The Perfect Coffee Moment

CoffeeDaydream with me for a few minutes. Imagine you are sitting on a balcony with me in Modena, Italy admiring all the Ferraris going past below as they leave the factory nearby, going to their new owners all over the world. As we sit on the balcony, we are both eating a generous portion of tiramisu and have a large cup of coffee to wash it down with. The sun is shining on our faces, we are wearing sunglasses and are just generally enjoying the watching the people and the city around us.

The coffee we are enjoying is from Caffe Cagliari, an Italian company with over 100 years knowledge and experience making the finest Italian Espresso. Every single cup is an exquisite masterpiece, the result of more than 100 years of knowledge and tradition. The qualitative and sensory standards of the Espresso have been certified by the Italian Espresso National Institute (I.N.E.I.), which protects and promotes Italian Espresso.

Stop daydreaming now. You are at home with your children and after a rough night with the baby and early start from the toddler, by mid morning you are starting to suffer and are in desperate need of a break. You sit down, put the Caffe Cagliari Nespresso compatible capsule into your machine and cut a large slice of chocolate cake. You do not need to go to Italy to enjoy a Caffe Cagliari coffee anymore, Italy and it's finest coffee can now come to you. You ignore what the children are doing for a few minutes and enjoy the perfect coffee moment. Five minutes to yourself, an excellent cup of coffee and a large slice of chocolate cake.

Disclosure: there is a sponsored link in this post, however all words are my own.

jk sponsored


Feel Good Fruit Cake

Hello everyone. Sorry for the lack of blogging recently. I have not been feeling myself. I will not go into much detail here but you can read my post on my parenting blog here if you like.

When I am not feeling 100%, I retreat to the kitchen and bake. Today I have made something I have wanted to bake for a while. When I was a child, I used to go to my Nan's after school, she used to give me a slice of Mr Kipling's Farmhouse Fruit Cake. I loved it and it is a real memory of childhood for me. I recently tried some again after many years of not having it and although, it tasted ok, I was disappointed to see that it contained dried egg, dried milk and a few other non-appetising sounding things so I decided I could do better and make a better one myself.

I adapted the recipe here. I added an extra 30g of dried mixed fruit and 50g of glacé cherries. In my fan oven, the cake took just over an hour in my fan oven. The cake looks and tastes better than I remember from childhood. I will make it again soon!



Five Recipes To Spoil Your Mum (Guest Post)

Mother’s Day isn’t the only time you can look after your mum. After all of the pack lunches, teatime snacks and home-cooked dinners your mum has prepared for you over the years, why not spoil her with some gourmet cooking that shows her just how much she means to you? Cooking for her will always be a welcome treat – whatever day of the year it is!

Whether you’re a budding Delia Smith or can’t tell your puree from your jus, these five recipes should be simple enough for everyone to attempt.

1. Eggs benedict

There are few more indulgent ways to start the day than with a decadent plate of eggs benedict.

Simply slice a lightly toasted English muffin in half, butter each slice, place crispy bacon on top, add a poached egg to each half and then top with hollandaise sauce. The bacon, eggs and muffins are all easy to prepare and you can pick up good quality, readymade hollandaise sauce in most supermarkets if you don’t fancy making your own.

2. Pancakes

Another great way to treat your mum is with pancakes. Easy to make – simply mix flour, milk and eggs – and delicious to eat, pancakes can be sweet or savoury depending on your mood.

Toppings can include everything from sugar, lemon and chocolate to cheese, ham and tomatoes – so why not give your mum the choice and cover your dinner table with an array of enticing options?

3. Mediterranean tart with goat’s cheese

If it’s lunch that you’re treating your mum to, this delicious, light recipe is the ideal midday meal.

For the tart, simply unroll some readymade puff pastry and place it on a baking tray. Place some sliced onions, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese and olives on top and finish with a few dollops of pesto and a sprinkling of good quality olive oil.

Pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes and serve with salad and new potatoes. It’s guaranteed to be just as good as anything your mum enjoys at her assisted living accommodation – or anywhere else for that matter!

4. Pavlova

When it comes to teatime treats, it doesn’t get much better than a generous helping of creamy pavlova, so why not spoil your mum with this Antipodean classic.

