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 is a very simple summer salad - great with blue grilled fish.
You need:

- two fennel bulbs
- 1 orange
- a handful of black olives (pitted)
- pink pepper (to taste)
- 3 tables spoons of (good) virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoons of vinegar
- salt

Cut the fennel in really thin slices (ideally with a mandoline). Add the olive oil and vinegar and let it rest for 20 minutes or so. Then cut the orange in chunks (getting rid of the white skin) Half the olives. Mix the oranges and olives with the fennel. Add salt and sprinkle with the pink pepper.  Done!


While this year I am working this week, for many years I used to spend a few days at the beginning of August in France. Nothing reminds me more of La Republique than going to a bakery early in the morning to buy croissants and chouquettes - vive La France! While making croissants in a pain in... the neck, making chouquettes is very easy indeed.
You need:
- 65 ml milk
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g butter
- 3 eggs
- 150 g pearl sugar 

Heat the oven at 180 degrees. Put a tray with water in the lowest part of the oven so that the oven produces steam.

Put the butter and the milk  in a pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour (all in one go) and beat well with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and wait for 10 minutes so that the mixture cools down. Beat 2 eggs in  little bits) and put the mixture into a pipping bag.

Pipe little blobs of the mixture on a tray covered with silicone. Push down any peaks by patting them carefully with a wet finger. 

Beat the remaining egg and paint each blob with the egg wash. Sprinkle the blobs with plenty of pearl sugar. Put the tray with the chouquettes into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Delicieux. 


Most of you are already familiar with my obsession with artichokes and their truly exorbitant price in the UK. But this is my new discovery: frozen artichokes fom the French company Picard. In the UK they are only sold by Ocado (Asda, you are meant to have the lead on frozen veggies, what happened?) and they do not come cheap: £7.99 for a Kg, even though you can buy exactly the same product for £6.17 if you cross the Channel tunnel (or less if the pound was not underperforming due Brexit). But put it in context: at Sainsbury's you get three small artichoke slices (250g) for £1.90.  And at Waitrose you pay £2 just for an artichoke! You can feed 8-9 for starters with just a packet of frozen artichokes. And the wonderful thing is that is it just the really good bit of the artichokes,  the 'creme de la creme',  the  'fond d'artichaut': no leaves, no waste...and of course good bye to those black nails when you clean the artichokes to get just the cores - simply open the bag and that is all.

For this you need:
 - a packet of frozen artichokes (put them in hot water for two minutes and then cut them in slices)
- 200 g of cubed serrano ham ( if you are lucky enough to leave in london near a Casa Manolo you can buy this already pre-cut)
- 1.5 gloves of garlic
- two tablespoons of wine vinegar (I add 2.5 because I am addicted to vinegar)
- three tablespoons of olive oil
- and half  glass of water
- salt (not much as the ham is naturally salted)

Heat the oil in a shallow pan ( I use a paella pan). Add the ham and the artichokes and wait for 5 minutes or until the edges of the artichokes get golden. Add the salt. Grate the garlic and add it to the artichokes (tossing them well so that the garlic does not get burnt). Add the water, sprinkle it all with the vinegar, wait for 2-3 more minutes and done.


I am being told these are called Swiss buns in Spain because they were the signature bun of the famous Swiss Cafe in Madrid. But they are eaten all over Spain. A milky coffee (cafe con leche) with a  suizo is a breakfast that you can have perching around the counter of many Spanish 'bares'. In my village this is done at around 10 am while you read the newspapers and listen to the gossip of the day.

You need:
- 320 g bread flour
- 3 eggs
- 8 g dry yeast - though I have recently discovered fresh yeast, that you can buy in Amazon (and freeze) or at some supermarkets in the UK. It is a fantastic ingredient for baking. The proportion is 10g fresh yeast to 4g dry yeast. 
- 75 g butter
- 75 g sugar
- 3 eggs
- a pinch of salt

Heat the milk, butter and 55 g of sugar until the butter has melted and the whole mixture is warm. Add the yeast, mix well and wait for 3 minutes. Then add two of the eggs. And finally the flour and salt. Knead the mixture, put it in a bowl and let it rest (and rise) for 1.30 or 2 hours until it doubles its size.

