Full disclaimer; my pal wrote this book. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great though. It is. READ MORE
Full disclaimer; my pal wrote this book. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great though. It is. READ MORE
What a year! What a glorious year. My third baby born, my first book also ‘born’ (ahem), I’ve become one of the Huffington Post’s recipe writers, am proud to be one of Scoff’s recipe presenters and this here blog is going to be 5 years old in 2015. I might even hold it a birthday party.
That’s quite enough showing off for one blog post (no-one likes a show off do they?) Instead, here are your top 10 blog posts of 2015:
1) A very humble ginger cake that I made with the folks at Scoff. You just mix it up (not even with a mixer… just a spoon will do), bung it in the oven and top with a little icing sugar. Easy as.
2) Spiced apple cupcakes with gingerbread buttercream. Another no mixer cake recipe. I am completely and utterly with you on this one – easy wins every time.
3) Psychedelic school fair rocky road. Best to make this in gargantuan quantities and then remove from the house asap.
4) Flourless chocolate cake. Now if you want this gluten free then be sure to source GF chocolate. Not all chocolate is created equally.
5) Cut out vanilla biscuits. The best biscuit dough ever for making cute cut out shapes. Ice or don’t ice.
6) Carrot, courgette and cheese mini pancakes. Mini pancakes or fritters? Whatever you call them, they’re delicious. My sons love them, my Dad loves them. I love them. Canapés that work as weaning fodder get a big tick from me.
8) Easy chocolate cupcakes. Another easy recipe with no mixer required. These are way too easy to whip up. Pass the chocolate ganache icing will you?
10) Lemon drizzle loaf. Classic, simple. Yes please.
What does 2015 hold? Well there will be very few giveaways I’m afraid. They take me way too long to set up and with three boys and loads of other bits and bobs of work I just can’t spare the time. I’ll be trying to shoot some videos (which will likely be dreadful at first so bear with me please) instead and will continue with the weekly recipes I so love to blog. Probably included will be a fair few weaning and finger food recipes, for that is what life is about at the moment. Little Lawrence may even make a guest appearance in some of the recipes.
I wish you all a healthy and happy 2015!
I was very close to my grandmother, named Momma (pronounced ‘Mom-mar’) by my toddler self. She was about 5 foot nothing, obsessed with her ‘bloody hair’ as she called it and loved nothing more than taking me for an underage afternoon glass of wine at the only French bistro in Leicester. She was a thoroughly bad influence and I adored her for it. She loved food but hated cooking, and saw it as unnecessary drudgery. Imagine my surprise after she died to find a well-worn recipe book in her house with this handwritten into it. Not once did she make these for me and yet they are wonderful! Here’s the recipe translated into metric.
NB: This is a recipe taken from my book Recipes from a Normal Mum. It’s out now… on Amazon, with The Book People, at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose (where it’s book of the month) and many smaller outlets.
Cornish ginger fairings
Makes about 15
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 and line 2 baking trays with non-stick greaseproof paper. Melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat until dissolved. Add the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda and give it a good mix with a wooden spoon. Leave the mixture to cool for a few minutes as you will need to be able to handle it.
Using your hands, form handfuls of the warm mixture into balls about 4cm across; you should make about 15. Place them on the lined trays, making sure that there’s plenty of space for them to spread in the oven. I leave a 5cm gap between each.
Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until the dough has spread into cracked looking biscuits. If you like your biscuits with a bit of ‘chew’ (more cookie-like) then take them out when only the sides are brown. If you like them crunchy then let the whole biscuit get a suntan. Let them cool on the baking tray for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Photography copyright David Loftus
My publisher has given the okay to blog another recipe from my book, Recipes from a Normal Mum. With 100 recipes to choose from it wasn’t an easy decision. I wanted something sweet as I know readers of the blog are partial to the odd sweet treat. After a little ask about on Facebook I had the answer.
These florentines are delicious and really very easy. The crunch and all important brushing of chocolate make them a big hit amongst the smaller people in our family. Add to this already heady combination some marshmallows and sultanas and this could well be treat heaven. Obviously exercise caution should any of your children’s friends have a nut allergy.
