Author Archives: Jo Brigdale

A Foodie’s Christmas Gift Guide

JK Gift Guide

Hello everyone! Here is my first ever Christmas Gift Guide. I am planning on making it at annual event from now on, so if you are looking a for a gift for the foodie in your life, then look no further! Here we go!

I.O.Shen Knives

Every cook knows that a good knife is a saviour in the kitchen. Stuart has treated me to an early Christmas present of this knife block and four knives from I.O.Shen. I have wanted some for ages and after meeting Natalie and Joe at the BBC Good Food Show Winter and talking to Stuart really nicely, I was able to get the knife block and personalised knives too. A knife or knives from I.O.Shen would be the perfect gift for any cook who appreciates good tools in the kitchen.

Selfridge’s Christmas Products

Self Hamper

This year Selfridge’s have a wide range of products guaranteed to please the foodie in your life (or anyone for that matter!) They have a wide range of hampers, interesting sweet treats including Toffee Coal (It’s delicious!), Brussels Sprouts made out of Marzipan and you can even get personalised jars of Nutella and chocolate bars made to your exact taste by Mighty Fine. Find out more about the personalised gifts available instore here.

Getting Personal Products

Over the summer I received some personalised products from Getting Personal. I love this Jamie Oliver Personalised Antipasti Serving Board. I have used for some of my food styling shots and it will shortly be hanging up on my kitchen wall. Perfect for foodie who has everything!
I always find that normal wine glasses are not always big enough and you have to keep on getting up off the sofa and refilling them. Such a hardship! This Giant Measures Personalised Wine Glass shows you the kind of glass I like!

I do not know about you but Stuart always tells me things, we have run out off when I get back from the supermarket. It is so annoying! I am putting this Personalised House Slate Chalkboard in the kitchen so he can leaves me notes and I can check it before I go shopping and hopefully stop any confusion. This is perfect for the disorganised person/family in you life!

Cookery Books

Here is a brief selection of some of my favourite cookbooks of the year that would make ideal Christmas presents:

Chicken: The New Classics By Marcus Bean – Think chicken is boring? You won’t if you read this book. Chicken is much more than just a Sunday Roast as Marcus Bean shows us. Perfect if you need more inspiration in the New Year

Southern Italian Family Cooking: Simple, healthy and affordable food from Italy’s cucina povera by Carmela Sereno Hayes – Looking for simple family food, then look no further! Tasty filling Italian food to feed all the family. Well done Carmela!

The Hairy Dieters Book 3 Good Eating By Simon King and David Myers – I am looking to lose a a bit of weight in the New Year and intend to use this book to help me. This book is full of inspiring ideas that are full of taste not calories!

Fifty Ways with Spuds: 50 brilliant ways to cook potatoes by Gary Fenn – I bet you thought that all you could do was mash, boil and roast potatoes? Well think again and let Gary show you how. Simple, easy and in Kindle format so you are never short of a potato recipe!

Kitchen Gadgets

Here are some of my most useful kitchen gadgets of the year that would make perfect Christmas presents:

Tefal Actifry Family 1.5kg - I have only received this recently but it is a very useful addition to my kitchen. I am even cooking my roast potatoes in it on Christmas Day. You can read my review here.

VonShef Premium Digital Automatic Multifunctional Fresh Soup Maker Machine & Smoothie Maker – This may seem a kitchen gadget too far, however it will turn quickly turn anything you have into a soup and you only have one pot to wash up. You can read my review here.

Magimix CS 4200XL Food Processor - This is the Rolls Royce of appliances in my kitchen. It can make cake batter and bread dough in seconds, whisk egg whites or cream and can even chop vegetables. You can read my review here.

Crockpot Digital Countdown Slow Cooker – as a busy working mum, I always have a smug face all day when I know I have dinner in the slow cooking waiting for me when I get home. This is one of the best ones I have tried. You can read my review here.

Tefal Gelato Ice Cream Maker – This is yet to receive the full Jo’s Kitchen test (review to follow asap), however, what can be better than homemade ice cream?

