Monday, 27 February 2012

Wild herb rub (a lyrical review)

An ancient legend tells the story of the young Polovtsian khan: he left his Motherland to help the Caucausian Prince to fight the enemies and stayed behind, being seduced by the beautiful women and wine. His brother kept sending messengers to him, asking to come back home, but the young khan ignored the messengers. Finally a messenger arrived who didn't utter a word but gave a bunch of the dry yemshan herb to the khan. The smell of the dry herb brought back memories of the happy childhood, of his parents, freedom, horses and the wild grassland plains. The khan burst into tears and decided to go back home.
Yemshan (or yamshan) herb is a kind of wormwood or absinth, it has a very strong bitter smell, which is very evocative of the steppe.
Why am I telling you this? I had my own "yemshan herb" moment recently, when I opened a jar of the wild herb rub from Forage. The wonderful smells of chamomile , red clover and wild thyme brought back memories of my childhood. My Mum used to pick wild herbs and dry them, she makes her own herbal teas, and all through my childhood I rinsed my hair with the herbal mixture.

Wild Herb Rub is a fab mix of dried herbs.
Quote: "A wonderful wild flavouring packed with herbs that grow in British pastureland, made with wild thyme, english sage, fennel, marjoram and camomile mixed with with hints of meadowsweet, clover flowers and sheeps sorrel.
Our wild herb rub is inspired by an amazing pasture outside our kitchen window, when it rains the smell of camomile is intoxicating. We are convinced that meat tastes best flavoured with what it has eaten, and this is our theory behind why the rub is so good with british meat. (It's also pretty gorgeous with veg too!) Ditch the herb d'provence and take up with the herbs of our homeland"

I thought it would work well with the straightforward beef stew (without dumplings, as my guys don't like them much). This dish is perfect on a cold day.
For 4-5 servings you will need
about 400g beef, cut in chunks
2 medium carrots
1 parsnip
2 medium potatoes
1 red onion
1 sweet potato
1 can of carrot soup
vegetable oil
2 tbsp of Wild herb rub
plain flour for coating the beef
a handful of raisins or sultanas
about 7-8 dried apricots

Using a clean board, coat the beef with the plain flour and wild herb rub. Heat the oil in the deep frying pan and add the beef, cook it until well browned on all sides. Remove the beef and put it in the big saucepan.
Chop the onion and fry until translucent. Add to the pan with the beef. Chop the carrots and fry a bit as well (you might skip this stage, but the fried carrots give a sweeter flavour to the stew).
Add the chopped parnsips, sultanas and apricots to the pan, pour water. Beef and vegetables should be always covered by the water, so keep checking the level and add more if necessary.
Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on very low for a couple of hours. Add the potatoes, sweet potato and a can of carrot soup about 20 minutes before the end of cooking.
If you are feeling truly decadent, you can also add a can of the game soup. Your stew will be truly worthy of the king's table.
Experiment with the amount of the wild herb rub, you might want to increase the amount of herbs from 2 tbsp to 3 or even more. The herbs add a special note to this dish and enhance the flavours.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Stay safe with Boomerein

Eddie is 19 months going on 19 years, and he thinks he can do anything. He is not happy to stay in the pushchair all the time when we go out shopping. Since I detest cars and refuse to drive, we walk everywhere in town. Until recently Eddie was happy to observe the world from his pushchair. I can still keep him happy there, if he has his teddy with him and a few snacks, but he is getting more and more restless and wants to walk next to me.

Luckily we were offered to test the Boomerein from Kool Kangaroos, which is a retractable child safety rein that clips easily between you and your children around the waist using adjustable straps, allowing them to stick close to you, while you can carry on using both hands to get on with your day.

As you can see from the photos, my child is very close to me (photos taken with the Boomerein attached to both of us) but still feels he can exercise his independence.
Both belts are fully adjustable for your size which it is a big bonus, since you can wear it with either summer or winter clothes.
I would still advise holding your child's hand when crossing the road (you can never be too careful when crossing the road) or in the busy town centre (so that you are not bothering other people or getting in their way).
We never used the shoulder reins with Eddie, so I can only compare the two theoretically. I suppose the shoulder reins are more suitable for toddlers who started to walk recently and are still quite unsteady on their feet. The Boomerein would suit tots who have mastered the art of walking, as they are not supported by the reins.The Boomerein is a safety product that gives both a parent and a child a good amount of freedom without compromising the child's safety.

