Poached pears in red wine and spices

poached pear 2

I was lucky enough to meet the brilliant Italian chef Valentina Harris at a special dinner party thrown earlier this year by Paddy and Judith O’Hagan who are part of the team behind the Wells Food Festival. The party was for volunteers and supporters of the festival, and we were treated to an incredible Italian five-course feast, all prepared by Valentina, who cooked at last year’s festival and is lined up to be involved again this year. There were beautiful canapes, followed by a selection of pasta dishes, then a wonderful risotto, an array of sweet treats and finally cheese.

One of the desserts was poached pears in the most heavenly red wine and spice syrup. I was rather surprised by how much my oldest daughter Jessie enjoyed the pears – so much so, she insisted we take our chances and pop into the kitchen (we’d been warned about the amount of swearing going on in there!) to see if Valentina would share her recipe with us. Continue reading “Poached pears in red wine and spices”

Gratin Polesano / potato and cheese gratin

Gratin Polesano CollageI was given this delicious gratin recipe by Italian chef and cookery writer, Valentina Harris, who I met through my involvement in the wonderful Wells Food Festival, which has now become an annual event in England’s smallest city.

This gratin comes from Northern Italy, and is perfect as a supper dish in itself with a green salad on the side, but if you really fancy pigging out it’s also a great accompaniment to roast chicken or pork for Sunday lunch. Continue reading “Gratin Polesano / potato and cheese gratin”

Ciao bambino! The Family Foodies Italian challenge

ciao bambino

In my eyes, Italian food has to be one of the most child-friendly cuisines in the world, in the same way Italian restaurants are very often the most child-friendly places to eat with little ones in tow.

Italian dishes feature frequently in my family meal plans. There’s the now staple penne with pesto or a simple tomato sauce, spaghetti with meatballs, crowd-pleasing macaroni cheese and homely lasagne. There’s pizza and calzone – both the homemade and from-the-freezer varieties. There’s gnocchi and minestrone soup and risotto. And then there’s the puddings – the ice creams and semi-freddo, the tirimisu and panna cotta.

So for our latest Family Foodies challenge, we’re inviting food bloggers to share their favourite family-friendly, Italian-inspired dishes. From the traditional and authentic to your own unique twists on Italian classics, all are welcome at our Italian-themed feast.

What will you bring to the party?  Continue reading “Ciao bambino! The Family Foodies Italian challenge”

16 sensational sweet and savoury pancake ideas

Pancake Collage

Pancake Day might well be a distant memory now, especially since we’re practically into Easter, but, as I’ve said before, pancakes are just too delicious to only eat one day a year. Sweet and savoury, healthy and indulgent… this round-up of perfect pancake recipes from the last Family Foodies challenge is sure to get you reaching for your frying pan. Ready? Steady? Toss! Continue reading “16 sensational sweet and savoury pancake ideas”

Family Foodies: make every day Pancake Day

pancake text
We adore pancakes in our house and eat them all year round – no waiting for Shrove Tuesday to come around here!

But since it is that time of year with Pancake Day coming up on Tuesday 17 February, it seemed like a jolly good excuse to have all things pancakey as our theme for the Family Foodies challenge.

So, how do you eat yours? Sweet or savoury? Healthy or naughty? Thin crepes with lemon and sugar? Fat, fluffy American pancakes with bacon, smothered in syrup? Asian-style banana pancakes as devoured by backpackers? Chinese pancakes filled with lotus paste? Indian dosa stuffed with spicy lentils, pickles and chutneys? Or maybe Russian blini with smoked salmon or even caviar is more your thing?

However you do pancakes in your house, we want you to share your recipes in this month’s Family Foodies. And, as ever, the more family-friendly they are the better. Link up your entries by Saturday 28 February 2015. I’m preparing to salivate!

Family Foodies entry guidelines

  • You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, although there is a limit of three entries per blogger. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at bangermashchat-at-gmail-dot-com, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Saturday 28 February 2015.
  • Display the Family Foodies badge (below) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
  • If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChat and Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
  • You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, but prizes can only be posted to UK addresses.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
  • All entries will be added to the Family Foodies Pinterest Group Board.



February’s entries

  1. Crepe Cake from Caroline Makes
  2. ‘Findus’ Style Ham & Cheese Crispy Pancakes from Caroline Makes
  3. Vanilla Buttermilk Pancakes with Berries & Freshly Made Chocolate Sauce from the Gluten Free Alchemist
  4. Chocolate Pancakes with Berries & Rose-scented Yoghurt from Bangers & Mash
  5. Savoury Kale & Mushroom Pancakes from Eat Your Veg
  6. Spiced Kefir Pancakes with Manuka Honey and Crème Fraîche Chocolate Sauce from Chocolate Log Blog
  7. Little Green Kale Fritters from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  8. Banana Oat Pancakes from Green Gourmet Giraffe
  9. Chocolate Pancakes with Berries and Chocolate Sauce from Green Gourmet Giraffe
  10. Almond-Spelt Pancakes from The Lass in the Apron
  11. Orange Pancakes with Turmeric from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous
  12. Crepes with Ham, Baked Leeks and Tallegio from Foodie Quine
  13. Grandma Monearn’s Pancakes from Foodie Quine
  14. Grain-free Almond Pancakes from Elizabeth’s Kitchen

The festive Family Foodies round-up

It might seem strange bringing you a round-up of festive foods at this time of year, but it just wouldn’t be right to wait until next December. So you’ll simply need to bookmark this post for when you start planning your party foods for the next festive season. Although saying that, I think you’ll find there are plenty of tempting treats in this Family Foodies round-up you’ll be keen to try out whatever the time of year. Continue reading “The festive Family Foodies round-up”

Swiss roll ice cream cake


This is going to sound nutty but I’ve started watching cookery shows at six in the morning. I’m on a desperate get-healthy-lose-weight kick and so, as well as going back on the 5:2 diet, I’ve also started getting up half an hour earlier than I need to in order to fit in some exercise time. And I’ve found one of the best ways of taking my mind off all the stomach crunches and tricep dips is to watch celebrity chefs on the Food Network at the same time. I know. It’s not normal behaviour, is it?

The other morning I found myself drooling while I worked out as Lorraine Pascale made her Swiss Roll Bowl Cake. It looked so insanely easy and yet such a work of genius at the same time, I decided there and then I had to make it. My kids would love it, and I only need have the tiniest sliver. What’s more it’s frozen, so it’ll be around for a while. Plenty of time to have a few tiny slivers. On non 5:2 fast days, of course. Continue reading “Swiss roll ice cream cake”

Festive family foodies

festive family foodies

There’s nothing quite like a big family feast or party to mark the season’s festivities. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Eid, Diwali or Hanukkah, food’s at the heart of it all.

Whatever you’re celebrating, this month on the Family Foodies challenge we want to hear about your favourite family foods and drinks that are guaranteed to get your party started. Continue reading “Festive family foodies”

Cool recipes to cook with kids: the Family Foodies round-up

cool recipes to cook with kids

Last month on Family Foodies we invited food bloggers to share their ideas for fun, tasty recipes to cook with kids and you rose to the challenge brilliantly. If you’re looking for new ways to encourage your children to get active in the kitchen, this recipe round-up is just what you need… Continue reading “Cool recipes to cook with kids: the Family Foodies round-up”