Three weeks to go! Or one. Or five. There’s no way of knowing exactly when baby girl is going to arrive but suffice to say we’ve entered the drop zone. This pregnancy has been different from our first in lots of ways; lighter and less worrying without the knowledge of a serious heart condition and surgery, but heavier and hotter and harder physically. There’s the old wives tale that girls make you feel more sick and rob you of your beauty, but while there may be mileage in that, I’m fairly sure it’s largely attributable to running round after a toddler, combined with a different time of year. Nino was born on a cold day at the beginning of February whereas this little lady and I have bunked together through a scorching holiday in Italy and the hottest weather we’ve seen in England for decades. Continue reading
Ever since Nino celebrated his second birthday, we’ve been talking almost daily about what kind of cake family members will be getting for their upcoming birthdays. For Grandpa there was polenta cake, rolled out annually on request (with ever so slight variations to satisfy my urge to experiment). Daddy wants a whiskey one next January. Nino was shocked to discover that his Nonna isn’t that keen on cake, nor is a close toddler friend, but we’ve now been to enough birthdays with caterpillars and rainbows and tray bakes to establish a playing field to work from and, after much debate, we’ve hit on a lemon sponge with fresh strawberry buttercream to make for me at the end of the month.
My go-to is almost always chocolate so it’s refreshing to be pointed in a different direction by my mini kitchen sidekick and I’m excited to make and taste his fruity creation. But before then, chocolate cravings still call – thank goodness for an uncle with a birthday before mine and a last minute lunch invite creating the need to whip up an easy one bowl chocolate cake for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Continue reading
Let’s talk about courgettes. Or zucchini. Whatever you call them, it’s impossible to avoid their charms and abundance during the summer months. When we were in Italy a few weeks back our neighbour gifted us a bowl of freshly picked courgettes and their flowers which we respectively grilled, grated into a frittata with pecorino and softened in butter. Back in the UK we picked an enormous bag full from the local farm and while most made it into savoury dishes, I couldn’t resist saving a few for some sweeter baking experiments. Continue reading
I’m hoping a suitably refreshing ice cream recipe in this scorching weather will make up for radio silence the last few weeks. We’ve just got back from two weeks in Italy split between three locations – a dear friend’s wedding, my parents’ house up in the Tuscan mountains and down by the sea in Senigallia, a sweet little town in Le Marche we’ve been visiting since I was seven. Nino stayed up well past his bedtime on multiple occasions, got to play properly in the sea and sand for the very first time, dined in a Michelin starred restaurant and ate mussels, clams, whole prawns (sucking the ‘prawn brains!’ from their heads with unabashed glee), wild boar and rabbit for the first time. We ate equally well, soaked up plenty of sunshine and indulged in the gift that is grandparental babysitting including an – unheard of – day of lunching and lounging by ourselves. All in all, it was bliss.
I posted a picture of these pancakes on Facebook a few weeks back and got a lot of requests for the recipe. I use this space as a journal of sorts, to tell stories and document what we’re eating rather than sticking to a strict schedule, so although I had been vaguely thinking of sharing a strawberry cake I’d baked this weekend, we ate it without a pause for photos and pancakes are the name of the game today (cake coming soon, I promise). Continue reading
Three years ago my debut cookbook, Homemade Memories, hit the shelves. I adored the process, a labour of love written, tested and tasted during the evenings and on weekends whilst working a full time job. The day after my book launch, I found out I was pregnant and since then Nino has been born and his little sister is cooking up nicely for her summer arrival. I guess you could say this book was my first baby, a trial run of late nights and hard work and ever so slight obsession. When I was working on the book, people often asked how I managed to find the time. But if you truly love, believe in and benefit from something, somehow you make time, whether it’s baking, or jogging or juggling a family alongside a career.
That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway. Recently – most likely due to our house move last weekend – the scales of work and family and personal projects feel slightly off kilter. Suffice to say I’m excited for maternity leave, for nesting in our new family home, spending time with Luke, Nino and our imminent arrival and reconnecting with the kitchen. Everyone knows new baby visits must be accompanied by cake, right? So there will be cake. And scones and biscuits and bringing out the ice cream machine in time for hot summer days spent in the garden without dreaded commutes or deadlines. I’ll be making a lot from Homemade Memories – is it odd to bake from your own book? It truly is a collection of my favourite recipes, so I suppose not. Anyway, I’d love for you to make things from it too, so in the spirit of moving house and discovering some spares (!) plus the thrill of a third birthday and need for celebration, I’m giving away three signed copies. Continue reading
Crisp meringue layered with fruit and softly whipped cream is what British summers are made for. Nino has recently discovered ‘I spy’, or a two year old interpretation thereof. The game more than often involves him naming a noun (most likely an animal, food stuff or vehicle) then demanding that I ‘do a [insert cat, ice cream, tractor] mummy’. I’ll name the letter with which it begins, provide a couple of clues then wait for his excited answer. Repeat ad infinitum. This weekend we were baking and I kicked off the round with an ‘M’. Clue: ‘it’s crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle and made from eggs. Nino helped mummy whisk it up and we’re going to fill it with whipped cream and blackberries.’ To which he replied, after serious consideration . . . ‘it’s a yummy pavlova’. Well, you can’t win them all. Continue reading
With one bowl, seven simple, store-cupboard ingredients and ten minutes in the oven, these easy thumbprint cookies are the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for a sunny day. The kind of day when you’ve eaten your fill of ice cream, don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen but fancy a little something sweet to finish off a meal or snack on. The speed with which these thumbprint cookies can be produced, combined with wholesome ingredients and a lack of raw egg mean they’re also perfect for baking with toddlers, where time is of the essence, as is licking the bowl and spoon. Continue reading
I have a close friend whose key life events have aligned rather nicely with mine. We got married within a month of each other and our little boy and girl arrived around six weeks apart. We’ve been able to share tips and maternity leaves and the kind of conversations that might leave friends at different stages of life gasping with boredom (table planning, nappy contents, lack of sleep . . . the usual). We’re both now pregnant with baby number two (we’ve swapped, this time round she’s having a boy, we’ve got the girl) and I wanted to bake a little something special for her baby shower. This is a lady who loves Nutella, so when I spotted these Nutella stuffed beauties on Jess’s blog, I knew they needed to be made.
When I was pregnant with Nino, brownies and ice cream were my Sunday evening indulgence. It wasn’t a pregnancy craving per se: brownies and ice cream are the treat that never fails to cheer me up, my dessert island dessert. But I’m pretty sure I ramped up consumption during those nine months. Ice cream, vinegar, beef mince 😉 This time round, however, baby girl – or the body containing said baby girl, to be precise – has different ideas. Ice cream still appeals but eating it any later than lunchtime simply isn’t on the cards. If you suffer with heartburn outside of pregnancy, my heart goes out to you (quite literally, it burns). So last weekend, after dinner, I sadly ignored the good stuff calling to me from the freezer and – feeling disproportionately sorry for myself – looked to the cupboards instead to rustle up something sweet.