Beer 52 Selection

Image by Jan

Image by Jan

Stuart has recently been tasting a selection of craft beers from Beer52. They will send you a case of 8 beers, chosen by their experts from craft breweries around the world. Stuart is still working his way through the section above (his favourite so far is the DNA beer on the right). This would make an ideal gift for the beer lover in your life this Christmas.

Godiva Chocolates

HR Stocking


If you are after a gift for the chocolate lover in your life, then look no further then these from Godiva Chocolates. The stocking is very sweet and full of the finest white, milk and dark chocolate figures perfect for adults or children. Inside the snow topped house, you will find gorgeous little limited edition dark and milk chocolate carres filled with biscuit and puffed rice. Perfect for the chocoholic that has tried everything!

Thank you to Selfridges, Beer 52, Getting Personal and Godiva Chocolates for supplying samples for review. All kitchen appliances mentioned were sent for review purposes too. Everything else has been purchased by or for myself. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. There are affiliate links in this post.








I Was In The Express & Star!

E & S Article Jo's Kitchen 13th December 2014

 On Saturday 13th December, I was lucky enough to be featured in the Express & Star Weekend supplement showcasing three recipes for Sainsbury’s using their RSPCA Freedom Food Standard products.

An image of the article is above or you can read it online here. You can also download a PDF copy of the article from here until the next edition of Weekend comes out this Saturday.

You can also read my recipes regularly on the Express & Star ‘Trusted Voices’ section online. All my posts are here.

I originally submitted five recipes for the article and only three were used. Sainsbury’s have kindly said I can share them with you on here so you can read both recipes below.

Thank you as ever for your continued support. Jo’s Kitchen will be six years old in March 2015 and I am determined that next year is going to be my biggest yet! I hope you will stay along for the ride!

Tikka Chicken

Tikka Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks with Cucumber Salad and Mint Sauce
Indian Food is very popular in the Midlands. This is my take on one of our favourites, Chicken Tikka. By removing the skin from the chicken, it reduces the fat content of the dish and ensures all the flavour goes into the meat. This would make a great starter for a few people or a light main for a couple of people. It is easy to double or triple the quantities too so you can make it for a large gathering.

Ingredients (Serves 2 – 4 (depending on whether main or starter))
For the Tikka Chicken
● 2 tablespoons Tikka Curry Paste
● 250ml Natural Yoghurt
● 1 pack Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference RSPCA Freedom Food Approved Corn Fed Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks, skins removed
● Small bunch of coriander, chopped finely to garnish
● 1 chili, chopped finely to garnish
For the Cucumber Salad
● ¼ Cucumber, halved and watery centre removed (skin be removed to if preferred), finely chopped
● ½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped
● Small bunch of coriander, chopped finely
● 1 lime, juiced
For the mint sauce
● 2 tablespoons of Mint Sauce (the type you normally serve with lamb)
● 50ml Natural Yoghurt
● Few leaves of fresh mint, chopped finely to garnish
● 1 pack of poppadum’s to serve alongside all three dishes

1. In a bowl, mix the Tikka curry paste and natural yoghurt together. Add the chicken, turn over in the marinate a few times then cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for as long as you can, preferably overnight.
2. Preheat your oven to 200°C and remove your marinated chicken from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to use it to allow it to come up to room temperature.
3. Place the chicken on a baking tray covered with foil and bake for 40 minutes (or until juices run clear) turning every 10 minutes and coating with any extra marinade that you have leftover.
4. Meanwhile, make the cucumber salad. Put the chopped cucumber, red onion and coriander into a small bowl and add the lime juice. Toss occasionally and leave to sit until everything else is ready.
5. For the mint sauce (this is hardly a recipe!), mix the natural yoghurt and mint sauce together. Garnish with fresh mint and leave until chicken is cooked.
6. Once the chicken is cooked, serve all together in a platter style with poppadums’, eat and enjoy with a beer or two!

Pork Meatballs

Pork Meatballs with Mustard Mash and Mushy Peas
Faggots Mash and Peas is a very traditional Black Country dish. It is not so popular now as it once was because it is made with offal, which has fallen out of fashion too. However, traditional butchers around the Midlands do still make them. My version is made with pork mince and sausage meat, making an easy weeknight version of this traditional dish. Mace was a spice found in traditional faggots so I have added it here but have also added fresh herbs to liven it up.