It is especially convenient if you have a pushchair with you, as it gives you freedom of using your hands. We have tried the reins mostly in the garden and in the park area.
I can also imagine it is very useful when you go out with two tots.

And if you like the idea of the cool reins, head straight to Kool Kangaroos.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Disney's Club Penguin magazine launch

If you are a Club Penguin fan and member, I'm sure you were anticipating the launch of a new magazine with great enthusiasm.

Disney’s Club Penguin Launches UK Magazine
First print magazine from the largest virtual world for kids is the latest addition to its range of connected experiences
Disney’s Club Penguin has launched its first official magazine: Disney Club Penguin Magazine. Hitting newsstands across the UK and Ireland, from Thursday 9th February, the new magazine will give kids another way to engage with Club Penguin. The four-weekly magazine will feature richly-illustrated comic stories, fact files, puzzles and activities themed on popular in-world games and events. As with all Club Penguin toys, books, videogames and apps, the magazine will connect to the virtual world through secret codes that allow kids to earn coins and unlock exclusive items offering a truly integrated entertainment experience.

Lucy Woodward, director of Disney Online Studios for The Walt Disney Company EMEA, explains: “Safety, great content and engaging gameplay drives everything we do and this new magazine will deliver children the same quality of experiences they demand in our virtual world. The two are also connected in order to ensure complete continuity.

“In the same way we reward our players online with coins when they complete challenges and quests, kids solving puzzles in the magazine will earn coins they can use to credit their online account. Kids playing our Nintendo DS game, Herbert‘s Revenge, or collecting trading cards, can discover codes that allow them to unlock special items in-world. This kind of connectivity can also be seen with our books, plush and apps and is really important in staying true to the quality of entertainment, narrative and mythology of Club Penguin outside of the virtual world.“

Disney Club Penguin Magazine, published by Panini UK, is launching exclusively in the UK and Ireland. Each issue will include two secret codes that unlock exclusive items online for use in-world and will be available in all major retail outlets priced at £2.99.

Launched in October 2005, Club Penguin has seen more than 150 million registered users pass through the site. With its imaginative play environment, word filtering technology and live moderation, award-winning Club Penguin has built a solid reputation as a safe and secure online destination that provides fun for kids and peace of mind for parents. 


I have seen Club Penguin annuals in the shops before, and it is only natural that fans would want a magazine which would be catering to their hobby.

The magazine is very colourful, and the 1st issue comes with several free gifts including a free 7 day membership and two codes for two exclusive items. It looks like each issue will have similar free gifts of free membership and codes that you redeem online to receive free gifts.
The magazine costs £2.99, which is an average price for a children's magazine.
You receive 1500 bonus gold coins for solving the puzzles and missions in the magazine. There are free posters, comic strips and exclusive competitions - everything that you would expect from a chidren's magazine.

All in all, a lovely addition to the Club Penguin scheme, and a bonus for all Club Penguin fans.
Sasha liked the magazine, but he is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel recently every time I try to take his photo, so I wasn't able to do a snap of him perusing the Club Penguin magazine. But as he is interested in it, we'll be certainly buying it in the future.

Where do Mums really want to be this Mother's Day?

Where do Mums really want to be this Mother's Day?

Mother’s day -a time for flowers, R&R, and most importantly- some recognition for the lady who ran around after you for so many years!

Whether we’ve hundreds of pounds to spend or just a few, the one thing we’ll want to do is make sure we give our mums the best possible day this Mother’s day 2012. But what do they really want? Well, experience gift company Buyagift have carried out a survey of 500 UK mums to find out exactly where it is that they’d like to spend Mother’s day this year.

