Author Archives: Jo

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Restaurant Review: Handmade Burger Co. Bullring, Birmingham

A few weeks ago, a few local bloggers and I were invited to Handmade Burger Co. flagship branch in the Bullring to sample their food and meet the owner Chris and the marketing manager, Mike. I (Jo’s Kitchen) was joined by fellow bloggers Charlene, her husband Ian, and Elizabeth, along with Emma from the Bullring.

We perused their vast menu (who knew there could be so many burger choices!) and as Handmade Burger Co. does not do starters as such, we settled on a selection of chargrilled chicken and halloumi and vegetable skewers, served alongside an assortment of dips to share amongst us all. We tried all the chicken skewer flavours except the plain one. My favourite was the peri –peri as the chicken was really moist and tender, with a little bit of heat coming from the peri-peri. The dips were excellent too. I loved the hoisin and hot chill ones.

For my main, I chose the American cheese beef burger with an onion ring, gherkin, American mustard, mature cheese, mayonnaise and salad. I shared some peri-peri chips and onion rings sides with Emma. The bun was crisped to perfection and there was a generous amount of cheese on the burger too. The burger itself was charred on the outside and extremely moist within. It was unlike any burger I have eaten before. Due to the large portion size, I was unable to finish the burger. Next time I visit, I will probably have one of their smaller burgers as this one, although lovely was much too big for me to finish.  The sides were excellent too. I loved the peri-peri chips and the onion rings. The coleslaw was delicious and an excellent contrast to the rich burger. (I sneaked some to try from Charlene)

Chocolate Brownie Sundae

After a much-needed break, I decided to go for the chocolate brownie sundae for pudding. It was full of yummy vanilla ice cream, massive chunks of chocolate brownie and lots of chocolate sauce. I licked the bowl clean. It was yummy!

While we had been eating our meals, Chris chatted to us about why he started Handmade Burger Co and his beliefs in providing good quality food from other family run companies. The beef for his burgers comes from Scotland and is sent to the branches in mince form and they make the burgers themselves every day. The chicken is Red Tractor farm assured. Chris would like to use free-range chicken but cannot get it in the quantity he needs to supply all his stores. The bread comes from a family bakery that makes the buns according to Chris’s recipe. The potatoes are Maris Pipers and are brought to the branches as whole potatoes in bags and the chefs prepare them on site. Whatever Chris does not know about potatoes is not worth knowing!

Many thanks to Chris, Mike, Emma and my fellow bloggers for a lovely evening. I will definitely be back at Handmade Burger Co. soon!

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

A Quick Guide to Coffee Machines


Coffee is not just a part of most people’s mornings; nowadays it’s a big part of British culture. A far cry from a few years ago when all we had were watery Styrofoam cups in cafés and the occasional Italian deli espresso that cost the earth, today great coffee is not only something that can be enjoyed in your lunch hour but also in your own home.

One great way to bring the taste of fresh coffee to your mornings is with a coffee machine – but what do you need to know about these appliances?

How do they work?

Coffee machines
, like the Tassimo from Bosch, are very easy to use. Simply pop the little T Disc into the machine which contains your roasted beans, place your mug underneath and then press the button.

In absolutely no time at all, the machine will fill your mug with your morning coffee. They actually take a lot less time to boil than a standard kettle too which leaves you with a few precious minutes to take care of anything else you need to when getting the family ready for the day.

How do they taste?

The taste is the most important part of any cup of coffee. With coffee machines, you are able to buy the exact strength refill disc that you desire; with beans varying from dark and chocolaty to gentle and nutty.

Importantly, machines such as the Tassimo incorporate an “intelligent brewing” system. This is done via a barcode on the refill disc. The machine scans the disc to calculate the exact temperature, boiling time and amount of water needed to make each specific cup of coffee. No more adding too much instant coffee or too much water and spending those morning minutes gulping down something only half-tolerable!

How do they look?

Coffee machines are designed to not only make great coffee but also to look fabulous. Thanks in part to their sleek ergonomic styling, coffee machines fit beautifully into the modern kitchen and this is something that all mums can get behind.

How do you maintain them?

When it comes to maintaining your coffee machine, it is amazingly easy – something all busy mums want to hear. No more constantly wiping down the decks to get rid of spilled instant power, all you have to do is simply pop a cleaning disc into the back of the machine and run it as normal. This will ensure it stays clean, functional and beautiful for years and years, giving you the benefits of gloriously brewed coffee and a clean family kitchen at the same time.



Camping Cooking: Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup

I love camping! The fresh air, the sunshine (hopefully!) and the ability to do all your cooking outdoors make it one of my most favourite things. I love trying to cook more adventurous things when I am outdoors such as Fish in a Bag! and lots of wonderful dishes when Jo’s Kitchen became Jo’s Field Kitchen!

