Tag Archives: cookbook

Video Cookbook Review: Baby and Toddler Food Bible by Amanda Ursell

The second in my series of video cookbook reviews is the Baby and Toddler Food Bible by Amanda Ursell. Its a really useful book and I highly recommend it.

I will be back with another couple of video cookbook reviews next week. I hope you are enjoying them.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Video Cookbook Review: Hungry! by Innocent

I have recently been sent lots of cookbooks to review. I aim to tell you about these wonderful books over the next two weeks. However, I thought I would do something a bit different to review them so I have been inspired by Sarah at Maison Cupcake to do some video reviews. I hope you like them :-)

The first book up for review is the Hungry! cookbook by Innocent. I love this book. It is full of so many useful recipes. You can see three recipes in the videos below and see the dish I made from the book too. I hope this inspires you to get cooking!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Cookbook Review: On A Stick By Matt Armendariz

Do you like cupcakes? Yes, then don’t forget to enter my competition to win a cupcakes class with Cupcakes By Chrissie. All info here :-)

I love finding unusual cookbooks so when I was asked to review ‘On A Stick’ by Matt Armendariz, I jumped at the chance. Matt is a fellow blogger with a blog called ‘Matt Bites’, which was featured in The Times 50 Best Food Blogs.  He is a food photographer/stylist and has even appeared with Martha Stewart on her daytime show in America.

On A Stick contains 80 easy and elegant recipes that are suitable for parties. The catch is that everything is served on a stick or a skewer. The book includes party favourites such as scotch eggs and caramel apples, along with more unusual things to find on a stick including spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate covered cheesecake. The book is very American orientated but once you get past this, there lots of simple and easy recipes that you can make at home.

As ever, whenever I receive a cookbook to review, I like to cook a recipe from it. This time I decided to make Cake Pops. The recipe in the book originally calls for a Devil’s Food Cake and cream cheese frosting, but I decided to make my life easier and used shop brought Madeira cake. I do not like cream cheese frosting so I used buttercream instead. To make the cake pops, you break the cake into a bowl, add in the buttercream, mix well and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. You then roll them into small balls, put a lollipop stick (or a cocktail stick, in my case) and dip them in chocolate. I did not leave my cake pops to set for long enough so some of them fell apart before they even went into the chocolate. Once they were dipped and left to set in the fridge, they were fine. I took them to work and some people loved them, others did not. They thought they were too sweet and overpowering. I think the recipe essentially works but there is a fine line between getting the right amount of buttercream to make the cake stick together and not getting too much and making them too sweet.

Overall, I am very impressed with On A Stick. I cannot wait to have a BBQ or party during the summer to try some more of recipes out :-)

Many thanks to Matt from Quirk Books for sending me the book to review. It is much appreciated :-)

Cookbook Review: Simpsons – The Cookbook by Andreas Antona

I have wanted to visit Simpson’s Restaurant in Birmingham for a very long time and have not made it there yet. It is high up on my list of restaurants I really want to go to.  It climbed even higher on my list when I received a review copy of their second cookbook, which is to be published on 20th June 2011.

The book simply called ‘Simpsons the cookbook’ is written by Andreas Antona, chef and owner of Simpson’s with Luke Tipping and Adam Bennett, two of his sous chefs. They have chosen their favourite and most popular dishes and set them out in a simple format, aimed at amateur chefs and passionate foodies.

On first receiving the book, I was very impressed with the photography. It shows the restaurant at work and also it is one of the only cookbooks that I know of, that has a photograph of every dish in the book. You can see the time and effort that has gone into making the book on every single page.

Starters include ceps on toast with summer truffle; and risotto of goat’s cheese, piquillo pepper and rocket. Main courses are dishes from poulet Basquaise to  favourites such as cote du boeuf, Yorkshire pudding and roast new season carrots. Delicious desserts range from great retro efforts such as black forest in a glass and chocolate baked Alaska to the more simple but equally impressive white chocolate truffles with rum and vanilla; perfect as petits fours with coffee. Some of the dishes in the book seem very easy and straight forward to make (see my version of a dish below), however some of the dishes just seemed a tad too advanced for me. I love the look of the Black Forest in a Glass but it is the kind of thing that would take me (a reasonably competent cook) all day to make.

