Tag Archives: Eat The Midlands

Jo Cooks: Saturday Kitchen Omelette Challenge

In June I took part in the Saturday Kitchen Omelette Challenge  in part of the lead up to the BBC Summer Good Food Show. James Day of Eat The Midlands filmed me doing the challenge and he has kindly let me put on the blog so you can all have a laugh at my expense!

Many thanks to Ginny for inviting me to take part and to James for filming the action taking place. It is much appreciated :-)

Saturday Kitchen Omelette Challenge!

Last week as a pre event to the BBC Summer Good Food Show, I was invited to take part in the Saturday Kitchen Omelette Challenge in the kitchens of the NIA. I was joined by friend and fellow Midlands foodie James Day of Eat The Midlands to take up the challenge and try and cook a 3 egg omelette as fast as we could. James was against Richard Turner of Turners Restaurant in Harbourne and I was against Simon, Head Chef of the ICC and NIA.  Saturday Kitchen regular and Birmingham local Glynn Purnell was in charge of proceedings and judging our creations.

I was up first and it is much harder than it looks on Television. I never had to break eggs so fast in my life. The time went by in a blur. I did my best to make an omelette, not scrambled eggs but it was very hard in the time frame. Simon who I was up against had already done 3 challenges that day and being a professional chef, had it down to tee. I did not get chance to season mine or add any cheese in but Simon’s was perfecting seasoned and I would of been very happy to eat his for breakfast any day of the week. Mine was slightly medium rare in the middle but the outer bits were edible at least. Glynn did the taste test and declared mine to just about be an omelette (he was being generous!) and announced my time. My time was 47.77 seconds which is not bad for a first attempt. I think I could beat it if given the opportunity again.

James was up next and I enjoyed taking a break and watching him have a go. His time was slightly better than mine but he had a practice that morning while I didn’t. It was fun to watch and I now have a greater appreciation for the chef’s who do it every Saturday morning on the show.

You can watch Saturday Kitchen Live at the BBC Summer Good Food Show featuring the Omelette Challenge and Food Heaven and Hell and guest chefs including Glynn Purnell and Tom Kitchin.

Many thanks to Ginny for inviting me to take part in the omelette challenge. I had a fantastic time! :-)

Giveaway: 3 pairs of tickets to the BBC Summer Good Food Show

I have been given 3 pairs of  tickets for the BBC Summer Good Food Show at the NEC from 13th- 17th June to giveaway to 3 lucky Jo’s Kitchen readers. These tickets are valid for every day of the show except the Saturday. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post before Noon on Sunday 10th June 2012 BST. Good luck everyone and I hope to see you at the show. I will be there on Thursday 14th June.

This competition has now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered. The winners are announced below

Terms and Conditions

  1. Only 1 entry per household
  2. The competition is open to those who live in the UK only 
  3. The competition will close at Noon on Sunday 1oth June BST.
  4. You must be able to get to NEC for the show between 13th – 17th June (excluding Saturday 16th June)
  5. The 3 winners will be chosen by random.org and will be contacted via email on Sunday afternoon. If you do not reply with your address by Monday morning, another winner will be selected and contacted.
  6. The tickets will then posted out by first class recorded post on Monday 11th June to ensure you receive the tickets before the show begins.
  7. No automated entries
  8. Please see here for the terms and conditions from the BBC for the tickets
  9. Any questions, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk

I am pleased to announce that the winners of the 3 pairs of tickets are: Erin, James and Emily. Please email your address to me as soon as possible and I will get the tickets posted out to you tomorrow. Thank you to everyone for taking part :-)

Guest Post From Eat The Midlands: Exclusive Interview With Marcus Wareing

Following on my recent visit to Hotel La Tour, I am pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with Marcus Wareing, the inspiration behind Aalto Restaurant. The interview was conducted by my friend and fellow Midlands foodie James Day of Eat The Midlands. Following a discussion on Twitter, I suggested that James ask the ‘guilty pleasures’ question below. I hope you enjoy reading the interview and thanks to James for letting me share it with me :-)

Being invited to a press lunch is always an honour, never a chore, but some don’t warrant an afternoon smoshing, and saying how wonderful a place is, when you know there is a long way to go. But when  the team at the new Hotel La Tour in Birmingham invited us to attend a lunch, joint hosted by Marcus Wareing, one in my position would be a fool to turn down – Marcus is the chefs chef – the man who helped Gordon Ramsay get to where he is (er was) and the very same man who told him where to go (in no uncertain terms) when they famously fell out in 2007 and parted their ways  via the courts – the result? Marcus retained his status at The Berkeley in London, at what was Petrus, and it was shortly renamed afterwards ‘Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley’ achieving Marcus 2 Michelin stars and a lot of industry acclaim thereafter – so what is he doing on a  cold day in May at a hotel in Birmingham?

