the 5 O’Clock Apron : meeting the new Nigella

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books{Top image by Mike Lusmore, all others mine.}

I love my kitchen. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, this will come as no surprise to you! The kitchen table is the heart of our home and I am never happier than when I am pottering about and baking a cake. I do love to cook, but what I don’t always enjoy is the relentless demands of feeding a hungry family.

5 o’clock. The end of the day, commonly known as the witching hour. I’m tired, the children are hungry, all of us are often grumpy, and I need to put food on the table. Not just that, but it needs to be nutritious food that the children will willingly eat. It’s a tall order, and a constant struggle, but one brilliant woman is determined to change that.

Claire Thompson, Mum of three, chef, Guardian columnist, and co-owner of Bristol’s Flinty Red restaurant, is ‘in and apron and on a mission’. She wants to inspire parents stuck in a teatime rut, and has just written her first cookbook in order to do just that.

I met Claire at her Bristol home, where she effortlessly whipped up a completely scrumptious lunch, catering for adults and two year olds alike (her youngest daughter and my littlest son bonded over a bowl of bright strawberries for pudding and she very sweetly forgave him for bopping her on the head with a wooden spoon!) I was heartened to see that Claire cooks not in a grand show-kitchen, but in a family kitchen just like mine. Her passion for food is voluble and infectious, and I was utterly inspired to re-imagine our weekday dinners.

With a copy of Claire’s book, The Five O’Clock Apron, I was able to do just that. Over the course of the next week, I tested out recipe after recipe, on a particularly tough crowd. I rarely manage to please all three boys simultaneously, but with Claire’s recipes, I was able to do so time and time again. Flatbreads, soup, Chicken Schwarma, Syrian Lentils, all wolfed down without a scrap left! There is also a brilliant chapter on homemade snacks, which I am working my way through. The oatcakes are a total revelation, easy and tasty. With the dough kept in the fridge to be sliced and baked at a moment’s notice, I am ready for the most peckish of kids.

When it comes to recipe books, I am not easily impressed. With a stack of them already gathering dust on my shelf, they have to earn a place in my kitchen. The Five O’Clock Apron, however, is truly a gorgeous and invaluable book. I am completely in love with my copy, and honestly cannot recommend it highly enough. Claire has kindly offered a copy of her book to a lucky Circle of Pine Trees reader. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning it, just complete the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post. This giveaway is open to UK residents only.

If you’d like to find out more about Claire and her cooking, you can connect with her below. I particularly enjoy her daily children’s supper prompts over on Twitter.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

{Disclosure: Claire kindly gave me a copy of the book, but all thoughts, opinions and general gushing are my own!}

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  • oh that looks wonderful! I just learnt to make Wagamama Yaki Soba from a YouTube video so I think that’s our current favourite, it’s very quick and easy which makes it a firm favourite!!

    • Thank you for the chance to win. I adore Nigella. My first book was given to me by my sister in law as a babymoon gift during my first pregnancy. My kids and I love to use her recipes. We love her spiced peaches, and the roast turkey…and also her chocolate cheesecake.

  • It sounds like a great book. I often have that moment of horror at 5 o’clock when everyone’s hungry and I’ve no idea what to make. CJ xx

  • Oh I am so in need of inspiration! I try to ring the changes but am stuck in a particularly deep tea-time rut & I need to get out of ‘pasta tuesdays’! Thus looks just lovely!

  • Thanks for the chance to win, it sounds a really handy book to have, I am always lost for inspiration at tea time – and get bored of the same things. At the moment one of our tea time favourites that goes down well with my boys is any sort of chinese/thai – which I was quite surprised at.

  • I have a 9 o’clock panic each day (which is when we start cooking usually, mine have slowly been leaving the nest) and this looks like it could help immeasurably.

  • With just me and my son at home it is pretty much up to me what I cook, he’ll eat anything being a teenager! At the moment we are into BBQ pulled pork with fresh green salad and homemade crusty rolls

  • I find getting dinner on the table so draining – after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook (I’m a scientist so cooking feels too similar to my day job – standing at a countertop and mixing stuff together!) Quick and simple works best for us – homemade chicken fingers with roasted asparagus and a garlicky yoghurt sauce is one of our faves!

  • The book sounds great and I think most people could use more inspiration when it comes to cooking tasty and nutritious food for children that they might actually enjoy!

  • That looks like a wonderful book. I currently like roasting a chicken at the start of the week so I can have it as a roast on the first day( Sunday roasts rarely happen!) then maybe cold with wedges, as a curry, mixed with grapes, onions and mayo as a jacket filling etc etc. a rissotto made by putting all the stock in at once so I can leave it, only stirring occasionally, sacrilegious I know. Toad in the hole in the winter but cooking loads of sausages so they can have sweet chilli stir fry the following day….. Can you tell that spending hours in the kitchen is not my thing? Penny L

  • I love the idea of this book. I’m lucky that my boy is not fussy and I’m always on the look out for recipes that we can all enjoy.
    We visited Bristol recently and were lucky enough to eat at Flinty Red. I loved it. (And so did Fred). Another reason to visit Bristol again in the not so distant future. x

  • Oops – only just seen that I’m meant to share my favourite teatime meal. I’m a big fan of the egg for teatime. I love Shakshuka for tea – I lay off the chilli if my seven year old is eating with us. Omelettes are also a teatime favourite.

  • My favourite teatime recipe at the moment is falafel wraps – the children LOVE assembling their own wraps and it’s a great way to get them to eat healthy things!

  • I love doing Nigella’s spinach and feta pasta from Kitchen, I make extra so I can have some at work the next day. I reserved 5 O’Clock Apron from the library months ago but I’m still way down the list, it’s obviously popular here!

  • Have been looking at this book for a while now and trying to make up my mind whether to get it. It looks so inspiring and I am hoping to try some of the recipes out on my very fussy child and with the rest of my family,

  • oh how I love a good cook book. as my children get older the witching hour has got later, it now starts about 6 but it’s just as bad………

  • That looks like a great book! If my three year old had a choice it would be frozen peas still frozen and backed beans for supper :/ but fajitas and sweet potato chips always go down a treat

  • We usually turn to anything rice-related when we don’t know what to eat; fried rice, rice with ratatouille, cinnamon rice, whatever you can imagine! After a while it gets boring though, no matter how much you love rice! So new inspiration is always welcome! 🙂

  • summer means lots of wraps and salad at the mo, but I do need help before I cook one of the boys at 5pm

  • I love cooking at the end of the day, I find it very therapeutic, I just struggle for inspiration! My daughter is 6 and quite fussy, I’d love some ideas of successful children’s meals that are tried and tested!

  • Looks lovely. I wonder if I would be up to the cooking challenge of a prof chef? Our family favourite is a mild lamb curry, it’s going down well with a two year old.

  • One of the few things that all 4 of my kids like is a rough risotto – risotto rice with chorizo, chicken and whatever fresh veg I have to hand cooked with stock and a lot of butter and cheese at the end. They can all pick out whatever bits they like, but still manage to eat most of it. They also all like Taco Tuesday, so I’ll be sticking with that for a while.
    The book sounds like the kind of inspiration I need.

  • Feeding five children has always been a challenge and having recently lost my cooking mojo this book sounds like the perfect remedy.

  • Don’t know about mine, ever changing tastes, but my son loves pesto pasta. We make our own spinach and basil pesto with Parmesan and macadamias instead of pine nuts. Always a winner.