Thursday, 29 May 2014

What the Greats Ate for Breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, kick-starting your metabolism and giving you fuel to get you through the day - at least until lunchtime. Whether it's your childhood favourites of tea and toast, cereal with yoghurt, buttered croissants or a full English, it's been proven that you'll perform much better at whatever you are doing for the morning if you break your fast soon after waking. Sometimes (usually after a skinful) it's hard to face it, especially in the very early morning, but do you think Albert Einstein would have developed the theory of relativity on an empty stomach? Or if Mother Teresa could have sustained herself on nothing as she helped the countless poor? Had Charles Darwin skipped his bacon and eggs, would we still believe the world was created in seven days? Ok, unlikely, but scientists have shown over and over again that people, particularly children, concentrate and thrive better from having eaten a good breakfast, and will go on to become more productive and healthy people.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare ate 'Sops' for breakfast

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill: Poached eggs, cold meat, toast and grapefruit

Send A Cow is a charity set up to help children in Africa get the best start to their days and who knows what could be achieved from this. Their approach is to help end poverty by promoting a powerful mix of practical farming, emotional support and a culture of sharing that is changing the future for millions of African families.

Book copy

Send A Cow Recipe Book is a wonderful collection of recipes featuring the breakfasts eaten by legendary people like William Shakespeare, the crew of Apollo 11, and Florence Nightingale. Find out what these inspirational people, and many more, living and dead, had for the most important meal of their lives.
Think what you too could achieve. And you can help, by making a small donation (which will be doubled by the government until 30th June) to ensure some of the poorest children in Africa have a better chance of achieving their potential. Some of them just need a

I, for one, will be channeling Jane Austen, pound cake, tea, toast and cocoa. Cake for breakfast, then write a novel... yes please!

jane austen
Jane Austen: Pound Cake, tea, toast and cocoa.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mexican Supper Club

A fabulous Mexican-themed evening with friends.

The evening began with some Margaritas (some effort required to open the cocktail shaker, thank goodness for knife steels) which were delicious. 1.75 parts Tequila, 1 part Cointreau and 0.75 part freshly squeezed lime juice. Shaken with ice, and as is ritual, a squeeze of lime around the rim of the glass and a salt trim to garnish. There is a great cocktail app called Cocktail Flow, which I will be using a lot more from now on. We also drank rather a lot of Sol beer...


Doritos with homemade salsa, gualamole, and hummus (not homemade).

Salsa recipe: this is a recipe my sister gave me years ago and I always use it - it never fails. A simple one, yes, but it works. You can make it as spicy - or not - as you wish.


4 spring onions
125 g ripe (cherry) tomatoes, chopped or diced
1 medium-hot fresh green chilli, chopped
2 tbsp tomato passata
2 garlic cloves, chopped
lemon juice, to taste
handful of chopped fresh coriander


Combine all the ingredients together.
Blitz for a smoother salsa if you wish.

Guacamole recipe: this recipe is taken from my fab'n'easy Bite-sized Mexican book. Again, always a winner.


2 large ripe avocados
3 tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
40 g spring onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp green chillies, chopped
rind of lime, to garnish


Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits (save them for later to stop the guacamole going brown - it really works!). Scoop out the flesh into a bowl or mixer and add the lime juice.
Add the garlic, spring onions and chillies and season to taste.
Blitz if you like a smooth guacamole, but mashing is just fine. Replace the pit and cover and refrigerate for about an hour before use.
Garnish with lime rind and/or paprika


Shrimps al mojo de ajo with arbol chilli sauce.

This dish was recommended by A Mexican Cook in √Čire, via Twitter, when I asked for a starter recommendation. My friend told me she doesn't usually eat prawns or any shellfish, but she ate these up with no qualms at all! The sauce is from Wahaca and is hot and smoky - two out of four of us couldn't actually eat it! (I was not one of those, obviously...)
I googled the recipe and collated the best bits to get my own version. Fresh raw prawns are best, as my non-prawn-eating friend will testify - she ate them all!


300-350 g raw King prawns
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, sliced
fresh coriander, chopped
Wahaca arbol chilli sauce


Heat the butter over a medium heat in a frying pan. Once melted, add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawns and season. Cover the pan and cook until the prawns turn pink. Stir gently and turn off the heat.
Serve the prawns, drizzled with the butter it was cooked in, and scattered with fresh coriander. Dot the chilli sauce around the edge of the plate.

Main Course:

Chicken Fajitas.
Served with homemade salsa, guacamole and soured cream.

Again, this recipe is one my sister gave me years ago. It almost never fails. This time, for some reason, it didn't LOOK right! It tasted great, but there was something about the look of it. Perhaps the margaritas were taking effect at this point of the evening... Excuse the photo (it did get wrapped in the tortillas, honest!).


400 g chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange
juice 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp sunflower oil
30 g fresh coriander, chopped
2 green peppers, sliced thinly
2 onions, sliced
8 flour tortillas
salt and pepper
fresh coriander, to garnish


In a bowl, combine the chicken strips, garlic, cumin, chilli, paprika, oregano, orange zest and juice, lemon juice, 1 tbsp oil and 3 tbsp coriander.
Mix well to coat the chicken and leave to marinade for at least 15 minutes, longer if you have time.
Fry the peppers and onions in the frying pan for 8-10 minutes, then set aside.
Stir fry the chicken in its marinade, until cooked 6-8 minutes. Mix the peppers back in, sprinkle with fresh coriander, then serve in a skillet or large bowl, with the heated tortillas, soured cream, guacamole and salsa.



