I love Sunday dinner but sometimes the cooking of it can cause great stress to many people. For some reason, gravy can sometimes be hard or stressful to make as you make it last and you are worrying about keeping everything else warm while you are doing it. However, Knorr have come up with the answer to reduce stress in the kitchen and still have a great tasting gravy to go with your dinner.
Knorr's new Gravy Pots are little shots of flavour that when mixed with some water and/or meat juices gives you great tasting gravy without the fuss. They have recently been voted Product of the Year in the Gravy & Stock category. Product of the Year is the world's largest consumer-voted award for product innovation.
We tried the beef gravy with our roast dinner (pictured above) and we very impressed with the flavour. With added extra roasting juice from the beef, it tasted completely homemade and very yummy. The only issue I had with it was that it did not seem to make that much gravy for the three of us. I was very tired when I was cooking due to being up half the night with Daniel so I might have read the package wrong for how much water to add. I will try again and make I triple check the instructions for the right amount of water this time!!
Disclosure: I was a sent a roast dinner hamper and some Knorr Gravy Pots in order to do this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A short while ago, I was sent a Christmas hamper from hampergifts.co.uk. As I am pregnant I decided to try a non-alcoholic hamper called The Noël. We were very impressed by the speed of delivery (via courier) and how well packaged and presented the hamper was. Everything is held in place with cellophane and there is a large bow on top suggesting that there are lots of treats inside.
The hamper contained:
- Olives Et Al Chilli & Garlic Olives 150g
- Dark Chocolate Coated Marzipan Loaf 100g
- Cottage Delight Spicy Mango and Ginger Chutney 340g
- Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Co. Fresh Ground Breakfast Coffee 56g
- Large Christmas Fruit Cake 500g
- Milk Chocolate Coated Almonds 150g
- Alice McPherson's Petticoat Tails Shortbread 150g
- Olive and Sesame Savoury Breadsticks 100g
- Triple Chocolate Gourmet Cookies 100g
- The Wooden Spoon Cranberry and Orange Sauce 113g
- Walkers of London Milk Chocolate Fruit & Nut 240g
- Buchanan's Chocolate Russian Caramels 100g
- English Breakfast Tea x 10
Overall, we were very impressed with the hamper. There are lots of well known quality brands inside and the contents was very varied so there is something that everyone will like in it. The free teddy bear that came with the hamper is a nice touch especially for a younger member of the family. I have not sampled every product that came in the hamper yet but I can confirm the triple chocolate cookies, shortbread and Russian Caramels are divine! This would make an ideal present for a family who likes foodie things but who you are unsure what to get them.
Disclosure: I received a hamper to review. All views are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A little while ago, I was invited by Experience Days to try out one of their experiences in my local area. After much debate, I decided to do a chocolate truffle making workshop held in a hotel in Birmingham. The workshop lasted 2 1/2 hours and was led by Simon from Experience Chocolate. I have made truffles in the past but have never had 100% success with them so I was keen to learn some tricks of the trade.
We started by melting Belgian dark chocolate and mixing it with cold double cream. This instantly brought down the temperature of the chocolate and meant that a good truffle piping consistency was achieved almost instantly as opposed to way, I have made truffles before, where it is left in the fridge for hours to set. We then piped the mixture in long lines onto trays and then left them to set up a bit.
While the truffles set, Simon gave us a lesson in chocolate tempering so that the chocolate maintains its shine once set. Simon tempered a massive amount of chocolate on a cold slab using tools that you would normally find in your local hardware store. It was amazing to watch. I wish I had recorded it now!
After the truffles had set, we cut up our sausages of truffle mix and rolled them into balls ready for dipping into the tempered chocolate. Next up came the very messy stage where we had to dip them into the chocolate and various toppings. The toppings were caster sugar, icing sugar, cocoa and coconut.
Finally, once all our truffles were dipped and set, we put them into bags and tied them up with the ribbon. In total, I think I made about 40 truffles of various sizes. I had an amazing time at the truffle workshop and I would do something similar again with my friends. Many thanks to Simon and Experience Days for a wonderful time
Disclosure: Experience Days provided me with a chocolate truffle workshop experience free of charge in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
A few weeks ago, a few local bloggers and I were invited to Handmade Burger Co. flagship branch in the Bullring to sample their food and meet the owner Chris and the marketing manager, Mike. I (Jo’s Kitchen) was joined by fellow bloggers Charlene, her husband Ian, and Elizabeth, along with Emma from the Bullring.
