Category Archives: Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Cupcakes

 

I was recently contacted by the good folks at jamieoliver.com and was asked if I fancied trying one of Jamie's recipes out and letting you guys know about it. As I am currently craving chocolate, a recipe where it was one of the main stars of the show seemed the best way to go. I decided on the sticky toffee cupcakes with chocolate topping as I always tend to make vanilla cupcakes and wanted to make something a bit more interesting. The recipe was very simple and easy to follow. The cake mix smelt very lovely and full of traditional sticky toffee flavour. The cakes rose quite well. The chocolate topping was very simple and easy to make too.

I was also sent some dark chocolate from the Jme range to use in my baking. It is called 'Tall, Dark and Handsome' (just how I like my men LOL!) and it was some of the best chocolate I have ever tasted. I had to use most of it to decorate the cakes but I did get to try a bit. It was rich, very smooth and did taste more luxurious than most dark chocolate I have eaten. I will definitely use it in my baking again.

Disclosure: I was sent the chocolate to use in my recipe and review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

A Night at Jamie’s Italian Sampling The New Winter Menu

I have always been a big fan of Jamie’s Italian restaurants since I went to my first one in Covent Garden, London a few years ago. The concept is excellent and there is a wide variety of food and drink choices and things that you just do not see anywhere else. I was very happy when Jamie’s Italian came to Bullring and was lucky enough to eat there in first few weeks it opened. I have been back there many times since to break up a shopping trip or two.

Recently I was invited back to Jamie’s Italian with Emma, the lovely editor of Browse Bullring, Ahmed and Sanjeeta from Dine Birmingham and Charlene from No Love Sincerer and her husband to sample their new winter menu. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and were treated to a glass of Prosecco on arrival. While perusing the new menu we were served the ‘World’s Best Olives on Ice’ which had large green olives, black olive tapenade and music bread. The claim that they were the ‘world’s best’ started a discussion for the group as to why this might be. I am not a fan of olives so did not try them. However my companions decided that this might be because they are not preserved. By serving them on ice, they keep fresh and were very tasty according to my dining companions.

For my starter, I chose the ‘Crispy Stuffed Risotto Balls’ which came very originally presented in a metal pot on a board with a small portion of spicy tomato sauce alongside. The portion was very generous and I found that just eating 2 of the risotto balls was enough for me. The tomato sauce was yummy and was an excellent contrast to the risotto balls, lifting them to new heights flavour wise.

For my main, I chose the ‘Game Meatball’ which is a giant meatball slow cooked in a tomato and garlic ragu, served with oozy polenta and black cabbage. We each had a glass of wine matched to our main courses served to us by the manager. Mine was a gutsy red wine that complimented the large meatball perfectly; unfortunately I have completely forgotten the name of it. However I am sure that if you go to Jamie’s Italian and ask for the manager, he will give you the same wine I had and you can try it for yourself.

In my opinion, the meatball was the absolute star of the dish. It was full of a variety of game and had rich, earthy flavours suitable to warm you up on a cold winter’s evening. I did find the sheer amount of polenta slightly overwhelming and I thought it slightly overtook the majestic nature of the meatball a bit. I was recently lucky enough to interview Gennaro Contaldo when he came to the BBC Winter Good Food Show at the NEC. I spoke to him about recipe development at Jamie’s Italian which he is a key part of. The meatball was inspired by Gennaro cooking a game ragu which Jamie saw, thought was an excellent idea but decided to put his unique spin on it and make it big! For more about this interview, please see a video post coming soon.

For pudding, I was very tempted to have the Chocolate Brownie which I have had before and know it is absolutely amazing. However, for something different I went for the ‘Sour Cherry Bakewell’ which has a sweet almond filling with tart berries and is served with a clementine rippled sour cream. The tart was very moist and the berries contrasted the sweet filling perfectly. I have only 1 small request, can I have a bigger slice next time please? The manager brought me a glass of Limoncello to drink with the tart and it was gorgeous. If I closed my eyes, I could of nearly of been in Italy drinking it in the sunshine. I hope to be back at Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring soon, especially as I have lots of Christmas shopping still to do!

Many thanks to Emma, the team at Jamie’s Italian, Ahmed, Sanjeeta and Charlene and her husband for a lovely evening.

