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Monthly Archives: September 2013
  • Posted on September 27, 2013

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’ve all ended up with a cold and a sore throat in the office this week, so a warm soothing soup is exactly what we’re craving. If you’re feeling similar (or you just fancy some delicious soup!) then this recipe for the weekend might be just what you’re looking for; a simple tomato soup from the delightful book, Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm by Heather Cameron.

    This classic soup will make a great weekend lunch for the family or an easy dish to cook with the kids. You could leave it on the stove for a mug on-the-go or use as a reliable starter for your Saturday night dinner party. However you plan to spend your weekend, have a good one and enjoy the recipe!

    Tomato Soup

    If you were able to can up some tomatoes from the summer, this is the perfect recipe for them. Otherwise, buy the absolute best canned tomatoes you can find. Seriously, spend as much per can as you can afford to; it really does make a difference.


    1 small onion, roughly chopped

    1⁄4 cup (60 g) butter

    1 x 1 1⁄4 pint (796 ml) can of the best canned whole tomatoes you can find

    or a 1 3⁄4 pint (1 liter) size jar of your own tomatoes

    A large handful of fresh basil

    3⁄4 cup (100 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

    1 quart (1 liter) low-fat or whole milk

    1 x 2 1⁄4 pint (1.36 liter) can tomato juice (you can buy a low-sodium version)

    1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 Sauté the onion in the butter in a large saucepan. Once the onion is soft, add the can of tomatoes and the basil. Cook for a few minutes until heated through. You can mash the tomatoes with a spoon.

    2 Whisk the flour and milk together in a jug or bowl—don't worry about lumps, as it all gets whizzed up in the blender. Add the milk and flour to the saucepan. Cook until it thickens and then remove from the heat.

    3 Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth—you may need to do this in batches. Blend until very, very smooth.

    4 Pour it all back into the saucepan and add the can of tomato juice. Bring the soup back up to a good heat and stir in the sugar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as you like.

    Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm by Heather Cameron is available here.

    Enjoy the weekend everyone and happy cooking!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with 2013, dinner party, soup, recipe for the weekend, starter, simple

  • Posted on September 23, 2013

    Super-Cute Felt Animals Template

    Sidney the Fluffy Squirrel

    As a treat for this week, here are some templates from Laura Howard's new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals. The image should be printed at A4 size, giving you the templates at the right sizes - open the image below in a separate window and adjust your page setup/printer settings to make it fit the A4 page.

    The full project is available in the CICO Books Ravelry Group, where we will also be sharing loads more projects for crafters!

    Laura Howard's book, Super-Cute Felt Animals, is available here.

    This post was posted in News and was tagged with 2013, template, felt

  • Posted on September 20, 2013

    Recipe for the Weekend

    This week's Recipe for the Weekend is taken from one of our new Autumn titles – Mac ‘n’ Cheese by Laura Washburn. It seems that we’ve all had to put the heating on this week and hunt out our coats and umbrellas; so now that autumn has truly arrived, the yummy pasta bakes in this book will satisfy those warm, comfort food cravings! The recipe that we are sharing with you today is a delicious version of the classic dish, with smoked haddock, spinach and nutmeg.


    Smoked Haddock & Spinach Macaroni Cheese

    Delicate smoked haddock and wilted spinach are a classic combination that needs nothing more than a light creamy sauce spiced with nutmeg to make the flavours sing, resulting in an impressive dish indeed. Lovely for a light dinner or even a weekend brunch.

    SERVES 6–8

    a handful of coarse sea salt

    500 g/1 lb. macaroni

    600 g/11⁄4 lbs. smoked haddock fillets

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    500 g/1 lb. fresh spinach

    15 g/1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    1 large shallot, finely chopped

    600 ml/21⁄2 cups double/heavy cream

    a pinch of grated nutmeg

    200 g/12⁄3 cups grated medium Cheddar

    50 g/1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

    fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the coarse sea salt, then let the water return to a rolling boil. Add the macaroni, stir well and cook according to the package instructions until very tender. Stir periodically to prevent the macaroni from sticking together. When cooked, drain, rinse well under running water and let drip dry in a colander.

    Arrange the haddock fillets in a microwaveable dish in a single layer, skin side down, and pour over just enough water to cover. Cover with clingfilm/plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4–5 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily. Flake the fish, discard the skin and cooking liquid and remove any bones. Set aside.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep frying pan/skillet. Add half the spinach and cook over high heat, stirring often, until wilted. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then transfer to a chopping board and spread out to cool. Repeat for the remaining spinach, then chop all the spinach coarsely and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

    Preheat the grill/broiler to medium–hot.

    In the same large skillet/frying pan, melt the butter and heat the remaining oil. Add the shallot and cook over high heat for 2–3 minutes until just golden, stirring occasionally. Add the cream, nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and bring just to the boil, then reduce the heat.

    Add the haddock and cheese to the spinach in the bowl and pour over the hot cream mixture. Stir well to melt the cheese, then add the macaroni and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    Transfer the macaroni mixture to a baking dish and spread evenly. Top with a good grinding of black pepper and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Grill/broil for 5–10 minutes until the top is crunchy and golden brown. Serve immediately.

    Mac 'n' Cheese by Laura Washburn is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend everybody and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, baking, Comfort Food, recipe for the weekend, mac 'n' cheese, Laura Washburn, spinach, light dinner, cheese

  • Posted on September 13, 2013

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Today we are starting a new weekly post – Recipe for the Weekend. Each Friday we will share one of the delicious recipes from our cookery or bakery range for you to enjoy over the weekend.

