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Mamushka was released on the 4th of June and was written by Olia Hercules.

Olia and I spent so much time together working on this book that I now consider her a close friend.

My journey for this book started with a trip out of Gatwick airport to visit the lovely country that is Ukraine.  I didn’t know anything about it before this, and now I want to go back again and again.  It’s such a lovely country with fantastic, welcoming people.  You can read an earlier post about my trip here.

Full of childhood memories and sweet little stories, it feels like Olia lets us have a glimpse of what has made her who she is today.  Olia has managed to capture a feeling, the spirit of Ukraine if one could call it that, and put it into words.  She writes exceptionally well and I can tell you first hand that she put her heart and soul into every recipe.  They all taste fantastic!

For some reason I’m having trouble putting into words exactly how I feel about Mamushka.  With 5 days in Ukraine and more shoot days in a studio in London, this project took up a lot of my time (in a good way).  It’s probably also because I know how close this book and these recipes are to Olia’s mother, aunt and grandmother that I also feel akin to this book in particular.

One thing that I will tell you is that whilst we were shooting with Olia I kept suggesting that she change the name to Dill.  There is a lot of fresh dill and herbs in the recipes… One of the many things that makes them fantastic.

Mamushka is out on Amazon now, get your copy here


When driving in the countryside you get what seems like endless fields of these sun drenched flowers

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Setting up and cooking some campfire Mutton brothUkraine 2958

Campfire Mutton Broth

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Olia getting ready to make Vertuta (Moldovan giant cheese twist)

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Ukrainian Narcotics (aka preserved pork fat… very addictive)Ukraine 1237


I loved the light and natural feel of the markets in Ukraine.  Not stuffy and clinical like our ones in the UK

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Giant Beetroot for making Borscht

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A happy Babushka selling bread

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Tsar’s Surf and Turf



Plov (Azerbaijani Rice and Fruity Lamb) I’ve had this in restaurants since, but never as good as Olia’s aunts!



Pampushky (Ukrainian garlic bread) So delicate you should brush it with duck feathers



Nutty noodle meringues



Napoleon cake (light delicate pastry with creamy custard… yum)



Armenian pickle (these were addictive)