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.


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.