her Best Friend
Jessica has thrown herself into her work to shut out the memory of the man who never loved her back. The same man who’s just turned up in Tuscany…

Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school – where your biscotti is served with a side of love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello!

My food history

I’m always asked if I bake or cook because I write so much about food. I do cook. I do bake. But really it’s my family that are the star bakers.

My mum is Russian and has ensured that our culinary history has been rich and varied. When we came home from school dinner would be Kotleti – oat-rolled meatballs in a rich tomato sauce – or stroganoff. For hors d’oeuvres at parties she’d make tiny Piroshki pasties filled with mushrooms and onions that we’d try and pinch pipping hot from the oven. And at Easter we always have a traditional Easter bread called a Kulich served with Paskha (a sort of sugary, raisiny cream cheese) and of course, all the hoo hah that goes with making both!

The success of the Kulich depends on the sweet bread rising super high – sometimes to over a foot. The dough spends the night in the airing cupboard and we all cross our fingers when it’s baked on Easter morning – hoping and praying that the bloody thing will rise so there won’t be tears over breakfast. One year we sliced the top off and the whole inside was an air bubble – disaster!

Easter eggs

The night before Easter we always paint eggs. It’s a beautiful tradition. We cover the table with newspaper, put out paints and a bowl of hardboiled eggs, and we sit round the table with wine and all try and come up with an idea worth painting. I’d recommend it as a tradition – because you’re concentrating on the painting, the chat is really relaxed and there’s loads of laughter. Probably a bit like a sewing bee!

If I look back at my childhood, a huge part of it was spent in the kitchen… From whipping up cream for meringues – sniggering when my mum swore because the first batch had burnt – to sieving raspberries for coulis or jabbing holes in the top of the lemon cake for the sugary syrup to drizzle down. So to answer the question of do I bake/ cook. Let’s say I grew up as a very good sous chef! I listened, I observed, I chatted, I got evil stares from my sister when I ducked out of making dinner – and that’s probably why I’m better at writing about food now than cooking it!

This Easter think of us as we’re all staring at the oven, fingers crossed hoping the Kulich will rise higher than ever before. I’ll tweet a pic so you can see if it worked. x

Behind the scenes of Cherry Pie

So I thought you might want a bit of a behind the scenes sneak peak at some of the inspiration behind the Cherry Pie Island series 

Here’s five things that you may not already know about The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe

Cherry Pie Island map

  1. I used to be a rower and The Dandelion Cafe is based on the cafe we used to go to between our rowing outings at the weekend. It was a tiny, dark little place that existed before all the trendy tea rooms and coffee shops started opening and was the only place to go. It had ripped red faux leather seats and served apple pie with fluorescent custard. We’d have mugs of steaming hot tea and toasted bacon sandwiches with ketchup and we’d sit and read the paper and do the crossword while truckers came in for a pit stop and clubbers stumbled in having not been to bed. We’d watch the rain outside – sick that we had to go back out on the river – or smile at the sunshine thinking how tanned we’d get during the next session. The cafe was tatty and run down and I don’t think it exists anymore but it was so cosy and friendly and the perfect place to escape the world for an hour or so.
  2. When I lived in Vauxhall, every morning I’d walk to the train station along a big, polluted main road. To make it a little bit more pleasant I’d cut through the park. In spring they had the most phenomenal blossom trees. I would stop and look up and the sky would be filled with pink frothy petals – just like the orchard on Cherry Pie Island.
  3. In Dandelion Cafe, Annie remembers discussions over the best way to eat cherry pie. Personally, I really like a teaspoon. So does my mum. My dad likes a fork. My husband thinks we’re all bonkers and should just eat with whatever piece of cutlery we’re given. How do you eat yours?
  4. Cherries are definitely my favourite fruit (close seconds: bananas, clementines and raspberries). Once, while driving through France, we stopped at a stall at the side of the road and bought a bag of the most exquisite, sweet, juicy, dark red cherries I’ve ever eaten. We still talk wistfully about them!
  5. The Dandelion Cafe becomes a tapas place in the evening. This is my dream cafe! Retro-chic cafe by day, cool little tapas bar by night. I went to Seville for my honeymoon and it fast became one of my favourite places – so friendly, exciting and beautiful. Orange trees line the streets and the little bars serve marinated anchovies, chorizo, pimiento de padron, serrano ham. It was food heaven. Hopefully I’ve captured a little piece of it for you to taste.

Happy reading!

And if you like, take a look at the map of Cherry Pie Island!

Jenny x