Waitrose are currently hosting a competition on their Facebook and Twitter to win 20 ‘Best of British’ Street Party items. However they are asking their fans and followers to help choose the 20 best items. Each day, two items are going head to head and whichever one wins the most votes, will go into the hamper for the winner.
I was lucky enough to be sent a few sample items and got to choose which two were my favourite. I chose the King Gingerbread Man and Jubilee Cupcake Decorations. The gingerbread man was very yummy and had a lovely ginger flavour, however it was not so strong that a child would not want to eat it. The perfect Jubilee treat for children and adults alike. I liked the cupcake decorations as they are very high quality and would make any homemade delight look even more amazing. My items are going head to head with two other bloggers items this weekend and I would really like your support. If an item of mine wins, you lucky people will have another giveaway! Go on, get voting! Just stay tuned to the Waitrose Facebook and Twitter pages (follow hashtag #waitrose20) over the weekend and next week! Thank you :-)
After going shopping for supplies for the restaurant that afternoon, I was really looking forward to my meal at The Wild Garlic. Before service started, I was given a tour of the kitchen and met all of the team. The restaurant is quite informal in its layout with polished wooden tables and chalkboards listing daily specials and drinks on. Mat has also put a black peppermint plant on each table which adds to the rustic vibe and makes the place smell nice too.
As I knew the food at the restaurant was going to be great anyway, I asked Mat to surprise me for my meal, taking into account that I could not eat certain things due to being pregnant. To nibble on before the meal began, I had some bread from a local bakery with olive oil, balsamic and spicy nuts. For my starter, I had Goats Cheese Pannacotta, with Beetroot, Apple Crisp, Poached and Powdered Rhubarb. I am not a great fan of beetroot but it was the perfect compliment to the creamy goats cheese pannacotta. The powdered rhubarb was a revelation too. It tasted like cumin or something. The flavour was so rich and earthy. Mat enjoys using science in his cooking, but believes that the science should happen in the kitchen and not on people’s plate and I think this dish is a perfect example of that.
The Amuse Bouche was Spring Vegetable and Wild Garlic Veloute. It was light but creamy at the same time. Very yummy! For my main, I had Rose Rose Veal Fillet with Almond Butter and Potato Fondant. The veal was amazing. It was perfectly cooked and the almond butter complimented it beautifully. Also on the plate, were raw vegetables and pickles which added an extra dimension to the dish.
For pudding, I had the dessert platter which consisted of five individual desserts: Lime Tart topped with Meringue, Ginger Cake and Custard, Chocolate Brownie, Citrus Crème Brulee and licorice ice cream. To be honest, the entire platter was amazing. I cannot single any dessert out as they were all excellent. My favourite though was the licorice ice cream, as I have loved licorice since I was a child but have never had it in ice cream form. I could eat by the bucket load and I may develop a pregnancy craving for it, just so that I can have more!!!!!! :-)
I finished the evening off with a decaff coffee and a chat with Mat and his staff. I would to thank Mat and his team for a fantastic meal in the restaurant. I think it is one of the best meals I have ever had. Please check back soon and I will tell you about my stay in the apartment above the restaurant.
*If you want to hear my about my pregnancy experiences of the trip to Dorset, please read the post on Jo’s Nursery here*
Midlands Food Bloggers
As some of you may know already, I am the founding member of the Midlands Food Bloggers and I am pleased to announce that with the help of Louise of Comida Y Vida, we now have a community blog. We are also having a meet up on Saturday 4th June in Burton Upon Trent. If you would like to find out more, do a guest post on the new blog or attend the meet up please visit the new blog for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in BBC, celebrity masterchef, cooking, food, foodie, happy cooking, local, Masterchef, Masterchef Experience, Mat Follas, Midlands, Midlands Food, Midlands Food Bloggers, regional, Restaurant, Review, seasonal, Thank you, The Wild Garlic, Twitter, West Midlands
Tagged bbc, BBC Good Food Show, Beaminster, cooking, Dorset, food, foodie, happy cooking, local, masterchef, Mat Follas, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Restaurant, Review, seasonal, The Wild Garlic, Twitter
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! :-)
Posted in baking, cakes, cupcakes, Eccles Cakes, Fundraising, giant cupcake, local, Marie, Midlands, Severn Hospice, Shropshire, Thank you, Tweet Up, Twitter, West Midlands
Tagged baking, cakes, cupcakes, food, fundraising, giant cupcake, jabberwocky, Severn Hospice, Shropshire, Telford, Tweet Up, Twitter
A while ago, I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of Great Glen Game Venison chorizo. I love chorizo in all forms and have already used their venison chorizo in my Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto. However this time I wanted to do something different with the Venison Chorizo, so I asked the good people of Twitter to help me.
