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Review of Jamie Oliver’s Aubergine and mint and Tomato and Basil Bruschette from his cookbook Jamie’s Italy

Thumb rating:👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Skill level: Easy

Taste: Two types of Bruschette one aubergine with mint and the other tomato with basil.

Ingredients easy to get?  Yes all ingredients were bought from the local supermarket- ripe tomatoes would have improved the recipe.

Serves: 5-10 (depending on portion sizes).

Costs £4.63 for both Bruschette recipes.







My thoughts on the recipe…

This week’s recipe comes from Jamie’s Italy cook book. All of the ingredients were ordered from a local supermarket with no problems or substitutes.

A 400g French baguette was purchased to use as the base to put the bruschette’s mix on.

I have made bruschette in the past and find it a winner when dinning for others. Apart from a little prep it is a very easy starter to do when entertaining.

The tomatoes used in the tomato and basil bruschette recipe could have been riper making it easier to cut and get all of those important juices and flavours out. The French stick slices were put in a hot oven with a little olive oil until golden brown, this helps the toppings sit nicely on the bread.

Was the recipe easy to follow?

This was a very straight forward recipe to follow and very quick to do, with little prep needed.

Would you cook it again?

This dish was a winner when I was entertaining guests and could be made in advance as it is suitable hot or cold.

I cut the bread stick slices a bit too thick, so next time I would cut the bread into thinner slices and also add some more mint to the aubergines as I feel there was not quite enough flavour coming through.

What changes did you make?

As the tomatoes were not as ripe as I would have liked, I de-cored and chopped the whole tomatoes and added to the mix, even though I should have de-seeded and squeeze the tomatoes.

I do not own a griddle pan, so fried the aubergines in a normal pan with a little olive oil.

What the wife asked about the recipe…

What does a sprig mean?

A sprig is a noun and means a shoot, twig or small branch of herbs.

What is a griddle pan?

A griddle pan is a pan which is like a frying pan but has groves in it. This can be used to achieve a scorch mark when frying.

Can I use dried herbs instead?

You could but the true herb flavours would be weaker than fresh herbs.


In summary an easy recipe to follow with little effort. Very quick to make and is ideal for when entertaining.

Review of Phil Vickery’s christmas pudding from his cookbook Proof of the Pudding

Thumb rating:👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Skill level: Easy-Medium

Taste: Will be tasting it on Christmas Day!

Ingredients easy to get?  Yes all ingredients were bought from the local supermarket

Serves: 4

Costs £10.65  per pudding

My thoughts on the recipe…

This week’s recipe comes from Phil Vickery’s Proof of the Pudding cook book. All of the ingredients were ordered from a local supermarket with no problems or substitutes.

Most of the ingredients you would normally find in your cupboards or Larder (if you are lucky to have one!) for example flour, Demerara sugar and eggs- I remember my grandmothers Larder always had these ingredients in and she always told me that these ingredients  are a must have in the house at all times. Funny how times have changed and a lot of houses don’t come with a Larder or Pantry. Also most people have an “I can go to the shops as and when I need” attitude. In writing this I might just actually set up my own Larder, which will be a cupboard designated to have baking ingredients in it only! Anyways I have diverted…. Back to the review…… the more exotic ingredients were easy to pick up especially around this time of year with Christmas on the horizon and included whole nutmeg, mixed spice and dried fruit in abundance.

This is the first time that I have made a Christmas pudding from scratch, the main reason why I don’t make one every year is because of the amount of time it takes to cook. The preparation only takes thirty minutes at the most, which is not too bad, however this pudding


took 7 hours to cook! I must confess I absolutely loved making our own pudding from scratch because I got the whole family involved. Both my kids and my wife took turns in stirring the mix, which they loved.

When it comes to making the pudding make sure that you have a suitable pudding bowl to hand as this is what you will be cooking it in. we kept the bowl from last year’s Christmas pudding.

Also it might be good to make the pudding one day and cook it the next, which is what I did. After making the pudding I wrapped it up in cling film and put into the fridge overnight.

Was the recipe easy to follow?

This was a very straight forward recipe to follow in making the pudding. I got slightly confused on one point which was describing on how to make a pleat in the tin foil. I think I read this point a few times before proceeding.