Cut the mixture into 8 bits (around 50 g each) and shape them as little buns. Put them on a baking tray (with baking paper or silicone mat underneath) cover them with a tea towel and let them rest for 1.30 hours.

Preheat the oven at 210 degrees.Make a cut with a sharp knife half way through the buns, paint them with the remaining egg, damp the remaining 20 g of sugar with a few drops of water and sprinkle the wet sugar on each bun. Lower the temperature of the oven to 190 and bake for 12 minutes.



This is called 'zanahorias aliñadas' or 'aliñás' if you happen to be in Andalucia, which is where this dish comes from. A bite of this on a sunny day and you will feel as if you are in Sevilla, my favourite town in Spain and a truly happy place. 

You need:
- 3 carrots
- a teaspoon salt
- a teaspoon of sweet paprika or pimenton
- a clove of garlic
- a teaspoon of ground cumin
- half a glass of olive oil
- a glass of water

Boil the carrots until they are 'al dente'. Cut them into thick slices and let them cool down. Ground the garlic with the salt in a pester and mortar. Add the pimenton, cumin and oregano, then the olive oil and finally the water. Put the carrots into a plastic container (with a lid), cover them with the marinade and keep them in the fridge over night. Serve this cold (if you want to do this authentically serve them as a snack, with  toothpics on the side and a glass of cold 'fino' sherry) . I normally dry the carrots with kitchen paper before serving them as the marinade can be too strong, but that really depends on your taste... 


This is great and really simple way to cook any white fish. Perfect for a quick dinner. And very healthy as well.

You need:
- a cod stake per person
- a fat clove a garlic
- two tablespoons of parsley
- half a glass of olive oil
- salt
- one lemon cut in really thin slices (preferably with a mandoline)

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
Cover a roasting tray with baking paper. Salt the cod stakes and put them on the tray. In a food processor (or with a hand held blender) blitz the garlic, parsley and olive oil. Pour a table spoon of this mixture over each of the cod stakes (if you have too much sauce just keep it aside and eat it with prawns,  or even with chicken). Put the lemon slices on top of the sauce. Bake it all the oven for 8 minutes. Then set the grill on high and grill for a couple of minutes until the lemons get golden.  as always with fish, do not overcook it (e.i if the steaks are very think just bake them for 6 minutes)


These are sinful: you can get fatter by just looking at the picture; and so very difficult to resist. But they are just great for a party.

You need:
- 65 ml milk
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g butter
- 2 eggs
- half a teaspoon of salt
-400 gr double cream
- half a teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150 gr dark chocolate

Heat the oven at 180 degrees. Put a tray with water in the lowest part of the oven so that the oven produces steam.

Put the butter and the milk  in a pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour and salt (all in one go) and beat well with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and wait for 10 minutes so that the mixture cools down. Beat the eggs in (in little bits) and put the mixture into a pipping bag.

Pipe little blobs of the mixture on a tray covered with silicone. Push down any peaks by patting them carefully with a wet finger. Put the tray with the profiteroles into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

When you take them out cut a little hole with a skewer or a tooth pick on the base of each profiterol and let them cool down on a rack.

Whip 275 gr of cream with the vanilla extract until you get a hard peak consistency. Put the mixture into a pipping bag and pipe the cream into each profiterol.

Finally, melt the remaining cream with the chocolate over a bain marie or in the microwave (check every 15 seconds). Pour the sauce over the profiteroles.

They are much easier to make than they seem.


These light little things are called bizcochos de soletilla. It is what elegant ladies eat with hot chocolate in Spain. As far as chocolate is concerned the Spanish population is divided in two: posh ladies who drink hot chocolate in the afternoon, served in fine china and with 'soletillas' on the side; and everybody else who drinks hot chocolate in the morning in normal cups with fried churros (see our recipe). I know what you are thinking, but elegant men eat churros and that seems to be fine.