Ingredients (serves 4)
For the meatballs
● 250g minced pork
● 6 Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference RSPCA Freedom Food Approved Ultimate Pork Sausages, skins removed
● ½ teaspoon onion salt
● 1 teaspoon mace
● Small bunches of parsley, thyme and sage, finely chopped
● 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs (dried is fine but can use fresh if preferred)
For the mashed potatoes
● 750g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped
● 50g butter
● 2 teaspoons English Mustard (or less if you do not like it to strong)
● Salt and white pepper to taste
For the Mushy Peas
● 250g frozen peas
● 25g butter
● Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
● Salt and pepper to taste
To serve
● 500ml onion gravy (instant is fine), made to packet instructions

1. In a mixing bowl, add in all the meatball ingredients and mix well to combine. I used my clean hands but you may be prefer to use a flexible spatula if you do not like touching raw meat. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls (makes 8-10 meatballs) and place on a greased baking tray. Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until brown, golden and the juices run clear.
2. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in salted simmering water until tender. Drain them, then mash with the butter, add salt, and pepper to taste. Once mashed, stir through the mustard and set aside until serving.
3. Cook the frozen peas in salted simmering water until tender (around 5 minutes) then drain. Using a handheld blender or food processor, blend the cooked peas with the butter, salt and pepper until desired consistency is reached. Stir through the chopped fresh mint.
4. Serve 2-3 pork meatballs per person, with a generous helping of mustard mash and a dollop of mushy peas. Top with onion gravy and eat.



Tasty Tuesdays

Goose Fat Roast Potatoes – Christmas #GuiltyPleasures using the Tefal Actify

I love potatoes especially if they are fried as chips or served as roast potatoes therefore I was happy to discover that I had been nominated by Jan at A Glug of Oil to receive a Tefal Actifry Family 1.5kg to review and to cook my guilty pleasure in it!
The Actify arrived and I eagerly set it up in the kitchen. I love homemade chips but hate the smell after you have used a deep fat fryer. Therefore, the first thing I tried in the Actifry was chips. It can cook 1.5kg of chips (enough for six people) with only one tablespoon full of oil. It has a paddle that rotates the food all round the pan and ensures even cooking throughout. The paddle did break a few of the smaller chips up near the end of cooking so I think I will be investing in a potato chipper so all the chips are exactly the same size.

My only negative with the Actifry is how noisy it is while it is in use. It sounds like an airplane is taking off! I am sure I will get used to it over time. However, bar from that it is really simple and easy to use. It has clear digital timer display and is easy to clean either in the dishwasher or by hand.

One of my favourite Christmas #GuiltyPleasures is goose fat roast potatoes. I love them and could quite happily eat a plateful of them and forget the rest! Did you know that goose fat is actually better for you than butter or lard? It is also high in monounsaturated (55g compared to 19.8g in butter) and polyunsaturated fats (10.8g compared to 2.6g in butter) which are both good for the heart (Source: here) However, all fats need to be eaten in moderation and although I usually cook roast potatoes the traditional way in lots of goose fat, I decided to see if the Actifry could give the same or similar result using a lot less fat.

Overall, I was very impressed. I let them cook for 45 minutes removing the paddle after 30 minutes to let them crisp up and prevent any smaller ones falling apart (using oven gloves and being very careful – you can remove it completely if you want to and turn the potatoes yourself using tongs. The Actifry pauses during cooking when the lid is opened.) I used two tablespoons of goose fat (it is Christmas after all!) although you could probably get away with one. I melted goose fat in a small saucepan before putting it in the Actifry as I wanted to ensure they were coated evenly. You can skip this step if you want too. I will definitely be making my roast potatoes this way on Christmas Day itself. They are healthier for you and it’s one less thing in the oven as far I am concerned!

I nominate Sarah of Taming Twins to take the #GuiltyPleasures challenge next!

