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

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate

grapefruit-olive-oil-chocolate-loaf-1

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

Mango & Turmeric Smoothie

Mango Turmeric Smoothie
I’m back! After three weeks of Italian sunshine, wine, pizza, pasta and a daily gelato (or two), we’re quickly slipping back into the groove of life with a lively six month old. One who now eats solid food, can sit unaided and is working on his crawl with all the ferocious determination you’d expect from the son of a personal trainer. Our days are full and joyous but also exhausting, so recipes like this mango and turmeric smoothie that are both simple and healthy are exactly what I need. With the added bonus that it can be sipped one-handed whilst preventing said baby from throwing himself off the changing table or under the sofa.  Continue reading

Yoghurt & Passion Fruit Panna Cotta

Yoghurt Panna Cotta

Ever since we found out about Nino’s heart condition, I’ve listened to love songs with a different set of ears. A broken heart takes on a totally new meaning when you’re concerned with the actual anatomy. If love alone could heal, our baby boy would be better than brand new, but the reality is that the way to mend a broken heart is open heart surgery. Last week we were finally given a date of Wednesday 13th April for Nino to be admitted, so if you’re the sort for sweet thoughts, prayers or positive vibes, we’d more than appreciate any you can send over his way. Continue reading

Virgin Piña Colada

Virgin Pina Colada

As of today, I’m officially 39 weeks pregnant. Research has shown that babies with this particular heart condition have the best rates of recovery if born between 39 and 40 weeks, so on Wednesday afternoon we’re scheduled for induction (or, to use Luke’s grandad’s spoonerism, seduction, which I much prefer the sound of). Something of a hippy at heart, I’m hoping to limit the drugs put into both our bodies so I’ve told our baby boy he has a strict eviction deadline of Tuesday night. There are plenty of punctual genes in the family, so it might just work; if not, then I’m counting on this virgin piña colada.  Continue reading

Coconut Pancakes with Pomegranate & Figs

Coconut Pancakes with Pomegranate & Figs
To my darling boy,

Today your Dad and I celebrate our eleven year anniversary. Not of getting married – we did that just over two years ago in Kew Gardens under blazing sunshine and surrounded by all of our favourite people in the world: I’ll show you the photos when you’re big enough to roll your eyes and be bored and embarrassed by them – but of meeting for the first time. We were twenty, at university, fresh faced and with no idea what would happen in one year – let alone eleven – except that we seemed to have fallen in love.

We talked about the future from fairly early on, not marriage and kids and mortgages in any sort of sensible grown up way, just a mutual understanding we needed to be together, and that everything would turn out all right if we had each other in our lives. When conversation did turn to children, we knew we wanted lots of you, couldn’t wait to see what would happen when our features and personalities combined (my eyesight, Luke’s ears please) and even had a favourite boy’s name long before you first appeared as a kidney bean-sized heartbeat on the ultrasound scan.  Continue reading

Blackberry Mousse with Vanilla Cream

Blackberry Mousse Vanilla Cream

Remember those tiny pots of Petit Filous you’d eat as a child? The flavour of this mousse is not dissimilar, served in glasses and sprinkled with hazelnuts as a nod to grown up sophistication. It’s mousse, so the texture is creamier, but it still reminds me of childhood puddings. Blackberries are all but gone from the markets by now, but if you can sneak a punnet or two before the November frost creeps in, I’d recommend making this mousse.  Continue reading

Watermelon, Three Ways

Watermelon cucumber mint juice

I’m back! It’s been just over three weeks since I last blogged a recipe and I’m bringing you . . . watermelon. Not a cake or cookie or seductive fingerful of chocolate in sight, just sweet, crisp, seasonal (in as far as anything imported can be, but until the end of August is when it’s at its best) watermelon served up three ways. Continue reading

Peach & Almond Bun Cakes

Peach Almond Bun Cakes Brown Sugar

Peaches rarely make their way into my baking. Fruit salads and ice creams or simply eaten whole over the sink, juices spilling down my chin, are all regular occurrences, but subjecting a peach to heat takes a bit more planning. If the fruit is too perfect, it disappears from its brown paper bag before I can even think about cooking; too soft and it won’t withstand the oven’s heat. But every so often I find a contender (or two), and on this occasion a pair of not-quite-perfect peaches made it into these simple little bun cakes. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Milkshake with Raspberry Swirl

Peanut Butter Milkshake Raspberry Swirl
Peanut butter and jam is something I’ve come to later in life. I grew up on butter and Marmite for breakfast, melted and scraped over slightly burnt toast or mashed together and spread on bread (which will sound delicious or disgusting depending on your love/hate stance). My Dad would mix peanut butter into his Marmite (which definitely sounds disgusting, regardless of your stance) but combining it with jam just isn’t something that happened in our household. Continue reading