Category Archives: seasonal

Cookbook Review: Simpsons – The Cookbook by Andreas Antona

I have wanted to visit Simpson’s Restaurant in Birmingham for a very long time and have not made it there yet. It is high up on my list of restaurants I really want to go to.  It climbed even higher on my list when I received a review copy of their second cookbook, which is to be published on 20th June 2011.

The book simply called ‘Simpsons the cookbook’ is written by Andreas Antona, chef and owner of Simpson’s with Luke Tipping and Adam Bennett, two of his sous chefs. They have chosen their favourite and most popular dishes and set them out in a simple format, aimed at amateur chefs and passionate foodies.

On first receiving the book, I was very impressed with the photography. It shows the restaurant at work and also it is one of the only cookbooks that I know of, that has a photograph of every dish in the book. You can see the time and effort that has gone into making the book on every single page.

Starters include ceps on toast with summer truffle; and risotto of goat’s cheese, piquillo pepper and rocket. Main courses are dishes from poulet Basquaise to  favourites such as cote du boeuf, Yorkshire pudding and roast new season carrots. Delicious desserts range from great retro efforts such as black forest in a glass and chocolate baked Alaska to the more simple but equally impressive white chocolate truffles with rum and vanilla; perfect as petits fours with coffee. Some of the dishes in the book seem very easy and straight forward to make (see my version of a dish below), however some of the dishes just seemed a tad too advanced for me. I love the look of the Black Forest in a Glass but it is the kind of thing that would take me (a reasonably competent cook) all day to make.

As ever, whenever I review a cookbook, I always make a dish from it. I decided to make Tagliatelle with Black Mushrooms. However, I could not find any black mushrooms in my local supermarket so I made it with Portabello mushrooms instead. The recipe also called for fresh pasta and although I can make fresh pasta (see here) I decided against it as I made it as an after work treat and with baby brain and general tiredness going on, making pasta was a step too far for me. I did use fresh free range egg Tagliatelle from the supermarket instead. I also got slightly confused between two mushroom dishes in the book. One the Ceps on Toast called for Black Summer Truffle and I thought the tagliatelle dish needed it instead so I ordered a truffle from Mister Truffle to make the dish. Therefore, my version has extra truffle on it. Here finally is my version of Andreas Antona’s classic dish.

Tagliatelle with Portabello Mushrooms and Black Summer Truffle

Ingredients

  • 100g tagilatelle per person, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4-6 small portabello mushrooms, peeled and chopped finely
  • Small knob of butter
  • Bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Parmesan, grated (optional)
  • Salt ad pepper, to taste
  • 5g of Black Summer Truffle, grated very finely (optional)

Method

  1. In a frying pan, add the butter and fry until melted. Add in the shallots and mushrooms and fry gently until cooked.
  2. Add in the cooked pasta and parsley. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Pour the pasta and mushrooms into a warm serving dish. Grate truffle and parmesan over the top, if using and then enjoy!

Overall, I am very impressed with the Simpson’s cookbook. It contains simple Michelin starred recipes but it also contains recipes that give you something to aim for and challenge you. It is not an everyday cookbook but it is one you want to look at everyday.

You can preorder Simpson’s The Cookbook here

WIN a LIMITED EDITION copy of the new Simpsons Restaurant Michelin Cook Book: Download some FREE Recipes to win: http://tinyurl.com/67s7qso

Many thanks to Syamala for sending me the book to review

Happy Cooking!

A Night At The Wild Garlic Part 2: The Meal

After going shopping for supplies for the restaurant that afternoon, I was really looking forward to my meal at The Wild Garlic. Before service started, I was given a tour of the kitchen and met all of the team. The restaurant is quite informal in its layout with polished wooden tables and chalkboards listing daily specials and drinks on. Mat has also put a black peppermint plant on each table which adds to the rustic vibe and makes the place smell nice too.

As I knew the food at the restaurant was going to be great anyway, I asked Mat to surprise me  for my meal, taking into account that I could not eat certain things due to being pregnant. To nibble on before the meal began, I had some bread from a local bakery with olive oil, balsamic and spicy nuts.  For my starter, I had Goats Cheese Pannacotta, with Beetroot, Apple Crisp, Poached and Powdered Rhubarb. I am not a great fan of beetroot but it was the perfect compliment to the creamy goats cheese pannacotta. The powdered rhubarb was  a revelation too. It tasted like cumin or something. The flavour was  so rich and earthy. Mat enjoys using science in his cooking, but believes that the science should happen in the kitchen and not on people’s plate and I think this dish is a perfect example of that.