As ever, whenever I review a cookbook, I always make a dish from it. I decided to make Tagliatelle with Black Mushrooms. However, I could not find any black mushrooms in my local supermarket so I made it with Portabello mushrooms instead. The recipe also called for fresh pasta and although I can make fresh pasta (see here) I decided against it as I made it as an after work treat and with baby brain and general tiredness going on, making pasta was a step too far for me. I did use fresh free range egg Tagliatelle from the supermarket instead. I also got slightly confused between two mushroom dishes in the book. One the Ceps on Toast called for Black Summer Truffle and I thought the tagliatelle dish needed it instead so I ordered a truffle from Mister Truffle to make the dish. Therefore, my version has extra truffle on it. Here finally is my version of Andreas Antona’s classic dish.

Tagliatelle with Portabello Mushrooms and Black Summer Truffle

Ingredients

  • 100g tagilatelle per person, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4-6 small portabello mushrooms, peeled and chopped finely
  • Small knob of butter
  • Bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Parmesan, grated (optional)
  • Salt ad pepper, to taste
  • 5g of Black Summer Truffle, grated very finely (optional)

Method

  1. In a frying pan, add the butter and fry until melted. Add in the shallots and mushrooms and fry gently until cooked.
  2. Add in the cooked pasta and parsley. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Pour the pasta and mushrooms into a warm serving dish. Grate truffle and parmesan over the top, if using and then enjoy!

Overall, I am very impressed with the Simpson’s cookbook. It contains simple Michelin starred recipes but it also contains recipes that give you something to aim for and challenge you. It is not an everyday cookbook but it is one you want to look at everyday.

You can preorder Simpson’s The Cookbook here

WIN a LIMITED EDITION copy of the new Simpsons Restaurant Michelin Cook Book: Download some FREE Recipes to win: http://tinyurl.com/67s7qso

Many thanks to Syamala for sending me the book to review

Happy Cooking!

Prepped Cookbook Launch

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to be asked to do some recipe testing for a new cookbook that was coming out, called ‘Prepped‘. I tested the Eccles cakes recipe for Vanessa Kimbell, the author of the book.  At the end of May, ‘Prepped!: Gorgeous Food without the Slog – a Multi-tasking Masterpiece for Time-short Foodies’ was released and I went to the official launch of the book at The Black Bottom Club in Northampton last week.

Vanessa is a fellow member of the Midlands Food Bloggers and I was joined at the launch by Julia of A Wannabe Foodie, who I met just recently at the MFB Meet Up in Burton Upon Trent. We were also joined by Ruth of The Pink Whisk, Helen of Jessie’s Crazy Kitchen and Lea of Off The Eaten Track amongst many others. All of whom had tested recipes for the book. We were warmly greeted by Elderflower Fizz and Elderflower water and lots of cake made by the Preperati (recipe testers) especially for the event.

Giles of How To Books, Vanessa’s publisher then gave a speech on how Vanessa had managed to get the published with them. It was mostly to do with cakes apparently! Vanessa then gave a speech herself thanking everyone for helping with the book.

The rest of the afternoon sped by with lots of talk of cake, cooking and blogging. I had an absolute amazing time. It was great to meet Vanessa eventually after many emails and phone calls and it was lovely to meet my fellow bloggers too. I cannot wait for ‘Prepped 2′ to be launched so we can have another party! :-)

Many thanks to Amy of Lush Mummy for the fabulous black Diamond Dress that I wore to the launch. (See pictures above) It is an amazing dress and I got lots of lovely compliments about it. For the first time since finding out I was pregnant, I actually felt and looked good. It is much appreciated. Thank you :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Cookbooks Crazy!

I am a great lover of cookbooks as I am sure many of you know. I have so many that we are considering moving house so that we have room for the baby when it arrives. I was recently sent a bumper collection of books from New Holland Publishers to review.

