Saturday, 29 September 2012

Jamie's Italian (Norwich) - Mummy and Oliver Lunch Out

Horrible grainy photos - take from a mobile I'm afraid.

Oliver had been very poorly with a nasty chest infection. The doctor gave him penicillin and he had to have Calpol and Ibuprofen too for the high fevers plus antihistamine for the rash reactions. Poor kid - medicine three times a day, and normally 4 spoonfuls at a time.

We had loads of tears... "But it's really yucky Mummy"..... In the end, he'd be very brave and take it all. I promised him when he was better, we'd go to the toy shop in the city for a couple of little cars.

As it happens, when we were coming out of the toy shop, staff were starting to put menus out on the tables at the new Jamie Oliver's Italian in Norwich. It's in the arcade - only a few steps from the toy shop. I stopped to ask when they were opening and if there were any available tables. Honestly - I really didn't think we'd ever get a table !

Our luck was in - and we were told we could come back in 20minutes....

We were seated in the upstairs area (opposite the kitchens) very quickly. This table in front of us was filled up just a few minutes after.

Oliver sat and played nicely with his new little cars. That red thing that you see on the seat behind him is the children's menu. It's a 3d viewer thing. You pull the lever and it shows them photos of what they can choose to eat. 

Oliver chose fish fingers with cheesy polenta bites. It was served with a jar of salad chopped into tiny pieces (for him to shake) and some organic cordial. I ordered us some bread to share and a small prawn, fennel and something or other linguine. I also made them aware that we didn't want to hang around - as we were due at the theatre in a snitch over 1 hour. For £5.95 for a kids meal and about £10.00 for mine - that was pretty good value. The final bill including bread and a soda with lime was about £23.00.

The bread selection was lovely - all baked daily on site. There was a selection of white and possibly spelt sourdoughs, some flat garlicky crisp-bread stuff, breadsticks amongst others. More than we could manage between us !

Oliver's meal came on a lovely wooden board (I'm afraid I'd chopped it up for him before taking photos crossed my mind !). My linguine was the best pasta I've ever eaten and full of quite complex flavours. Yum. Oliver is keen to go back for spaghetti !

I must admit, seating and service was very prompt and efficient. We WERE in and out in an hour (just) which was pretty astonishing as the restaurant got very busy. They are very child friendly - and despite the fact there were a good number of children, all were well behaved.

Anyway, I had to nudge Oliver along and get him to pack up his cars in a hurry so we could get to the Playhouse on time to see Hairy McClary (of Donaldson's Dairy !)

It was only afterwards when we got home that I cringed when I realised Oliver had packed up the kids menu with his cars ! He had thought it was a free toy like he gets in Mc Donalds... Oh - the embarrassment.. I bet they lose a few more in the same way. Anyway, I did the honourable thing and posted it back to the restaurant the following day. Least I won't feel guilty next time we visit..

Home Made Chicken Nuggets - Oliver's Favourite !

Some of you may know that I originally started this blog as an online diary / photo album for far away friends and family. For this reason, I make absolutely no apologies for the fact that many of the posts are full of stories and photos of my little boy Oliver - he's basically what started it all.

The last two years, my mum has made us a hard back recipe book of this blog. It's fantastic as it's an album of family recipes and memories. I've got it on ebook version on my iphone and ipad too !

Anyway ....

My dear little Oliver. This recipe is just for you. My gran (Nanny Johnsons mummy) used to make the most wonderful fish and chips. As children, Uncle Simon and I used to get so excited when she made her battered fish for us as a treat.

This is the basic batter recipe I make for your favourite homemade chicken nuggets. Despite not even being quite 4 yo, you helped chop up those potatoes with a great big knife for the wedges. Mummy had to watch your didn't chop off her fingers !

Funnily enough, one of tonight's chicken nuggets looked very much like a tiny oven-ready chicken !

There isn't much too this recipe and no weights etc. I just make it up in volume to suit what I need. You could use this batter for fish too. You are growing up so fast already ! One day you'll be a big boy and off to college / uni or having left home and want to make these yourself.....

About a cup of plain flour
some very cold, sparkling water
pinch of Maldon sea salt
1/4 tsp or so of tumeric
a pinch of garlic granules

Sometimes I add a few chopped fresh herbs. I also add a good sprinkling of cayenne pepper or chilli powder to the batter for daddy and I after I've made yours. The tumeric isn't spicy - 

Add some of the cold, sparking water to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps. It wants to be a little more liquid than a dropping consistency cake mix.

Slice your chicken breasts - each into about 8 pieces. Dip in the batter and then fry in hot sunflower oil for about 5 mins until golden and crispy. If you have a digital thermometer, I normally make sure the oil is about 135 deg C + before I drop them in.


For the wedges, simply chop the unpeeled potatoes into wedges and pop into a self seal / ziploc type bag. Add some seasoning (cajun spices, garlic granules etc are good too) and a drizzle of olive oil. Close the bag and give it a good shake. Tip on to a baking tray - and bake at about 210deg C until golden and crispy - about 25 mins.

All my love, Mummy xx

Bailey's Irish Cream Marshmallows - Luxurious Hot Chocolate Topping

This is a delightfully indulgent and sinfully good ADULT treat. These Irish Cream Liqueur marshmallows are pillowy soft and would make a lovely inclusion to any Christmas gift hamper. Serve on top of hot chocolate with whipped cream and relax in front of a roaring log fire.