Try somewhere new and exciting with the whole family

While we’d traditionally see Mother’s Day as a time for rest and relaxation away from the family, 41.5% of mums said that they most like to spend the day doing something fun with the children while 15% said that they’d like to spend it outdoors on a visit to somewhere picturesque. Even more interestingly, 27.3% of mums actually view a day out with the kids to be their idea of a relaxing day.

Take her on a relaxing spa day or a day out exploring

Aside from a thirst for adventure with the kids, 40% of the sample would prefer relaxing spa days. And it would seem that UK mums are also after a bit of exploration – 13.1% said they’d like to be taken on a day out exploring the countryside while 8.2% would absolutely love you for taking her out for a day discovering new cities – tea for two anybody?

Really treat her this year

The survey also looked into whether mums were able to find time for themselves. Astoundingly, 40.3% are often unable take time out from being a mum, while 11.3% claim that they never get any time to pursue their own interests. With this in mind, we should make sure that whatever she does, our mum has the very best day possible this Mother’s day 2012!


Interesting data. Can you relate to this survey? I am definitely one of 40.3%, I forgot what it is to have time for myself. I am probably not a "normal" woman, as I find spas tediuos and cannot think of anything more boring than having a spa day. A tea for two experience would be my idea of fun, and one day I will treat myself to a tea at Ritz. Maybe when Eddie is an adult and will take his old Mum out. I can wait.
I had a good browsing session at Buyagift ( and was "choosing" gifts for myself. A medieval banquet, for example. I used to have dressing-up period parties in the BS age (i.e. before Sasha, as we say here, or BC, before children). One of my most favourite parties was a Tudor-themed party. I cooked authentic Tudor dishes. At that time I still had plenty of time to do some research and find the right ingredients.
An evening like this would be a memory to cherish forever. Just look at the happy lady in the photo, she's enjoying every second of it.

Or a chocolate workshop, what could be more exciting?
And though I am pretty good at cooking Italian dishes, I would have loved to go on a day course of Italian Cookery Master Class. I have never made my own pasta, and this could be a brilliant new experience and a great skill to master.

Alas, so far all these days out are not possible for me. Or maybe I should omit the word "Alas" and rejoice at being busy with my two beautiful boys.

My ideal day out would be a trip to the beach in Cornwall. An empty sandy beach with rocks. A relatively mild weather, not too hot and not too cold. My boys running free and splashing in the rock pools. Breathing in the salty air and feeling liberated from all the troubles in the world. Just me and my boys, all three of them (including my husband). And a nice ice cream cone would not go amiss. That's what I really want, and that's where I would love to be.

Whatever you do this Mother's Day, hope you have fun and enjoy it!
P.S. This is not a sponsored post.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sophia Loren's Ricotta Delight with the rose petal preserve

This lovely recipe has been originally created by the incomparable beauty Sophia Loren, and can be found in her book In Cucina con Amore.

My version is adapted from Sophia's recipe.

For the dessert you will need
250g ricotta
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp rose petal preserve

Dip the top of the serving glass in lemon juice and then in the sugar bowl to get a sugar frosting at the rim. Mix half of your ricotta with the cocoa powder and the sugar. Sophia suggested adding brandy, I didn't add any. Spoon the mixture in the glass. Mix the second half of the ricotta with the rose petal preserve and spoon on top of the cocoa flavoured ricotta.

I have used a Rose Petal Preserve from Forage Fine Foods. I could sing praises about it. If you close your eyes and smell the little bottle, you are immediately taken into an Arabian Nights story. You are in the rose garden. The aroma is beautiful. It also has a very intense sweet rose taste.
This syrup is perfect for delicate desserts. If you want to get hold of one, you'd better hurry. I have an insider information:  very few bottles are left until the roses bloom again!

