A short while ago, I was sent a Christmas hamper from hampergifts.co.uk. As I am pregnant I decided to try a non-alcoholic hamper called The Noël. We were very impressed by the speed of delivery (via courier) and how well packaged and presented the hamper was. Everything is held in place with cellophane and there is a large bow on top suggesting that there are lots of treats inside.
The hamper contained:
- Olives Et Al Chilli & Garlic Olives 150g
- Dark Chocolate Coated Marzipan Loaf 100g
- Cottage Delight Spicy Mango and Ginger Chutney 340g
- Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Co. Fresh Ground Breakfast Coffee 56g
- Large Christmas Fruit Cake 500g
- Milk Chocolate Coated Almonds 150g
- Alice McPherson's Petticoat Tails Shortbread 150g
- Olive and Sesame Savoury Breadsticks 100g
- Triple Chocolate Gourmet Cookies 100g
- The Wooden Spoon Cranberry and Orange Sauce 113g
- Walkers of London Milk Chocolate Fruit & Nut 240g
- Buchanan's Chocolate Russian Caramels 100g
- English Breakfast Tea x 10
Overall, we were very impressed with the hamper. There are lots of well known quality brands inside and the contents was very varied so there is something that everyone will like in it. The free teddy bear that came with the hamper is a nice touch especially for a younger member of the family. I have not sampled every product that came in the hamper yet but I can confirm the triple chocolate cookies, shortbread and Russian Caramels are divine! This would make an ideal present for a family who likes foodie things but who you are unsure what to get them.
Disclosure: I received a hamper to review. All views are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A little while ago, I was invited by Experience Days to try out one of their experiences in my local area. After much debate, I decided to do a chocolate truffle making workshop held in a hotel in Birmingham. The workshop lasted 2 1/2 hours and was led by Simon from Experience Chocolate. I have made truffles in the past but have never had 100% success with them so I was keen to learn some tricks of the trade.
We started by melting Belgian dark chocolate and mixing it with cold double cream. This instantly brought down the temperature of the chocolate and meant that a good truffle piping consistency was achieved almost instantly as opposed to way, I have made truffles before, where it is left in the fridge for hours to set. We then piped the mixture in long lines onto trays and then left them to set up a bit.
While the truffles set, Simon gave us a lesson in chocolate tempering so that the chocolate maintains its shine once set. Simon tempered a massive amount of chocolate on a cold slab using tools that you would normally find in your local hardware store. It was amazing to watch. I wish I had recorded it now!
After the truffles had set, we cut up our sausages of truffle mix and rolled them into balls ready for dipping into the tempered chocolate. Next up came the very messy stage where we had to dip them into the chocolate and various toppings. The toppings were caster sugar, icing sugar, cocoa and coconut.
Finally, once all our truffles were dipped and set, we put them into bags and tied them up with the ribbon. In total, I think I made about 40 truffles of various sizes. I had an amazing time at the truffle workshop and I would do something similar again with my friends. Many thanks to Simon and Experience Days for a wonderful time
Disclosure: Experience Days provided me with a chocolate truffle workshop experience free of charge in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Stuart and I are both cider drinkers so when I was to try new Press 81 cider from Aston Manor cider makers in Malvern, Worcester I jumped at the chance. My first impression was of how modern and interesting the bottles were. It is the first cider to ever be sold in an aluminium bottle and has cold activation technology in it which tells the drinker when is the perfect time to drink it. As cider is considered a traditional drink, I think the bottle design will go a long way into making it trendy and appealing to a younger generation of drinkers.
We tried both the apple and pear varieties and were very impressed with the flavour of both. The flavour was crisp and sharp. Stuart and I both agreed we could enjoy a few of these on a warm summer's day in a pub beer garden. I shall be seeking them out when I go out in the future and I recommend that you do too!
Disclosure: I was sent 4 bottles of Press 81 cider for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to review my shopping experience at my local Midlands Cooperative supermarket in Dibdale Road, Dudley, West Midlands. I planned an entire week of dishes purchased when we went shopping there. Now we have tried all the food, I am now ready to give you my verdict on our entire experience.
Shopping Experience: We arrived at the store at about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. The store car park was quiet and we were able to get a parent and child car parking space with ease. We went in and got a trolley and put Thomas in it. Unfortunately, we discovered that the trolleys did not have a lap strap to hold Thomas in so all the round the shop, he was able to move about quite easily. I did not think he would fall out but I was a bit on edge as he was moving about quite a bit.
The store was well laid out and despite not being as large as some other supermarkets in the wider area, it had a good selection of products which were all easy to find and logically laid out. I was impressed to find Iberico Chorizo and some Dorset Cereals porridge which I have been looking for a while. The baby area was small but had everything you needed. The fruit and vegetables had some empty areas but staff were refilling the shelves as we went round the store. When we got to the till to pay, there was only one person on. We did not have to queue for long but the people behind us did. (We had a trolley load!!) I think they should of brought someone else onto the till to assist the people behind us quicker.
