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


  • 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)


  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)


  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.