Monthly Archives: October 2011

Look who is here!

Thomas James

Born Saturday 29th October
Weight 6 lb 11 12 ounces
We are both doing well

I will be taking a short break from blogging. See you in a llittle while :-)

Fresh From The Oven: Cinnamon Rolls

Claire from Things We Make read my mind this month with the Fresh From The Oven challenge. I was watching Man Vs Food and saw these absolutely massive cinnamon rolls covered in lots of thick icing. They looked amazing and I thought, I could make them (in a smaller scale of course!) So I was so pleased when I checked what the challenge was for this month and saw it was cinnamon rolls. Woo hoo!

Due to being pregnant and having a lot on generally, I have been very poor over the recent months in doing the FFTO challenges, I hope everyone will forgive me. I am hoping to get better in the new year once the baby has arrived and we have settled into our new roles as parents a bit.

I really enjoyed making the cinnamon rolls. The recipe was simple and easy to follow and I will definitely make them again! The ladies at my coffee morning loved them.

Many thanks to Claire for hosting this month’s challenge :-)

Cinnamon Rolls


  • 400g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 2 Sachets of instant yeast (14/15g)
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 250ml Lukewarm Milk
  • 50g Melted Butter
  • 1Tbsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


  • 150g Very Soft Butter
  • 50g Brown Sugar – muscovado or demerara
  • 1Tsp Cinnamon
  • A Handful of Sultanas (optional)

Icing (optional*)

  • 2 Cups of Icing Sugar
  • 1 Tblsp Melted Butter
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Water to Mix


  1. In a jug mix the yeast, warm milk and tablespoon of sugar.
  2. Leave to froth for 10 minutes if you have time then add the melted butter and egg yolks.
  3. Mix this into the flours, with the salt.
  4. Knead for 5-10 minutes on a floured surface or in your food mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes.
  5. Put in a large bowl with a plate on top and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours)
  6. Knock down and flatten out until it’s about the size of a large baking tray.
  7. Slather with the very soft 100g of butter.
  8. Sprinkle with the mix of brown sugar and cinnamon, and the sultanas.
  9. Roll up so you have a long Swiss roll type thing.
  10. Slice into 2″ slices and place in a deep cake tin
  11. I used a 26cm Kaiser tin, with a bit of butter rubbed into it.
  12. Allow to rise for another 1/2 hour. Tuck in any sultanas so they don’t burn.
  13. Bake at 200c for 10 minutes
  14. Cover loosely with foil and bake for another 15 minutes or so.
  15. At this point I brush it with a little melted butter and put it back in if not quite cooked through but it’s probably not necessary. I am a born fiddler.
  16. Tip out straight away – using a plate to tip it onto then back onto a 2nd plate.
  17. Top with the warm buttery icing and leave to cool….as long as you can bear it.
  18. They are still good on day two (and even better when warmed for 20 seconds in the microwave)

Happy Cooking! :-)

The Pink Whisk October Challenge: Apples

This month, Ruth from The Pink Whisk is challenging us to bake something using one of the ingredients of the moment- apples. I love cooking, baking and drinking apples so I knew I had to take part in this challenge. There are many things you can make with apples including cakes, tarts, crumbles, pies and so forth.

For me, the simplest and the best thing to do with apples is make a crumble. It is one of the first things I was taught to make as a child and was left on my own to make as I got older. I know it is not really original or fancy but my opinion is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! My recipe is very traditional. It does not use oats or anything in the crumble mix. I do not even put any cinnamon in with the apples. If you have good local apples like I did, you should just let them speak for themselves. My recipe below is a bit vague as it depends on how many apples, you have and the size of your baking dish as to how much you need. You just need to use your own judgement and don’t forget you can freeze any left over crumble mix for another time.

Apple Crumble


  • Apples, local if possible, chopped into chunks (1 large or 2 medium sized apples filled up my little Le Creuset dish above)
  • 125g butter, unsalted, cut into small chunks
  • 250g plain flour (always do half fat to flour, however much crumble you make)
  • 125g caster sugar plus a couple of extra tablespoons for the apples
  • Lemon juice


  1. Put the apples in your baking dish and add some lemon juice in with them to prevent them from browning.
  2. Put in a couple of tablespoons of sugar in with the apples and lemon juice and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, make the crumble mix by rubbing in the butter into the flour until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. This may take a few minutes depending on how soft your butter is.
  4. Add in the sugar and mix well.
  5. Top the apples with the crumble mix (don’t do it too neatly- rustic looks better) and bake in a moderate oven until golden brown and bubbling. Eat with custard, cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Bullring Announces Opening Date of Birmingham’s New Landmark – Spiceal Street

The city’s newest dining destination, Spiceal Street at Bullring, is to open on Thursday 24th November.

The new street of restaurants, located in the St Martin’s Square area, is set to shake-up Birmingham’s dining scene as it welcomes two new restaurant brands to the city, ChaoBaby and Browns Bar and Brasserie. Thai banquet-style restaurant, ChaoBaby, adds a new dimension to the dining out experience in the form of exciting live food theatre as diners watch on whilst food is cooked and prepared in the open kitchen.

The second of the new restaurants is the utterly stylish Browns Bar and Brasserie (officially opens 25th November), which offers a range of signature cocktails and a blend of classic and modern dishes. Both are joined by locally-run handmade burger Co., which opens its flagship restaurant on Spiceal Street, offering shoppers only the finest and freshest ingredients.

