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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! :-)

BBC Winter Good Food Show 2010 Part 2

After a cracking day out with fellow bloggers doing the Miele Masterchef Experience, I could not wait to get back to show on the Sunday and meet some amazing producers and I was not disappointed.

My first visit of the day was to Goodman’s Geese who produce free range geese and turkeys on their farm in Great Witley, Worcester. It is run by Judy Goodman, pictured above and their turkeys and geese have featured on many chef’s Christmas TV specials including Delia Smith, Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver. My turkey is coming from Goodman’s this year and I cannot wait to try it!

After this, I went to Gower Cottage Brownies which is run by Kate and she had won a Good Food Show Bursary Award, allowing her to come to show and let everyone know about her delicious brownies.  I already knew about Kate as she is on Twitter @gowercottage and I looking forward to trying her brownies. They are amazing. I will be ordering a box of brownies to be delivered to me soon.

Another producer who I knew from Twitter was at the show too. Sarah of Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies (@Brays_Cottage on Twitter) makes the best pork pies I have ever tasted. I am not a fan of pork pies generally but these are different. They have no jelly in them, meaning that free range pork that is packed into them shines through. The pastry is light, flaky and yummy. Bray’s Cottage make four flavours of pork pies which are; onion marmalade, chilli, chorizo and the traditional. I like the chilli and chorizo ones the best. Sarah was also at the show because she had won a Good Food Show Bursary Award.

As a massive fan of chorizo, I was very happy when I found The Bath Pig. It is run by Mash and Tim (who is not looking at the camera!) and they make British (to a Spanish recipe) RSPCA Freedom Food Standard free range chorizo. It is some of the best I have ever tasted and I am already dreaming up recipes to make with it. I brought the spicy chorizo but I would really love to try their garlic and herb chorizo too.

Tim Kinnaird was not only at the show doing the Masterchef experience. He was their selling his home-made macaroons.  Tim had four flavours which were lemon, rose, passion fruit and salted caramel. My favourites were the lemon and salted caramel ones. I had to eat lots to come to that decision. The macaroons were light, creamy and delicious. Tim has inspired me to have a go at making them at home in the New Year. Wish me luck!

Wandering around the show some more, I sampled some Worcestershire Plum ice cream from Churchfields Farmhouse. Another local producer who makes amazing ice cream using their own cow’s milk and local Worcestershire cream. I also found some British Cassis made by Jo Hilditch. It was lovely and I cannot wait until Christmas when I can try it in a Kir Royale. I saw Edd Kimber doing a demo on the British stage and afterwards went home after a very enjoyable weekend for a Crabbie’s Ginger Beer and a well earned rest.  This is just what I saw, tasted and did at the BBC Good Food Show, for fellow blogger’s viewpoints please look at the links below:

Happy Cooking! :-)

BBC Winter Good Food Show 2010 Part 1

Last weekend, I had a fun filled foodie time at the BBC Good Food Show Winter. For the first time ever, I was armed with a press pass and ready to meet all the amazing producers at the show. I had one added bonus as well. Miele invited me back to take part in two Masterchef Master-classes and have lunch at the Masterchef Restaurant, similar to what I did at the summer show. As I did so much at the show, I have split it into two posts, one on the Masterchef experience and the other on the fantastic producers that I met.

To begin, I will start with the Masterchef Experience. I was joined by fellow bloggers; May, Mimi, Helly, Pippa and James. We are all pictured above with Edd Kimber, winner of The Great British Bake Off. For our first challenge, we had to do a Masterclass with Mat Follas. He won Masterchef in 2009 and the chef/owner of The Wild Garlic Restaurant. I met Mat in the summer and know he is a great guy, with an incredible passion for food. It was his idea to do a sweet version of fish fingers, mash and ketchup not so long ago. For the masterclass, we made chocolate and rosemary mousse. I was quite scared of making this as I have had disasters making it at home. However spending the first 20 minutes in a mild state of panic (my cream would not whip, my eggs refused to be separated and it felt like I spent nearly the whole time on stage with a hand mixer on the go!) I produced lovely (but possibly OTT on the rosemary) chocolate and rosemary mousse.  Everyone was really happy with the results and I will make this again at home and share the recipe with you soon.

After some more celebrity schmoozing with Dhruv Baker, Masterchef winner 2010 and Edd Kimber, it was off to the Masterchef Restaurant for our lunch and well deserved break.