 The Amuse Bouche was Spring Vegetable and Wild Garlic Veloute. It was light but creamy at the same time. Very yummy! For my main, I had Rose Rose Veal Fillet with Almond Butter and Potato Fondant. The veal was amazing. It was perfectly cooked and the almond butter complimented it beautifully. Also on the plate, were raw vegetables and pickles which added an extra dimension to the dish.

For pudding, I had the dessert platter which consisted of five individual desserts: Lime Tart topped with Meringue, Ginger Cake and Custard, Chocolate Brownie, Citrus Crème Brulee and licorice ice cream. To be honest, the entire platter was amazing. I cannot single any dessert out as they were all excellent. My favourite though was the licorice ice cream, as I have loved licorice since I was a child but have never had it in ice cream form.   I could eat by the bucket load and I may develop a pregnancy craving for it, just so that I can have more!!!!!! :-)

I finished the evening off with a decaff coffee and a chat with Mat and his staff. I would to thank Mat and his team for a fantastic meal in the restaurant. I think it is one of the best meals I have ever had. Please check back soon and I will tell you about my stay in the apartment above the restaurant.

*If you want to hear my about my pregnancy experiences of the trip to Dorset, please read the post on Jo’s Nursery here*

Midlands Food Bloggers


As some of you may know already, I am the founding member of the Midlands Food Bloggers and I am pleased to announce that with the help of Louise of Comida Y Vida, we now have a community blog. We are also having a meet up on Saturday 4th June in Burton Upon Trent. If you would like to find out more, do a guest post on the new blog or attend the meet up please visit the new blog for more information or email midsfoodbloggers@hotmail.co.uk 

Happy Cooking! :-)

Go Green Week Cookery Demonstration

Next week is Go Green Week (7-14th February) which  is a student action week set up by People and Planet to raise awareness of climate change. This year’s theme is ‘Love Your Future, Love Your Climate’, as it falls so close to Valentine’s Day.  What does this have to do with food I hear you ask?

Well, it is estimated that halving your meat and dairy consumption could take 10% off each person’s Carbon footprint. (Source: People and Planet) To encourage  students to eat more local fruit and vegetables, I have been asked by the University of Worcester (where I work) to do a cookery demonstration to students and staff showing them what they cook with our fantastic local fruit and vegetables.

This has made me quite nervous as it is my first ever live solo cookery demonstration.  I do not have other people around me, like when I did the Masterchef Experience at the BBC Good Food Show here and here, and I do not have the ability to edit, like I did when I made my first cookery video a couple of weeks ago.  However, I have decided to give it ago and I will be making (with fruit and vegetables kindly supplied by Worcester Produce) the following:

  • Vegetable Curry and Naan Bread
  • Roman style Vegetable Pizzas
  • Caramel Apple Meringues

I am hoping that someone will be able to video the event for me so that you can all see the demonstration too.  I will be putting my recipes and pictures up as soon as I can after the event. If you would like to more information about what else the University of Worcester is doing to celebrate Go Green Week, please see here. If anyone has any tips for doing cookery demonstrations that would help a complete novice, it would be greatly apperciated.

Please do not forget that I am having a give-away of a Forman and Field hamper, which you can receive in time for Valentine’s Day. More information is here.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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! :-)

24 Carrots Farmers Market

Yesterday, it was the 24 Carrots Farmer’s Market in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. The market is a monthly event that is organised by the Jewellery Quarter’s Residents Association and it brings in producers from Birmingham and beyond to sell their wares to the local residents. I found out about the market last month at the Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up when Brian from 24 Carrots came and told us all about it. Louise from Comida Y Vida and I could not resist the chance to go and meet local Midlands food producers and purchase some goodies from them.

One of our fellow Midlands Food Blogger’s, Tom from Loaf was going to be there too selling lovely pizzas from his travelling wood fired pizza oven. However, Tom had a disaster when his oven broke on his way to the market. You can read all about it here on his blog and see a picture of the damaged oven. It was a massive shame and everyone was looking forward to pizzas to lunch. I hope he can get the oven fixed and be able to attend the next one. However, all was not lost, Tom set up an impromptu underground  pizza takeaway from his house last night to use up his 20kg of pizza dough and toppings that he had prepared for the market and I believe it was a success. Well done Tom! :-)

Another friend of mine had a stall at the market and that was Mary from Kiss Me Cupcakes, who I did a cupcake course with not so long ago. It was great to see her and get to eat her lovely cupcakes, without having to make them first! I brought a box of six home with me and am slowing eating them.

Our next stop was Squisito Deli which had the most amazing display on the stall. Sara had done a fantastic job. It just looked beautiful. Everything was freshly made by them including a variety of Italian breads, sausages, smoked spices and garlic. It was foodie heaven! Louise and I left with full bags of ciabatta, focaccia, sausages, oak smoked garlic, herbs and spices.

