Monthly Archives: March 2011

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 :-)

Severn Hospice Tweet Up

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! :-)

Forever Nigella: Ciao Italia!

This month’s Forever Nigella theme is Ciao Italia. Nigella has made many Italian recipes over the years so they are many to choose from. I searched on Nigella’s website trying to find the perfect Italian recipe I could recreate however I wanted to do something a bit different. I moved my search onto the BBC Food website and found this recipe,  Small Pasta with Salami made with her store cupboard ingredients.  My store cupboard ingredients are slightly different to Nigella’s so I made my version of the dish below with things leftover in my kitchen. Overall, I think it went very well and I will be making it again soon.

Jo’s Fusilli with Chorizo and Peas

Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person!)

  • 100g Fusilli, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • 6-8 Chorizo slice, cut into smaller bits
  • 2 inch piece of chorizo sausage, cut into 1cm rounds
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, to grate on top (optional)

Method

  1. Put the olive oil in a frying pan and add the chopped up chorizo slices and rings. Fry for a couple of minutes until the oil has seeped out of the chorizo.
  2. Add in the onions, garlic and salt and fry for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in the peas and allow to cook for a minute. Then turn off the heat, add in the parsley and stir.
  5. Serve in a big bowl with the cooked pasta with big grating of Parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy with a glass of red wine!

Ciao Italia!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Product Review: Hotel Chocolat Your Eggsellency Easter Egg

Easter will be soon be upon us and it is time to start thinking about what Easter eggs you will be getting for your loved ones this year. My decision has been made much easier this year as Hotel Chocolat have sent me a Your Eggsellency Extra Thick Easter Egg to review.

The Your Eggsellency egg is made of two extra thick Easter egg half’s. One half is 40% milk chocolate and the other is 72% dark chocolate. Inside the egg was 10 real cream truffle eggs with flavours including Marc de Champagne and strawberry, rum and caramel and Amaretto and more. The dark chocolate egg was rich but not bitter and gave a striking contrast to rich and very creamy milk chocolate half.  The truffle eggs were yummy however slightly overpowering. You could only eat one or two at a time. Due to the size of the egg and its thickness, this is not an egg you can eat in one sitting unless you are a very generous person and decide to share with all your family. I prefer the eating it all to myself in more than one  sitting option as the egg is that fantastic. This egg will not make it to Easter Sunday so I am hoping Stuart will buy me another for Easter itself.  *Hint Hint* :-)

Many thanks to Beth and Hotel Chocolat for sending me the Easter Egg to review.  :-)

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 joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk or DM via Twitter, your address details please. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Product Review: Total Greek Yoghurt Split Pots

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Alison from Total Greek Yoghurt asking me if I would like to try their new TOTAL 0% fat split pots. I said yes straight away as I am currently on a bit of health kick at the moment and thought these would be ideal.

The split pots are available in four flavours: strawberry, blueberry, tropical fruit and honey.  Each one, except for the honey one contains less 130 calories per pot. The honey split pot contains 167 calories which is not much really. My favourite flavours were the strawberry and blueberry. I liked the tropical fruit too but thought it was a tiny bit too sweet for me. The honey one is good too, however if you take the yoghurt straight out of fridge like me, you end up with a solid honey lump in the pot and it is quite hard to mix with the yoghurt. The split pots are ideal at any time of the day, however I found them to be quite good as a sweet treat after lunch during the week. If you are interested in trying the split pots for yourselves, you can buy them from Waitrose.

Many thanks to Alison for sending me the split pots to review. It is much apperciated. :-)

I will leave you today with the new Total Greek Yoghurt advert.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Happy cooking! :-)

PS: Don’t forget I am a having a giveaway of an exclusive Jo’s Kitchen apron. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post here.

Happy 2nd Birthday!

I have been blogging for two years today. I cannot believe it myself. It has passed by so fast. What started as a simple blog just for sharing my recipes has turned into the foodie adventure of my life. I liked food and cooking before I started but my passion has now reached new levels and I cannot get enough. I would like to thank everyone whose support and understanding has made this blog possible: Stuart, my parents, my stepdad, my sister and the rest of my family, my friends, my work colleagues, fellow bloggers, my Twitter friends and you, especially you, my readers. It would not be possible without you! :-)

Sorry for getting gushy but you are all simply amazing and  I do not usually say it enough. Over the past two months, Marie and I have completed a beginners cake decorating course at a local cake shop in Halesowen. We learnt how to decorate a traditional fruitcake. My efforts are above and it is Jo’s Kitchen first birthday cake. I hope you all like it. Cake decorating does not come naturally to me as I am quite heavy handed but I will persevere over the coming months.

Giveaway Time!

As a thank you for your continued support, I have decided to host my first international giveaway. To win an exclusive Jo’s Kitchen apron modelled by myself above, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midday (GMT) on Monday 14th March 2011. The competition is open to everyone  in the UK, Rep of Ireland, Europe,  North America and Canada. You will gain extra entries by tweeting this post on Twitter using the following text ‘I would like to win an @Jos_Kitchen Apron http://wp.me/pAFKO-k8‘ and by sharing the giveaway on Facebook using the button below. You must leave a separate comment for each entry, letting me know you have shared via Facebook or Twitter. The winner will be selected using Random.org.

This giveaway is now closed. Many thanks for all the entries. The winner will be announced tomorrow Tuesday 15th March on another post.

Good luck everyone and thank you for continued support

Happy Cooking! :-)

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Cookbook Review: Leon Book 2: Fast Food

In September last year, Leon, a very successful restaurant chain based in London released their second cookbook called ‘Naturally Fast Food’.  This is a follow up to their first book called ‘Ingredients and Recipes’.  I loved the first book. It was so informative and had lots of inspiring recipes in it. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to receive a review copy of the second book. I have had the book for ages and have not had the chance to tell you have fantastic it is.

Naturally Fast Food is  a cookbook that everyone can learn something from, whether you are a student or a well practised home cook.  The book is split into two halves, the first half contains recipes that take 20 minutes or less to cook. Some of the recipes include, Saturday Pancakes,  Jossy’s Burmese Spicy Cabbage, South Indian Pepper Chicken and Henry’s Quick Chocolate Cake.

The second half is focused on Slow Fast Food. Things that can be cooked in advance when you have the time and reheated when you do not. Recipes in this section include, Chicken Pot Roast, Riga’s Lamb, Best Bolognese and Henry’s 18 hour Beef. The book also contains small sections on store cupboard staples, corner shop classics, grow your own and party food, so you always have a recipe for any occasion.

I decided to make Pasta with Peas from the store cupboard staples section. It was very quick, tasty and brought a feeling of summer to my lunch as it was so fresh tasting and zingy. I loved it!

Overall, I think Naturally Fast Food is a brilliant cookbook and would make an excellent addition to any cook’s bookshelf :-)

Many thanks to Fiona from Octopus Publishing for sending me the book to review

Leon Book 2: Naturally Fast Food By Henry Dimbleby and Jim Vincent

Conran Octopus

6th September 2010

304 Pages

Venison Chorizo and Tomato Salad

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Fry the venison chorizo rings in the olive oil until crisp and the oil is tainted red from thepaprika in the chorizo.
  2. 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.
  3. Add garlic to the chorizo and fry for a minute until cooked.
  4. 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.
  5. 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! :-)


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