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italian jaunt: bologna


as regular readers will know, david and i have just spent a couple of weeks in italy. it was a bit of a whistle-stop tour but we managed to spend time in bologna, perugia, assisi, siena, pisa, lucca and florence. all our journeys were by train (eurostar to paris, overnight train to italy and local trains while we were there), which i thoroughly recommend to anyone who is looking to reduce their environmental impact or who just wants an easy and affordable way to travel.

bologna, the capital of emilia-romagna was our first stop and my favourite. it’s a large buzzy university city full of beautiful red-bricked buildings, many of which have covered walkways along their sides. this is where people stroll along after work, greeting friends and usually stopping briefly for something to drink and a bite to eat. and eat and drink we did!

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british food fortnight: plum bakewell tart


we’re nearing the end of british food fortnight (22 september- 7 october) which celebrates the diversity and range of delicious british food.

i’m not a regular cook of traditional british dishes, preferring to draw my inspiration from around the world, but the celebratory british food fortnight event that hippolyra from fuss free flavours is hosting seemed like the perfect excuse to settle into the british autumn with some british baking. this plum bakewell tart is my contribution.

bakewell tarts are traditional english baked desserts which consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with jam and covered with a sponge-like filling enriched with ground almonds (known as frangipane). the flavouring that i am familiar with is cherry but having spotted a recipe from jamie oliver’s new book jamie at home i decided to go with a plum version.

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boost your brainpower

i’ve just returned to london after 2 weeks holiday in italy and despite having only been back at work for 4 days i’m already struggling. my concentration is minimal and my ability to focus on the task at hand seems to have gone awol.

urgent action is needed and i’ve been researching ways to boost my brainpower. i thought i’d share my top 5 with you in case the increasingly wintry days are getting to you too. these tips are also good for kids who’re struggling now the excitement of the new school term has worn off.

read more over at the daily tiffin, a blog that helps people have a healthy family lifestyle. i'll write about healthy eating, over at the daily tiffin, every fortnight.

a pleasant surprise


my ongoing efforts to use the courgettes we had regularly been given by friends-with-gardens, coupled with a long and tiring day requiring comforting cooking techniques and gentle flavours, led me to this courgette and lemon risotto.

i’d heard various people talk about courgette risotto but mentally wrote it off assuming it would be too bland and really not worth the effort when there are so many other fabulous risotto variations floating around. however, given the ongoing courgette and lemon riff in my cooking this summer i decided to take the plunge.

i was very pleasantly surprised – the courgette adds a light fresh dimension to the cheesy creamy depths of the risotto, and it’s all lifted by the lemon top note flavours. not bad, i’ll be adding this to my risotto variation list…

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pea and bean salad with smoked scamorza and mint


the skye gyngell roasted red onions i made last week have been adding delight to a number of dishes recently, most notably a puy lentil dish which we topped with roasted salmon and this gorgeous salad, where the fresh green taste of peas and beans worked beautifully with the smoked cheese and sweet onions.

incredibly easy to make we had this with roasted chicken thighs that had been rubbed with herbs and salt. leftovers were demolished as packed lunches the following day.

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