P.S. If you like this recipe you can order the book for delivery to your door by clicking here.
Three years ago: Teacher’s pet chocolate and hazelnut oaty biscuits and Spelt loaf
Four years ago: Restorative chicken and leek risotto
Rocky road florentines
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 and line 2 baking trays with non-stick greaseproof paper. Heat the honey and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture is molten and the sugar has nearly completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and almonds using a wooden spoon. Leave to cool for 2–3 minutes and then place heaped tablespoons onto the baking sheets about 3cm apart, this will allow for a little spreading. Do not use your fingers to get the mixture off the spoon as it will be extremely hot. As you go squash them down a little with the back of a spoon, you do not want heaped mounds. Bake for 10 minutes until they are lovely and golden and have spread. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking trays.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until it has completely melted. Spoon a couple of teaspoons of chocolate onto the top of each Florentine and press a few cherries, marshmallows, biscuit pieces and sultanas into the chocolate. Repeat for each Florentine and if there’s any chocolate left over, drizzle it over the top of the Florentines in a zigzag pattern. Leave the chocolate to set for 2 hours.
Image copyright David Loftus.
Hands up – this is a giveaway only open to those who have already bought my book. It’s a thank you. If you wish to take part then you’ll need to buy the book – it’s currently available from Sainsbury’s, Waterstones, Amazon, Waitrose (from August) and of course lots of lovely smaller independent book shops. (You can click on the words Waterstones and Amazon to buy.)
Here’s how this giveaway works. I have SEVEN recipe books, all brand spanking new for one lucky person to win. The combined RRP of the prize is just under £125! Here’s a picture of the books:
There’s Cake in Bloom by Peggy Porschen, The Natural Cook by Tom Hunt, 50 Lolly Recipes by Nadia Roden, Pasta by Antonio Carluccio, East Instanbul by Andy Harris, The Herb and Flower Cookbook by Pip McCormac and Eat Right for your Body Type by Anjum Anand. So what do you have to do? It’s SO easy:
1) Make any recipe from my book, Recipes from a Normal Mum.
2) Take a photo of the recipe you made with the book clearly visible in the photo.
3) Either upload the picture to my Facebook page or Tweet the picture to me – whichever method you use you need to write ‘Here’s my entry for the cookbook giveaway using Holly Bell’s book: http://amzn.to/1g31Xo9‘
You must include the Amazon link to the book in your entry otherwise it won’t be counted. And if you make more than one recipe then you can enter again… in fact you could enter 100 times using every recipe in the book if you wish. What you can’t do is enter the same recipe more than once.
I will pick a winner at random on 14th August using a random number generator from the web. So it doesn’t matter if the kids get involved and your dish doesn’t look picture perfect. This isn’t about that – it’s about making something, anything from the book. (And if you’ve already made something and sent the pic to me just re-post it with the wording above.)
So, not sure if I’ve banged on about it enough yet (!) but I have a proper recipe book coming out this month. 17th July to be precise, that’s this Thursday. I am very, very excited and feeling rather nervous too. To read all about it take a look here and also here for details of how many recipes are vegetarian friendly. Here’s the cover:
I have had a lot of contact from other bloggers and keen cooks asking how I went about getting my book published. I thought the best thing to do was tell you a little about the process that led to Recipes from a Normal Mum being published in the hope it may help someone else.
1) Get yourself an agent
The first thing you need is an agent. They are basically the facilitator between you and the publishers who actually commission the book. You agent is a combination of your friend and the hardest task master teacher you ever had at school. They should make you push yourself to the limit of your best ability.
Now it’s not always easy to get an agent to take you on. I was lucky in that I had been on the Bake Off and had also had success with self publishing my ebook. So the proof was already there for an agent to see. You can find a list of agencies who represent authors through the Writers and Artists Yearbook. Just to let you in on a secret of how long I’ve wanted to be a writer, I first bought this book in 1996. Yep, writing has been a lifelong obsession of mine.
