I’m going to blame you lot on Twitter for what happened to me this week.
There I was on my day off, quietly minding my own business when suddenly all I can think about is cake. Cake cake cake cake. And there it is: 80% of my timeline tweeting about the Great British Sodding Bake-Off. You’ve been quietly brainwashing me to MAKE AND EAT THE CAKE .
So off I trot to my kitchen cupboards to check I have the basics (and this cake really does only require the basics. The basics and a lemon). Luckily I have this idea that if I make a cake in less than ten minutes I can pretend it’s still paleo.
My logic is faultless; I ate four slices, I’m not one pound heavier and I fully blame Twitter.
This cake might not be pretty but it is bloody quick and very tasty. I use an approximation of Delia’s all-in-one sponge and then slap a lemon/sugar syrup on the top. It’s fluffy, it’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it’s delicious.
And when you eat four slices you too can blame Twitter.
I try to get my kids to eat as much multicultural food as possible. They both adore curries (especially poppadoms for breakfast the day after a takeaway… #supermum), we recently had a proper American feast of pulled pork and cornbread and traditional carbonara is one of their favoruites. Ditto American maple pancakes for breakfast!
Because cooking is such a love of mine I really enjoy teaching them the origins of where our food comes from and talk about how this differs from country to country – sometimes we get the atlas out and it turns into a lovely little geography lesson.
One of our favourite cuisines to delve into is Spanish. I’ve been to both Madrid and Barcelona and just love the Spanish tapas style of eating; lots of nibbly bits of cheese, meats and fried stuff with copious amounts of Estrella, natch. HEAVEN. The children have an Auntie living in Madrid and with a new cousin en España I see it as my parenting duty to eat loads of chorizo ;)
Despite staying 80% faithful to my Paleo diet (I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule) there are some exceptions I have come to accept. In my opinion the beauty of Paleo is that it can be what you make of it: I began with the very bare bones of the diet but have included a couple of food groups to fit my lifestyle. Dairy is one of these. It’s not something I eat to excess – a splash of milk in tea, some goats cheese on my salad – but eating it doesn’t effect me negatively, so why would I stop?
Yogurt is an ingredient that I use a lot more in cooking than I did before. I always buy the plain low-fat variant (as well as the fromage frais version which are always pink and Peppa Pig themed) so find it to be a great base for salad dressings, puddings, breakfasts and meal accompaniments, my favourite being raita with shedloads of garlic and cucumber. The plain yog, not the Peppa Pig one obviously. Yummo.
We have the first ever yogurt week coming up (put it in your diaries! 19-25 May!) and to celebrate all things white and creamy the people at the Yogurt Council have asked me to share one of my favourite recipes using this magic ingredient. It’s a fabulous addition to a healthy diet like Paleo: yogurt contains a range of nutrients important to a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. For further information visit loveyogurt.org and follow loveyogurtuk on Facebook and Twitter.
One of my all-time loveliest staple dishes is this Ottolenghi-inspired Aubergine and Courgette salad with Pomegranate and a yogurt dressing. It’s so easy to throw together and does me on its own for lunch, or with a protein if I’m having it for dinner (I love it with my easy lamb koftes, without the wraps these days of course. Sadface… though look! Tzatziki! More lovely yogurt!).
I love the crunch of the salad with the soft veggies, the pairing of the slightly smoky dressing and sweet pomegranate seeds and the aromatic handful of herbs on top. It’s a salad of queens, this one!
Here’s how you can use your yogurt to turn your Aubergine into something worthy of KMiddy. You can thank me later, after yogurt week:
Roast Aubergine and Courgette Salad With Pomegranate
There’s something you should know about me; in case we haven’t met before, if you haven’t read my blog or followed my Twitter/Instagram, I’m going to tell you something: I like cocktails. Perhaps more now than before I had kids because these days cocktail hour is such a very special time. It’s oh so easy to slug a bit of wine into a glass when you’re sitting down to watch Breaking Bad in the evening but the times you get to enjoy half an hour with a good dirty martini, now they are rare.
I used to be partial to a good Cosmopolitan (Sex and the City were accountable for a lot of vodka headaches during my early twenties) before I switched allegiance to the French Martini. But these days, now my tastes have matured, I love a damn good margarita. Or a dirty martini (preferably with Grey Goose, or Ciroc if they have it) with three olives. In Amsterdam the onion martini was invented – no olives left? Add pickled onions and a splash of their vinegar. No kidding, it’s delicious.