Whisk egg whites and sugar into a meringue and bake in the oven until crispy. Once cooled, top with whipped cream, chopped strawberries and raspberry coulis and your mum won’t know what’s hit her!

5. Roast dinner

If you’re cooking your mum a special dinner, the recipe options are pretty much endless. However, there’s nothing like a classic roast to show off your cooking skills.

Simply choose your mum’s favourite meat and roast in the oven along with potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onions. Serve with fresh green veg, Yorkshire puddings and a generous helping of gravy for a spectacular evening meal.

Whatever you decide to cook to show your mum how much you love her, she’s sure to love the effort you’ve put in to make her feel special.



Cooking with Lea & Perrins: Easy Sausage Casserole

Worcester Sauce is one of my most well used condiments in the kitchen. I use it to flavour stews, casseroles, chilli con carne and I cannot have my cheese on toast without it. Now Sorted Food and Lea & Perrins have got together to show you what other dishes you can make really tasty with the addition of Worcester Sauce. Their video for lasagna is below and I have also given you my easy sausage casserole recipe using Worcester Sauce too.


Easy Sausage Casserole

Ingredients (served 2 hungry people)

  • 6 good quality sausages
  • Tablespoon of vegetable/sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 50ml white wine
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, sage and parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcester Sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Tomato Ketchup
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh parsley to finish


  1. In a large oven and hob friendly casserole dish, fry the sausages in the oil until browned, then remove and set aside
  2. Next fry the onions and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the wine in and cook it out until the alcohol has burnt off. Usually 1-2 minutes .
  3. Add in the chicken stock, dried herbs, Worcester Sauce, Tomato Ketchip and salt and pepper, then stir well.
  4. Put the casserole into an oven preheated to 180 degrees C for about an hour and a half until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened. If the sauce needs more thickening, add 2 teaspoons of cornflour to a splash of water, mix well and add into the casserole. Allow it to cook until desired thickness is achieved. Finish with the parsley, just before serving with mashed potatoes and spring greens.

Disclosure: this is a chargeless courtesy post


Product Review: Knorr Gravy Pots

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.


Meal Planning Monday (10th March 2014)

A very short and sweet post this week as I am writing this while I have two sort quiet children! We mostly stuck to the meal plan last week. I just moved a couple of things round and did have a cheeky extra takeaway!! This week, I am trying to use meat from the freezer as it is getting so expensive these days. Here is what we are eating:

Monday: Steak, chips and pepper sauce

Tuesday: Glazed chicken and rice

Wednesday: Sausage casserole and mash

Thursday: Pork chow mein (A Hairy Bikers recipe for #bloggersknowbest. More information here.)

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Takeaway

Sunday: Chicken casserole and mash

Linking this up to #mealplanningmonday on At Home With Mrs M


Are You MAD For Jo’s Kitchen?

Nominations are now open for the MAD (Mum & Dad) Blog Awards 2014 and for the first time ever, I am asking if you would consider voting for me. I know my blogging has been a haphazard of late, due to being heavily pregnant and looking after a newborn, however I hope you have enjoyed what you have read. I will continue to provide as much original recipe content as I can in 2014 and I am planning on giving Jo's Kitchen a fresh new look in the next few months too.

If you would like to nominate me (or any of the many other lovely blogs out there), then the nomination form is here. I am eligible for the Best Food Blog and Blog of the Year categories. Voting closes on 14th March.

Thank you as ever for your support and for reading Jo's Kitchen :-)


Meal Planning Monday – 3rd March 2014

Sorry I did not do a meal plan last week. We were a house full of illness and I had no energy to post a meal plan, let alone do any cooking. The 7 weeks worth of sleepless nights with Daniel are catching up with me too. This week, food is simple and relatively easy to prepare. Here is the plan:

Monday: lasagna and garlic bread

Tuesday: pancakes

Wednesday: chilli con carne, rice and garlic bread

Thursday: chicken casserole, mashed potatoes and veg

Friday: to be decided

Saturday: takeaway

Sunday: roast dinner at my Nan's in Bewdley


Linking this up to #mealplanningmonday with At Home With Mrs M


Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2014

A young chef from Essex is celebrating after winning the coveted title of Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2014.

Robert Hall who works at the House of Commons battled it out in a Masterchef-style cook-off at University College Birmingham on Friday 21st February.

