Monthly Archives: May 2012

Forman and Field’s Jubilee Bake Off

You may that remember that last year, I took part in the Forman and Field’s Valentines Cook Off, well this year they have invited me to take part in a Jubilee Bake Off with lots of lovely bloggers. The other bloggers taking part are:

 http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.co.uk

http://iheartkatiecakes.blogspot.co.uk/

www.renbehan.com

http://www.lavenderandlovage.com

http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/

www.Cupcakesbysarah.co.uk

http://www.workinglondonmummy.com

http://whatkatebaked.blogspot.co.uk/

We have all been lucky enough to be sent a fabulous box of inspiring ingredients and told to bake to our heart’s content in honour of the Queen’s jubilee. In the boxes we received:

ORIGINAL BEANS CRU VIRUNGA 70% DARK CHOCOLATE A new chocolate producer that is rapidly becoming the choice of top Chefs, chocolatiers and restaurants including Marcus Wareing, The Fat Duck, Galvin at Windows and Damian Allsop to namedrop but a few.

DOVE’S FARM FLOUR This general purpose white flour is milled from English wheat grown by organic farmers to Ethical Trade standards which involve a fair price for the farmer and fair treatment of workers, as well as involvement with local communities. This is great for baking pastry, cakes and biscuits.

LONGMAN’S UNSALTED FARM BUTTER Proper butter from a family run Dairy farm in Somerset.

FORMAN & FIELD LEMON CURD Our own handmade lemon curd from the Forman & Field kitchens. Tarter than most with a good hit of lemon zest so it’s makes for a mighty fine baking ingredient.

CRÈME ANGLAISE More homemade goodness from our kitchens. We make this daily to order with lots of fresh Bourbon vanilla.

ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR This heavenly elixir is made in small batches with hand-picked elderflowers by Bramley & Gage down in South Devon. They’re a family business with son Michael recently having taken over from his old man Edward.

MULLED PEARS The final contribution from the F&F kitchens, pears poached in a mulled red wine syrup.

From this selection of ingredients I have somehow managed to make three baked treats. Don’t ask me how I found the time but I did. I will now explain what I made, why I was inspired to make it and give the recipe.

Lemon Curd Butterfly Cakes

What is more British than a butterfly cake? I remember having them a lot as a child but they seem to have disappeared out of fashion now. The lemon curd was so delicious I knew I had to make it the start of the show in one bake. These are traditional butterfly cakes minus the cream. All they have is the lemon curd inside of them which can, depending on the lemon curd make them quite tart and not really suitable for children.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of an unwaxed lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a whole one if you like it sharp)
  • A generous teaspoon full of lemon curd per cake

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Put cupcake cakes into a cupcake tray (British flag ones if possible!)
  2. In a food processor, add in all the ingredients except the lemon curd and whizz until a smooth batter is formed. Do not over mix as the cakes will not rise
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cakes and cook in the oven until lightly golden brown and a knife inserted in them comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, cut a small disc out of the top of the cupcake and then cut the disc in half. Leave to one side and spoon the lemon curd into the hole you have created in the cake. Put the disc pieces back into hole vertically to create butterfly wings. Decorate the cakes with appropriate jubilee decorations and dive in!

Mulled Pear Crumble with Crème Anglais Ice Cream

I love crumble and am constantly trying to make new variations of them and the mulled pears were calling to me to be put into one. The crème anglais was full of vanilla and as it had a short use by date, I knew I needed to do something to preserve it for longer.  It is the perfect accompaniment to the crumble as the creaminess cuts through the richness of the mulled pears.

Ingredients (makes 1 small ramekin but please adjust recipe to suit whichever bowl you want to use)

For the Crumble

  • 1 and a half mulled pears, chopped into small chunks
  • About 100ml of syrup from the jar of mulled pears
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50-75g caster sugar, depending on how sweet you like your crumble

For the Ice Cream

  • Jar of Crème Anglais ( or homemade custard)

Method

  1. Pour the Crème Anglais into a suitable container with a lid that can go into the freezer. Pop into the freezer and stir every two – four hours with a fork until completely frozen to prevent large ice crystals forming.
  2. Put the mulled pear chunks into your baking dish and put the syrup into a saucepan. Reduce the syrup until slightly thickened. Do not reduce it too much as it will cook more in the crumble. Set aside and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the crumble topping by rubbing the flour and the butter together. Add in the sugar and mix together.
  4. Pour the reduced syrup over the mulled pear chunks and top with the crumble topping. Bake in a 180 degrees C oven until lightly golden brown and bubbling.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it. Serve a generous scoop next to the crumble and tuck in.

