Burn’s Night

Well I said I was back and I said it would be honest and this is the kind of thing I was coming up with 8 months before I had Emily . Haggis and Pomegranate Flatbreads


So beautiful and trust me delicious. Burns Night this week,  with two kids it wasn’t so elegant.

I still cooked a haggis. The haggis,  whole with chopped swede , carrot and onion a little water in the pressure cooker ready in 20 minutes on high.

Haggis is actually such a perfect ready meal. I actually have 5 on the online shop for this week to keep in the freezer.

Any leftovers now are  served as  “meatballs” for the kids  with baked beans. Just like faggots .

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When I became a Mum 5 years ago.  I lost myself. I worked out eventually how to be a Mum,  enough to do it a second time and once I went back to work I remembered how to be the working me. But honestly I have realised I didn’t actually know how to be the me-with-kids.

It was easy to ignore  working full time the last few years, I didn’t really have the time or energy to be anything else but working-me and mum-me but recently working from home and part time. I have started to think again.

Mum-me does the PTA , sorts out playgroup ,makes sure my kids are growing and healthy and increasingly read and do their spellings. Work-me is mostly organised delivers and sometimes pulls an all-nighter due to a combination of insomnia and foolhardiness.

But I totally forgot about the external things that I want. I know in the last 5 years it has been almost impossible to get the one essential my introverted-self needs , an hour or two a day alone reading a book (it has often happened at 3am). So anything more seems like indulgence.

And oddly I realised this morning at Issy’s playgroup one thing I really miss. I had just spent 20 minutes extolling the virtues of a pressure cooker to someone when a lovely Mum, who runs Korean Cookery courses offered me some of her homemade Kimchi.

It was a lightbulb I love to cook and this lovely blog let me share it with other people and gave me so much pleasure. And it was really me-me….. So to hell with it blogs are old school we are all v-log and it’s really all about clean eating.

For the first time in ages tonight  I got out my camera took a picture of my food before I are it and have spent 20 minutes writing nonsense about my own dinner. And that’s me , that’s what I do

So here , kimchi from the lovely Inkyung ( I’ll get the recipe soon…. it was much less salty than mine) . I served it with some pressure cooker pulled pork  …. out the freezer and some beansprouts. It was delicious and writing this was pretty lovely too.

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Warm Apple Cake


It’s been a lovely summer with Em at home and making the most of the garden we have had beans , courgettes, blackberries, plums and strawberries .

Turning to Autumn we are picking Apples from our tree for the first time. Should be trees but one of the trees has decided not to fruit

Lots of apple puree for Issy and for the grown ups Apple cake delicious when still warm from the oven.

Warm Apple Cake

175g of self raising flour
175ml of sunflower oil
175g of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g of finely chopped apple

Makes 16 pieces

Preheat the oven to 175degC
Line a 25cm square tin with greaseproof paper
Cream together the oil , sugar , apple and eggs
Stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa
Fill the the cake tin and bake at 175degC for 35 minutes
Allow to cook and cut into pieces.

Celebrating a year our house.  We are finally getting some wardrobes to put our clothes in.


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Beef and Vegetable Moroccan Stew


Em’s lovely nursery recently revamped their menus. I thought was pretty good before but now they have really gone all our with variety

Here are few of the mains

Szechuan Pork and Basmati Rice
Carrot and Coriander with Orange Zucchini Bread
Broad Bean and Bacon Pasta
Moroccan Vegetable Stew with apricot cous cous
Sausage and Bean Hotpot

Some of the kids struggled a bit with a change from some of their firm favourites so Nursery has been encouraging parents to try out some of the recipes.
Morrocan is a firm favourite in our house so inspired for Sunday Lunch this week.

Hosting the in-laws I have begun to much prefer casserole in the slow cooker to full roast lunch on a Sunday ,  Stew or casserole ( (I set the slow cooker on a plug-in timer the night before)  and my slightly tired and brain doesn’t have to worry about timings , nothing gets burnt if I am distracted by a child tantrum  and I am able to spend more time with guests.

This dish went down a storm and even better at 7 months Issy has eaten lots of it pureed in the following week. Not that getting Issy to eat is an issue , it is the enormous amounts that she eats, I struggle with. This time around weaning is much easier probably because much of the food we eat is more child-freindly. If you are ever looking for some inspiration Lets Get Cooking at Home does have some good ideas.

Moroccan Beef and Vegetable Stew

Makes enough for 8 people which means plenty left for mels in the week

1kg of shin of beef diced into 1.5cm cubes
500g of carrots
3 sticks of celery
500g tin of chick peas
1 medium sized butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes
1 large onion roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 large handful of dried apricots
2 tbps of ras al hanout ( but you could use a mix of tumeric , paprika , ground coriander , ground cumin , grpund cardamon chilli powder )

Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir after 4 hours

Serve with cous cous and a little cucumber mint yogurt.

