Food has always been at the heart of Wirksworth-based Natalie Gerrelli’s life – from childhood memories filled with the aromas of her mum’s homemade bread at teatime and purple-stained fingers from blackberry picking in the autumn.
This continued through to her career as a development technologist at herb and spice specialists Schwartz and onto her role as a nutritional therapist, putting the kitchen very much the heart of her family home.
Natalie has brought together all her experience and affection for creating delicious dishes in her first cook book, The Food We Love.
She said: “Food can make us feel good, whether it’s a nourishing breakfast to start the day, a freshly baked cake or a hearty dinner to share. I love food and so do my family. It’s never far from our thoughts! Mealtimes are important occasions throughout our days, months and years. Sometimes it’s a quick pit-stop between work and play, at other times a welcome recharge with friends and family. Good food, always at the heart of our family life, is entwined in all our fondest memories.”
Natalie’s husband and three children have been willing guinea pigs for all her recipes, and the result is a collection of well-loved and home-cooked food that offers something inspiring, comforting and always nourishing for every season.
The book is divided into chapters including ‘It’s A Soup Day’ and ‘Spiced: Flavours From Afar’ alongside irresistible bakes, brunch, picnic fare, pasta, classic comfort food and pudding to provide something for every occasion, or simply the family dinner table at the end of each day.
There are over 90 recipes in total including ones for chocolate chip & banana drop scones; spaghetti with sardines, fennel and lemon and poached chicken with green lentils, watercress and mustard dressing.
Another recipe included in the book is one for mocha brownies, and the ingredients and instructions are included below:
80g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
100g soft light brown sugar
100g soft dark brown sugar
2 tbsp instant Americano coffee powder or 2½ tbsp freeze-dried coffee granules
2 tbsp milk
80g plain flour
100g pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
50g dark chocolate chips or chunks
Line the base of a 22 by 22cm baking tin with greaseproof paper and grease the sides. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 or 180°c.
Start by melting the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over a low heat or in a suitable bowl in the microwave on a low setting. Stir until completely melted.
Next, whisk the light and dark brown sugars with the eggs in a large bowl, either by hand or with an electric whisk until the mixture is pale and bubbly. Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg mixture and gently stir together.
In a small bowl or mug, dissolve the instant coffee in the milk, warming it a little if you need to. Add it to the chocolate and egg mixture then stir briefly.
Sieve the flour into the bowl, add the nuts if you’re using them, and gently stir to make sure all the ingredients are combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared baking tin, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until just set in the middle and cracked on the surface. Make sure you don’t overbake them.
Remove the brownies from the oven and rest on a wire rack to cool. Cut into25 squares to serve.