We perused their vast menu (who knew there could be so many burger choices!) and as Handmade Burger Co. does not do starters as such, we settled on a selection of chargrilled chicken and halloumi and vegetable skewers, served alongside an assortment of dips to share amongst us all. We tried all the chicken skewer flavours except the plain one. My favourite was the peri –peri as the chicken was really moist and tender, with a little bit of heat coming from the peri-peri. The dips were excellent too. I loved the hoisin and hot chill ones.
For my main, I chose the American cheese beef burger with an onion ring, gherkin, American mustard, mature cheese, mayonnaise and salad. I shared some peri-peri chips and onion rings sides with Emma. The bun was crisped to perfection and there was a generous amount of cheese on the burger too. The burger itself was charred on the outside and extremely moist within. It was unlike any burger I have eaten before. Due to the large portion size, I was unable to finish the burger. Next time I visit, I will probably have one of their smaller burgers as this one, although lovely was much too big for me to finish. The sides were excellent too. I loved the peri-peri chips and the onion rings. The coleslaw was delicious and an excellent contrast to the rich burger. (I sneaked some to try from Charlene)
After a much-needed break, I decided to go for the chocolate brownie sundae for pudding. It was full of yummy vanilla ice cream, massive chunks of chocolate brownie and lots of chocolate sauce. I licked the bowl clean. It was yummy!
While we had been eating our meals, Chris chatted to us about why he started Handmade Burger Co and his beliefs in providing good quality food from other family run companies. The beef for his burgers comes from Scotland and is sent to the branches in mince form and they make the burgers themselves every day. The chicken is Red Tractor farm assured. Chris would like to use free-range chicken but cannot get it in the quantity he needs to supply all his stores. The bread comes from a family bakery that makes the buns according to Chris’s recipe. The potatoes are Maris Pipers and are brought to the branches as whole potatoes in bags and the chefs prepare them on site. Whatever Chris does not know about potatoes is not worth knowing!
Many thanks to Chris, Mike, Emma and my fellow bloggers for a lovely evening. I will definitely be back at Handmade Burger Co. soon!
Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
I went for lunch at The Gallery Restaurant on Level 4 in Selfridges in the Bullring, Birmingham. I was warmly greeted by the members of the waiting staff, and seated at a table near the balcony, giving an excellent view of Bullring. The menu at The Gallery is wide and varied, with everything from salads and sandwiches for a light meal to burgers and steak dinners for those with greater appetites.
As I was out on my own, (it doesn’t happen very often!) I decided to treat myself to a full three course meal. For my starter, I couldn’t resist having the Scallops with a Saffron Risotto and Peas. I loved the scallops as they were caramelised beautifully and were cooked to perfection. The risotto was fresh and creamy, and complemented the crispy scallops excellently.
For my main, I settled on the Confit Pork Belly, served with Chive Mash, Black Pudding Fritter, Apple Sauce and Red Wine Jus. The cracking was so thin and crispy, I can only wish my cracking I did at home was this good. The pork was juicy and the chive mash packed punch of flavour too. The mash was surrounded by a pool of red wine jus, which is good as in some restaurants, you only get a tiny bit of jus to accompany the dish. The only negative to my main was the black pudding fritter. I don’t feel it really added anything to dish. The texture just did not agree with the moist and juicy pork or the creamy mash. Everything else was excellent though and I would certainly order this again.
To finish, I had the White Chocolate and Raspberry Torte served with Mint Ice Cream. When I saw this on the menu, I wondered why the chef had chosen mint ice cream to accompany the torte as I thought that the ice cream would overpower the white chocolate. I was completely wrong. The mint cut through the richness of the torte and brought out the flavour of the white chocolate and the raspberries. This was my dish of the day and I could of eaten it all over again!
I am already planning my next trip to Bullring so I can go and try one of The Gallery’s burgers and eat the torte again! Thank you to all the team at The Gallery for an excellent meal.
The post also appeared on the Bullring website
Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
What is the best Indian restaurant in Birmingham? I am sure that every one of us has a different answer to this question, me included. How about this then, where is the best place to get a delicious authentic Indian meal and still be able to carry on with the shopping afterwards?