Oh and by the way, just to confuse things, some agents only represent for literary work and others for any commercial work such as TV, radio, appearances etc. I am greedy and have a literary one and a non literary one. You need to like and respect your agent. Kind of goes without saying but if you don’t get it’s akin to having both a boss and colleagues you dislike. And unhappy people don’t tend to create the best work.
2) What if I can’t get an agent?
Well, it’s a tough world out there in agent and literary land. Some great writers struggle for years to get an agent to take them on. You can approach some publishers without an agent but the really great ones don’t tend to take submissions directly from authors. An agent tends to take about 15% of any money paid to the author for a book, but given there are no guarantees in getting work some agents work for years for no gain.
If you’re struggling to get an agent to take you on I would ask yourself a few questions – firstly do you feel your work is definitely commercially viable, as in, will it sell? You could be an amazing writer, but if your subject matter is too niche (100 prune recipes anyone?) an agent might be reluctant to take you on given you may not get a book deal, or even if you do, you may not sell many copies. Secondly – if you definitely feel there is a market for your work, push yourself to test the water. Think about self publishing a shorter story or smaller amount of recipes than the full book you have in mind and pop it on Amazon. See how it does. Get yourself a Twitter account, make a Facebook page and have a go at promoting your work. I honestly don’t think I’d have got a book deal without this blog and the ebook I self published and promoted through social media. Sometimes you just need to show people the proof.
3) Write a proposal
My literary agent must have been a dominatrix in a previous life. She’s such a hard task master. So it went a little something like this – she gave me a brief of what I needed to write into a book proposal. A bit of blurb about why the book was a good idea, who the target market might be, a bit about me and my background and then a chapter by chapter synopsis with 5 or so recipes fully finished and tested as a taster. Easy I thought.
So I diligently beavered away over about a week and sent her my little essay of a proposal. The email I got back was pretty blunt; she said I was on the right lines but a long way off. I think I re-wrote that proposal about 7 times over the next 4 months. Yes – it was a lot of work, and I admit to wanting to give up at times. But she was right, you really need to get the proposal spot on as you only get one chance of making a first impression. I feel like I lost a little bit of myself to that proposal, it was such a hard slog, but ultimately it worked.
4) Your agent sends the proposal out to publishers
This is the waiting game. Your agent sends out the proposal and makes a few phone calls to her publisher pal contacts, and then? Nothing. You sit about and wait whilst your proposal mostly languishes in some very important people’s inboxes. You call your agent every day, irritating the hell out of him/her. You start to consider self publishing again. You give yourself a stern talking to. You calm down. You decide that maybe book writing isn’t your path. Maybe you’re destined for other things?
Then you have 3 missed calls and an email saying ‘CALL ME IMMEDIATELY’ from your agent and you sit down, take a big gulp and make a phone call that changes your working life forever. What I am trying to say is that publishing does not work like a lot of industries. I worked in advertising where decisions regarding million pound campaigns were made over a couple of days. Publishing seems to be more considered shall we say. Unless you’re very famous like Jamie or Nigella in which case I am sure your proposals get snapped up in seconds. For the rest of us, it can be a bit of a waiting game.
5) You get a book deal!
So you have your book deal. It’s done! Or so you thought. Actually the contract needs to be ironed out, the money negotiated and lots of little things agreed. Will hair and make up be included in the costs covered by the publisher? Will they insist on a food stylist or will you cook and style the food yourself? How many photographs will be included? Will they all be colour? How many recipes will the book include? How many chapters? How many pages will the book be? When will it be published? Will the photos be shot on location or in a studio? All this needs to be agreed in writing before you get any money.
The first 3rd of your advance comes when you sign the contract, another 3rd when you send in the manuscript and the last 3rd when the book is published. For what it’s worth I was obsessed with every recipe having a colour photo and that the style of the book was real – in that I didn’t want the photos to look like something only a chef could achieve. (Anything else was negotiable for me including the cover which you’ll notice does not have my mug on the front – quite unusual for anyone who’s done the Great British Bake Off/Mastershef rounds.) So I made every recipe for the book in my domestic oven and everything was shot here at my house, with no food stylist or home economist to help. I even did all the washing up. We were blessed with lovely weather which is why the pictures may look more South of France than South Leicester.
