Breakfast at The Ivy Brasserie St Albans

As a mum you really appreciate those times you get to do something just for you rather than with the children. For me, with fairly limited funds, I view going to the coffee shop or brasserie with a friend after the school run as a big treat. Last week The Ivy Brasserie in St Albans invited me along to a special bloggers breakfast so I could check out their brunch menu and meet up with local blogging friends. This was lovely because now I work I don’t often get the chance to see my blogging friends and I also got to check out a new venue for those post school run treats!

The first thing that struck me about The Ivy Brasserie in St Albans was that it has been beautifully decorated with a real nod to its location alongside the luxury that you’d expect from The Ivy. We were located in the 12 seat private dining room which was just spectacular with beautiful velvet green chairs and a stained glass ceiling lantern. Its the perfect room to hire if you need somewhere in St Albans that is both impressive and quiet.

Food wise I enjoyed tea from a silver teapot and the most amazingly presented pancakes I think I’ve ever experienced. I could definitely get used to some special brunch time treats here (especially as its only a twenty minute walk from our school!).

I had a lovely time chatting with old and new blogging friends and meeting Deryane and Laura from The Dressing Room who presented me with a very exciting goodie bag! It was so nice to enjoy a little bit of that influencer lifestyle that I used to enjoy (before I went back to work) and the whole experience really brightened my day.

Husbands- if you want to treat a girl then take her to The Ivy for brunch and a shopping trip to The Dressing Room. If you don’t live in St Albans then its perfect for a day out!

Baking with Paddington #PADDiNGTONBEAR

Paddington 2 is out in the cinemas shortly and we cant wait. We all loved Paddington and the kids quite often watch it now its out on DVD. To celebrate the release of the movie and the launch of PADDiNGTON’S POP-UP LONDON Fifi, my daughter has been spending half term working her way through Paddington’s Cookery Book.

She particularly enjoyed making Paddington’s special gingerbread bears, she had such fun. Have a look at below. If you’d like to make your own you’ll find the recipe in Paddington’s Cookery Book by Lesley Young and illustrated by R.W. Alley

The sieved ingredients

Rolling out the gingerbread

Cutting out the gingerbread bears and suitcases

The finished product

 

We are off to see the movie this sunday so will post a review then but in the meantime you can have a look at the trailer here:

Book Review: Kids Cook French by Claudine Pepin

kids cook frenchKids Cook French is an excellent French cookbook for children who really enjoy cooking. I must admit some of the recipes are a little complicated, even for me but I think that is the essence of French cookery.

This is not a ‘kiddy’ cookbook, this is a thing of beauty; it looks like a grown up cookery book and doesn’t patronise children. However, it would benefit from some illustrations depicting what the finished dish actually looks like especially for children with mums who aren’t very good at cooking. Poor little Fifi has been cooking away some delicious stuff but aside from the Crepes I’m not sure she has achieved what was meant! Still she enjoyed it and is thrilled that she can cook French!

One of the best aspects of this cookery book is the fact that its got the recipes in French and English, since French is on our primary school curriculum this is actually a very useful reference book and educational resource. Since its very practical the children are genuinely trying to use the French recipes and understand them in conjunction with the translations. Fifi in particular is enthralled and its become one of her most useful resources.

I’m a big fan of this book and with a few tweaks I think it would be brilliant. Its a really handy, inspirational little book for children who like cooking and also want to improve their language skills (or impress their teachers). Other than the lack of finished dish pictures my only other criticism is the cover which has been made hardback by the inclusion of card stuck to the front and back. This makes the book unnecessarily bulky and i’d much prefer a paperback copy.

If you like French food and getting the children cooking then this is the book for you!

You’ll find all the relevant information about Kids Cook French here

Kids Cook French officially releases on 2nd April and is published by Quarry Books.

Readers of Being a Mummy have been given a special discount code:

To order Kids Cook French at the discounted price of £10 including p&p* (RRP: £12.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG309. 

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 

Quick, Cheap and Easy Keema Fusilli Pasta Bake

I was asked to design my own recipe for a dish to make with keema. Once you have made a batch of keema you’ll find that its a brilliantly simple dish which is incredibly versatile. The challenge posed me with a problem, i’m not that good at cooking, well, at least i’m not all that interested in cooking. However, I know how to do all the basics and nearly everything we eat at home is cooked from scratch. I fancied doing keema meatballs or keema with home made Naan Breads. Then it struck me that in our house we are time limited and the basics work just as well for us as anything else and above all, my kids love pasta. So I’ve decided to cook a quick and easy Fusilli Pasta bake which can be frozen in batches so out of one keema cooking session, you’ll get 2 family meals which will feed four people easily and wont break the bank. If you like my recipe you’ll be able to vote for it over on the www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk website.

Ingredients:
450 g lean lamb mince
2tsp sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 x 2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp garam masala or medium curry powder
4 medium potatoes, chopped
5- 10 ml white sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1000g Wholewheat Fusilli Pasta
1 tin Cannellini beans
I packet of grated Mozerella

Method:
1. Heat the old in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.

 

2. Add the ginger, chillies, cumin and garam masala or curry powder. Cook over a moderate heat for 1- 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the lamb and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato puree, cannellini beans and bring to the boil. Season, reduce the hear and cook uncovered for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water, if needed.

4. Cook the pasta so its al dente
5. Once the pasta is cooked mix the keema with the pasta and tin of chopped tomatoes, mix through the mozzarella cheese.

6. Divide evenly into three oven proof dishes and top with grated cheddar.
7. Pop the dish you want to eat tonight into the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 degrees. Or until the cheddar on top is nice and crsipy. Leave the other dishes to cool then freeze for use later on!

Enjoy! 

Readers of Being a Mummy can be in with a chance to win £50 by posting a picture of their own keema dish with the hashtag #CookWithKeema on Facebook or Twitter. So get voting for me and cooking yourself!

Cooking with Keema

Rather excitingly I’ve been asked to design my own Keema dish to be entered into a competition. I’m sure I won’t win the competition, but hey, little old me has been asked to do something cookery related. With my track record of cooking this suggests that I’m improving!

Anyway, like me, you’re probably wondering what Keema actually is: Keema is inspired by South Asian cuisine and is used all over the world quite often as a base for many recipes. Its made with lamb mince and spices and is easy to cook. Surprisingly so, because on my first attempt I was simultaneously having a phone conversation, looking after the kids and cooking…

This is the recipe for Lamb Keema:

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: Under 40 minutes

Ingredients:
450 g lean lamb mince
2tsp sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 x 2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp garam masala or medium curry powder
4 medium potatoes, chopped
5- 10 ml white sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly milled black pepper
4 oz frozen peas
large handful of freshly chopped coriander

Method:
1. Heat the old in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.

2. Add the ginger, chillies, cumin and garam masala or curry powder. Cook over a moderate heat for 1- 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the lamb and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar tomato puree and bring to the boil. Season, reduce the hear and cook uncovered for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water, if needed.

4. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the peas.
5. Garnish with the coriander and serve with flat or naan bread, plain basmati rice or poppadoms and a selection of relishes.

Earlier this year Stacey Solomon met up with Indian chef Nisha Katona and learnt how to cook it. This is a really interesting video as it not only shows you how to cook and more importantly when Keema is cooked, but there is also a discussion about how to tailor it for kids. I’m converted, if you give it a go i’m sure you will be too. Keema is REALLY yummy, without doubt it will become a family basic regular dish.

Disclaimer: I was sent a kit to learn how to cook Keema from EBLEX