The Kids Only Cook Book + Christmas cookie cutter special offer

The Kids Only Cook BookHere’s the deal. I’ve had some surplus copies of The Kids Only Cook Book lurking under my desk for a little while and it’s time to find them some lovely owners for Christmas. I’m offering a signed copy of my book PLUS a 7.5cm star-shaped cookie cutter to make the fabulous Christmas decoration biscuits (the recipe’s inside the book) – for just £12 including postage and packaging.

The magic of Paypal means that all you have to do is email me at and I’ll let you know what to do next. Be quick if you want me to get this to you in time for Christmas! This price applies to the UK only but I’m happy to send further afield – just drop me a line and I’ll let you know how much it will cost.

For those of you who don’t know about it, The Kids Only Cook Book has been highly acclaimed for  its fun recipes designed for kids to cook themselves, with minimal or no help from adults. From roast dinners to party treats, the recipes help kids develop their own repertoire of dishes - and have fun while they’re doing it. There’s even a recipe for ice cream made in a tin can – click here to watch a cool video to accompany the recipe.

I look forward to hearing from you. Next week I’ll be posting some really lovely ideas for edible Christmas presents.


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apple, cranberry and pecan tatin_edited

Cranberries are the most sidelined fruits, don’t you think? Consigned to the condiment jar for a solitary outing at Thanksgiving or Christmas, there are few other ingredients we snub so much of the time. (Brussels sprouts used to be lonely too, but we’re finally starting to love them more).

It’s a shame, because cranberries deserve a greater role than simply making dried out Turkey palatable. Although these beautiful red berries are hard and bitter when raw, they’re delicious when cooked with other fruits into cakes, pies, tarts and jam. Not only are they juicy and flavourful, they impart a mouth-puckering dry tang that I love. Cranberries are also exceptionally nutritious – full of Vitamin C, fibre and other phytonutrients.

I recently made a jar of berry compote as an early Christmas present for a friend (I will share the recipe next week in a post about edible Christmas gifts) and included cranberries. They were a fab addition to the mix because they held their shape after the other berries had cooked down, and actually needed very little extra sweetening.

There’s no abstemiousness with sugar in this recipe, I’m afraid, as you do need it for the caramel. I’ve played around with different ways of cooking this classic French dessert to find the best way to achieve a crisp base and rich caramel top. (The addition of juicy berries here exacerbates the risk of soggy bottom). After trial and error, I found the method used by French chef and baker Richard Bertinet by far the best. He cooks the apples and caramel together on the stove top for quite a long time before putting it in the oven with its pastry hat. This way, excess water from the fruit is cooked off first and there’s no soggy bottom in sight.

Apple, cranberry & pecan tarte tatin

Cranberry, apple and pecan tarte tatin

Serves 6

  •  1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 3–4 eating apples, peeled, cored and halved
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • a pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 50g pecans
  • 100g fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 5. Cut out a 24cm circle from the pastry sheet, prick all over with a fork and chill until needed. Melt the butter in a 20cm ovenproof frying pan, add over the sugar and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes until starting to dissolve. Arrange the apples cut-side up in the pan – they need to fit snuggly but you might not need them all. Gently cook for about 30 minutes – the sugary butter will bubble along nicely, but shake the pan occasionally. When done, the kitchen should smell of apples and the caramel should be a rich gold colour.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully fill the gaps between apples with the pecans and cranberries. Cover with the pastry disc and tuck in the edges with a spoon.


Bake for 30 minutes. As Richard Bertinet points out, this will be inverted onto a plate so the pastry needs to be crisp and golden to avoid sogginess. Don’t take it out of the oven too soon.


Set aside for 5 minutes after it comes out of the oven, then carefully invert onto a plate. Serve immediately with some cold whipped cream.



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Spiced squash purée yoghurt pots with yummy crunchy bits

Spiced pumpkin puree yoghurt potA few people asked for the recipe for this photogenic little yoghurt pot and I’m happy to oblige as it’s a perfect way to use up squash left over from Halloween.

