Category Archives: Marie

BBC Summer Good Food Show 2011

Last weekend, the BBC Summer Good Food Show came to the NEC in Birmingham and I was one of the many thousands of people to attend. The summer show is the only Good Food Show I will be attending this year as the winter one is scheduled for two weeks after my due date at the end of November.

We arrived early on the Saturday morning and we (Stuart and my friend Marie were with me) headed straight Tim Kinnaird’s (Masterchef finalist 2010) Macarons and More stand, where he and his lovely assistant Sophie were selling his wide variety of macarons and ready to make hot chocolate.  I went there early as he usually sells out quick and I was glad I did. I went back at 2pm and found out that Tim had already sold out of Saturday’s stock and had moved onto Sunday’s. Tim will shortly be dispatching macarons by post and I hope he puts me down for one of the first orders!

We next headed to see Kate at the Gower Cottage Brownies stand. Kate makes the best Brownies ever and dispatches them all over the UK.  When she saw that we had been to Tim’s stand and had got stickers all over us, she gave us each a sticker of her own and as I was running out of space, my sticker ended up on my growing bump. I think I may have to charge soon if people will use it for advertising!

We next went to see Sue at the My Secret Kitchen stand.  My Secret Kitchen is a nationwide food tasting company, making their own foods and bringing them into people’s homes for them to taste and buy. I really enjoyed the Chocaberry Cheese Ball Mix , which was an instant cheesecake mix and the Tapenade with smoked garlic which was delicious.

We also visited the Kin Knives stand where the girls sharpened my knife which I brought at the show last year. Thanks Girls! Too be honest, I was not as impressed with this year’s show as much as I have been in previous years. There did not seem to be that many producers and nearly every stand sold olive oil, some sort of hot sauce, chutney’s or a useless kitchen gadget. I will visit again next year, with my baby, however unless the show improves, I may give a wide berth after that. Did you visit the Good Food Show? What did you think? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below.

In my last post, I reviewed Simpson’s The Cookbook, well you can now WIN a LIMITED EDITION copy of the new Simpsons Restaurant Michelin Cook Book: Download some FREE Recipes to win: http://tinyurl.com/67s7qso Good Luck!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Severn Hospice Tweet Up

Last Saturday, I was very fortunate to be involved in the Severn Hospice (@severnhospice) Tweet Up. (#shtweetup) The event was organised in honour of the memory of Val Higgins (@valdary), a well known and well loved Shropshire tweeter who passed away in December 2010 after a long illness. She was looked after regularly by the Severn Hospice and she wrote a blog for them about her experiences. As the Severn Hospice did so much for Val and Val, in turn gave so much to the Twitter community, it only seemed right to give her a proper Twitter send off and raise lots of money for Severn Hospice in the process.

The event was organised by Jude (@jabberingjude) and Amanda (@eventsbabe) with help from Mike (@daddyperry) and many other people. Lots of people donated stuff for the raffle and everyone brought something for the buffet. Marie (@Maries_Cakes) and I (@Jos_Kitchen/@Jo6789) both made giant cupcakes and 12 small cupcakes each. The lovely Eleanor (@violetbakes) made a wonderful unicorn cake dedicated to Val as they were her favourite creatures. Sarah (TheSaz85) and Teresa (@thedinnerlady) made wonderful treats as well including red velvet cupcakes, brownies, sausages rolls and Eccles cakes. There were many more people who baked for the event, and unfortunately I cannot list them list all here. You all did a fantastic job. The food was all amazing. :-)

Alan (@AlanLeGrand1) read Jabberwocky which Val had read to us at the Severn Hospice Tweet Up last year and Sarah (@Sazchik) read a section from Val’s blog called ‘Who are my friends?’.  After this, it was time for raffle prizes to be drawn. Everyone went home a prize or two. Soon it was time for it to come to an end. It was a fantastic day, meeting new people, eating lots of lovely food and just having a great time. I would like to thank everyone involved. You all did a tremendous job. I am sure Val would have been proud. I am honoured to have taken part in the event and cannot wait for next year’s Severn Hospice Tweet Up! :-)

Happy 2nd Birthday!

I have been blogging for two years today. I cannot believe it myself. It has passed by so fast. What started as a simple blog just for sharing my recipes has turned into the foodie adventure of my life. I liked food and cooking before I started but my passion has now reached new levels and I cannot get enough. I would like to thank everyone whose support and understanding has made this blog possible: Stuart, my parents, my stepdad, my sister and the rest of my family, my friends, my work colleagues, fellow bloggers, my Twitter friends and you, especially you, my readers. It would not be possible without you! :-)

Sorry for getting gushy but you are all simply amazing and  I do not usually say it enough. Over the past two months, Marie and I have completed a beginners cake decorating course at a local cake shop in Halesowen. We learnt how to decorate a traditional fruitcake. My efforts are above and it is Jo’s Kitchen first birthday cake. I hope you all like it. Cake decorating does not come naturally to me as I am quite heavy handed but I will persevere over the coming months.