GB Dark Chocolate Cake

This is a very quick, made in one bowl simple but amazing chocolate cake. It is moist and very yummy showing the flavour of the dark chocolate to its full potential. I do not usually get this quality chocolate to bake with so I knew I had to show it off in some way. I did add some milk chocolate to mix as I think too much dark chocolate can be overpowering. I decorated the cake with Renshaw’s Great British Icing Pack and followed the instructions on the box to make the Union Jack.  I took this cake to the Merry Hill Centre Mummy Morning  Jubilee Cake Club today and despite the fact it did not win, I still got lots of comments of how moist and delicious the cake was despite the fact I baked it on Sunday night. If you only make one of these baked treats for this coming jubilee weekend, then I urge you to make this one. Everyone will love it!

Ingredients (makes 1 20cm square cake)

  • 100g dark chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 100g milk chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Any decorations or toppings you like

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Put the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water and melt together, stirring frequently.
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until combined.
  4. Fold in the flour and salt and finally add in the eggs. Stir to combine and pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. The batter will be quite runny but don’t worry as this makes a more moist cake.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or so until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once cool, remove from the tin and decorate however you see fit.

Many thanks to Forman and Field for inviting me to take part in the bake off. I had a great time thinking about and creating the recipes. If you are on Twitter, you can follow all the bake off action using the hashtag #formansjubileebakeoff :-)

River Cottage Rocks! #3: Veggie Heaven: The Round Up

Thank you to everyone for taking part in this challenge. All the dishes look amazing. For details of the next challenge, please visit Charlotte’s Kitchen Diary as she is hosting challenge #4.

veghotpot

Charlotte’s Kitchen Diary

The Taste Space

Me

Best of British From Waitrose

Waitrose are currently hosting a competition on their Facebook and Twitter to win 20 ‘Best of British’ Street Party items. However they are asking their fans and followers to help choose the 20 best items. Each day, two items are going head to head and whichever one wins the most votes, will go into the hamper for the winner.

I was lucky enough to be sent a few sample items and got to choose which two were my favourite. I chose the King Gingerbread Man and Jubilee Cupcake Decorations. The gingerbread man was very yummy and had a lovely ginger flavour,  however it was not so strong that a child would not want to eat it. The perfect Jubilee treat for children and adults alike. I liked the cupcake decorations as they are very high quality and would make any homemade delight look even more amazing.  My items are going head to head with two other bloggers items this weekend and I would really like your support. If an item of mine wins, you lucky people will have another giveaway! Go on, get voting! Just stay tuned to the Waitrose Facebook and Twitter pages (follow hashtag #waitrose20) over the weekend and next week! Thank you :-)

River Cottage Rocks! #3: Veggie Heaven – My Entry

Sorry yet again for the lateness of this post. In between moving house, Thomas being ill and coming down with a cough and a cold myself, I have not had chance to stop. Here is my entry for River Cottage Rocks #3: Veggie Heaven. As I am late (again!) with posting my entry I will extend the deadline for entry into the third challenge until this coming Monday, 20th May.

As I was lucky enough to receive Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB) in my vegetable box,  I decided to make a recipe I have wanted to try for ages, PSB with Chorizo and Poached Eggs which is in River Cottage Everyday. I would tell you what page number you could find the recipe if I knew where the book was at this moment. (The perils of moving house!) It is great recipe however and shows off PSB to its full potential. The crispy, spicy chorizo and the creamy poached egg really complement the fresh flavoured PSB. I will definitely be making it again!

Winner of the Riverford Organic Vegetable Box

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Riverford Organic Vegetable Box is comment no 3, Maggie. Congratulations Maggie. Please email your address and contact details to joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk and I will arrange for your prize to be delivered as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone for taking part. I will have another giveaway for you soon! :-)

Guest Post From Eat The Midlands: Exclusive Interview With Marcus Wareing

Following on my recent visit to Hotel La Tour, I am pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with Marcus Wareing, the inspiration behind Aalto Restaurant. The interview was conducted by my friend and fellow Midlands foodie James Day of Eat The Midlands. Following a discussion on Twitter, I suggested that James ask the ‘guilty pleasures’ question below. I hope you enjoy reading the interview and thanks to James for letting me share it with me :-)

