Caroline James wanted to be a writer from an early age. She trained, however, in the catering trade and worked and travelled both at home and abroad. Caroline has owned and run many related businesses and cookery is a passion alongside her writing, combining the two with her love of the hospitality industry and romantic fiction. Caroline can generally be found with her nose in a book and her hand in a box of chocolates.
So tell us why you love food so much Caroline?
I've always been interested in food. As a child I hovered round the kitchen and watched my mother bake, relishing the smell of sponges, pies and pastries as they emerged from the old aga. I've worked in food related businesses all my life and it has given me not only an income but many opportunities.
Does your wit and humour come naturally to you?
I find the hospitality trade a great source of humour. No two days are alike and there is a plethora of fascinating characters to mingle with. I think anyone working in this business has a natural inclination towards humour in order to survive the punishing hours and demands of the job.
And what makes you laugh the most?
I love the re-runs of Jeeves & Wooster - comedy in a period setting with actors perfectly cast. Phoenix Nights was always a favourite too and more recently Mrs Brown's Boys has me in stitches, I enjoy the Irish humour and clever way of using the back-to-back sets in front of a live audience.
What would your most indulgent day consist of?
Turning the phone and computer off! Then a long walk in the beautiful countryside followed by a hot pampering bath with luxurious oil and a favourite book, topped off with a home-cooked meal - ideally a roast, with my family and close friends. Perfect.
Who is your favourite celebrity chef?
I admire all the chefs we see on TV. Success doesn't fall into anyone's lap and there's a background of seriously hard graft, very often over many years, to get to the top. Catering is tough and to be a 'celebrity' chef you have to have a touch of magic and be able to entertain too.
Would you share with us your favourite recipe?
I'm delighted to. I have a very sweet tooth and love chocolate - this recipe for chocolate brownies is easy but the results are impressive.
Caroline's Chocolate Brownies
These brownies are really rich and you can taste the molasses in the Muscovado sugar.
350g good dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter - cut into cubes
3 large eggs
250 g dark Muscovado sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder.
Set your oven to 170 degrees C / Gas Mark 3
Grease and line a 22cm square tin
Break chocolate into pieces and add to butter, in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, stir with a metal spoon until melted and take off heat.
Whisk eggs and sugar together until mix is smooth and paler and fluffy then fold the chocolate mixture in and combine.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into the chocolate mixture and fold until all combined.
Pour into the tin
Place in oven for 35 minutes - until the surface is set (slightly cracking on top).
Remove and cool completely in the tin.
Slice into square and store in a tin or container in the fridge.
You could substitute the Muscovado sugar for golden caster sugar. I often chop little chunks of white and milk chocolate and add to the mix for a different texture and very rich brownie. If you're feeling seriously decadent and naughty, these brownies are wonderful served slightly warm with ice cream or cream.
Take a peek behind the celebrity pinny and see what really goes on in the world of famous chefs! Media agent and tough cookie, Hilary Hargreaves has many ingredients to juggle as her client's battle it out to find fame and fortune. This romantic recipe follows Hilary and her team as she sizzles and simmers from cosmopolitan London to a crazy food festival in Ireland and the calming shores of the beautiful Caribbean.
Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today Caroline, and we wish you every success with the book.
Best wishes, Freda
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