Friday, 29 August 2014


I am so excited to be able to share the English-speaking cast of this new Moomin film, announced in Helsinki today, with you. I'm particularly excited about Russell Tovey and the local North London stand-up comic, Dominic Frisby. I cannot wait to see the film!

The hand drawn animation feature Moomins on the Riviera’s English cast is revealed:

Award winning British actor Russell Tovey (The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Grabbers, Being Human, Him and Her) plays Moomin. Nathaniel Parker (Merlin, Stardust, The Haunted Mansion, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and Tracy Ann Oberman (EastEnders, Filth) play Moominpappa and Moominmamma respectively. Stephanie Winiecki, in her first major movie role, plays Snorkmaiden. 
The irrepressible Little My is played by Ruth Gibson. Philippe Smolikowski is Moominpappa’s new best friend, the wannabe artist, Marquis Mongaga. Dave Browne plays the upper-crust playboy Clark Tresco, who sets his sights on Snorkmaiden. Shelley Blond (Tomb Rider video game, Cruise of Gods) plays Audrey Glamour, the Hollywood actress, idolised by Snorkmaiden.
Other roles are played by Dominic Frisby (The Inbetweeners Movie), Ian Conningham, Alison O’Donnell, Bernard Alane, Bruno Magnes, Maria Sid, Beata Harju, Andy Turvey, Kris Gummerus, Glyn Banks, Lee Willis, Sanna-June Hyde, Christopher Sloan and Leslie Hyde.
You can watch the English trailer at:

MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA, based on the original comic strips by the celebrated author, painter and illustrator Tove Jansson, is a bitter-sweet adventure taking the Moomin familyfrom their beloved Moominvalley to the glamorous Riviera, where Moominpappa befriends an aristocrat and adopts the name ‘de Moomin’,  where Snorkmaiden is dazzled by the attentions of a playboy and Moomin learns that jealousy’s sting is the most painful of all. For the very first time, the unity of the Moomins is threatened.
A Finnish/French co-production, the film is directed by Xavier Picard and produced by Hanna Hemilä.                

Monday, 25 August 2014

Thai style pork meatballs with noodles in a fragrant broth

For some reason I've been craving Thai flavoured pork meatballs for some time, and I love noodles, so combining red curry paste and herbs, I made up this recipe. It was so good and popular with Daughter and The Englishman, I thought I'd share it with you.

The meatballs can be cooked in the oven on a non-stick oven tray, or be fried in a heavy based pan (in which case roll the meatballs in little plain flour before frying in hot vegetable oil).

For the meatballs you need:

  • 500 grammes minced pork
  • 1 egg
  • 3 water chestnuts, chopped
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 red chilli (seeds removed)
  • I glove of garlic crushed
  • 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil 
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon of oyster sauce
Blitz spring onion, coriander, chilli, chopped water chestnuts, garlic and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. 

Mix the minced pork with all the ingredients including the egg and form into about 16 balls. Bake in 180 c oven for 20 minutes. (Or coat in flour and fry in small batches.)

For the noodles in fragrant broth you need:

  • one teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon red Thai curry paste,
  • tin of coconut milk
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 250 grammes packet of medium egg noodles
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • A carrot cut into matchsticks
  • 3 chestnut mushrooms thinly sliced
  • Spring onion, cut in half and finely sliced
  • Handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Thai basil, finely chopped
While the pork meatballs are cooking, start preparing the broth and noodles. Heat oil in a large pan and fry the red Thai red curry paste for a minute or two until there's a strong scent of spices. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock. When the broth comes to boil, let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Next, add carrots and cook for 5-10 minutes according to how small the matchsticks are. Add mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes. Finally add the noodles and cook according to packet instructions (mine took 4 minutes).

When the meatballs are cooked through, remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for a few minutes. Add them to the broth, sprinkle with some fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve with more lime wedges.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I totally loved Liane Moriarty's previous novels ('What Alice Forgot' ,'The Husband's Secret') but 'Little Lies' exceeded all my expectations. The story evolves around a school in a nice sea-fronted neighbourhood in Sydney where an unspecified tragic event takes place at a parents' fund-raiser. The story is interspersed with police interviews, adding an intriguing teaser quality to the plot, which isn't really needed because the writing is so well crafted that the reader is completely in the book's thrall anyway. 

The story is told from the point of view of three mothers: the single mother Jane, the confident Madeline, and the beautiful Celeste, whose five-year-olds are new to the Pirriwee Public School. Any mother will recognise the terror and delight of those first months when a child starts school told so well in 'Little Lies', but this novel is about so much more. It's about lies, as the title suggests, but it's also about secrets, friendship, sex, love and marriage.
Because there are so many twists and turns in the book, I won't go into the detail of the plot. I envy anyone who has yet to read this novel; so I shall leave you all to find out what happens to the families of Pirriwee Pubic all by yourselves. Be prepared for a en emotional roller-coaster and give up all your free time to Liane Moriarty's prose; I consumed 'Little Lies' under a week because I just could not put the book down!
by Liane Moriarty

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Authors, be careful what you read...