Being invited to a press lunch is always an honour, never a chore, but some don’t warrant an afternoon smoshing, and saying how wonderful a place is, when you know there is a long way to go. But when  the team at the new Hotel La Tour in Birmingham invited us to attend a lunch, joint hosted by Marcus Wareing, one in my position would be a fool to turn down – Marcus is the chefs chef – the man who helped Gordon Ramsay get to where he is (er was) and the very same man who told him where to go (in no uncertain terms) when they famously fell out in 2007 and parted their ways  via the courts – the result? Marcus retained his status at The Berkeley in London, at what was Petrus, and it was shortly renamed afterwards ‘Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley’ achieving Marcus 2 Michelin stars and a lot of industry acclaim thereafter – so what is he doing on a  cold day in May at a hotel in Birmingham?

Marcus, welcome to Birmingham – is this your first time?
No, far from it – I have been up and down the M40 or London-Birmingham train many times in recent months – since I got involved with the team and MD Jane Schofield at Hotel La Tour last year, it has been non stop – really exciting stuff – this is really out of the norm for me, but I was introduced almost by accident by a  mutual friend, and I loved their ethos, passions and focus, and before I knew it, I was involved in a privately owned new build Hotel in the centre of Birmingham!

So, the Aalto restaurant we are sitting in is ‘Inspired by Marcus Wareing’ Explain
The food you have tasted today has been born out of over 20 years hard graft from me, yes, but the menu, and creation has come from my protégée Chef Alex Penhaligon – I met Alex last year, he went for an interview as a head chef with Hotel La Tour, and not until the final interview did he know he would be working with me – I think he was a little shocked! Alex has spent 3 months in my kitchens in London – both The Berkeley and The Gilbert Scott – he is a real inspiration to me, and my team. I saw the same ethos and passions in him that I also have, and despite spending some years working in branded hotels, which though taught him systems, discipline, structure and good buying, he had lost some of his spark when he came to us, but I could see it was there, deep down – all I did was bring it out of him, and now he is here doing an incredible job.

So what is the Marcus Wareing ethos you mention?
It’s what makes us what we are, and what makes my food what it is. To me it comes from deep within – a drive, a passion, and a vision and above all a comfort in your own skin – You have to do this job for the right reasons, there is no point in thinking you will be the next TV chef – that’s not important, and it does not reward the soul – believe me I’ve seen it. Getting up at the crack of dawn, seeing fine produce arrive in your kitchen, and creating something from it is what the ethos is – and doing it for the customer, not some food critic or a camera, that’s what is important to me. When Alex started with us, I told him to watch, listen, learn and follow – he did just that, and absorbed every bit of it, and look at him now – lunch was incredible, and for almost 90 covers, is a real achievement – when critics like you are watching with your eyes, and cameras, it ain’t easy. {laughs}

So what is Marcus Wareing style food?
Its hard to say…very hard. My own food at The Berkley, where I am most services, and has my name above the door, comes from within – My life growing up in Lancashire, my family cooking, my dads passions, and my training for many years – The Gilbert Scott, which I love, is more influenced by the history of the building and the classics, more brassiere in  style, much like Aalto Restaurant at La Tour. But overall I try and understand what customers want these days – most people are well travelled, have experienced food from all over the world, know what they like, and are prepared to experiment, but in recessionary times like we are in, chefs like me need to appreciate that firstly, the meal may be more of a treat than it was a few years ago, money is tighter, so the experience is key – the front of house staff have never been more important – so you have to respect that, and share your passions with them, so they then instil it on the customer. Gone are the days of the big expense account – it’s now more about value – not discount, but added value in the ingredients the service and the memory they go away with. We have tried to carry that to the Aalto restaurant menu – its excellent value, and classic dishes, such as stew’s, pies, great cuts of beef, fresh fish,  and other ingredients, largely from local suppliers – you have excellent producers in the region including Aubrey Allen Butchers, and Mr Moydens cheeses, both appearing on our menus – not just because they are local, because they are good – I use Aubrey’s in my restaurants in London for that very reason. Select buying means we can keep the prices keen. Customers  will respect that and then hopefully come back.

What are your plans for La Tour Hotels and working with them?

