Tag Archives: foodie

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!

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

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! :-)

Jo Cooks: Go Green Week Cookery Demonstration

This is the second in my occasional series of video posts of me cooking in my kitchen. However, this time I am not in my kitchen. I am cooking in the food technology room at the University of Worcester. This was a special event for Go Green Week, a student action week to raise awareness of climate change. I told you about my then impending cookery demonstration here.  I made:

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

The vegetables were kindly donated by Paul from Worcester Produce. The demonstration was filmed and edited by the wonderful Martin Duke. Thanks  to both of you for your help. It is much apperciated :-) You can download a PDF with my recipes on here: Cookery Demo Recipes Please note, you will need Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat to read and download the file.  I really enjoyed doing the demonstration and I hope the people who attended enjoyed it too. I hope you enjoy watching the video. Please let me know what you think. Below is a small selection of photos from the event.

Photo by Martin Duke

Happy Cooking! :-)

Fresh From The Oven: Khrushchev Dough

This is the first Fresh From The Oven Challenge that I have done in a while and it was hosted by Silvia and Ivan from mushitza. For the challenge, they wanted us to make Khrushchev Dough, named after former Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev as this was favourite dough and he liked fried as pirozhki.

Overall, I think it went quite well. The dough did not look like normal dough when I put in the fridge and I was not convinced it was going to work myself. However, after the stated time I got it out of the fridge and set to work. The dough was very hard to work with and I struggled to roll it out and to shape it into any kind of loaf/finger roll shape at all. I decided to fill mine with raspberry jam and in the end they looked, in my opinion, like sweet sausage rolls.  I took them into work and my colleagues loved them, saying they tasted like bagels, croissants and Yum Yum’s.  I would consider this to be a success, however I don’t think I will make them very often as the dough is very hard to work with.

Many thanks to Silvia and Ivan for hosting this month’s challenge :-)

Khrushchev Dough

This is the strangest and irrational dough recipe but it always works.

There are two key factors about achieving a good dough that do NOT apply here:

1. Never mix yeast directly with the salt. Exactly the opposite is what you have to do here. Since the salt kills the yeast when in direct contact we are using double amount of the yeast than we would usually use for this amount of flour.

2. Leave the dough to temper for an hour or two after taking out of the fridge. Not here. Work with the dough directly when out of the fridge. It’s essential for the dough to be cold, otherwise the butter will start to melt and absorb more flour which isn’t desired.

We must specify that this isn’t the original recipe, it’s our version of the recipe. The original recipe uses margarine and the fat is in bigger amounts, but we don’t use margarine and have always made it according to this version.

Notes: For mixing and kneading the dough, normally, we are using electric mixer equipped with the dough hooks. But it could either be used a wooden spoon. If needed at the end we are turning it a couple of times by hand, but to be honest I prefer not to touch it in order not to soften the butter too much with the warmth of my hands.

It have happened to me to decide to make the dough impromptu with butter directly out of the fridge. In this case it was enough just to cut the butter into small cubes (1 cm). Do not melt the butter.

Khrushchev Dough Recipe:

  • 40 gr fresh yeast (or 10 gr powdered dry yeast + 30 gr water);
  • 10 gr salt;
  • 250 ml cold milk(directly from the fridge);
  • 150 gr unsalted butter, cut in small cubes, room temperature(NOT melted);
  • 1 Tbsp sugar;
  • 500 gr all purpose flour + additional for the counter;

If using fresh yeast: Using an ordinary tablespoon rub the salt through the yeast block till it becomes liquid. If using dry yeast: Mix salt and dry yeast, then add the water.

