Friday, March 13, 2015

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Connor Callahan from Harper's Wish (by Cerella Sechrist & Loree Lough)

Welcome to the latest edition of We Talk to Ourselves…a lot!

Connor Callahan (played by Kevin Ryan)
Today we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the hero of Cerella’s upcoming novel, HARPER’S WISH, the first story in her Findlay Roads series which takes place in a fictional Chesapeake Bay town on the eastern shores of Maryland.

Since Loree lives near some of the towns that inspired Cerella’s series, they’re both excited to welcome Irish-born chef and hero of Harper’s Wish, CONNOR CALLAHAN, to the blog!

LOREE: Pleased to meet you, Connor! Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself?

CONNOR: It’s a pleasure to meet you, Loree. I’m an Irish boy, born and bred, but my da moved my sister, Rory, and me to the States following the passing of our mam when I was ten years old. I feel lucky to have been able to experience both my Irish heritage and the opportunities of living in America.

LOREE: Cerella tells me you’re a chef.

CONNOR: Aye, I trained at the Institute of Culinary Excellence and took over my da’s restaurant, the Rusty Anchor, when he passed on a couple of years ago.

LOREE: That sounds like a great way to preserve his legacy.

CONNOR: He was a great man. I owe a lot to him.

CERELLA: So, Connor, I understand you have some special Irish dishes you’re preparing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

CONNOR: My da’s specialty was his Shepherd’s Pie. He only made it once a year, around the holidays, but I’m making it today for my daughter, Molly. It’s her favorite.

CERELLA: That sounds delicious. Why don’t you tell us a little about Molly while you cook?

CONNOR: (grins) I love her more than my own life, but that girl keeps a man on his toes.

CERELLA: I bet she does! I know she can be a real pistol, but she’s a sweetie at heart. Tell us what you’re doing with the Shepherd’s Pie.

CONNOR: I’ve got my diced potatoes boiling in a seasoned pot of water to soften them while I’m browning up some lamb in the skillet before I add in the onions, carrots, and peas.

LOREE: It already smells Heavenly in here! How old is Molly, by the way?

CONNOR: She’s six years old, and I worry what sort of antics she’ll be pulling by the time she’s a teenager. I’m afraid it’ll be hard on her, growing up without her mam around.

CERELLA: But she has a great dad in you, and a lot of people who care about her. What’s that you’re adding to the meat and veggies?

CONNOR: I’ve added in some tomato paste and next I’ll be stirring in some Worcestershire sauce and Guinness stout.

LOREE: Can’t have a traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie without some stout!

CONNOR: (nodding) Stout is a darker beer. It adds a very Irish depth of flavor to the dish.

LOREE: Sounds good to me! What else is going in there?

CONNOR: I add a little rosemary, thyme, and parsley for seasoning along with a hint of brown sugar to cut any bitterness from the stout. Next, I’ll be mashing the potatoes for the topping.

CERELLA: And then you’re layering grated cheese on top, right? This dish is pure comfort food. I can see why it’s Molly’s favorite.

LOREE: So, tell us some more about your restaurant.

CONNOR: Well, the Rusty Anchor was my da’s restaurant, as I mentioned. But I had a restaurant of my own a few years ago in Washington D.C. That was before things fell apart. But that’s a story for another time.

LOREE: We’ll be interested to hear it whenever you want to share it.

CONNOR: (nods but focuses on finishing the dish) So now we have our lamb mixture layered in a dish, and I’m just adding the mashed potatoes on top.

CERELLA: And the cheese. Don’t forget the cheese.

CONNOR: (laughs) Aye, and the cheese. You sound like Molly. First, we have to bake it for about fifteen minutes and then we’ll take it out and put on the cheese before we pop it back into the oven. In the meantime, we’ll make the gravy.

LOREE: There’s gravy, too? This just keeps getting better!

CONNOR: You ladies sure get excited about your food.

CERELLA: You have no idea.

LOREE: But as a chef, you should understand that.

CONNOR: I do.

CERELLA: While you’re making the gravy, why don’t you share a bit about the town of Findlay Roads?

CONNOR: It’s the best town you’ll ever visit. It used to be a lot quieter than it is these days. A well-known travel magazine named it one of the top five hidden jewels of the Chesapeake Bay, and ever since then, we’ve seen a flood of tourists and vacationers into the area every summer. The town’s been built up to accommodate them with all sorts of restaurants and shops. But it’s that sort of activity I’m hoping will help me keep the Rusty Anchor afloat. Business has been bleak since da passed.

LOREE: If your menu is half as good as this Shepherd’s Pie smells, things should pick up soon.

CONNOR: Thanks, love.

CERELLA: Connor, we better let these readers go so Loree and I can grab some plates and get ready for this Shepherd’s Pie to finish up.

LOREE: It’s been great getting to chat with you today. Now, Cerella, let’s go find some forks while Connor adds the cheese.

CERELLA: I’m with you, Loree! Be sure to tune in next month on Friday, April 10, for our next edition of We Talk to Ourselves…a lot!

