Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar of Modena - Taste Test and a Giveaway

Rich and sweet, Balsamic Vinegar has been produced in Modena, Italy, since the Middle Ages and is now famous throughout the world.  It's good to see Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar, is now available for us to buy in the UK from Due Vittorie at Ocado.

Traditional or ‘Tradizionale’ Balsamic Vinegar;
Made from cooked grape must, usually made from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes.  The resulting thick syrup is aged for a minimum of 12 years in wooden barrels made from different woods (chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash and juniper). 
This connoisseurs’ product, also available from Due Vittorie at Ocado and costs £49.99 for a 100ml bottle. 

Due Vittorie Oro;
‘Balsamic Vinegar of Modena’ is £9.99 for a 250ml bottle has a remarkable sweetness and thickness making is a unique condiment.  It also fully meets the criteria for IGP* certification as “Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP” and has a minimum acidity of 6%.

Roundup - Charcuterie Wine and Recipe Books!

A roundup of new and exciting food related products that I've been lucky enough to receive this past month - please note they are listed in no particular order.

The Carnivore Club

This is British Charcuterie at it's best; each box delivered to your door from Carnivore Club contains between 4-6 handcrafted cured meats from top artisans.
Our box arrived in perfect condition and the contents were from Deli Farm Charcuterie in Cornwall.  Our box contained Sliced Coppa, Spicy Chorizo, Pancetta, Devil's Poker (a spicy salami stick) Garlic Salami and Coppa Chops.

I must say we're really impressed with the whole thing from the packaging, delivery and quality of the meats.  The Carnivore Club is a great way to try many different cured meat products and also to learn about them too.  A really helpful booklet is included in each box and explains more about the supplier and the products included in the box.   

Subscription members pay £29/month and sign up for a 3 month minimum, and can cancel anytime once that period has passed.  However, if you don't want to join the club you can order a single box for just £32

The Carnivore Club is also available in the USA and Canada.  Treat yourself or send a box as a gift.

**I have a discount code for my readers - to receive 20% off your first purchase - please use Oil20 at checkout.

Carnivore Club Twitter @carnivoreclubUK

Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse

If you're craving junk foods and feeling sluggish and tired then this is the book for you.  Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse by Shauna Martin.  You don't need to starve yourself on the Daily Greens cleanse and you can make these green recipes in your own kitchen, anytime you want.

The book says; reset your body, lose weight, or just give yourself a much-needed energy boost.  I really need an energy boost and I really ought to have a go at the 4-day cleanse.  A great book packed with interesting information and healthy recipe ideas.   

Author Shauna Martin
Price £14.99
Published by Race Point Publishing Quarto

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

More than a mix of rich history, gorgeous beaches, and warm blue waters, the countries along the Mediterranean Sea and their people have a history of living longer and healthier lives and you can too!  By simply following a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, even drinking wine with meals, you can prevent diseases and prolong your life.

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook integrates the latest research and clinical findings with 100 delicious, authentic, easy recipes and Mediterranean lifestyle tips while dispelling any myths and misinformation.

I really like this book, I love Mediterranean food so the recipes are just my kind of thing. Fresh colourful food from all over the med.  Also it's great that the book contains gluten free variations of some recipes.

Author Amy Riolo
Price £14.99
Published by Fair Winds Press Quarto

Wilde Thing wine by Lisa McGuigan

Fourth generation of an Australian wine dynasty, Lisa McGuigan launches her self-titled collection of wines in the UK. Lisa combines a wealth of wine knowledge and a flare for fashion to launch an Australian wine that speaks to consumers rather than intimidating them. 

Now I know very little about wine but what I do know is we both loved this.  Nice and refreshing and really easy to drink.  Perfect for sharing a bottle in the garden on a nice summers day or, if you ask me, any day for that matter!

Wilde Thing RRP: £7.00
Chardonnay Pinot Grigio
Clear pale straw in colour
Aromas of apple and pear combine with peach on a fruit forward nose
Palate: Apple and peach on the palate are complimented by a long refreshing finish
Food pairing: Fresh seafood or a mango salsa

For more information and where to buy pop over to Lisa McGuigan Wines
Twitter @lmcguiganwines

i heart Wines 

The grapes for the 2013 i heart Pinot Grigio were sourced from all over Hungary.  This is a fresh, crisp, dry white wine.  Delicate citrus aromas and lemon and lime flavours, with great balance and freshness on the palate.  Best served chilled - a great match for grilled white fish, seafood salads, chicken dishes or simply on its own.

