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.


I am a bit of a nuts addict. If you put a bowl of nuts any closer than two meters from me the chances are that I will eat them all. It tested all my will power when I was working as a Middle East adviser, as at every single official meeting in any country from Morocco to Iran,  there were endless bowls of delicious pistachios and nuts. I can assure you that trying to take notes while picking at the nuts is not an easy task!

This is a great way to make any type of nut a little bit posher as a nibble for any drinks. You need:

-for three handfuls of nuts (any type)
- half a tablespoon of oil
- a pinch of sea salt (you can also do it with normal salt, but sea salt is nicer)
- a quarter of a teaspoon of rosemary leaves (chopped thinly)
- a quarter of a teaspoon of thyme leaves (chopped thinly)

You can alter all these quantities as much as you like. My middle son likes to add a pinch of paprika, which works well. And if you have a sweet tooth you can add a quarter of a teaspoon of brown sugar.

Warm the oil in a frying pan. Add the nuts and then the salt and herbs. Wait for a couple of minutes (stirring the nuts gently with a spoon so that they do not burn) until they start to get brown. Serve immediately, so that they are eaten warm.

It is just impossible to resist them…


This is great for lunch with a soup or a salad.
You need:
- 250 gr plain flour
- 150 ml sunflower oil
- 100 ml milk
- 50 ml of yogurt
- 4 eggs
- a teaspoon of baking powder
- 200 gr cubed bacon or pancetta
- 250 gr of goat's cheese (cubed)
- 6 basil leaves
- 2 handfuls of (raw) spinach

Preheat the oven at 185 degrees. Mix the oil, eggs, milk and yogurt. Then add the flour and baking powder. Fry the bacon lightly until it gets golden - get rid of the fat and add it to the mixture. Finally add the cheese, basil (cut it into stripes) and spinach ( also cut into stripes). Put it into a greased and lined loaf cake and bake for 45-50 minutes. let it cool down in the tin for 10 munites before you unmould it. 


This is a gorgeous Spanish celebratory dish that I am sharing with you to thank all the women (and also a few men!) who have joined and enquired about Inspiring Women on the back of guest editing the Today programme. An interesting experience - and I managed to upset a junior minister and the conservative media, which only made it all that 'tiny little bit more fun' ;-)
 To top this up, another country interested in mirroring the campaign has been in touch: that makes 11 now. This will definitely be the year of the internationalisation of the campaign, isn't that great?

(If you are reading this and do not know what I am talking about, just click on http://www.inspiringthefuture.org/inspiring-women/ and register   It is only one hour per year, so everybody can do it)

Back to the dish. You need really fresh hake for this- if you cannot get it, then don't even try. It is also really important to do this with slices as opposed to steaks, don't ask me why. You need:
- a slice of hake per person
- a big potato per person (peeled)
- 4 bay leaves
- an onion
- 2 tablespoons of paprika (pimenton)
- 5 tablespoons of (good) olive oil
- water
- salt

Bring to the boil two litters of water, the bay leaves, salt and the onion (cut in half) in a big pan. Put in the potatoes (I also cut them in half) and boil them for 10-15 minutes until almost tender. Salt the fish stakes on both sides, put fthe ish in the pan, lower the heat and leave it in for 5 minutes ensuring the water does not boil (i.e. if you see any bubbles in the water take the pan off the heat - I know this sounds petty, but if the water boils the fish will get dry and you would have wasted your time and money…) After 5 minutes, get the pan off the heat and wait for another 5 minutes. Get the fish and potatoes off the water with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate. Mix the oil and paprika and one table spoon of the boiling liquid and pour it over the fish and potatoes. It is one of the best ways to eat hake.

Children can help with it all (and like to pour the pimenton oil over the fish) but be careful if they help to take the fish out of the pan as it can easily break.