The winners were announced at an official awards dinner at UCB on Friday evening.

As well as the honour of being the 2014 Young Chef of the Year, Robert Hall has also won a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong where he will gain an insight into the hospitality industry at Michelin starred restaurants and explore the region’s cultural highlights.

The national competition offers aspiring young chefs and catering students between the ages of 18-25, the chance to boost their culinary careers.

Judging the competition were celebrity TV chef Ching He Huang, Michelin-starred Birmingham chef Glynn Purnell, and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths.

At just 24 years old and a first-time entrant, it was an unexpected win for Robert who said he was overwhelmed to have been crowned the winner.

He cooked his way to the final with two Thai/Japanese inspired dishes which included a starter of skirt steak “sui” with pistachio puree, pickled mushrooms, cauliflower and radish. He finished his winning menu with tom yam turbot with ramen broth and crab bon bon.

When asked what inspired him to enter, Robert said: “The House of Commons continues to support talent from within and part of this involves encouraging and driving young chefs to enter competitions and compete on a national scale. This was the first competition I have ever entered, I am overwhelmed to have won and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the trip to Hong Kong.”

Robert faced tough competition from 15 other finalists from trade and colleges including Bourneville College, Eton, University College Birmingham, Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood and the Elior catering group.

Chairman of the judges and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths said: “Now in its second year, this competition has attracted a great deal of promising professionals from across the UK. We were highly impressed by the diversity of the menus and the chefs’ choice of Oriental ingredients.

“Robert’s dishes demonstrated a clever use of modern cooking techniques combined with traditional Asian flair. The Thai/Japanese fusion in the main dish was brave and demonstrated a confident use of flavours. Robert showed an excellent work ethic and process in the kitchen and his final dishes were spot on!”

Princia Fernandes from University College Birmingham was placed second with her menu of bang-bang Monkfish and aromatic duck, with Joshua Anderson from the Amadeus catering group part of the NEC and ICC, came third with his innovative vegetable garden and steamed halibut.

Mr Wing Yip, the Chairman of Wing Yip, added: “For the second year running I have been extremely impressed by the level of culinary expertise demonstrated by the chefs. This competition really is a celebration of both quality Oriental cuisine and the creative flair we have coming through in the UK. These are the chefs to watch out for in the future.”

Stuart and I were lucky enough to go to the first Wing Yip Chef of the Year competition dinner last year. We unfortunately could not attend this year. We would like to send our congratulations to Robert and look forward to attending again next year


A Honking Good Day!!


Team Honk - Jo

Ready for the Off!!

On Saturday, I became one of over 200 bloggers who are taking a baton from Land's End to John O'Groats as part of #teamhonkrelay to raise funds for Sport Relief. I am part of Team Honk Birmingham and it was my responsibility to take the baton from Worcester to Bearwood, West Birmingham.

Getting the baton from Nikki's children (Image by Nikki)

My Team Honk day started at around 9.30am where I collected the baton from Nikki of Stressy Mummy and her lovely children at the rather glamorous location of the lay-by by junction 7 of the M5. Next, I travelled home and decorated my pushchair. Many thanks to Manie and the Opal Aura team for donating the decorations and helping to decorate the pushchair.

Opal Aura team and I

Next I walked down into Halesowen (with honks from the Opal Aura team all the way down the hill!) and got on the bus with Thomas and Daniel. We got some very strange looks during our 20 minute bus journey. We arrived at Bearwood Bus Station (another glamorous location!) and were met by Erica of 92three30 and A Little Luxury For Me and her son H.

Daniel with the baton

During all the excitement, Daniel slept pretty much all morning until we met Erica when he woke for a feed. I am sure the reason he stayed asleep so long despite the cold and windy weather was because he was warm and snuggly in his red snowsuit, kindly donated for the event by The Essential One. Many thanks to Katie from The Essential One for sending the snowsuit and keeping the youngest member of the #teamhonkrelay nice and warm!
My leg of the relay may be over but the baton does not reach John O'Groats until 23rd March so please keep donating. Every penny counts!! You can donate to Team Honk Birmingham here. All support is greatly appreciated.
See what my fellow team members did for their part of the relay:
Rebecca, Emma, Erica, Nikki, Fi, Iona and Helen
The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.


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