The answer to the second question is easy. Itihaas Brassiere. Itihaas Brassiere is the outpost of Itihaas Indian restaurant on Fleet Street. It serves everything from Indian starters and snacks to the full on curry experience, right in the heart of Selfridges in the Bullring.
Stuart and I arrived at Itihass Brassiere on a busy Thursday lunchtime and were warmly greeted by the staff. We sat down at the high tables and perused the wide selection on the menu. As well as traditional curries, Itihass Brassiere also has chat, dosa and wraps on the menu, ideal for those who want something lighter for lunch or as a snack. Having tried one of the chat dishes the last time I visited, this time I decided to go for a curry, as I was feeling hungry.
Stuart had Makhani Murgh, which is fenugreek & smoked tomato tikka chicken curry, with steamed Basmati rice, garlic Naan and chutneys. I had Lamb Rogan Josh, which is Garam Masala spiced lamb, curry with steamed Basmati rice, garlic Naan and chutneys. We were both immediately impressed with our curries. My lamb was melting tender and rich with all the garam masala spices. The naan bread had the perfect texture. Slightly crispy round the edges with a soft and very garlicky centre. I am very picky with my naan breads but this was near perfection for me. Stuart’s curry was excellent too. It had the right amount of chilli heat and spice, allowing the full flavours of the tikka to come through. The side salad and yoghurt we were served alongside cooled the small but very tasty fire in our bellies and meant we could eat even more curry!
Despite starting to feel very full, we managed to both eat Gulab Jamun for dessert, which is milk & pistachio steamed dumplings, with rose water syrup and served with pistachio ice cream. I love these little doughnut type things and would have quite happily eaten a whole bowlful of them, had I not been full of curry. They are full of syrupy gorgeousness and with the ice cream alongside, it was a palette cleanser too and very refreshing after all the spices. Stuart and I loved the Itihass Brassiere and we are looking forward to going back again soon!
This post also appeared on the Bullring website
Disclosure: Stuart and I dined as guests of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review
Image by FSK
A few weeks ago, Stuart, Thomas and I were invited to lunch at Fleet Street Kitchen. Fleet Street Kitchen is a new restaurant on Summer Row/Fleet Street in Birmingham, specialising in farm to plate British cooking with a relaxed contemporary edge. The restaurant has the only ‘Barbacoa’ Grill in the UK, which is a barbecue cooking method popular in Northern Spain using American lumpwood charcoal.
Image by FSK
Image by FSK
Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were seated promptly and given a few minutes to sort ourselves out. Once we were all settled, our drinks order was taken (they have a wide range of real ales, proper ciders and an excellent wine list) and left to browse the menu. Fleet Street Kitchen do not have a children’s menu but are happy to make any dish on their menu a half portion for children.
For a shared starter, we had Freshly Baked Bread Oil & Balsamic and Kalamata Olives Marinated pepper. The bread was excellent with a crisp crust and a lovely chewy middle. The olive oil was slight bland and could have been better quality. The olives and the peppers were so delicious that we had to fight Thomas for them as he ate them like they were sweets. He is a proper little foodie already!
For our mains, Stuart had the 12oz Dexter Chop with FSK #1 Meat Sauce. The Dexter chop had been aged for 35 days and was served with a flat mushroom and roasted cherry tomatoes. The portion size was amazing. It reminded me of something Fred Flintstone might eat. It was cooked to the perfect medium and was very juicy and tender. The sauce was absolutely gorgeous too. My main was a corn fed Poussin cooked in a rotisserie and served with chips and homemade coleslaw. The chicken was juicy and the meat flaked easily off the bone. The coleslaw cut through the creaminess and was a great compliment to the poussin. Thomas had the Minted Pea Risotto Truffle Oil which was very fresh and zingy. Thomas really enjoyed eating it as the picture below shows.
For pudding, Thomas and Stuart shared the Soft Whip Ice Cream with Flake and Strawberry Sauce. I am not quite sure who ate the most but it was gone very quickly. For my pudding, I had Spotted Dick with Custard which was dense and very rich. The custard was beautiful with lots of vanilla seeds in it. My plate was soon clear too.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Fleet Street Kitchen. I think it is an excellent addition to the Birmingham food scene. I am already planning my next visit on an evening when I can have a fantastic meal, then go downstairs to their bar for a cocktail and then party the night away!
Image by FSK
Disclosure: Stuart, Thomas and I dined as guests of Fleet Street Kitchen at a pre-restaurant opening press event. I was not required to write a positive review.