We then went to More Cocoa for the best hot chocolate we had ever had. It was delicious and freshly made straight in front of us. I brought some chocolate so that I could make at home myself. I do not normally like hot chocolate but I loved this one.

Over at Hincley’s Bakery Louise brought some spelt bread and I brought a Butalump. A soft buttery loaf that was perfect with bacon sandwiches this morning. I brought the bacon from Woodhouse Farm which has a traditional butchery and smoke-house. The bacon was thick and very yummy.

The market even had live entertainment from a band called McScraggy and The Suits. They were really good and gave a party atmosphere to the market. Louise and I had a fabulous time at the market and we would like to thank everyone at 24 Carrots and the stall holders who made our time so enjoyable. We will be back again soon! The dates for the last two markets of the year are Saturday 20th November and Saturday 18th December. We hope to see you there.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: See Louise’s post about the farmers market here

A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 2

In my last post, I told you about foodie places that you really must go and see if you visit Ludlow. Today, I would like to tell you about the Ludlow Food Centre, which is located in Bromfield, just North of Ludlow. The food centre is basically a supermarket but it only stocks local produce. 80% of its goods comes from Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Powys. Some of its meat and vegetables come from very near to the premises in the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate that the centre is in. The food centre makes its own bread, butter, sausages and fresh ready meals in its own kitchen. One of the local specialities they make is the Shropshire Fidget Pie, as made by the Hairy Bikers during their visit whilst filming their Food Tour of Britain programme. The Food Centre also sells Brock hall Farm goats cheese, which is my favourite and is enough of reason alone for me to visit!

The Food Centre also has an excellent cafe that is ideal for a quick bite to eat or a long lunch. They serves everything from homemade cakes and biscuits, pork pie ploughmans, sandwiches, lasagne, chili con carne and pizza. Everything is fresh and made that day. The menu changes daily and depends on weather and season.

This concludes by short series about what a foodie should do in Ludlow. I hope you have enjoyed them and I hope it has inspired you to visit or return if you have not been for a while.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Jo’s Field Kitchen

A short time ago, I went on an archaeological dig in Shropshire for a couple of weeks. This involved 30 of us, living in a farmers field camping in tents during the hottest two weeks of the year so far. After spending all of the day digging, there were 30 very hungry people on site and Jo’s Kitchen turned into Jo’s Field Kitchen. To feed everyone, we used an ex-Army field kitchen that is normally used in war zones to feed up to a 100 soldiers at a time.

The stove did prove to be slightly temperamental as unlike army chefs who are trained how to use it, we had to work it out for ourselves. It took us a little while but we soon cracked it. The stove also came with a big metal box that you could put on top of the stove and have an oven if you wanted too. The students took it in turns to cook and I just gave advice whenever needed most of the time. In our little field kitchen, we were able to make:

  • Sausages, Mash and Beans
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Pasta with a very yummy tomato sauce
  • Jacket Potatoes with various fillings
  • Veggie stew
  • Chilli con Carne
  • Roast chicken drumsticks, with cous cous and salad
  • Barley Risotto
  • My very own new potato and spinach curry (chicken version recipe here)

In the end, I made so much curry and everyone loved it so much, that we had it twice in a row.  Helping me help the students to cook was another student called Beth, who was staying in a caravan on site with us. As she had a normal oven, she was able to bake us lots of cakes, flapjacks and biscuits that made everyone very happy. She also planned the menu for the dig and was always on hand to offer advice and help. Thanks for all your hard work Beth. :-)

I have recently brought The Camping Cookbook by Annie Bell which is full of lots of ideas that I intend to use the next time we go on a dig like this again or go camping with Stuart. The book also looks quite suitable for students going to university and having to cook on their own for the first time, as it full of ideas that only need a stove top to cook on. Overall, we all had a fabulous time on the dig. The archaeology, the weather, the people and the food were all fantastic!  I hope this post  has inspired people that camping cooking is not just opening a tin of beans. You can cook wonderful food- you just need to put a little thought into it.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: Don’t forget about my Masterchef Apron Competition. You have until Wednesday at 12 noon BST to enter. All details and how to enter here :-)

Its Crumble Time!

A short while ago, I was contacted by Jacqueline from McCann asking if I would like to try Four Rose’s Bourbon and think up some recipes that you could use it to cook with. Jacqueline sent me the yellow version of  the bourbon which is quite similar to Jack Daniels in taste and can be  put with coke or ginger ale to make a refreshing drink.   I tried it myself in a drink first to see what flavours it might work well with and decided to try it first, with rhubarb from my Nan’s garden that has recently come into season.