Food Experience: For a week, we ate every dinner and some bits in between from the store (see meal plan) and I have to say, we were generally very impressed. We loved the Hot and Spicy chicken breasts and the tear & share garlic bread. All the meat and fish was of the highest quality. We were slightly disappointed by the steak and ale pie and the chilli con carne sauce as they were lacked in flavour and slightly bland. They both have the potential to be improved and I am sure with a few minor tweaks they would be amazing. The fajitas were from Discovery and were are on offer at the time of our visit. They were gorgeous and we will have them again in the future.
Overall Experience: We were very impressed with our overall experience. The store had a wide ranging selection of products, was well laid out and all the food sold there was of the highest quality. I wish we lived closer to this supermarket as I would probably go there quite a bit if I did not need to do a big shop but needed more than a corner shop range offered. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that they open one nearer to me soon!
Disclosure: I recieved a £10 gift voucher to put towards my shopping at the Cooperative. I have told them about the shopping trolley issue and they are looking into it. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review
I was recently contacted by Palmers and asked if I would like to try out one of their products. I have been trying to find a decent sauté pan for ages, so when I saw the Stellar 7000 Sauteuse Pan on their site I jumped at the chance.
I love my cast iron casserole pot but do find that it struggles with cooking things like paella and risotto as the high sides prevent the liquid evaporating off quickly enough. I was hoping the low sided sauté pan would stop this problem happening. The pan arrived very well packed with very clear care instructions. I took it out of the box and immediately loved the look and feel of it. It felt strong and the stainless steel looked stunning. I immediately put it work making two of may favourite dishes; Chicken, Chorizo and Seafood Paella (recipe to appear soon) and Chorizo, Red Wine and Pea Risotto. I was impressed with the speed it heated up and how non stick it was. I have had apparent non stick pans before but this is the first one I have seen to work properly. After use, I washed it quickly and then put it in the dishwasher. It came out perfectly clean and ready for its next use. I am very impressed with the pan and am already planning what I am going to cook in it next!
Many thanks to Liam for sending me the saute pan to review. It is much appreciated
This week, I have been lucky enough to receive a month’s worth of biscuits from Bakers Pantry. Bakers Pantry is a new monthly biscuit club where subscribers receive a month’s worth of biscuits from selected bakeries all around the country. This month they are sending out everything here.
I was very impressed with the courier delivery of my biscuits and how well packed they were. Nothing was broken. Included in the package is a map showing you where your biscuits had come from. I liked the look and taste of all the biscuits but my favourites were the fruit shortbread and the giant triple chocolate cookies. I have heard of some of the bakeries through buying the biscuits at farm shops etc. It was good to have them all at once and such a variety. £24 a month (delivery included) is a bit expensive in my opinion but if you or someone you know is biscuit crazy then it might make an unusual gift for them or yourself.
Bakers Pantry Competition
Bakers Pantry have a competition on their website offering 15 x 1 month subscriptions to their biscuit club so make sure you pay a visit here to enter.
You can find Bakers Pantry on Facebook and Twitter
Many thanks to Beth of Jam and Cream PR and Bakers Pantry for sending me the biscuits to review
The second in my series of video cookbook reviews is the Baby and Toddler Food Bible by Amanda Ursell. Its a really useful book and I highly recommend it.
I will be back with another couple of video cookbook reviews next week. I hope you are enjoying them.
Posted in Amanda Ursell, cookbook, pregnant, Review, Video Post
Tagged Amanda Ursell, cookbook, pregnancy, pregnant, Review, video, Video Post, Video Review
I have a confession to make. I have been a naughty blogger. I have been sent lots of fantastic things to review over the last few months and have not told you about them. I would like to apologise to all my readers and the PR’s that sent them to me and I ensure you that it won’t happen again. Here is a little round up of everything that I have received.
Mama Tea is a range of natural caffeine free herbal tea that are suitable during pregnancy and when you are nursing your baby. Mama Tea was founded by Anna Louise Simpson who found herbal tea during her first pregnancy but could not find teas that were good for the different stages of pregnancy. Mama Tea is available in five flavours:
Morning Mama (ginger and chamomile) – excellent for the early stages and to help treat morning sickness.
Glowing Mama (rooibos and elderflower) – can be used throughout pregnancy
Cool Mama (spearmint and chamomile) – can be used throughout pregnancy
Ready Mama (raspberry leaf and rose petal) – can only be used from 38 weeks pregnant as can start contractions and bring on labour.
New Mama (fennel and lemon balm) – only to be used once you have given birth
My favourites are Glowing Mama and Cool Mama. I have not been able to try Ready Mama or New Mama yet as I am not at that stage but I gave a selection of all the tea bags to a pregnant colleague who gave birth in August and she loved them all. We both agreed they were delicious and made a refreshing change to many other teas on the market.
Serious Pig Snacking Salami
I love charcuterie and am especially happy to hear about British versions of European classics. Serious Pig was set up in 2008 by George Rice who came up with his idea for a snacking salami while in a pub and being disappointed at the range of bar snacks. The salami’s are available in two flavours; Classic and Chilli and Paprika. They suitably sized to go in lunchboxes and are great as a snack throughout the day. They are made with fresh British free range pork I loved both flavours but liked the extra kick of the spicy one more. I recommend them for lunchboxes everywhere!
