Author Archives: Jo Brigdale

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

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Win Tickets to BBC Good Food Show Winter!

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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

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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

Method

  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

recipe-of-the-week

CookBlogShare

Simple Beef Stew for #crocktober!

Crock-Pot 4.7L Countdown Slow Cooker

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out the Crock-Pot 4.7L  Countdown Slow Cooker for the month of #Crocktober! Alongside I have also been testing out the Crock-Pot Food Warmer which is the ideal way to take your leftovers to work, especially if you do not have a microwave nearby.

I immediately impressed with the slow cooker when I set out to make my simple beef stew (recipe below) in it for the first time. Slow cookers that I have had in the past seem to ages to warm up and get going. This one was hot within 10 minutes of me turning it on. The stoneware pot is removable so you can take it to the table to serve the contents easily. The pot is very easy to clean either by hand or in dishwasher and if stuff gets stuck to the bottom, it is very easy to scrub off.  As well as making the beef stew in this slow cooker, I have cooked chilli con carne, chicken stew and slow cooked a gammon joint in it too. This coming weekend, I am planning on slow cooking a beef brisket joint in it. I can see me doing a lot more slow cooking in the future which is exactly what I need being a busy working mum of two little ones.

Crock-Pot Food Warmer
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The Food warmer is a very handy piece of kit to take your lunch into work. All you have to do is put cold contents in at home (leftover beef stew for example!), seal it up with its plastic lid and tight fitting screw top, then take it into work and plug it in about 2-3 hours before you want to eat your lunch. The food warmer then heats your food up gently and it is ready to eat when you want it to be. Soup is quickest thing to heat up (about 2 hours) but the food warmer will heat up chills, casseroles, stews, curries – basically anything you can cook in a slow cooker! In the picture above there is home-made carrot soup in it (recipe to follow in next blog post). I think this will be very well used by me to take my lunch to work in as it saves me money (not having to go to the work canteen!) and is excellent way of ensuring that I use any leftovers up.
I know #crocktober is nearly finished so who’s up for #slowvember?
simple beef stew
Simple Beef Stew 
Ingredients (serves 4 -6)
For the stew:
  • 400g diced stewing beef
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2/3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped into rounds
  • 500ml of beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the dumplings

  • 125g plain flour
  • 60g suet
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • a splash of water to form a dough

To serve alongside the stew and dumplings

  • 6-8 large peeled and cooked potatoes, chopped into big chunks

Method

  1. Put all the stew ingredients in the slow cooker. Stir and then cook on high for 6 hours. Stir the stew every 30 minutes or so once the first two hours of cooking have finished.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix the plain flour, suet, salt and pepper together and add a splash of water and until it forms a stiff dough. Roll into 8 small balls then aside.
  3. When 30 minutes of cooking time are remaining, add the dumplings into the slow cooker and replace the lid.
  4. Once the time has finished, serve the stew and dumplings alongside the potatoes. Eat and of course, enjoy! (Don’t forget to take any leftovers to work in your food warmer!!)

Disclosure: I was sent a slow cooker and a food warmer for review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review

Slow-Cooker-Sunday

Slow Cooked Challenge

Family Fever

Great Bloggers Bake Off: Chocolate Piñata Cake

Piñata cake

Wow! What a great final it was in the Great British Bake Off! Who guessed that Nancy was going to win? My money was on Richard but the luck was not with him during the final unfortunately. For the last great bloggers bake off, Jenny from Mummy Mishaps has challenged us to make our own showstopper.

Piñata cake

Therefore, I would like to present you with my technical showstopping chocolate piñata cake! I am calling it a technical showstopper as during the final, the bakers had to make 12 mini Victoria sponges as part of the technical challenge. A piñata cake is basically a Victoria sponge with a hole in the middle and some extra decoration to make it look really special. I have seen them for ages on Pinterest and always thought they might be quite hard to make, however I could not believe how easy and quick it was to do. Daniel was in the kitchen with me and happily played in his walker while I got on with it.