    Our first recipe is from The Forager’s Kitchen by Fiona Bird - CICO Books - a delightful book about how to forage food and some simple recipes to cook with your foraged ingredients. We're now into the mushroom season so for all of you foraging folk, here is a treat recipe to use your chanterelles; and for any non-foragers, this recipe will be scrumptious with any other wild mushrooms!


    Chanterelle and Chickweed Puffs

    This is really a soufflé-style recipe, but making the puffs in a well-oiled muffin pan makes it less frightening, and to my mind more presentable too (easier to serve). This recipe would work equally well with other wild mushrooms.

    Serves 8

    What to forage and find:

    13⁄4 cups (400ml) good chicken stock

    21⁄3 cups (150g) chanterelles, brushed and wiped well, thinly sliced

    1⁄2 stick (50g) butter

    Sea salt and ground black pepper

    3⁄4 cup (100g) self-rising flour

    4 eggs, lightly whisked

    2 tablespoons chickweed, finely chopped

    Oil for muffin pan

    What to do:

    1 Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/gas mark 6).

    2 Put the chicken stock and chanterelles in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the butter and salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 3–4 minutes.

    3 Remove from the heat and beat in the flour, until it leaves the pan sides clean.

    4 Put the mixture into a mixing bowl, and leave to cool slightly (or the eggs will curdle.) You can speed this up by standing the bowl in cold water. Then beat the lightly whisked eggs into the mixture. Stir vigorously to ensure a smooth mixture. Fold in the chopped chickweed.

    5 Drizzle a little oil into 8 muffin cups and put in the oven until the oil smokes. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a ladle to divide the mixture evenly between the cups. Bake for 15 minutes, until the puffs are well-risen and golden.

    6 Serve immediately with a green salad and crusty bread.

    The Forager's Kitchen by Fiona Bird is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend everybody and happy cooking!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new and was tagged with 2013, mushrooms, forage, Fiona Bird, recipe for the weekend

  • Posted on September 10, 2013

    Mid-week Chat With Smita Srivastava

    This week we are delighted to be joined by the blogger, mother and all-round food enthusiast, Smita Srivastava.

    1.  Thank you very much for joining us, Smita can you tell us a little about your new book and what we can expect from it?

    It's my pleasure to be with you today. As the name suggests Fun Food for Fussy Little Eaters is all about inspiring the kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables & whole grains by adding the fun element to their meals.

    2.  What inspired you to write a book about fun and healthy food, do you have any of your own fussy little eaters at home?

    My daughter was a fussy eater. Her tiffin used to come back untouched, at home the dinner plates also met the same fate and being a mother I was always worried about it. Eventually one day I shaped the food on her plate into a pair of eyes and mouth, and the food that used to remain on the table for hours vanished in minutes. I started writing the blog Little Food Junction to share my experiences, the overwhelming response from the people finally inspired me to write a book.

    3.  Some adults are fussy eaters too, do you think this begins in childhood and how can we encourage adults and children alike to be more adventurous?

    Definitely, the habit of fussy eating starts right at the tender age. During these tender years adding a little extra fun and a creative approach towards healthy eating surely paves way for a better future. Encouraging fussy adults requires a much more creative approach and experimenting wisely with their taste buds.

    4.  We all know that children are the harshest critics, have you served anything up which a child has refused to eat and how did you get around this problem?

    My daughter dislikes bell peppers, but with all the goodness they carry, I had to find a way to make her eat them. Using a tiny cookie cutter, I made some tiny flowers with it, popped it on a toothpick along with a basil leaf and named it fairy flowers, and she developed a liking for these flowers . Sometimes I finely chop bell peppers and top on sandwiches as edible confetti and it just works.

    5. You run a very successful blog, Little Food Junction, tell us a bit about it.  When did you first start blogging and how did you make the transition from blogger to author?

    I started blogging almost 4 years back to share the foodie creations that I was making for my fussy toddler with the rest of the world. I had never imagined I would get such a tremendous response from people and media from all over the world. It was delightful to know that people (esp kids and mommies) were loving my creations.

    6.  Why do you think a lot of children seem to naturally dislike vegetables and what can be done to change this attitude?

    I think our likings for the natural flavors and crunch gets overshadowed by spicy artificially flavoured food right from childhood . Kids should be encouraged to enjoy fresh produce right from childhood. They should be taught about the negative aspects of packaged and fast foods right from the beginning.

    7.  If you had to pick one recipe from Fun Food as your favourite, which would it be and why?

    That’s a difficult choice indeed! It's tough to decide between Night Owl (nature all around) and Nosy Fox (fun at the zoo).

    8.  What is your greatest success story to date, in terms of convincing a child to eat something they would have otherwise refused?

    I think it’s the bell pepper instance that I had just mentioned above.

    9. Some schools have recently banned packed lunches, branding them too unhealthy.  What are your thoughts on this and what elements are needed for a healthy and enjoyable packed lunch?

    Packed lunches sold in school canteens and supermarts are mostly unhealthy. Steps taken by schools to ban such similar stuff are great. Children should be encouraged to get packed healthy lunches – that could be in the form of simple whole grain sandwiches, fruits and salads from home. Simple meal planning by mothers in advance is all that’s required to make things much easier.

    10.  Does your fussy little eater ever help prepare her own meals?  Do you think parents should allow their children to help out in the kitchen a bit more?

    My family believes in the old Chinese proverb - “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember , involve me and I will understand”. Parents should surely involve little ones to help in the kitchen. My daughter (now 7) loves to pick up an array of colourful vegetables and make some cute sandwich for herself.

    Thank you very much for joining us Smita, parents of fussy little eaters the world over can breathe a sigh of relief!

    Fun Food for Fussy Little Eaters by Smita Srivastava is available to purchase here.



    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, vegetables

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