Tag Archives: cooking

Cooking With Your Toddler: Jam Tarts

Cooking with your toddler: Jam Tarts

This is hopefully the first of many ‘Cooking With Your Toddler’ posts that I will do on this blog. A couple of months ago, I was looking for a simple food related activity that Thomas and I could do together. I suddenly thought of jam tarts has Thomas had tried one recently and loved it.

While he was having a nap, I used a pint glass to cut out the circles of  shop brought shortcrust pastry and put them in my Yorkshire Pudding tin. I then spooned some smooth jam into one of his food bowl and gave it a good stir. I rolled out the remaining pastry and left it on the plastic sheet it came on, with my star and a flower cutter next to it. I then eagerly awaited Thomas waking up from his nap.

Once he had woken up, we got to work. I made Thomas spoon the jam into the pastry cases and I was very impressed with his handiwork. His spoon control was excellent and I was very impressed. Once I showed him what he had to do, Thomas got the hang of it very quickly. Once all the tart cases were filled, I showed Thomas how to use the flower and star cutters. He was not strong enough to press the shapes out so I helped him do that. Thomas gave it a good go though. I showed him how to get the shape out of the cutter and was very impressed when his small fingers made easy work of getting the pastry out of the cutter.

Thomas did get slightly confused when it came to putting them in oven. I think he thought you could eat them straight away. We let them cool for as long as we could then we both tried one once Thomas had his dinner. He got in more mess eating them, then did making them! He even got jam in his hair. I really enjoyed our first cooking activity together and cannot wait to do another one soon :-)

Young Birmingham Chef Reaches Final in National Culinary Competition

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A young Birmingham chef is gearing up to battle it out in a live Masterchef-style cook-off and is hoping to impress celebrity judges as part of a national competition.

Wing Yip’s ‘Oriental Young Chef of the Year’ competition set out to find the Midlands’ most promising young chef talent in Oriental cooking, and the oriental supermarket will be joined by celebrity TV chef Ching He Huang, Michelin-starred Birmingham chef Glynn Purnell, and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths, to taste the top talent’s creations and crown the winner.

Ching He Huang, Brian Yip

The competition is new for this year and offers young chefs between the ages of 18-25 who are training or working in the catering industry a chance to boost their culinary careers. The lucky winner will walk away with a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong, where they will gain an insight into the hospitality industry and explore the region’s cultural highlights.

Jamie Glanville

Jamie Glanville, 23, is currently working in the kitchen at The Punchbowl Gastropub, Kings Heath, and hopes to be in the running with his dishes of Spicy Confit Chicken Wings and Pan Fried Fillet of Seabass to win a once in a lifetime culinary trip to Hong Kong and of course add the coveted title to his CV.

On finding out the news, hopeful finalist Jamie said: “I can’t believe it; I’m a little bit nervous but mostly excited! To have such highly acclaimed chefs giving feedback on my work is a once in a lifetime opportunity- I can’t wait to get in the kitchen as I love creating Oriental dishes.”

Mr Wing Yip, Chairman of Wing Yip, said: “The increasing popularity of Pan Asian cuisine in the UK is extremely exciting. We launched the competition first and foremost to celebrate Oriental cookery with its delicious flavours and aromas, but also to identify the region’s most talented young chefs to encourage them to carry the tradition forward and preserve the legacy of this glorious cuisine.”

Glynn Purnell, Michelin starred chef and Young Chef judge, added: “The talent in the final line up confirms that the Midlands is a hot bed of culinary promise and, from what I have seen so far, the competition is going to be fierce! Winning the title will open many doors for the lucky champion and offers a helping hand at a stage in their career which can be tricky to navigate. I am honoured to be able to share my experience and offer advice to the region’s finest young chefs.”

The cook off will take place at University College Birmingham on the 22nd February and will see the finalists prepare two Asian- inspired dishes in under 90 minutes.

I have been lucky enough to be invited to the dinner and awards evening when they announce the winning chef. Stay tuned for more about this soon :-) 

Fresh From The Oven: Sandwich Bread Loaf

This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was hosted by myself and I decided that we should make a new favourite bread of mine, a Sandwich Bread Loaf. This was orginally made by Michel Roux Jr. as part of the BBC TV Series ‘The Great British Food Revival’. The recipe for the loaf is here.

I like this loaf as it is very simple and easy to make. The addition of the Golden Syrup keeps the loaf moist and provides an extra sweetness. The loaf keeps well for a few days and ideal to take to work for your sandwiches or it makes excellent toast once it is a couple of days old. As I have made this before, I decided not to make it in a loaf tin and made it into a fat baton shape instead. The result was excellent :-)

I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did making the loaf :-)

Happy Cooking!

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!

Prepped Cookbook Launch

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to be asked to do some recipe testing for a new cookbook that was coming out, called ‘Prepped‘. I tested the Eccles cakes recipe for Vanessa Kimbell, the author of the book.  At the end of May, ‘Prepped!: Gorgeous Food without the Slog – a Multi-tasking Masterpiece for Time-short Foodies’ was released and I went to the official launch of the book at The Black Bottom Club in Northampton last week.

