Category Archives: Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas from Farmers Choice

heart on plate

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am sure, that just like me, you struggle with what to get your partner every year! I get bored with buying the usual socks, chocolates, wine or flowers. This year, I am going to do something different and cook my husband a feast for Valentine’s Day, cutting out the hassle of finding a babysitter or eating at a full, busy and noisy restaurant which can kill the romance mood.

You can find lots of Valentine’s Day dinner recipes; however our favourite is steak, chips and béarnaise sauce. It is very simple to make but hard to get everything perfect so practice beforehand to make sure it is right. Béarnaise sauce can be a bit fiddly especially if you have not made it before. My husband’s favourite is prawns; however I am not really a fan. For a seafood starter which we will both like, we enjoy scallops served simply in the shell and a dipping sauce or scallops served with pancetta and peas.

For pudding, the tradition seems to be chocolate so a chocolate fondant would be lovely. Impressive to look at but can be hard to get right so for something less stressful, how about a big slab of chocolate brownie to share between two. If you want to avoid chocolate altogether, how about a refreshing lemon tart or a crème brulee. Whatever  you cook this Valentines, cook it with love and your effort will show on the plate when you give it to your loved one.

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Product Review: Hotel Chocolat Open Your Heart To Me

If you are still looking for a Valentine’s gift for your loved one and they like unusual flavour combinations, then they may like Hotel Chocolat Open Your Heart To Me.  It is a 40% milk chocolate heart with a hollowed out centre containing truffles. Some of the truffle flavours are strawberry with black pepper, caramel with chilli and vanilla.

I was very impressed with chocolate heart. It was very creamy and delicious. I thought that the truffles were very rich and overpowering for my taste buds. The black pepper was slightly too strong for the strawberry and the chilli knocked out the caramel flavour. My favourite was the plain and simple vanilla truffle. I think this product is a very good idea. It is a nice treat having extra chocolate inside the heart, however I think the truffles need more work to make the flavours more discreet or just more simpler flavours altogether. I am not a chocolate connoisseur though and as the product is sold out on their website, it is obviously very popular. If you have brought this for your loved one or receive one yourself, please let me know what you think about it.

Many thanks to Beth at Jam and Cream PR and Hotel Chocolat for sending me the product to review :-)

Winner of the Lovetubs Hamper is….

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Lovetubs Hamper is comment number 38, Valerie McCarthy. Valerie, I have sent you an email with what to do next. Thank you all very much for taking part. It is greatly appreciated.

I will be back with another post tomorrow. Hope you are all well. I am off for a bath and an early night!

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Sweet Treat for Valentines and a Giveaway!

Valentines Day is only around the corner and with that in mind, Lovetubs are calling for lovers to feel the love and share the love! You can show your loved one your sweeter side this Valentine’s Day by treating him or her to a lovetub – or even show yourself that little bit of love! lovetub is a warm, rich, melt-in-your-mouth pudding which can be found in the dessert chiller in selected Sainsbury’s stores!

Available in both Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chocolate Pudding flavours, lovetub can be microwaved to lip-smacking perfection in just 30 seconds, and eaten straight from the tub. Usually priced at only £1.29, it’s a Valentine’s treat that’s easy on the pocket!

To celebrate the release of Lovetubs, they are going to giveaway 15,000 100g puddings between the 1st and 7th February on their Facebook page.  Why not share the offer with your friends or loved one and ‘feel the love, share the love’.

Lovetub Hamper Giveaway

To make Valentines Day go with even more of a bang, you can win an hamper for you and your loved one and have it delivered in time for Valentines Day. You can win:

  • Moet Chandon Champagne
  • Hotel Chocolat Chocolates
  • a £10 M&S food voucher
  • Teddy Bear
  • and lovetub samples

To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by 5pm GMT on Monday 7th February telling me what would be your ideal Valentines Day treat (keep it clean please! – this is a family blog) :-)

This giveaway has now closed. Thank you to everyone for taking part

Good luck and I hope you all get spoilt on Valentines Day! :-)

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

  1. Only 1 entry per person
  2. The competition will close at 5pm on Monday 7th February 2012 GMT
  3. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted via email as soon as possible after the competition has closed.
  4. The competition is open to UK residents only
  5. The prize will be delivered by Lovetubs once the winner’s contact details are confirmed, hopefully in time for Valentines Day.
  6. Any questions or queries, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk 

Winner of Forman and Field Valentine’s Hamper

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in Forman and Field’s Valentine’s Cook Off, where fellow bloggers and I were each sent a hamper of mystery ingredients and asked to create a Valentine’s Day menu with it. To spread the love around, each blogger who took part was given a Forman and Field hamper (worth up to £60) to giveaway to a lucky reader in time for Valentine’s Day.

Well, I am very pleased to announce that a winner has been chosen from all the valid entries using Random.org (to be classed as a valid entry, your comment needed to say something about your ideal Valentine’s food or menu) and the winner is Karolina from Senses In The Kitchen. Congratulations Karolina! Please email me your address, telephone number and whether you would like your hamper before or after Valentine’s day to joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk asap please. Thanks to everyone who took part. I loved hearing about your ideal Valentine’s meal.