6) You agree a photographer and a brief
Okay, so we’re all happy and everyone’s pleased to be working on the book. Next everyone needs to agree about a style of photography and art direction. The head Art Director and her/his team put together a brief and a mood board of images and make sure the author is happy with them. Then they get in lots of photographers books to decide who might be right for the job.
I was VERY lucky that David Loftus (him of best pals with Jamie Oliver and Pippa Middleton fame) agreed to take the photos for my book. I was a *little* nervous when he turned up to our semi for the first day of the shoot. David is photography royalty and I am a housewife from Leicester. My anxiety levels were pretty high. Here’s David looking dapper with Pippa:
7) You deliver the manuscript
Okay I may have got a bit ahead of myself… whilst the photographer is being searched for you have to actually write the book. You will be given a deadline and you must adhere to it. This is a deadline for final recipes and any extra writing describing the chapters and recipes – it must all be written perfectly. Ie/ the recipes have to work.
The recipes comes from a variety of places; some are memories of food eaten as a child, some inspired by amazing food eaten in restaurants or cooked by friends. Some ideas come from little comments I hear from adults and children alike. For example, the chocolate gingerbread barn birthday ‘cake’ idea came to me after hearing more than one parent complain their child didn’t enjoy their own birthday cake. The sad truth being that some (especially young) children don’t like cake that much – yet! I wanted to create a birthday centrepiece that they might enjoy that also looked visually appealing. A flat cookie just doesn’t stand up against a big chocolate birthday cake in my book – but a gingerbread barn complete with piggies, well, I think that’s a close contender.
I toiled pretty much night and day to make sure every recipe worked; it was a real labour of love. The relief when I pressed send on the manuscript was immense. To write a recipe book (and I imagine any book) you need to be tireless in striving for perfection. You’re pretty much working alone, there’s no one to jolly you along when a recipe goes wrong 8 times in a row. If you’re not good at being alone don’t write a recipe book.
8) Your editor edits
Every author has an editor who work for the publisher. They basically correct all your mistakes and make your writing the very best it can be. They read through any blurb you have written about a recipe and make sure it’s not too verbose, is accurate and doesn’t say anything that might make you end up in court! (They even make you get written permission from anyone you mention in the book or whose recipes you use.) They also spell and grammar check everything.
As for the recipes – well they don’t make them all, but there are special editors who deal with recipe books who can spot when there’s an egg missing or if an oven temperature looks wrong. But really, it’s up to you as the author. BIG names have recipe testers who will go through every recipe and correct it for them – some BIG names don’t even write the recipes themselves, they just give them their stamp of approval. People like me have to test recipes themself. That’s a huge responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. (I say that in my best and most serious school mistress voice.)
9) The photos get shot
The manuscript has been handed in, edited, corrected, primped and preened to within an inch of its life. The photographer has been booked. Next we need a shot list. Now my book was shot over 3 days at my home in Leicester with just me doing all the food buying, cooking and cleaning up. So yes, that’s about 33 recipes per day! And I have one oven and a small kitchen with 2 metres of clear work space.
How did I do it? By being unashamedly organised in a girlie swot style. It helped that the shoot days were staggered so I could spend 2 days prepping before each shoot. I was also obsessive about how I split the shot list. So at least half of each day was filled with shots of pre-baked recipes. It was still incredibly hard work. My back and legs paid for each day for up to a week afterwards. Wine may have been employed as a reward at the end of each shoot day.