When cooking it is ideal to be home for the full 7 hours as you have to top up the saucepan with boiling water every couple of hours due to the water evaporating.

Would you cook it again?

Even though it is time consuming on the cooking side, I would make it again. I think there is something special about making the Christmas pudding from scratch especially because all of the family helped to make it.

What changes did you make?

The only change I made to this recipe was the fact that it asked for equal quantities of currants, raisins and sultanas with candied mixed peel and I added the same amount of these ingredients from a bag which they all had already been pre-soaked, which saved a little time.

I also used two elastic bands instead of string to keep the tin foil cover in place on top of the pudding whilst it was cooking.

What the wife asked about the recipe…


I asked: What did it mean by pleats in the tin foil?

As I said earlier, I did not understand the point in where I had to create a pleat in the tin foil. I asked my wife and she told me that all it meant was to fold in a way that it creates an overlap on the tin foil. This is to make it easier to remove the cooked pudding from the boiling water.




In summary an easy recipe to follow and was enjoyable to get the kids involved. We will find out what it tastes like on Christmas day!!


Review of Gordon Ramsey’s Paella with Chicken and Chorizo from his cookbook World Kitchen

Thumb rating:👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Skill level: Medium

Taste: It has an authentic Spanish flavour. It may be too smokey for some.

Ingredients easy to get?  Yes. Just be careful to buy raw chorizo not cooked.

Serves 4-6

Costs £2-£3 per person

My thoughts on the recipe…

This weeks recipe comes from Gordon Ramsey’s World Kitchen cook book. All of the ingredients were ordered from a local supermarket.  Packet size from the supermarket and weight requirements from the recipe did not marry up, so another pack of chorizo was ordered to compensate the problem. This was great as my family love the Spanish sausage!

Altogether this meal cost me £15.54 to buy the ingredients that were not already in my cupboard, this included two large glasses of wine for me and the wife to drink🥂 with the meal.

I was excited to make the paella as it is from a world famous chef  and I love cooking Spanish cuisine, so a good choice to start the review page with.

When it came to creating this dish I thought to make life easier I would weigh all of the ingredients out beforehand and put them into different bowls. This saved time as when following the steps in the recipe, I was able to have the ingredients to hand ready for a particular part of creating the dish.

Was the recipe easy to follow?

All in all this was a reasonably straightforward dish. Just allow some extra time to prepare the ingredients beforehand, trust me this saves time and stops confusion between steps of the recipe. Also go easy on the saffron as this spice has a powerful, smoky flavour.

Would you cook it again?

I love Spanish cuisine and paella is one of my favourite dishes (biased I know), however my wife said she would not have it again in the near future. She was not too keen on the smoky flavours that came out in the dish, which comes from the saffron.  If I was to do this again for the family I would use less or no saffron as this was the flavour that she did not like.

What changes did you make?

I decided to use more chorizo than chicken due to the conflicting package  and weight requirements. I also had the wrong type of tomatoes. Instead of salad tomatoes I had cherry tomatoes, so instead of skinning and deseeding the tomatoes I cut them into quarters and added to the dish.

What the wife asked about the recipe…

What are Saffron Strands?

For those who do not know what saffron is or looks like (e.g. my wife) I shall explain. Saffron comes from a plant called Crocus Sativus also known as the saffron crocus plant. The stigmas from this plant are carefully removed and dried, which is safffron spice used. It originated from Greece however Iran now accounts for the majority of this spice on sale in our shops.

Image: Saffron, courtesy of @milansaffron

Can you even buy uncooked Chorizo? 

To begin with my wife didn’t know that you could buy uncooked chorizo, however after searching for uncooked chorizo Online she realised that you could. But before researching this she thought chorizo was always cooked.

What does Sauté actually mean?

Sauté : Adjective- fried quickly in a little hot fat e.g sautéed potatoes

The word Sauté is a French word which means “to jump” The French use this word because the food in the pan is constiantly jumping as it’s getting cooked in a little oil.


In summary the family enjoyed the meal but probably less Saffron next time! If you want to try it yourself use the link below…



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