The first book they sent me is ‘The Food Lovers Guide to Europe’  by Cara Frost-Sharratt. This is an informative travel guide to the best places to eat, the best farmers markets and the best foodie treats that Europe has to offer. I thought this was quite useful, especially if you are touring around Europe, however in some areas, the book is limited to only the major cities or towns so if you go outside of that area, there are no recommendations. On the other hand, if they did include everything, it would be a very large book! This is perfect size for travelling and is easy to read on the plane or coach heading to your destination.

The second book they sent me is ‘Special Cupcakes‘ by Wendy Sweetser. I love cupcakes and cake decorating so this seemed perfect for me. This book has cupcakes in it for most occasions, including Baby Shower Lemon Cupcakes that I made to tell my work colleagues about my impending arrival.

One issue with this book is that it is American so some of the quantities may seem quite large to what we are used to. Some of the flavour combinations are a bit strange too. Caribbean mango and palm sugar cupcakes anyone? However the book is very good for inspiration and you never know some of the more stranger combinations may taste good!

The third book they sent me is ‘One More Slice’ by Leila Lindholm. This is a follow up to her first book, ‘A Piece of Cake’ and featured recipes for pizzas, bread, pasta, pancakes, waffles and desserts. I have made the basic pizza dough recipe out of this book three times and each time, it has been perfect. I love this book and I cannot wait to get my hands on the first one. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. I highly recommend this book.

Jo’s Kitchen readers can get 25% discount off ‘The Food Lovers Guide to Europe’, ‘Special Cupcakes’ and ‘One More Slice’ from New Holland Publishers. Enter the discount code Jos to get 25% discount plus free P&P when ordering the books through the New Holland Publishers website. (Offer valid until 30th September 2011 to UK residents. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with other offers!)

Many thanks to Iain from New Holland Publishers for sending me the books to review and giving the exclusive offer for Jo’s Kitchen readers. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Meeting Gino D’Acampo

Last Saturday, Italian flair came to Birmingham in the form of a visit from     Gino D’Acampo who was in the Bullring promoting his latest cookbook ‘Gino’s Pasta: Everything You Need to Cook the Italian Way‘. While he was there, Gino did cookery demonstrations and signed copies of his latest cookbook. I was lucky enough to meet him backstage and get a signed cookbook.  Thanks to the Bullring PR team for arranging this. It is much appreciated. :-)

When I got home, I felt inspired to cook a quick and simple dish from his cookbook. As I was home alone at the time, I decided to cook a dish that Gino cooks when he is only cooking for one: Penne al’Arrabiata. My adapted recipe of the dish is below. I reduced the quantities as the recipe in the book serves 4.

Penne al’Arrabiata

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 chilli,  finely diced and de-seeded if preferred
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g Penne pasta, cooked to the packet instructions
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Handful of grated Parmesan cheese, for putting on top of the finished dish (optional)

Method

  1. Put olive oil in a frying pan, and allow to heat up. Put in the garlic and chilli and allow to fry for a minute or two until softened.
  2. Add in the tin of chopped tomatoes in and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the parsley at the last minute and turn off the heat. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve in a big bowl with grated Parmesan on top. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

I will be back with another post over the weekend. I hope you all enjoy the lovely weather we are having.

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: Sorry for lack of posts this week. I have been busy with work and not been feeling 100%. Normal service will be resumed ASAP. Thanks for your patience.

PPS: I am featured in the University of Worcester’s Staff Magazine this month. You can see the magazine here.

Cookbook Review: Leon Book 2: Fast Food

In September last year, Leon, a very successful restaurant chain based in London released their second cookbook called ‘Naturally Fast Food’.  This is a follow up to their first book called ‘Ingredients and Recipes’.  I loved the first book. It was so informative and had lots of inspiring recipes in it. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to receive a review copy of the second book. I have had the book for ages and have not had the chance to tell you have fantastic it is.

