I’m pleased to bring you April’s Food News where I review new products and ones which are just new to me and probably you.
I was recently sent a box of spices and baking ingredients from Steenbergs Organic who are a family run company based in Yorkshire who also specialise in Fairtrade products. I’ll be honest my first reaction to the contents were “oh my goodness, how am I going to review these as I’ve never heard of half of them”. But after my initial panic and bit of research I calmed down and started being creative with my new spices. I’ve been adding Perfect Salt to chicken thighs, lemon & garlic which I’ve roasted, Southern Fried Chicken Seasoning to potato wedges, Malay Masala to a yogurt based marinade for chicken and Za’atar to an Za’atar & Olive Focaccia which I made. All my new dishes have gone down a treat with the family and it’s great to have some new flavours in the kitchen. I really want to thank Steenbergs for expanding my palate as my Anglo/Danish one had not ventured into Middle Eastern cuisine much. My daughter’s favourite snack after school is now some pitta, homous (or olive oil) and a sprinkling of Za’atar. I even had some leftover pastry the other day to which I slathered on some olive oil, sprinkled on Za’atar and then cut into bit sized squares and baked for 8 minutes in a hot oven. I think we all get stuck in a rut in the kitchen sometimes and maybe we should just buy some ingredients that we’ve never used before and just see where they take us.
I’ve yet to try the Dukah, Happy Hippy Flower Salt, Apple Pie Mix, Rose Water and Lemon Extract but I’m sure it won’t be long until I do.
For details on prices, stockists or ordering head over to Steenbergs Organic.
Divine Chocolate Bars
Although not new the 70% Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Orange and 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries bars are new to the Co-op this month. I love the rich dark tobacco flavour of the ginger and orange bar where the rich and spicy aroma translates to the tongue beautifully leaving you with little pieces of gooey yumminess after the chocolate has gone. This is not a bar of chocolate to be hurried but savoured and enjoyed over time. Indeed the flavour lingers on in a very satisfying way unlike other chocolates where before you know it you’ve polished off a whole bar. Equally the Dark Chocolate with Raspberries bar carries an almost floral heady aroma and has an intense raspberry flavour as the whole bar is packed with pieces of raspberry which my children particularly liked, I was keener on the Ginger & Orange variant though, but it’s all down to personal taste at the end of the day.
Divine have also launched a new bar of 38% Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt which is being launched in Waitrose and to be honest I was drooling just reading about this new flavour. It certainly lived up to my expectations and more. The milk chocolate is intensely rich and creamy and then the crunchy shards of salt and toffee play in unison on your tongue like a resplendent duet complimenting each other beautifully. This is a chocolate bar that you need to sit down to enjoy as you literally feel a wave of euphoria sweep over you as you eat itJ Again you don’t need to eat lots of it at once as the flavours linger with you long after the chocolate has gone!
Divine is a 100% Fairtrade company which is 45% owned by the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. The 100g bars retail at £1.99.
The Hampstead Tea & Coffee company have recently launched a range of Organic Iced Teas in Elderflower, Lemon Green and Raspberry flavours. I was a bit nervous about trying these teas as I have never been a drinker of iced tea and my only experience to date was the Liptons variety of many moons ago. I was sent the Elderflower and Lemon Green varieties to try and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The Elderflower was subtle, slightly sweet and very refreshing and the lemon green had a slightly stronger taste but again had just the right balance of flavour. I think these teas are great as they are low in calories, full of antioxidants, contain no preservatives or flavourings and are also Fairtrade. So many people reach for a diet fizzy drink these days which are pumped full of artificial chemicals and the carbon dioxide depletes the calcium in your bones. I’d much rather have a drink like this on a sunny day as it doesn’t damage you and actually has some health benefits!
Hampstead Teas are available in Tesco and independent retailers for £1.49.
Wharfe Valley Farms Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oils
I’ve been aware of Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil and it’s benefits for a while so was very pleased to receive some flavoured oils from Wharf Valley Farms who are based in Yorkshire. Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil has so many benefits over its nearest rival Olive Oil. The fact that it is stable at 220°C and doesn’t burn or break down into something toxic when over-heated is my personal favourite reason for using it. How many times have you put some oil in a pan, been distracted and the next thing you know there’s an acrid smell because you’ve burnt it and you have to start all over again. Then there are the health benefits as it contains the lowest amount of saturated fat of any oil – less than half that of Olive Oil, it’s a good source of Vitamin E, is high in monounsaturated fats and unlike its American cousin where it’s known as Canola is totally GM free.
I was sent the Oak Smoked, Red Chilli, Sicilian Lemon and Garlic & Rosemary Rapeseed oils to try. So far I have made some delicious Garlic and Rosemary Potato Wedges and some really healthy Red Chilli flavoured popcorn by substituting the plain oil for this flavoured one and a tiny amount of salt. The Oak Smoked variant is apparently good for marinating meat for the BBQ and the Sicilian Lemon perfect for marinating fish.
You can find Wharfe Valley Farms products in farm shops, delis and on the web site. A gift pack of 3 flavoured oils retails at £8 and they also come in 250ml bottles for £4.50 each or 500mls for £7.
Old School Thai Curry Pastes
Thai Chef Brett Cowie has created fresh Thai Curry Pastes to his grandmothers recipe. So far we have tried the Green Thai Curry Paste in a chicken curry and the difference to a jar off the shelf was astounding. My husband said the flavour was really “authentic” and “grown up”. There was a real kick from the chillies in the paste and my Thai Green Chicken Curry was far livelier than usual and made my previous ones using a jar seems quite drab in comparison. There is also a Red Curry Paste which I’m sure is equally punchy and I have yet to try. The curry pastes are sold in sachets (enough for 2 curries) which stay fresh for 3 weeks in your fridge (once opened) and any left over can be frozen.
Brett has lots of recipes and ideas for using his curry pastes which definitely look appealing. He says “The vibrancy of all the herbs and spices in the paste will add an extra dimension to your favourites dishes such as stews, pies, baked and poached fish, pasta sauces, meatballs, chilli con carne, burgers, barbeques, soups, and quiches.”
Old School Thai Curry Pastes retail at £3.90 each, check out the web site for stockists or order on-line.
Amoy Special Selection Soy Sauce
Amoy have brought out their Special Selection Soy Sauce which is made with “the finest extracts of soya beans and blended with sea salt”. I am used to the original Amoy Soy Sauce so compared to that this Special one had a richer flavour and my husband said reminded him of Soy Sauce from his childhood. I also noticed that the salt content was slightly higher than the original version and you could definitely taste the sea salt. For a real treat though I still prefer Japanese soy sauce which is brewed for longer and doesn’t contain any sugar or preservatives.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup blended with Sweet Chilli
Heinz have just launched Tomato Ketchup blended with Sweet Chilli as a limited edition and I have to say I really like it. My husband and son also like it but my 9 year old daughter who doesn’t like spicy foods doesn’t! I could quite happily eat this instead of standard ketchup as it is just that bit livelier on the taste buds. I tried it with fish and chips but can imagine it being a great addition to burgers, steak and chicken too. I also like the fact that it comes in a traditional bottle which is aesthetically more pleasing and reminds me of being a kid!
Retails at £1.59 for a 342g bottle so it won’t break the bank either.
All opinions are my own and I have not been paid by any of the above companies but recieved samples for the purpose of reviewing. If your brand would like to be featured in the next Food News do get in contact.