Little yummy snippets …
Far from sweeping them under the carpet here are the last few crumbs from 2014.
The essences from Foodie Flavours is one of my favourite discoveries of the year. They have a massive range 42 of (mainly natural) flavours. From champagne to Christmas pudding, blackcurrant to rhubarb. Intense and delicious. I’ve been experimenting and a recipe is coming soon. Well worth a look. Around £4 a bottle. Twitter @foodieflavours
Pretty new mugs from the Heal’s 1810 collection. £9 each. Twitter @heals_furniture.
Sounding similar to a leading brand Larozza beans from Discount Coffee had a lovely rich roast, perfect for most tastes.
We’ve tried coffee from Alma de Cuba before and it continues to impress; rich, rounded flavour, with hints of fruit. Available as ground or beans. Twitter @almacubcafe
Coffee beans from Brew Dolph were packed with citrus flavour. Not quite to our taste as we prefer a richer roast but still very good. Twitter @coffeeguerilla
I’ve been sending Ed off to University each day with snack pack of Go Ahead Bars in his packed lunch. Either fruit filled or covered in yoghurt these are actually rather good. Sufficiently robust and chewy rather than crumbly they survive the day in a bag without turning to crumbs, or the packet splitting. Around 200 cal per snack pack. Twitter @goahead.
If you are a fan then you will love these Jack Daniels Sauces. They are dark and intense with liberal amounts of chilli and Jack Daniels. Slightly too hot for me to handle. About £2 most supermarkets. Twitter @jackdanielsuk
Perfect for those with allergies or dietary choices is the new vegan ice cream from Almond Dream. Made from an almond milk base we tried a selection of flavours with the salted caramel and praline crunch coming out top. We really really enjoyed it, the texture is more akin to a gelato than an ice cream, much softer – you can scoop it straight from the freezer – but still lovely and creamy. With around 120cal per 100ml it is appreciably lighter on the calories than traditional ice creams. Well worth a try. Around £5 a tub from most supermarkets. Twitter @dairyfreedream
I am loving the TW311 dual channel kitchen timer from Oregon. About the size of a pack of cards it is nicely substantial and features two timers that will either count up, or count down, which makes it rather handy if you are cooking two things at once. Or if you frequently develop recipes you can have one timer counting up, so you know the total time something takes, and the other counting down to remind you to check on it. The alarm volume is adjustable and the timer takes regular AAA batteries, which means you can use rechargeable rather than expensive button batteries.
The timer is very easy to use, simply select which timer, select count up or count down, set the time and go. It does have a bright flashing LED, which turns red once the time is up, which makes it too distracting for me to have it on my desk as a Pomodoro timer as there is no option to turn the light off. Powerful magnets on the back will secure it to the fridge, and there is a handy stand that holds it upright as well as a clock function (which is lacking an alarm).
All in all a very useful kitchen timer for a keen cook. Currently £14.99 from Amazon.
We reviewed some of the ready meals from Charlie Bigham’s back in July when my parents were sent some vouchers, and I was delighted to receive some more, which I used after Christmas when getting over this cold / flu bug so I did not have to cook. We love the variety of the meals, the quality and generous size of the portions. A juicy steak and ale pie is topped with voluminous puff pastry, beef stroganoff is packed with tender beef and a rich thick sauce, and a chicken korma was fully – but not overly – flavoured. We love that the food is packed in a greaseproof lined thin wooden tray, so no plastic waste and you finished cooking it, rather than just reheating it. My only small niggle is that you do need to take the care keep the trays upright when transporting home – but this is barely a problem. From £7 – £8 for 2. One we will be buying again. From Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado. Twitter @charliebighams
Many thanks to all the brands for samples. Images and opinion are our own.