Monthly Archives: March 2012

Thomas’ First Food

Today was an important day in our house as Thomas ate his first food. He ate homemade carrot purée. Thomas was not sure at first but I think he enjoyed it. Tomorrow we are trying pea purée and will move forward from there.   If you have any tips about weaning please let me know. Any help and advice is much appreciated :-)

River Cottage Rocks #2: Sunday Lunch – My Entry

Sorry for the delay in putting this post up. I have been suffering with a cold this week and not had much energy. Here is my entry for River Cottage Rocks #2 which the theme is Sunday Lunch. You can find more information about it here and there is still a couple of days to enter as I have extended the deadline until the end of March.

My favourite way of cooking at the moment is slow cooking so when I saw the ‘Very Simple Lamb Shanks’ recipe in the ‘River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook‘ (on page 218), I knew I had to give them a go. I adapted the recipe slightly as Thomas is not eating food at all yet. (I am planning to start weaning him at the weekend) I added red wine, rosemary, salt and pepper to the recipe. Stuart and I loved them and they are something I will make again and again. :-)

Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard

Unless you have lived under a rock for the last month, you cannot have failed to notice that the second series of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard is currently in Channel 4 on weekday lunchtimes. Before the series started, I was lucky enough to be given a sneak preview of some of the recipes from this series and have the opportunity to make one myself. I chose the toffee and apple sauce muffins as I do not usually make muffins and these sounded super yummy!

The series is sponsored by BakingMad.com, an online community of over 100,000 members sharing a wealth of information, recipes, hints, tips and advice on baking. They very kindly provided me with some of the ingredients to make the muffins. I only altered from the recipe once as I saved the caramel that the apples were cooked in and poured it over the warm muffins to serve. The ladies at my work loved them when I visited with Thomas a couple of weeks ago! :-)

Toffee and Apple Sauce Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 275g plain flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 100g fudge pieces
  • Approx. 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar (2 tbsp light muscovado sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon)

For the apple sauce

  • 300g Bramley apples (approximately 2 medium apples)
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp calvados

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas mark 6. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers.
  2. To make the apple sauce, peel and core the apples and cut into small cubes. Place the diced apple in a saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon, calvados and 1 teaspoon of water. Cook over a low heat until the apples are tender and of a compote consistency. Drain the apples and leave to cool.
  3. Sieve the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the butter and eggs together then add the milk. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just incorporated and smooth. Put on a high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until light. Finally, add the fudge pieces and mix.
  4. Spoon half the mixture into the muffin cases then spoon over the apple sauce. Ensure that the sauce is the same consistency as the batter so that it doesn’t sink into the cakes. Cover with the remaining muffin batter and sprinkle with lots of cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes then cool on a wire rack and serve.

Product Review & Giveaway: Crockpot Cook & Carry

I was recently lucky enough to be sent a CrockPot Cook & Carry to review. I was very impressed with its size. It is large enough to make dish for a family but due to its wide base, it will also cook a dish for two or three people with ease. The Cook & Carry comes with a lockable lid meaning you could cook at home for example and then take it with you when visiting people and reheat it, all in the same pot. Its comes with a handy carry case too. The pot is dishwasher safe making it very easy to clean.

Overall, I was very impressed with the CrockPot Cook & Carry and I have decided to give one away. All you need to do is follow a couple of simple steps below to enter.

1) Like Jo’s Kitchen on Facebook

2) Like CrockPot UK on Facebook

3) Leave a comment below to confirm that you have done the first two steps, leaving your Twitter username if you have one. This makes it easier to contact the winner.

Or

If you are not on Facebook, please leave a comment below telling me your favourite slow cooker recipe.

This competition has now closed. Thank you to everyone who has entered. The winner will be announced as soon as possible.

Good Luck! :-)

Terms and Conditions

  1. Only 1 entry per person
  2. The competition will close at 5pm on Friday 30th March 2012 BST
  3. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted via email as soon as possible after the competition has closed.
  4. The competition is open to UK residents only
  5. The prize will be delivered by CrockPot UK once the winner’s contact details are confirmed.
  6. Any questions or queries, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk


Banfi Wine Evening at Malmaison Birmingham

Stuart and I recently went out on our first night out together since Thomas was born. We were invited to a Tuscan Wine and Food Evening at the Birmingham Malmaison Hotel, located in the Mailbox. We were joined by fellow Midlands Food Bloggers members Jules of Butcher, Baker and Julia of A Wannabe Foodie and their partners. The event was to celebrate Banfi Wines and the event was hosted by Dante Cecchini, UK manager of Castello Banfi and David Manson from Bidendum. The menu was designed by Head Chef Brian Neath. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by friendly faces and lots of wine and food to taste.

