Chocolate, Courgette & Olive Oil Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins - 4

Ever since Nino uttered his first few gurgles, I’ve been noting down the things he says in his baby book, adding an explanation in brackets where necessary in the hope that our future selves will be able to decipher their meaning. It all feels so important in the here and now that it’s impossible to imagine that one day these precious milestones will be eclipsed by greater events: full sentences, proper facts, probing questions, and the rest. But the logical part of my brain knows that they will, so for the last year or so there has been this list. Which is now running at full capacity, words scribbled in the margins and over the page. Before I had Nino I didn’t realize quite how talkative a twenty month old would be, and although we have a lot of conversations about bears and cats and pee, there are already glimmers of so much more, a little joker who’s keen to communicate and eager to learn. It all feels very special. Continue reading

Banana Raisin Breakfast Muffins

Banana Breakfast Muffins - 4

Cooking is something I’ve always wanted to share with my children. So many of my childhood memories involve standing on a chair beside the kitchen counter, stamping out biscuits, licking utensils and pouring one too many silver balls over dollops of sticky homemade icing. When Nino was still a babe in arms we’d cook together every day, him nestled inside the sling, beady eyes peeping out as I scrambled eggs or stirred a Bolognese. When he got a little older I’d sit him on the kitchen counter, the most appreciative one man audience to my one (wo)man cooking show, letting him suck a lemon or sniff at herbs as I went about the business of making dinner for his dad and I. Then came a good few crazy months, that age where everything goes straight into the mouth and control is neither mastered or desired, directions to mind a hot oven perhaps not understood, perhaps wilfully disobeyed. Either way, most of my serious culinary creations took place while the babe was napping or after bedtime for at least six months. Continue reading

Cheesy Cornbread Muffins

Cheesy Cornbread Muffins - 5

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance recently. Balance between being in the office and at home – which isn’t always to say work life and home life when you freelance a little alongside the day job – being someone’s mother, someone’s wife, a daughter, a friend and also, although of course it encapsulates all of the above, finding time to be me. As a – relatively – new mum, the days are long, but still there never seems to be enough time to fit in everything I’d like to do. We’re no longer in that shower or eat newborn phase but retest a recipe so it’s solid enough to post on the blog or help our little boy build a tower out of toilet roll? Write up blog post or spend some quality time with my husband? These aren’t the toughest of decisions, but it goes some way to explaining why things have been a little quiet round this space in recent weeks. Continue reading

Apple & Peanut Butter Muffins

Apple & Peanut Butter Muffins - 2

When I was little, I swore I wouldn’t be the kind of grown up who constantly remarked on how much a child had grown: it’s such a boring conversation opener. And yet here I am, parent to an almost five month old and constantly amazed by how he changes every day. The time since February feels both long and life-changing and simultaneously gone in an instant, those snuggly newborn days a thing of the past and this bright, beady, blue-eyed little boy now making himself and his personality known.  Continue reading

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Crunch

Pumpkin maple muffins

I always know autumn is on its way from the number of pumpkin recipes that start appearing in in my inbox. This year the reminder has been more necessary than most as you couldn’t tell the season from the weather we’ve been having. On Saturday night some friends and I ate after-dinner ice creams outside in the street as if it was summer and yesterday we went for a walk in short-sleeved tops and sunglasses. While I’m secretly hoping that this warmer weather will last a little longer, I’m also aware that colder climes around the corner are an inevitable part of living in England. And when that moment comes, there will be warming autumnal muffins.

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Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

magdalenas

Magdalenas have a unique fluffy texture setting them apart from muffins or cupcakes

Breakfast.

The most important meal of the day.

The secret to better brain functionality, staying healthy, lowering blood sugar levels and preventing obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The perfect excuse to indulge in the pleasure of eating when you are truly hungry.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a good breakfast. In the working week I tend to rotate between different combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds and cereal, adding in yoghurt or milk for protein or substituting in homemade toast with smashed avocado or a scrape of salty butter if I fancy something savoury.

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Chocolate Custard Muffins with Marshmallow Cream

chocolate_muffin

Cracked crust with a moist chocolaty centre

Recipe titles are so important. To restaurateurs it’s a question of selling their dishes, to editors a means of making their books and magazines fly off the shelves, to bloggers it’s SEO; getting posts listed high in Google’s rankings and being able to reach new readers. Although it could be seen as a shameless exercise in sales and seduction, a recipe title also comes from the heart, and is often no greater than the sum of its parts. There’s something wonderfully alluring about a short, simple title that speaks a thousand words more than its lengthier counterpart.

Allow me to introduce the chocolate custard muffin. Sometimes you see a recipe and just know you have to make it. This is one such recipe. The word ‘chocolate’ caught my attention, before the comforting ‘custard’ enveloped me in a blanket of nostalgia. To me a chocolate custard muffin suggests warmth and sweetness, flavour without pretension, richness without intensity and a big fat hug in food form. I had to make them. Continue reading

Small adventures in cooking with James Ramsden

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Homemade eggs benedict

James Ramsden is a high achiever. Trained at Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, he started blogging back in 2008 and has since carved himself a career as a respected food writer for The Guardian, The Times, Sainsbury’s magazine and more. Not content with writing for broadsheets, magazines and maintaining a successful blog, he also runs a popular supper club from his home in North London and has just published his first book.  All at the tender age of 24. That’s two years younger than me. By rights I should be green with envy.

Hot toasted muffins with salty butter

But I’m not. There’s something extremely likeable about James and his attitude to food. He wants cooking to be simple and he wants it to be enjoyable. He appreciates the fact that, for most people, eating isn’t necessarily an endless succession of dinner-party-standard meals – that in any given week we’ll fluctuate between feeding large groups of friends and throwing together a solitary supper. His attitude reminds me of a cross between a younger Jamie Oliver (minus the cheeky chappy vocab) and my own boyfriend (like James, Carniverous Boyfriend is a Yorkshire boy). Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe it’s a boy thing. But I definitely feel like there’s a lot I can learn from his enthusiastic, experimental, laid-back approach to cooking. Food should be fun.

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