At the moment I am really enjoying Asian flavours and one of my most loved and healthiest dishes is chicken noodle soup. It is very easy to prepare all in one saucepan, whether you are after an easy after work supper or want to cook something easy but different from the norm when camping.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Leftover chicken or 400g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
  • 4-6 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 de-seeded chilli, chopped finely
  • 2 balls of dried egg noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped


  1. Put the oil in a saucepan and heat up. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry until softened.
  2. If using uncooked chicken, add it in now and fry until it is white all over and starting to go golden brown.
  3. Add in the stock and allow the chicken to cook for a few minutes, then add in the noodles and cook according to the package instructions.
  4. Finally, add in the cooked chicken (if using) and finish with fresh coriander. Serve and enjoy!

Please let me know if you try this recipe. I really hope it will become one of your family favourites like it has for us.

This post is in association with Thomson Alfresco

Disclosure: I received payment in kind of products from Lakeland in exchange for doing this post.


Restaurant Review: The Gallery, Selffridges, Bullring, Birmingham

I went for lunch at The Gallery Restaurant on Level 4 in Selfridges in the Bullring, Birmingham. I was warmly greeted by the members of the waiting staff, and seated at a table near the balcony, giving an excellent view of Bullring. The menu at The Gallery is wide and varied, with everything from salads and sandwiches for a light meal to burgers and steak dinners for those with greater appetites.

As I was out on my own, (it doesn’t happen very often!) I decided to treat myself to a full three course meal. For my starter, I couldn’t resist having the Scallops with a Saffron Risotto and Peas. I loved the scallops as they were caramelised beautifully and were cooked to perfection. The risotto was fresh and creamy, and complemented the crispy scallops excellently.

For my main, I settled on the Confit Pork Belly, served with Chive Mash, Black Pudding Fritter, Apple Sauce and Red Wine Jus. The cracking was so thin and crispy, I can only wish my cracking I did at home was this good. The pork was juicy and the chive mash packed punch of flavour too. The mash was surrounded by a pool of red wine jus, which is good as in some restaurants, you only get a tiny bit of jus to accompany the dish. The only negative to my main was the black pudding fritter. I don’t feel it really added anything to dish. The texture just did not agree with the moist and juicy pork or the creamy mash. Everything else was excellent though and I would certainly order this again.

To finish, I had the White Chocolate and Raspberry Torte served with Mint Ice Cream. When I saw this on the menu, I wondered why the chef had chosen mint ice cream to accompany the torte as I thought that the ice cream would overpower the white chocolate. I was completely wrong. The mint cut through the richness of the torte and brought out the flavour of the white chocolate and the raspberries. This was my dish of the day and I could of eaten it all over again!

I am already planning my next trip to Bullring so I can go and try one of The Gallery’s burgers and eat the torte again! Thank you to all the team at The Gallery for an excellent meal.

The post also appeared on the Bullring website

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.




Meal Planning Monday – 20th May 2013


Sorry I am a day late with this post. Life is a bit crazy at the moment. Lets jump straight into this week’s meal plan:

Monday: takeaway

Tuesday: salmon, Jersey Royal potatoes and salad

Wednesday: chicken curry, rice and naan bread

Thursday: an adapted version of roasted asparagus, spring onion chorizo & butter bean salad with a lime chipotle dressing

Friday: takeaway

Saturday: pasta bolognese with garlic bread

Sunday: I am leaving Sunday free as I think we want to get out and about and enjoy the bank holiday weekend

For more meal plans, please see Mrs M’s linky

Meal Planning Monday – 13th May 2013


Another Monday again! Where has the summer gone? I want it back now. I've had enough of the rain and the cold. It seems we take one step forward, then two back with this weather. Anyway, here is how this week looks:

Monday: lamb lasagne with salad (recipe to follow soon)

Tuesday: Jo out at blogger's event. Hubby is fending for himself

Wednesday: peppered steak and chips (forgot to get it out of the freezer last week. Doh!)

Thursday: chicken chow mein

Friday: soup and bread

Saturday: takeaway

Sunday: ????????

For more meal plans, please see Mrs M's linky


I am a BBC Good Food Show Blogger!!

Good Food bloggers logo outline-page-001

Earlier on in the year, I was contacted the BBC Good Food Show asking if I would like to be a member of their new Good Food Bloggers community. Having been going to the Good Food Shows for many years, I jumped at chance to be involved and get the inside scoop. As part of the community, we get sent products from producers who will be appearing at the shows. So far we have received, some dried Edible Ornamentals Chipotle Chilli and some Farmer’s Fayre Rose Veal escalopes.

