Happy New Year everyone! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. We did. Now the festive season is over, its time to look at resolutions. Here is mine from last year and whether I achieved them or not.
- Post on my blog at least once a week – managed most of the time except for when being pregnant/having a newborn baby prevented it.
- Get fellow bloggers to get post on my blog and do some guest posts for people in return – did not really happen.
- To create a regular series of events for the Midlands Food Bloggers (with help of fellow Midlands based bloggers) – managed one main event with a couple of smaller events. Plans for more in 2012.
- To set up a blog for the Midlands Food Bloggers with a list of members, people/companies who support us and get people to regularly contribute - was set up in March 2011, looked after by myself and Louise of Comida Y Vida.
- Make more use of the lots of cookbooks that I already own – did not really happen.
- Expand my cooking repertoire – I now know how to make pasta so want to start making it regularly and cook more seafood dishes – have cooked a greater variety of dishes, not really seafood dishes though.
- Get better at food photography – my Dad is making me a food stage with a white background so that I have something to put my dishes on to take a photo of them. Stuart and I have just purchased a second-hand Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR Camera, so with practice I am hoping that the images on the blog will improve. – I am hoping this has happened. I think the images have improved but do you, my readers agree?
- Meet Sarah and her goats at Brockhall Farm - I met Sarah but not her goats at the Ludlow Food Festival in September.
- Go to The Wild Garlic Restaurant in Dorset - I went there twice but have only blogged about it once.
- Take part in more blogging challenges especially Fresh From The Oven and Forever Nigella – managed a few at the start of the year but did not really happen once I got pregnant. Hoping for better in 2012.
Therefore, my resolutions for 2012 are:
- Clear the large backlog of posts I have including my day learning to make bread at Loaf, my visit to the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2011, my visit to M Kitchen and various review posts.
- Keep making Midlands Food Bloggers bigger and better and host many more events in and around the Midlands.
- Start up my own monthly blogging challenge (details to follow as soon as possible) and try and take part in as many others as possible.
- Keep improving my food photography.
- Go to Simpson’s Restaurant in Birmingham.
- Go to BritMum’s Live and get sponsorship to attend.
That is it for my resolutions this year. Not as many as previous years but am hoping they are all achievable. I will be back as soon as possible with details of my new monthly blogging challenge.
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in Andreas Antona, BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham, Comida Y Vida, Forever Nigella, Fresh From The Oven, happy cooking, Loaf, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers
Tagged Andreas Antona, Birmingham, BritMums Live, Comida Y Vida, happy cooking, happy new year, Midlands Food Bloggers, resolutions, Simpson's Restaurant
This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. She challenged us to bake something yeasted, using flour where you know either where it was grown or where it was milled. This was quite hard for me as a Google search for ‘flour mills West Midlands’ and ‘flour mills Worcestershire’ brought up an amazing selection of houses that I could buy that had been converted from flour mills. This was not very useful. Then I asked Tom of Loaf where he got his flour from which was Shipton Mill. I nearly brought some flour from there but it cost £5 to post 1 bag of flour. I was on the verge of giving up hope, when I remembered that a farm shop I pass on the way to and from work sold a selection of flours.Would any of it be local?
Unfortunately, Broomfield’s Farm Shop in Holt Health, Worcestershire did not have any local flour. The most local I could find was from The Five Sailed Windmill in Alford, Lincolnshire. I ended up buying a bag of their white flour, hoping that Helen will forgive me as Alford is 140 miles from my house, knowing that I did support a local business by buying it from a local farm shop.
Stuart and I are both currently obsessed with The Great British Food Revival, a show shown on the BBC 2 on Wednesday evenings. We loved the first episode with Michel Roux Jr making a sandwich bread loaf. I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to make it so I made it using the local (ish) flour and we had it for dinner with beef stew (recipe to follow soon in another post). This is the best and most easiest bread recipe ever. It was so quick to make. It was delicious warm and it tasted great the next day cold too. I will make this recipe again and again. I urge you all to try it.
Does anyone know of any working flour mills in the Midlands region?
Many thanks to Helen for hosting this month’s challenge.