The lovely Carol from Growing Direct (@GrowingDirect) suggested that I make Jamie Oliver’s Best Chorizo and Tomato Salad from his book ‘Jamie Does’ with it. I thought this was an excellent idea and a fantastic way to show off the venison chorizo. I adapted the recipe slightly and my version is below:
Venison Chorizo and Tomato Salad
- Venison Chorizo, cut into 1cm rings
- Vine tomatoes – roughly chopped
- Cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
- 3 or 4 spring onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine Vinegar
- Small bunch of parsley, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fry the venison chorizo rings in the olive oil until crisp and the oil is tainted red from thepaprika in the chorizo.
- Meanwhile, put the tomatoes and spring onions in a bowl, with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the parsley and mix everything together.
- Add garlic to the chorizo and fry for a minute until cooked.
- Remove the frying pan from the heat and add in the red wine vinegar to stop the cooking process. Pour into the bowl with the tomatoes and spring onions.
- Stir everything together so everything is covered with the chorizo oil and serve in a large bowl with crusty bread and Jamón ibérico on the side. Enjoy!
I even attempted some Jamie Oliver Style presentation with it, what do you think?
Many thanks to Great Glen Game for sending me a sample of Venison Chorizo and to Carol for suggesting a fantastic idea for what to cook with it :-)
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in bread, Chorizo, cooking, food, Great Glen Game, Growing Direct, happy cooking, Jame Does, Jamie Oliver, Twitter, Venison Chorizo
Tagged Chorizo, Great Glen Game, Growing Direct, Jamie Does, Jamie Oliver, Recipe, salad, Twitter, venison, venison chorizo
Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us and with love in the air, it’s time to start thinking what you will cook for your loved one this year. I had to think about a bit earlier this time, as last week on Twitter, I saw that Forman and Field (@FormanandField) were after bloggers to take part in a Valentine’s Cook Off (#Formanslovecookoff) using a mystery box of food items that they would provide. This sounded like my kind of challenge so I signed up, along with Dan, The Grubworm, Carla, Meemalee, Food Urchin and Pavel.
The mystery box soon arrived and it contained:
A bit of a strange mix, I am sure you will agree. It took a few days of thinking but I managed to come up with a Valentine’s menu that I thought was simple to do and showed the amazing produce off at its best. To be completely and utterly truthful, I dislike anchovies with a passion, however I was determined to use everything that came in the box, so I thought that as the anchovies had garlic in them, I would make a foccacia as it is easy and a bit more upmarket then a pizza, where you usually find anchovies. For my main, I simply griddled the salmon as it was too good to do anything else with, and served it with dauphinoise potatoes, with a generous grating of Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese on top and green beans, with both the tarragon jelly and horseradish on the side. For pudding, I made a chocolate pot with brandied cherries and honey biscuits. The pictures of my dishes and full recipes are below.
Stuart and I really enjoyed the meal. The Royal Fillet was the best salmon I have ever tasted and the honey was delicious. I am now addicted to brandied cherries as well. My big jar will not last very long! One minor downside is that the foccacia did not really work. It was simply too fishy and overpowering. I have included the recipe here so that someone who likes anchovies can have a go and see if they can make it better than I did.
To be in a a chance of receiving a box of goodies from Forman and Field (worth £60) like I did, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post, with your ideal Valentine’s recipe or menu and a box could be on its way to you and your loved one, in time for the big day itself. Please leave an email or twitter name so that you can be contacted if you win. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and you have until the 10th February to enter. My recipes are below. Please check out my competitors and see what they did with the mystery ingredients and check back soon to see if I won the Cook Off. Don’t forget, all the other competitors also have a hamper to give-away so why don’t you leave a comment on their blogs too! :-)
Happy Cooking! :-)
All Serves Two
Anchovy and Garlic Foccacia
- 200g strong white bread flour, and more for dusting
- 1 packet of dried yeast
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 125ml warmish water
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped up into small bits and some oil out the container they were in
- Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the olive oil and water and mix with your hand until its forms a sticky ball of dough.
- Put some flour on your work surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and springy. Put in a oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel, cling film or even in a bin bag and leave in a warm place for an hour.
- After an hour has passed, knock back the dough and place in an oiled tin or tray and spread the dough out until it covers the bottom. leave it covered for another half an hour in a warm place.
- After half an hour, uncover it and spread out the chopped up anchovies and oil all over the top of the foccacia. Put in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) and let it cook for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and enjoy.