You can also see this post on the Bullring website

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Venison Chorizo and Tomato Salad

A while ago, I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of Great Glen Game Venison chorizo.  I love chorizo in all forms and have already used their venison chorizo in my Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto. However this time I wanted to do something different with the Venison Chorizo, so I asked the good people of Twitter to help me.

The lovely Carol from Growing Direct (@GrowingDirect) suggested that I make Jamie Oliver’s Best Chorizo and Tomato Salad from his book ‘Jamie Does’ with it. I thought this was an excellent idea and a fantastic way to show off the venison chorizo.  I adapted the recipe slightly and my version is below:

Venison Chorizo and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • Venison Chorizo, cut into 1cm rings
  • Vine  tomatoes – roughly chopped
  • Cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine Vinegar
  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Fry the venison chorizo rings in the olive oil until crisp and the oil is tainted red from thepaprika in the chorizo.
  2. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes and spring onions in a bowl, with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the parsley and mix everything together.
  3. Add garlic to the chorizo and fry for a minute until cooked.
  4. Remove the frying pan from the heat and add in the red wine vinegar to stop the cooking process. Pour into the bowl with the tomatoes and spring onions.
  5. Stir everything together so everything is covered with the chorizo oil and serve in a large bowl with crusty bread and Jamón ibérico on the side.  Enjoy!

I even attempted some Jamie Oliver Style presentation with it, what do you think?

Many thanks to Great Glen Game for sending me a sample of Venison Chorizo and to Carol for suggesting a fantastic idea for what to cook with it :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)


Review Of The Year 2010

2010 was my first full year of blogging so its seems right that I should look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

In January, I did my first Fresh From The Oven Challenge, making Chocolate Buns. This formed part of my New Year’s resolution’s to be more adventurous in baking and make more bread. I also made cottage pie and did my first ever guest post on Nora’s blog.

In February, I made Valentine’s Cupcakes (that looked like boobies!) for English Mum’s Best Valentine Cupcake competition.  I reviewed my first cookbook, Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Ingredients and Nora did a guest post on the blog.

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

In March, I celebrated completing my first year of blogging. The first meeting of the Midlands Food Bloggers was held at Loaf’s HQ in Birmingham, where we cooked pizza’s and tasted Peters Yard’s Crispbreads and Brock Hall Farm’s Goats Cheese for the first time. I went to my first Cupcake workshop at Kiss Me Cupcakes and I hosted my first Fresh From The Oven challenge, Kringel

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In April, I entered and won the Easter Cake Bake and made cupcakes for the Mad Hatter’s Shropshire Tweet Up. Helen did a guest post on the blog and I made croissants for the first and last time!

May started by making the ultimate spring time brunch and a crumble. Pizza Napoletana was the Fresh From The Oven challenge.

In June, Jo’s Kitchen was invited by Miele to do the Masterchef Invention Test at the BBC Summer Good Food Show. Marie and I took on a Giant Cupcake Challenge and I went on an archaeological dig and left my blog in the care of Gary, Linda, Louise and Charlene.

In July, I made my favourite childhood dinner of Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce. I entered my second English Mum’s Big Bake Off and held a competition to win a Masterchef Apron.

In August, I made a sweet version of Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup with Mat Follas’s help and went on a foodie trip to Ludlow visiting the Ludlow Food Centre and Ludlow itself. Brioche was this month’s Fresh From The Oven Challenge.

September was a busy month so I only made some cupcakes and garlic and basil focaccia.

In October, I made some spooky Halloween cakes for English Mum’s Autumn Bake Off, went to my first 24 Carrots Farmers Market and attended the second Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

In November, I made Coca-Cola Marinated Steak, with Wedges and Cool Beans, and I went to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London. I also reviewed the Findus Fresher Taste range of ready meals.

In December, I was invited back to the BBC Good Food Show Winter by Miele. I took part in two cookalongs and met lots of fantastic producers. I went to the new Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring, Birmingham. I learnt how to make pasta for the first time at Loaf and shared my Christmas wishlist with you. Finally, for a late seasonal treat, I shared my Mincemeat Flapjacks recipe.

Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. I met so many fantastic people, ate lovely meals, made lots of new recipes and I was lucky enough to review some great products. I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring. Thank you to all my readers for being along with me for the ride. I hope you will stay with me for 2011. I hope you all have a great night tonight, whatever you are doing. I will see you early in 2011 with my New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year! :-)

Restaurant Review: Jamie’s Italian, Bullring, Birmingham

Photo by Jamie's Italian

After a really enjoyable visit to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London not so long ago, Stuart and I were really looking forward to the branch in the Bullring in Birmingham opening as it is only twenty minutes down the road from us. Therefore, we jumped at the chance when Emma from the Bullring invited us to have a meal there.

Jamie Italian in Birmingham is the biggest of his restaurants so far, with 270 seats. It is set right in the heart of the Bullring opposite St. Martin’s church and has been designed with Birmingham’s Industrial heritage in mind. We arrived on a cold Monday evening at 7.20pm and were greeted by friendly and efficient staff who took us straight to our table, which had the most amazing view of the restaurant interior and the church.  The restaurant has high ceilings with exposed pipes and metal, with the most incredible chandeliers I have ever seen.

Photo by Jamie's Italian

The atmosphere was buzzing when we were seated but due to the high ceilings the noise did not overwhelm. We  browsed the winter menu and as we struggled to decide on a bottle of wine to accompany the meal, the waiter recommended Primivito Di Salento, Cantine Lugi Scritti, a fruity red wine from Puglia. It was so lovely; Stuart and I shared a bottle and had another glass of it to go with our puddings.

To start, we shared a selection of top Italian breads which included focccacia that is baked twice daily on the premises. I can make foccacia ok but mine will never in a million years be as good as the ones I have tried at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants especially this one. It was light and packed with flavour from the rosemary. The olive oil and the balsamic vinegar that was served with the bread were gorgeous too!

After the bread, we each had a bruschetta. Mine had grilled and marinated mushrooms with lemon, thyme and garlic and Stuart’s had oven dried tomatoes, with basil, garlic and creamy ricotta on top. I really enjoyed the mushroom bruschetta but thought that the portion was a bit to large. One piece of bread with the mushrooms on would have been enough for me. Stuart disagreed with this and ate every last bit of his and loved how the basil and the garlic really gave a kick to the tomatoes and creamy ricotta.

For our mains, I had rabbit ragu pappadelle which was rabbit cooked in a broth and served with pappardelle pasta. It was unusual as it had a thin broth like sauce unlike most other pasta sauces. It was light but with the pasta, it was filling and comforting at the same time. Stuart had the grilled Angus sirloin steak, which was cooked to perfection and declared amazing by Stuart. We shared posh chips with truffle oil and parmesan and crunchy salad to go with our mains. The chips were ok, but the best was the salad. It fresh, vibrant and an excellent contrast to both our main dishes.

My favourite course was the pudding as I had the best chocolate, raspberry and amaretto brownie I have ever tasted. It was amazing. I cannot think of words to describe it. It was that good; I think everyone should get down there and try it for themselves. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Stuart had some vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce which he deemed excellent as it was creamy, rich and full of vanilla bean seeds.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was buzzing but not on your face and the staff are charming. I am actually looking forward to Christmas shopping at the weekend now as I can go there for something to eat afterwards. :-)

Jamie’s Italian is part of a new scheme that the Bullring is hoping to complete next year. It is called Spiceal Street and it is hoped that in 2011, three new restaurants, similar in style and class as Jamie’s Italian will open in St Martins Square. If you would like more information about the scheme, please see the website here.

Note to readers: Stuart and I dined at Jamie’s Italian as guests of the Bullring. Many thanks to Emma for setting it up :-)

Restaurant Review: Jamie’s Italian, Covent Garden, London

A few weeks ago, Stuart and I both happened to be in London for work at the same time. We decided to meet for dinner after work one night in the middle of where we were both staying. I was on one side of the Thames, he was on the other. We had lots of choice of where we could meet but we opted for Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, as it is close to a tube link (Leicester Square) and Jamie Oliver is one of our favourite chefs. In my pre-blogging days, we dined at Fifteen Cornwall twice and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

We arrived at the restaurant at 6:50pm on a Wednesday evening and people were already queuing to dine there. You are not able to book a table at any of the restaurants (other locations include;  Bath, Cardiff, Glasgow,  Leeds and Reading) unless you are in a group of 8-16 people. We waited for 5 minutes in the queue and were greeted warmly and efficiently by a member of staff who told us that a table for two would take 40 minutes. She took a mobile phone number and gave us a pager that is supposed to beep/flash/makes lots of noise when your table is ready and told us to go for a drink nearby. We found a pub around the corner, had a drink and exactly 40 minutes later, we were called (the pager did not work) and told us our table was ready.