Happy Cooking! :-)
Update: Since writing this post, I have discovered that there is a flour mill in Shropshire called Pimhill Farm that make wholemeal flour. I intend to try their products soon :-)
Posted in baking, BBC, BBC Food, bread, Five Sailed Windmill, Fresh From The Oven, Fuss Free Flavours, happy cooking, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Michel Roux Jr, regional, Sandwich Bread Loaf, West Midlands, Worcester Produce
Tagged Alford, baking, bbc, BBC Food, bread, Broomfields Farm Shop, Fresh From The Oven, Fuss Free Flavours, Great British Food Revival, Lincolnshire, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Michel Roux Jr, Sandwich Bread Loaf, Shipton Mill, The Five Sailed Windmill, West Midlands, Worcestershire
This weekend, New York came to Birmingham in the form of Popstrami, a pop up New York style Kosher deli for one day only in Bournville. Popstrami was the idea of Nick Loman and Tom Baker. Tom is a Midlands Food Blogger and runs his own food based social enterprise called Loaf. Nick is one of Tom’s regular customers and thought it would be fun to bring a New York deli to the West Midlands for the day. The location for it was Leverton and Halls Deli in Bournville which was decorated American style especially for the day. Lots of planning and preparation went into the event, with Tom on bread duty and Nick sorting out the meat.
Stuart and I arrived at Popstrami at 12.20pm on Sunday afternoon, just as a small queue had begun to form. We looked at the menu and let the wonderful smells entice us until Nick took our order and we went and sat in the garden. We both had salt beef on rye bread, one with mustard and sauerkraut and the other without. For drinks, I had a root beer and Stuart had Grape juice. After a short while, our sandwiches came out and we tucked in. The bread was so fresh tasting it was unbelievable. It complimented the salt beef perfectly. The mustard was not overpowering and let everything on the sandwich shine to its full potential. The sauerkraut was an interesting contrast to the sandwich and sort of reminded me of coleslaw but without the mayonnaise. I loved it!
I should point out that although I have been to New York (one day when I was 12, on the way back from a skiing holiday) that I have never had the New York deli experience. This was my first exposure to it and I cannot wait to try it again, either here or in New York itself. As I was a bit full after the sandwich, I decided to take my dessert of vanilla cheesecake home with me. Later on that afternoon, I tucked in and it was one of the best cheesecakes I have ever had. It was thick, creamy and delicious.
When we left business was booming, with a really long queue outside the door. The event was a major success and I would like to congratulate Tom, Nick and all the team for their amazing efforts. Well done! One question, when is the next one? :-)
Last week, it was Jo’s Kitchen’s 2nd blog birthday and to celebrate, I have decided to giveaway an exclusive Jo’s Kitchen apron.All these wonderful people took part: Jos kitchen 2nd bday giveaway entrants and I am pleased to announce that the winner is Jenny. Congratulations! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM via Twitter, your address details please. Thanks to everyone who took part.
Until next time,
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in baking, Birmingham, Bournville, bread, food, giveaway, happy cooking, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Midlands, Midlands Food, Midlands Food Bloggers, Midlands Group, Popstrami, regional, Tom Baker, West Midlands, winner
Tagged #popstrami, baking, Birmingham, Bournville, bread, deli, giveaway, Loaf, Loaf Online, Midlands, Midlands Food, Midlands Food Bloggers, New York, West Midlands, winner
Last year I went to Loaf and did a handmade pasta course with Tom. Since the New Year, I have started making my own pasta on a regular basis and I now find it quite an easy and therapeutic thing to do. Some of the pasta I have made is above. It is hanging on the back of my kitchen chairs as I do not have a pasta drying rack. (Any recommendations for where I can get a good quality one are gratefully received.) I am also trying to eat more fish and seafood too, so with one of my first attempts at handmade pasta, I decided to make a seafood sauce.
Handmade Pasta with Seafood Sauce
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 200g Tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 very fresh free range organic eggs
- 1 salmon fillet, cut into chunks
- 4 king prawns, peeled and de-veined
- 2 squid, cut into rings
- 10 mussels, cleaned (I used frozen cooked mussels that we out of the shells and reheated them in the sauce)
- 1 tub/jar of passata
- 1 /2 an onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian mixed herbs
- Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and mix with a fork until a dough starts to form. Once a dough starts to form, put your hand in and mix until you have a lump of dough.
- Put the dough onto the surface and knead until soft and silky. Use a dough scraper if the dough sticks to your surface. Put in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Once rested, put the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a roughly rectangular shape until about the size of an A3 piece of paper. The dough should thin enough to see your fingers through it.