Chocolate Piñata Cake
Ingredients (makes 1 large 8 inch cake)
For the cake
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4 large free range eggs
For the filling and outside decoration

 

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate, melted
  • 1 large bag of Minstrels
  • 2 large bags of Skittles/Smarties for the filling and the top

Method

 

  1. Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a food processor, add in all the cake ingredients then mix until combined.
  3. Divide the cake evenly between the two tins and then bake for 20-25mins until a knife comes out clean from each cake. Leave in the tins then set aside until completely cool.
  4. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. In a food processor, add in the butter, icing sugar and melted chocolate until combined. Add a splash of water if needed until you have a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
  5. Once the cakes have cooled, remove them from the tins and using a chef’s ring (or a cup/small saucer) draw a circle on both cakes with a sharp knife. Do not cut all the way through the cake. You only need a tiny bit. Remove some cake from both these circles but do not remove too much otherwise your cake will fall apart.
6. Add some sweets into the middle of one of the circles. As much as you can fit in and still get other cake on top. Then spread buttercream on the outer edge next to sweets then put other cake on top. Using a palette knife, cover with buttercream and then decorate with the rest of the sweets. Allow to set at room temperature then eat and enjoy!
* you may not want to go to dentist immediately after eating this cake LOL!
Thank you to Jenny for organising the Great Bloggers Bake Off again!

 

 

 

 

 

Start the Party Season With a Pimms Mojito!

Pimms Mojito

The Christmas and New Year party season will be here before we know it! There are only 65 days until the big day itself. Now, I do not know about you but I start planning for Christmas well in advance. I will have my Christmas menu sorted at least 6 weeks before the big day and this year, as I am not pregnant (unlike last year!), I have started thinking about the Christmas drinks too.

thebar.com is a website dedicated to the art of cocktail making. If you like a particular spirit, then you are bound to find at least a few new cocktails that you have never tried before on the website. If you are a member, you can submit your own cocktail recipes to website too. Whatever the occasion, thebar.com will have the drink(s) to match.

In terms of cocktails, I love the summer and my favourites are the Mojito and a Pimms and lemonade. I decided to combine the two and see what happened when my two favourite drinks met in one glass. To give it a bit of twist, I used mint sugar (recipe below) and lime juice to combine both drinks together and make it even more refreshing. I hope you will try this one over the festive season or at any other occasion. It really is that good, however if you plan on drinking more than a couple of them, then you may want someone else to look after the kids for the night so you can have a lie in in the morning!

Pimms Mojito

Ingredients (makes 1, although you can easily double/triple quantities to make more!)

For the mint sugar

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 8-10 mint leaves

For the cocktail

  • 2 teaspoons of mint sugar
  • the squeezed juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 25ml of white rum
  • 50ml of Pimms
  • 150ml lemonade
  • Selection of fruit to serve (I used oranges, limes and strawberries)
  • Crushed ice, to serve

Method

  1. To make the mint sugar – in a food processor, add in the sugar and the mint and whizz together until combined. Set aside until you are ready to make your cocktail.
  2. Put 2 teaspoons of the mint sugar into a large glass or jam jar if you would like the same effect as the above picture, then add in the juice of 1/2 a lime and stir together.
  3. Next, add in the white rum, Pimms and lemonade and stir again to combine.
  4. Finish with crushed ice, fruit and extra mint leaves (if desired) to garnish.
  5. Drink and of course, enjoy!

Cheers!!!

This recipe was commissioned by thebar.com

For other cocktail recipes please see:

Tinned Tomatoes

Fuss Free Flavours

Cooksister

Hunt for UK’s Best Oriental Young Chef is Back for 2015

Leading Oriental grocer Wing Yip has launched its annual search for the UK’s top Oriental Cookery Young Chef.

Now in its third year, Wing Yip’s Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year competition offers the country’s finest culinary talent the opportunity to showcase their skills before a renowned panel of judges.

As part of the prize the chefs will battle it out to win an exclusive trip to Hong Kong where they will sample the region’s culinary delights, work in Michelin-starred restaurants and explore the vibrant street food scene.

Last year’s competition attracted an array of talent from across the country, with House of Commons chef Robert Hall taking the title after battling against contestants from Eton College, University College Birmingham, City of Liverpool College and Bentley Motors.

Reflecting on his Young Chef experience, Robert said: “The competition was fierce and I’m overwhelmed to have won. I can’t wait to travel to Hong Kong in October where I will be fortunate enough to work alongside Michelin-starred chefs. The experience and skills I will gain at this early stage in my career will be invaluable.”