As for David Loftus – he’s an incredibly nice man who works very hard, harder than most people do when they first enter a profession, let alone when they’re at the top of their game. I think the secret of his success is the combination of natural talent and the work ethic of an ox. He’s also quick. We had lots of props delivered for each shoot which were then laid out by the Art Director from the publisher. David would come along, move a few things about, point his camera and shoot. No lighting, no tripod, just a man and a (very expensive) camera. It was a joy to watch. It wasn’t such a joy when he then sat and waited for the next dish as I ran about like a headless chicken. He even found the time to take a few pics on his iPhone, yes his iPhone – using the Hipstamatic with his Loftus Lens. Here are some grapes from my garden. They were sour but look gorgeous, no?
And an apple from next doors tree that dropped on David’s head:
Oh and a quick shot of my Man Quiche from the book – a kind of meaty, manly mushroom quiche with no meat in it at all:
Just when you think it’s over you have to shoot the mug shots for the back of the book and for publicity. So a lovely hair and make up artist called Katy Short was called in (who happens to be the sister of one of my old colleagues) and frankly, she did something magical that may well be witchcraft. She worked all morning to make me look like this:
Amazing. She even got a shot of the complete and utter carnage that was my dining room. I have no idea who brought the fruit shoot along – possibly not David’s tipple of choice!
The photo shows the coffee and walnut cake being finished off as well as the mix it up muffins patiently waiting for their moment of glory.
(NB: All photos, apart from behind the scenes one, copyright David Loftus.)
10) You go on a diet
There’s a lot of spare food hanging about after a shoot. We gave a lot away, we froze as much as we could and we also ate a lot. I think the recipe development and shoot days resulted in 3/4 stone of extra weight for me – I’ve never been good at throwing food away. I never did quite get rid of the weight before getting pregnant in September. My third son was born mid June and I am ashamed to say I weighed myself 5 days after the birth to find I have 4.5 stone to lose. So I will be eating like a chic Parisian for the rest of the summer and hopefully my jeans will fit again by Christmas.
10) You correct the layouts
There’s more waiting and it feels like nothing is happening, but actually it is. Everyone is beavering away back at the publishing house. Then one day a huge envelope arrives for you with what I think are called ‘spreads’ – basically layouts of all the pages with the pics – a kind of huge floppy magazine style version of the book. You make a very large cup of tea and take a red pen and start to mark up any corrections you have. This is as close to being a teacher as I am likely to get and I found it very hard work. This is your last chance to get it right before it goes to print. Altogether now… silent scream!
11) You tell the world
After months of keeping your book secret you get to shout about it. So shout about it I did. I remember posting it on facebook and worrying maybe 3 people might like the news and I’d feel like a prize fool for thinking anyone might be interested in a book written by me. But they did like the news. People seemed very happy for me and it made me cry. It also went to number 1 in the Amazon charts by that weekend. That made me cry too. (Pregnant hormones have a lot to answer for.)
12) A copy arrives in the post and you cry
13) You cross your fingers very very tight and hope and pray
It’s all very well and good getting likes on facebook and retweets on Twitter but if no one buys the book then really, all this work will have been for nothing. So I have been making pacts with myself. If the book does well I’ll never shout again/always be kind to strangers/give way to any car who looks in a rush/only eat sitting down at a table/be a better wife and listen to my husband’s day properly.
So how long did all this take? About 18 months from proposal to publication. A true labour of love.
I really hope you enjoy the book. If you do buy it and you do like it please do leave a review on Amazon by clicking here. It would mean the world to me and it would help someone else decide if they fancy buying it too. Thank you.
This whole book malarkey has crept up on me. It seems like forever that I’ve been explaining that the book isn’t out just yet, but soon, honestly soon. And then here I am preparing for the book being out very soon indeed – next week in fact. (The 17th to be precise.) Huge thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered (I’m hoping it’s not just my Dad?) and if you want to try before you buy here’s a recipe from the book just for you. It’s from the ‘Presents’ chapter – lots of recipes for giving to those you love. Or keeping for yourself.
If you want to read about the book and find out what’s in it have a click here. If you are veggie (or thinking of buying for a veggie) and want to know if the book is suitable have a click here. (It is.) Or if you’re a gung ho type of a person and just fancy ordering it then click here. Oh and if you want to see me in all my post natal glory then tune into Loose Women on Wednesday 9th at 12.30pm on ITV.