Griddled Salmon with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Green Beans
- 1 Royal Fillet, chopped up into two portions
- 3 large or 6 small Maris Piper Potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
- 100ml double cream
- 300ml whole milk
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Salt and white pepper
- Generous handful of Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, grated
- 1 packet of green beans, cooked according to the packet instructions
- Horseradish sauce and tarragon jelly, to serve
- In a saucepan, put the potatoes, cream, milk, 1/2 an onion, salt and pepper and allow simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked through.
- Remove the onion from the potatoes and place everything else in a lasagne type dish and put the grated cheese on top. Put in an preheated oven (180 degrees C) and allow to cook until slightly golden and bubbling.
- Meanwhile, preheat up a griddle pan and cook the salmon on both sides, until slightly charred and warmed through.
- Serve the salmon with the Dauphinoise Potatoes and green beans, with a spoonful each of horseradish and tarragon jelly on the side. Enjoy
Chocolate Pots with Honey Biscuits and Brandied Cherries
Ingredients for Chocolate Pots
- 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped up
- 140ml double cream
- 35g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 6 pitted brandied cherries and 4 whole, for the top
Ingredients for Honey Biscuits (Makes 12-14)
- 2 heaped table spoons Regents Park Honey
- 2 table spoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
- 175g plain flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter
- (For the Chocolate Pots) Gently warm the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar the melted.
- In a bowl, put the chocolate, 1 egg yolk and vanilla extract. Pour over the cream and sugar mixture and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Pop 3 pitted cherries into the bottom of each ramekin and pour the chocolate mixture on top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- (For the Honey Biscuits) Put the honey and milk in a saucepan and allow to warm through. Add in the Bicarbonate of Soda and stir until frothy. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the flour and frothy mixture and mix until combined.
- Roll and shape a knob of the biscuit mixture and flatten onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Do not make them too big as they will spread during cooking.
- Bake in a preheated 2o0 degrees C oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving with the chocolate pots and brandied cherries.
Posted in #Formanslovecookoff, baking, competition, cooking, fish, food, Forman and Field, giveaway, happy cooking, Recipe, Thank you, Twitter, Valentines Day
Tagged #Formanslovecookoff, baking, biscuit, competition, Forman and Field, giveaway, Recipe, Twitter, Valentines Day
Image from Prepped. Used with permission by the author
Last week, a plea came out on Twitter from Vanessa Kimbell (@VanessaKimbell) who is currently in the process of writing her first cookery book called ‘Prepped‘. She is in the final stages of preparing the book for publication (due out in May 2010) and was looking for bloggers to test her recipes. I jumped at the chance as I love using recipes that actually work and being given the opportunity to test one before publication does not come along very often. I decided to test the Eccles Cakes as it is something I have never made before.
Prepped is a linked cookbook designed with a busy cook in mind. Once you make one thing, you can make another. Vanessa’s recipe was designed to use up leftover Brandy Butter, however as I do not have any brandy butter leftover from Christmas, the recipe (see below) was adapted with Vanessa’s advice. The picture above is from the cookbook and mine are below.
I thought the recipe was really simple and easy to follow. I doubled the recipe and used a smaller pastry cutter so I ended up making 30 + Eccles Cakes. My colleagues at work did not mind though. They enjoyed them so much, they fought over them! These are something I will make again and again. I cannot wait to see what it in the rest of the book. If everything is this good, it will be amazing. :-)
Many Thanks to Vanessa for letting me test the recipe and allowing me to share the recipe with you all. It is much appreciated :-)
You can pre-order ‘Prepped: Gorgeous Food without the Slog – a Multi-tasking Masterpiece for Time-short Foodies’ by Vanessa Kimbell in my new Amazon UK Store here.
Prep time 20
Cooking time 20 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes
- 1 x 375g pack sweet shortcrust pastry (or Sweet Pastry)
- 75g Brandy Butter, softened (or 55g softened unsalted butter and 20g Caster Sugar)
- 200g currants
- 1 beaten egg, to glaze
- 3 tbsp Orange & Clove Sugar (or Caster Sugar), for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/gas mark 4.
- Roll out the shortcrust pastry to about 6-7 mm thick. Using a 10cm pastry cutter, cut 9 circles (cut the first 7, then bring the pastry together again and re-roll to achieve 9). Use plenty of flour to dust with underneath and don’t over-handle the pastry: this makes it tough
- Mix the butter and currants well together in a bowl.
