Monthly Archives: July 2010

Miele Cookalong and a Masterchef Competition

A little while ago, I told you about my trip to the BBC Summer Good Food Show with Miele and showed you a video of me doing the Masterchef Invention Test, live on stage.  Well today, I would like to tell you about the  Cookalong that we did with Barney Desmazery. We had to make 3 dishes in 30 minutes live on stage. It was very scary. We had to make Chicken Masala Skewers, served with Za’tar Pitta bread with Strawberry and Hazelnut Tart for pudding.  I have now had the chance to make the dishes again at home and have adapted to them to suit my taste.

I adapted the chicken masala skewers by turning it into masala chicken thighs and roasting them in the oven for 40 minutes. I think thigh meat is underused and has much more flavour than breast meat. You just need to let it marinade a bit longer that is all. The salad remains the same from the original recipe and the pitta breads have Za’tar (a middle eastern spice blend that can be purchased from Seasoned Pioneers) on them and a tiny bit of olive oil as well.  Stuart and I really enjoyed this dish and I will definitely be making it again.

I adapted the Strawberry and Hazelnut Tart recipe by not adding any hazelnuts, as I do not like them. Therefore, this is my Strawberry and Toffee Tart. I used a ready made tart case, as I am not very good at making pastry at all. Its a bit messy but that is because I did not let the toffee sauce set on the bottom enough before putting the cream mixture on top. I will leave it to set a bit longer next time.  I really liked the recipes I made on the cookalong and now I have made them again at home, I am sure that they will become regular family favourites. My nan and my cousin especially liked it :-)

Masterchef Competition

At the BBC Summer Good Food Show, we were given Masterchef aprons to do the invention test and the cookalong in, as modelled by me in the photo at the top of this post. Now, here is your chance to win one so that you can cook, in Masterchef style in your own kitchen. You can not buy white Masterchef aprons in the shops, only black ones. It is only the contestants that wear the white aprons. Therefore, if you win the apron, you will be in a exclusive number of people who have them. To win the apron, all you need to do is email me on , answering the question below before 12noon BST on Wednesday 11th August 2010.

Which Year did the Original Masterchef, hosted by Lloyd Grossman Begin?

All correct answers will be entered into the competition and the winner will be selected by The competition is open to residents in the UK and Ireland, Europe, America and Canada. If you share this competition via Twitter using the statement below and leave a comment on this post with your username on it, you will gain another entry to the competition.

I would like to win a #masterchef apron from @Jos_Kitchen

If you share the competition via Facebook using the button at the bottom of the post, and leave a comment on this post telling me you have done so, you will gain another entry into the competition.

There you go,you have three ways to win. If you have any questions about the competition, please email me on

This competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered and the winner will be announced tomorrow

Good luck to all my readers.

Happy Cooking! :-)


Steak and Wedges

I love simple dinners that you can without thinking after hard day at work, that do not take to long to prepare as it means you do not have too wait long for your glass of wine! This is one of new favourite simple dinners and it is steak and home-made potato wedges. Stuart loves this too. It is so simple to prepare, its hardly a recipe. The potato wedges were inspired by Ina Garten from one of her Barefoot Contessa programmes.

Steak and Wedges


  • Steak of your choice – I used Sirloin
  • 1 large potato per person, cut into 6 or 8 wedges
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary (dried or fresh, whatever you have, chopped finely)
  • Garlic (as much as you like, chopped finely)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Salad and dressing of your choice to serve
  • Mayo/Garlic Mayo for dipping wedges in if you like


  1. Put the potatoes in a bowl, add some olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and allow to marinate for up to an hour. Bake them on a roasting dish for 30-40 minutes at 180°c, turning occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan until smoking hot. Season one side of the steak with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put onto griddle pan and do the same with the other side. Cook until reached desired level of doneness (not sure what the word is LOL!) and set aside to rest.
  3. Prepare your salad and dressing and serve it with the steak and wedges. Add garlic mayo and serve. Eat and enjoy with a glass of red wine.

Short post today. I will be back soon with a Masterchef related competition so stay tuned!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Sirloin Steak on Foodista


English Mum’s Big Bake Off!