Actifry Goose Fat Roast Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 generous tablespoons of goose fat
  • 1kg of Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks (usually thirds or halves depending on size of the potato)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Melt the goose fat in a small saucepan until clear and runny.
  2. Put the raw potatoes into the Actifry, drizzle evenly with the goose fat (be careful, it is hot after all) and season with salt and pepper
  3. Set the timer to 50 minutes and either remove the paddle and turn manually during cooking or remove the paddle 30 minutes in (using oven gloves and being very careful!) and then turn manually a couple of times until cooking is finished.
  4. Serve with your Christmas dinner or with a quick midweek roast chicken dinner like I did above. Enjoy! (And remember the pleasure is not so guilty now!)
I received a Tefal Actifry Family and a hamper for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. There are affiliate links in this post.



Merry & White at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill in The Cube, Birmingham for an exclusive preview of their Christmas menu. Alongside me were a selection of Birmingham’s finest bloggers, including Full To The Brum, Word in Veg Ways, Out In Brum and A Much Prettier Puzzle.
The evening started with Prosecco in the bar with my fellow bloggers and then we were taken into the private dining room to begin our Merry & White Christmas meal. More Prosecco was served and soon our starters were served. I had the Potted Duck with Piccalilli and Sourdough Toast. The duck was rich, creamy and simply melted in mouth. The piccalilli was sharp in contrast and was one of the best I had ever tasted (I wish they sold it in jars!!) and the toast was perfect serving vehicle for the duck and the piccalilli.
For my main, I had Roast Turkey with Marco’s homemade stuffing, cranberry and port gravy with roasted potatoes. The turkey had only come from a farm 35 miles away and complimented by the stuffing, it tasted amazing! I usually find turkey boring but this was really tasty. I would definitely eat it again. My only minor issue was the lack of festive vegetables as it took me a while to find them on my plate. A couple of pieces of carrot, a few potatoes and a few bits of parsnip do not say generosity to me, which is the whole meaning of Christmas in my opinion! For £40 a head for four courses, a few extra vegetables would be appreciated! Everything else was good though and I wish my turkey would taste like that on Christmas Day!

For pudding, I had Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Mini Marshmallows. I am not usually a fan of cheesecakes, however this was different. It was full of chocolate and although the white chocolate and mini marshmallows made it really sweet, the dark chocolate centre was bitter enough to cut through it. My plate was clear at the end!

To finish the meal, we had coffee and a warmed mince pie and it was soon time to step back out into the cold with our full happy bellies. It was the most relaxing Christmas dinner, I am going to have this year!!!

I dined as a guest of MPW Steakhouse Bar & Grill. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.


Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes

Christmas pudding cupcakes
As I am sure you all know by now, I love a good cupcake especially ones that are very easy to make but look impressive at the same time. These Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes really hit the spot on both accounts!
They are a basic chocolate cupcake underneath topped with glacé icing, fondant holly leaves and half a glacé cherry each. They are so simple even children could make them!
Time is of the essence at this time of year with present shopping, card writing, present wrapping, nativity plays and so on, you sometimes just need a quick festive thing to make for presents (your children’s teachers!) or an impromptu festive gathering. These are quite quick and easy to make and are sure to please everyone.
Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes
Ingredients (makes 12)
For the cakes
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the decoration


  • 200g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
  • 20-30ml of cold water
  • 100g of green fondant icing
  • 6 glacé cherries, cut in half


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a cupcake/muffin tin (I used this one) with cupcake cases
  2. In a food processor or in a big mixing bowl with a handheld whisk, add in the ingredients for the cakes and mix together until a batter is formed
  3. Divide the mixture equally between the cupcake cases and then bang the cupcake tin on your work surface to remove any air in the cake mix. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  4. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Remove them from the cupcake tin as so as it is cool enough to do so and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, make the holly leaves. Dust some icing sugar on your work surface. Next, roll out the green fondant to about half a cm thick, then using a holly leaf cutter (I used this one), cut out the 24 leaves individually and set aside to harden for a few minutes while the cakes cool and while you make the glacé icing.
  6. To make the glacé icing, put the icing sugar and a small amount of the cold water into a bowl and whisk until a smooth thick paste is formed. Add a tiny bit more water or icing sugar if required.
  7. Using a teaspoon, spoon the icing on the top of the cooled cupcakes, followed by two holly leaves and a half of a glacé cherry each. Set aside and allow to set for as long as you have. Store at room temperature. Eat and enjoy!