On our return to the restaurant, the place was buzzing with music, chatter and laughter. Various types of hams and other preserved meats hung on a wall, wine bottles in glass cases were used to decorate walls and the kitchen was open for people to see into as they entered the restaurant. We were taken to the downstairs seating area, which was quieter than the main floor above.

Our menus were brought over and soon it was decision time. The menus at all Jamie’s Italian locations changes seasonally and most use the same menu, with some local variation. Apologies for the quality of photos in this post, the restaurant was quite dark and I did not want to use a flash as I would have disturbed my fellow diners. To start, we shared the Selection of Top Italian Breads and the World’s Best Olives on Ice. My favourite of the breads was the rosemary focaccia as it was light but chunky at the same time and full of flavour. The olives were fresh and tasted delicious.

Next we shared an Seasonal Meat Antipasti Plank, which included  mortadella, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and a crunchy salad. The plank  was rested on two tins of Italian tomatoes which gave it a rustic charm. I loved the prosciutto and the crunchy salad. The little balls of mozzarella were amazing too. They were so sweet and creamy.

For our mains, I had Shell Roasted Brixham King Scallops with crispy pancetta on a fresh tomato salsa. They were fantastic scallops. Big, fat and juicy but in the spicy crumb, they were a bit lost. It was a shame really. It could have been an incredible dish. I still ate it all though. Stuart had the Feather Steak and we both shared the sides of braised fennel with anchovies and chilli  and funky chips with garlic and parsley. The chips were amazing. I will definitely try serving them like that at home. They were yummy!

For pudding I had honeycomb and vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb chocolate bits. It was heaven! I love honeycomb and there was lots of it. Simple and delicious. Stuart had a fresh and zingy lemon sorbet, which he enjoyed as well.

Overall, we had a really enjoyable experience at Jamie’s Italian. I loved nearly everything, even the napkins! (See photo at top of post). A new Jamie’s Italian opened this week in the Bullring, Birmingham, just down the road from me and I cannot wait to try it!

Hello Again!

Hello again! I know it has been a while but I am back and ready to blog again. I have had a crazy month at work and not had the time to blog. I have missed you all and we have lots to catch up on. Some of the things I have been getting up to this month are:

  • Attended the Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up at Urban Coffee Company (write up of event will be my next post)
  • Received my own weight in Total Greek Yoghurt and have been making up some recipes using it (post about this coming soon)
  • Won a signed of copy of Nigel Slater’s new book ‘Tender Volume II’ (will be making recipes from this book  soon)
  • Received a copy of the new Coca-Cola cookbook ‘When You Entertain’ (will be making recipes from this book soon)
  • Received some Sliver Spoon cake decorating items to make and decorate some cakes for Halloween
  • Made venison chorizo, red wine and peas risotto (recipe coming soon)
  • Received an updated version of the Lawrence Keough Kidney Care cookbook (will be cooking from this book soon)
  • Went for a meal at Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London (review will be coming soon)
  • and finally, I still need to tell you about my foodie adventures  in Croatia in the summer

Phew, what a list! I had better get cracking. I will be back as soon as possible with my write up of the Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

Back soon!

Happy Cooking! :-)

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Down on the Cyder Farm!

Good afternoon all. This post is my final post about Cornwall and it will mostly be about my trip to Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm. I will also be giving you a few more foodie places that I recommend that you go to in Cornwall.  Anyway, back to trip to Cornish Cyder Farm (by the way, I am not spelling ‘cider’ wrong, ‘cyder’ is the Cornish way of spelling it) We went to the Cyder Farm on the last day of our trip to Cornwall. It was a lovely sunny day and although it is free to go into the farm, you have to pay £6 per adult to see the apple orchards on a tractor tour and have a guided tour of the factory and museum.  We paid and had a 2o minutes wait until the first tour was due to start so we went  straight for the free sample tasting. Stuart and I tried all the cyders but our favourites was the Cornish Rattler and Healey’s Classic Cyder. I also tried Healey’s Cyder Apple Brandy which retails for£75 per bottle. (See picture above) However, you can pay £3 per sample to try it and I did. It was lovely but quite strong for 11:30am on a Tuesday morning! I spoke to  one of the members of staff who told me, they are planning to sell the brandy in a smaller and cheaper bottles soon.  We had lunch at the café on the farm. I had Healey’s apple juice and scones served with home-made raspberry and apple jam, with clotted cream. It was yummy! Stuart had a Cornish Pasty which he liked quite a lot as well. We to shop after this and purchased a few bottles of cyder to take home for presents and one for ourselves of course!