English Mum is having another fabulous baking competition called the Big Bake Off where you can win a hamper of fantastic goodies from Green and Black’s just for baking a cake. I entered English Mum’s last baking competition and you can see what I entered here. Yes, I entered cupcakes that looked like boobies. Oh well! You live and learn. Anyway, after my recent success with Julia Parson’s Easter Cake Bake, I decided it was time to enter again into English Mum’s competition.

This time, I have gone for pure simplicity and I give to you, my Perfect Victoria Sponge. It is perfect because it is guaranteed to be light and fluffy and it tastes great. The recipe is one I have made before and this is the fifth time, I have made it and it has never let me down. To make it slightly different, I made my own sort of jam to go in the middle. I say ‘sort of’ jam as it was just strawberries, raspberries and loganberries cooked together with sugar and water until thickened and then spooned in the middle of the cake. My work colleagues loved it  and said it tasted of summer pudding. Please have a go at making the Victoria Sponge. I would like to know if this recipe works as well for you as it does for me.

Many thanks to English Mum for hosting the competition. Good luck to all other entries.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Childhood Favourite

When I was a child, I used to go to one of my Nan’s houses after school and they would cook me dinner before my Mom would come and pick me up on her way home from work. One of my absolute favourite things that I used to have for dinner after school was fish fingers, mashed potatoes, peas and parsley sauce. I still enjoy making this today so when I had the house to myself a while ago, I decided to cook this for my dinner and make my own fish fingers for the very first time.

Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce


  • A fillet of fish (skinless and boneless of your choice – I used sustainably caught haddock, but you could use salmon (farmed) or any other firm white fish, cut into finger sized pieces)
  • Potatoes (peeled, chopped into chunks and bolied until cooked – I used Maris Piper)
  • Peas (tinned, frozen, fresh – whatever you like, cooked as per usual instructions)
  • Large handful of Parsley, chopped as finely as you can manage
  • Half Pint Full Fat Milk
  • 2 large knobs of butter (Hairy Bikers Style!)
  • Plain flour (enough to coat fish and a couple of tablespoons to go into sauce)
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 2 eggs, in a bowl and beaten lightly
  • Breadcrumbs (homemade or not – whatever you like), seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying fish fingers


  1. First make the parsley sauce. Melt one of the knobs of butter in a saucepan and then add in the two tablespoons of flour and make a thick paste. Allow it to cook out for a minute, to get rid of the raw flour taste. Pour in all of the milk and whisk without stopping until you get a thick sauce. Take off the heat and add in the parsley. Then add salt and pepper to taste and set aside until later.
  2. Dip the fish pieces into the flour, egg and then breadcrumbs and fry gently for a couple of minutes until cooked through. Turn them over halfway through cooking. Drain on kitchen towel to remove excess fat.
  3. Mash the potatoes with the other big knob of butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the fish fingers and peas. Finish with the parsley sauce. Eat and enjoy!

That’s it for today. I will be back with another post at the weekend. Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Honey I’m Home!

Honey I’m Home! I have returned from my two week archaeological dig in Shropshire. I had a great time and the weather was fantastic. I hope you enjoyed the guest posts as much as I did.  I would give a special thanks to:

Linda from With Knife and Fork

Gary from Grubblog

Charlene from No Love Sincerer

Louise from Comida y Vida

for doing the amazing guest posts. My normal blogging schedule will be back in the next day or two, so until then,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Guest Post from Louise: Salt Baked Fish

Hi Everyone. I am still in a field digging but will be home soon. Today, Louise from Comida Y Vida is looking after you. I hope you enjoy the post. Will be back soon. Happy Cooking! Jo :-)

Whilst Jo is off on a dig she has kindly asked me to do one of a series of guest posts she is having on her blog. I am very happy to have been asked by Jo as I love her blog, it is full of so many inspiring stories of home cooking. Then, earlier this year I got to meet her in person and she is such a lovely and interesting person and one who is actively promoting midlands foodie blogs with lots of hard work and effort. So it is an absolute pleasure to write a guest post for her. My blog Comida Y Vida is a mix of local food and restaurants or Spanish style cooking, so I thought I’d give Jo’s blog a little Spanish flavour.