Alternatively, pop three or four on a stick, coat in chocolate and roll in chopped nuts.

These are truly delicious. However due to the alcohol and fat content in the cream liqueur, these marshmallows get a slightly gritty texture after a couple of days so are best eaten fresh. However, they'll keep a good couple of weeks in an air tight container for putting on top of hot chocolate and the texture isn't an issue when they're melted !

This recipe is adapted from River Cottage

500g sugar
250mls water

2 sachets (about 24g) of gelatine granules - I used Dr Oeteker
125ml Bailey's Irish Cream Liqueur

2 egg whites - room temperature

Put the sugar and water in a large heavy based pan.

Put the Bailey's in a small bowl, sprinkle on the gelatine granules (you may want to stir) and leave to bloom for about 10 minutes.

Bring the sugar and water to the boil. Do NOT stir. Boil for about 5 mins until the sugar temperature reaches 122 deg C. You will need a little digital probe thermometer and these can be purchased for under £5.00 including postage on Ebay.

When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 110deg C, whip the egg whites to stiff peak.

When the sugar syrup gets to 122deg C , remove from the heat. Allow to sit for a minute or so and then stir in the Baileys / gelatine mix.

Whilst beating the egg whites, slowly pour in the sugar syrup mix - avoiding it directly touching the beaters. You can use a hand held mixer for this.

When thickened (but pourable) - pour into a lightly oiled Swiss Tray Bake silicone bakeware mould. Allow to set for at least 3 hours until firm.

Cut into squares and then roll in a 50 : 50 mix of powdered sugar and cornflour - or into cocoa powder.

Sarah-Jane Nash - September 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Maple and Walnut Fudge - It's Quick and Easy !

I've blogged my fudge recipe a few times before - it's quick, easy and very versatile. Just change a few small things and you can create any flavour you wish. I promise - this is far nicer than shop bought fudge.

It keeps a fair amount of time too - 2 > 3 weeks in a tupperware box in the fridge. I've never tried not refrigerating it - so no idea if it will survive non refrigerated for more than a few days.

The main thing is : DON'T FORGET TO STIR ! You do need to stir this stuff constantly or it will burn on the bottom of the pan in the blink of an eye.... 


2 cups (250ml liquid volume) of sugar
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
125g salted butter (or unsalted plus a pinch of salt)
1/4 cup of maple syrup 
100g of marshmallows
125g white chocolate (chopped)
1/2 cup of chopped "add-ins" (in this case walnuts) - plus extra for the top

Put the sugar, evaporated milk, maple syrup, butter and marshmallows in a large heavy based pan. Do make sure it is a large pan - and preferably non stick - as this stuff can and will bubble volcanically ! There is nothing worse than getting hot sugar on your skin - it can inflict some rather serious burns.

Bring slowly to a rolling boil. As soon as a gentle rolling boil is achieved, time for 5 minutes.

Stir constantly - there will be some carmelized brown bits come to the surface. This will not appear in the finished product. If you stop stirring, it will catch and burn however.

As soon as the 5 minutes of boiling is up, stir in the chocolate and add ins until the chocolate is melted.

Immediately pour into a 9" square silicone bakeware pan or alternatively a 12 sponge finger mould as I used in the video and put some extra walnuts on top.

Leave to cool before slicing.

For other variations, try milk or dark chocolate, 3/4 cup of evaporated milk plus some vanilla, rosewater or other flavour extract. For alcoholic versions - use 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and 1/4 cup of alcohol (ie Bailey's, Malibu, Whisky, Cointreau, etc). For add-ins..... pretty much any dried fruit and nuts work, broken cookies, candy / sweets such as maltesers, m&m's etc.

Have fun creating and let me know what combinations you make !

Sarah-Jane Nash, - September 2012

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hearty Ham Soup - and a Hot Air Balloon !

I'd just made soup for tea, when I looked out the window yesterday evening and saw a hot air balloon out the window. 

We do see a lot of them round here at this time of year - but this balloon was VERY low and coming into land just a couple of fields away from our house. I yelled at Oliver to hurry and grab his shoes and  30 seconds later, we leapt into the car to go and find out exactly where it was coming down.

"We're going to be too late Mummy!" Oliver cried from the front passengers seat. 

Thankfully, luck was on our side and the balloon was just touching down as we got out the car.

We waited as they clambered out of the basket...... 

Then we watched them pull the canopy to the ground !

They all had to get on the end of the rope. Lots of pulling involved.

It's pretty spectacular stuff to see a great big hot air balloon coming down.

Finally, it came to the ground - but still took quite a long time to deflate.

After that, it was all packed on to a trailer and at that - we went back home for tea !

Anyway - here is the soup recipe for you.

I make it in my electric pressure cooker which has a 6 litre capacity and cook for 1 hour at pressure.

250g red lentils
1 large smoked ham hock
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 bay leaves
4 medium dried chillies
1 tsp ground ginger
2 sticks celery, stringy bits removed then diced.

Basically, shove the whole lot in the pressure cooker, then top up to the 6litre mark with water.

Bring to pressure and then cook for 1 hour. Once releasing pressure, skin the hock and remove the meat, adding the meat only back to the soup.

That's it ! couldn't be simpler...