Saturday, 15 July 2017

O'Neill's Sound of Summer Competition

O'Neill's, the popular Irish pub chain is launching their Sound Of Summer Competition to find the next big thing in music. 

If you love discovering new acts, hidden talent and listening to live music, O’Neill’s Sound of Summer is your chance to do just that. This is a fantastic nationwide battle of the bands, coming to a venue near you. One band will win a fabulous prize package including £6k, a slot in the Jaegerhaus at a UK leading festival, as well as enough studio time to record their first big hit. 

They could be following in the footsteps of a number of other superstars who have performed at various O’Neill’s venues throughout the UK and you could be there to witness this brand new talent emerge. 

Huge names such as the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart have performed at the Wardour Street venue. What’s more, it was the backdrop to David Bowie’s MTV video ‘Blue Jeans’, as well as the recording location of Georgie Fame’s the Night train. 

Catch O’Neill’s Sound of Summer competition at venues nationwide until 16th July and regional semi finals in Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Reading and London between 20th July and 10th August. The Birmingham event is Thursday 27th July and I may pop in to see the local talent

The grand final will be taking place at Wardour Street on 24th August. x 

In collaboration with O'Neill's.


Friday, 14 July 2017

June 2017 Monthly Eatings

June was another bumper moved, where I travelled around the West Midlands, London and  I also visited Wales, sampling a diverse range of dishes.  From pub grub, Thai food and Korean delights, this was a foodalicious month.  

The Oddfellows Wolverhampton

Siamais - Birmingham

Shire Horse Stafford

Beefeater - Wolverhampton, Moseley Park

Carluccios - full review is here

The Sloop Inn, Porthgain

London - Street Food near Tower Bridge

Thai Red Square

I paid for all bar one of the meals myself :-)

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Review of Carluccio's Summer Menu Solihull

Carluccio's restaurant is the brainchild of the much loved Italian food chef, Antonio Carluccio. Better known as one half of the Two Greedy Italians, he also owns a number of Italian restaurants which are in many cities throughout the country. One of the latest addition to the Carluccio's restaurant family is a recent opening in Solihull, West Midlands. Perfectly located on Solihull high street, the restaurant offers a modern and sophisticated dining experience, with outdoor seating which is perfect for al fresco dining. What I really liked about this restaurant, is that there is an in-house shop selling a range of Italian delights. There is also an open plan kitchen where you can see chefs prepare your meals alongside a delicatessen whereby you can purchase olives, cure meats and even a slice of cake.

I attended with my cousin and our waitress was very friendly and attentive. We started with non-alcoholic cocktails, as we were driving with a fruity minty summer drink.

For our starters, I wanted to challenge myself and order something I would not normally try. I ordered the Prawns Marinara  (£6.75)- marinated prawns sautéed with white wine, baby plum tomatoes, chilli and fennel seeds in a tomato & basil sauce. This was served with grilled ciabatta. I found the prawns to be seasoned well, the tomato sauce was thick which was perfect for dunking the ciabatta bread in.

My cousin ordered the Crab Macaroni (£6.95) , white crab meat in a rich cheese sauce topped with garlic breadcrumbs. I sampled a portion of the crab macaroni, I found the the starter to be very hearty and rich.

For the main courses I chose the Lamb Alla Griglia (£15.95) - marinated tender lamb chops chargrilled and drizzled with mint pesto, served with couscous and mixed leaves. I normally order a pasta dish or chicken dish at Italian restaurants but as the Lamb Alla Griglia is a new dish on the Summer menu, I thought I would give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that I received 3 lamb chops - they weren't too big, they were the perfect size and slathered with mint pesto.

My cousin was going for another pasta dish for her main and ordered the Festoni with Smoked Salmon & Vodka £12.50 - pasta tossed in tomato, vodka and cream sauce finished with smoked salmon and basic. My cousin described the festoon with smoked salmon to be very generous in it's portion size, well seasoned and had enough smoked salmon pieces. My cousin shared that she couldn't really taste the vodka in the pasta. 

My cousin and I ordered a side dish each: Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Potatoes £3.50 and  Garlic Foccacia £3.95, both were superb.

The dessert menu had my taste buds jumping for joy, I was really spoilt for choice with the range of Italian delights which included: Panna Cota and Affogtoa. I chose the Italian classic Tiramisu £5.75 and Chocolate & Rum Fudge Cake £5.50. The Tiramisu was strong, but good; strongly flavoured with coffee liqueur, chocolate and biscuits. I would go so far to say, the tiramisu was my favourite course of the meal (I have a sweet tooth so I am slightly biased). I also was able to taste the Chocolate Rum Fudge Cake  £5.50 which I can describe as heaven on a plate: rich, gooey and chocolicious.

Our lovely waiter offered us a shot of limoncello. but we had to decline due to us driving back.
I think the new Summer menu is a great way of trying authentic, fresh Italian dishes and would recommend a visit to Carluccio's to sample these delights.

Many thanks to Carluccios for inviting me to review their new Summer menu.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Jam Makers Garden Recipe, Review and Giveaway.