- Lightly dust the dough with flour and pull one third of the dough furthest away from you to the centre of the dough. Dust with more flour and pull the third of the dough closest to you, towards the centre.
- Put this onto a chopping board and chop into long thin strips (about 0.3-0.5cm wide) using a a sharp knife.
- Pull the strips gently apart lengthways and put on a drying rack (or chair!) for a little bit to dry out.
- Put some olive oil in a pan and allow to heat up, add the onion and garlic and allow to soften. Add in some salt. Once softened, put the passata in, with some water otherwise the tomatoes will be to strong. (I usually half fill passata jar/tub with water to get measurement)
- Allow to cook for a few minutes until thickened and add in the dried herbs.
- Cook the pasta in a saucepan full of salted boiling water until al dente.
- Meanwhile, add in the salmon and mussels and allow to cook for a few minutes. Then add the king prawns and squid and cook until everything is ready. (Mussels shells should be open, discard any that do not, prawns should be pink, salmon should be pale pink and flaky and the squid should not be chewy).
- Drain the pasta and place in a big bowl. Serves lots of the sauce on top. Eat and enjoy with a glass of white wine.
Overall, I think this dish went quite well. Stuart and I both enjoyed it and I will certainly be making it again. Next time, I might add some lemon juice to the sauce to liven it up a bit and give it a kick.
Hope you are having a good weekend. I will be back during the week with the winner of the Forman and Field Valentine’s hamper. There is still time to enter here.
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in Birmingham, Cookery Course, fish, food, happy cooking, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Midlands Group, Pasta, Recipe, Seafood, West Midlands
Tagged Birmingham, cookery course, fish, food, Handmade, Loaf, Loaf Online, Midlands Food Bloggers, Pasta, Recipe, seafood, West Midlands
As a self-confessed foodie, I have a pretty constant list of things I would like that would improve my cooking, baking and blogging experience. My current list is below:
- A Stand Mixer of some description, either KitchenAid or Kenwood
- A Digital SLR Camera
- A set of Kin Knifes
- A new microwave
- A foraging course at The Wild Garlic
- A bread baking and a poultry course at Loaf
- A set of saucepans without plastic handles
- More than 24 hours in a day to allow more time for work, cooking, baking and blogging!
Well, a little while ago I commented on a blog post by Rosie Scribble where a company called Appliances Online had sent her a brand new TV and if you commented on her post, they may get in contact and send you something too. At the time, my washing machine was broken so I put that in my comment. I never expected to be contacted.
However, out of the blue a week or so later, Ben from Appliances Online contacted me and said that although a washing machine was a bit beyond what they could offer me (we had a new one by then anyway), would I like something for the kitchen instead? So, low and behold, this weekend Christmas came early and a shiny new microwave like the one below was delivered and is now in pride of place in my kitchen.
If you let me know what you would like for Christmas in the comments section, Santa may be watching and you might get an early Christmas present yourselves!!!! :-)
Posted in Appliances Online, Blogger, Christmas, festive, Kenwood, Kin Knives, KitchenAid, Loaf, Loaf Online, Mat Follas, new, Rosie Scribble, Wishlist
Tagged Appliances Online, Christmas, kenwood, Kin Knives, KitchenAid, Loaf, Loaf Online, Mat Follas, new microwave, new TV, Rosie Scribble, The Wild Garlic, Wishlist
Last month, I went to Loaf, based in Cotteridge, Birmingham and I learnt how to make pasta for the first time. I have been wanting to learn how to make pasta for ages, especially since my friend Marie brought me a pasta machine for my birthday. Loaf is a social enterprise, that promotes real food and healthy living in Birmingham through running cookery courses and a weekly bakery. Loaf is run on a day to day basis by Tom Baker (pictured above), who is my friend and fellow Midlands Food Blogger. The courses are run from Tom’s home in Cotteridge and are limited to six people. The Handmade Pasta course teaches you how to make fresh pasta from scratch and you get to eat it at the end with a glass of wine too!
Five people and I arrived at Tom’s house on 6.30pm on a Thursday night. After a cup of coffee and a brief health and safety chat, we were paired off and got our aprons on ready to start. Pasta is simplicity itself to make. It is only Tipo ’00′ flour and eggs, mixed together to form a sticky dough and kneaded. You leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes, while you make the sauce and then you are ready to roll!