For my main, I had Chicken with a mushroom and Marsala sauce on parsnip mash with glazed baby vegetables which was cooked by Wendi Peters in Celebrity Masterchef Series 3.  It was delicious. Everything complemented each other brilliantly and it tasted even better because I did not have to cook it! For pudding, I had Bread and Butter Pudding which was cooked by Dean Edwards in Masterchef Series 2.  The pudding was dense but very light at the same time. The berries really cut the sweetness and were an excellent contrast.

Soon after this delicious meal, it was time for us to return to the Miele Masterchef stage again. This we were cooking with Alex Rushmer and Tim Kinnaird, both finalists in Masterchef 2010.  In this session, we made Duck Breast with Crackling, Pickled Cucumber and Spiced Tobacco Caramel and Spiced Hot Chocolate. The duck was Alex’s dish and I was a bit sceptical about it at first. The thought of putting tobacco in food seemed crazy to me, however it worked and the duck tasted really good too. Tim’s hot chocolate was amazing. Spicy, sweet and hot. Just perfect. I will make these dishes again at home and share the recipe with you soon.

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Overall, I had an absolutely amazing day and I would like to thank Susanna and Lauren from Miele for inviting me to take part and everyone else involved for all your help. It was great fun! My next post will be about the amazing producers I met so stay tuned for another post soon.

Thanks to James and Miele for some of the photos. It is much appreciated.

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 1

A must visit for any Midlands Foodie is Ludlow in South Shropshire. While I was on the archaeological dig, we were quite close to Ludlow so I was able to spend some time there on my day off and today, I would like to tell you about a few foodie places that you really must visit while if you go there.

The first place you must go to is The Green Cafe, near to Ludlow Castle.  I would highly recommend it for lunch, dinner, snack or afternoon tea. The cafe has so many local suppliers, there is a long list of them on the tables. The staff are very friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed. I could stayed there all day. For my lunch there, I had gnocchi  with pork ragu followed by elderflower jelly with gooseberry jam. To accompany this I had Freedom organic lager, tap water and an excellent cappuccino to finish. I left feeling very full and very happy! :-)

The second place I would recommend in Ludlow is Prices The Bakers, as they make bread as it should be made, without chemicals or preservatives. All bread, cakes and pastries are baked on the premises. Some of their regularly baked items are, scones, gingerbread men, Ludlow Brown bread, Soda bread and fresh homemade sandwiches. Price’s are also on Twitter too – @pricesthebakers

The third place I would recommend is Deli On The Square which displays everything foodie wise as far as I can tell, that is local to Ludlow. They stock local cheeses, meats, oils, vinegars and local alcohol. The staff are friendly and it is ideally located right in the centre of Ludlow.

The final place I would like to recommend is The French Pantry. This is a small piece of France in Ludlow that supplies the very best in French regional food and wine. They  have a cafe on the premises so you can soak up the French atmosphere even more. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Cassoulet anyone?

The best time to visit Ludlow is during the Ludlow Food Festival on 10th-12th September 2010.  I am unfortunately unable to attend, due to work commitments.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup!

I am sure you think I have gone mad after reading the title of this post. However I can assure that I have not. I already told you many times before, about my love of Twitter and how easily you can share ideas with everyone. Well this week, Twitter has again come up trumps and helped me out.

I made Brioche for the first time at the weekend, and aware that it can go off quite quickly, I asked my friends on Twitter for ideas of what you can do with leftover brioche. I had what seemed like a million responses in an instant suggesting things like, bread and butter pudding, eggy bread and summer pudding. These all sounded lovely but I fancied doing something a bit different and Mat Follas, winner of Masterchef UK 2009 came to my rescue. I met Mat at the BBC Summer Good Food Show in June (see picture above) and I think he is a great guy. I have wanted to visit his restaurant, The Wild Garlic since it opened.

Mat (@matkiwi on Twitter) suggested that I did brioche fish fingers, with ice cream ‘mash’ and strawberry syrup ketchup. I thought this was an excellent idea and an unusual twist on a traditional British fare. We thought it was crazy (slightly Heston-esque) but not too crazy. I said I would make it that night and send him a picture. Here below is what I made and the recipe for it.

Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup

Ingredients

  • Leftover brioche (homemade or not, it’s up to you. A recipe for brioche will be on the blog at the end of the month), cut up into large finger sized pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten in a bowl, big enough for you to dip the fingers into
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, mixed in with the beaten egg
  • Strawberries (British, in season), chopped up and stalks removed
  • Caster sugar, to taste (depends how sweet the strawberries are)
  • Water
  • Veg oil or other flavourless oil
  • Ice cream, of your choice to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, put the strawberries, caster sugar and a spot of water and leave it simmer gently until the strawberries have softened and the sugar has melted. Mash the strawberries into the syrup to release the flavour and then turn off the heat.
  2. Put the syrup with the strawberry mush through a sieve and mash again to release as much juice as you can from the strawberries. Once sieved put the syrup back into the saucepan and simmer until reduced into a thick but still runny sauce. Set aside to cool.
  3. Heat a small amount of veg oil in sauce pan and dip the fingers into the beaten egg/vanilla mixture and the put in the frying pan. Fry until golden brown and then turn over again until all sides are golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  4. Get a big bowl or a plate and serve the brioche fingers. Add on the ice cream mash and pour on the strawboard syrup ketchup. Eat and Enjoy!