My friend brought dessert. She claims to be not much of a cook/baker, but she's awesome at design! Look how beautifully she prepared it, to match, no, to out-do, the food styled trifle on the box!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

I'm A Celebrity Party for Kids

It was my boy's 9th birthday party in April and he asked for an I'm A Celebrity Jungle Party with bushtucker trials. 'But not just the eating bits.' Being ever so slightly food-related, I thought I'd share the details. Himself and I devised a schedule of games and trials to play with 14 9-year-olds. What were we thinking...
'Ann't and Dec, the hosts...

We hired a hall, decorated it jungle-stylee, with some palm tree wall hangings, green streamers and green balloons, with Home Camp (the decorated dining area) and an Away Camp (just some chairs, with some toy snakes/critters hanging around).

The 'Jungle'
As each 'celebrity' arrived, they dipped into an Aussie hat (with corks!) full of ping pong balls, and a red dot sent them to the Home Camp, a black dot to the Away Camp. This gave us two teams of seven...

First Trial: The Malteaser Straw Sucking Game

Each team lined up. A bowl of malteasers at one end. Each child had a straw. The first in line sucked the malteaser up (suck it! don't blow it!) and placed it on the plate, for the next person, and it was passed down the line like this. NO HANDS ALLOWED! (Ok maybe a few hands were allowed!!).

The team with the most malteasers in the bowl at the end won the trial, got to go to Home Camp and eat a bowl of malteasers. Clean, fresh ones, of course. Not all splidgy and salivated upon...

And everyone wins a star.

Second Trial: The Shock Box

Wearing our homemade blindfolds, the 'slebs' had to put their hands inside a box and guess the contents. The box contained feathers, newspapers and wool but that was just to scare them...
Each pair (one from each team) had to guess - both were given a chance to guess what it was, and if they were right they got a star.

Correct guesses:

Busy Bug spiders, Hex Bugs, a peeled banana, a peeled squashy orange, creme eggs cut in half, a toothbrush, and a human hand (Himself's...)

Incorrect guesses:

Ants, a tiger (A TIGER?), a snake, wool (correct but doesn't count!), worms, a toad (that was the orange!), a frog...

The winning team get a treat in Home Camp.

Busy Bug Spider

Third Trial: Blindfold Water Cups

Again, with the homemade blindfolds, and one person was chosen to 'direct'. Each team stood in a line, and put on their blindfolds. The director then got a full glass of water and an empty glass. The first person in line then had to pour the water into the empty glass held by the next person, directed by the director, who was NOT ALLOWED TO USE HIS HANDS! Just his instructions.

It wasn't a race, the team with the most water in the last cup won the Home Camp treat.

There was some spillage.
And some extra directing as the cup moved down the line!
A star for the winning team.

At this point, we interjected with some public voting (that's myself and Himself). One of the Home Camp had to move to Away Camp and vice verse. This may have been because of excessive shouting and over-enthusiasm, but that wasn't a bad thing!

Fourth Trial: Ping Pong Flick & Catch

This involved everyone having a go at flicking a ping pong ball, for their team member to catch in a cup. Each had three attempts to catch. Catching a ball earned a star. Winning team with the most stars go to Home Camp for a treat.

Fifth Trial: Critter Eating (A Proper BushTucker Trial!)

Despite the expectations of some other parents, I didn't spend hours in the kitchen! But we did have some real critters to eat. Not everyone got to eat everything, but anyone who did, got a star.

I didn't get any good pictures of the 'food' but here's what they had to eat:

CRICKETS! Yes, real ones.
Mealworms and Crickets, covered in chocolate. Again, real ones.
Sour jellies.
Chocolate covered raisins.

I did prepare some delicious 'Earthworm/Cockroach Shake' but ran out of time...
It contained apple juice, green food colouring, and melted marshmallows. With a plastic cockroach. Nice. Actually, it did taste nice...

Sixth Trial: Slimey Jelly Cockroach Bobbing

This one was the most fun! I prepared two bowls of green lime jelly, with extra green colouring, and let the cockroaches sit/float in it. I did it in layers, so they were at different depths.

Swimming goggles on, each child had a go at dunking in and getting the 'roach out with their mouth...
Nobody wanted to eat the jelly afterwards though...

A star for everyone who retrieved a cockroach. Winning team go Home.

Seventh Trial: Finding Stars Amongst the Slimey Worms

Spaghetti, oil, food colouring, rats, spiders, cockroachs, giant ants... (none real, unfortunately), and blindfolds. They had to get their hands in and feel for the stars, not knowing what else was in there. It was the FEAR! Everyone who found a star, got a ... well, a star.

A couple of trials we didn't have time for:

A race to separate the cereals into their two colours... avoiding the spiders!

Walking in a straight line, blindfolded, on bubble wrap...

And finally, we added up the stars, announced the winning camp and the King of the Jungle got an extra prize. And no, it wasn't the birthday boy!

And of course, cake...

Thanks to our good friend who helped decorate and took photos.
Natural History Museum Shop, NHM Cromwell Road, SW7