- Put a pastry circle in your left hand (I’m assuming you’re right-handed here!) and put a large tablespoon approximately 30g of the butter-currant filling into the centre. Bring your fingers together gently around the circle together, and as the pastry edges touch, simply pinch them together, using your right hand to seal the parcel.Place pinched-side down a very lightly greased baking sheet. Gently squash it down using the palm of your hand to make it into a patty shape.
- Once all the cakes are made, brush them all over with the egg for a glaze and dust liberally with the sugar. Cut 3 small slits on the top and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.
Posted in baking, cookbook, cooking, Eccles Cakes, food, Midlands, Prepped, Recipe, Review, Thank you, Twitter, Vanessa Kimbell
Tagged Amazon UK Store, baking, cake, cooking, Eccles Cakes, food, foodie, Midlands, Prepped, Recipe, Recipe testing, Review, Twitter, Vanessa Kimbell
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
Last weekend, I had a fun filled foodie time at the BBC Good Food Show Winter. For the first time ever, I was armed with a press pass and ready to meet all the amazing producers at the show. I had one added bonus as well. Miele invited me back to take part in two Masterchef Master-classes and have lunch at the Masterchef Restaurant, similar to what I did at the summer show. As I did so much at the show, I have split it into two posts, one on the Masterchef experience and the other on the fantastic producers that I met.
To begin, I will start with the Masterchef Experience. I was joined by fellow bloggers; May, Mimi, Helly, Pippa and James. We are all pictured above with Edd Kimber, winner of The Great British Bake Off. For our first challenge, we had to do a Masterclass with Mat Follas. He won Masterchef in 2009 and the chef/owner of The Wild Garlic Restaurant. I met Mat in the summer and know he is a great guy, with an incredible passion for food. It was his idea to do a sweet version of fish fingers, mash and ketchup not so long ago. For the masterclass, we made chocolate and rosemary mousse. I was quite scared of making this as I have had disasters making it at home. However spending the first 20 minutes in a mild state of panic (my cream would not whip, my eggs refused to be separated and it felt like I spent nearly the whole time on stage with a hand mixer on the go!) I produced lovely (but possibly OTT on the rosemary) chocolate and rosemary mousse. Everyone was really happy with the results and I will make this again at home and share the recipe with you soon.
After some more celebrity schmoozing with Dhruv Baker, Masterchef winner 2010 and Edd Kimber, it was off to the Masterchef Restaurant for our lunch and well deserved break.
For my main, I had Chicken with a mushroom and Marsala sauce on parsnip mash with glazed baby vegetables which was cooked by Wendi Peters in Celebrity Masterchef Series 3. It was delicious. Everything complemented each other brilliantly and it tasted even better because I did not have to cook it! For pudding, I had Bread and Butter Pudding which was cooked by Dean Edwards in Masterchef Series 2. The pudding was dense but very light at the same time. The berries really cut the sweetness and were an excellent contrast.
Soon after this delicious meal, it was time for us to return to the Miele Masterchef stage again. This we were cooking with Alex Rushmer and Tim Kinnaird, both finalists in Masterchef 2010. In this session, we made Duck Breast with Crackling, Pickled Cucumber and Spiced Tobacco Caramel and Spiced Hot Chocolate. The duck was Alex’s dish and I was a bit sceptical about it at first. The thought of putting tobacco in food seemed crazy to me, however it worked and the duck tasted really good too. Tim’s hot chocolate was amazing. Spicy, sweet and hot. Just perfect. I will make these dishes again at home and share the recipe with you soon.
Overall, I had an absolutely amazing day and I would like to thank Susanna and Lauren from Miele for inviting me to take part and everyone else involved for all your help. It was great fun! My next post will be about the amazing producers I met so stay tuned for another post soon.
Thanks to James and Miele for some of the photos. It is much appreciated.
Happy Cooking! :-)
Posted in Alex Rushmer, BBC, BBC Good Food Show, BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham, celebrity masterchef, Chilli, Chocolate, cooking, Dhruv Baker, Edd Kimber, food, Forever Better, Good Food, Great British Bake Off, Invention Test, local, Masterchef, Masterchef Experience, Mat Follas, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Midlands Group, Miele, Miele Forever better, regional, Restaurant, Review, Thank you, Tim Kinnaird, Twitter, West Midlands
Tagged 2010, Alex Rushmer, bbc, BBC Good Food Show, BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham, celebrity masterchef, cooking, Dhruv Baker, Edd Kimber, Forever Better, Great British Bake Off, Mat Follas, Midlands, Midlands Food Bloggers, Miele, Miele forever better, Restaurant, The Wild Garlic, Tim Kinnaird, Twitter, West Midlands