October’s Products: It has been a very busy month in my kitchen. I think my postie hates me, as she lugs these parcels to my door, but I love sampling so many lovely products, trying out the latest gadgets and looking through beautiful cookbooks.
Here are my thoughts on the products that have been sent to me to try this month. Check out October’s Products.
Now this was a very welcome parcel! Hotel Chocolat kindly sent me their Patisserie Sleekster to try and it is amazing! I mean, yeah, I love chocolate, but this is seriously fantastic. Their artisan chocolatiers have turned classic cakes, bakes and puddings into chocolates that burst with well-loved flavours. You could look at the enclosed menu, but the best way to eat these is to do a blind taste test and try to guess the flavour – Rhubarb & Custard? Carrot Cake Tiramisu? Lemon Cheesecake?
Hotel Chocolat has high street chains, or you can buy online. The Patisserie Sleekster sells for £22.
Uzuma sent me this generous parcel of their cold-pressed raw vegetable juices. I’ve loved grabbing a juice each morning or during the day and feeling all veg-nourished without any effort of making my own.
They’ve packed in loads of veggies, but they taste really nice – even my little ones really liked them (particularly the carrot, apple and pineapple, as well as the beetroot, basil, celery and carrot). It sounds odd, but I love the broccoli one!
Uzuma have programmes that you can do for weight loss juice cleanses, detoxing and fitness. You can download their app to get juice reminders and helpful tips. Each bottle of Uzuma Zen has the nutritional content equivalent of eating over 1KG of vegetables and fruit – pretty astonishing since it’s only 70 calories.
They’ve made it easy for you to get all that veg goodness, without all the shopping for veg! They cold press the juice and send it to you partially frozen to retain the nutrients. The 21 days of juice come with guidance on doing the cleanse so you know when to drink each juice.
More information about Uzuma
Abel and Cole sent me their organic soup-making box. It was a lovely parcel of fresh veggies plus all of the storecupboard ingredients that I need to create three soups (for 2-3 people) using their enclosed recipe cards.
It was lovely to sit down to warming soups, of all very different flavours, throughout the week. All we needed was to make some bread to go with the soups and we had nourishing, flavourful meals to see us through these colder evenings.
Created by nutritionists, and made with fresh, organic vegetables, I found the soup box to be good value at £14.50. Each soup had loads left over, so we not only had three meals, but also three lunches. After making these soups I realised that I have been somewhat in a soup rut. I tend to make watercress soup, spinach or barley – but it’s nice to be pushed out of your comfort zone and experiment with other ingredients and flavours.
Isn’t this just the most gorgeous pour over coffee maker? I’ve been lusting after a Chemex for ages, after seeing them on American blogs, but hurrah, Chemex are now available in the UK!
The beautiful glass carafe has a polished wood collar and leather tie. The design is so elegant that it makes it a joy to use, plus the resulting coffee is so smooth.
This pour over coffee is super-simple. You just add the filter to the top, scoop in a tablespoon of coffee per cup then pour in a small amount of boiled water. Leave for 30 seconds to ‘bloom’, then slowly pour the rest of the water in in a circular motion. It drips through leaving a non-acidic, non-bitter lovely coffee. After use, the filter paper and coffee grounds are compostable. The sudden popularity of cartridge-fuelled coffee makers has resulted in mounds of waste, so it’s nice to see how popular pour-over coffee is becoming in the UK – without the need for electricity, extra plastic and those awful pods and cartridges.
The lovely Kavey of Kavey Eats has a wonderfully in-depth look at the Chemex coffee maker.
The Chemex retails for approxiately £43 and you can buy it in different sizes – 3cup – 10 cup (mine, above, is 6 cup)
Feel IT are a new company delivering unique Italian food from independent producer by post, in monthly boxes. They sent me a sample box that was stuffed with authentic Italian goodies. Each month will feature a different region and my box highlighted Vatellina in Northern Italy, between the Alps and Lake Como. It included blueberry jam and blueberry juice, which were both lovely with nice strong flavours. There was also apple juice (my kids adored it) as well as applesauce, plus honey and biscotti. The biscotti are lovely and crunchy and so nice with coffee. This box was €25.
Feel It are keen to support small producers that use traditional methods. These boxes are a lovely introduction to regional products from around Italy. They even include a note about the suppliers to give you some extra information. As Feel It say, they are nice boxes for yourself, as gifts or for clients.
Feel It have kindly offered my readers a promo code with 10% of discount, available until the 31st of December 2015. Just enter: feelit015vd
Little Pod made gorgous natural vanilla products and they kindly sent me a tube of vanilla paste and a box of vanilla shortbread.
Little Pod are based in East Devon and I like that they are committed to ensuring that everything they do, from pod picking to package recycling, is as sustainable, ethical and conscientious as possible. They also provide top quality vanilla products at great prices.