Three years ago: Teacher’s pet chocolate and hazelnut oaty biscuits and Spelt loaf
Four years ago: Restorative chicken and leek risotto
Lemon button biscuits
Line 3 baking sheets with non-stick greaseproof paper. Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and creamy using an electric mixer or wooden spoon. Adding a little at a time, gently beat in the flour until well combined. Mix in the egg to bind the mixture. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1½ hours.
Roll the shortbread out on a lightly floured surface until about 3/4cm thick using a floured rolling pin. Using a 7cm-wide circular cookie cutter, cut circles from the dough. Place the circles on the lined baking sheets about 2cm apart.
Then find something that is just smaller than the cutter that you used – either a smaller cutter or a glass that is at least 6cm-wide – and lightly press down on the centre of each button to make an indent, to represent the inner circle of the button. Do not press hard enough to cut through the dough. Use a skewer or the end of a straw to make 4 little holes in the middle of each biscuit in a grid fashion and then chill on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 6. Bake the biscuits for 10–12 minutes in the middle of the oven until just starting to brown at the edges. Remove the buttons from the trays and leave to cool on a wire rack. Place a few in a gift bag and tie with a pretty ribbon, or thread some thin ribbon through the holes if you’re feeling extra genteel.
Photography copyright David Loftus.
In case I haven’t bleated on enough, I have a book coming out in July – 17th July to be precise. To say I am excited is the understatement of the century. I am nervous, excited, worried, having sleepless nights… you name it, I am feeling it. It feels very exposing. Does that make sense? You see I am so used to immediate feedback on facebook, twitter and instagram (and pinterest when I can remember to post) that waiting for an anonymous Amazon review is frightening.
On facebook and the like folk have to be slightly accountable for their opinions – they’re usually showing their face and definitely showing their name. Amazon is quite obviously different. Anyway. I’m scared. Reassuringly I am told (by proper authors who know this kind of thing) that this is entirely normal.
On to the point of this blog post (not a therapy session – as much as it seems like one at the moment); a lady on facebook asked me how veggie friendly my book will be and I thought, what a great question. Instead of buying the book and being disappointed she’s asked before she votes with her purse. So here’s a bit of a low down on what’s veggie friendly in the book.
First off, the idea behind the book is very similar to the ethos of the blog – lots of recipes that don’t cost the earth, take too long or involve having to hunt for specialist ingredients. Food from a ‘normal’ mum with a normal budget and normal amounts of time and energy. If you want to find out more about each chapter in a general way then take a look here. Otherwise here’s a round up of the veggie friendly recipes:
1) The more the merrier – feeding a crowd, but not in the dinner party sense. Veggie friendly recipes include Mysteriously meaty veggie chickpea burgers (not mysterious in a ‘surprise! we contain liver way…), French bread monster toastie, Caponata tart, Banoffee hazelnut cookie crumble, Chocolate orange trifle, Ginger, mango, pear and papaya ripple no churn ice cream and Chocolate chip lime meringue pie.
2) Feeding Goldilocks and baby bear too – a chapter for when the kids are eating separately, which on week nights happens a lot in our house. Veggie friendly recipes include a very quick McCauliflower macaroni cheese, Snakes and ladders toast, easy no fry chips, Rice with peas, broad beans and bacon (but you can totally leave the bacon out), Nanny’s Yorkshire all-sorts, DIY fruit (dip it yourself), Mini mash ups , Cowboys and girls fastest pudding in the west, Whizz bang chocolate banana steamed pudding and Spotty dog pancakes.
3) Dinner for two in a flash – chapter 2 kind of explains this one. I often eat later on week nights with my husband so need recipes that are quick, easy and filling. Veggie friendly recipes include Garlic mushroom crackle pie, TV dinner miso chicken ramen (where the chicken can happily be left out) and an easy, meal in a bowl soup featuring butternut squash and butterbeans – just leave out the chorizo.
