Yesterday I shouted at our two year old. After he repeatedly banged his little sister’s cot with two wooden spoons he was pretending to be ski poles while I attempted to put her down for a nap, I told him he was old enough to know better, shut the door on him and promptly burst into tears. Granted he’ll turn three in February and part of him knew exactly what he was doing, but because he’s so much bigger than Joy I sometimes forget, he’s still so very little. ‘Be quiet’ is a command he can commit to obey for a few minutes max before an exciting distraction sets in and patience is crucial on both our parts if we’re going to survive. In my three short months of parenting two, I’ve discovered that frustration can be high on the list of emotions for all parties involved, but raised tempers rarely improve anything. Certainly not the likelihood of babies to nap. But blondies? I have scientific proof that blondies improve just about everything. Continue reading
Move over chocolate chip, chewy oatmeal, crispy ginger . . . these are – hands down – the best cookies I’ve ever made. Tender bellied and crispy edged with the chocolate fudginess befitting only the very best brownie and a unique profile all of their own, these brownie cookies are simply divine. In the past, I’ve toyed with recipes for brownie cookies only to be slightly disappointed, the result falling short of both camps. But these? These you need to make. Continue reading
A few weeks back our family shared a slice of the most magnificent mango cheesecake. Buttery biscuit base, the creamiest of cream cheese fillings and a juicy, generous portion of mango with pistachios, passion fruit and pomegranate seeds. Sharing puddings isn’t in my nature – my second ‘sweet stomach’ operates at generous capacity and I try not to share with my husband simply because he consumes at such breathtaking speed you have to speed eat the dish in question to be in with the chance of even a taste – but on this occasion a mouthful or two felt like it would fit the bill. A big mouthful for Daddy, a medium mouthful for Mummy and a teeny tiny mouthful for Nino, as our two year old still happily recounts, Goldilocks style. Continue reading
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
Two weeks at my parents’ house in Italy and it feels like we were away for two months. Somewhere around the 15km mark outside the local town, time stands still and you slip into this blissful world where – although the days are packed with swimming and eating and chatting – nothing really happens and nobody else much matters. Looking out across the mountains from the edge of the garden there are a handful of houses in the distance, so small that they hardly look real, and at night the sky is a vast canvas of twinkling stars, all the more visible and beautiful for the lack of electric light. Continue reading
This time last year we were still in hospital. Forty eight hours after he was born, Nino had an emergency balloon septostomy in the paediatric intensive care unit of the Royal Brompton Hospital, a precursor to the open heart surgery he would undergo nine weeks later. I can remember sitting waiting for him to wake from the anaesthetic as if it was yesterday: the flutter and fall of his tiny chest, the sleepy beeps of a dozen life support machines, the artificial light illuminating our twenty four hour world and the sweet nurse suggesting, gently, for the eleventh time that I try to get some sleep myself. Continue reading
There’s a time and a place for boiling pans, sugar thermometers and endless beating with a wooden spoon. Forty eight hours before Christmas Day when you’re frantically trying to finish making and wrapping edible gifts for all your family and friends probably isn’t it. Throw a (not so) tiny ten month old explorer on the brink of walking into the equation and this 3-ingredient fudge was the elf to my slightly frantic Santa. Some might call it ‘cheat’s’ fudge – you simply mix together melted chocolate, condensed milk and cookies – but when something tastes this delicious, who’s going to begrudge the odd shortcut? Continue reading
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
A shop-bought Jaffa cake is one of those goodies somehow so much greater than the sum of its parts. The cake-y base is drier than you average sponge, the jelly too sticky to wobble and the outer coating too thin for a proper chocolate fix. Yet somehow, combined, these elements make a uniquely satisfying and more-ish mouthful. Better still, have you ever tried making your own Jaffa cakes at home? Now that’s where the magic really begins to happen . . .
Squidgy chocolate brownies packed with caramelized white chocolate
The simple magic of an oven will never cease to amaze me.
Subjected to its heat, pudgy rounds of dough become crusty loaves, liquid batter rises into golden-crowned cakes, pastry puffs, biscuits bake and incredible aromas escape around the edges of its door.
Normally baking requires some sort of skill, an understanding of the alchemy of ingredients and an ability to weigh, whisk, beat and blend. Butter, sugar and flour are combined, flavours and textures far greater than the sum of their parts created. Whether an amateur cook or a professional chef, it’s satisfying to know that baking is both a science and an art. Continue reading