The menu and the wine was as follows:

Pinot Gigio Toscana San Angelo

Canapés; Pecorine risotto balls

L’antipasto; Mediterranean vegetables & cured meats

Le Rime Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio

Il primo; Hand made pumpkin & sage tortellini

Rosso di Montalcino & Belnero Sangiovese/Merlot

Il secondo; Veal ‘osso busso’, puré de patate, olio d’olivia

Brunello di Montalcino

formaggio corso; Bra formaggio, Piemonte

Florus Moscadello di Montalcino Vendemmia Tardiva

Il dolce; classic tiramisu

The Pinot Gigio with the antipasti and starter was excellent. It was light and refreshing and complimented the cured meats and vegetables. It was my kind of wine – the sort I could (and did!) drink too much of! The risotto balls were amazing and something I will definitely have a go making at home.

The tortellini was expertly hand made. It was very thin and light. The filling was rich without being overpowering. I wish my pasta could look and taste this good. The Chardonnay was a lot smoother than the Pinot Gigio as you would expect. The Pinot Gigio was more crisp and light and although it was my favourite, Stuart preferred the Chardonnay.

The Veal ‘osso busso’ was our dish of the night. It was so tender you only had to look at and it fell off the bone. It was my first time of having this veal cooked this way and I certainly will be having it again. We had two red wines to try with this course and my favourite was Belnero Sangiovese as it was not as dry as the Merlot and had a more rounded flavour with the Veal.

The red served with the cheese course was a bit rich and intense for me. I still enjoyed it but not as much as the reds with the main course. The selection of cheese and crackers were fantastic but my favourite part of this dish was the onion chutney. Its sharpness cut through everything else and refreshed the palette.

For dessert, we had a classic tiramisu. I love coffee but dislike coffee flavoured desserts. I tried the tiramisu but found the coffee way too sharp, rich and overpowering. The regional manager Stephen very kindly asked the staff to bring out another dessert for me which was a lemon tart. This was much more up my street and the pastry was light and crisp and the filling tasted divine.

After a well needed cup of coffee and a final chat to Jules and Julia and their partners, we suddenly found ourselves as the last to leave. It was a wonderful night and one I would love to repeat again. The Malmaison run a few events like this a year.

Many thanks to Zara, Stephen, Brian and the rest of the team for a fantastic evening. I will be having another adventure with the Birmingham Malmaison soon so please stay tuned :-)

PS: You can read Jules account of the event here :-)

Product Review: Sauteuse Pan From Palmers

I was recently contacted by Palmers and asked if I would like to try out one of their products. I have been trying to find a decent sauté pan for ages, so when I saw the Stellar 7000 Sauteuse Pan on their site I jumped at the chance.

I love my cast iron casserole pot but do find that it struggles with cooking things like paella and risotto as the high sides prevent the liquid evaporating off quickly enough.  I was hoping the low sided sauté pan would stop this problem happening. The pan arrived very well packed with very clear care instructions. I took it out of the box and immediately loved the look and feel of it. It felt strong and the stainless steel looked stunning.  I immediately put it work making two of may favourite dishes; Chicken, Chorizo and Seafood Paella (recipe to appear soon) and Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto. I was impressed with the speed it heated up and how non stick it was. I have had apparent non stick pans before but this is the first one I have seen to work properly. After use, I washed it quickly and then put it in the dishwasher. It came out perfectly clean and ready for its next use. I am very impressed with the pan and am already planning what I am going to cook in it next! :-)

Many thanks to Liam for sending me the saute pan to review. It is much appreciated :-)

Happy 3rd Birthday!

I have been blogging for three years today. I do not know where the time has gone. It only seems like yesterday when I started. It has flown by. I have had many amazing experiences and met some fantastic people. I know my posting has been a bit haphazard over the last year or so and I can only apologise, especially to those people who have invited me somewhere or sent me something. I am slowly getting through the list. It will take me some time but I will catch up in the end.

Thank you to my lovely readers. Your comments are always appreciated on here and through Twitter/Facebook.  I usually do a giveaway to celebrate the blog birthday and I will have one up on the blog in the next couple of weeks or so. I look forward to keep sharing my cooking adventures with you. I have a couple of exciting things in the pipeline and new adventures planned. I will be starting to cook for Thomas soon and we are hopefully moving house too so I will have a new kitchen to play with!

Thank you again for reading Jo’s Kitchen. I hope to be here blogging for many more years to come :-)

Happy Cooking!

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