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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The Italian Butcher – Cooking at La Cucina Caldesi

Back in August I visited La Cucina Caldesi to try Giancarlo Caldesi’s Italian Butcher Cookery Course. I was promised meat, meat and more meat and it sounded great! I hadn’t ever been to a cookery lesson or course before, so I was really excited and unsure what to expect from the day.

I arrived early at their Marylebone cookery school, and was greeted with coffee and biscotti by the very friendly, and very Italian, cookery assistants. Giancarlo then appeared, unfortunately with a limp after falling from a ladder, with a cheeky smile on his face despite his obvious discomfort. He is one of the most enthusiastic, charming and funny men I have ever met and it was a pleasure to watch him teach and share his passion for food.

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Spoilt Rotten

I’ve been spoilt rotten so far, and it’s not even my birthday yet! I turn 30 this Sunday which is rather scary. I’m sure I must have lost a couple of years somewhere…

My first surprise was this beautiful birthday cake made by the lovely Laura at The Dessert Deli. It was chocolate, Cointreau and raspberry and was absolutely delicious.

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Producer Highlights – BBC Good Food at Westfield

We had a lovely selection of producers at  BBC Good Food at Westfield London – visitors could choose from cheese, chocolate, fine wine, curry sauce, apple crisps, rapeseed oil, sausages, cakes, chutney, olives… I could go on. Instead I will take you on a brief tour of the producers in pictures!

The stands – ready and waiting for the shopping centre to open.

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BBC Good Food at Westfield – Backstage and After Hours

Over the weekend we took The BBC Good Food Show on tour to the luxurious Westfield London Shopping centre – bringing a selection of our favourite producers, the very best talent and a little taster of the magic we create with our shows. This post will take you back stage to see what goes on behind the scenes and give you a glimpse of the goings on in the green room!

First we will start with the stage – we were really proud and James Knight Pacheco was a brilliant host over the weekend!

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Pop up BBC Good Food Show at Westfield London!

Over the last couple of weeks the team have been busy getting things ready for our first ever pop up event at Westfield London. We have brought together some of the very best MasterChef and BBC Good Food Show talent for our Cookery Theatre and have gathered a selection of the most popular producers and retailers too. Continue reading

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Easter Treats

Easter is a great opportunity to eat, drink and be merry – I have been back in North Norfolk (West Runton to be precise) staying with my sister and have certainly made the most of it this year. So, while I sip on a cup of tea and nibble on the ear of my chocolate bunny, I will recount some of the highlights…

My sister had been warned by her local council that she needed to clear her allotment and start using it, which is fair enough due to there being such a high demand for allotments these days. She has been focusing on fitting her new kitchen, so the allotment has taken a back seat over the past year. So Good Friday was spent turning her allotment from this:

To this wonderful, tidy allotment ready for planting fruit and vegetables for the year ahead:

Its a lovely place to be, with the sun so warm and view out over the North Sea. Obviously there were a few hot cross buns here and there and scampi and chips as a treat for lunch over in our local pub garden. I love the feeling of being really hungry after exhausting work – the food always seems to taste better too.

On Saturday my boyfriend and brother and law went fly fishing for trout. The lake was nearby to a lovely farm shop (Groveland) so I picked up some lovely meat from their butchery for a BBQ and spent a small fortune on bits and pieces from the farm shop too. The catch of the day was a 2.5 lb rainbow trout, which we put on the BBQ stuffed with lemon and onions.

While waiting for the boys to return my sister and I had some wonderful Norfolk asparagus, bought fresh from the farm shop, which we dry fried, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped into melted butter.

I rewarded the boys with some aptly named ‘Sunshiny Beer’ from the Norfolk Square Brewery, which was refreshing after their long day in the sun. I don’t like beer so much, so didn’t try it, but my boyfriend thought it tasted very malty, sweet with a slight hint of honey.

On Easter Sunday we invited over my Grandparents for a roast which we had planned to eat outside in the sun. Unfortunately the cruel North Sea decided to cast its cold foggy shadow over West Runton so we were forced inside, but it was lovely all the same. We had a huge roast chicken that my sister had bought recently at the Aylsham farmers market, with fresh vegetables, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and some seriously good gravy.

I was on dessert duty and had been inspired by Raymond Blanc and his kitchen secrets to make meringues, so I made a huge Pavlova, some lime and lemon curd with the leftover yolks, whipped up some cream and then topped it with fresh raspberries. I must say it did impress and really tasted delicious.

The research and preparations…

I adapted a lemon curd recipe from an american website, as it was the first I saw that used the yolks of the eggs only. I had a mixture of lemons and limes so replaced some of the lemon zest and juice with limes. It was easy to make and really tart and creamy.

I used Raymond Blanc’s recipe for the Pavlova, which I think worked really well.

I whipped up some double cream and filled the hollow I had created in the centre of the meringue, crisscrossed the lemon and lime curd across the top (this could look neater if done using a piping bag) and then placed a raspberry onto each of the crosses. I was really pleased with the finished the result, and think it makes an easy (especially if you buy the meringue and curd!) and impressive summery dessert.

This last bit didn’t last too long!

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Mastermind?

Every few months our company organises a get together to find out how the rest of the Haymarket group are doing and have a bit of fun. So on Tuesday the Fashion, Farming, Motorsport and Food teams were put up against each other in a Mastermind style challenge complete with the ominous music, tough questions and even a scarily similar chair!

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