Chocolate Banana ‘Nice Cream’ with Blackberry Compote & Hazelnut Crunch (Vegan)

Chocolate Banana 'Nice Cream' - 5

Judging by all the gingerbread, peppermint, cranberry and brandy recipes that have been landing my inbox of late, this simple ice cream isn’t exactly on trend for this time of year. With no refined sugar, no dairy and an absence of alcohol, it’s possibly more suited to the New Year, New You party which rolls around with guilt-incuding speed just as you’re polishing off that Christmas selection box you found down the back of the sofa. But I’m posting it today because, despite its short ingredient list and surprising vegan credentials, this chocolate banana ‘nice cream’ tastes luxurious enough to serve alongside any more indulgent dessert as you celebrate the season.  Continue reading

Emiko Davies’ Pear & Chocolate Cake

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It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the little loaf household of late. About ten days ago Nino started saying ‘mama’ in a very deliberate way, calling me back if I disappeared round a corner or snuggling in and saying it rather than the indiscriminate sound making we’ve been hearing a little longer. My heart is fit to burst and it’s literally the sweetest word I’ve ever heard, but at the same time this cognitive leap seems to have brought with it possibly the hardest behaviour we’ve seen to date. Our usually sunny little man has been grumbling and fussing, clinging round my ankles, waking multiple times each night and resisting sleep with a renewed and infuriating fervour for someone clearly so in need of it. Until you become a mum it’s impossible to understand how you could love one little person so deeply and completely, yet at times want to pop them in a padded room, pour yourself a stiff drink and sleep, uninterrupted, for a week.

Today our little sleep resister turns ten months old. I know this fussy phase will pass (until the next one, that is . . .) but am also wary of wishing a single day away. With less than two months of maternity leave left I’m trying to live in the moment and soak up each precious morsel of my baby, so in the spirit of celebration (and because my sleep deprived brain might forget if I don’t write it down), here’s what we’ve been particularly loving about you this month, sweet boy.   Continue reading

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

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A few days before our 20 week appointment when I was pregnant with Nino, I remember reading an article about things you should look out for. After entering into the (relative) safety of the second trimester, it’s easy to think that this second pregnancy scan is all about the gender reveal – a subject of divisive debate between the ‘surprise!’ camp and those who are desperate, indeed need to know – but your stenographer is looking for a lot more than a pair of balls as she swipes cold jelly over your ever-expanding belly. There’s the baby’s brain and spine, fingers and toes, stomach and kidneys, position in the womb and position of the placenta. And then, of course, there’s his (or her) heart.  Continue reading

Festive Chocolate Biscuit Cake with Cranberries, Pistachios & Ginger

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Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are out the way, I feel like I’m legitimately allowed to mention the C-word. I’m not normally one to plan the festivities too far in advance, but since a certain little person arrived in our lives I’ve been looking forward to his first Christmas and the magic it will bring. There’s a stocking embroidered with Nino’s name that I’m hoping will last a lifetime, his very first decoration for the tree (we have a tradition of getting a new bauble or item to hang every year), matching jumpers to wear, stories to read and a long list of presents to buy, even if he’s (inevitably) more interested in the the boxes they arrive in. And then of course – although I’m not allowing Nino refined sugar til he’s one (mean mummy) – there’s dessert to plan for the grown ups in attendance.  Continue reading

Fig, Dark Chocolate & Almond Flapjacks

 

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When we were first sent home from hospital with Nino I was tasked by the staff with fattening him up before his open heart surgery. There’s something statistically significant about a baby weighing over 5kg in terms of operation survival rates and, although we weren’t aware of it at the time, Nino’s abnormally complicated network of coronary arteries meant it was even more important that he pack on the pounds. In those early days before his heart was re-plumbed, helpless to fix him myself, food was truly my love language to our little boy. Continue reading

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Few things make you appreciate the passage of time like a baby. This time last year I was five months pregnant, just starting to feel the movement and weight of his little life inside me. Now that (not so) little is careering round our kitchen, shrieking with delight as he masters each new trick. Nino’s lived in the outside world almost as long as he spent in my tummy and October has well and truly arrived with its crisp, bright mornings and chill in the air. We’ve started putting on the heating in the nursery again, our families are discussing Christmas and as the nights draw in I’m seeking comfort in autumnal offerings of squash, spice and all things nice.  Continue reading

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate

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Long enough ago to make me feel extremely old, I met my husband-to-be at university. We were young, in love and, being students, didn’t really go on dates. There were late nights clubbing, bacon sandwiches eaten on scruffy sofas and a few ‘fancy’ suppers when housemates were out, but mostly we just spent time together without needing to label it a ‘date’. As we got older there were meals out and tasting menus, holidays, birthdays, trips to the cinema and all the usual things that couples do. It was easy; spending time together didn’t need a second thought.

I’ve owned a copy of Ashley Rodriguez’s Date Night In since it published a couple of years ago (check out this ice cream cake), but it wasn’t until our little man blazed his way into the world and made us a family of three that I truly understood the sentiment behind her words. Since he started a new job and I went on maternity leave, Luke and I have arguably spent much more time together during the week, yet somehow there are days when I find myself missing him. Or missing the ease of existing alongside him before we had this extra human to care for and entertain. Life as a parent is brilliant and bettering and blissful, but it can also be all-consuming and pretty tough at times. Suddenly you’re sharing not just your heart but your time with this new little life, and making space to appreciate, talk to and love my favourite grown up boy alongside our baby sometimes takes a conscious effort. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Salted Panko Crunch

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We’ve just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Lithuania celebrating the marriage of two very lovely friends. I’m tired, but the lugging a pram down a hill to the picturesque lakeside dinner setting and getting up at 4am to feed a baby confused by the time change tired, rather than the slow lazy sleepiness that comes with daytime drinking and dancing into the night. Weddings with a mini man in tow are an altogether different kettle of fish, and the night before the big day I was in bed by 9pm, snuggling down into the duvet and ordering up chocolate cake on room service. Continue reading

White Chocolate Pistachio Butter Cups

White Chocolate Pistachio Butter Cups

Exactly one year ago to this day, I found out that I was pregnant with Nino. Of course we didn’t yet know exactly who that poppy seed-sized embryo inside me would turn out to be, but we were pretty sure he (yes he, somehow we knew from the start he’d be a boy) was going to change our lives. I still get goosebumps when I think about seeing those two blue lines for the very first time, Luke’s face when I crept back to the bedroom to tell him the news, his giant beam behind a pair of very bleary eyes . . . Continue reading

Milk Chocolate Tahini Blondies

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Way back, before Ottolenghi opened his first deli in Notting Hill and when the general public still thought the anchovies that Delia Smith used on her BBC cooking show were exotic, my Mum was using tahini as an ingredient. On shopping trips out we’d frequent cafes like Food for Thought and Cranks for lunch, while at home the cupboards were stocked with packets of wholesome seeds and grains. While most wound their way into savoury dishes – ours was a household decidedly lacking in childhood sweet treats – my Mum had a wonderful recipe for tahini flapjacks studded with sesame seeds and peanuts which we’d eagerly await the appearance of as an after school snack. Continue reading