Thursday 17 May 2018

A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry @veronica_henry #BlogTour @orionbooks @Lauren_BooksPR #AFamilyRecipe

What's the secret ingredient to your happiness?
Laura Griffin is preparing for an empty nest. The thought of Number 11 Lark Hill falling silent - a home usually bustling with noise, people and the fragrant smells of something cooking on the Aga - seems impossible. Laura hopes it will mean more time for herself, and more time with her husband, Dom.
But when an exposed secret shakes their marriage, Laura suddenly feels as though her family is shrinking around her. Feeling lost, she turns to her greatest comfort: her grandmother's recipe box, a treasured collection dating back to the Second World War. Everyone has always adored Laura's jams and chutneys, piled their sandwiches high with her pickles . . . Inspired by a bit of the old Blitz spirit, Laura has an idea that gives her a fresh sense of purpose.
Full of fierce determination, Laura starts carving her own path. But even the bravest woman needs the people who love her. And now, they need her in return . . .

A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry is published today (17 May 2018) by Orion. I think it's safe to say that I am a huge huge fan of Veronica Henry's writing, and this is one of her best. My review will be published in the media during May, and I'll be featuring my thoughts about the book here on my blog too.

As part of the Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to share with you a very special recipe for Soda Bread and a guest post from Veronica. I do hope that you enjoy it, I certainly did and it reminded me of my own Irish grandmother, and sitting down to warm slices of soda bread with salty butter, in front of the range in her cottage in Donegal.


On my kitchen shelf is a tiny metal box full of index cards, stuffed with recipes from my grandmothers, my parents and me, that I now have in my care. I’ve used many of them throughout my life, as well as adding to the collection. Many of the recipes are reminiscent of important family occasions.

And that was where the idea for A FAMILY RECIPE came from: a little box that holds recipes that relate to the life-changing events of the residents of 11 Lark Hill in Bath, from the war to the present day. Laura finds the box at a difficult time in her life, and uses it to help her move forward.

For this blog tour I am sharing some of my favourite recipes from my own box.


The parcel arrives from Killorglin, the weight of a family bible, damp and cold. I place it on the kitchen table and tear away the wrapping.

There’s no fancy packaging or logos here, just plain grey cardboard with prosaic black capitals: WILD IRISH SMOKED SALMON. It’s the ‘wild’ that pleases me most. You don’t want your salmon biddable.

I can already picture the water it came from: the swollen river charging with abandon through the purple hills, the fish tumbling in their haste to get away from the fisherman’s net.

I tear back the plastic. It’s much paler than I expected – a dainty rose, and I worry it won’t taste of anything. I stick in my fork to lift off a slice. It peels away somewhat reluctantly and hangs from the tines, plump and heavy.

I lift the fork to my mouth. The salmon lies oily and meaty on my tongue. It tastes of Ireland. The drift of peat from a tiny white cottage; the damp rain coming in from the Atlantic; the plume from an aged aunt’s cup of Lapsang Souchong.

It’s a ballerina with balls: delicate but powerful. I lay it on a white plate. 
There is no need for fancy presentation: no fiddling with prissy rosettes, just slice upon slice of coral on porcelain. 
A plate of memories, of childhood, of a long-forgotten summer. 
It is the perfect present for my father’s birthday. 
His 80th, although at the time I was not to know it was his last.
All it needs to go with it is a slice of cakey soda bread, some good butter, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of black pepper. 
My Irish grandmother used to make this every day, and it is always best fresh, though it’s wonderful toasted as well. It is especially good with home-made raspberry jam.


4 teacups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ teacup buttermilk

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl making sure it gets plenty of air. 
Pour in the buttermilk gradually, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until you can draw it all together in a lump – don’t manhandle it too much. 
Coax it into a round and put a cross in the top. 
Or you can put it in a loaf tin if you prefer a more structured shape.
Bake in the oven at 220 C for about 45 mins or until it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom – but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch.

Veronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for THE ARCHERS, HEARTBEAT and HOLBY CITY amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD for A NIGHT ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon.
Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @veronica_henry

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