But one of my most consistently loved cocktails over the years has got to be the Espresso Martini. Discovered in the hallowed bar of Shoreditch House at the age of 23, it’s been a staple part of my drinking culture ever since. Just try not to have more than three, you WILL go a bit crazy.
I even have pictoral evidence of the first time I had one, post a Sam Sparro gig at the Bloomsbury Ballrooms when I was feeling high on life (and coffee):
With my gorgeous cousin Harriet. Hi, Harriet!!
I’ve even attempted making them at home, with varying levels of success. I’ve found the easiest and most reliable way to make a decent Espresso Martini at home is with a ‘pod’ coffee machine: it’s well worth owning one for this purpose! And today I’m here to tell you about new Nespresso Compatible pods from 100 year old Italian coffee company, Caffe Cagliari. The qualitative and sensory standards of their Espresso have been certified by the Italian Espresso National Institute (I.N.E.I), which protects and promotes Italian Espresso. So you know you’re gonna get a damn great cocktail using one of these bad boys.
I’ve taken the time to give you my recipe below… trust me when I say it’s rocket fuel.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a big handful of ice. Shake vigorously.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy.
Guess where I’m going tomorrow? Shoreditch House. Guess what I’m going to be drinking? YEP.
Go here to find out where you can buy these magical pods and start enjoying Espresso Martinis of your own!
This was a post in partnership with Caffe Cagliari. I promise to spend my entire fee on Espresso Martinis. For more information on my disclosure policy please go here.
Before I talk about my pancakes today I’m going to beg you for something: nominations have just opened for the MAD awards and you know what? This year I would LOVE to attend the fancy pants dinner in London as a – *crosses fingers* – nominee. And not just because the wine is free. If you like reading my blog I would implore you to take a wander over here to nominate and I’d like to suggest the Most Entertaining Blog category or maybe Best Blog Writer? It’s a good thing I have a big ego. THANK YOU, and now back to our usual programming…
Things are still looking pretty Paleo around here. When we were all ill a couple of weeks I let a bit of bread creep back into the diet – tummy bugs want nothing more than marmite on toast, am I right? – but now that’s over the 80/20 rule is back in play. It was amazing to see how rubbish I felt after re-introducing a bit of wheat and I’m still a bit in awe of how this diet has changed me completely beyond expectations; I started eating this way hoping so much fresh fruit and veg would give me a bit of a kick in the morning while Elfie was waking so early – mission accomplished! – but it’s also given me skin that’s clearer than I’ve ever had, a flat tummy and a real sense of well-being. I haven’t felt this healthy in as long as I can remember and have a total sense of contentment. Thanks, fruit and veg!
Like I’ve said before, my diet and gym-going hasn’t been about losing weight. It’s about re-gaining control of my body, feeling happy with who I am and knowing I’m doing everything I can to be in the best shape I can be in, for me and for the children. Looking back over the last four years it’s actually quite surprising to realise my body has not been my own for a while. It’s performed the miracle of growing and nurturing two little lives, but it’s time to re-discover how to take care of my body and use it to its full potential. I’m all about the self-love these days (not in that way, you perv) and I’m really committed to looking after myself as much as I can, Gwyneth-style.
But sometimes when I’m trying to come up with things to eat – especially at breakfast time – I can get stuck. Which is why these Paleo Pancakes are a total lifesaver. They’re my go-to thing to eat if I’m not chugging on a green juice and are really delicious with berries. They even masquerade pretty well as a pudding, and you can add a sprinkling of cinnamon or a drop of vanilla to make things a bit more interesting.
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One of the best things about my new house is that my new local supermarket is Waitrose. Now, Waitrose is my happy place; brilliant customer service, top-notch cakes in the cafe and it’s full of middle-class people who say sorry when they nearly bump you with your trolley. Also, if you have a Waitrose card you get one cup of tea or coffee a day. I tell you, if you haven’t mooched round Waitrose (childless, obviously) with your free tea or coffee you haven’t lived. Honest. One of the things I like about the mighty Waitrose is their booze selection. They have loads of it but not just your standard drinks. I could stand there for hours gazing at the array of spirits… but I don’t. Not every day, anyway. Last time I was there I picked up a bottle of Bombay Sapphire (it’s my everyday favourite gin: not wildly expensive but premium enough to be delicious). And because it’s Christmase – we all know everyone likes a tot of gin at Christmas (or Easter, Diwali, Hannukah, or any day with ‘day’ in it, actually) – I thought I’d share with you my favourite gin drinks.
