Category Archives: Cook Books

The Dessert Deli Cookbook – Food Find of the Week

My latest food find, which I know really isn’t a food, is Laura Amos’s eagerly anticipated debut recipe book – The Dessert Deli Cook Book. Finally it is on sale and fans of her desserts will now be able to recreate her delicious delights at home. I’m rather excited about being mentioned in the credits – Laura is a great friend and I loved brainstorming ideas, recipes and formats for the book over roast dinners and afternoon ciders!

From her signature chocolate mousse with honeycomb to her fabulous flapjacks there is a great selection of desserts, cakes, treats and a special Christmas section too! Laura gives great tips on ingredients, equipment and tweaking recipes to make them your own. I love the photography which helps to guide on how your finished recipe should look and watch out, it will certainly make your mouth water!

You can either buy directly from Laura at one of her markets (follow her on twitter to find our where she is), get a signed copy from the publishers , find in good book shops, or get a bargain price online from Amazon! I will be certainly be buying a few of these for Christmas presents this year.

Have you got your hands on The Dessert Deli Cook Book yet? If so, have you tried any of the recipes? I can’t wait to get baking!

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Aalto Restaurant, inspired by Marcus Wareing @ Hotel La Tour, Birmingham

With Birmingham being crowned as the Food Capital of Britain by Olive Magazine, I was embarrassed to realise that the range of food I had experienced in Birmingham spread little further than the NEC outlets and buffet at the on site hotel! I was invited up to visit a brand new independent city centre hotel, whose restaurant had been inspired by the brilliant Marcus Wareing, so I happily accepted and had a lovely lunch at Aalto restaurant at Hotel La Tour.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, so arrived early. There were many local businesses, and members of the local press, that had been invited and the bar area was full of people who seemed to know each other. I distracted myself from my awkwardness with a refreshing lemony cocktail and kept the canapé waiters talking for as long as reasonably possible.

Finally it was time to take to our seats, leading me to wonder/ worry about who I might be seated with… to my delight I was seated up at the chefs table along with some local journalists and the lovely Managing Director Jane. It meant I had a view right into the kitchen and an army of friendly staff to talk me through the dishes and keep my wine glasses filled (I was glad I took the train!!).

The menu gave us a taster of what the restaurant has to offer – head chef Alex Penhaligon and his team have worked closely with Marcus Wareing and local producers to deliver a great value, top quality seasonal menu.

We started with leek soup with a Jersey royal foam – served in a shot glass I found it hard to resist swooping my finger round the glass for last of the delicious soup clinging to the glass (I did resist by the way).

We were then given a little cocktail as a palette cleanser between courses. It was strong with a gingery citrus hit.

Next came salty bacon olives balanced with fresh peas and broad beans – I’m pretty sure the ‘olives’ were from Trealy Farm, a brilliant local charcuterie producer.

For the main course came tweed kettle salmon with a fennel on the side and a herb and nutmeg crust. Not only was it beautiful on the plate but delicious too.

The highlight of the meal was the dessert, a Jaffa cake pudding, which was served with the chocolate sauce separately. Marcus Wareing a two Michelin starred chef came and poured the sauce over my pudding himself! I blushed, but thanked him very much. I think chocolate and orange are perfect together so loved the pudding.

After the lovely dinner, we had a chance to talk to Marcus, and Alex the head chef. I was impressed by Alex’s passion and enthusiasm and had a great chat about local producers, I’m going to keep in touch and recommend some of my favourites. Marcus was charming and told me how his relationship with the hotel works – Alex and his team trained and experimented  in Marcus’ own kitchens and are welcome their any time. He works closely with them on their menus, to help inspire and develop ideas. This way of working helps to deliver Michelin starred quality but with affordable prices – something we are all looking for these days.

I’m so glad I got to experience a bit of the Birmingham food scene, but it has made me hungry to try more of it. Whats your favourite Birmingham eaterie? I’d love to know so I can start planning my next trip!

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Introducing my Food Find of the Week

I have decided to introduce a new element to this blog, a weekly post dedicated to my ‘Food Find of the Week’. I regularly meet wonderful producers, retailers and food lovers, and find new products, books, cool shops and places to eat and drink –  it seems a shame not to share my favourites here on my blog, and by going weekly I have no excuses but to post!

I speak to a mix of well established, popular producers that you may already know and people who may just be in the development stages of their business – I love asking questions about why they came to do what they do, why their products are so great and whether there is anything new in the pipeline.

Look out for my ‘Food Find of the Week’ on Wednesday!

Oh, and just in case you thought any differently, please be assured that I will only write about things I genuinely love/ like/ am excited about on this blog.

 

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Jacobs Ladder Burger – London’s Best?

I’ve seen Jacobs Ladder at a few markets but never had one of their burgers. After a chat with Philip Lowery, director of the Real Food Festivals and Markets, I was desperate to try one. He claimed they were possibly the best burgers in London, and a claim like that meant I had to try one! I was possibly the coldest I have ever been after a day wandering around Borough Market and the Real Food Market, but decided to wait for my burger loving boyfriend to buy one!