What festive bakes/cakes are you making in preparation for Christmas?

There are affiliate links in this post



Tasty Tuesdays

Flashback to The BBC Good Food Show Summer 2014!

Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry

The excitement is building as the BBC Good Food Show Winter is this week! I had an amazing time at the BBC Good Food Show Summer in June this year so thought it was time I shared with you the fun I had and build up even more excitement for the winter show! One of my favourite part of the day was seeing Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry on stage in the Super theatre. They were very funny together as Paul kept on winding Mary up! She did give it back to him though! We were lucky enough to meet Paul and Mary backstage later on. They were both lovely to chat too and very friendly. Here is my picture with Paul that was taken backstage.

Paul Hollywood & I

 Marcus Bean

After Mary and Paul’s show ended, I had a brief chat with Marcus Bean (I visited his cookery school earlier on the year, see here) who had been presenting the show. For lunch, I had a burger made by Matt Follas as part of Masterchef Streetfood bus tour around the UK this summer. The smoky chicken burger was delicious and very filling!

Matt Follas and Jackie Kearney

Smoky Chicken Burger by Matt Follas

After lunch, I had a look round the stalls and stands. Some of my favourites were:

Swifts Bakery


Urban Herbs


The Mini Jar Company


Biscuit Butter UK


Sinclair Condiments (Bursary Winner)


So Smoothies (Bursary Winner)


The Preservation Society (Bursary Winner)


Cornish Charcuterie (Bursary Winner)

I was also very impressed by the Birmingham Bullring Markets stand and managed to catch a very interesting butchery demonstration. It is really showed what Birmingham and its local producers had to offer.



The BBC Good Food Show Winter starts on Thursday. I am really excited and am expecting to have even more fun that I did in the summer. Jo’s Kitchen readers can get 15% off all tickets using code BL15 right up until the end of the show (30th November) so what are you waiting for? Book your ticket now.

See you there!!!!

GF Show blogger logo

Disclosure: I attended the BBC Good Food Show Summer with a complimentary press pass. I was given some complimentary samples and I also brought some goods myself too. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Midlands’ Best Deli or Farm Shop 2014 Announced

BBCGFS best deli 2014

The Ludlow Food Centre was today announced as the Midlands’ Best Deli at the BBC Good Food Show, fending off competition from hundreds of entrants.

The BBC Good Food Show, in association with BBC Good Food Magazine has been scouring the Midlands’ for the past six months to search for the Midlands’ Best Deli or Farm Shop. The Ludlow Food Centre has won the coveted prize following an arduous judging process, with the judges describing it as ‘the ultimate food destination in the Midlands’.

The team of experts from BBC Good Food have been collecting and reviewing hundreds of customer nominations from across the Midlands’, including  a mystery shopping exercise performed by some of the Midlands’ top bloggers and a visit from Katy Truss of Fabulous Food Finds.

As well as winning the coveted title of the Midlands’ Best Deli or Farm Shop 2014, the Ludlow Food Centre will receive a free of charge stand to promote their business to thousands of food lovers at the BBC Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham, which runs at the NEC from 27 – 30 November.

Ludlow Food Centre

The competition’s judging panel agreed that the Ludlow Food Centre is ‘the ultimate food destination in the Midlands.’ Located on the outskirts of the foodie mecca of Ludlow, Shropshire, it features a butchery, bakery, deli and units where artisan producers including cheese makers and coffee roasters are producing right in front of customers’ eyes. The judges were particularly impressed with 80% of their food coming from the local area. They also noted a loyalty scheme rewarding customers, with regular events involving the community. By employing over 80 people, they make a significant economic contribution to the area. The judges also commented: ‘They appreciate seasonality, source all their beef, pork and lamb from the Estate on which the farm shop lies and also have their own post office and soon to open cook shop’.

Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food, Food Editor says: Once again during the search for the Midlands’ Best Deli or Farm Shop we’ve uncovered some incredible food shops; from traditional high street deli to chicken shed turned farm shop, customers have nominated their favourite local food destinations across the Midlands. I’m really impressed with the winner ‘The Ludlow Food Centre’ and am sure food lovers from across the Midlands will agree that they are worthy winners of the Midlands’ Best Deli or Farm Shop title.

