Welcome to Mum&sons

My two eldest boys challenged me to start a cooking blog with simple recipes that we can cook together - and my youngest one has now joined in. I am hoping they pick up some cooking and photograph skills... or that at least they learn to design and run a blog.


This works really well if you have to feed a crowd (especially kids and teenagers, but it is great for adults too). You need:

- 1 kg dried pasta (penne or similar)
- salt
- 3 red or yellow peppers
- one aubergine
- 2 courgettes
- 2 onions
- four table spoons of olive oil
- 6-8 basil leaves (this is just for decoration really)
- a mug of tomato sauce
- three handfuls of grated cheese

Cut all the vegetables in chunks. Put them on a baking tray. Add salt and the olive oil and mix well so that each chunk is coated with the salt and oil. Bake (200 degrees) for 45 minutes until the edges get brown. Meanwhile boil the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta. When the veggies are ready toss them with the pasta and the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, dip the basil leaves in olive oil and put them on top of the cheese and grill for 3-4- minutes until the cheese is golden.

Tossing the veggies with the oil and then with the tomato sauce and dipping the basil leaves in oil  is what children like most in this recipe.


My birthday was yesterday and this was my cake. The charlotte russe dates back to the 18th century when a French female chef prepared a lady fingers and custard cake for the Russian Tsar Alexander I, whose sister was called Charlotte. You need:
- 30 lady fingers
- 150 ml water
-12 g of gelatin powder
- 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam
- 5 eggs
- half a litre of milk
- a teaspoon of corn flour
- a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- a handful of strawberries

You also need a (not too big) cooking ring.

Put the cooking ring on the dish where you are going to serve the charlotte.

Make a syrup by heating the strawberry jam and the 150 ml of water. When the jam is completely diluted let it cool down. Then start dipping the ladyfingers in the syrup and cover the sides of the ring as well as the base with them.

Heat the milk with two tablespoons of sugar and the gelatin powder (while you whisk it) until it is about to reach simmering point. Take a bit of the milk in a cup and mix it with the cornflour. Separate the egg yokes from the whites. Mix the egg yokes with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Then slowly mix the milk with the egg yokes and finally pour the cornflour mixture in.  Put the milk mixture back in the pan and heat it (slowly) while you whisk it until it becomes thick (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add the vanilla extract and then put it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Whisk the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. Mix the custard with the egg whites (fold it in carefully so that you do not loose any air). Pour half of this mixture inside the ladyfingers mould. Then put more ladyfingers (dipped in the strawberry jam syrup) on top of the custard mixture and finally add the rest of the custard mixture on top of the ladyfingers layer. Put the cake in the fridge and let it rest for 5 hours or ideally overnight until the gelatin sets.

Before serving it get rid of the ring and cover with strawberries.

This cake is a bit fiddly for the children, but at the end of the day it is like making a slightly complicated version of a tiramisu. You can simplify it by using shop bought custard. I think my children prefer the tiramisu though.


I have recently been in the North of Africa and had utterly delicious food (including dromedary, which  - provided you eat it without thinking about the actual animal- is not at all bad). Preserved lemons is a staple ingredient of the North African and Middle East cuisine. This is how you make them:
- 6 lemons, preferably unwaxed (otherwise just clean them with a brush to get rid of the wax)
- a big jar
- 300 gr coarse salt
- water

Cut the lemons in fourths but leaving one of the sides un-cut so that they still hold together (see picture). Put a teaspoon of salt inside each lemon. Arrange them in the jar, add the remaining salt on top and cover with water.  Keep in a dark place for 6 days and then in the fridge for 2 weeks. The children are looking forwards to the recipes we will do with them.