Lets start with the bread, a key component of a good burger. I was delighted to find the sesame topped buns were from St Johns, not having ever tried any of their baked goods (yes, I have heard about the custard doughnuts!). I was super impressed by the trademark pig stamped onto the paper wrapping the buns as my excitement about trying the burger increased.

Perhaps the meat should have come first, but the bread really did impress me… and the meat was kept inside a cool box too and generally raw burgers don’t look that pretty! So the meat is organic, from their own biodynamic and organic farms in Kent and Sussex. Which basically means its from animals that have led happy lives, are fed good, healthy food and converted into meat in nice, as humanely as possible ways.

As our burgers got closer to perfection, Steve, (entertaining and knowledgable) popped our buns on to toast and asked if we wanted cheese – yes please! Cheddar isn’t good enough for this burger, only the delicious Stichelton would do, and it went perfectly with it.

The cheese was scooped straight out of the truckle onto the burger…

Rocket and ketchup? Heinz of course…

And it was ready (our mouths were watering at this point!).

It certainly lived up to expectations – soft, charred bun, fresh, peppery rocket, creamy, buttery cheese and a really meaty burger.

We liked them so much that we bought the raw ingredients so we could recreate them at home for friends. I must say, they were nicer at home as we could make them nice and rare – and it wasn’t -3 degrees!

Have you tried a Jacobs Ladder Burger? Are they a contender for best burger in London?

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Making Marmalade

I had the intention of making marmalade this Seville season, but hadn’t got round to making time to do it – so when I came across a handy supermarket fixture selling both Seville oranges and preserving sugar I mindlessly added the ingredients to my basket. My holiday got nearer and nearer as the oranges sat there in the kitchen… I was running out of time before they would start to spoil. The day before my trip to Chamonix was supposed to be used for last-minute packing, exchanging pounds to euros and getting an early night ready for our 2am start… to my family’s despair, I thought it a good idea to add marmalade making to our schedule.


I had never made marmalade before so I ‘asked Delia’, to whom I turn to when I need to find a classic, traditional recipe – she didn’t disappoint and the marmalade recipe in her Complete Cookery Course was easy to follow and seemed to deliver great results too. Delia has kindly added this recipe to her website for all to follow if they would like. Below are a few pictures, tips and changes to the original recipe that I made…

I squeezed the oranges over a sieve to ensure no pips got through as I added the juice to the water. This made for an easy way to collect the pips and extra pith needed to add separately to the saucepan.

I had a few handy muslin bags designed for mulled wine spices in my cupboard so used one of these instead of a sheet of muslin and string.

I found the shredding of the oranges particularly tiresome and even ended up with a blister on my finger from all the chopping! I  kept looking over at my Magimix wondering if there was a shredding attachment but in my haste just kept chopping by hand. According to Delia the shreds are supposed to be ‘thinnish’. My shreds were rather misshapen – some thin, some thick, some chunks, some shreds and it worried me. Once boiled down you couldn’t really notice the different sizes though, so no need to worry about uniform shreds.

By now it was nearly dinner time, and the holiday packing still wasn’t complete. The fruit must be simmered for two hours or so, so I distracted the family while I waited for the shreds to soften… once done we could go out for dinner.

After the two hours of simmering it should be time to add the sugar. At this point I took a two-hour pub break and returned to the simmered fruit later, full of scampi and warm with wine. I added the sugar at this stage (around 300g of granulated sugar was replaced with icing sugar as I found myself short) and stirred. After 15 minutes of fast boiling it wasn’t crinkling on my chilled saucer so I continued to boil for a further 10 minutes, and then a further 5 to get to what seemed to be a ‘set’.

I carefully decanted into jars with a jug (annoyingly, the special silicone funnel I bought didn’t fit the jar openings).

Ta daaaaa… my lovely jars of marmalade, ready with minutes to spare before bed time.

I am writing this post after the holiday and must say that homemade marmalade on buttered toast, with tea, was the perfect welcome home after a very tiring, but fun, week away in the snow. If you haven’t made your own marmalade before, it is very rewarding and tastes so much better than the shop bought kind… just make sure you give yourself a good 4-5 hours or so to make it properly!

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Pigging out at The Pigs

Yesterday, my Dad treated my boyfriend and I to lunch at The Pigs in Edgefield, Norfolk. We all loved it and concluded that it could possibly be the perfect pub.  I love the cook book library out the back, being able to see into the kitchen (and when looking into the kitchen I could see them making their own bread) and mostly because you can bring in your home-grown/ caught/ shot produce and exchange it for beer and food credits! We had the full works – starting with ‘iffits’ (Norfolk tapas), hearty mains, warming desserts all washed down with local beer and ice-cold white wine.

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Great Haymarket Exhibitions Bake Off!

On Wednesday Haymarket Exhibitions paid tribute to the final of the Great British Bake Off by holding their very own Great Haymarket Exhibitions Bake Off!

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