Welcome to the 12 Days of Ginmas!!
A few rules I have with my gin drinking, before we get started: as I’ve said, the gin is Bombay Sapphire but for tonic water-based drinks it HAS to be Fever Tree. There’s no beating it in my opinion. Also, I use 50ml servings because I cant taste it enough if it’s only 25ml. Ahem. But in the interests of moderate drinking I’ve used 25ml measures below. 1. Gin & Cucumber
My favourite way to drink gin. Terribly refreshing in the summer, drank while you’re sitting by a river lazily watching the world go round.
25ml (or more, no judgement) gin
Small chunk of cucumber, chopped
Chop your cucumber and add to the glass: if you like the taste (I do) you can muddle it a little with a spoon.
Add a couple of cubes of ice, pour gin and tonic over.
Stir and serve.
2. Blood Orange & Pear Gin Cocktail
I love how the blood orange in this makes the cocktail seem ever so Christmassy.
Good slug (approx 50ml) of blood orange juice
Good slug of pear juice
Good slug of soda water
Pour gin into glass over a handful of ice.
Add juices and soda water to finish. Serve.
3. Gin & Tonic with lime
The classic. Easy, peasy, yummy.
Half a lime
Chop your half a lime in half again, squeeze one quarter into the glass and use the spent lime to wipe the rim of the glass.
Discard and add other quarter to glass with a handful of ice.
Pour gin and tonic over and serve. YUM!
4. Gin 75
Surely the most sophisticated gin cocktail out there. Every time I drink this at home out of a boring old champagne flute I think I need to get myself some proper saucer champagne glasses. Santa?
Juice of half a lemon
15ml sugar syrup
40ml champagne (or prosecco)
Pour gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup into a shaker.
Add ice cubes and shake.
Strain into a glass and top with champagne.
Add a twist of lemon and serve.
5. The Negroni
I LOVE ordering a Negroni. It makes me feel like I’m in the 1920′s.
A Negroni is equal parts Campari, gin, sweet vermouth on the rocks with fresh orange. I could talk about it for ever here, but Buzzfeed do it better.
6. Apple, Pear & Gin
If you have loads of time you could make your own but I just buy Copella juices. These are on special offer in Waitrose at the moment…
50ml apple juice
50ml pear juice
Squeeze lemon juice
Sprig of rosemary to garnish
Add juices, honey, gin and ice to a shaker.
Shake and pour over ice.
Add a sprig of rosemary to garnish.
7. Gin on the rocks with a twist
For the most hardened gin drinker, just serve 50ml gin over ice with a twist of lemon or lime. Yum.
8. Gin & Ginger
Wintery and warming.
Juice of quarter of a lime
Ginger beer (again, I love Fever Tree)
Pour gin over ice and add lime juice.
Pour ginger beer over.
Garnish with lime wedge and serve.
9. Gin & Thyme
I love Thyme in the winter. With chicken, with roast potatoes and now with gin.
Splash triple sec
Juice of half a lime
3-4 thyme sprigs
Add gin, sugar syrup, triple sec, thyme and lime juice to a shaker.
Shake and strain over ice.
Top with tonic water.
10. Cucumber, Celery & Gin sorbet
OK, so not a cocktail, but still pretty epic, right? You can find this recipe over at Martha Stewart (I love you Martha).
11. The Southside
Possibly the most refreshing cocktail you will ever drink.
Juice of a quarter of a lemon
Sprig of mint
Dash of sugar syrup
Add gin, lemon juice, syrup and mint to a shaker.
Shake vigorously with ice then strain over a glass.
Top up with soda water to taste and garnish with more mint.
12. Gin & Elderflower
Are there many things more British than good old Elderflower drinks? I use Elderflower pressé for this (Belvoir, because I am fancy) but you could also use cordial and soda water.
Pour gin over ice and add Elderflower pressé. Serve.