Naturally Fast Food is  a cookbook that everyone can learn something from, whether you are a student or a well practised home cook.  The book is split into two halves, the first half contains recipes that take 20 minutes or less to cook. Some of the recipes include, Saturday Pancakes,  Jossy’s Burmese Spicy Cabbage, South Indian Pepper Chicken and Henry’s Quick Chocolate Cake.

The second half is focused on Slow Fast Food. Things that can be cooked in advance when you have the time and reheated when you do not. Recipes in this section include, Chicken Pot Roast, Riga’s Lamb, Best Bolognese and Henry’s 18 hour Beef. The book also contains small sections on store cupboard staples, corner shop classics, grow your own and party food, so you always have a recipe for any occasion.

I decided to make Pasta with Peas from the store cupboard staples section. It was very quick, tasty and brought a feeling of summer to my lunch as it was so fresh tasting and zingy. I loved it!

Overall, I think Naturally Fast Food is a brilliant cookbook and would make an excellent addition to any cook’s bookshelf :-)

Many thanks to Fiona from Octopus Publishing for sending me the book to review

Leon Book 2: Naturally Fast Food By Henry Dimbleby and Jim Vincent

Conran Octopus

6th September 2010

304 Pages

New Year Resolutions 2011

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good time whatever you were doing. About this time last year, I spoke to you about my foodie New Year’s Resolutions for 2010. Well, I thought I would do the same again this year but before we look ahead to 2011’s New Year resolutions, I thought we could back at last years and see whether or not, I achieved them.

Last years New Year’s Resolutions were:

  1. Try and post on the blog more often (at least once a week) > This was generally achieved most of the time but not all. Will be worked on again in 2011
  2. To get more people doing guest posts and guest post on other people’s blogs > I got lots of people doing guest posts on my blog, including Linda, Charlene, Louise, Helen, Gary and Nora but I only did one guest post myself on Nora’s blog. Will be worked on again in 2011
  3. To be more adventurous in my baking and make more bread > I joined the Fresh From The Oven challenge and was quite active for a few months in 2010, so this was partly achieved. However, I think I can do better and will work on it in 2011
  4. To arrange meeting(s) with Midlands Food bloggers on UKFBA. < There were two meetings of the Midlands Food Bloggers in 2010 and I am hoping in 2011, there will be more, especially if I get help from fellow bloggers to organise them
  5. Meet other foodie bloggers from the UK and hopefully, beyond < I met many UK food bloggers in 2010 including Kavey, MeemaleeBron, Pippa, Helen and Edd. I hope in 2011 to meet more especially some from outside of the UK
  6. Go to my first Michelin starred restaurant < I achieved this when I went to Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor
  7. Make cupcakes < I achieved this by going to two cupcake making/decorating classes at Kiss Me Cupcakes and Cirencester Cupcakes. I now make cupcakes on a regular basis
  8. Make more use of the lots of cookbooks that I already own < I did not really achieve this. I brought even more cookbooks! I must stop buying and start using the ones I have already got
  9. Expand my cooking repertoire < I achieved this objective as I made paella for the first time and a variety of breads including Kringel and Croissants
  10. Get better at food photography < This was not achieved and will be worked on in 2011

Overall, I did fairly well on my 2010 resaolutions but think I could do better on some of them. So here are my New Year’s resolutions for this year:

  1. Post on my blog at least once a week
  2. Get fellow bloggers to get post on my blog and do some guest posts for people in return
  3. To create a regular series of events for the Midlands Food Bloggers (with help of fellow Midlands based bloggers)
  4. 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
  5. Make more use of the lots of cookbooks that I already own
  6. Expand my cooking repertoire – I now know how to make pasta so want to start making it regularly and cook more seafood dishes
  7. 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.
  8. Meet Sarah and her goats at Brockhall Farm
  9. Go to The Wild Garlic Restaurant in Dorset
  10. Take part in more blogging challenges especially Fresh From The Oven and Forever Nigella

These are my foodie New Year’s Resolutions for 2011, what are yours? Can you help me with any of mine?

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

.

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! :-)