For the grissini sticks you will need
2 grissini per person (choose plain, you don't want olive or onion flavoured grissini to ruin your dessert)
dark chocolate
dried rose petals (optional)
icing sugar and a few drops of Dr Oetker Bright gel food colour (red to make pink icing)

Mix 2 tbsp of icing sugar with the red gel colour and a lemon juice until the desired consistency is achieved. It should not be too thick or too runny. Taking one breadstick at a time, smear one half of the stick with the pink icing and place standing in a mug or glass for the icing to set.
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan with hot water, then dip the grissini, one by one, in the chocolate sauce. At this stage, if you have any dried rose petals at hand (I did, as I dried a lot of rose petals from our garden, they are all organic and pesticide-free), crush them and sprinkle over the chocolate part of the grissini. Again let them stand in a mug until the chocolate is set.

Serve the ricotta mix with the chocolate and pink icing grissini.
For an extra wow-factor, you might want to add some edible gold leaf to your grissini.

This is my entry for a February Romance challenge on What Kate Baked.

Love Stone

If you think I am talking of the engagement ring sparklers, you are wrong. :)
The feature below is an interesting insight into the female psychology.

Love is in the air, and in the belly…

90 per cent of women put on weight when they settle down with a long term partner, with the average female gaining 16 lbs, a new survey has revealed.

The study showed that a 56 per cent majority started to gain weight four to six months into the relationship; with most citing that this was when they reached the ‘comfy’ period.
Of the 1000 women surveyed by weight management company LighterLife, 35 per cent cited an increase in cosy nights in as a key reason for their weight gain. One in five women said it was because they felt comfortable enough not to worry about their figure, whilst one in ten blamed more calorie-laden romantic dinners in restaurants. 19 per cent said that it was due to matching portion size with their partner.

Mandy Cassidy, Psychotherapist for LighterLife, comments: “I regularly hear women say that their weight crept up a few months into a long-term relationship.
“When single or in the courtship stage, butterflies and a desire to look you best mean that staying trim is high on the agenda.

“As soon as things start to get serious many women realise that their partner will be there for them no matter what they look like. This, combined with lifestyle changes and matching male portion sizes, all result in excess weight.
“We have coined the term “Love Stone”, as something that embodies the extra pounds British women associate with the comfy stage of a relationship.”

Of the 90 per cent who said they gained weight after meeting their long-term partner, two thirds put on between one and two stone. A quarter gained less than one stone and a worrying 12 per cent put on over two stone, placing them firmly in the overweight or even obese category.

And whilst diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, this stone most definitely is not. More than half of the women are still trying to lose the extra weight one year on, whilst 28 per cent have already shed their ‘love stone’. Of this 28 per cent, one in three lost weight to look their best on their wedding day.
Practicing GP and TV personality Dr Hilary Jones says: “There’s nothing wrong with a few treats now and then and it’s important to feel comfortable with your figure whatever size you are, but eating portions that are too large or not healthy will ultimately have an impact in the long term.

“Women need 500 less calories a day than men, but when meals are prepared together it is easy to match the size of the portion. Just a few extra calories a day is enough for weight to creep on over time, as this survey demonstrates.”

The LighterLife programme is for people with a stone or more to lose, and combines weekly counselling sessions with nutritionally complete food packs and a management programme to help people maintain a healthy weight after reaching their goal.

LighterLife has seen an increase in couples starting the programme, whether to lose weight in the run up to their wedding or simply to support each other in their quest to get healthy.  Realising men and women want different things from their weight loss programme, they offer a specifically tailored ‘man plan’ for men who wish to shake off their excess in an easy and quick way.
Men and women are subsequently able to stay a healthy weight for life, whether married, single, or in the first flushes of love.

Now if that is something that is important to you, there is a nice opportunity to discuss all the relevant issues on Twitter.

The live Twitter chat with Dr Hilary Jones @LighterLife takes place on Valentines Day from 1-2pm so I am encouraging you to tune in and have your questions ready.

Personally I think that gaining that extra stone is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are comfortable with your body weight, then there is nothing wrong with a curvaceous body. All bodies can be beautiful. Think Nigella versus skinny models. I know who I would rather look like (and if you want to know, neither in my case). I can totally relate to the article above, but in my case the weight has crept after having my first child. Not to start with. I was very skinny when Sasha was a baby, to the point that my legs looked like sticks, and if anything, I was less in size than my pre-marriage body. It is later, when Sasha got diagnosed as a special needs child, and I went through a depression, that I started to crave sweet things. It was comfort eating for me, a second of pleasure after a particulalry stressful day. I am fine with my weight now, though it is not perfect. But is anyone perfect?