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Hoisin Pork with Pancakes

Pancakes with Shredded Hoisin Pork

This is an alternative to chinese crispy duck pancakes , delicious from Chinese restaurants but a pain to cook at home , I’ve done it but burnt fingers from stripping boiling duck really aren’t worth it . In this a pulled pork version the pork fall apart on cooking.

Chinese Pancakes with Shredded Crispy Hoisin Pork

Serves 4

1.5kg of pork shoulder, remove any rind but leave on the fat this will render down

4 cloves of garlic peeled
200ml of hoisin sauce

To serve

100ml of hoisin sauce
Half a cucumber cut into thin batons
6 spring onions finely shredded
40 Chinese pancakes

Mix the pork with the hoisin sauce.

Oven Version

Rub the pork shoulder all over with the ingredients above
Place it in a large lidded cast iron pot and put in the oven at 150degC for 3 hours.
Finally place the pork in a deep roasting tray with the juices and place in a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes
Remove the pork once the outside is caramalised the sauces will reduce.

Slow Cooker

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker on LOW for 6 hours
Pull apart the pork mix through with the juices place under a hot grill for 15minutes or a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes. Stir halfway through.

Pressure Cooker

Rub the pork with the ingredients above
Place in the pressure cooker on a trivet and cook on HIGH for 1 hr
Remove from the pressure cooker.Pull apart the pork mix through with the juices place under a hot grill for 15minutes or a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes. Stir halfway through.

How to serve

To serve heat the pancakes in batches ( 30secs on high in the microwave ) as required.
Allow guests to make up their own pancakes with a tablespoon of pork, shredded cucumber , spring onion and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.
Roll and eat .

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Kale and Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree.


I was saying yesterday , I hate cooking. The thing that used to be my relaxation has rapidly become a miserable depressing chore. Done whilst a child wines or cries. Shopping done on sterile online shopping. And worst since I got pregnant with Isobel ( who is now 3 months old and lovely) , I am actually happiest with a sandwich and a packet of crisps. Is it hormonal , I don’t know all I do know is I need to beat this because it isn’t me and I owe them better

So once a week a new lovely blogged dish, first a kedgeree packed full of goodness tastes amazing.

Kale and Mackerel Kedgeree

For two people

150g of brown rice
2 eggs
200g of smoked mackerel
4 handfuls of chopped curly kale
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp garam masala
1 TSP nigella seeds
1 TSP tumeric
4 tbsp sunflower oil.
Handful of chopped coriander
Half a lemon – zest and juice.

For 2 people

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions , put the eggs in the pan for the last 10 minutes to hardboil  ( I pressure cook my brown rice , 5 mins on 2 you can out the eggs in too)
Fry the onions , kale in the spices and oil til softened
Add the rice and cook for a further 10 minutes stirring well
Add the mackerel and lemon zest and juice
Stir through the coriander and serve with the eggs cut into quarters

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Everything All In Soup


Em is 3 years old now and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new baby. The optimist in me hopes she will continue to be a good helper . As she is at the age where she wants to do everything herself, I try to get her involved in things around the house but only recently have I mastered getting her to do some cookery. Chopping vegetables , pouring and mixing are definitely in her favourite things.


Being a sadly practical Mum , it’s not sparkly fairy cakes in this house, recently she has been helping with the weekend meals , this a kind use up everything soup is a staple in our house. Any mix of vegetables , with pasta or beans, all in a pan or in our house the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Em gets on with some very slow chopping and mixing.  She is very focused and you can’t interfere , teaches me a lot of patience.


Everything All In Soup

1 tin of tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Assorted veg , celery , carrots , peas , runner beans , leeks.
2 handfuls of dried pasta or  one tin of beans , haricot , butter or cannellini

1. Place all the ingredients in a pressure cooker
2. Seal , cook for 10 mins on highest pressure.
3. Serve with crusty bread and grated cheese.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker a gentle simmer for 25 mins will work.

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Chocolate and Banana Gruffalo Cake – Emily’s 3rd Birthday


This is the first year Emily has been big enough to be able to ask what kind of cake she wanted. The answer was an instant “Gruffalo” . After some googling a 3D cake seemed rather out of my skill-set and with rather a lot on my plate this year I did consider buying some handy cake toppers from eBay   really taking the pain out of cake decorating.

But the first Google link was this little fellow with a soft buttercream icing , eminently preferable over a hard royal icing in my book.

I changed the recipe slightly , banana rather than chocolate cake and milk rather than dark chocolate icing. I also used by 175g recipe  because it never fails to produce a light moist cake.

The most terrifying bits were cutting the cake shape and modelling, the rest was pretty easy and  I made the cake over 2 days , actually one night and a very early morning.


