Panettone ice cream bomb recipe

Panettone ice cream bomb recipe

Some foodie friends came for dinner last month bearing white truffles, Pinot Noir and extra virgin olive oil (my kind of people). They run a swanky grocers in Chelsea and to be honest, I slightly dread having them over, because despite the fact we love them very much, they are such good hosts (and even better guests) that I worry my cooking is not going to be up to par. My tip with dinner parties is to do as much as you can in advance, to avoid a mid-course nervous breakdown. So I did a burrata for starter – unaware until I wrote it down that it rhymes – with olive-studded bread from a fabulous new Italian deli near my house, before serving Claire’s legendary pork ragu recipe which I made the day before, alongside some roasted broccoli and M&S mash potato. I know I should know better and make my own, but I find the stress of making lump-free mash under scrutiny too much, so decanted this into a terracotta dish for the homemade look. But the star of the show was this Panettone ice cream bomb. It was a trial run for Christmas – Claire is cooking this year – hurrah! – and as well as our mum’s Christmas pudding, we will be eating this for afters. It can be made well in advance and only takes 15m to throw together. You literally just hollow out a Panettone, whip up some double cream and condensed milk, stir in some sour cherries and pistachios, fill up the hollow and freeze for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, you...
Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. So instead of watching Victoria on catch-up TV, last night was spent browsing lunch box ideas on Pinterest  and parenting blogs for tips about how to make the school run a pleasure, not a chore. I have already ordered two extra school ties and gym shirts (both items that inexplicably go walkabout at 8am) and copious, complicated Tupperware  boxes  to ensure the kids’ lunches stay fresh and vaguely food-shaped. After two terms of below average school dinners, where dishes some times ran out and was occasionally mouldy, we are back to packed lunches. Sigh. I have vlogged about taking the stress out of packed lunches before and the trick, for me, is menu planning. I am religious about it. For example, every Monday it is chicken goujons, Tuesday hummus, Wednesday a thermos full...
Raspberry ice lollies

Raspberry ice lollies

I am obsessed with frozen raspberries and always have some in the freezer for every eventuality. Seriously. They are great in smoothies, cakes and on cereal but have a myriad of other uses too:  as fruity ice cubes for lemonade or pimped up Prosecco. I am not sure what kind of magic fruit pickers and freezers do to keep them in such a perfect shape, but whilst fresh raspberries (even the ones I have attempted to grow on my allotment) are always a bit squidgy these perfect pyramids are a wonder to behold – lots of tiny spheres stacked up perfectly – perversely their helmet shapes remind me a bit of the stick-on hair on Lego toys. I used to stick them on the end of my fingers as a way of getting my children to eat fruit when they were very young. It worked with one, whose idea of a top treat is filling them – when still frozen – with maple syrup and allowing them to dissolve slowly in her mouth. This week I had some sugar syrup left in the fridge from a failed elderberry experiment – I had planned to make a cordial to drizzle over ice-cream from some berries I foraged but wasn’t 100% sure they were actually elderberries and didn’t want to kill myself or my children experimenting. So instead, with the help of my eight-year-old, we made ice lollies. First we defrosted some frozen raspberries (from Iceland) and using the back of a wooden spoon mushed them through a fine sieve over a large bowl, until we had a lovely seed-free puree. Then we...
Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

I wrote about these sprinkle saucers back in 2012 and love them as much six years on (looking back in our archive, was a wake-up call as to how long we’ve been blogging for) as I do now. The recipe is adapted from the wonderful Outsider Tart cookbook (just as inventive as their beautiful Chiswick cake shop, which is far too close to my home for comfort. Their brownies are irresistible) and are so easy to make we decided to make a film about them here – although apologies in advance for the horrific clash of my floral top and Claire’s patterned tiles. Sartorial mayhem aside, baking them on film was really just an excuse to make them again and one of their many fine attributes – along with the shortness of the biscuit and the genius of smothering them in sprinkles before cooking – is that you can make the dough way in advance, store it in the fridge meaning you are never more than 20 or so minutes from a biscuit. Lethal....
Children’s birthday party special…. piggy rolls

Children’s birthday party special…. piggy rolls

If hosting a children’s party brings you out in a nervous rash then let us be your Calamine lotion, because this month we have four party recipes guaranteed to bring a smile on the face of little people whilst not leaving you on the floor. The first is these sweet little piggy rolls. They are a fabulous centrepiece and easy enough for little people to make too.  Put a plate of these on your party table and there will be lots of ooohhing and ahhhing. Serve with plates of ham and cucumber and cheese and children can make their own rolls, leaving you to get surreptitiously stuck in to the hula hoops. If you want to take things up a notch then with the – clean! – palm of your hand squash those little meatballs (available in most supermarkets) in to the shape of burgers, fry and serve in the rolls with ketchup. If you were feeling really fancy you could do pulled pork to continue the piggy theme, but chances are if you have lots of little people coming over, you will want to keep it as simple as possible. So in our birthday party special, over the next few weeks, we have recipes and videos for sprinkle saucer biscuits, Claire’s failsafe chocolate birthday cake, pimped up rice crispy cakes and fruit kebabs, just so you can pretend to other parents that you care about their children’s vitamin C intake. If that is still not enough, then  here is a chapter on children’s parties in our cookbook – (available here!) – including my fabulous –even if I do say so...
Cottage pie served in a baked potato

Cottage pie served in a baked potato

Cottage pie is one of my all time favourite meals, cooked religiously by my mum for every one of my birthdays since I was knee-high. It only came to the end when I discovered the joys of  sirloin steak and chips – a massive treat back then in our house. Now, I still love it and thought I knew all there was about it until the Children’s Food Trust – a fabulous organisation who are encouraging the whole nation to cook cottage pie for tea next weekend – asked me to cook cottage pie served in a jacket potato skin. Yes stuffing a potato with cottage pie. Genius. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this culinary pairing sooner. R-A-D-I-C-A-L. Some people think that making a cottage pie is a faff as there are a few stages (making the mince, boiling the spuds, mashing them) well this will make them think again. I bulk cook sauce for either cottage pie or just to have with rice a couple of times a month (see here for the recipe) and freeze what I don’t need, so this for me is a very simple week night supper. I simply defrost the sauce, bake the potatoes, scoop out the flesh and mash them with butter, pepper, salt and cheese, spoon in some sauce, top with the mash and pop under a hot grill until sizzling. ...