Hairy Biker's Gourmet Chili

With the smoked dried chipotle chilli, I made the Hairy Biker’s Gourmet Chilli with bitter chocolate. The Hairy Biker’s make regular appearances at the good food shows and being huge fans of theirs, it seemed the most appropriate thing to make. I adapted the recipe as I only used steak mince and also did not add any beans into my chill. It was gorgeous and the smoky chili really came through. I will definitely be making this again!


With the veal, I just served it simply griddled with new potatoes, green beans and carrots. It was yummy and has veal is really good for us, I will be definitely eat it in another way soon.


A few weeks ago, most of the good food bloggers community went to Purnell’s Bistro and Gingers Bar in Birmingham for lunch and some cocktails. We were treated to a cocktail making demonstration where we learn that cocktail making and creating recipes are actually very similar. We got to try a few cocktails too. My favourite was the roast lamb Provençal cocktail (basically roast dinner in a glass) It is very strange tasting at first but after a few sips I really enjoyed it.   I want to go back again to try more cocktails. For my lunch at Purnell’s Bistro, I had;

Starter: Black Pudding – Potato Rosti – Poached Hen’s Yolk – Bacon Dressing

Main: Blade of Beef – Seasonal Vegetables – Mustard Jus

Pudding: Seasonal Crumble – Vanilla Ice Cream

It was lovely to meet my fellow bloggers and I cannot wait to see them all again at the summer show :-)

If you would like to go to the BBC Summer Good Food Show from 12th to the 16th June 2013 at the NEC and have not got your tickets yet, then I have an exclusive discount code for Jo’s Kitchen readers, giving you 15% off normal standard ticket price.

The discount code is: JK15

This entitles Jo’s Kitchen readers to 15% off standard tickets. The discount is not valid on VIP Tickets. The ticket will include a seat in the Supertheatre in a session of their choice.

Thank you to the Ginny and the BBC Good Food Show team, Claire, Purnell’s Bistro, Edible Ornamentals and Farmer’s Fayre for the wonderful experience of being a good food show bloggers community member so far. It is much appreciated :-)

Disclosure: I was sent the products to taste free of charge. My meal at Purnells was complementary from the BBC Good Food Show Team. If you use the code above to purchase a ticket, then I will earn a few pence from it. 

Top Facts Behind the Concept of Healthy Eating

clipart veg

Healthy eating is very important when it comes to keeping your body in tip-top shape, and it’s always best to listen to advice from doctors and nutritional specialists about how better to improve your physical shape. However, instead of just taking the doctor’s orders for granted, you could do a little research to better understand how your body reacts to different foods, and what specific dietary requirements you need.

These days, many people struggle to make their health a priority, and with longer working hours combined with less time to go to the gym, the food you put into your body must remain a key focus of your lifestyle. In order to be a healthy eater, you must understand the concepts behind healthy eating, and from nutrients to calories, motivation to exercise, there are many factors that need to combine to help you get in great shape. Let’s take a look at some of the top facts behind healthy eating.

The Good Stuff

You don’t need to be an expert in healthy eating to know what the best foods for your body are. From deep yellow and dark green vegetables to citrus fruits, wholegrain, low-fat dairy and fish, your body needs a little bit of everything to ensure it keeps your organs in great condition, as well as your mind. The foods mentioned above are only some of what you need, however with a balanced diet over the course of a week, you’ll be able to digest exactly what your body requires, putting you on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

Health Benefits

By eating the right kinds of foods, specifically in the correct quantities, you can dramatically increase your chances of avoiding severe diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity. It’s no coincidence that there’s been a health drive in the media – five portions of fruit and vegetables every day really does boost your immune system, helps you to maintain a balanced diet, and cuts the chances of you developing serious conditions.

Function of Healthy Eating

There are many ways in which different types of foods benefit your body. Take whole grains for example – not only are they complex carbohydrates that provide you with essential energy, but they also keep your insulin and blood sugar low. If you’re able to control your blood sugar levels though healthy eating, then you will be able to control your hunger, and prevent over eating.

There are also foods that contain healthy fats that are beneficial to your body, and these help to protect you against heart disease. Fruit and vegetables are great at boosting the body’s immune system, and the vitamin C stored in fruits such as oranges help to fight inflammation. If you enjoy cooking your own healthy dishes, visit for the latest kitchen appliances!


Despite their reputations, some foods are actually really good for you. Fats, like those found in peanut butter, are great for your body in small quantities, and egg yolks provide high levels of protein. Instead of calorie counting your way through life, enjoy foods that are good for you. Just make sure your eating habits are not in excess!