Welcoming our new baby daughter

Our beautiful baby daughter was born on Thursday and we can’t wait to settle into life as a family of four…hopefully our wonderful boy, Albie, appreciates the company!

In the previous blog post, I cryptically hinted at her chosen names.

Our pregnancy news was first exclusively appeared in one of the papers I work at – the Worthing Herald – a Mother’s Day message to Hanna from ‘Albie and Bump’. We properly shared the news a couple of weeks later, relatively safe in the knowledge no one was likely to spot it among hundreds of other greetings.

Continuing the ‘hint-hint’ theme, each dish of a three-course menu was inspired by her trio of names. Again, fortunately it was subtle enough not to give the game away.

But we have now revealed our second child is called Amelie Autumn Nuala. This is how my dishes reflected our choices:

STARTER: Scallops, cauliflower puree, tarragon oil – Autumn

My first trick was not basing the starter on her first name. Mostly because I already had a pudding idea based on the name Amelie but also because mixing it up a bit provided an extra layer of secrecy.

This was the most obscure course in my thinking and it boiled down to finding something autumnal. My first thought was pumpkin but getting hold of one some time before Halloween, and knowing what to do with it, was not easy. I also happen to think it’s a bit rank and best left carved to go mouldy on your windowsill.

I did a quick search for autumn vegetables and Google presented cauliflower as an option which I knew was good for pureeing. In reality, I think cauliflower is a bit of a curveball as it seems different varieties are harvested depending on the season – and ‘Tesco extra large cauliflower’ isn’t a type listed by the Royal Horticultural Society!
We loved the name Autumn early on.

Some people even thought it was her name when we said she was going to be an autumn baby.

The autumn equinox fell on Tuesday, two days before Amelie was born, so we narrowly avoided the druids as we set off for Worthing Hospital bright and early on Thursday.

MAIN: Roast lamb, lamb shoulder croquettes, potato and cabbage, lamb gravy, mint sauce –  Nuala
Nuala is an Irish name, so it was risky business inviting someone of Irish descent (Hanna’s step-dad) round for the meal.

It’s pronounced ‘Noo-la’, which is certainly not what Hanna thought when she tabled it! We initially thought it was more pirate (‘Noo-arrgh-la’), so I guess it can be something left to creative interpretation. But it looks pretty written down and was our slightly ‘out of the box’ choice.

Years ago we thought about Nala but that was a little bit Lion King for my liking, despite being a really pretty name. I’m not really big on Disney.

I find name origins vary, much like ‘seasonal’ vegetables, or when people get inspiring tribal words tattooed on their arms and it turns out to mean ‘chicken and chips’ or something.

When I researched it, out of the need to build a three-course menu around our choices more than anything symbolic, it is believed to derive from mythology as a shortened form of ‘Fionnuala’ (‘fair shoulder’), or Una (possibly meaning lamb).
This led to lamb being a good base for the dish, with lamb shoulder used in my lamb and roast potato croquettes.

But the big hint on my menu was the use of potato and cabbage, my take on colcannon, an old Irish staple. I had initially written ‘colcannon’ on the menu but Hanna decided this was too much of a giveaway, as if Nuala was the only Irish name in the land.

Anyway, the colcannon must have been really crap, because no one sat there and mused ‘Oh, what a lovely colcannon you’ve got there’. Sorry, purists.

DESSERT: Strawberry and elderflower sorbet, tuile and nut crumb, caramel shards, Madeira-soaked fruit, cranberry sauce
I had envisaged this as a creme brulee however a search of ‘creme brulee link to girl’s name’ would have solved the mystery pretty quickly – and Hanna’s mum is notorious for a spot of Googling.

Back in GCSE French I remember watching the film Amelie. I can’t say the film stuck with me, much like the language (despite my A* in the subject being better than the A of my native language) but I’ve always liked the name. I’m not sure that’ll be much consolation for my French teachers.

Amelie likes simple pleasures, like cracking the top of a creme brulee with a spoon.

I set about recreating that simple pleasure in a pudding, without actually making a creme brulee. I settled on something that incorporated caramel as a substitute.

Having spent an evening cremating sugar, and burning my finger to the extent it had still not healed more than two weeks later, I can confirm it’s certainly not one of my life’s simple pleasures.

The rest of the pud was a red herring. So much so one person was convinced the berries meant we were going with ‘Halle’, as in the film star Halle Berry. Nice try…

We look forward to life as a family of four. If Amelie is less spewy than Albie was, we’re onto a winner!

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