Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele

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The season of home entertaining and dinner parties is nearly upon us and cheese straws really have to be one of the loveliest homemade nibbles you can serve to your guests when they first arrive. They’re oh so easy to make (because I cheat and use shop-bought puff pastry) and if you’ve got kids you can probably get them in on the act too.

As with all simple foods, success is down to the quality of the ingredients. To make good cheese straws, you must start with really good cheese. Continue reading

Our ghastly Halloween showstopper

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Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.

The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.

*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year. Continue reading

Making sushi like child’s play

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Making my own sushi has been on my list of things to try for years now, but I’m not known for my tidy, careful ways in the kitchen and I always assumed my clumsy fat fingers would be something of a hindrance in the delicate art of sushi.

So when the team at Yutaka got in touch to see if my kids might be up for having a go at rolling their own sushi, I had to volunteer them. If Yutaka reckon children can make sushi, then surely I can have a go too? Continue reading

Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember

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Autumn is almost upon us. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun yesterday on our bike ride under the Suspension Bridge towards Pill, but by the time we got home there was a distinct nip in the air. The blackberries are out in full force, the leaves have started to turn and we spotted conkers and acorns on the ground.

It’s a brilliant time of year. While summer is for picnics in the park and eating out, autumn marks the return of proper home cooking – making the most of the glut of glorious autumn vegetables; cooking up slow, hearty, satisfying dishes to warm the cockles.

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It was good to return home from our bike ride to this spicy sausage chilli – an absolute cockle-warmer if ever there was one, and just what we needed after working up quite an appetite. I came up with the recipe to celebrate the return of #OrganicSeptember, the Soil Association’s annual campaign to encourage more people to go organic. Continue reading

Eating out: Turtle Bay

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I have to admit to being slightly surprised when the Caribbean chain Turtle Bay invited my family and me to review their new Bristol restaurant, which has recently opened on Cheltenham Road. Having been to the launch event a few weeks back, I know it’s got a strong reputation for being party central and when I asked friends at work about it, all everyone talked about were the great cocktails.

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Eyeing up the food at the launch party earlier this summer

But since I was told that Turtle Bay is also very popular with families and since we love eating out with the kids, especially when there’s spicy food and good tunes on offer, well… we just had to give it a go. Continue reading

My Upfest gallery

Upfest Collage

I realise it’s all been a little quiet on the blog in recent weeks, but anyone that follows me on Instagram will know that the family and I have been thoroughly making the most of being back in the city since our return to Bristol in February.

This last weekend has pretty much summed up, for me, why I’ve longed to be back here, in this creative powerhouse of a city – albeit one of the most chilled out, laid back powerhouses you could wish for. For this weekend, street artists from around the world descended on Bristol (and indeed our very own patch of Bristol, Bedminster) in their hundreds for Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival. And the people followed in their thousands. Continue reading