Birds Eye Rice Fusions
I am useless at cooking rice. I overcook it, under-cook it and do everything in between and it is still a disaster! Therefore I was very happy when microwaveable rice came onto the market. Birds Eye have recently launched rice fusions which are the one ones in the microwaveable rice section that can live in the freezer. They are available in the following flavours; Aromatic Pilau Rice with peas and spinach, Egg Fried Rice with peas, Country Mushroom Rice and Mediterranean Vegetable Rice. I enjoyed all the flavours especially the egg fried rice with peas and the Mediterranean vegetable rice. However I did find the rice to be quite soggy when I served it and did not think it was the same quality as some of its none freezer microwaveable rice rivals. The flavours were good and came through quite well. They were fresh tasting. It was just sogginess that let them down. I think I would keep a pack in my freezer for rice emergencies but I am not sure that they will replace the microwaveable rice that lives in my cupboard.
Ryvita Crackers for Cheese
Ryvita have recently branched out and have started making crackers for cheese. They are available in two flavours; Golden Rye and Black Pepper. I served both with a variety of cheeses including garlic and herb and cheddar. Cheese choices are slightly limited when pregnant! I enjoyed both flavours but my favourite was the black pepper crackers as they gave an extra bite and more excitement for the tastebuds when eaten with the cheese. I think the Golden Rye would make an excellent cheesecake base and is something I intend to try in the future. The black peppers can be slightly overpowering if you eat lots so make sure you eat a few of the golden rye as well otherwise you can have black pepper overload!
Thank you to everyone for sending me these products to review and apologies again for the delay in getting them on the blog.
Posted in Birds Eye Rice Fusions, Mama Tea, Product Review, Review, Ryvita Crackers for Cheese, Serious Pig, Thank you
Tagged Birds Eye Rice Fusions, Mama Tea, Product Review, Review, Ryvita Crackers for Cheese, Serious Pig, Thank you
A little while ago, I reviewed a fantastic Easter egg from Hotel Chocolat. Well this time, I have been lucky enough to be sent to review The Sleekster Everything Collection from their new summer range. Hotel Chocolat have a wide range of Sleeksters designed to suit everyone’s tastes. They are designed so that they can be posted and put through letterboxes with ease, making them the ideal gift for a loved one who lives a bit further away.They can be delivered the next day or on a day of your choosing, so you know they will always get there perfect.
The Everything Collection does pretty much what it says on the box and includes something that will suit everyone’s tastes so is ideal for sharing. I shared my box with the girls at work and we all loved the chocolates. Our favourites included, Brownie, Butterscotch ganache and Milk Liquid Caramel. The selection also included a few praline chocolates which we tasty but slightly overpowering for some of our tastes. There are two of each chocolate types in the box and 14 types of chocolate in all, which is reasonably good value of money as the box costs £20. It may be slightly too expensive as an every day box of chocolates but for a special occasion, I believe it is well worth the money. I am hoping that Stuart will buy me another box soon *Hint Hint!*
Many thanks to Hotel Chocolat and Beth at Jam and Cream PR for sending me the chocolates to review. It is much appreciated.
Do you like cupcakes? Yes, then don’t forget to enter my competition to win a cupcakes class with Cupcakes By Chrissie. All info here :-)
I love finding unusual cookbooks so when I was asked to review ‘On A Stick’ by Matt Armendariz, I jumped at the chance. Matt is a fellow blogger with a blog called ‘Matt Bites’, which was featured in The Times 50 Best Food Blogs. He is a food photographer/stylist and has even appeared with Martha Stewart on her daytime show in America.
On A Stick contains 80 easy and elegant recipes that are suitable for parties. The catch is that everything is served on a stick or a skewer. The book includes party favourites such as scotch eggs and caramel apples, along with more unusual things to find on a stick including spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate covered cheesecake. The book is very American orientated but once you get past this, there lots of simple and easy recipes that you can make at home.
As ever, whenever I receive a cookbook to review, I like to cook a recipe from it. This time I decided to make Cake Pops. The recipe in the book originally calls for a Devil’s Food Cake and cream cheese frosting, but I decided to make my life easier and used shop brought Madeira cake. I do not like cream cheese frosting so I used buttercream instead. To make the cake pops, you break the cake into a bowl, add in the buttercream, mix well and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. You then roll them into small balls, put a lollipop stick (or a cocktail stick, in my case) and dip them in chocolate. I did not leave my cake pops to set for long enough so some of them fell apart before they even went into the chocolate. Once they were dipped and left to set in the fridge, they were fine. I took them to work and some people loved them, others did not. They thought they were too sweet and overpowering. I think the recipe essentially works but there is a fine line between getting the right amount of buttercream to make the cake stick together and not getting too much and making them too sweet.
Overall, I am very impressed with On A Stick. I cannot wait to have a BBQ or party during the summer to try some more of recipes out
Many thanks to Matt from Quirk Books for sending me the book to review. It is much appreciated
Posted in Blogger, cookbook, Matt Armendariz, On A Stick, Review
Tagged Cake Pops, cookbook, cookbooks review, Matt Armendariz, On A Stick, Review, Thank you