The relief  I felt when Em correctly identified it as a Gruffalo cannot be expressed loudly enough.  It was intended to go to Nursery with her that morning but they are a bit overwhelmed with 10 birthdays in July and some very over-sugared children so it was a grandparent only affair, incredibly patient she waited two days to blow out the candles. A massive improvement over previous years when the singing of happy birthday has resulted in bafflement or tears. Time is going very fast … so it’s really important to mark these moment

1st BirthdayUntitledUntitled





Banana and Chocolate Gruffalo Cake 

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 350g of self raising flour
  • 350ml of sunflower oil
  • 350g of  caster suhgar
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 bananas
  • 5 eggs

For the butter cream

  • 150g of butter
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 150g of milk chocolate
  • 2-3 tbsps hot water

For the decoration

  • 100g of ready made royal icing
  • Food colouring orange , green, purple and black
  • 1 fruit roll-up or liquorice strings

 1 day before

Make the cake sponge

  1. Blend together the oil and sugar and bananas
  2. Mix in the eggs
  3. Mix the flour with the  bicarbonate of soda
  4. Add the flour and sugar
  5. Divide the mix into 2 lined square cake tins each 30x30cm
  6. Bake at 175degC for 40 minutes until golden and firm to touch.
  7. Turn out from the tins and leave to cool

Make the Chocolate Buttercream

  1. Melt the chocolate until liquid but don’t let it bubble
  2. Mix together the butter and icing sugar
  3. Add to the chocolate
  4. Mix well and leave to cool ( if you refridgerate , you will need to take it out of the fridge a few hours before use to let it soften)

Die the royal icing enough to make

  • Purple prickles
  • Two eyes of orange , with a small dot of black colouring to make the pupil
  • Small green poisonous wart
  • Keep enough white to make whiskers , tusks , teeth and horns
  • For the mouth and eyebrows you could die royal icing black but I found it impossible to get it dark enough ending up with a lot of soggy grey icing. Instead  an unrolled dark fruit roll-up or liquorice lace works well

Leave wrapped in clingfilm to prevent the icing drying out

Day 2

Assemble the cake

  1. Sandwich the two cake layers with buttercream
  2. Cut into a Grufallo shape using the offcuts to form ears
  3. Cover with buttercream and fork

Shape the features  once they are all completely shaped lay them onto the cake.

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Pasta with Nduja and Green Vegetables


Poor poor neglected blog it’s like that pet that you have before you have a child and then completely ignore. Except my blog doesn’t start scratching the furniture and weeing in my shoes, it just sits their forlornly with occasional requests coming to my inbox for updates.

The thing is I still cook so much I just never manage to take a picture of anything and I’m pregnant with number two so that seems the ideal time to try and restart.

Here is dinner from a few days ago, delicious asparagus, broad beans ( from the freezer but fresh will be available soon) and star ingredient Ndjua . I was actually sent some of this a long time ago use the whole lot in one go and have spent years trying to find it again.

Tracked this person down a food festival delicibo   though they have a stall in Chesterfield Market

Made from guanciale (pig cheek) and pancetta (bacon), dried Calabrian red chilli and salt. It is a little like a drier sobrasada one of my favourite Majorcan ingredients. A little goes a long way and it keeps forever in the fridge so worth an investment

There days I quite like pasta to  be half and half with some vegetables struggling to get that 5 a day ( or is it 7 now) , you could use any green vegetables in season so kale or  purple sprouting broccoli would work.

Pasta with Nduja and Green Vegetables

For two people

  • 100g of linguini or spaghetti
  • 4 handfuls of broad beans
  • ½ bunch of asparagus ( 6 spears)  – finely sliced lengthways
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Nduja
  • 1 handfuls of toasted breadcrumbs


  1. Boil the pasta with the broad beans for 10 minutes
  2. Steam the asparagus over the top for a few minutes , it should still snap
  3. Once cooked mostly drain the pasta, but leave a couple of tablespoons of water ,add the nduja  and stir over the heat , this will melt the nduja and allow it to the coat the pasta and beans
  4. Stir in the asparagus.
  5. Serve and top with the breadcrumbs
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Beef Brisket with Carrot and Peanut Sauce

Slow cooked beef brisket with carrot and peanut sauce

Two years ago some new things came into my life. A slow cooker ,  a pressure cooker and a baby. The first two have definitely made it easier coping with the latter.

A pressure cooker cooks things very fast when you have forgotten to do anything , the slow cooker does what it says on the box and cooks things very slow , so when you have a millisecond in the morning before running off to work  you can throw ingredients into the slow cooker.  I have learnt it’s best to keep ingredients large if you want to leave them all day, particularly with joints of meat cooked whole they are  easier to use  as leftovers  in another dish.

This dish is sweet and rich but the shredded veg gives spikey crunch, it would work with pork shoulder or chicken joints.

Beef Brisket with Spicy Carrot and Peanut Sauce

750g roll of brisket
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp of chilli paste
4 whole carrots
1 clove of garlic.
1 spring onion

  1. Place in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours
  2. Mash the carrots and onions to make a sauce
  3. Slice the brisket to serve.
  4. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle with chopped spring onion.

If you don’t have a slow cooler , chop the carrots and place everything in the oven  at 180degC for 2 hours.

Serve with shredded cabbage , carrot and sliced cucumber dressed with rice wine vinegar and fish sauce.

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