4) Food for the Great British outdoors – This is picnic food, barbecue fodder and stuff that just tastes better outside. Veggie friendly recipes include Soothing rosemary and walnut pockets filled with cheese, Backyard chargrilled carrot salad, Tortilla traybake (if you leave out the meat which you so easily can), Pimms and lemonade cheesecake, Summer’s eve elderflower and gooseberry frangipane tart, Mark’s moreish roasted vegetable, lentil and halloumi salad (leaving out the bacon bits), Goat’s cheese, mint and broad bean pate on chilli toasts, Burger relish style coleslaw, Orzo and minted pea pasta salad, Holiday hammock pecan and date loaf and Turkish delight friendship cake.
5) Switching to baking mode – well, come on, I couldn’t write a recipe book without a whole chapter dedicated to baking could I? Veggie friendly recipes include Peasant’s pretzel brownies, St. Clements breakfast swirls, Toe-warming whisky sour treacle tart, Falafel ‘sausage’ rolls (with not a meat product to be seen), Seeded granary rolls, My best high hat scones, Hex family stollen, Thomas’ syrupy vanilla muffins, Stilton and walnut bread rolls, My Mum’s classic 1970’s coffee and walnut cake, Orange, fig and sultana flapjacks, Leicestershire stilton, caramelised onion and potato pie (yes this is a Bake Off recipe – well Paul Hollywood actually gave me some praise for this, so I had to include it), Man quiche, Ribena love cupcakes and Momma’s Cornish ginger fairings.
6) Recipes for chefs in the making – This chapter holds hands with chapter 2 – so lots of sweet and savoury easy for kids recipes. Veggie friendly recipes include Banish the breadsticks grissini, Mix it up breakfast muffins, Blue Peter badge winning tiffin, Sandwich bake (leave out the ham), Mexicana bubblegum bread, Baa Baa’s British veggie paella, Popcorn and white chocolate all American chewy cookies, Scrunch-it-up apricot and pistachio stuffing balls, Cut-out sandwiches, ‘Easy as’ cheese biscuits and Peach and pecan vegan smoothie muffins.
7) Children’s party food, because you’re only old once – a chapter of recipes meant for children’s parties, but frankly I’d serve them any day of the week to kids and adults alike. Veggie friendly recipes include Rocky road Florentines, Cheese and onion straws, Over the rainbow meringues, Squidgy spiders web cakes, Sticky little fingers chocolate bar cake, Pizza, Chocolate orange rice crispy cakes, Cupcake decorating, Strawberry milkshake honey butterflies, ’99 ice cream cakes with buried treasure and Chocolate gingerbread barn with pigs in the mud.
8) Presents from the heart – a whole chapter dedicated to bits and bobs you can easily make and bestow to those you love. Veggie friendly recipes include Lemon button biscuits, Chocolate, rum and raisin fudge, Bell blend garam masala, Raspberry vinegar marinated olives, Lady Grey’s Gin, Double quick strawberry and rose jam, Dukkah, Warm your cockles ginger vodka and Christmas red cup gingerbread biscotti.
So out of 100 recipes a whopping 77 recipes are either vegetarian or are adaptable to be veggie. I hope that helps with any decisions to click on the ‘buy’ button if you’re a non meat eater or just someone who likes to eat less meat.
If you think you’d like to pre-order it then here’s the link. I really hope you like it.
I have had to become pretty good at keeping secrets of late. It was about this time last year I received an email that changed just about everything. It simply said ‘CALL ME ASAP’ from my agent. Now she’s not the type to over excite me for no reason; she knows that rarely ends well. So I did call her and the news was that I had a book deal. Not just for baking recipes either; for a family cookbook. To say I was emotional and over excited is an understatement. There was one catch – I couldn’t tell anyone.
So here we are a year later and I am finally able to tell you about it. What a relief. I am pretty good at keeping secrets about other people, but dreadful when it comes to yours truly. So now I can tell you all about it. If you’re interested read on… (oh and here’s the cover):
The book, imaginatively named Recipes from a Normal Mum, will be published on 17th July 2014 by Quadrille, with 100 recipes all with an accompanying photograph. This is especially important as I do dislike recipe books without pictures – I like to know what the dish should look like. The photos were taken by none other than David Loftus, affectionately called Lord Loftus by his best pal Jamie Oliver (yes! Jamie!). David has taken almost all the photos for Jamie’s recipe books so it was all a bit nerve racking to say the least.