One of the dishes I most enjoy in Spain is salt baked fish. This is not something I have seen in the UK but I know it to be a popular Mediterranean style of cooking with claims coming from the Portuguese, Spanish and Greek. Where it actually originated from is up for debate and Laura at Silk Road Gourmet had done an in depth research into this which makes for an interesting read.

Now the only problem with recreating this dish at home is you need a “veritable mountain” of salt as the fish needs to be sealed in a salt duvet, which allows it to bake in a protected layer.

I saw a variation on salt baked fish a while ago on a TV show (think it was Saturday Kitchen but it was a few years ago) which incorporated egg whites to reduce the amount of salt required, and thought it would definitely be a good version to try at home, so had stored it as a recipe to try.

  • 1 (550g) sea bass, cleaned, scales on
  • 1kg (depending on dish size) sea salt,
  • 2 egg whites
  • Lemon wedges and extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/gas 6.
  2. Prepare the fish, I stuffed it with some lemon slices and some thyme.
  3. Whisk egg whites to until soft peak and then combine in the Salt and I added some lemon zest for extra flavour.
  4. Spread a layer of salt mixture over the base of a large oval ovenproof dish. Place fish on top and top with remaining mixture.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes (adjust depending on size of your fish)
  6. Remove fish from oven and cool for a few minutes then, using a knife, break salt crust and discard. Scrape off the fish skin and remove the flesh from the bones.
  7. Serve with lemon wedges and a drizzle of olive oil.

N.B. – For other sizes of fish, you should use twice the amount of salt to fish to give it a good covering.

After being baked in the salt layer the fish is left perfectly moist and just falls off the bone. Surprising to many people I get to taste this on work trips to Spain, it doesn’t taste salty at all, as the skin of the fish protects the flesh from absorbing the salt.  It was perfect for a summer evening served with a few new potatoes and was gone in no time at all.

Guest Post from Charlene: Roast Mediterranean vegetables, garlic chicken and cous cous

Hello Everyone. I am still in field digging so today to look after you, you have Charlene from No Love Sincerer. I hope you enjoy the post and I will see you soon. Happy Cooking! Jo :-)

Roast Mediterranean vegetables, garlic chicken and cous cous

Usually most of my recipes are taken from books, but every so often I come up with something all by myself. When Jo asked me to do a guest post on her blog on the theme of ‘simple home cooking’, it took me a while to come up with something to write about, but then I remembered about the Mediterranean vegetable-chicken-cous cous thing I make on occasion, which I will hereby refer to as ‘roast Mediterranean vegetables, garlic chicken and cous cous’.

I don’t often post original recipes in my own blog, mostly because I don’t have that many original ones to share, but also because I’m a bit shy about doing so, as I’m not a very advanced cook. But I know that Jo posts a lot of recipes in her blog, so in keeping with that I thought I’d share this recipe of mine.

Serves 2


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette, sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh basil, finely chopped (dry will do if fresh not available)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 free-range chicken breasts, preferably with skin on
  • 150g dried cous cous
  • 250ml hot chicken stock
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh lemon wedges to serve, and a small amount of lemon juice


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Place the pepper, onion and courgette in a baking tray and drizzle with about half the olive oil, sprinkle with the fresh basil and season with pepper and a little salt if you like. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, rub the garlic onto the chicken and season well. I usually fry the chicken in the rest of the olive oil, but you could always grill or roast it depending on your preference. They usually take about  15-20 minutes in a frying pan to cook through, depending on how big the chicken breasts are and how paranoid you are about serving undercooked chicken (I tend to overcook mine!). They are done when all the juices are clear, no pink colour remains inside (I always check by cutting into the thickest part) and they are golden brown on the outside. You can always slice the chicken breasts into smaller pieces before frying to reduce cooking time.
  3. Follow the instructions on your cous cous packet, but use boiling hot chicken stock instead of just water. I tend to use 150g cous cous and about 250ml chicken stock for 2 of us. Once the cous cous has absorbed all the liquid, but is still hot, add a knob of butter, the dried mixed herbs, a little lemon juice and stir well. Season to taste.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Of course, there are lots of variations you could make to this recipe in terms of which vegetables you use and how you cook them. In the past I’ve sometimes fried the vegetables rather than oven-roasting, but oven-roasting tends to make them taste sweeter.

I hope you enjoy my recipe – it has fast become a favourite in my house!

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