Real Life: My recipes are ideal for a cold night

Staffordshire | | Published:

If, as they say, you are what you eat, then knowing where your food comes from is very important.

Jo gets cooking

Twenty years ago, the RSPCA set up Freedom Food, the only farm assurance scheme where members must meet animal welfare standards set by the association.

To celebrate the Freedom Food milestone, we've teamed up with Jo Brigdale – a Star foodie blogger mum-of-two from Halesowen – to create some wonderfully wholesome winter recipes.

As well as writing for Star Trusted Voices, Jo, 29, is one of Sainsbury's official Freedom Foodie bloggers. She champions the scheme for the supermarket, the biggest retailer of the marked food in the UK.

> See Jo's blog on Trusted Voices here

The great thing about Freedom Food is that you can be sure packaging bearing its logo have been inspected on the farm to the RSPCA's strict welfare standards.

The RSPCA welfare standards cover every aspect of the animal's life, including feed and water provision, their environment, how they're managed, health care, transport and humane slaughter.


Among other requirements the standards ensure the animals are given a nourishing diet and a comfortable and stimulating environment which meets their physical and behavioural needs.

Jo shows off her baking skills

Jo, who lives with husband Stuart and sons Thomas and Daniel, says: "I'm careful about the food I feed my family. For most families, it comes down to price, so I shop around for my ingredients."

Jo also has her own website featuring food reviews and recipes.


"I've been food blogging for a while and next year I'm planning on making it a full-time job."


Groaty Pudding (serves 4-6)

Groaty Pudding

Groaty Pudding is a traditional Black Country dish and is usually served on Bonfire Night. This recipe was kindly given to me by my nan. I have adapted it slightly with the addition of fresh rosemary and Worcestershire sauce as we do not live in as austere times as we used to. Groats (a type of oat) are quite hard to come by these days too so they have been substituted with pearl barley.


400g stewing steak, chopped into chunks

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

2/3 leeks, (depending on size) peeled and finely chopped

2/3 carrots, (depending on size) peeled and finely chopped

200g pearl barley

500ml beef stock

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons of cornflour and a dash of water, if required

2 stalks of fresh rosemary finely chopped


In a slow cooker, or in an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid, place all the ingredients except the fresh rosemary and give them a stir.

Put the slow cooker on high for six hours or low for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally. I left mine overnight and it was fine, or if cooking in the casserole pot, place in the oven for 6-8 hours at 160°C

Once cooked, check the consistency of the Groaty Pudding. It should be quite thick, not thin like a traditional stew. If it needs thickening, mix the cornflour with a splash of water and stir in. Allow to cook for a bit longer until desired consistency is reached.

Check the seasoning and add more if required. Finish with the fresh rosemary and then serve with big chunks of bread and a Black Country ale of your choice!

Easy Asian baked salmon served with rice (serves 2)

Easy Asian baked salmon served with rice

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be cooked in a number of ways and served with many different flavours. To be honest, the way I have cooked the salmon here is how I cook it normally, in tin foil with olive oil and butter. I have just added simple Asian flavourings, making it into an easy but impressive weeknight dinner or a perfect dinner party dish. You can adjust quantities and make this dish for lots of people easily too.


2 Sainsbury's RSPCA Freedom Food Approved salmon fillets

4 spring onions, ends removed, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass, cut in half

3 tablespoons clear runny honey

75ml soy sauce

1 teaspoon of cornflour

Small bunch of coriander, finely chopped to serve

Egg fried rice, cooked according to the packet instructions to serve


Line a small baking tray with two large sheets of tin foil. Make sure they overlap well so no sauce will escape in the cooking process.

Place the salmon fillets in the lined baking tray and top with the lemongrass. Sprinkle over the spring onion, garlic and ginger.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, soy sauce and cornflour together and pour over the salmon. Place another piece of tin foil over the top and place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15 -20 minutes (depending on thickness of the salmon fillets) until the salmon is just cooked through and the sauce has reduced.

Carefully place the salmon fillets on your serving plates along with the egg fried rice, and evenly distribute the sauce between the two plates. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Mini chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream (Makes 12 mini cakes)

Mini chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream

I love chocolate cakes and this is my perfect chocolate cupcake recipe with its party shoes on and all ready for its dinner party dessert debut. The chocolate ganache is easy to make and will jazz up any dessert from cakes to ice cream sundaes. If you have any leftover, you can leave it in the fridge for a day or so and let it harden, then roll it into small balls, coat with cocoa powder or icing sugar and make truffles. You can decorate any cakes you have leftover with glacé icing and sprinkles and give them to your children to enjoy.


(For the mini chocolate cakes)

125g unsalted butter, softened

125g caster sugar

2 large Sainsbury's RSPCA Freedom Food Approved Free Range eggs

100g self-raising flour

25g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of baking powder

(For the chocolate ganache)

350ml double cream

100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped finely

(To serve)

1 scoop of vanilla ice cream per portion

Raspberries and fresh leaves to garnish


Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a cupcake tray with cases.

In a food processor or in a mixing bowl with a handheld electric whisk, add in all the mini chocolate cake ingredients and whisk together until combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly amongst the twelve cupcake cases and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clear.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache. In a small saucepan, heat up the double cream until just below simmering point. Then take off the heat and add in the chopped chocolate. Stir them together until melted.

To serve, carefully remove a mini chocolate cake from its case, Place it on to a serving plate next to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top the cake with the chocolate ganache. Garnish with raspberries, mint leaves, and enjoy.

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