Does what you read affect how you write?

I've just finished reading The Woman in the Picture by Katharine McMahon. This novel, following the life of a female lawyer, Evelyn Gifford, in the 1920s London, is written from the point of view of the heroine and very much in a formal style of the time.

I loved the book (gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, no less) and was so engrossed with Evelyn's trials and tribulations (excuse the pun), that when I went back to writing my current book, Oh England!, I found that I was using the language of the 1920's rather than the 1980's which is the time period of my novel.

It's not the first time that I've noticed this phenomena.  When in the middle of a new book I have to be very careful with the kinds of books, or genre I'm reading. Even the period of my reading matter can sometimes be detrimental to my writing. Same goes for reading books in another language; since I begun writing in earnest, I've had to give up on Finnish and Swedish books in their original language altogether. Sad, I know!

At times when - like now - I am in the crucial second part of the novel, I've had to suspend all reading of fiction all together.

Who would have thought that writing fiction sometimes forces you to stop reading it?

Do you find that you need to keep to your genre and time period when in the middle of a writing project, or as me, have to go cold turkey on reading all together?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A New Finnish Cookbook, Kuura, plus an Exclusive Recipe

Sini signing her cookbooks at the Kuura launch at
the Finnish Ambassador's Residence
The flavours of Nordic cuisine have become ever more popular in recent years as Scandinavian design, lifestyle and drama have penetrated the public consciousness in the United Kingdom.

In spite of its apparent ease and simplicity, cooking the Nordic way with ingredients available in Britain can be tricky. To help navigate the cross-cultural gastronomy, Sini Kiialainen, Chef for the Finnish Ambassador to London, has created Kuura, a Nordic cookbook designed for the British audience.

I began writing the book after receiving many requests for my recipes, and I’m very proud of how it turned out,’ says Sini Kiialainen.

Born in Finland, Sini moved to London at the age of 18. She has made an impressive 12-year career on the London restaurant scene, and Kuura draws its inspiration from Sini’s extensive work for a variety of diplomatic occasions, be it intimate meetings over coffee, luncheons, formal dinners or large receptions.

For me the most inspired recipe is the ‘posh’ mini meat and rice pasties (lihapiirakka). But these lihapiirakka are million miles away from some of the worst examples of this classic street food that you just must have after a night out in Finland, when some drinks have been know the kind of moment! Having tasted Sini's pasties at the launch of Kuura, I can vouch for their authentic and excellent flavour.

Every time I see that picture I want to make the meat and rice pasties again,’ Sini said when we chatted about her new book at the Finn-Guild office yesterday.

I love lihapiirakka in all their incarnations (even the greasy ones sold from a van), but the Englishman has a love/hate relationship with this Finnish version of the late-night kebab. He believes a drunk and hungry Scot, while visiting Finland, must’ve invented the deep-fried savoury pasties. (This is a reference to deep-fried Mars bars, I think). When I told him that I’d tasted a posh version, he couldn’t quite believe it.  

So to prove a point, here it is – exclusively on my blog - Sini’s Beef and Rice Pasties (to be served with Pickled Cucumber and Mustard Mayonnaise). I bet you’ll fall in love with them just as I and all the Finnish Ambassador’s guests did!

Beef and Rice Pasties
This is the best street food imaginable after a night out. My husband loves them. Rare treat though.

500 g beef mince
1 onion
1/2 bulb of garlic
2 - 3 tablespoons of oregano
1 tablespoon of all spice
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of anchovy sauce
6 drops of Worcestershire sauce
sea salt & black pepper
250 g boiled arborio rice
30 g fresh yeast
500 ml warm water
750 g strong white bread flour
25 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
1 egg
50 ml olive oil
plus 2 litres of veg oil for deep frying

Start with the filling. Boil the arborio rice for 10 - 15 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set to the side.
Brown the beef mince in a frying pan. Add finely chopped onion and garlic and fry lightly for a few minutes. Add spices, anchovy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Add the rice to the mixture.
Then make the bread dough. Dissolve fresh yeast into warm water. Add all of the other ingredients and mix well for 3 minutes. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 4 - 5 minutes.
Leave the dough in a bowl, covered with a tea towel in a warm place for 30 - 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knead the dough once more and divide into 12 - 15 balls and roll them out to approx. 1cm thick discs. Spoon in the filling to bottom half of the base, fold the top part over the filling and crimp the edges carefully shut using cold water to glue the edges together.
Deep fry at 180 °C for a few minutes per side or until golden brown.

To buy your own copy of Kuura, go to
There's a limited number of copies for sale to members of Finn-Guild at the Camden office.