I will be back at the weekend with another video post: my first live solo cookery demonstration for Go Green Week!

Happy Cooking! :-)

Forman and Field’s Valentine’s Cook Off

Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us and with love in the air, it’s time to start thinking what you will cook for your loved one this year. I had to think about a bit earlier this time, as last week on Twitter, I saw that Forman and Field (@FormanandField) were after bloggers to take part in a Valentine’s Cook Off (#Formanslovecookoff) using a mystery box of food items that they would provide. This sounded like my kind of challenge so I signed up, along with Dan, The Grubworm, Carla, Meemalee, Food Urchin and Pavel.

The mystery box soon arrived and it contained:

A bit of a strange mix, I am sure you will agree. It took a few days of thinking but I managed to come up with a Valentine’s menu that I thought was simple to do and showed the amazing produce off at its best. To be completely and utterly truthful, I dislike anchovies with a passion, however I was determined to use everything that came in the box, so I thought that as the anchovies had garlic in them, I would make a foccacia as it is easy and a bit more upmarket then a pizza, where you usually find anchovies.  For my main, I simply griddled the salmon as it was too good to do anything else with, and served it with dauphinoise potatoes, with a generous grating of Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese on top and green beans, with both the tarragon jelly and horseradish on the side. For pudding, I made a chocolate pot with brandied cherries and honey biscuits. The pictures of my dishes and full recipes are below.

Stuart and I really enjoyed the meal. The Royal Fillet was the best salmon I have ever tasted and the honey was delicious. I am now addicted to brandied cherries as well. My big jar will not last very long! One minor downside is that the foccacia did not really work. It was simply too fishy and overpowering. I have included the recipe here so that someone who likes anchovies can have a go and see if they can make it better than I did.

Competition Time!

To be in a a chance of receiving a box of goodies from Forman and Field (worth £60)  like I did, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post, with your ideal Valentine’s recipe or menu and a box could be on its way to you and your loved one, in time for the big day itself. Please leave an email or twitter name so that you can be contacted if you win. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and you have until the 10th February to enter.  My recipes are below. Please check out my competitors and see what they did with the mystery ingredients and check back soon to see if I won the Cook Off. Don’t forget, all the other competitors also have a hamper to give-away so why don’t you leave a comment on their blogs too! :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

All Serves Two

Anchovy and Garlic Foccacia

Ingredients

  • 200g strong white bread flour, and more for dusting
  • 1 packet of dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 125ml warmish water
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped up into small bits and some oil out the container they were in

Method

  1. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the olive oil and water and mix with your hand until its forms a sticky ball of dough.
  2. Put some flour on your work surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and springy. Put in a oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel, cling film or even in a bin bag and leave in a warm place for an hour.
  3. After an hour has passed, knock back the dough and place in an oiled tin or tray and spread the dough out until it covers the bottom. leave it covered for another half an hour in a warm place.
  4. After half an hour, uncover it and spread out the chopped up anchovies and oil all over the top of the foccacia. Put in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) and let it cook for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and enjoy.

Griddled Salmon with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 Royal Fillet, chopped up into two portions
  • 3 large or 6 small Maris Piper Potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
  • 100ml double cream
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Generous handful of Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, grated
  • 1 packet of green beans, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • Horseradish sauce and tarragon jelly, to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, put the potatoes, cream, milk, 1/2 an onion, salt and pepper and allow simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked through.
  2. Remove the onion from the potatoes and place everything else in a lasagne type dish and put the grated cheese on top. Put in an preheated oven (180 degrees C) and allow to cook until slightly golden and bubbling.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat up a griddle pan and cook the salmon on both sides, until slightly charred and warmed through.
  4. Serve the salmon with the Dauphinoise Potatoes and green beans, with a spoonful each of horseradish and tarragon jelly on the side. Enjoy

Chocolate Pots with Honey Biscuits and Brandied Cherries

Ingredients for Chocolate Pots

  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped up
  • 140ml double cream
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 6 pitted brandied cherries and 4 whole, for the top

Ingredients for Honey Biscuits (Makes 12-14)

  • 2 heaped table spoons Regents Park Honey
  • 2 table spoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter

Method

  1. (For the Chocolate Pots) Gently warm the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar the melted.
  2. In a bowl, put the chocolate, 1 egg yolk and vanilla extract. Pour over the cream and sugar mixture and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pop 3 pitted cherries into the bottom of each ramekin and pour the chocolate mixture on top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. (For the Honey Biscuits) Put the honey and milk in a saucepan and allow to warm through. Add in the Bicarbonate of Soda and stir until frothy. Set aside and allow to cool.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the flour and frothy mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Roll and shape a knob of the biscuit mixture and flatten onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Do not make them too big as they will spread during cooking.
  7. Bake in a preheated 2o0 degrees C oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving with the chocolate pots and brandied cherries.



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

.

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! :-)

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