She’s here! Joy Marie Maureen Doran, our brand new bundle of bliss, made her unforgettable entrance into the world at 12.29am on Friday 24th August weighing in at 7lb 8oz. And my goodness what an arrival, delivered by her daddy on the downstairs bathroom floor while her big brother slept upstairs. And no, that wasn’t exactly part of our birth plan . . . Continue reading →
Before he arrived I posted a letter of sorts to your big brother in this space. I’ve been writing something similar to you for weeks now in my head, but finding the time to get it down has been trickier second time round – if you’re ever lucky enough to be a mummy yourself (assuming that you want to be), I think you’ll understand what I mean.
When Nino was diagnosed with TGA at his twenty week scan, I promised myself I’d never ask for anything more if we could just deliver this fragile first baby into the world safe and well. But once he made me a mummy and grew and got stronger, I realized how much I adore this gig, how brilliant a big brother he could be and how while one was just perfect, two little people in our lives would be bliss. It’s hard to imagine my heart expanding any more, but I just know that it has and will. You are already so loved and so wanted and we just can’t wait to meet you.
First time around, there were so many unknowns – both what would happen when Nino was born, surgery and all that scary stuff, but also how we would be as parents. This time I feel a little more prepared, but two? Who knows how that’s going to go. Regardless of the mayhem that will undoubtedly ensue, know that your big brother is already in love with you, that he places his hand on my belly to feel you hiccup and tries to tickle you awake. He wants to teach you how to smile and talk and walk and has already requested the role of chief nappy changer. Fine by me. My ever-expanding belly means there’s no longer space to sit on my lap for stories so I’m sure he’ll be vying with you for that spot when you pop out, but I think you already know all this, you’ve been listening in on us for nine months.
Your daddy (and many a relative) thinks you’re going to be dark like me. I’m predicting a curly blonde menace to match the boys you’re joining, but it couldn’t matter less – it’s all part of the excitement of meeting you. Either way, I feel like you’re going to be a happy soul, feisty and with maybe just a little ferocious streak like your mum.
The doctors have given a due date of this Friday, but I’m pretty sure you’ll just come when you’re ready. We’ll be waiting, baby girl, to welcome you into the world: already utterly in love and ready and for you to make our family complete. Until then, this shortbread, as if life wasn’t sweet enough already 🙂
Millionaire's shortbread with an added peanut twist. The addition of salty peanut butter to the chocolate topping of these addictive little squares balances the sweetness beautifully. The perfect tea time treat.
Author: Kate Doran
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 16 squares
For the shortbread
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g plain flour, sifted
50g corn flour, sifted
100g golden caster sugar
pinch sea salt
For the caramel
140g light brown muscovado sugar
397 tin condensed milk
140g unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
For the chocolate topping
200g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
To make the shortbread, lightly grease a 20cm square tin and line with baking parchment. Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, making sure not to overwork, then press into the tin. Prick with a fork then chill for one hour, before baking at 180C/160C fan for 35 - 40 minutes, until pale gold. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To make the caramel, melt all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 5 - 6 minutes until thickened then pour over the shortbread base. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
To make the topping, melt the dark chocolate then pour over the caramel. Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together, then drizzle over the top. Refrigerate for a further hour until set then cut into squares.
Will keep for several days in an airtight container.
There are times when only a muffin made with chocolate, butter and sugar will do. Contrary to what the diet industry would have us believe, the first few months of the year aren’t necessarily a time for absolute deprivation. Nourishing foods are important when the weather is cold, but who’s to say a little comfort in the form of chocolaty baked goods isn’t every bit as good for your wellbeing as anything more ‘worthy’? Certainly not me. Continue reading →
On Saturday, I went out to dinner with girlfriends for the first time in months. Before having Nino I couldn’t comprehend parents who never went out, always assumed it was easy but – (not such a ) news flash – it’s not. There’s a reason why all those friends with kids smile wryly and forecast the end to your social life as soon as you tell them you’re pregnant. Being a parent is wonderful in more ways than can be imagined, but it can also be repetitive, tough and – unless you have a live in nanny, endless family or an even more endless supply of cash – full time. Add into the mix a not-so good sleeper, breastfeeding on demand and separation anxiety (both Nino’s and mine), and you’re talking stay-at-home central. Continue reading →
One of the (many) things I love about having a little person in my life is the way he’s made me reappraise my relationship with people I don’t know. Sitting on the quieter side of the social spectrum and living in London where everyone (with a few exceptions) is happy to go about their daily lives without so much as a ‘good morning’, I’m not much one for speaking to strangers if I don’t have to. But it’s impossible not to wave and smile along with Nino’s uninhibited attempts to make friends with any and everyone. Over the past year I’ve found myself striking up conversations in the shops and playground or on the bus. And even the surliest of strangers find it hard not to crack a smile at his full bodied, double handed wave. It’s incredibly sweet to watch. Continue reading →
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 →
Like the Banoffee Pie I posted a few weeks back, I hadn’t planned to put this recipe up on the blog, but an enthusiastic response on Instagram (my most likes ever, where did all you people come from?) led me to believe I should share the details. In fact I’m thinking of starting an Insta-recipe series (Izy does something similar) of treats I haven’t had time to test multiple times or capture with anything other than my iPhone, but which I’d like to log recipe details of for a future me – and for you to try, of course. Continue reading →
Crisp little cookies packed with milk & white chocolate chunks
One of the things that makes me happiest is a big baking project. Whether it’s a birthday, researching recipes for this blog, a celebration cake or a big family party (for recipes from our recent engagement do, click here and here), I love everything about the process from planning it all in and thinking up new ideas through experimenting in the kitchen to the look on peoples’ faces when they taste my food.
When people ask about our upcoming wedding, one of the first things they always want to know is whether I’ll be baking my own cake. Although it’s something I did initially consider, I’ve since explained my reasons against the idea so many times that I’m pretty positive that I’ve made the right decision not to. Continue reading →
Chewy, crispy cookies rich with chocolate chunks & Speculoos spread
Have you ever discovered something new, only to become more than slightly obsessed with it?
When I was nine, we moved to a bigger house a few streets away from the one I’d grown up in. There were grand plans to build a beautiful kitchen/dining room extension (which is now in place, and the absolute heart of the household), but when we first arrived we had to make do with a teeny tiny kitchen that was actually smaller than our old one. Continue reading →
Creamy semifreddo studded with milk chocolate chunks & crumbled honeycomb
Last week, after spending time on the treadmill before work, straightening my naturally curly hair then heading into the office to sit at my desk all day fielding emails, I started thinking about technology. And its tendency to get in the way of the simpler pleasures in life.
I’m not saying technology is inherently bad – it’s an undeniable and primarily positive part of twenty first century life – but every once in a while it feels important to go for a run in the great outdoors, leave our looks as nature intended or take time to have a real conversation instead of communicating electronically. Continue reading →