The owners are a great, progressive and passionate – coming from good hospitality stock – originating from Hayley Conference Centres and they have big plans – and good backing. To me their first venture in Birmingham is a huge achievement –a  great investment – and I am proud to be involved. Hotel restaurants are not easy  – they have a stigma. So marketing such places to the potential audience is key – it’s a long game, but as long as the message and the offering is consistent, and the customer receives excellent service and quality sustainable value, then there is no reason why a good destination food venue such as this would not succeed.  Seeing the team today underlines that – you can see it in their eyes. I will continue to oversee the menu development with Alex and the team – they are all very hands on, as am I, and work with them to ensure the diners of the Midlands, and those who are staying in the hotel, enjoy what we have created, and bring their friends and colleagues – it’s a long game and I enjoy playing it.

Your wife famously helps you at the Berkeley, has she been involved with this?
Yes, she is over there. My wife is great, she operates a lot of the back of house business in my own restaurants, taking care of bookings, systems and staff development – I enjoy figures, and systems, and processes, which I agree, is unusual for a chef, but I still focus my attentions onto what goes out of the doors of my restaurant kitchen – I am at every service, and if I am not my customers are told – You can’t pretend anymore with the advent of Twitter – ‘cause someone will tweet they have seen you out with your kids somewhere maybe enjoying a pizza, when hard working customers are spending a lot of money thinking you are preparing  their meal – it’s not on. Saying that – I also prioritise my family, so if I need a service off with them, then I will take it.

What do you do to relax – Any guilty pleasures?
Yeah, I close my front door! I live for my family, my wife and my kids – that is my reality check, and what I work for – In 20 years I want to have a good life, nice holidays and a happy healthy family – you need to keep I touch with that so whatever we are doing together – a night in, a nice meal out, a pizza, great burger, or just a day in the house, it’s my escape – guilty? No, just pleasures I reward myself with.

How does your cooking at home – have your children shown any gourmet-credentials?
{Laughs} We all cook, and I enjoy it at home, simple dishes, but real good ingredients. Family meals are important. It’s funny,  my son had his 7th birthday at the Berkeley, he got all suited and booted, and the family turned up and I cooked for them – I was so proud – “this is what daddy does” – they could see what I was doing when I was not home, and he loved it, they all did. I saw that he really grew up that night, he was even in the kitchen afterwards watching everything go out off the pass to other customers and pointing out what he had had, and watching the brigade and front of house service. I was so proud of him

Did he tip?
No he didn’t, tight bugger! {laughs}

So what will be Marcus Wareing legacy?
{Thinks…} I am not striving for a legacy, I am striving to be involved, fulfilled, and successful in what is our relatively new business, but I don’t strive for TV, fame and media, I just strive for respect, earned, not demanded, that’s all.

Marcus Wareing thank you.

More on Hotel La Tour and Aalto restaurant http://hotel-latour.co.uk/restaurant/

Interview exclusive by James Day of ww.eat-the-midlands.co.uk & www.leisuremarketingltd.co.uk’  © ETM & www.leisuremarketingltd.co.uk 2012.

Product Review and Giveaway: Riverford Organic Vegetable Box

I was recently lucky enough to receive a Riverford Organic Vegetable Box. I have been considering getting a vegetable box delivered for a while so the opportunity to try one out was one I was not pass up. The box was delivered on the specified day for my area. I was immediately amazed by the variety of vegetables that was in it. These were:

  • Potatoes
    Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Cauliflower
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB)
  • Asparagus
  • Lettuce
  • Vine Tomatoes

Also in the box were storage instructions for the vegetables and a recipe card telling you different ways to cook them. The small organic vegetable box is designed for two-three people and costs £12.85. I appreciated how much PSB there was as it is something I do not get to eat very often and the bunch of asparagus was quite generous too. The only downside of the box in my opinion was the small number of potatoes. We used them all in one meal so I don’t how they are supposed to last a week.  With the vegetables in the box I cooked asparagus with poached eggs and butter and a cheesy leek and PSB bake. I also cooked my River Cottage Rocks! #3: Veggie Heaven dish which I tell you about in another post asap.

For a chance of winning your own veg box, please leave a comment on this post telling me your favourite vegetable and how you like to cook it by Monday 14th May 2012 by 5pm BST.

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

Terms and Conditions

  1. Only 1 entry per person
  2. The competition will close at 5pm on Monday 14th May 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. No automated entries allowed
  6. The prize will be delivered by Riverford Organic once the winner’s contact details are confirmed.
  7. Any questions or queries, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk

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