This Twitter event could be very lively and intersting, but it will be so, if you come and join in and ask your questions. Come on, make sure you could join in!

    Sunday, 12 February 2012

    Sunday pancakes

    Our Sunday is typically a noisy affair. Boys being boys, don't stay still for a second.
    For breakfast I have made a batch of pancakes. Of course, everyone fancies a different filling.
    The big boy had his panckake with a sliced banana and whipped cream.

    Sasha had only whipped cream, without a pancake.
    Eddie had his with a bit of honey.

    I wanted to try a new rose petal preserve, and it worked beautifully with a pancake.

    Friday, 10 February 2012

    Lavender's blue...

    ...dilly-dilly, lavender's green, when I am king, dilly-dilly, you shall be queen.
    And that's the theme of my latest cookies.
    Lakeland has a new set of cookie cutters in store - 3 Crown cookie cutters. And of course, I could not resist.

    The cutters come in 3 different shapes and colours, they are quite easy to use.

    The red cutter was a bit fiddly, as the top kept breaking off the dough crown, but I did manage to cut a few perfect shapes with it.
    I used the most basic recipe for butter cookies (you will need 200g granulated sugar, 225g butter, 1 medium egg, 335g flour, a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla (optional)). Once mixed, the dough should be chilled for about an hour before you start working with it. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden. They are still a bit on the soft side, when you take the tray out of the oven.
    Decorate with Dr Oetker icing.

    I added sprigs of lavender as a reference to the song.

    Lavender's green, dilly, dilly, Lavender's blue,
    If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
    Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play;
    We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm's way
    And as this song is a staple of Valentine lyrics, I am offering my Royal cookies as a tribute to Valentine's Day.
    English Mum is doing another bake off challenge, this time it is called Baked with Love. Come and join in, it is always a fun occasion to see other people's creative work, be it art or cakes.

    I am also submitting my Valentine's cookie to the Baking Mad Valentine's Blogger competition. Looking forward to seeing all entries.

    Sudocrem Skin Care Promotion

    If you ever lusted after an expensive handbag by Diane Von Furstenberg , here is your chance to win one.

    – Go  Like the page and ‘Like’ the page
    – Click on the Diane Von Furstenberg & iPhone 4S Competition page
    - Follow the competition page instructions: Enter your email and answer the three product related questions correctly
    - Keep your fingers crossed that your name is drawn from the hat of correct entries on 25th February 2012

    Competition Finish Date– 25th February 2012
    Competition winners announced– 29h February 2012

    The Sudocrem Skin Care Cream competition prizes:
    1st Prize: Diane Von Furstenberg Handbag, iPhone 4S (16GB) and 12 tubes of Sudocrem Skin Care Cream
    2nd Prize: 50 runners up will receive a tube of Sudocrem Skin Care Cream

    I will definitely keep my fingers and toes crossed.

    Tuesday, 7 February 2012

    Pukka Night Time tea review and giveaway (c/d 7 March 2012) CLOSED

    I've been good with my January resolution to cut down on caffeine, and it is easily done with Pukka teas, they have a selection of teas for any occasion. I have written about Pukka Refresh, Three Mint and Love tea recently.

    Today I want to tell you about a tea called Night Time.
    It is a blend of an organic oat flower, lavender and limeflower (plus chamomile, valerian root and other herbs).
    This blend is beneficial for a peaceful sleep.
    The smell of the limeflower blossom for me is one of the memory triggers. Lime trees grow in abundance in my home town, and whenever I pass by a lime tree in blossom, I am doing a trip down the memory lane. I am ten again, and sitting on the tree in the school yard.
    This is one of my most favourite aromas, beautiful and gentle.
    This restful tea lulls me to sleep.
    It has a delicate taste, not too grassy and not too flowery either.