In my last post about squash, I mentioned that the variety sold for carving Halloween heads is generally a little bland and watery to eat. But I’ve since used some for recipe testing, and actually, it’s fine. When roasted at a high heat until tender and caramelised, it makes a lovely purée (especially when bolstered with some comforting spices). I also tossed it into a vegetable frittata and it worked really well.

Spiced squash purée yoghurt pots with yummy crunchy bits

Serves 2

600g squash, deseeded and cut into large chunks with skin on

1/4 teaspoon ground

a pinch of nutmeg

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons spelt flakes or rolled oats

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

a pinch of fine sea salt

1 tablespoon runny honey

200g Greek-style yoghurt, or extra depending on how hungry you are

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 5. Place the squash in a baking tray skin-side down and roast for 30–40 minutes until tender. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into the bowl of a food processor, add the cinnamon and nutmeg and blitz to a smooth puree. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small frying pan and when foaming add the spelt or oats, the seeds and salt. Stir fry-over a medium-high heat until lightly toasted – be careful not to burn the seeds. Add the honey and fry, stirring, for 1 minute more or until the honey is absorbed and the mixture is sticky. Spread out on a plate to cool, then break up into small pieces. To assemble, layer the yoghurt, puree and seeds in a small glass jar or bowl. Serve immediately.

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Roast squash + a raw squash salad

roast squash edted

Greengrocer’s shelves are bulging at the moment with brilliant and weird pumpkins and squash, which is fantastic for those of us who love the stuff. There’s so much more to these versatile veg than carving Halloween heads – the sweet flavour and fleshy texture is fantastic in everything from soups and curries to risottos and salads. It’s also incredibly good for you.

Pumpkin patchWe always have a bit of fun picking our Halloween pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch. This decorative variety  is great for carving but is pretty bland, fibrous and watery to eat. Butternut is always lovely, but our favourite this year is coquina squash, with its firm but tender flesh and full flavour. A Crown Prince caught my eye the other day but it was a  disappointment – after roasting, the flesh was unappetisingly dry. Perhaps it was just one rotten apple.

Roasting squash at a highish heat is the best way to cook it, regardless of what you eventually use it for - the caramelisation really enhances it sweetness. The other night I tossed some chunks in a yummy concoction of  maple syrup, nutmeg, bay leaf, melted butter and olive oil and roasted chunks of squash for 30-40 minutes. Delicious. The version below is simply roasted because there are punchy flavours in the dressing (which was inspired by a Yotam Ottolenghi dressing in Plenty More). Don’t worry if you cook too much squash – leftovers are splendid mashed up into bubble and squeak. But if the onslaught of comfort food at this time of year gets a bit too much, it’s well worth trying squash raw. When I was designing recipes for a salad cook book recently, I experimented with raw grated squash and was surprised at its deliciousness, especially with a vibrant dressing.

squash salad

Warm salad of roast pumpkin and chestnuts

  • 180g coquina or other squash, cut into wedges
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 60g vacuum-packed chestnuts, halved
  • a large handful of beet greens, baby kale, rocket or a mixture
  • 3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 garlic clove, crushed
  • a handful of coriander, chopped

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Place the pumpkin in a baking tray, drizzle with olive and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes until almost tender. Add the chestnuts to the pan, turn to coat in the oil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the yoghurt, sriracha, olive oil and garlic.

To serve, scatter the beet greens over a serving plate, drizzle with olive and toss. Top with the squash and chestnuts, drizzle over the yoghurt and scatter with the coriander. Serve immediately.

Raw pumpkin salad with coriander, jalapeno + lime dressing

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side or starter

For the dressing

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4g or 4 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapenos
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 400g peeled and deseeded butternut squash
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 2 quantities coriander, jalapeno and lime dressing
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados

To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously until combined.

For the salad, grate the squash on the largest holes of a box grater. Place in a salad bowl with the pumpkin seeds and toss with enough of the dressing to coat generously. Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside for 10 minutes.  Chop the avocados, add to the grated squash and drizzle over more dressing. Gently toss. Add more salt or pepper to taste. Serve immediately.








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