Mini Week: Artichoke, Gruyere and Spinach Savory Bread Pudding

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I remem­ber when Scar­lett was real lit­tle. I was killing some time one after­noon after a Gym­boree class and got to talk­ing to another mom. Her one daugh­ter was nearly Scarlett's age but her older daugh­ter was around 5. As I stared at the 5-year old impa­tiently wait­ing for her lit­tle sis­ter to maneu­ver across a shal­low bal­ance beam I thought, "I won­der what it's like hav­ing such a big kid?" It felt like eons before Scar­lett could ever be that age. I then asked the sil­li­est ques­tion of her mom: "What's it like to have a such a big girl? It must be eas­ier." She turned to me and, with­out miss­ing a beat, said, "Big­ger girl, big­ger problems.

So here I am with a 6 year old and our chal­lenges have cer­tainly grown up. I can't believe I even both­ered to worry about when to stop swad­dling or how I was going to get her to do some­thing other than pee in the toi­let. Today's prob­lems of peri­odic lis­ten­ing skills (This is the 100th time I've asked you to get into the shower.) or friend­ship alliances that leave her to the side seem more like the real deal. Or are they? Is this all going to be a cake walk in com­par­i­son to cyber bul­ly­ing and the friend­ship chess match of teenage girls? I'm going to take a gam­ble and fig­ure this stuff isn't as big and bad as it seems. Instead I'll try to con­sider them more "mini" problems.

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Easter Week: Nana's Grain Pie


If you cel­e­brate Easter, this dessert is a fam­ily tra­di­tion that I look for­ward to indulging in all year. My mother and I are vir­tu­ally cook­ing it together tomor­row as we both want one for our Easter cel­e­bra­tions. Sadly, we won't be together this year, but hav­ing this sweet cake (on this occas­sion I used ramekins to make mini cakes) on our menus will make us feel like we are. Even if you don't cel­e­brate the hol­i­day, you may want to try this dessert, espe­cially if you like the idea of rice pud­ding and cheese­cake hav­ing baby. This post was orig­i­nally printed on April 5, 2012. Now I'll hand it over to myself….

The type of Easter that I cul­ti­vate for my daugh­ter is not far from the kind of fan fare I expe­ri­enced while grow­ing up. There are a few things that have changed. For instance, Scar­lett doesn't have an older brother who tells her he swears he just saw the Easter bunny leav­ing the yard via his red corvette. (Hon­estly, that was just the tip of the ice­berg in terms of the crazy shit he told me.) I love mas­ter­mind­ing a mas­sive egg hunt like my mother used to for us. I totally get into hid­ing eggs all over the main floor of our house and the more the bet­ter. How­ever, there is one thing our hol­i­day has been missing–my nana's grain pie.

A typ­i­cal Ital­ian Easter dessert, my father's mom passed this recipe to my mother and she has made it each year for Easter fes­tiv­i­ties big and small. My whole fam­ily enjoys it, but it would be a tough con­test between my father and myself for who likes it more. In fact, the only other direc­tions I received when my mom emailed me the grain pie recipe for this very post was "cook for 1 hour, then send all left­overs to Daddy!" I ate it all. Sorry, Daddy.

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Zesty Chicken with Red Beans & Rice


We're going through a really good food phase in our house. Esme has decided she loves mus­sels and squid and over a recent ramen lunch, Julian announced that he loved Korean flavours. But I'm scared to make too much of it. I do worry that the par­ent­ing Gods will smite you if you're too cocky, you know? Like when­ever I stu­pidly say some­thing about how rarely my kids get sick I know we're due for a month of pink eye and chest infec­tions. This actu­ally hap­pened less than a month ago, no joke. Still, I'm cau­tiously delighted. You can go ahead and pic­ture me whis­per cheer­ing (yey!).

But where my kids remain balky is over spice. Any sauce that isn't ketchup is sus­pect. Frankly, any men­tion of spice can turn them off of a per­fectly good din­ner. So, I'm try­ing out new words to stand in for spicy. What do you think of zesty? It worked well when I audi­tioned this new din­ner with them a cou­ple of weeks ago. The One-Pot Chicken with Red Beans and Rice has a mild spice of chili but I did not announce that when I brought it to the table. And you've never seen a din­ner dis­ap­pear so quickly. I was hop­ing to pack some in Esme's lunch the fol­low­ing day. Too bad — it was all gone!
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Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry over Brown Rice

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I'm hop­ing I'm get­ting this one in under the wire. In other words, Win­ter bet­ter finally be over. I'd like to tuck away all my hearty recipes until next fall and start chat­ting chilled sal­ads and skew­ers. So say­onara, soup. And buh-bye, chili. It's been real fun shar­ing the past few months of ice storms, polar vor­texes and snow-past-my-bum but I've got a grill to see about a burger, um-kay.

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A Quick Bite With Sophie Dahl


Way before Sophie Dahl was run­way famous, I used to some­times find her drink­ing tea at the kitchen table of my friend Cass' Not­ting Hill home. I was intim­i­dated by that insou­ciant cool that some girls just have. Plus, she was the wide-eyed Sophie from theBFG – the beloved book of all our childhoods.

Fast for­ward to her mod­el­ling days, and overnight, she became a sen­sa­tion. From Richard Ave­don to Tim Walker to Steven Meisel, she was pho­tographed by all the greats and landed on the cover of Vogue six-times. The infa­mous Tom Ford for YSL Opium cam­paign, where Sophie appeared, stark naked and smooth as but­ter cream on larger-than-life bill­boards caused a scan­dal, and still remains one of the most talked about adverts of the last 50-years.

In 2003 Sophie launched her writ­ing career with a beau­ti­fully illus­trated novella, The Man with the Danc­ing Eyes. After this she bagan writ­ing reg­u­larly for The Guardian,The Tele­graphVogue and Bazaar.

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