    If you haven't tried yet any of Pukka teas, here is your chance to win a selection of three teas that I reviewed recently. One winner will get a pack each of Refresh, Three Mint and Love teas. This prize has been kindly sponsored by Pukka.
    I will also add a Lindt Chocolate bar - A Touch of Sea Salt.

    Don't worry, you will get 3 boxes of tea, not 3 sachets, I only placed the sachets for the purposes of taking a photo. :)

    To be entered in the draw please:
      Answer the question by leaving a comment below this post

    You do not have to follow my blog to be entered in the draw. If you decide to follow my blog, I will be thrilled, of course, but it doesn't give you any extra brownie points except my gratitude.
    Please leave me some means of getting in touch with you if you win: your Twitter name, or forum name (if you come from any of the comping forums), if you use a Blogger, make sure there is an email address in your profile.

    And the question is:
    Do you like herbal teas and/or which one is your favourite?

    Good luck!
    The winner will be selected from all entries after the closing date (7 March 2012).


    Wow, what an amazing response! Thank you for all your comments, I have enjoyed reading them.
    All the names were added to the Raffleking.

    And the winner is ....


    Big well done! I am getting in touch with you on Twitter, and once I have your details, I will pass them on Pukka. I will post the chocolate separately.

    Monday, 6 February 2012

    Emma Talbot's enchanted world

    Emma Talbot, a talented illustrator and mixed media artist, has joined John Crane Ltd. Now, if you have kids, you must have heard of John Crane's fab toys.

    This year all new Tidlo toys from John Crane will feature Emma's illustrations.
    Emma Talbot has been working as a designer for over 14 years after graduating with a B.A Honors Degree in Graphics Illustration.

    On her blog she says that she loves making people smile with her work.
    Her little bunnies, birds and other little creatures are very kind, gentle, gracious, warm and charming. They would appeal to both children and adults alike, as they open the door to the kind-hearted world, where magic things might happen. Entering her art portfolio is like joining in the enchanted world of fairy tales with happy endings.

    I saw an appeal to bloggers on John Crane's FB page to review Emma Talbot's limited edition print, and was delighted to be one of the lucky bloggers who received a lovely print.
    Eddie was smitten, as the print shows a very cute panda. He keeps pointing, saying Bear, bear.

    As you can see, our little Panda bear has soulful eyes and a warm smile, and this print will look lovely in any nursery room or child's bedroom. We are going to frame it for Eddie's bedroom, so that when he wakes up, a kind Panda will smile to him.

    Having browsed through Emma's illustrations, I kept thinking that they would make perfect stamps (like Stampin'Up kits) when you stamp several layers of colours one over the other.

    I think John Crane Ltd are very lucky to have Emma working with them.

    All images were provided with John Crane's and Emma's permission.

    Sunday, 5 February 2012

    Cappelletti in brodo

    This dish always reminds me of my husband's gran, Nonna Elsa, who would spend the whole Christmas eve by the stove, making the brodo (broth), adding three types of meat, herbs and veg in a special order, stirring, skimming the foam from the surface.
    The wonderfully rich flavours and aromas of this dish, its warmth are just the right remedy to stay warm in this cold weather.
    Tortellini in brodo is a speciality of Bologna, in Ferrara they cook cappelletti, which is in my understanding the same type of filled pasta, only in smaller size, sort of mini-tortellini (please forgive me, if I am simplifying it).
    Pasta in brodo is a real comfort food, and is perfect on a cold snowy day like today.
    To prepare the authentic brodo you will need
    1 chicken leg (or 2-3 drumsticks)
    1 piece of beef, about 400g (or 2 beef shanks)
    1 marrow bone (optional)
    1 celery rib
    1 medium carrot
    1 onion
    a rind of Parmesan
    First add the beef and the bone to the stockpot with the cold water, parmesan rind and vegetables (just peel the carrot, and cut into 2-3 big chunks, slice the celery into 2-3 pieces, peel the onion but add it whole to the pot). Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours, keep checking the level of water, add more and skim the foam. Add a piece of chicken and cook for another hour or more.
    Add salt, once cooked, pour through a fine mesh strainer into the other pot.