Putting the contestants through their paces will be Peter Griffiths, head judge and President of the British Culinary Federation, Glynn Purnell, Michelin-starred chef and owner of Purnell’s in Birmingham and Larkin Cen, 2013 MasterChef finalist and director of Asian food innovation Hokkei.

Peter Griffiths said: “Getting your first break in the catering industry can be difficult and taking part in competitions like Young Chef can boost your credibility and open doors to a successful career in the industry.

“Each year we look to raise the bar in terms of standard of entries and last year we attracted a raft of culinary talent from some of the UK’s most renowned establishments and colleges, we hope this year will attract even more as young chefs look to build their skills, knowledge and experience.”

Glynn Purnell said: “Learning and competing in the field of Oriental cuisine is a great challenge and confidence booster as it requires contestants to think outside the box. It’s an impressive skill to have and even for those who strive for a career in a different style of cooking, competing in other arenas is extremely beneficial and creates a multi-skilled chef.”

The competition is open to applicants across the UK, aged between 18 and 25 years, who have a flair for Oriental cuisine and are studying or employed in the catering and hospitality industry. The first stage requires contestants to design and submit an Oriental inspired menu using ingredients of their choice.

The most mouth watering menus will be shortlisted and successful applicants will be invited to a Masterchef-style cook-off at the University College Birmingham on Monday 16th February 2015. Finalists will execute their dishes before the panel who will award marks for technique, creativity, presentation and most importantly the use of authentic Oriental ingredients and cooking styles.

Mr Wing Yip, Chairman of Wing Yip, said: “The number of top quality UK restaurants serving Oriental cuisine in the UK continues to grow.

“Each year I am impressed with the level of talent demonstrated by the contestants and we are extremely proud to support young chefs and encourage them to experiment with the wonderful variety of ingredients and cooking styles found across Oriental cuisine.”

The winners will be announced at an official awards dinner at the University College Birmingham following the competitive cook-off.

For further information and to download an entry form please go to www.wingyip.com.

For my write up of the 2013 awards, please see here.

 

 

Great Bloggers Bake Off Week 8: Enriched Fruit Loaf


I cannot believe that next week will be the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off, where is the time going? This week, the bakers had to make a free form enriched fruit loaf, doughnuts and a European cross between a bread and a pastry. As always, time is of the essence so I cheated slightly this week and used my breadmaker to make the loaf (Sorry Paul!!) It is the first time I have used my breadmaker to make a sweet loaf so I was very interested to see the results. It came out a bit doughy in the centre so it obviously needed a bit more cooking. It was however very tasty and definitely something I will make again. Thomas loved it too!
Enriched Fruit Loaf
Ingredients (makes 1 500g loaf)
  • 350g strong bread flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp easy blend yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 170ml milk
  • 100g mixed dried fruit
  • 50g glaice cherries
  • 25g mixed peel
Method

 

  1. Follow the instructions on your breadmaker and add the ingredients in. I used the sweet bread setting on mine and added in the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel 15 minutes into the knead cycle when the machine beeped.
  2. Cook the bread according to the breadmaker instructions. I advise using the slightly darker crust option to ensure the bread is cooked through.
  3. Allow to cool then slice and serve with butter then enjoy!!

 

 

 

Product Review: Thornton’s Red Wine Hamper

I was recently contacted by Thornton's asking if I would like to try one of their new ranges of hampers. Being a bit of a fan of chocolate, I obviously said yes! I was even happier when I discovered that you could chocolate and wine together in a hamper.
I decided to try the red wine hamper as I was curious to know if red wine and chocolate complimented each other or not. The wine is a 2013 Berri Estates Merlot and it is sent with two packs of Viennese truffles, perfect for sharing as a couple while you enjoy the wine. The truffles were very rich and I could not of eaten many of them on their own. The Merlot cut through the richness of the chocolate and complimented it perfectly. The wine has a deep berry fruitiness and has hints of cocoa too, making it ideal with the chocolate. Although it is really early, I highly recommend this as an ideal Christmas gift for any chocolate and wine loving couple you know!
Disclosure: I was sent a red wine hamper for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review

 

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