Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fresh From The Oven: Brioche

This is the first Fresh From The Oven challenge that I have done for a while and it was hosted by Chele from Chocolate Teapot. I was very pleased when I discovered she had chosen Brioche, as it is something I have wanted to make for a while.  The recipe comes from the River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread which is one of my favourites and it is quite simple to make.  It just requires a bit of forward thinking as the dough is required to rest overnight in the fridge.

I do not have an electric  mixer with a dough hook so I made mine by hand. The dough was slightly sticky, but not really a problem. Mine took a few minutes less then the recipe said to bake but I managed to catch them in time. I thought it was lovely with some jam and I was able to use the leftovers to make an inventive sweet Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup dish.

I would like to thank Chele for hosting this month’s challenge.


  • 400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 90ml warm milk
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 4 medium free range eggs, beaten

To Glaze

  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. To knead by hand: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and bring it all together to form a dough. Knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.
  2. Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add all the dough ingredients to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, and leave to knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.
  3. Shape the dough into a round, place in a bowl and cover tightly. Leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next day, divide the dough in two and form into the shape of your choice. Lightly flour the loaves, lay them on a wooden board or linen cloth and cover with a plastic bag. Leave them somewhere nice and warm to prove until almost doubled in size; this could take 3 or 4 hours, as the dough is cold.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. For the glaze, beat the egg and milk together. Transfer the risen loaves to a baking tray and brush all over with the glaze. Bake for about 10 mins, then lower the oven setting to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 mins or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2 small loaves

From River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread

A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 2

In my last post, I told you about foodie places that you really must go and see if you visit Ludlow. Today, I would like to tell you about the Ludlow Food Centre, which is located in Bromfield, just North of Ludlow. The food centre is basically a supermarket but it only stocks local produce. 80% of its goods comes from Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Powys. Some of its meat and vegetables come from very near to the premises in the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate that the centre is in. The food centre makes its own bread, butter, sausages and fresh ready meals in its own kitchen. One of the local specialities they make is the Shropshire Fidget Pie, as made by the Hairy Bikers during their visit whilst filming their Food Tour of Britain programme. The Food Centre also sells Brock hall Farm goats cheese, which is my favourite and is enough of reason alone for me to visit!

The Food Centre also has an excellent cafe that is ideal for a quick bite to eat or a long lunch. They serves everything from homemade cakes and biscuits, pork pie ploughmans, sandwiches, lasagne, chili con carne and pizza. Everything is fresh and made that day. The menu changes daily and depends on weather and season.

This concludes by short series about what a foodie should do in Ludlow. I hope you have enjoyed them and I hope it has inspired you to visit or return if you have not been for a while.

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 1

A must visit for any Midlands Foodie is Ludlow in South Shropshire. While I was on the archaeological dig, we were quite close to Ludlow so I was able to spend some time there on my day off and today, I would like to tell you about a few foodie places that you really must visit while if you go there.

The first place you must go to is The Green Cafe, near to Ludlow Castle.  I would highly recommend it for lunch, dinner, snack or afternoon tea. The cafe has so many local suppliers, there is a long list of them on the tables. The staff are very friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed. I could stayed there all day. For my lunch there, I had gnocchi  with pork ragu followed by elderflower jelly with gooseberry jam. To accompany this I had Freedom organic lager, tap water and an excellent cappuccino to finish. I left feeling very full and very happy! :-)

The second place I would recommend in Ludlow is Prices The Bakers, as they make bread as it should be made, without chemicals or preservatives. All bread, cakes and pastries are baked on the premises. Some of their regularly baked items are, scones, gingerbread men, Ludlow Brown bread, Soda bread and fresh homemade sandwiches. Price’s are also on Twitter too – @pricesthebakers

The third place I would recommend is Deli On The Square which displays everything foodie wise as far as I can tell, that is local to Ludlow. They stock local cheeses, meats, oils, vinegars and local alcohol. The staff are friendly and it is ideally located right in the centre of Ludlow.

The final place I would like to recommend is The French Pantry. This is a small piece of France in Ludlow that supplies the very best in French regional food and wine. They  have a cafe on the premises so you can soak up the French atmosphere even more. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Cassoulet anyone?

The best time to visit Ludlow is during the Ludlow Food Festival on 10th-12th September 2010.  I am unfortunately unable to attend, due to work commitments.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup!

I am sure you think I have gone mad after reading the title of this post. However I can assure that I have not. I already told you many times before, about my love of Twitter and how easily you can share ideas with everyone. Well this week, Twitter has again come up trumps and helped me out.

I made Brioche for the first time at the weekend, and aware that it can go off quite quickly, I asked my friends on Twitter for ideas of what you can do with leftover brioche. I had what seemed like a million responses in an instant suggesting things like, bread and butter pudding, eggy bread and summer pudding. These all sounded lovely but I fancied doing something a bit different and Mat Follas, winner of Masterchef UK 2009 came to my rescue. I met Mat at the BBC Summer Good Food Show in June (see picture above) and I think he is a great guy. I have wanted to visit his restaurant, The Wild Garlic since it opened.