Mat liked the idea and my picture so much that he has decided to put in on his restaurant menu, once he has a play with it and possibly added an extra twist. I really will have to go down to Dorset and eat at his restaurant then, as this was one of the best puddings I have had in ages and it is so simple to prepare.

I would like to thank Mat for his help and inspiration. You are a star!

Masterchef Apron Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a competition to win a genuine white Masterchef UK apron that only usually the contestants get. To win, you had to email me the answer to the question below.

Which Year did the Original Masterchef, hosted by Loyd Grossman Begin?

The answer was 1990. People who entered also got an extra entry into the competition by tweeting about the competition or by sharing it on a Facebook. A PDF with the entrant’s names on is below and those who names are shown two or three times shared on Twitter and/or Facebook. The numbers were given to them based on the order the entries were received. I used Random.org to select the winner.

Masterchef Apron Competition Entrants

Congratulations to our winner Vivia (@Farctum on Twitter) Well done! Please email or DM me via Twitter and I will post the apron out to you as soon as I can. I hope you enjoy being a Masterchef in your own kitchen. Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to everyone who keeps reading my blog. You guys are awesome!

Until next time, Happy Cooking! :-)

Miele Cookalong and a Masterchef Competition

A little while ago, I told you about my trip to the BBC Summer Good Food Show with Miele and showed you a video of me doing the Masterchef Invention Test, live on stage.  Well today, I would like to tell you about the  Cookalong that we did with Barney Desmazery. We had to make 3 dishes in 30 minutes live on stage. It was very scary. We had to make Chicken Masala Skewers, served with Za’tar Pitta bread with Strawberry and Hazelnut Tart for pudding.  I have now had the chance to make the dishes again at home and have adapted to them to suit my taste.

I adapted the chicken masala skewers by turning it into masala chicken thighs and roasting them in the oven for 40 minutes. I think thigh meat is underused and has much more flavour than breast meat. You just need to let it marinade a bit longer that is all. The salad remains the same from the original recipe and the pitta breads have Za’tar (a middle eastern spice blend that can be purchased from Seasoned Pioneers) on them and a tiny bit of olive oil as well.  Stuart and I really enjoyed this dish and I will definitely be making it again.

I adapted the Strawberry and Hazelnut Tart recipe by not adding any hazelnuts, as I do not like them. Therefore, this is my Strawberry and Toffee Tart. I used a ready made tart case, as I am not very good at making pastry at all. Its a bit messy but that is because I did not let the toffee sauce set on the bottom enough before putting the cream mixture on top. I will leave it to set a bit longer next time.  I really liked the recipes I made on the cookalong and now I have made them again at home, I am sure that they will become regular family favourites. My nan and my cousin especially liked it :-)

Masterchef Competition

At the BBC Summer Good Food Show, we were given Masterchef aprons to do the invention test and the cookalong in, as modelled by me in the photo at the top of this post. Now, here is your chance to win one so that you can cook, in Masterchef style in your own kitchen. You can not buy white Masterchef aprons in the shops, only black ones. It is only the contestants that wear the white aprons. Therefore, if you win the apron, you will be in a exclusive number of people who have them. To win the apron, all you need to do is email me on joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk , answering the question below before 12noon BST on Wednesday 11th August 2010.

Which Year did the Original Masterchef, hosted by Lloyd Grossman Begin?

All correct answers will be entered into the competition and the winner will be selected by Random.org The competition is open to residents in the UK and Ireland, Europe, America and Canada. If you share this competition via Twitter using the statement below and leave a comment on this post with your username on it, you will gain another entry to the competition.

I would like to win a #masterchef apron from @Jos_Kitchen http://wp.me/pAFKO-an

If you share the competition via Facebook using the button at the bottom of the post, and leave a comment on this post telling me you have done so, you will gain another entry into the competition.