  1. Add in the milk, butter, sugar and sift the flour on top. Mix with an electric mixer equipped with the dough hooks till all the ingredients are combined and soft dough forms. A wooden spoon could either be used. Cover the bowl with an airtight lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. The dough becomes firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly. Although the original recipe says it doesn’t, we are making it every quite often for more than five years, and it always rises, not as much as the other doughs but it rises nicely.
  3. The next morning, dust the counter with flour, place the dough on top, roll it out and shape it as you like. Work the dough as soon as you take it out of the fridge. If needed divide it in two or three parts and place one part in the fridge while you are forming the other.
  4. We’ve never freezed the dough but according to the Russian forums there’s no problem of doing so after the overnight proofing in the fridge. When you want to use it, leave it overnight in the fridge to defreeze.

What to do with the dough?

  1. Usually we a making small cheese rolls out of it.  For making them:
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Take the dough out of the fridge, divide it in two and return one of the parts in the fridge.
  4. Dust the counter with flour and roll the dough out to 3 mm thick rectangle. Cut it lengthwise and widthwise to smaller or bigger rectangles. Place some grated feta, cheddar or whatever cheese you have in the fridge and roll the rectangles up to tight rolls. All kind of jams, preserves, nutella… could be used. Arrange them in a baking pan living some space between them since they rise in the oven. Brush the rolls with a mixture of egg yolk, a few drops of water and a few drops of vegetable oil.
  5. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

(Method and Recipe words by Silvia and Ivan)

Recipe Testing for Prepped: Eccles Cakes

Image from Prepped. Used with permission by the author

Last week,  a plea came out on Twitter from Vanessa Kimbell (@VanessaKimbell) who is currently in the process of writing her first cookery book called ‘Prepped‘. She is in the final stages of preparing the book for publication (due out in May 2010) and was looking for bloggers to test her recipes. I jumped at the chance as I love using recipes that actually work and being given the opportunity to test one before publication does not come along very often. I decided to test the Eccles Cakes as it is something I have never made before.

Prepped is a linked cookbook designed with a busy cook in mind.  Once you make one thing, you can make another. Vanessa’s recipe was designed to use up leftover Brandy Butter, however as I do not have any brandy butter leftover from Christmas, the recipe (see below) was adapted with Vanessa’s advice.  The picture above is from the cookbook and mine are below.

I thought the recipe was really simple and easy to follow. I doubled the recipe and used a smaller pastry cutter so I ended up making 30 + Eccles Cakes. My colleagues at work did not mind though. They enjoyed them so much, they fought over them! These are something I will make again and again. I cannot wait to see what it in the rest of the book. If everything is this good, it will be amazing.  :-)

Many Thanks to Vanessa for letting me test the recipe and allowing me to share the recipe with you all. It is much appreciated :-)

You can pre-order ‘Prepped: Gorgeous Food without the Slog – a Multi-tasking Masterpiece for Time-short Foodies’ by Vanessa Kimbell in my new Amazon UK Store here.

Eccles Cakes

Makes 9

Prep time 20

Cooking time 20 minutes

Suitable for freezing? Yes

Ingredients

  • 1 x 375g pack sweet shortcrust pastry (or Sweet Pastry)
  • 75g Brandy Butter, softened (or 55g softened unsalted butter and 20g Caster Sugar)
  • 200g currants
  • 1 beaten egg, to glaze
  • 3 tbsp Orange & Clove Sugar (or Caster Sugar), for sprinkling

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/gas mark 4.
  2. Roll out the shortcrust pastry to about 6-7 mm thick. Using a 10cm pastry cutter, cut 9 circles (cut the first 7, then bring the pastry together again and re-roll to achieve 9). Use plenty of flour to dust with underneath and don’t over-handle the pastry: this makes it tough
  3. Mix the butter and currants well together in a bowl.
  4. Put a pastry circle in your left hand (I’m assuming you’re right-handed here!) and put a large tablespoon  approximately 30g  of the butter-currant filling into the centre. Bring your fingers together gently around the circle together, and as the pastry edges touch, simply pinch them together, using your right hand to seal the parcel.Place pinched-side down a very lightly greased baking sheet. Gently squash it down using the palm of your hand to make it into a patty shape.
  5. Once all the cakes are made, brush them all over with the egg for a glaze and dust liberally with the sugar. Cut 3 small slits on the top and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.
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