Giveaway Time!

As a thank you for your continued support, I have decided to host my first international giveaway. To win an exclusive Jo’s Kitchen apron modelled by myself above, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midday (GMT) on Monday 14th March 2011. The competition is open to everyone  in the UK, Rep of Ireland, Europe,  North America and Canada. You will gain extra entries by tweeting this post on Twitter using the following text ‘I would like to win an @Jos_Kitchen Apron http://wp.me/pAFKO-k8‘ and by sharing the giveaway on Facebook using the button below. You must leave a separate comment for each entry, letting me know you have shared via Facebook or Twitter. The winner will be selected using Random.org.

This giveaway is now closed. Many thanks for all the entries. The winner will be announced tomorrow Tuesday 15th March on another post.

Good luck everyone and thank you for continued support

Happy Cooking! :-)

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Jo Cooks: Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto

This is first of hopefully many posts where I will be filmed actually cooking in my kitchen. Today I am making Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto. This was originally a Rachel Allen dish, however I made an adapted version of it a while ago here and loved it and have made it many times since.  The chorizo in this recipe comes from The Bath Pig who I met at the BBC Winter Good Food Show. It was yummy!  I hope you enjoy my little video. I was very nervous making it. All constructive feedback is welcome.  Many thanks to Marie for doing the camera work. It is much appreciated. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Review Of The Year 2010

2010 was my first full year of blogging so its seems right that I should look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

In January, I did my first Fresh From The Oven Challenge, making Chocolate Buns. This formed part of my New Year’s resolution’s to be more adventurous in baking and make more bread. I also made cottage pie and did my first ever guest post on Nora’s blog.

In February, I made Valentine’s Cupcakes (that looked like boobies!) for English Mum’s Best Valentine Cupcake competition.  I reviewed my first cookbook, Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Ingredients and Nora did a guest post on the blog.

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

In March, I celebrated completing my first year of blogging. The first meeting of the Midlands Food Bloggers was held at Loaf’s HQ in Birmingham, where we cooked pizza’s and tasted Peters Yard’s Crispbreads and Brock Hall Farm’s Goats Cheese for the first time. I went to my first Cupcake workshop at Kiss Me Cupcakes and I hosted my first Fresh From The Oven challenge, Kringel

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In April, I entered and won the Easter Cake Bake and made cupcakes for the Mad Hatter’s Shropshire Tweet Up. Helen did a guest post on the blog and I made croissants for the first and last time!

May started by making the ultimate spring time brunch and a crumble. Pizza Napoletana was the Fresh From The Oven challenge.

In June, Jo’s Kitchen was invited by Miele to do the Masterchef Invention Test at the BBC Summer Good Food Show. Marie and I took on a Giant Cupcake Challenge and I went on an archaeological dig and left my blog in the care of Gary, Linda, Louise and Charlene.

In July, I made my favourite childhood dinner of Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce. I entered my second English Mum’s Big Bake Off and held a competition to win a Masterchef Apron.

In August, I made a sweet version of Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup with Mat Follas’s help and went on a foodie trip to Ludlow visiting the Ludlow Food Centre and Ludlow itself. Brioche was this month’s Fresh From The Oven Challenge.

September was a busy month so I only made some cupcakes and garlic and basil focaccia.

In October, I made some spooky Halloween cakes for English Mum’s Autumn Bake Off, went to my first 24 Carrots Farmers Market and attended the second Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

In November, I made Coca-Cola Marinated Steak, with Wedges and Cool Beans, and I went to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London. I also reviewed the Findus Fresher Taste range of ready meals.

In December, I was invited back to the BBC Good Food Show Winter by Miele. I took part in two cookalongs and met lots of fantastic producers. I went to the new Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring, Birmingham. I learnt how to make pasta for the first time at Loaf and shared my Christmas wishlist with you. Finally, for a late seasonal treat, I shared my Mincemeat Flapjacks recipe.

Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. I met so many fantastic people, ate lovely meals, made lots of new recipes and I was lucky enough to review some great products. I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring. Thank you to all my readers for being along with me for the ride. I hope you will stay with me for 2011. I hope you all have a great night tonight, whatever you are doing. I will see you early in 2011 with my New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year! :-)

Handmade Pasta Course at Loaf

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! :-)

BBC Summer Good Food Show 2010

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to the BBC Summer Good Food Show as a guest of Miele. Part of the deal to us being invited to show was that we had to take part in a live on stage version of the Masterchef Invention Test and do a cook-along with a Barney Desmazery from BBC Good Food Magazine. I was very nervous and excited about taking part in both but fortunately I was not alone. I was joined by my friend James from Eat The Midlands, and fellow bloggers Kavey, Meemalee , Bron and Ailbhe. We were given basic store cupboard items and a bag containing secret fresh ingredients that were not revealed to us until two minutes before we went on stage. In our bag we had: chicken, bacon, Stilton, celeriac, mascarpone and fresh berries. I decided to cook a chicken and bacon pasta dish. The recipe is at the bottom of this post.  I unfortunately did not win but I am very pleased that Kavey did with her excellent pancakes, mascarpone and berry sauce. Matt Follas and Dhruv Baker were there on stage to offer us help and John Torode and Greg Wallace came along to check on our progress and do the final judging. The videos below  shows the entire invention test in two parts  so please have a look and see who you know on there.

After the invention test had finished Marie, Ali and I had a look around the show. Our first stop was to visit James on the Eat The Midlands/ Gourmet Life stand where Louise from Comida y Vida and a member of the Midlands Food Bloggers was helping out. I brought some chocolate from James stand from Chokolit which I intend to do some baking with soon. We then moved on,  to Supreme Sausages where we each brought our own weight in lots of yummy looking sausages that are now filling from freezer and I cannot wait to cook with them. We then got slightly distracted by the alcohol section as we tried Crabbies Ginger Beer and then went into the Beers of the World Live where you can lots of tasters of many beers and get educated about them as well. While looking round, I brought myself a Kin Knife (which I used on the Invention Test) as a birthday present to myself. (I turned 25 years old on Sunday) We also found a company called Goody Good Stuff that makes sweets that are virtually everything free (except sugar- which is the natural sugar from the fruit). Stuart and I love sweets and I thought these were excellent, especially as they are much better for you than the majority of sweets you buy, with lots of chemicals and additives in. They virtually give you permission to eat lots of them! After a quick stop at Grants for a Whiskey cocktail, it was time for me to do the Miele Cook-along and appear on stage again.

The Miele Cook-along with Barney Desmazery was much harder and a lot more nerve racking than the Invention Test. We had 30 minutes to cook three dishes in following the chef, Barney.  This would been ok but some of my equipment and ingredients were missing so I spent the first 10- 15minutes catching up with everyone else. Barney also moved along at chef speed instead of our normal home cook speed so he had to keep waiting for us to catch up. I think the cook-alongs are a good idea but they need to allow more time for them, for people who do not cook at chef’s speed. We made marsala chicken skewers  that we cooked in the Miele steam oven, with a tomato and red onion salad and Za’atar spiced flatbread with a strawberry, hazelnut and toffee tart for pudding. I will give you the recipes for these when I make them again at home myself soon. My Invention Test dish recipe is below if you want to make it yourself at home.

Spicy Chicken, Bacon and Peas Pasta- My Masterchef Dish

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 skinless and boneless chicken breast, chopped into bite sized chinks
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder(or more if you like it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Small handful of frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g pasta of your choice

Method

1) Cook pasta as per the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

2) While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil into a pan and allow to heat up. Add in the onions, garlic, bacon pieces and some salt and allow to cook until softened slightly. Add in the chicken and lightly brown all over.

3) Add in the chopped tomatoes, along with the paprika and chilli powder  and allow to simmer gently until chicken is cooked through. Add water or chicken stock to the sauce if it starts getting a bit thick. Add in the frozen peas near the end so they are just cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is cooked, add parsley in at the last minute before adding the cooked pasta and mixing it with the sauce. Serve in a bowl on its own or with garlic bread. Enjoy!

Overall, We had a fantastic day at BBC Summer Good Food Show and I would like to thank all these wonderful people for making it so good:

  • Nicola, Roxy and Caz  and everyone at Miele
  • The Students from the Birmingham College of Food and Tourism who helped us out so much on stage
  • James Day and Louise Sims, who are both true foodie friends
  • Kavey,Meemalee , Ailbhe and Bron and all the other food bloggers who were there taking part or supporting us.
  • The staff at the Grants stand
  • Melissa from Goody Good Stuff
  • Andi Peters, Greg Wallace, John Torode, Barney Desmazery , Matt Follas, Dhruv Baker, Tim Kinnaird, Alex Rushmer for being so supportive and having a laugh with us backstage.
  • And a very big thank you goes to my  friend’s Marie and Ali for being there to support me and for being true friends.

Happy cooking! :-)