Hiya guys! We have Jenn Burke popping in today with her upcoming release The Gryphon King’s Consort, we have a brilliant guest post where Jenn shares the recipe to her favourite holiday treat, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway where there’s two $25 store credits for Dreamspinner Press up for grabs, so guys check out the post, enter the giveaway and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Gryphon King’s Consort
Love takes flight.
The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.
Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.
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by Jenn Burke
I’m so happy to be here today to share one of my absolute favourite Christmas traditions—even though my upcoming release has nothing to do with Christmas. I think you’ll forgive me once you see how delicious this tradition is.
It’s one my family started when we lived in Edmonton, Alberta. We moved there when I was about three—my dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and I’d already lived in a couple of places elsewhere in the country. Edmonton has a strong Ukrainian and Polish heritage, and friends of my parents introduced us to homemade perogies.
Well. We quickly adopted that tradition, and we’ve been making Christmas perogies for more than thirty years.
Every year, about a month before Christmas, we make a huge batch of perogies. Mom normally has everything all prepared and ready for us to tackle the task assembly-line style. My husband and father take turns rolling the dough. My son and daughter help to prepare the seams to seal properly. I provide just the right amount of filling. And when we’re done, we enjoy the first meal of perogies of the season.
When Christmas morning rolls around, we take the perogies we’ve frozen and fry them up for breakfast. They’re served with bacon, onion and sour cream, and they’re just an absolutely perfect way to celebrate family and the season.
I’d love to share our recipe with you, so you can enjoy it with your family—and maybe start a new Christmas tradition.
The Lidster Christmas Perogies
(Named after my mom and dad, of course)
For the dough
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (Do NOT use olive oil; the dough will be impossible to roll. Trust me—we learned this from experience.)
½ cup water (approx)
For a large batch (4-5 dozen), multiply the above by 5.
- In a deep bowl, combine flour and salt.
- Beat together egg, oil and water.
- Add to flour mixture, stirring to make a soft dough. You may need a little more water but don’t make the dough sticky.
- On lightly floured board, knead just until dough is smooth (about 10 times). Do not over knead.
- Divide dough into roughly the size of a large fist, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 20 minutes. Make sure to keep the dough covered until you need it so it doesn’t dry out.
For the filling:
Approximately 6 potatoes (enough to fill a medium-to-large pot, chopped); cooked and mashed
Crisp bacon and fried onions (as much as you like)
Cheese whiz or cheddar cheese (enough to make the mashed potatoes smooth)
- Mix above together while potatoes are still warm enough to melt the cheese.
Putting it all together
For big batches of perogies, I recommend a perogy maker like this one (which is similar to ours).
- Roll out the dough so it’s large enough to cover the tray. It should be about a quarter inch thick. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin, dust the rolling pin with some flour.
- Drape the dough over the perogy tray.
- Dip your finger in water and trace the outline of the perogies. This will help the second layer of dough adhere to the first—which your perogy buddy should be rolling out as you take care of this step and the next.
- Add roughly a heaping teaspoon of filling to the middle of each perogy outline. Don’t overfill them as the filling will interfere with the seal of the dough.
- Drape the second layer of dough over the filled tray.
- Roll your rolling pin over the tray to press the second layer of dough into the first. The seams set into the tray will cut through the dough, and hopefully create lovely little pockets of wonderfulness for you!
(As an aside, if you’re making a smaller batch of perogies, you can use an individual pocket maker like this instead. I wouldn’t recommend it for large batches, though; your hands will be sore.)
- Take the sealed perogies (check to make sure there are no holes!) and cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water until they float on top.
- Put on an oiled baking sheet to freeze, then bag once frozen. They last for months in the freezer.
Prepare yourself for deliciousness
Once thawed, pan fry or warm up in oven, and serve with cooked bacon pieces and onion, topped with sour cream. You can also serve them with broiled kielbasa for an extra shot of yumminess. Enjoy!