The Judging Panel:

Katy Truss – Fabulous Food Finds

Barney Desmazery – Food Editor, BBC Good Food

Laura Biggs – Managing Director, BBC Good Food Shows

BBC Good Food Show Midlands Blogging Community

GF Show blogger logo

Win Tickets to BBC Good Food Show Winter!


It is nearly that time of the year again! The BBC Good Food Show Winter will soon be here! It is on from Thursday 27th November until Sunday 30th November at the NEC and I am very excited! This year promises to be the biggest and best yet and here is why:

Paul Hollywood

  • Over 450 producers of food, drink and must have kitchen gadgets!
  • The Belling Live Cook Stage will see the legendary Brian Turner focusing on traditional British dishes.
  • The new live demo’s on the Hotpoint stand hosted by Lisa Faulkner
  • The Saturday Kitchen Live stand, sponsored by Lakeland and hosted by Glynn Purnell and Michael Caines
  • A new way to taste wine with The WineTubeMap tasting tours
  • The new Bakes & Cakes stage sponsored by Magimix and hosted by the gorgeous Marcus Bean (do you remember when I went to his cookery school here!)
  • As ever, there is is Supertheatre, sponsored by Kenwood which will see stars such as the Hairy Bikers, the yummy James Martin and the godlike Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on the stage!

As I am one of a small number of official BBC Good Food Show bloggers, I am pleased to offer my readers a chance to win 1 of 3 pairs of tickets to the show. All you need to do is enter the rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck! Hope to see you at BBC Good Food Show Winter! I will be there on the Thursday :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GF Show blogger logo

A Day at Seasoned Cookery School with Sara Danesin

Sara Danesin and I
A few weeks ago, I was invited to Seasoned Cookery School, at Catton Hall in Derbyshire for an Italian Masterclass with Sara Danesin (a finalist in Masterchef 2011). We were warmed greeted by the Seasoned staff, and Sara herself with hot drinks and a freshly baked chocolate and peanut creation. It was delicious!
Sara Danesin
The Masterclass started with Sara showing us how to make her mango panacotta as it needed time to set. We were then sent off in twos to make our own. Sara’s instructions were simple and easy to follow and the Seasoned cookery team were on hand too if you got stuck doing anything. Next we learnt how to make a seafood stock and how to prepare the seafood going into our risotto.  We had to prepare the seafood on our own. This was a new experience for me as although I like some fish and shellfish, preparing it as always put me off. The cleaning of the squid was actually quite enjoyable and I got the hang of it after the first one. I did chicken out of preparing the prawns though. I do not know exactly why but I dislike them greatly.
Seafood risotto
For our next lesson, Sara taught us how to make the perfect risotto using Carnaroli rice. Carnaroli rice keeps it’s shape better than Arborio rice which I have mainly used before. You do not need to keep stirring it as many chefs will tell you too. Just a stir every couple of minutes is fine. The homemade fish stock was very flavourful and really brought the risotto alive.
Lunch at Seasoned
Once we had finished making our risotto, it was time to eat it for our lunch. Lunch was very civilised and we were offered a glass of wine to accompany our meal. It was lovely to chat to Sara and the other members of the group over a glass of wine. Before long, it was time to get back to it and start making our own pasta.
Sara making pasta using a machine
Next Sara showed us how to make homemade pasta. I have made pasta a few times before but have never rolled it using a machine so this was a new experience for me. We made our pasta then let it rest while we watched Sara demonstrate aubergine alla parmigiana with pesto. I am not a great fan of aubergine but if Sara will make it for me every time, then I am a fan! I have always thought of aubergines has been rubbery and bland tasting. Sara’s were crisp and delicious with her homemade tomato sauce and cheese sauce. It was amazing!
Aubergine alla parmigiana
Next, Sara demonstrated her wild mushroom, pancetta and thyme cream sauce to accompany the tagliatelle . With a bit of assistance from Sara, I was able to get to grips with the pasta machine and was soon onto making my sauce. Once we had finished our dish, we ate our homemade pasta with wild mushroom, pancetta and thyme cream sauce with the rest of the group and another glass of wine! (Pasta and risotto in one day – I was stuffed!) Sara told us about her Masterchef experience and her week in Masterchef pop up restaurant in London which she had just finished her stint in, the night before heading up to Derbyshire to teach the course on the morning.
tagliatelle with wild mushroom, pancetta and thyme sauce
For the last activity of the day, Sara showed us how to make a black olive caramel and passion fruit glaze to accompany the panacotta. It may sound strange but the black olive caramel really worked and helped cut through the richness of the panacotta. I do not like black olives either! It was a really simple and impressive dessert that I will be making for a dinner party soon.
Mango passion fruit with black olive caramel
I had a wonderful day at Seasoned and am already planning which course I am going to go on next. Sara was lovely and I really enjoyed talking to her. She made real Italian food a possibility as opposed to an inspiration that I had before. All the staff were very friendly and could not do enough for you. I highly recommend a course at Seasoned. I hope I will see you at a course there soon!
Disclosure: I attended as a guest of Seasoned Cookery School. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review