Marcus, welcome to Birmingham – is this your first time?
No, far from it – I have been up and down the M40 or London-Birmingham train many times in recent months – since I got involved with the team and MD Jane Schofield at Hotel La Tour last year, it has been non stop – really exciting stuff – this is really out of the norm for me, but I was introduced almost by accident by a  mutual friend, and I loved their ethos, passions and focus, and before I knew it, I was involved in a privately owned new build Hotel in the centre of Birmingham!

So, the Aalto restaurant we are sitting in is ‘Inspired by Marcus Wareing’ Explain
The food you have tasted today has been born out of over 20 years hard graft from me, yes, but the menu, and creation has come from my protégée Chef Alex Penhaligon – I met Alex last year, he went for an interview as a head chef with Hotel La Tour, and not until the final interview did he know he would be working with me – I think he was a little shocked! Alex has spent 3 months in my kitchens in London – both The Berkeley and The Gilbert Scott – he is a real inspiration to me, and my team. I saw the same ethos and passions in him that I also have, and despite spending some years working in branded hotels, which though taught him systems, discipline, structure and good buying, he had lost some of his spark when he came to us, but I could see it was there, deep down – all I did was bring it out of him, and now he is here doing an incredible job.

So what is the Marcus Wareing ethos you mention?
It’s what makes us what we are, and what makes my food what it is. To me it comes from deep within – a drive, a passion, and a vision and above all a comfort in your own skin – You have to do this job for the right reasons, there is no point in thinking you will be the next TV chef – that’s not important, and it does not reward the soul – believe me I’ve seen it. Getting up at the crack of dawn, seeing fine produce arrive in your kitchen, and creating something from it is what the ethos is – and doing it for the customer, not some food critic or a camera, that’s what is important to me. When Alex started with us, I told him to watch, listen, learn and follow – he did just that, and absorbed every bit of it, and look at him now – lunch was incredible, and for almost 90 covers, is a real achievement – when critics like you are watching with your eyes, and cameras, it ain’t easy. {laughs}

So what is Marcus Wareing style food?
Its hard to say…very hard. My own food at The Berkley, where I am most services, and has my name above the door, comes from within – My life growing up in Lancashire, my family cooking, my dads passions, and my training for many years – The Gilbert Scott, which I love, is more influenced by the history of the building and the classics, more brassiere in  style, much like Aalto Restaurant at La Tour. But overall I try and understand what customers want these days – most people are well travelled, have experienced food from all over the world, know what they like, and are prepared to experiment, but in recessionary times like we are in, chefs like me need to appreciate that firstly, the meal may be more of a treat than it was a few years ago, money is tighter, so the experience is key – the front of house staff have never been more important – so you have to respect that, and share your passions with them, so they then instil it on the customer. Gone are the days of the big expense account – it’s now more about value – not discount, but added value in the ingredients the service and the memory they go away with. We have tried to carry that to the Aalto restaurant menu – its excellent value, and classic dishes, such as stew’s, pies, great cuts of beef, fresh fish,  and other ingredients, largely from local suppliers – you have excellent producers in the region including Aubrey Allen Butchers, and Mr Moydens cheeses, both appearing on our menus – not just because they are local, because they are good – I use Aubrey’s in my restaurants in London for that very reason. Select buying means we can keep the prices keen. Customers  will respect that and then hopefully come back.

What are your plans for La Tour Hotels and working with them?

The owners are a great, progressive and passionate – coming from good hospitality stock – originating from Hayley Conference Centres and they have big plans – and good backing. To me their first venture in Birmingham is a huge achievement –a  great investment – and I am proud to be involved. Hotel restaurants are not easy  – they have a stigma. So marketing such places to the potential audience is key – it’s a long game, but as long as the message and the offering is consistent, and the customer receives excellent service and quality sustainable value, then there is no reason why a good destination food venue such as this would not succeed.  Seeing the team today underlines that – you can see it in their eyes. I will continue to oversee the menu development with Alex and the team – they are all very hands on, as am I, and work with them to ensure the diners of the Midlands, and those who are staying in the hotel, enjoy what we have created, and bring their friends and colleagues – it’s a long game and I enjoy playing it.

Your wife famously helps you at the Berkeley, has she been involved with this?
Yes, she is over there. My wife is great, she operates a lot of the back of house business in my own restaurants, taking care of bookings, systems and staff development – I enjoy figures, and systems, and processes, which I agree, is unusual for a chef, but I still focus my attentions onto what goes out of the doors of my restaurant kitchen – I am at every service, and if I am not my customers are told – You can’t pretend anymore with the advent of Twitter – ‘cause someone will tweet they have seen you out with your kids somewhere maybe enjoying a pizza, when hard working customers are spending a lot of money thinking you are preparing  their meal – it’s not on. Saying that – I also prioritise my family, so if I need a service off with them, then I will take it.