Mat (@matkiwi on Twitter) suggested that I did brioche fish fingers, with ice cream ‘mash’ and strawberry syrup ketchup. I thought this was an excellent idea and an unusual twist on a traditional British fare. We thought it was crazy (slightly Heston-esque) but not too crazy. I said I would make it that night and send him a picture. Here below is what I made and the recipe for it.

Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup


  • Leftover brioche (homemade or not, it’s up to you. A recipe for brioche will be on the blog at the end of the month), cut up into large finger sized pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten in a bowl, big enough for you to dip the fingers into
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, mixed in with the beaten egg
  • Strawberries (British, in season), chopped up and stalks removed
  • Caster sugar, to taste (depends how sweet the strawberries are)
  • Water
  • Veg oil or other flavourless oil
  • Ice cream, of your choice to serve


  1. In a saucepan, put the strawberries, caster sugar and a spot of water and leave it simmer gently until the strawberries have softened and the sugar has melted. Mash the strawberries into the syrup to release the flavour and then turn off the heat.
  2. Put the syrup with the strawberry mush through a sieve and mash again to release as much juice as you can from the strawberries. Once sieved put the syrup back into the saucepan and simmer until reduced into a thick but still runny sauce. Set aside to cool.
  3. Heat a small amount of veg oil in sauce pan and dip the fingers into the beaten egg/vanilla mixture and the put in the frying pan. Fry until golden brown and then turn over again until all sides are golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  4. Get a big bowl or a plate and serve the brioche fingers. Add on the ice cream mash and pour on the strawboard syrup ketchup. Eat and Enjoy!

Mat liked the idea and my picture so much that he has decided to put in on his restaurant menu, once he has a play with it and possibly added an extra twist. I really will have to go down to Dorset and eat at his restaurant then, as this was one of the best puddings I have had in ages and it is so simple to prepare.

I would like to thank Mat for his help and inspiration. You are a star!

Masterchef Apron Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a competition to win a genuine white Masterchef UK apron that only usually the contestants get. To win, you had to email me the answer to the question below.

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

The answer was 1990. People who entered also got an extra entry into the competition by tweeting about the competition or by sharing it on a Facebook. A PDF with the entrant’s names on is below and those who names are shown two or three times shared on Twitter and/or Facebook. The numbers were given to them based on the order the entries were received. I used to select the winner.

Masterchef Apron Competition Entrants

Congratulations to our winner Vivia (@Farctum on Twitter) Well done! Please email or DM me via Twitter and I will post the apron out to you as soon as I can. I hope you enjoy being a Masterchef in your own kitchen. Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to everyone who keeps reading my blog. You guys are awesome!

Until next time, Happy Cooking! :-)

Jo’s Field Kitchen

A short time ago, I went on an archaeological dig in Shropshire for a couple of weeks. This involved 30 of us, living in a farmers field camping in tents during the hottest two weeks of the year so far. After spending all of the day digging, there were 30 very hungry people on site and Jo’s Kitchen turned into Jo’s Field Kitchen. To feed everyone, we used an ex-Army field kitchen that is normally used in war zones to feed up to a 100 soldiers at a time.

The stove did prove to be slightly temperamental as unlike army chefs who are trained how to use it, we had to work it out for ourselves. It took us a little while but we soon cracked it. The stove also came with a big metal box that you could put on top of the stove and have an oven if you wanted too. The students took it in turns to cook and I just gave advice whenever needed most of the time. In our little field kitchen, we were able to make:

  • Sausages, Mash and Beans
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Pasta with a very yummy tomato sauce
  • Jacket Potatoes with various fillings
  • Veggie stew
  • Chilli con Carne
  • Roast chicken drumsticks, with cous cous and salad
  • Barley Risotto
  • My very own new potato and spinach curry (chicken version recipe here)

In the end, I made so much curry and everyone loved it so much, that we had it twice in a row.  Helping me help the students to cook was another student called Beth, who was staying in a caravan on site with us. As she had a normal oven, she was able to bake us lots of cakes, flapjacks and biscuits that made everyone very happy. She also planned the menu for the dig and was always on hand to offer advice and help. Thanks for all your hard work Beth. :-)

I have recently brought The Camping Cookbook by Annie Bell which is full of lots of ideas that I intend to use the next time we go on a dig like this again or go camping with Stuart. The book also looks quite suitable for students going to university and having to cook on their own for the first time, as it full of ideas that only need a stove top to cook on. Overall, we all had a fabulous time on the dig. The archaeology, the weather, the people and the food were all fantastic!  I hope this post  has inspired people that camping cooking is not just opening a tin of beans. You can cook wonderful food- you just need to put a little thought into it.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: Don’t forget about my Masterchef Apron Competition. You have until Wednesday at 12 noon BST to enter. All details and how to enter here :-)

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