Vanessa is a fellow member of the Midlands Food Bloggers and I was joined at the launch by Julia of A Wannabe Foodie, who I met just recently at the MFB Meet Up in Burton Upon Trent. We were also joined by Ruth of The Pink Whisk, Helen of Jessie’s Crazy Kitchen and Lea of Off The Eaten Track amongst many others. All of whom had tested recipes for the book. We were warmly greeted by Elderflower Fizz and Elderflower water and lots of cake made by the Preperati (recipe testers) especially for the event.

Giles of How To Books, Vanessa’s publisher then gave a speech on how Vanessa had managed to get the published with them. It was mostly to do with cakes apparently! Vanessa then gave a speech herself thanking everyone for helping with the book.

The rest of the afternoon sped by with lots of talk of cake, cooking and blogging. I had an absolute amazing time. It was great to meet Vanessa eventually after many emails and phone calls and it was lovely to meet my fellow bloggers too. I cannot wait for ‘Prepped 2′ to be launched so we can have another party! :-)

Many thanks to Amy of Lush Mummy for the fabulous black Diamond Dress that I wore to the launch. (See pictures above) It is an amazing dress and I got lots of lovely compliments about it. For the first time since finding out I was pregnant, I actually felt and looked good. It is much appreciated. Thank you :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

Jo Cooks: Sainsbury’s Feed a Family of Four for £50

I was recently contacted by Damola from Sainsbury’s asking if I would like to take part in their Feed a Family of Four for £50 campaign. This campaign is to encourage people to plan their meals and do their food shopping at a reasonable cost. I do not normally plan my meals but with a baby on the way and the extra costs that it brings, I thought I should give it a go.

In addition to sending me a week’s worth of shopping to do this week’s meal plan, they also sent me a Sony Bloggie HD Camera to record myself cooking one of the dish’s from the plan. The results of which are above and have been submitted to Sainsbury’s to possibly appear on their website or on one of their TV adverts shown during Britain’s Got Talent this week.

I decided to cook Sausage, Tomato & Cannellini Pot with mash for the video. I served it with a few extra vegetables and made it for my Mom Elaine, my Stepdad Bernie and Stuart. All of them are featured in the video above.

Overall, I was quite impressed with Sainsbury’s home delivery and the quality of their produce. The vegetables (those that were not frozen) were excellent quality and very fresh. The sausages used to make the dish were frozen and did not have much flavour too them, but they were perfectly usable. Most of the products used were from their basics range but they seemed quite good quality. The meat looked good too. I am not entirely sure if I had just served the dish above with mash above that it would be enough for four people. I think a bit of extra vegetables makes it go a bit further and I would hate to think of anyone not having enough food to eat in my house. One complain though is that they sent me 3 loaves of wholemeal meal, all with a use by date of 31st May. My shopping was delivered on Saturday. Unless the bread was frozen, it would never last a family of four for seven days.

I think I would quite happily use Sainsbury’s home delivery again and although I do like the principles of their meal plan, I am not sure if as a foodie it gives enough choice for me. I know I am very lucky not to have such a tight budget for food but if I did, I think the Sainsbury’s meal plan with a few minor adjustments would work for me :-)

Many thanks to Damola and Hayley from Sainsbury’s for sending me the shopping and the camera for free. It is much appreciated :-)

Thanks to my Mom, Stepdad and Stuart for being featured in the video and additional thanks to Stuart for filming it. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Night At The Wild Garlic Part 3: The Apartment

After a wonderful meal at The Wild Garlic, it was time to retire to fabulous apartment on the second floor above the restaurant. The apartment design was inspired by Angie Lewin and is decorated in 50′s/60′s style to compliment her artwork in the apartment. The apartment is a not an hotel room or holiday cottage, its a retreat. The fantastic staff of The Wild Garlic will leave you alone as much as you like. You have your own key and can come and go as you please. I loved it as you are right in the heart of the village and you get a real idea of what is going on, in the restaurant and the village. One small negative is that it is on the main road so you can get a bit of road noise at night. This did not bother me however, if you are looking for a country hideout away from noise, this may not be the ideal place.

 

When you arrive you find, bread, milk, butter, apple juice, tea and coffee things and even a bottle of wine in the kitchen. Inspired by the local produce in the apartment and in the local fruit and vegetable shop (see post here for more information) , I made myself mushrooms on toast for breakfast before I left and here is my recipe for it:

Mushrooms on Toast

Ingredients (Serves 1 hungry person!)

  • 1 slice of thick local bread, toasted
  • 1 field mushroom and 1 chestnut mushroom, peeled and chopped with stalk removed
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large knob of local butter, for frying
  • 1 small bunch or parsley, finely chopped
  • Rocket leaves, to serve with it, if desired

Method

  1. Melt some butter in frying pan, add in the shallots and fry until softened slightly
  2. Then add in the mushrooms and fry until cooked through. Add in the parsley at the last minute and serve on top of hot toasted bread.
  3. Put some rocket leaves on the side if you like and enjoy!

I would to thank Mat and all team at The Wild Garlic for a an amazing stay. I will be back again soon. :-)

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS:  Midlands Food Bloggers Members and Supporters can now get a Gourmet Life card for three months FREE! If you would like more information, please see the post here

PPS: Sorry for the delay between posts. If you would like to know why there was a delay, please see post on Jo’s Nursery here

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