What do you do to relax – Any guilty pleasures?
Yeah, I close my front door! I live for my family, my wife and my kids – that is my reality check, and what I work for – In 20 years I want to have a good life, nice holidays and a happy healthy family – you need to keep I touch with that so whatever we are doing together – a night in, a nice meal out, a pizza, great burger, or just a day in the house, it’s my escape – guilty? No, just pleasures I reward myself with.

How does your cooking at home – have your children shown any gourmet-credentials?
{Laughs} We all cook, and I enjoy it at home, simple dishes, but real good ingredients. Family meals are important. It’s funny,  my son had his 7th birthday at the Berkeley, he got all suited and booted, and the family turned up and I cooked for them – I was so proud – “this is what daddy does” – they could see what I was doing when I was not home, and he loved it, they all did. I saw that he really grew up that night, he was even in the kitchen afterwards watching everything go out off the pass to other customers and pointing out what he had had, and watching the brigade and front of house service. I was so proud of him

Did he tip?
No he didn’t, tight bugger! {laughs}

So what will be Marcus Wareing legacy?
{Thinks…} I am not striving for a legacy, I am striving to be involved, fulfilled, and successful in what is our relatively new business, but I don’t strive for TV, fame and media, I just strive for respect, earned, not demanded, that’s all.

Marcus Wareing thank you.

More on Hotel La Tour and Aalto restaurant http://hotel-latour.co.uk/restaurant/

Interview exclusive by James Day of ww.eat-the-midlands.co.uk & www.leisuremarketingltd.co.uk’  © ETM & www.leisuremarketingltd.co.uk 2012.

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!

Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up June 2011

Photo by Owen Sims

On Saturday, the Midlands Food Bloggers had their third meet up at 99 Station Street and Staffordshire Fine Foods in Burton Upon Trent. Louise of Comida Y Vida and I arrived at 99 Station Street and met fellow MFB members, Gavin of To Bizzy 2 Bake, Julia of A Wannabe Foodie, Jules of The Butcher, The Baker, Georgina of Culinary Travels, Becky of Girl Interrupted Eating and James and Kate of Eat The Midlands. It was lovely to meet in person everyone who we had been talking to on Twitter for so long. We sat down and got ready to taste the fantastic local and seasonal food prepared for us by the wonderful chef Dan and his team.

For my starter, I had Asparagus Soup. It was delicious and very filling. I loved it. For my main, I had Baked Salmon with Coriander Veloute and we all shared the seasonal vegetables around the table. I love salmon and I have never thought of serving it with coriander. It was yummy!

For pudding, I had the Chocolate Brownie with homemade ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was delicious. After lunch (which was a bargain price of £10.95 each), we had a chat with the head chef Dan and owner Susan and we learnt more about the restaurant ethos for only having local, British food and making everything on site.

Photo by Owen Sims

 After our fantastic meal,  we moved to the HQ and home of 99 Station Street and Staffordshire Fine Foods owners, Ross and Susan Broadman, just outside of Burton Upon  Trent. Our first test when we arrived was to tell the difference between two lots of peanuts. One was salted and the other was smoked. I have never thought of smoking a peanut before. It was yummy. Next we put some salmon in the smoker and left a chorizo simmering on the stove in chicken stock and went for a foraging walk in the local woods.

After our walk, we returned and tried two different types of smoked salmon, one had been cured and the other had not. The one that was not cured did not taste very good. However, the salmon that cured was delicious and I am not very keen on smoked salmon.  We next tried cured, smoked and roasted venison loin. It was lovely. Yet another new experience as I have never thought about doing that with venison. We tried pigeon breast next that had been cured and smoked. I love pigeon breast, however in some places that you get it, it can be very overpowering and horrible. This was not. It was mild and delicious. It was so good, I may develop a craving for it. Finally, Ross made a soup with the chorizo that had been simmered in chicken stock for 3 hours. He cut up the chorizo for us to taste and turned the stock into a soup with our foraged nettles and wild garlic. It was delicious. We each got a chorizo to take home and I am planning on doing something similar with mine so watch this space…

I would like to thank Ross, Susan, Dan and all the team at 99 Station Street and Staffordshire Fine Foods. It was a fantastic day. You can see what Ross and Susan thought about being descended on by a load of bloggers, here. I would to thank all my fellow MFB members for attending, it was great to meet you all and I cannot wait to do it again soon. Thanks to Louise for organising it and all your help with MFB so far. 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

.

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! :-)