A spectacular performance between human and machine at 11am on Thursday 24th November will mark the opening of new dining quarter before ChaoBaby and handmade burger Co. open to the public. The unique performance follows a partnership with Arts Council as part of the Arts Nation initiative, and has been created by Leamington Spa based dance theatre company Motionhouse. Visitors can expect to see three diggers and six dancers unite in a mesmerising dance routine. Dancing with extraordinary grace, the machines carve the space, pivot and wheel their human partners whom they lift, nudge and shift in a poetic display to celebrate the completion of Spiceal Street.

The celebration will continue throughout the day as the new restaurants take to St Martin’s Square to offer visitors the chance to sample their food. There will also be music provided by DJs during the day followed by another atmospheric performance from Motionhouse at 6.30pm.

Tim Walley, General Manager at Bullring, commented: “We’re pleased to announce the opening date for Spiceal Street and we’re sure our visitors are too. As a centre we’re famed for our strong fashion offering and with the addition of Spiceal Street we’re confident that we can say the same about our catering offer too.”

The three new restaurants will sit alongside the existing five eateries in the vicinity, including Nandos and Pizza Hut, which have both been extended as part of the new development, and Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, which opened during late 2010.

A new water feature, containing poetry co-written by two local poets, Simon Turner and popular spoken word performer, Steve Camden (aka Polarbear), a green wall and a public art commission created by Wolfgang Buttress, will also be unveiled on the day.

The new dining quarter will open late into the evening allowing visitors to dine after the centre’s shops have closed at the city’s new dining and socialising hotspot.

I have been lucky enough to sample the fare at Browns and handmade burger Co. before they have come to the Bullring. You can read my reviews about them here and here. I am looking forward to trying ChaoBaby as the concept seems really interesting.

I am hoping to go to the Spiceal Street opening event but it depends when Bump makes an appearance. I hope to see lots of you there! :-)

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! :-)

Some things I have tried recently…

I have a confession to make. I have been a naughty blogger. I have been sent lots of fantastic things to review over the last few months and have not told you about them. I would like to apologise to all my readers and the PR’s that sent them to me and I ensure you that it won’t happen again. Here is a little round up of everything that I have received.

Mama Tea

Mama Tea is a range of natural caffeine free herbal tea that are suitable during pregnancy and when you are nursing your baby.  Mama Tea was founded by Anna Louise Simpson who found herbal tea during her first pregnancy but could not find teas that were good for the different stages of pregnancy. Mama Tea is available in five flavours:

Morning Mama (ginger and chamomile) – excellent for the early stages and to help treat morning sickness.

Glowing Mama (rooibos and elderflower) – can be used throughout pregnancy

Cool Mama (spearmint and chamomile) – can be used throughout pregnancy

Ready Mama (raspberry leaf and rose petal) – can only be used from 38 weeks pregnant as can start contractions and bring on labour.

New Mama (fennel and lemon balm) – only to be used once you have given birth

My favourites are Glowing Mama and Cool Mama. I have not been able to try Ready Mama or New Mama yet as I am not at that stage but I gave a selection of all the tea bags to a pregnant colleague who gave birth in August and she loved them all. We both agreed they were delicious and made a refreshing change to many other teas on the market.

Serious Pig Snacking Salami

I love charcuterie and am especially happy to hear about British versions of European classics. Serious Pig was set up in 2008 by George Rice who came up with his idea for a snacking salami while in a pub and being disappointed at the range of bar snacks. The salami’s are available in two flavours; Classic and Chilli and Paprika. They suitably sized to go in lunchboxes and are great as a snack throughout the day.  They are made with fresh British free range pork I loved both flavours but liked the extra kick of the spicy one more. I recommend them for lunchboxes everywhere!

Birds Eye Rice Fusions

I am useless at cooking rice. I overcook it, under-cook it and do everything in between and it is still a disaster! Therefore I was very happy when microwaveable rice came onto the market. Birds Eye have recently launched rice fusions which are the one ones in the microwaveable rice section that can live in the freezer. They are available in the following flavours; Aromatic Pilau Rice with peas and spinach, Egg Fried Rice with peas, Country Mushroom Rice and Mediterranean Vegetable Rice. I enjoyed all the flavours especially the egg fried rice with peas and the Mediterranean vegetable rice. However I did find the rice to be quite soggy when I served it and did not think it was the same quality as some of its none freezer microwaveable rice rivals. The flavours were good and came through quite well. They were fresh tasting. It was just sogginess that let them down. I think I would keep a pack in my freezer for rice emergencies but I am not sure that they will replace the microwaveable rice that lives in my cupboard.

Ryvita Crackers for Cheese

Ryvita have recently branched out and have started making crackers for cheese. They are available in two flavours; Golden Rye and Black Pepper. I served both with a variety of cheeses including garlic and herb and cheddar. Cheese choices are slightly limited when pregnant! I enjoyed both flavours but my favourite was the black pepper crackers as they gave an extra bite and more excitement for the tastebuds when eaten with the cheese. I think the Golden Rye would make an excellent cheesecake base and is something I intend to try in the future. The black peppers can be slightly overpowering if you eat lots so make sure you eat a few of the golden rye as well otherwise you can have black pepper overload!

Thank you to everyone for sending me these products to review and apologies again for the delay in getting them on the blog.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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