The idea behind the book is very similar to the ethos of the blog – lots of recipes that don’t cost the earth, take too long or involve having to hunt for specialist ingredients. Food from a ‘normal’ mum.
The book is split into 8 chapters:
1) The more the merrier – this chapter is all about feeding a crowd, but not in the dinner party sense. This is about communal eating with family and friends, of any age, ideas for both savoury and sweet. Recipes include Greek inspired meatballs, Tapenade black breast roast chicken, Caponata tart, Banoffee hazelnut cookie crumble and Chocolate chip lime meringue pie.
2) Feeding Goldilocks and baby bear too – a chapter for when the kids are eating separately, which on week nights happens a lot in our house (husband works pretty late). This is all about feeding the kids with the minimum of fuss, resulting in clean plates. Recipes include Mini sticky sausage kebabs, Baked treasure parcels, Whizz bang chocolate banana steamed pudding and Spotty dog pancakes.
3) Dinner for two in a flash – chapter 2 kind of explains this one. I often eat later on week nights with my husband so need recipes that are quick, easy and filling. Almost everything makes enough for 2 and can be scaled up or down. Recipes include Garlic mushroom crackle pie, Creamily quick crab linguine, Virtuous soy and ginger salmon and ‘Bring out your leftovers’ baked chicken enchiladas. Here’s a shot of the lemony salmon pasta with peas from this chapter:
4) Food for the Great British outdoors – I know our weather here in the UK is dreadful but doesn’t everything taste better eaten outside? This is picnic food, barbecue fodder and stuff that just tastes better outside. Recipes include Soothing rosemary and walnut pockets filled with cheese, Backyard chargrilled carrot salad, Tortilla traybake, Pimms and lemonade cheesecake and Summer’s eve elderflower and gooseberry frangipane tart. Here’s the tortilla traybake:
5) Switching to baking mode – well, come on, I couldn’t write a recipe book without a whole chapter dedicated to baking could I? (And rest assured there are lots of baking recipes littered throughout the other chapters too.) Recipes include Peasant’s pretzel brownies, St. Clements breakfast swirls, Toe-warming whisky sour treacle tart, Falafel ‘sausage’ rolls, Seeded granary rolls and My best high hat scones.
6) Recipes for chefs in the making – anyone who follows this blog or knows me in any way are aware of how much I love getting my sons into the kitchen. Not just for cupcake and biscuit making (though we all love doing this) but for everyday savoury food meant to nourish. This chapter holds hands with chapter 2. Recipes include Banish the breadsticks grissini, Mix it up breakfast muffins, Blue Peter badge winning tiffin, Sandwich bake and Mexicana bubblegum bread. Here are the breakfast muffins:
7) Children’s party food, because you’re only old once – a chapter of recipes meant for children’s parties, but frankly I’d serve them any day of the week to kids and adults alike. Recipes include Rocky road Florentines, Cheese and onion straws, Over the rainbow meringues, Squidgy spiders web cakes and Sticky little fingers chocolate bar cake. There’s a strong baking bias in this chapter too.
8) Presents from the heart – I do love giving (and receiving) an edible gift so I’ve dedicated a whole chapter to bits and bobs you can easily make and bestow to those you love. Recipes include Lemon button biscuits, Chocolate, rum and raisin fudge, Bell blend garam masala, Raspberry vinegar marinated olives and Lady Grey’s Gin. Here are the lemon button biscuits in all their glory:
Many recipes also feature ideas of what to do with one off ingredients so you’re not left with a spare egg yolk. Because that can be very annoying.
If you think you’d like to pre-order it then here’s the link. I really hope you like it.
Thanks for reading and being so incredibly supportive. I can’t tell you how nervous I am about all of this.