After 382 posts in this blog I am sure you already know that I am more churros than soletillas. But still, I loved soletillas when I was growing up. In my village there was a really good bakery (Pasteleria Frias) which actually still exists. They used to make soletillas and sold them on strips of baking paper. Eating these with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of milk seemed the height of sophistication at the time - little did I know then that they can be made cheaply and in almost no time!

You need:
- 2 eggs
- 60 g self raising flour
- 50 g sugar
- a teaspoon of vanilla essence
- half a teaspoon of baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- two tablespoons of icing sugar

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and beat well. Add the vanilla essence. Separately whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are stiff. Fold the whites into the yolks mixture.  Then sift the flour and fold it into the mixture. Pipe the mixture into 6 cm strips on a sheet of baking paper. Dust the strips with the icing sugar just before getting them into the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes (the precise timing depends on your oven, but they should be pale)


This is lovely for a hot summer day.  Very easy to make, though cooking octopus requires a physical and emotional battle with the 'pulpo' (see below)

You need:
- a medium octopus/pulpo (should be enough for 4/5 people)
- a handful of parsley
- 4 tablespoons of really good olive oil
- a clove of garlic
- the juice of half a lemon
- salt

Start by boiling the octopus in a big pan with lots of salty water. If you do this recipe with a fresh octopus then you will have to hit it (literally) many times with a rolling pin or equivalent so that it becomes tender. If you shy away from displays of physical violence in your family, then do as I do: freeze the octopus first and then defreeze it overnight (for some weird reason this makes the octopus 'decontract' and become tender). If you do not do this the pulpo will be rock hard.

In any case, when you put the octopus in the water take it in and out of the water three times in quick succession. This is so that the pulpo 'gets scared' (I kid you not) and therefore gets 'tense' again. I do not know whether the physics of this are right, but Galician cooks (as far as I am concerned the best cooks of pulpo in the world) swear by this method, and therefore so do I.

Once the pulpo is boiled ( which you can do well in advance) cut it into chunks, pour two tablespoons of oil over it and toss well with your hands so that all chunks are well coated.
Heat a cast iron pan until it is very hot. Put the pulpo chunks on it and cook them for a couple of minutes on each side until they get a bit charred.

Meanwhile blend the remaining oil with the garlic and parsley. Pour this mixture over the grilled octopus, sprinkle the juice of half a lemon on top of it and that is all. You can eat this with boiled potatoes, rice, salad, crusty bread... or on its own!


This week we saw the Brexiteers throwing haddock into the river Thames, a sin worthy of ex-communication to any Spaniard. Most of the fish from UK waters is actually sold to Europeans, so when Brexit kicks in the Brexiteers are going to have a hell of a lot of fish to eat. Since deep down I am a good girl (very-very-extremely deep down as far as Brexiteers are concerned) I though I would give them a fish recipe so that they can start practising.

We do not make this recipe with haddock in Spain, but with hake, simply because do not eat much haddock there. In fact most Spaniards would not even recognise haddock's Spanish name: 'eglefino'.  I am pretty sure that if you say 'eglefino' to most Spaniards they would think you are calling them names and it is most likely they would respond 'eglefino tu!'  or perhaps even something less polite than that...

Anyway, back to the recipe. Though I have called it fish 'European style', in Spanish this is called fish ' a la marinera'. It is a bit confusing, because the recipe for one of our most traditional and delicious dishes, 'almejas a la marinera' (clams seaman style) does not call for sweet paprika (pimenton) and tomato -  but this one,  merluza 'a la marinera' (hake seaman style) does. Nobody knows the reason for this. But I am sure we Spaniards did this many years ago with the single objective of confusing the Brexiteers, because of course everything we do in Spain, on indeed in the rest of Europe, is all directed to them.