Spooky Carrot Soup and Soup Maker Review

This post is slightly belated but this recipe will be great if you are having a bonfire night party this coming weekend or you can make it at anytime of year without the spooky bit! Pumpkins are the main source of everyone’s enthusiasm at this time of year and although they look great as lanterns, they are quite fiddly to prepare and there are only so many ’50 ways to use up leftover pumpkin’ posts that I can read.

Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to the humble carrot. In the UK, We produce 700,000 tons of carrots per year (source here) and I wonder how many of those get thrown in the bin? I used to buy a bag of carrots from the supermarket then use 3/4 out of the bag and throw the rest away. I am sure I am not the only one who has done this. Anyway, I have the solution to this problem, my simple carrot soup recipe. The recipe is below and my simple carrot soup recipe has been made even easier by being sent a VonShef Premium Digital Soup & Smoothie Maker 

VonShef Soup Maker

VonShef Soup Maker

Until I had one, I always thought that soup makers were a gadget too far. I mean how hard is it to make soup really? However, in the two weeks that I have had the soup maker, my views have been transformed. A soup maker is basically a blender that cooks. You add in all the ingredients, add the stock, turn on and 40 minutes later you have hot puréed soup ready to go. I have been using it to make soup for me to take to work and heat up in my Crockpot Food Warmer.  It is a great way of using leftover vegetables and saves money too.

The only downside I have found to soup maker is that when I fried onions and garlic in it before adding the other vegetables and stock (which it says it can do in the instructions), it fried them very fast and burnt them, leaving a nasty taste in the soup and tiny black specks in the soup. However I discovered the soup maker has enough power to cook everything, just by putting all the ingredients and the stock in and leaving it to cook. The soup maker blends as it cooks so you do not even have to touch it when it is has finished unless you want to purée it more.  The soup maker can cook eggs and rice too (although I have not tried these functions yet).

Tell me, what gadget did you think you could live without in the kitchen but then once you had it, you discovered it was the most useful appliance ever? I would love to know!

Spooky Carrot Soup

Ingredients (make 2 large or 3/4 smaller portions)

For the soup

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 8-12 carrots (depending on size), peeled and finely chopped
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the spooky bit

  • 2 Babybel cheeses per soup bowl, packaging and red outer bit removed
  • 1 black edible ink pen


  1. (In a soup maker) Add all the soup ingredients into the soup maker. Turn on to low heat mode and allow to cook for allotted time. Serve with the eyes, as described below
  2. (Without a soup maker) In 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, fry the onions and celery until softened then add carrots, vegetable stock and cook until the carrots are cooked through and soft. Season to taste then using a hand blender, blend until it reaches desired consistency.
  3. (For the spooky eyes) Draw a black eye in the middle of each Babybel cheese. The pen might stab into the cheese a bit so the do the best you can. Float cheeses on top of soup, eat and enjoy! Boo!!

Disclosure: I was sent a VonShef Premium Digital Soup & Smoothie Maker  for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review

Tasty Tuesdays



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