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
Three years ago to this day, we walked out of our wedding ceremony to the cheers of the congregation, rings on our fingers, Nat King Cole’s L.O.V.E dancing in our ears and joy in our hearts. I married you because you make me a better, happier, more confident me, for your easy charm and endless capacity to love. I thought our wedding was the happiest day of my life until we found out that Nino was on the way, then came the day that he was born, then every single one since: that happiness dial keeps tipping as our family expands. Continue reading
Time both flies and stands still when you have a newborn. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been home from hospital for over a month, that Nino will be six weeks old on Friday and while I feel like we’re really beginning to get to know this little personality, at the same time he changes on a daily basis. Life is sweet, if more than a little sleep deprived, and I know I’ll look back on these weeks in the months to come and wonder where they went. Continue reading
With their fiery flavour and tooth-breaking crunch, ginger nuts – sometimes known as ‘snaps’ – regularly come top of ‘dunkability’ experiments. If you don’t have a cup of tea to hand but prefer something softer, a shop-bought ginger nut can be gently warmed in the oven or microwave. Just be careful with the timings or you’ll end up with incinerated biscuits, a wailing fire alarm and an angry university warden (I’m speaking from experience).
On Wednesday, I turn thirty. Being a summer baby is wonderful in many ways, but with weddings and holidays it’s always been tricky to get everyone in one place at one time to celebrate. This year – the one so many of my friends have been hitting their third decade, deciding to get married or embarking on exciting adventures abroad – is no exception and my thirtieth celebrations seem to have extended to about six weeks worth of dinners, parties and weekends away. I’m definitely not complaining. Continue reading
Yesterday, we celebrated my Mum’s birthday. There was a meal at The River Cafe, sunshine in the sky and sunshine on our plates in the form of these grapefruit and ginger cupcakes. The time slipped away with me and I’m afraid there’s no recipe today, but I’ve got something up my sleeve for next time. Until then, have a wonderful week. Continue reading
Until pretty recently, I thought my marshmallow eating days were long gone.
As a child, I thought they were awesome. Soft on the outside with a sweet, slightly chewy middle, marshmallows came big or small, pink or white (purely aesthetic with no nod to flavour as far as I can recall). My friends and I would buy penny twists with our pocket money, melt larger ones down to make the gooiest rice krispie treats or thread them on sticks before scorching over an open fire. Continue reading
Soft, spiced gingerbread with the kick of sweet, sharp lime
When something goes wrong in the kitchen, what’s your default solution? Are you the inquisitive person who keeps consuming what they’ve made until over half is gone, trying to ascertain exactly what it is that doesn’t taste quite right? Do you shower everything in icing sugar and hope that no one notices? Do you calmly set the failure to one side and start the whole process from scratch? Or do scrape whatever it is into the bin in a fit of fury, never to be spoken of again?
Dense, dark chocolate orange mousse cake topped with a spiced white chocolate layer
Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with. Whether it’s chunked and studded through cookies, stirred into the smoothest mousse, melted over ice cream or baked into a dense, fudgy cake, chocolate is an ingredient reliable enough to be called on for comfort, yet versatile enough to always be exciting.
While chocolate and cocoa regularly make an appearance in my shopping basket, it’s rare that I’ll buy a bar to simply eat on its own. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and combining chocolate with other ingredients, making it into more of a meal or occasion than a snack straight from the packet. However there are two major exceptions to this rule when I (and a pretty a large percentage of the UK population) can’t seem to help but over indulge: Christmas and Easter. Continue reading
Spicy biscuit base & unctuous caramel topped with sweet banana & coconut cream
‘I am the woman who believes most anything can be solved with butter and sugar’.
So begins an article in the latest edition of Made with Butter magazine written by Joy Wilson, a baker – aka Joy the Baker – who has taken the US by storm with her irreverent attitude, quirky charm, scrumptious recipes and ability to create sheer magic using such simple ingredients as flour, butter and sugar.
Quite apart from a string of amazing accolades, her own catering company and a cookbook coming out next month, the proof that Joy knows what she’s talking about when it comes to baking is really in the pudding. Her puddings to be more precise. If you’re not already familiar with her blog, I suggest you head over there now. We’re talking brown butter banana bread, double-dipped doughnuts, chewy molasses chocolate chip cookies and more incredible cakes and bakes than most people could make or eat in a lifetime. Although I’d be willing to take up the challenge on that one . . . Continue reading