The recipe is very easy to make. You need:
- four steaks of haddock (preferably a bit thick... and if you want the proper recipe then use four steaks of hake)
- half a lemon
- 12 raw prawns (this is not essential)
- an onion (chopped very thinly)
- a quarter of a red pepper (chopped very thinly)
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped very thinly)
- a bay leaf
- a tablespoon of tomato sauce
- a teaspoon of sweet paprika- pimenton
- half a glass of sherry.
- a glass of water
- half a teaspoon of cornflour
- a tiny bit of parsley
- too tablespoons of (not too strong) olive oil
- salt

Salt the haddock. Sprinkle the lemon juice on it and leave it aside while you get on with the sauce.

In a shallow pan, fry the onion, red pepper and garlic over very low heat in the olive oil (it should take 12-15 minutes). Then add the tomato, paprika, a tiny bit of salt and the bay leave. Wait for a couple of minutes and add the sherry, let it bubble for a couple of minutes and then add the water.  Take three spoonfuls of the bubbly sauce and mix them in a cup with the cornflour - get this mixture back into the pan so that the sauce thickens. Wait for another couple of minutes and add the haddock, cover the pan with a lid and wait (it should take 3-4 minutes maximum though this really depends of the thickness of the haddock of course) Then add the prawns and after a minute it should be all done. Just sprinkle a little bit of parsley on it before serving it.

Do not be tempted to overcook the fish as overcooked fish is awful. If you are a Brexiteer you should be particularly careful with this because, let's face it, you are prone to overdoing things.

So here you are: fish 'European style'.  If eating this does not get you to like Europe, then nothing will.


I originally did this some years ago from a BBC recipe with real vanilla pods, but the recipe below is with frozen rhubarb (less than half the prize than fresh) and vanilla extract and it is just as good as the original one.

You need:
- 1 K of frozen rhubarb
- 1 K of jam sugar
- juice of 1.5 lemons
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- and the essential ingredient for making jam without any stress: a jam thermometer (£8 in Lakeland - totally worth it)

Put the rhubarb, jam sugar, vanilla extract and the juice of a lemon in a big pan over medium heat. Let it simmer for a good 22-25 minutes until the rhubarb goes mushy. My children do not like big bits of fruit in the jam, so as soon as a rhubarb is soft I press it down a few times with a potato masher. Keep the heat on for another 10-14 minutes until the mixture reaches 105 degrees. Take the pan off the heat and add the juice of the half lemon. Let it rest for a few minutes and pour it into sterilised jars (just rinse the jars with water and microwave them for 2 minutes). You should get 5 jam pots from this. 


I was asked to come up with a Spanish version of Welsh Cakes after I attended a London Welsh Rugby lunch last Saturday to raise funds for Inspiring Girls. You can see the welsh cakes that were served there on my instagram. And the BBC report on Inspiring Girls sponsoring the London Welsh Women's Rugby team with Lotus here (via twitter): https://mobile.twitter.com/londonwelshwrfc/status/971824330718969859.

I don't want to upset the Brexit ultras ( oh well...) but it turns out Sheffield University researchers are looking into an influx of Spanish migrants into the Welsh copper mines 4,000 years ago, which means that perhaps Wales and Spain are not so far apart as one might initially have thought...and perhaps there is a bit of Spain as it happens in welsh cakes...fancy that.

Anyway, going back to the recipe, this one is a Delia recipe adapted to Mediterranean flavours as it has orange zest and orange blossom water. I do not want to disrespect the original recipe, but this is very very good...

You need:
- 225g self raising flour
- one teaspoon mixed spice
- 110 g butter
- 75 gr sugar
- 100 g sultanas
- 1 egg
- zest of an orange
- a teaspoon and a half of orange blossom water

Sift the flour and mixed spice. Add the sugar. Then add the butter cut into little squares. Rub the flour and sugar with the butter with your finger tips until you get the consistency of bread crumbs. Add the zest of the orange, the sultanas and the egg and blossom water and mix it all well with your hands (try not to touch it too much). Extend the dough over a floured surface with a rolling pin and cut rounds with a cutter. Fry them on a pan (no need for butter or oil) until they are golden (3 minutes on each side). You can sprinkle some sugar on top while they are still hot, but they are really good without sugar too. They lasted literally 4 minutes in my kitchen before my three monsters ate them all...