The smell upon opening the shortbread was intensely wonderful. No artificial, chemical vanilla scent, just pure natural sweet amazingness. The shortbread was so aromatic and delicious. I’ve also been using the vanilla paste. It’s a blend of pods, seeds and extracts and smells amazing. It’s been great added to baking, but also a little drop makes porridge amazing. It’s concentrated so you only need 1/3 the amount of vanilla extract. Little Pod donate 10% to community projects in the vanilla-growing region of Madagascar, so not only is this vanilla better for you, and the earth, but also farming communities.
On their site, they talk about how we’re at risk of losing vanilla, “We’re on a precipice where we could lose pure vanilla within a generation if we don’t act now” – Patricia Rain, Sustainability Expert dubbed ‘The Vanilla Queen’ by the vanilla farmers. I really had now idea that there were issues with vanilla crops being replaced by palm oil farming, and I’d be rather lost if it wasn’t constantly available in my kitchen. I use quite a bit of vanilla as I find that increasing the amount a recipe calls for usually means you can use less sugar. Find out more about the Campaign for Real Vanilla
Hello masha! I never knew that I needed such a thing, but wow – mashed potato will never be the same again! Seriously, this gadget whizzes mashed potato in seconds into a fluffy mass of loveliness. You don’t even need to add milk or butter – it is potato wonder in seconds on it’s own. You know when you whiz potatoes in a standard stick blender and they get all claggy, starchy and over-processed, well this does the opposite. It aerates them through the outer mesh while rapidly mashing so you get the fluffiest mash in the world, ever. Can you tell that we loved it? I have all sorts of ideas now for sweet potato mash, parsnip mash, squash mash…
Masha does more than potatoes though. You can also whip egg whites into super-quick meringue, whipped cream, and even cake or pancake batter. I tried it on yogurt and it gave the yogurt a lovely fluffy consistency. It basically turns everything into clouds.
The box also suggests that you can use it for dips like hummus or guacamole, and even crumble mix. I think this would be great for making baby purees as well.
Masha Potato and Vegetable Mashercosts £32.
I love these graze boxes. They’re portable, healthy and come in so many great flavours. It is really hard to choose a favourite, but I loved the herby bread basket crackers, while my kids went mad for the chocolate pretzel dippers.
I used to get the big graze boxes at work, but now they have these handy little ones that I’ve seen in loads of supermarkets. There are loads of flavours in the massive range, including sweet ones (like the amazing lemon flapjacks) as savoury (like Thai sweet chilli dippers) and they sell for £1.29 at most major supermarkets.
Charlie Binghams sent me vouchers to try some of their range of upmarket ready meals. Although they do veggie varieties, I sent my husband to get some and he came back with ones that I couldn’t eat. I think he got a little excited while making his choices in the chiller aisle at Waitrose. Seriously, men.
He did assure me that he really loved them and found them to have nice, natural-tasting flavours. The range is meant to taste home-made, but without all the fuss, and my husband did find them to taste like they were made from scratch.
The range is available form Waitrose, Sainsburys and Ocado and sells for £7 for a two-person portion.
Megalicious (now closed down) sent these milkshake vitamins for my kids to try. Designed for fussy eaters who may not be getting all of their required vitamins, they are naturally-flavoured strawberry or banana milkshakes that let kids get their full day’s requirements in one milkshake.
I am really lucky that my kids aren’t particularly fussy and at mealtimes if they don’t like what we’re eating then there are always raw veggies and hummus that they can tuck into instead, but yes, there are days when all they want it plain pasta.
The creators of the range launched their products after their children limited their food choices to just pasta, cucumber and olives. They found that existing meal replacements meant having three drinks a day and they often had added sugar and nasties. Since you only need to have one shake a day with this range, it still allows kids to get all of their nutrition, but still have room to eat other food.
The packs come with two flavours, strawberry and banana, as well as a frother to make them nice and bubbly. Then you just add a scoop to milk, froth it up and serve. My kids enjoyed them, particularly the strawberry. They loved frothing them up! The shakes have 17 vitamins and minerals and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The Tea Makers sent me this gorgeous set of tinned specialty teas and an in-cup tea brewer. These stunning items would make a great Christmas gift for loose-leaf tea lovers.
The Tea Makers gather their teas from celebrated international tea gardens as well as small independent artisan tea farmers who use ancient methods to produce their tea.
In these stunning black tins, they sent me Fijian Mao Feng – a green tea with downy, slightly twisted leaf buds. This makes the tea less ‘grassy’ tasting and I found it very drinkable in the day with deep but not too strong flavours.
Whole Rose Buds contained just that – dried rose buds. I’ve had rose petals in other foods, but never made tea out of them, so this is quite special. They say that this refreshing tea is meant to increase circulation and improve heart health. I found it to be beautifully fragrant and a real joy to drink. Brewing up the pretty pink buds feels so decadent.
My favourite of the selection with the Exotic Chai of Madagascar. I adore chai teas, but not the sickly syrupy ones. This natural tea is made with a luxurious blend of green honey bush leaves, dried orange chunks, cocoa and Indian spices from cinnamon to cardamom. This makes the most exquisitely aromatic cup of tea that tastes like a real treat. It is so lovely at this time of year.