It is best to roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is the size of an A3 sheet of paper. You then cut it into the shapes you require. We made tagliatelle, pappardelle, mezzalune and tortellini. Tom showed us how to make three sauces and a vegetable filling to go with our different shapes of pasta.
Mezzalune & Tortellini with Parmesan Butter Sauce
Tagliatelle with Carbonara Sauce
Pappardelle with Puttanesca Sauce
My favourite sauces were the Parmesan butter sauce and the Carbonara sauce. I did not really like the Puttanesca sauce as it contains olives and capers. My two least favourite ingredients ever. I will have a go at making these sauces and some fresh pasta in the New Year so I will give you my adapted versions of Tom’s recipes then.
Everyone on the course had a fantastic time. We all asked Tom lots of questions and by the end of the course, we quite merry after drinking some wine and having lots of good pasta. Thanks to Tom for hosting the course and for showing me that pasta is not that hard to make. I look forward to coming on more courses at Loaf in the New Year, including Bread: Back to Basics and Butchery: Perfect Poultry. Thanks again Tom! :-)
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in Birmingham, Blogger, Chilli, comfort, Cookery Course, cooking, food, foodie, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Marie, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Midlands Group, Pasta, regional, Thank you, Tom Baker, Twitter, West Midlands
Tagged Birmingham, comfort, cooking, food, foodie, Fresh, Handmade, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Marie, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Pasta, Tom baker, Twitter, West Midlands
Yesterday, it was the 24 Carrots Farmer’s Market in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. The market is a monthly event that is organised by the Jewellery Quarter’s Residents Association and it brings in producers from Birmingham and beyond to sell their wares to the local residents. I found out about the market last month at the Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up when Brian from 24 Carrots came and told us all about it. Louise from Comida Y Vida and I could not resist the chance to go and meet local Midlands food producers and purchase some goodies from them.
One of our fellow Midlands Food Blogger’s, Tom from Loaf was going to be there too selling lovely pizzas from his travelling wood fired pizza oven. However, Tom had a disaster when his oven broke on his way to the market. You can read all about it here on his blog and see a picture of the damaged oven. It was a massive shame and everyone was looking forward to pizzas to lunch. I hope he can get the oven fixed and be able to attend the next one. However, all was not lost, Tom set up an impromptu underground pizza takeaway from his house last night to use up his 20kg of pizza dough and toppings that he had prepared for the market and I believe it was a success. Well done Tom! :-)
Another friend of mine had a stall at the market and that was Mary from Kiss Me Cupcakes, who I did a cupcake course with not so long ago. It was great to see her and get to eat her lovely cupcakes, without having to make them first! I brought a box of six home with me and am slowing eating them.
Our next stop was Squisito Deli which had the most amazing display on the stall. Sara had done a fantastic job. It just looked beautiful. Everything was freshly made by them including a variety of Italian breads, sausages, smoked spices and garlic. It was foodie heaven! Louise and I left with full bags of ciabatta, focaccia, sausages, oak smoked garlic, herbs and spices.
We then went to More Cocoa for the best hot chocolate we had ever had. It was delicious and freshly made straight in front of us. I brought some chocolate so that I could make at home myself. I do not normally like hot chocolate but I loved this one.
Over at Hincley’s Bakery Louise brought some spelt bread and I brought a Butalump. A soft buttery loaf that was perfect with bacon sandwiches this morning. I brought the bacon from Woodhouse Farm which has a traditional butchery and smoke-house. The bacon was thick and very yummy.
The market even had live entertainment from a band called McScraggy and The Suits. They were really good and gave a party atmosphere to the market. Louise and I had a fabulous time at the market and we would like to thank everyone at 24 Carrots and the stall holders who made our time so enjoyable. We will be back again soon! The dates for the last two markets of the year are Saturday 20th November and Saturday 18th December. We hope to see you there.
Until next time,
Happy Cooking! :-)
PS: See Louise’s post about the farmers market here
Posted in 24 Carrots, Birmingham, bread, cakes, Comida Y Vida, cupcakes, Kiss Me Cupcakes, Loaf, Loaf Online, local, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Midlands Group, pizza, regional, Review, seasonal, Thank you, Twitter, West Midlands
Tagged 24 Carrots, Birmingham, bread, cake, Comida Y Vida, cupcakes, deli, foodie, Kiss Me Cupcakes, Loaf, local, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, seasonal, Twitter, West Midlands