I am quite the avid jam, chutney and preserve maker. I love nothing more than buying ridiculously cheap fruits and vegetables from my local food market and turning them into wonderful preserves, to be eaten when the colder months set in. What I've never really considered to do is, as this preserve book, The Jam Makers Garden suggests, to grow my own seasonal fruit and vegetables and then turn them into a preserve. This idea, has two advantages for me; firstly, I love the idea of using seasonal fruits and vegetables that are not available all year round, turning them into a preserve which can be eaten in the dark depths of winner. Secondly, the idea of growing my own vegetables is sustainable and quite easy to do as long as you have the time.

The Jam Makers Garden, by Holly Farrell is on sale for £15:58 on Amazon which is a little pricey for a preserve book,  however I've also seen this book for slightly cheaper on other book websites.  

This preserve book is good for the experienced and amateur preserver. There are enough interesting flavour combinations to satisfy the more confident and equally there are easy to follow recipes for new beginners. If you are quite limited with knowledge about growing your own fruit and vegetables (this includes me as I only grow herbs in my back garden), there is a handy 14 page guidance to this art. There is another section on ensuring you make the best jams, such as sterilisation and how to ensure your jam is set.

There are a small number of accompanying photographs for the recipes, alongside photographs of the diverse range of fruit and vegetables used in the recipes. The chapters are split into three sections:
  • From the fruit garden: Spring and Summer and Late Summer and Autumn. 
  • From the veg garden: Spring and Summer and Late Summer and Autumn. 
  • From the herb garden.
There are a number of tantalising recipes that I want to try from all sections. From the fruit garden Spring and Summer, the recipes that I would like to make include: Blueberry Conserve, Bramble Jam. and Pear Caramel. From the veg garden section, I would love to make Beetroot Chutney, Carrot Jam, Sweetcorn Relish and Pumpkin Jam.  From the herb garden section, I would like to make the Herb and Flower Syrups.

So far, I've made the Pickled Rhubarb, I was slightly sceptical and worried about my teeth sampling raw beetroot. I should not of worried, this was crunchy and sweet.

Recipe for Pickled Rhubarb
Makes about 300g/10oz
300g rhubarb, preferably forced
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
3 juniper berries
3 tsp coriander seeds
90ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
45g caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt

Cut the rhubarb stems into uniform pieces 2cm/ 3/4 in long.
Pack the stems on end into a sterilised jar and add the peppercorns, juniper berries and coriander seeds.
Put the vinegar, water, sugar and salt into a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Once they are dissolved and the liquid is boiling, pout it into the jar so that the rhubarb is completely submerged (tap the base of the jar gently on the work surface to dislodge any air bubbles) but there is still a clear 1cm 1/2 inch gap between the liquid and rim.
Seal immediately, and leave to mature for 2 days before eating. 

The lovely people at Frances Lincoln is giving one lucky reader a copy of The Jam Makers Garden.  To be in with a chance of winning this book, please follow the instructions below:

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the right side of the website using Google Friend Connector) this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entires like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus 
  • All entries will be checked and verified. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 5.7.17 - 6.8.17
  • Winners will need to respond within 5 working days of being contacted. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over. 
  • Frances Lincoln will post a copy of the book. 
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks for sending out a copy of The Jam Makers Gardner. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Kenwood KMX754H - Wholemeal Loaf with Cheese, Chilli and Sunflower Seeds

I love eating bread, but not making bread. You see, bread is something that you need a lot of patience and to have some good kneading skills. I would say I’m an ok bread maker, however I’m much more at the beginner level than advance but always welcome a new opportunity to try a new method for baking bread. One thing I love about my new Kmix stand mixer is that it has a wonderful dough attachment which makes the task of kneading bread so simple and easy.
I decided on making a relatively simple loaf bread with seeds and cheese to test out whether my Kmix could knead smooth, elastic dough, resulting in a delicious loaf.

You will need a 2lb loaf tin
450g wholemeal flour
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
½ tsp granulated sugar
340ml lukewarm water
75g extra mature cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried chili flakes
50g sunflower seeds
oil for oiling the loaf tin.

Add the dry ingredients to the K Mixer first, 400g of the flour, yeast, salt and granulated sugar. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients on setting 1 for 30 seconds. Slowly trickle the lukewarm water into the mixing bowl, continue to mix on setting 1 – pouring all the water at once may lead to the mixture becoming too wet to form a dough. Once the water has been added leave the dough to form, this will take between 4 -5 minutes on setting 1.  When the dough is almost formed but also sticky, add the remaining 50g of flour. Mix for a further 2 minutes, be careful not to over mix as over mixing the dough will fall apart. Once the dough has formed, remove the dough and place in a large mixing bowl, cover with oiled cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour.

When the dough has risen, knock back the bread Add the 50g cheese, dried chili flakes and 30g of the sunflower seeds to the dough, knead well to form a dough ball and then leave the dough to rise for a second time, for around 30 minutes. After the second rise, oil the loaf tin, knock back the dough and mould the dough into a sausage shape. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining 25g extra mature cheddar cheese and 20g sunflower seeds. Bake on the top shelf for 30 – 35 minutes and the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the tip and tapped underneath.


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