This recipe is normally done in Spain with red seabream, which is difficult to find (and has ginormous fish bones, so not great for children) or with John Dory. I use it with all sorts of fish (the one below is with cod) and it is one of the simplest dinners to make - and also one of my favourites recipes with fish.

You need:
- 5 steaks of cod
- 5 fat cloves of garlic (sliced thinly)
- (good) olive oil (6-8 tablespoons)
- 2.5 tablespoons of vinegar (preferably sherry, but any other vinegar will do too)
- a little bit of parsley (chopped)
- salt

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Salt the cod and put it on a roasting tray. Put it into the oven (it should be ready in 10-12 minutes, but check after 10 minutes as overcooked fish is vile) While the cod is roasting fry the slices of garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until they get light golden ( it should take 2-3- minutes but again make sure you do not burn it or the garlic will taste bitter) Add the vinegar to the pan with the garlic, take it off the heat and stir it well with a fork so that the oil emulsionates with the vinegar.  Pour the oil over the fish and spinrkle the parsley on top. That is all there is to it!

It tastes great with mashed potatoes. But if you want to make an even more authentically Spanish recipe then start by slicing some potatoes, put them on a roasting tray with salt and olive oil, roast them for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Then put the cod on top of the potatoes and continue the recipe as per above.


This is one of my favourite soups. And mussels are a good source of iron, so it is good to feed them to children.
You need:
- about 750 gr mussels (don't worry too much about the precise quality)
- 300 ml white wine ( I also do this some times with 'manzanilla', a light Spanish sherry, which is wonderful to cook with and goes really well with sea food and also with pork)
- an onion (chopped finely)
- one leek (chopped finely)
- a clove of garlic (grated)
- three tablespoons of olive oil
- 250 ml water.
- a pinch of saffron
- 150 ml double cream
- a pinch of parsley

Clean well the mussels (discard any that are open and do not close after tapping them before you cook them, and also any that remain closed after you cook them). While you are cleaning the mussels, fry the onions and leek in the olive oil over slow heat so that they get soft but not golden (15 to 20 minutes). If you worry that they might burn just add a tablespoon of water.

Put the mussels in a separate pan, add the white wine and let the muscles cook over high heat until they all open up. Take the mussels off their shells. Reserve the wine (it is a good idea to get it through a colander in case there was any sand in the mussels)

Go back to the pan with the onions. Add the mussels and parsley. Dissolve the saffron into the white wine. Add it all to the onions and mussels and add also also the water. Let it all bubble up for 5-8 minutes.

As you take it off the heat, add the cream and blitz it all with a hand held mixer.

Serve it immediately. I sometimes reserve some of the mussels, chop them and add them to the soup for texture. You can also serve this with a slice of grilled crusty bread and alioli. Or just serve it like that with bread - it is delicious so it does not need anything else.


This is a very easy ice cream for Christmas time, though you can eat it throughout the whole year. Turron is an almond and honey nougat that we eat in Spain during Christmas. 'In the beginning' there was only turron duro (hard as a stone) and turron bland (sweet as honey). Then came the 'egg yolk' turron (which I detest) and the chocolate one (which I love-love-love) And then many other fancy ones (mostly terrible) that you can now find in most spanish shops.

For this recipe you need:
- one 'tableta' of turron blando (300 gr)
- 400 ml cream -  preferably double cream. I sometimes use single cream, which is frankly stupid, as the turron has so many calories (don't even look at the label or you will have a shock!)  that saving a few calories on the cream is just pointless. And yet I still do this…madness I know. )
- a tablespoon of honey
- two egg yokes.

Cut the turron into little pieces. Heat the cream with the turron over very low heat until it dissolves (do not let it boil). Separately whisk the egg yokes and the honey until you get a pale fluffy mixture. Then add the turron and cream mixture to it, little by little, while you are still whisking so that you get a thick cream consistency. Freeze it in an ice-maker machine or just in a container in the freezer (stirring it a couple of times so that you do not get any crystals in the ice cream) Take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you are going to serve it.