Monthly Archives: May 2011

Jo Cooks: Sainsbury’s Feed a Family of Four for £50

I was recently contacted by Damola from Sainsbury’s asking if I would like to take part in their Feed a Family of Four for £50 campaign. This campaign is to encourage people to plan their meals and do their food shopping at a reasonable cost. I do not normally plan my meals but with a baby on the way and the extra costs that it brings, I thought I should give it a go.

In addition to sending me a week’s worth of shopping to do this week’s meal plan, they also sent me a Sony Bloggie HD Camera to record myself cooking one of the dish’s from the plan. The results of which are above and have been submitted to Sainsbury’s to possibly appear on their website or on one of their TV adverts shown during Britain’s Got Talent this week.

I decided to cook Sausage, Tomato & Cannellini Pot with mash for the video. I served it with a few extra vegetables and made it for my Mom Elaine, my Stepdad Bernie and Stuart. All of them are featured in the video above.

Overall, I was quite impressed with Sainsbury’s home delivery and the quality of their produce. The vegetables (those that were not frozen) were excellent quality and very fresh. The sausages used to make the dish were frozen and did not have much flavour too them, but they were perfectly usable. Most of the products used were from their basics range but they seemed quite good quality. The meat looked good too. I am not entirely sure if I had just served the dish above with mash above that it would be enough for four people. I think a bit of extra vegetables makes it go a bit further and I would hate to think of anyone not having enough food to eat in my house. One complain though is that they sent me 3 loaves of wholemeal meal, all with a use by date of 31st May. My shopping was delivered on Saturday. Unless the bread was frozen, it would never last a family of four for seven days.

I think I would quite happily use Sainsbury’s home delivery again and although I do like the principles of their meal plan, I am not sure if as a foodie it gives enough choice for me. I know I am very lucky not to have such a tight budget for food but if I did, I think the Sainsbury’s meal plan with a few minor adjustments would work for me :-)

Many thanks to Damola and Hayley from Sainsbury’s for sending me the shopping and the camera for free. It is much appreciated :-)

Thanks to my Mom, Stepdad and Stuart for being featured in the video and additional thanks to Stuart for filming it. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Fresh From The Oven: Favourite Savoury Bread

Hip Hip Hooray! I have finally taken part in a Fresh From The Oven Challenge. My first since the end of March. Sorry for my tardiness of late but I have had so much going on, I keep on forgetting to take part. This  month’s challenge is hosted by Michelle of Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and she asked us to share our favourite savoury bread recipes. For me, this was easy. It is the Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia from the River Cottage Bread Handbook Number 3 by Daniel Stevens. My family love it. Whenever there is a special occasion, they ask for me to make it. I made the one above for my Sister’s 18th Birthday earlier this month. It went down a treat! The recipe for the Foccacia is here but I do highly recommend that you buy the bread book as it is really useful and has lots of interesting recipes in it.

Many thanks to Michelle for hosting this months challenge. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Product Review: Shloer Summer Fruits Punch

Since finding out I was pregnant, I have been after new things to drink. There  is only so much water, squash, lemonade and juice that I can drink. Soon after finding out I was pregnant, I went to see my friend and fellow food blogger, Louise of Comida Y Vida.  Louise had recently given birth to beautiful Grace. When Louise was pregnant, she had started drink Shloer, a sparkling grape juice drink available in a variety of flavours. As it was nice day when I went to visit, we sat outside and drank chilled Shloer Rose in the sunshine. Since that day, I have been addicted to it. I drink a bottle a day. Its lovely!

Therefore, I was very happy when Shloer announced their  new limited edition flavour, Summer Fruit Punch. Their other flavours, white grape, rose and red grape are sort of like non-alcoholic wines, just slightly sweeter. I hoped that this Summer Fruits flavour would be my Pimms replacement for the summer and I was not disappointed. It was very fruity and refreshing. Serving it in a jug with fruit and mint leaves it even looked like Pimms! Best of all, all Shloer flavours contain no preservatives, artificial colours, sweeteners or flavourings. I cannot wait to start trying the mocktail recipes on their site, and next summer after the baby is born, I will try the alcoholic cocktails. Roll on the summer BBQ season!

Many thanks to Hayley for sending me a bottle of Shloer Summer Fruits to review :-)

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! :-)

Restaurant Review: Jojolapa, Birmingham

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to review Jojolapa, a family -run Nepalese restaurant on Newhall Street, in Birmingham City Centre.  Stuart and I had never been to a Nepalese restaurant before and we were really excited about going.

We arrived at about 7pm on a Wednesday evening and we were warmly greeted by the staff. We were shown to our table and given the menu to look at. The menu had some of the normal Indian fare it, however most of the menu contained Nepalese specialities that we had never seen or heard of before. While we made our choice, some warm poppadoms and a selection of dips were brought to the table.