I decided to make an old favourite of mine, a crumble which I have been making for as long as I can remember and watched my nan and my mom making it when I was a child. The recipe is very straightforward and can be made with or without the bourbon added. There are no quantities to this recipe except for the bourbon as it depends on the size of the dish you will be cooking the rhubarb in and how much rhubarb you have, so just go with the flow and it will all turn out great in the end.


Rhubarb, Stem Ginger and Four Rose’s Bourbon Crumble

Ingredients

  • Rhubarb, ends chopped off and chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 2 balls of stem ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of stem ginger syrup (from the jar)
  • plain flour
  • butter, cold and chopped into chunks
  • Demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp bourbon

Method

  1. Put the chunks of rhubarb in a bowl, and sprinkle over some sugar (amount is up to you but also depends on how sweet rhubarb is). Put in the stem ginger pieces and pour in the stem ginger syrup and add the bourbon. Give it a stir and make sure the rhubarb is coated in everything and let it stand while you make the crumble topping.
  2. Make the crumble topping by putting flour a bowl with the butter at a ratio of half fat to flour and rub together using your fingertips until you have a breadcrumb like consistency. Add sugar to taste and mix well together.
  3. Put the rhubarb in an oven proof dish and put the crumble mix over it. Put the dish on a baking tray (in case of leakage of rhubarb juices) and put in a preheated oven set to 180 degrees C and let it cook until slightly golden brown and bubbling.
  4. Let it cool slightly and then serve with ice cream, custard or clotted cream and enjoy!

I will be making more recipes with the bourbon in the coming weeks so if you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks to Jacqueline for sending me the bourbon. It is much appreciated.

Hope you have a great weekend

Happy Cooking! :-)


Gourmet Life

As I am sure you all know by now, I like local and seasonal food and I especially like supporting local food producers. Therefore, today I  have decided to tell you about a scheme I have signed for myself that lets you support local food producers and get money off for doing it. This scheme is called Gourmet Life, which is run by James who also does the fantastic local foodie site called Eat The Midlands, which I am going to write articles for, as well as this blog and Dine With Us, which promotes great places to eat out in the Midlands.

Gourmet Life is the region’s only ‘ethical’ dining card. Helping people to support the region’s producers, by choosing to dine at  specially selected venues who must source more than 20% of their a l carte menu ingredients from across the region (within a 50 mile radius where possible). By going to these venues, and dining with them at certain  times, you can enjoy 20% off your a l carte food bill.  All you have to do is, tell the venue you have a Gourmet Life card and dine with them on a Monday to Friday, lunchtime or evening. Its as simple as that.

In addition to getting 20% off at some of the finest dining establishments in the Midlands, you also get the following additional benefits:

  • 20% off your dining bill at almost 100 of the region’s top dining venues
  • Monthly invites to gourmet nights
  • Additional discounts off meals at selected venues, up to 2 for 1 at selected venues
  • Discounted foodie events
  • Savings at Deli’s, and farm shops of 10%
  • 20% or more off overnight breaks, including Birmingham & London!
  • Exclusive tasting menus also available, specially made for you!
  • and even more benefits coming soon!

If you would like more information on this, please visit the Gourmet Life website here. If you would like to join the scheme, please email at joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk with your address and I will send you a leaflet and a free Gourmet Life Taster Card so you can try the scheme for yourself before you sign up or you can simply join up on the website here, just please say that Jo of Jo’s Kitchen sent you.

I will be back soon with another post, so until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

Spring Time Brunch

Image from Flickr

I love this time of year. Spring is in the air with lots of blossom on the trees, daffodils are everywhere and lots of new seasonal produce starts appearing. My personal favourites for this time of year are rhubarb, purple spouting broccoli and asparagus. Last weekend, I had a bit of quiet time to myself so I decided to treat myself  to a special spring time brunch of asparagus and poached eggs.

To make this seasonal easy brunch it is so simple, its hardly a recipe.  All you need to do is take your spears of asparagus and break the ends off them (the woody end at the bottom, not the head). If you apply pressure, it will break off at the most tender point. Then taking a small knife, carefully peel away the little notches that appear all over the asparagus stalk. Some chefs use a speed peeler to do this, however in my opinion, you end up wasting too much expensive and delicious asparagus that way. Once prepared, cook the asparagus however you like, I griddled mine with salt, pepper and olive oil but you can boil or steam them until tender. Its the same with the eggs. Cook them however you like. I cheated and did my poached eggs in a microwave egg poacher but feel free to cook them the traditional way in boiling water if you prefer. Serve everything together on a plate with extra salt and pepper and a big knob of butter if you like and enjoy!

A bit of a short post today but I will be back soon with more.

Happy Cooking!   :-)

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