Review: The Contented Calf Cookbook

A couple of weeks back, I was invited to a little soiree down the road from me in Twickenham to support the launch of a new recipe book: The Contented Calf.  Not another cookery book you might exclaim?! But this is no “30 minute meals” nor “domestic goddess” frippery, this is something really quite different, a recipe book to support breastfeeding mums…. (slightly) strange, but true.

Intrigued, I hopped in the car and drove the 10 minute journey (it would have been a lot longer by foot, trust me, I’m not that lazy honest…) to Langton’s Bookshop on Church Street, where I found a group of people feasting on what looked like the most delicious of delicious canapés. This surely couldn’t be samples of the “recipes for breastfeeding mums” – could it?  Well, it turned out that it was, and on diving in to road test said canapés (all in the name of research you understand), I can confirm, they were all bloody delicious!

Now, I admit, I do find the name “contented calf” a little on the icky side.  For me, the connotation of your beautiful little bubba being the contented calf only then casts you in the role of the milking cow and, frankly, that sits a little strange with me, but that aside, I’m here to tell you that this is one hell of a cookbook.  The recipes/food I sampled were so tasty and so flavoursome that I would have no hesitation in cooking any number of them regardless of the fact that I’m not breastfeeding anymore.  They would also, I believe, go down well with Richmond Daddy and just to be clear, he never has nor ever will, be breastfeeding… urgh.

But for those of you reading this that are, allow me to tell you more….

The Contented Calf Cookbook - on sale from 10 October, priced £14.99

The Contented Calf Cookbook: Nourishing Recipes for Breastfeeding Mums is a unique book of meals especially devised – by mum of one Elena Cimelli and her food writer friend Jassy Davis – to help breastfeeding mums boost their milk supply.  As someone who had to have a c-section and had to wait what felt like an eternity for their milk to come in and then struggled with “supply” (sorry, TMI for the male readers of this blog, apologies) and then had to eat her own bodyweight in fenugreek supplements in order to try and help things along (for the record, they only succeeded in making me smell of curry, not good) I would have appreciated a book like this and would certainly not have begrudged eating any of these dishes in the name of health and wellbeing and milk supply!

After much research into lactogenic foods, which you’ll be pleased to know are not über-weird Gillian McKeith style foods but instead include things like oats and almonds, figs and apricots, Elena and Jassy set about developing a range of recipes that puts those and other everyday lactogenic ingredients to good use.  To give you a flavour of what you can find in amongst the 87 recipes, there are dishes such as Oven Baked Beetroot Risotto, Thai Coconut & Chicken Soup, even Beef Stew & Dumplings.

At the book launch we were treated to homemade multi seed bread alongside (my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE) Pea & Coconut Soup with Chilli & Lemongrass, as well as a delicious Warm Roast Vegetable & Goat’s Cheese Salad, then we feasted on Fig & Fennel Scones and Coconut Fairy Cakes, and were sent home happy and stuffed swinging a goody bag of Almond Drop Cookies. I’ve never eaten so well! (well, actually, I have – my Dad is a chef, but anyway you get the gist, it was all very yummy) And truly the food was so good that regardless of whether or not you’re breastfeeding you should totally check this cookbook out.

Elena and Jassy have kindly allowed me to reproduce one of their recipes on my blog, so here’s one of my favourites that you absolutely have to make and try:

Pea & Coconut Soup with Chilli & Lemongrass

This spicy soup has plenty of fragrant flavours.  Reduce the chilli or leave it out entirely if you prefer your meals a bit milder.

25-30 minutes to prepare – 25 minutes active cooking – 40-50 minutes total cooking time

Makes 6 servings


2 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1-2 tsp dried red chilli flakes

2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped

200g potatoes, peeled and diced 900g peas, defrosted if frozen

1 litre hot vegetable stock

400ml coconut milk

1 bunch fresh coriander leaves

  1. Add the coconut oil to a large pan and place over a very low heat. Add the onion and stir to coat in the oil. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and the pan lid. Sweat the onion over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to make sure it doesn’t catch or colour.
  2. Stir the garlic, chilli flakes, lemongrass and potatoes into the onions. Season again, re-cover with the greaseproof paper and the pan lid and sweat for 10 more minutes, stirring once or twice, or until the potatoes are starting to soften.
  3. Discard the greaseproof paper. Add the peas, stock and coconut milk. Turn up the heat and bring to a gentle boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the coriander leaves.
  4. Ladle the soup, in batches, into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour the blitzed soup through a sieve into a large bowl to catch
    any unblended bits. Press the fibrous vegetable matter in the sieve to squeeze out as much soup as possible. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

The cookbook is coffee-table book gorgeous in terms of its design and truly, whether you’re breastfeeding or not, the food is delicious.  But, if you are breastfeeding and wanting to ensure to eat the right things to nourish yourself and in turn your baby, then this could be great for you.  It gives you easy ways to introduce lactogenic ingredients into your breakfasts, lunches, dinner, snacks, and drinks, and over half of the dishes are designed to be made in the final months of pregnancy and frozen; so if you’re reading this and you’re preggers/about to pop – then get busy!

The Contented Calf Cookbook retails at £14.99 and can be purchased online from or from

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