For our starters, I had Chicken Choyla, chargrilled chicken pieces in Himalayan herbs, olive oil and fenugreek seeds and served with salad. Stuart had Steamed Momo which is a chicken dumpling, served with a Nepalese tomato sauce. We both loved the starters. My chicken was well seasoned and beautifully cooked, however slightly on the hot side. The dumplings were some of the best we had ever tasted and the tomato sauce complimented them fantastically.


For our mains, I had Hassu Ko Massu, a duck breast tikka simmered in its own juices with chillies, coriander and a splash of red wine. Stuart had Lamb Rogan Josh. These were served with boiled rice, Naan bread and a Nepalese spicy salad. My duck main was amazing. It was like a traditional balti but it had an extra edge to it. It was rich, full of flavour and tasted more like a slow cook stew, with spices than a balti. I have never had anything like it before. Stuart loved the Rogan Josh too. The lamb was tender and well cooked. The spicing was perfect. The salad was lovely and lived up to its name, it was very spicy but yet again, something I have never seen before.

Overall, we had an excellent time at Jojolapa and we cannot wait to go back there. The food is amazing and not something you see everyday and the staff are lovely and well informed. We left with very full bellies and a massive smile on both of our faces. Thanks to all the team for a wonderful meal :-)

Note to readers: Stuart and I dined as guests of Jojolapa. Many thanks to Nathan for setting this up :-)

Trip to River Cottage Canteen, Axminster

After a fantastic visit to The Wild Garlic (Parts 1, 2 and 3), I decided to go to the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster on my way home. I have loved River Cottage and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall since I was at university and his show’s are one of the main reasons why I became a foodie.

I arrived at the canteen at about 2pm on the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday Friday. The canteen was busy but not as busy as I expected. I was seated straight away and they brought over some bread and butter. It was lovely but much too bigger a portion for one.

For my main, I had Lamb Koftas with Spelt Salad and a Mint and Yoghurt Dip, with a side order of chips. To be honest, the menu at the canteen was not very pregnant friendly, most things came with home-made mayonnaise, softly poached eggs or soft goats cheese. So I was slightly restricted on what I could eat, without asking them to change the entire dish.  The lamb koftas were delicious, they had a nice hint of spice but were not overpowering. The mint yoghurt dip was excellent too. I was not a fan of the spelt salad to be honest. It was very bland and I was a bit disappointed. On a more positive note, the chips were yummy. I could of eaten lots and lots of them.

For pudding, I had a Rhubarb Fumble, which is a cold rhubarb crumble with cream. It was delicious. I scrapped the Kilner jar clean. I loved it. I loved it so much, I would like the recipe to make it myself. Nom Nom Nom!!!!

Overall, I had quite an enjoyable experience at the canteen and I would really like to go back there next year, when I am not pregnant and be able to enjoy more of their menu. Before, I left the canteen to head home, I purchased a signed copy of the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy. I cannot wait to start cooking for the baby from it. It is such a fantastic and very useful book. :-)

I will be back before the weekend, with a review of an incredible Nepalese restaurant in Birmingham called Jojolapa.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Guest Post on MFB Blog

Today I have a done a guest post on new Midlands Food Bloggers blog about the 24 Carrots Easter Farmer’s Market. Please pop over to the new blog and say hello! :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Night At The Wild Garlic Part 3: The Apartment

After a wonderful meal at The Wild Garlic, it was time to retire to fabulous apartment on the second floor above the restaurant. The apartment design was inspired by Angie Lewin and is decorated in 50’s/60’s style to compliment her artwork in the apartment. The apartment is a not an hotel room or holiday cottage, its a retreat. The fantastic staff of The Wild Garlic will leave you alone as much as you like. You have your own key and can come and go as you please. I loved it as you are right in the heart of the village and you get a real idea of what is going on, in the restaurant and the village. One small negative is that it is on the main road so you can get a bit of road noise at night. This did not bother me however, if you are looking for a country hideout away from noise, this may not be the ideal place.


When you arrive you find, bread, milk, butter, apple juice, tea and coffee things and even a bottle of wine in the kitchen. Inspired by the local produce in the apartment and in the local fruit and vegetable shop (see post here for more information) , I made myself mushrooms on toast for breakfast before I left and here is my recipe for it:

Mushrooms on Toast

Ingredients (Serves 1 hungry person!)

  • 1 slice of thick local bread, toasted
  • 1 field mushroom and 1 chestnut mushroom, peeled and chopped with stalk removed
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large knob of local butter, for frying
  • 1 small bunch or parsley, finely chopped
  • Rocket leaves, to serve with it, if desired


  1. Melt some butter in frying pan, add in the shallots and fry until softened slightly
  2. Then add in the mushrooms and fry until cooked through. Add in the parsley at the last minute and serve on top of hot toasted bread.
  3. Put some rocket leaves on the side if you like and enjoy!