    As I mentioned above, the marrow bone is optional. You can make the broth without it. It adds to the depth of the flavour, but the broth is also much more fatty with the marrow bone, so if you count calories or your stomach is too gentle, don't bother with the bone.

    You can eat the cold meats with the mustard or horseradish the next day. My in-laws usually serve the cold meats with the mostarda di frutta, which looks very pretty and innocent, but its looks are deceptive, as it has a very strong bite. Basically this is an Italian relish of sugared fruit in mustard.

    Mostarda di frutta is available from Waitrose, it costs £5.99. It is a lovely alternative to the English mustard, and looks much prettier too.

    Returning to our dish of cappelletti: you can of course make your own pasta, and if you do, I salute you. I don't. As far as I know, my mother-in-law doesn't either. Of course, in Italy it is common to buy the homemade pasta from the pasta makers, who have small businesses of making their own pasta and selling it in the neighbourhood. As we don't have anyone in the neighbourhood with the enthusiasm for the homemade pasta, so our cappelletti come from the supermarket (Waitrose and Sainsbury's both sell pretty decent fresh pasta).
    To prepare the cappelletti in brodo, bring the broth to the boil in the big pot, add cappelletti and cook for about 4-5 minutes (taste them, they should be al dente).  Serve in deep soup bowls. If you want, add a bit of grated parmesan on top. enjoy!

    You can also swap the cappelletti for tortellini.

    Adding my dish to the Slow Sunday on Lavender and Lovage blog.

    Saturday, 4 February 2012

    Can we do a messy look? Yes, we can!

    Eddie is a king of "messy". Creating mess and chaos is one of our favourite activities.

    This is Sasha, slightly older than Eddie now. Love this photo, Sasha looks so cheeky, his eyes are full of mischief. He still loves a chocolate fudge cake and can still be as messy, well, maybe a bit less.

    Here he is again, enjoying his favourite cake in a cafe in Woodstock. Used to be our favourite spot for a cuppa tea and a slice of cake.

    'This is my entry to the Appliances Online messiest kids competition, check out all the other entries over on Me, The Man & The Baby.

    Friday, 3 February 2012

    It's a piece of cake! (Cake Ring/My Kitchen range from Lakeland review)

    Having a Lakeland shop in town is a "dangerous" business for my pocket, I am forever tempted to pop in and buy some new kitchen goodies. Just the other day My Kitchen range was on offer, and as my cake springform tins are very dated, I bought a couple of cake tins.

    Cake Ring from My Kitchen range (25cm dia/10") has fluted sides and a thick anti-wrap base.

    Image credit: Lakeland

     I didn't read the reviews online on the Lakeland site before I made my purchase, and glad I didn't, as they would have put me off.
    I wanted to bake my semolina carrot cake in the ring shape, and I have to say I had no problems whatsoever with the cake coming out perfectly ring-shaped.
    It was very easy to use, and I am pleased with the results.

    The heat is distributed evenly in the cake ring. Cleaning was easy as well, I only had to wipe it clean with a moist tea towel.

    The tin was slightly too deep for my cake, but next time I will adjust the quantities or use it for another bigger cake.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2012

    Endive boats

    For a colourful meat-free snack or a great appetiser to go with drinks make these tasty little boats of endive, Dolcelatte and pine nuts.

    Endives have boat-shaped leaves that are perfect for teeny-tiny bits of cheese and other fillings. As endive could be quite bitter, I suggest leaving the endive leaves in the container with the cold water for at least an hour, which helps to take off the bitter edge.
    For 2-3 endives you will need
    100g Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola or any other creamy blue cheese (I also tried this recipe with the Cornish blue)
    50g pine nuts
    3 tbsp olive oil
    2 tbsp runny honey
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

    Arrange the endive leaves on the platter, scatter crumbled cheese into the boats, add pine nuts.
    Mix the olive oil, honey and vinegar in a clean small size jam jar, add a lid and shake well. Drizzle over the boats.
    You might want to experiment with different cheeses and nuts. You might also toast the pine nuts before adding them to the boats.

    Another variation on the theme: use feta cheese and walnuts.