My life on a plate - Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor shares her favourite childhood food memories and the recipe she'd like to pass on to her children.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

The recipe I grew up with...

spaghetti bolognese in a bowl with parmesan and forkSpaghetti Bolognese reminds me of my childhood because it was the first time I got involved in chopping and stirring, and understanding how flavours combined. Everyone does their spag Bol a different way. My stepmum always put a lot of vegetables into hers – she used courgettes, carrots and peppers – but my mum (former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis) went with tomato, beef and lots of garlic. So the dish also reminds me of the two houses I grew up in after my parents split up when I was four.

 I wouldn’t say it was the ideal childhood, but my parents were both very good about making me feel loved. It all ended up really well because my parents both remarried, and I’m close to my step-parents and have brothers and sisters on both sides. My mum used to have big meals at the weekend when people came over.

Weekends were important because, until I was eight, my mum was working during the week on Blue Peter. Sometimes I went on the show – I remember they made a snood and I got to try it on. Another time they were doing something on asthma and I jumped about on a trampoline with loads of other kids. My dad, Robin, works in telly too, as a producer and director. When we travelled, I would always try exotic stuff. I remember having mussels and chips in the South of France. And when I was four, my mum spent six weeks in Africa with Blue Peter. My dad and I joined her for the last 10 days and I ate lobster and prawns.

Make Janet Ellis's Bolognese

The recipe I'd like to pass on...

roast chicken with root veg on plate with gold cutleryWe have four sons – Sonny (13), Kit (eight), Ray (five), and Jesse (one) – and they are all quite experimental with food. I think because the eldest two are good eaters, and love things like sushi and eat loads of veg, the youngest don’t really think about it. Four of anything is quite full-on and, because there are so many of them, I can’t operate a café system: the boys might not get one of their top five meals, but they will always get something decent and they just have to get it down them.

In our house, a really good roast is the ultimate thing – we all love it. Richard and I have silly jobs, so no two weeks are the same shape. Dropping anchor and making things happen regularly so that there is consistency and a reassuring base is important to make the kids feel secure and happy.

Whenever we are home at weekends, we’re traditional and have a big Sunday lunch with Yorkshire puddings and the lot. I’d like it if the boys had something similar going on when they grow up because I think it’s good for your head. When there’s lots of to-ing and fro-ing, constants like a Sunday roast can be really reassuring. We do roast lamb and pork occasionally, but chicken is the easy one. Richard and I always cook lunch together and we do the same for Christmas dinner. He is fantastic at roast potatoes and I do the vegetables. We both get on with our bits and bobs, and it means that, if we’ve a house full of people, it still feels relatively relaxed.

Make Sophie's roast chicken with garlic & rosemary root veg

Sophie will be playing the Cornbury Festival 7-9 July.

More from our Life on a plate series...

My life on a plate - Kirstie Allsop
My life on a plate - Gary Barlow
My life on a plate - Tom Daley

What are the recipes that make you think of home? Let us know in the comments below...

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