The Magic tea infuser is indeed rather magic. It’s light (heat resistant plastic) and great for taking to work to enjoy really special loose-leaf tea without any fuss. Actually, you can make coffee in it as well and it makes 2-3 cups. Really easy to use, you just add the tea or coffee to the filter and pour in the water. When it’s brewed, just place it over a mug and let the tea pour in.
Williamson Tea sent me this pretty pink elephant tea caddy (that my three year old daughter swiftly took to keep her treasure in), as well as an enamel mug and cotton bag. I really like Williamson Teas and have a few on the go right now.
This was a lovely surprise gift from them and I’ve been using the lovely elephant bag to keep fresh bread in. Thanks Williamson. Their elephant tea caddy comes in different colours and tea flavours and sells for £9.99 at John Lewis (also available at other retailers).
More tea! Yogi Tea sent me this lovely early Christmas present loaded with festive teas and a mug. I’ve been drinking Yogi Teas for years as they have such stunning flavours – spices, natural flavours and herbs.
The Christmas tea contains ayurvedic herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, orange, vanilla, star anise and clove, while the Choco Mint has cocao shells, mint oils as well as vanilla, a hint of cardamom and black pepper.
I’m new to the world of date syrup, so I was delighted to get this thoughtful hamper from Beloved Dates. Their date syrup is a vegan alternative to honey and is great for baking, cooking and using as you would any liquid sweetener. It has a rich almost molasses flavour that is soooo good on pancakes and porridge. I often add dates to smoothies, so it has been lovely to try this date nectar instead. A banana, squirt of date nectar, a handful of oats and a cup of almond milk makes a gorgeous smoothie.
My kids scoffed the date bars almost before I could try one. Luckily I hid one for myself and it was lovely. Packed with seeds it was a lovely treat. They also send date-sweetened granola that we’ve been trying. It is very flavourful and full of oats, barley, spelt, seeds and nuts. Really nice.
This gorgeous book, Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook, is about more than just food, but is a beautiful look at proper Cornish life. Recipes are interspersed with stories from local foodies: a mocha and raspberry brownie recipe is followed by the story of a Penryn-based chocolatier; the story behind local coffee supplier Origin is followed by a list of the best coffee shops in Cornwall, and a recipe for fig and almond biscotti. Beach foraging, cocktails and fishing are all discussed with stunning photos and recipes range from Wild Bake’s Breakfast Pizza to Hogweed Smoked Rabbit Loin on Samphire Cakes with Wild Mustard Dressing.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Cornwall, since my husband spent his summers there and this book most definitely evokes memories of hot days on the white sandy beaches, long walks looking across the sea and rugged, blustery treks out to warm pub fireplaces. From the pictures to the words, I found this book to really show the passion locals have for Cornwall, the landscape and good food. I can practically smell the salty sea air.
This really is a cookbook that you want to read from cover to cover and would make a great Christmas gift. Buy Saltwater Kitchen Cookbook: Cornish Food Adventures from the Beach to the Table RRP £17.99, published by Muse Media.
I’m a vegetarian, but my husband isn’t. We don’t make separate meals, so he probably eats veggie 90% of the time. The Part Time Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes is full of flexible recipes to help with the transition to vegetarianism, as well as to compliment mixed veggie/non veggie families like mine.
The recipes are designed to be made with or without fish or meat added, or a complete meal themselves that non-veggies will enjoy as well. The standout recipes for me are pan-fried gnocchi with chimichurri sauce, chickpea dahl with spinach tarka and potato rosti cups with been and orange relish.
This book has international flavours and is quite inspiring. The recipes are flavourful without being overly-complex and the pictures are stunning. Taking inspiration from Japan and Mexico, to India and Italy, this book is packed with healthy, creative veggie recipes, with suggestions for non-veggies.
The Part-Time Vegetarian: Flexible Recipes to Go (Nearly) Meat-Free sells for £16 and is published by Nourish Books.
I first tried these concentrated liquid coffees from Press’d at Food Blogger Connect this year. I’ve not seen anything quite like it before, and they are made with pure Arabic concentrated coffee designed to be squeezed into a mug and topped up with hot water. Press’d say that they deliver a unique, smooth taste compared to instant coffees because a proprietary low temp brew method preserves the coffee bean’s flavour and aroma.
The resulting cup of coffee is very nice and flavourful; strong without being bitter. Press’d comes in Original Columbian, Caramel and Vanilla. The flavoured ones have no sugar or sweeteners, relying on natural flavours.
Press’d is available at Whole Foods and Ocado, with each variety (which makes 16 cups) selling for £2.99.
Kirsty’s Kids Kitchen sent a Lentil and Butternut Squash Pie with Sweet Potato Mash for my kids to try out. This range is free from dairy, wheat and gluten. My kids liked it and I liked it as well. It’s the sort of food we have at home, so it was nice to see a convenience range that is healthier and suitable those with allergies, while still targeted to kids. The meal was rammed with veg, including squash, sweet potato, red pepper, carrot, peas and tomato.
The Kids Kitchen range is available at Asda and sells for £1.50