The king’s estate reminded Eirian of castles he’d seen in Europe—though on a smaller scale. Clad in multihued river stone, the manor stretched three stories toward the bright blue spring sky. A turret capped each corner of the front façade. Another structure extended to the right of the main house—Eirian couldn’t tell if it was a garage or additional living space. Bare branches of ivy spidered across the stone, which would only add to the old-world feel of the place once spring brought renewed foliage.
And on the imposing front step stood Luca, stealing any hope that Eirian would be able to freshen up and regroup before he met his fiancé for the first time.
Luca looked even more delicious in person than he had on the pages of the magazine. He was dressed in casual but elegant clothing similar to the outfit he wore for the photoshoot—dark jeans with brown leather boots poking out beneath the cuff, and a thick heather-gray sweater that complemented his olive skin tone. No jacket this time. His hair was swept back behind his ears in its usual style, and his golden eyes were piercing.
“I’ll get the bags,” Keefe murmured as he slipped out of the car.
Suddenly Eirian didn’t want to get out. He was wrinkled and travel-worn, and he probably stank, thanks to his imprisonment in the tin can on the runway. His hair was mussed from running his hands through it too frequently—a habit that came out when he was stressed—and he felt grimy and gross. Staring at his impeccably dressed fiancé wasn’t helping matters either. Reality was all too real at the moment. Tomorrow he would be married to this man he didn’t know.
What if they didn’t like each other? What if Eirian couldn’t convince Luca to open his mind and see different ways of thinking? What if—
Something tapped the window. Eirian jerked back and swallowed as he looked up into the eyes of his fiancé. Despite their warm golden-brown hue, there was no welcome in them. In fact he looked as tired as Eirian felt.
“Will you be disembarking, or shall I fetch tea for you to enjoy where you are?” Luca’s voice was muffled by the glass barrier between them, but it was still much deeper than Eirian had expected. It… rumbled, though with amusement or annoyance, Eirian couldn’t tell.
Eirian found a smile but was only able to maintain it for a moment as he triggered the door release. Luca stepped back, the picture of grace, and Eirian felt like a gangly youth in comparison as his limbs threatened to give out on him.
“My apologies, Your Highness.” He bowed his head once he was standing next to the car. “It was a long flight.”
“Hmm.” The sound could be judgmental or noncommittal. Eirian didn’t know enough about Luca to make a guess. “Long flights are a necessary evil some days.”
And what did that mean? Was it a commiseration? Or a verbal nudge that Eirian should not let such things get to him? Mother, he hadn’t felt so unsettled around someone since he was a youngling.
“We were delayed on the tarmac,” Eirian added as he adjusted his glasses. “Which is why we’re late. It… ah, it wasn’t pleasant.”
“We were informed of the delay.”
Silence dropped upon them and grew heavier with each passing second. Eirian found it difficult to keep his eyes on any one thing as his discomfort increased. Looking at Luca without speaking was… odd. Staring at the house seemed even stranger. And watching the ground was the activity of someone who lacked confidence. That wasn’t Eirian… usually. Right then all he could think was that he must be making a horrible first impression, but he was too tired and stretched too thin to drum up an intelligent solution.
He had to say something. Anything.
“Uh… this is my attendant, Keefe, Your Highness.” Attendant sounded better than bond brother. He didn’t want Luca to think he couldn’t travel without the company of his chosen family. To emphasize his words, he swung a hand in Keefe’s direction and almost knocked Luca in the chest. His gaffe did nothing to calm his nerves. “He’s, uh, never been to Montréal.”
“Oh.” Luca nodded to Keefe and turned his attention back to Eirian. “Have you?”
“Have I what?”
“Been to Montréal before.”
“Oh.” Eirian laughed too loudly. “No. It’s… cold.”
Luca raised a brow. “Well, it is March.”
“Right. Right.” Eirian nodded.
Luca angled his body toward the man next to him—a gryphon old enough to have acquired lines at the corners of his dark brown eyes, silver at his temples, and a translucent element to his sepia-toned skin. Eirian hadn’t even realized he was there. “This is Orel, chairman of the Golden Council.”