Our trip to the cyder farm was an excellent way to end our short holiday in Cornwall and I would like to recommend them for your next visit to Cornwall, along with few other places below:

  • Halzephron Herb Farm which sells wonderful sauces, chutneys, dips and all sorts of other stuff. It has lots of free samples of its products so you can try before you buy. It is well worth a visit.
  • Fore St Deli -  which has such a fantastic display of fruit and veg, I am inspired to start cooking before I even enter the shop.
  • Trevaskis Farm - which I have never visited. It was recommended to me by Mapperz (his blog is here) who unfortunately gave me the recommendation as I was coming home from Cornwall so it is on my list for the next time I visit. Please visit it and tell me what it is like.
  • The Harbour Deli (The Wharf, St Ives TR26 1LG) – which is relatively new opening in St Ives and has no website, as far as I can tell but one thing it does do, is sell ready meals from The Cook Kitchen. This is a company which specialises in ready meals which actually taste good and are made by real people! (the person who made it name is on each meal) We brought a few and took them home with us and we are very happy with them. I am going to order some more on-line as they are good quick dinner when you are busy.
  • Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant - I have visited here twice and had a great meal each time. You must try the tasting menu with wine. It is the best and with great views of Watergate Bay,  it is the best restaurant I have ever been too!
  • Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip Shop – Not the cheapest fish and chip in the world, but it does excellent fish which you can have cooked any way you like. It does the best chip shop curry sauce that I have ever tasted. I have never been to any of restaurants so I cannot comment but if you have been, please let me know what you thought.

That’s all for today. I will be back again over the weekend with a brief post about my trip to Scotland and  my first recipe in a few weeks. Until then,

Happy Cooking! :-D

Down the Mexican Way…


Yesterday I decided to have a go and make my own Chilli Con Carne for the very first time. I have made it many times before, but mostly using Uncle Ben’s sauces, which I know is cheating in a big way!

On Saturday, I asked the wonderful people who use Twitter if they had a good recipe for Chili Con Carne. I had responses from @FizzyDuck and @BigSpud I used a combination of there suggestions to make my Chilli Con Carne. I consider the recipe below to be a draft recipe as I have only made it once and I think it needs refining slightly, so don’t take this recipe has correct and feel free to make any changes you want to it and let me know how it went for you. (By the way, Stuart and I do not like kidney beans so there are none in this recipe. If you want to add them, add them in at the same time as the tomatoes or passata.)

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 large red or green chili, seeds removed, chopped finely
Olive Oil
500g steak mince
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons hot chilli powder
1 Cinnamon stick
1 oxo beef cube
400g tin of chopped tomatoes or passata
1 tablespoon chilli ketchup (I use Heinz)
few drops of Worcestershire Sauce
few drops of soy sauce
hot water from the kettle
Salt and pepper
rice or garlic bread to serve

Method
In a large saucepan (I use a Le Creuset casserole pot 24cm), put in the olive oil and allow to warm slightly. Add the onions, and the dried spices and some salt (it draws the water out of the onions, so they go soft but not brown) and allow to cook until the onions are nearly soft. Then add the chilli and the garlic and stir before adding the mince.

Allow the mince to brown, and add the oxo cube (just crumble it in). Then add the tomatoes and kidney beans (if using). Add the chilli ketchup, Worcestershire and Soy sauce. Add hot water should the sauce get to thick and allow to simmer for 10 min’s. Put the Cinnamon stick in when you simmer it, as if you leave it in there too long, it will taste of apple pie (not good!) Once the chilli is at the right consistency for you, serve with rice and garlic bread. Enjoy!

To finish this week, I will leave you with a couple of my favorite cookbooks for you to read and enjoy. The links will take you to the Amazon UK site. I recommend them both highly. Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

Cook with Jamie – My Guide to Making You a Better Cook by Jamie Oliver

In The Mood for Food by Jo Pratt

Happy Cooking!

Jo



Beef Chili on Foodista

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