And don’t forget to visit Cerella’s website and Pinterest board for more information on her upcoming novel, Harper’s Wish, Book 1 in the Findlay Roads series, releasing in September 2015!






About Loree:


With nearly 5,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). The release of Once a Marine (#1 in the “Those Marshall Boys” series for Harlequin's new Heartwarming line) brings Loree’s number of books in print to 104! Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and www.loreelough.com!



About Cerella:

Cerella Sechrist lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. She has won various competitions and a scholarship for her writing, which include devotionals, full-length plays, and novels. She divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. Her novels exhibit her love for both the written word and food in fiction. You can find her online at her website www.cerellasechrist.com where she pens “Literary Fare: Fiction & Food”, a blog for readers.

30 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I look forward to your release . . . even if it means summer will be almost over, and I can hardly wait for spring!

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    1. Lol! I know, Kate, I'm not sure I even want to think that far ahead!

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  2. I love a man who can cook. Unfortunately my husband thinks he's a great cook and he isn't. I don't eat anything he makes and neither does anyone else. Poor guy! He keeps trying, though, so there is always hope?

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    1. I guess it's the thought that counts, Kristine. ;) Maybe you could buy him a cooking class for his birthday or something? Hint hint? Lol

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    2. Larry is a great cook! My only complaint? He uses every utensil in the kitchen...except for the splatter guard! LOL

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    3. But does he WASH them when he's finished, Loree? That's the real question. ;)

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  3. Okay, I'm already falling for Conner's accent and cooking! Congrats and looking forward to your release!!

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    1. I'm so glad you get it, Rula! His accent was so much fun to imagine/write. The cooking was just a bonus. ;D

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    2. I hear ya, Rula! Every time I hear an Irish accent, I get a little weak in the knees and 'spacey-headed.' (That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! LOL)

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  4. You ladies are so clever. Who wouldn't eat anything that man cooked and set in front of you? I've had Shepherd's Pie at an Irish Pub in San Antonio of all places. I'm quite sure this one is better. Looking forward to the book.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Roz! I admit, Loree and I have so much fun "cooking" up these posts. My mom makes a great Shepherd's Pie, but it's very Americanized. I like to think Connor's beats even hers, but I'm biased! ;)

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    2. I tried the recipe yesterday, Cerella; never tasted your mom's Shepherd's Pie, but Connor's is ahh-inspiring!

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    3. Excellent, Loree! That makes me happy! :)

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  5. Good morning, Guys! I've only had New England shepherd's pie - it's yummy, but much less complicated. Have to try your recipe - Ron thinks it has to be good with stout in it. And I just bought a loaf of Irish Soda Bread at the bakery, so I'm all prepared. Your hero sounds like a doll, Cerella. Anxious to meet him.

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    1. With the Irish soda bread, you're all set for St. Patrick's Day, Muriel!! Give the Shepherd's Pie a try - I bet Ron will love it!

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    2. Ooo...why didn't I think to serve it with Irish soda bread (instead of black iron skillet cornbread)!

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  6. Sexy is a man who can cook...sexier, a man with an accent who can cook . I"m so trying this recipe! Thanks for the post, ladies! <3

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    1. I totally agree, Anna! Enjoy the recipe and happy St. Patty's Day!

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    2. I agree, Anna! Everything tastes better when served up by a chef with an accent!

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  7. LOL, next week I'm on spring break and told my husband I would cook. The recipe is huge! How many would it feed? And, can I buy already made mashed potatoes and spread them on the top instead

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    1. Hi Pam! I'm a big believer in tweaking recipes to suit your tastes, convenience, and what you have on hand. Mix it up! I also believe cheese covers a multitude of sins so if the pre-made mashed potatoes aren't working, throw extra cheese on top!

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    2. I've 'cheated' and used ready-made potatoes on several occasions, Pam. My secret? Give 'em a quick whip with your hand mixer before heating and serving, add a little ground black pepper, and no one will be the wiser! :-)

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  8. I've never had Shepherd's Pie, but when I get this book finished that will change.. Love your character. May steal Connor--he's a keeper!

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    1. You will LOVE this recipe, Patricia! Not as much as you love Connor, maybe, but... hehehe!

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  9. You'll have to fight me for him! I developed such a crush while writing his story. It's that accent... ;)

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  10. It's five o'clock where I am--and my mouth is watering! This recipe sounds great. Will have to try it. My husband is gluten-free so I'll need to get around the Stout (which he loves) somehow but it should still be yummy. Harper's Wish sounds terrific too, Cerella! Just like your hero.

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    1. Hopefully it won't be too hard to modify for GF, Leigh! We'll have to work some GF recipes into these blog posts! Thanks for your kind words! <3

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  11. I love Shepard's Pie. It's on the menu for Tuesday! Love your character interviews. You definitely make me want to get to know Connor better :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I hope you enjoy Tuesday's dishes. I know I'm looking forward to dinner they day. Lol ;)

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    2. Do you think I can get away with making Shepherd's Pie again so soon, Amy? (Just made it yesterday!) LOL Maybe...corned beef and cabbage on Tuesday. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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