Eirian held out a hand before he realized Luca had not offered a handshake, and Orel didn’t seem to expect one either. Right. Handshakes were a modernist gesture, adopted from the human world. Orel looked at Eirian’s hand until Eirian slowly brought it back to his side. Nerves tumbled through his stomach.
“Charmed,” Orel said drily.
“Pleased to meet you.”
“I had not expected you to be so—” Orel paused. “—young.”
Eirian clenched his fists at his sides. “I assure you, I may not have reached the official maturitas marker, but—”
Orel dismissed his words with an impatient wave. “Yes, yes. I’ve read everything about you. I sat on the board that selected you, after all.” He swept a derisive gaze over Eirian, wordlessly suggesting that he regretted his choice.
That was not how Eirian wanted to meet his intended, Mother help him. He had pictured it as a happy affair, a relaxed encounter. They would sit and chat, perhaps have tea. If nothing else, Eirian felt confident in his ability to connect with Luca through his thirty years of work with the Haser Territory Council—surely there would be some common ground between a territorial council and the one Luca worked with at the kingdom level. It was all government, right?
But in that moment, Eirian knew he came across like a fool. Unprepared, uncouth. Dare he suppose unattractive, as well? His hand trembled as he reached up to run it through his hair, but he brought it back down to his side before he could complete the action. Hades. He couldn’t even calm his bad habits.
His extremities suddenly grew cold—then his stomach clenched and fire shot through his limbs, making his frigid fingers burn. Oh… oh no. He should have guarded against the possibility, but it had been years. He’d thought himself well past the age where—
Another spasm stole his breath, but he managed to gasp, “M-might I be shown to my rooms, Your Highness?”
“You and His Highness have much to discuss,” Orel countered. “Perhaps tea in the sitting room?”
“No, I—I must insist on seeing my rooms,” Eirian said through gritted teeth.
Luca frowned. “Is everything all right?”
“It—it was a long flight, and the delay on the tarmac—”
Orel huffed. “Yes, we’re well aware of the—”
Eirian hissed—an altogether too feline sound—as his fingernails suddenly turned into claws. His vision sharpened, and the colors of the landscape grew more muted even as objects themselves became more defined.
Luca stepped back. His expression no longer bore any resemblance to concern. “Did you… partially shift?”
Eirian wanted to sob with frustration, but he daren’t release his control even that much. It was bad enough that his hands and eyes had slipped toward his feline form. A full shift into his massive gryphon form would be an unforgivable breach of etiquette.
Keefe came to his rescue, wrapping an arm around Eirian’s shoulders and pulling him close. “As he said, it was a long flight, plus the delay, and neither of us was expecting to be ambushed on our arrival,” he stated angrily.
Orel narrowed his eyes. “I beg your pardon.”
“I had thought you merely overeager to meet your fiancé, Your Highness,” Keefe continued, “but now I see you were more interested in making him as uncomfortable as possible.”
“Keefe,” Eirian murmured. “Enough.”
Keefe squeezed Eirian’s shoulders, a gesture Eirian knew was both reassurance and compliance. “His quarters, Your Highness?” The title was spoken as though it were a curse and not an honor.
“My majordomo will show you.” Luca gestured to the manor’s entrance.
With Keefe’s encouragement, Eirian stumbled in that direction, his hold on his human form growing with every step away from his fiancé. It was a hard-fought battle, but he managed to halt his shift by the time they passed the threshold of the manor. The effort took a great deal of energy, and Keefe was all but holding him up as they slowly followed the majordomo, who introduced himself as Ivo, up the stairs. Eirian’s legs felt like jelly, and he was vaguely thankful Ivo was both clothed and, unlike many of his kin, not walking around with a permanent erection. At the moment, with his thoughts soft and blurry, it seemed like an important thing to dwell upon.
“That could have gone better,” Keefe murmured softly so Ivo couldn’t hear.
“It could have gone worse too.”
“Not by much, though.”
“No.” Eirian sighed. “Not by much at all.”
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of The Gryphon King’s Consort from Dreamspinner Press and the co-author of the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press. She’s also the author of Her Sexy Sentinel, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.