Category Archives: Loaf Online

Fresh From The Oven: Local Flour Challenge

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🙂

Popstrami New York Deli Pop Up, Bournville, Birmingham

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?🙂

Giveaway Winner

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 or DM via Twitter, your address details please. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking!🙂

Handmade Pasta

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Put this onto a chopping board and chop into long thin strips (about 0.3-0.5cm wide) using a a sharp knife.
  6. Pull the strips gently apart lengthways and put on a drying rack (or chair!) for a little bit to dry out.
  7. 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)
  8. Allow to cook for a few minutes until thickened and add in the dried herbs.
  9. Cook the pasta in a saucepan full of salted boiling water until al dente.
  10. 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).
  11. 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!🙂

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!🙂

Christmas Wishlist

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:

  1. A Stand Mixer of some description, either KitchenAid or Kenwood
  2. A Digital SLR Camera
  3. A set of Kin Knifes
  4. A new microwave
  5. A foraging course at The Wild Garlic
  6. A bread baking and a poultry course at Loaf
  7. A set of saucepans without plastic handles
  8. 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!!!!🙂

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!🙂