I would to thank Mat and all team at The Wild Garlic for a an amazing stay. I will be back again soon. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS:  Midlands Food Bloggers Members and Supporters can now get a Gourmet Life card for three months FREE! If you would like more information, please see the post here

PPS: Sorry for the delay between posts. If you would like to know why there was a delay, please see post on Jo’s Nursery here

A Night At The Wild Garlic Part 2: The Meal

After going shopping for supplies for the restaurant that afternoon, I was really looking forward to my meal at The Wild Garlic. Before service started, I was given a tour of the kitchen and met all of the team. The restaurant is quite informal in its layout with polished wooden tables and chalkboards listing daily specials and drinks on. Mat has also put a black peppermint plant on each table which adds to the rustic vibe and makes the place smell nice too.

As I knew the food at the restaurant was going to be great anyway, I asked Mat to surprise me  for my meal, taking into account that I could not eat certain things due to being pregnant. To nibble on before the meal began, I had some bread from a local bakery with olive oil, balsamic and spicy nuts.  For my starter, I had Goats Cheese Pannacotta, with Beetroot, Apple Crisp, Poached and Powdered Rhubarb. I am not a great fan of beetroot but it was the perfect compliment to the creamy goats cheese pannacotta. The powdered rhubarb was  a revelation too. It tasted like cumin or something. The flavour was  so rich and earthy. Mat enjoys using science in his cooking, but believes that the science should happen in the kitchen and not on people’s plate and I think this dish is a perfect example of that.

 The Amuse Bouche was Spring Vegetable and Wild Garlic Veloute. It was light but creamy at the same time. Very yummy! For my main, I had Rose Rose Veal Fillet with Almond Butter and Potato Fondant. The veal was amazing. It was perfectly cooked and the almond butter complimented it beautifully. Also on the plate, were raw vegetables and pickles which added an extra dimension to the dish.

For pudding, I had the dessert platter which consisted of five individual desserts: Lime Tart topped with Meringue, Ginger Cake and Custard, Chocolate Brownie, Citrus Crème Brulee and licorice ice cream. To be honest, the entire platter was amazing. I cannot single any dessert out as they were all excellent. My favourite though was the licorice ice cream, as I have loved licorice since I was a child but have never had it in ice cream form.   I could eat by the bucket load and I may develop a pregnancy craving for it, just so that I can have more!!!!!! :-)

I finished the evening off with a decaff coffee and a chat with Mat and his staff. I would to thank Mat and his team for a fantastic meal in the restaurant. I think it is one of the best meals I have ever had. Please check back soon and I will tell you about my stay in the apartment above the restaurant.

*If you want to hear my about my pregnancy experiences of the trip to Dorset, please read the post on Jo’s Nursery here*

Midlands Food Bloggers

As some of you may know already, I am the founding member of the Midlands Food Bloggers and I am pleased to announce that with the help of Louise of Comida Y Vida, we now have a community blog. We are also having a meet up on Saturday 4th June in Burton Upon Trent. If you would like to find out more, do a guest post on the new blog or attend the meet up please visit the new blog for more information or email 

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Night at The Wild Garlic Part 1: Local Food Sourcing

Last week, I went on a gastronomic tour of Dorset. Dorset is place I have wanted to visit for a while, as it has always looked so lovely on the River Cottage TV Series and after I heard, 2009 Masterchef winner Mat Follas was opening his restaurant in Beaminster, called The Wild Garlic I knew I definitely had to go!

This is the first of three posts about my experiences at The Wild Garlic. I had such a good time and I want to tell you all about it. If I did one post, it would be very long so I have broken it up into three bite – sized chunks for you. After this, there will be a post about my meal at the restaurant and my stay in the apartment above the restaurant. Finally, my series on Dorset will conclude on a visit to the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster.

I arrived at The Wild Garlic during a busy holiday weekday lunch service. I was greeted warmly by Mat and all his staff and shown to the apartment upstairs. More on this in another post. I put my stuff in the room and wandered back downstairs. Mat invites to go on a walk to get some supplies for the restaurant. This turns out to be a very short walk as we get the supplies from both the butchers and the fruit and vegetable shop across the square.

Our first stop was Nick Tett Family Butchers. From here, Mat purchased lamb loins, skirt steak, goats cheese and a few other bits and pieces. Everything in the butchers had local, free range or organic attached to it or in some cases all three. This is the kind of butchers shop that I would like to have over the road from me.

Our second and final stop was Fruit and Two Veg, a little bit further down the road pass the butchers. In the shop was a vast collection of local fruit and vegetables including asparagus, strawberries, spinach, rocket and mushrooms. I was in heaven. Mat and his sous chef brought lots of things for the restaurant from here, so many that I lost track but I know I ate a few of them in my meal that evening.I would love to have this shop around the corner from me.

Before, I even had my meal at the restaurant I was very impressed. As sometimes, restaurants say things are local but how local is local? In Mat’s case, local means over the road, which is the best kind of local. Don’t you agree?

I will be back soon with another post telling you about my fantastic meal at The Wild Garlic.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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