There you go,you have three ways to win. If you have any questions about the competition, please email me on joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk

This competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered and the winner will be announced tomorrow

Good luck to all my readers.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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BBC Summer Good Food Show 2010

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to the BBC Summer Good Food Show as a guest of Miele. Part of the deal to us being invited to show was that we had to take part in a live on stage version of the Masterchef Invention Test and do a cook-along with a Barney Desmazery from BBC Good Food Magazine. I was very nervous and excited about taking part in both but fortunately I was not alone. I was joined by my friend James from Eat The Midlands, and fellow bloggers Kavey, Meemalee , Bron and Ailbhe. We were given basic store cupboard items and a bag containing secret fresh ingredients that were not revealed to us until two minutes before we went on stage. In our bag we had: chicken, bacon, Stilton, celeriac, mascarpone and fresh berries. I decided to cook a chicken and bacon pasta dish. The recipe is at the bottom of this post.  I unfortunately did not win but I am very pleased that Kavey did with her excellent pancakes, mascarpone and berry sauce. Matt Follas and Dhruv Baker were there on stage to offer us help and John Torode and Greg Wallace came along to check on our progress and do the final judging. The videos below  shows the entire invention test in two parts  so please have a look and see who you know on there.

After the invention test had finished Marie, Ali and I had a look around the show. Our first stop was to visit James on the Eat The Midlands/ Gourmet Life stand where Louise from Comida y Vida and a member of the Midlands Food Bloggers was helping out. I brought some chocolate from James stand from Chokolit which I intend to do some baking with soon. We then moved on,  to Supreme Sausages where we each brought our own weight in lots of yummy looking sausages that are now filling from freezer and I cannot wait to cook with them. We then got slightly distracted by the alcohol section as we tried Crabbies Ginger Beer and then went into the Beers of the World Live where you can lots of tasters of many beers and get educated about them as well. While looking round, I brought myself a Kin Knife (which I used on the Invention Test) as a birthday present to myself. (I turned 25 years old on Sunday) We also found a company called Goody Good Stuff that makes sweets that are virtually everything free (except sugar- which is the natural sugar from the fruit). Stuart and I love sweets and I thought these were excellent, especially as they are much better for you than the majority of sweets you buy, with lots of chemicals and additives in. They virtually give you permission to eat lots of them! After a quick stop at Grants for a Whiskey cocktail, it was time for me to do the Miele Cook-along and appear on stage again.

The Miele Cook-along with Barney Desmazery was much harder and a lot more nerve racking than the Invention Test. We had 30 minutes to cook three dishes in following the chef, Barney.  This would been ok but some of my equipment and ingredients were missing so I spent the first 10- 15minutes catching up with everyone else. Barney also moved along at chef speed instead of our normal home cook speed so he had to keep waiting for us to catch up. I think the cook-alongs are a good idea but they need to allow more time for them, for people who do not cook at chef’s speed. We made marsala chicken skewers  that we cooked in the Miele steam oven, with a tomato and red onion salad and Za’atar spiced flatbread with a strawberry, hazelnut and toffee tart for pudding. I will give you the recipes for these when I make them again at home myself soon. My Invention Test dish recipe is below if you want to make it yourself at home.

Spicy Chicken, Bacon and Peas Pasta- My Masterchef Dish

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 skinless and boneless chicken breast, chopped into bite sized chinks
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder(or more if you like it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Small handful of frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g pasta of your choice

Method

1) Cook pasta as per the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

2) While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil into a pan and allow to heat up. Add in the onions, garlic, bacon pieces and some salt and allow to cook until softened slightly. Add in the chicken and lightly brown all over.

3) Add in the chopped tomatoes, along with the paprika and chilli powder  and allow to simmer gently until chicken is cooked through. Add water or chicken stock to the sauce if it starts getting a bit thick. Add in the frozen peas near the end so they are just cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is cooked, add parsley in at the last minute before adding the cooked pasta and mixing it with the sauce. Serve in a bowl on its own or with garlic bread. Enjoy!

Overall, We had a fantastic day at BBC Summer Good Food Show and I would like to thank all these wonderful people for making it so good:

  • Nicola, Roxy and Caz  and everyone at Miele
  • The Students from the Birmingham College of Food and Tourism who helped us out so much on stage
  • James Day and Louise Sims, who are both true foodie friends
  • Kavey,Meemalee , Ailbhe and Bron and all the other food bloggers who were there taking part or supporting us.
  • The staff at the Grants stand
  • Melissa from Goody Good Stuff
  • Andi Peters, Greg Wallace, John Torode, Barney Desmazery , Matt Follas, Dhruv Baker, Tim Kinnaird, Alex Rushmer for being so supportive and having a laugh with us backstage.
  • And a very big thank you goes to my  friend’s Marie and Ali for being there to support me and for being true friends.

Happy cooking! :-)

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