As I mentioned before I know very little about wine - all I know is I either like it or I don't and this Pinot Grigio was easy to drink and very refreshing and yes I really liked it.

i heart Pinot Grigio £6.00
Light and Crisp

For more information and where to buy pop over to i heart wines
Twitter @iheartwines

Disclaimer - Many thanks to the brands mentioned for sending me these products to try.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cheese and Wine Hamper Review - Serenata Flowers

Serenata Flowers are an online gift delivery company and they have a lot more than just flowers to offer.  You can send chocolates, wine, cheese and wine hampers, beer and ale, fine food, picnic hampers and also plants; hanging baskets, tubs of flowers or even a mini olive tree.  The list is huge and they even have hampers to welcome the arrival of a baby.

Having been sent this Bordeaux and Artisan Cheese Selection hamper to review I must say at £39.99 value for money it's not bad considering next (weekday) delivery is included in the price.  Each gift comes with a gift card and of course when ordering you add a message which is printed on the card.

  • Hand Waxed Black Berries & Apple Cheese 170g
  • Hand Waxed Scrumpy & Crunchy Apple 170g
  • Hand Waxed Worcestershire Gold Mature Cheddar 170g
  • Black Olive Cracker for White Wine 125g
  • Morrocan Spice Crackers for Red Wine 125g
  • Grangeneuve Bordeaux, Red
The hamper was well packaged and had more packaging than is shown above; I had to remove it in order to take a photo.  After ordering the hamper arrived the very next day, as with most companies Serenata don't deliver on a Sunday.  All in all I can't think of any reason why anyone that drinks wine and likes cheese wouldn't want to receive this hamper; we certainly enjoyed sampling it!

Find out more by popping over to Serenata Flowers.
Twitter @SerenataFlowers

Disclaimer:  I was sent this hamper to review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Regional Favorite Cocktails - Mix Share WIN

As part of its mission to shake up summer, thebar.com has found that drinkers in London and Scotland favour the Mojito, the Welsh can’t get enough of G&T and Midlanders are split down the middle, equally favouring Pimm’s & Lemonade and G&T!

Photo supplied by thebar.com

Northerners (25%) and Midlanders (32%) say they’re inspired by holiday experiences when it comes to choosing drinks - but southerners (20%) are more likely to be influenced by recommendations from family and friends.

Vegetarian Chinese-style Spicy Beef and Peppers made with Quorn

Although we're not vegetarians it is sometimes good to have a meat free dinner.  In any case Quorn is super quick to cook.

Chinese Beef Quorn

I must say the Quorn beef strips (sold frozen) are as I say, easy to cook but in my opinion actually taste more like tofu rather than beef; that said personally I much prefer the Quorn beef than the chicken, I find the chicken a bit dry.  This dish can be on the table in a matter of minutes and since you cook the beef strips from frozen my recipe really is a doddle to make and is really tasty.

Print Recipe


To serve 2-3 you will need:
Vegetable oil
250g Quorn frozen steak strips
1 red bell pepper – cut into bite sized pieces
1 green bell pepper – cut into bite sized pieces
1 large onion – peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 clove of garlic very finely chopped
Root ginger – peeled and very finely chopped to make just half a teaspoon
4 spring onions – trimmed and sliced
A good pinch of chilli flakes

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons corn flour
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 and half tablespoons of Ketjap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 and half tablespoons of Shaohsing (rice wine)
good pinch of white pepper
1 and half tablespoons of sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water

How to do it:
Prepare the vegetables and set aside.  Make the sauce simply by mixing together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok and over a high heat; stir-fry the Quorn beef strips for about 5 minutes. 

Now add in the peppers, onions, spring onions, garlic and ginger and continue to stir-fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the chilli flakes and the sauce mixture.

Stir-fry for another couple of minutes until the sauce has thicken slightly and coats the Quorn strips and vegetables.   Serve straight away with rice or noodles. 

Beef and Peppers Vegetarian


How To Please Your Cat - What Cats Really Want

Just about everyone loves the TV cat called Felix as he’s always up to something mischievous.  Anyone who has a cat or indeed more than will know they can be hilarious.

Our Ellie loves to play with a ball made of screwed up paper and we’re sure she thinks she’s a dog as nine times out of ten she will bring it back to you when you throw it for her - yes seriously!  

We bought fancy nice soft cat beds for our two each costing a bit of money, but our Ellie prefers to sleep on the stairs (which is nice and dangerous for us at night I must say)!  Our other cat named Jim, never, ever gets in his bed since he prefers to be out pretty much all night and during the day he prefers the computer chair.  

I think most cats like Felix would prefer a box is best to sleep in!

One thing is for sure they both know the words ’do you want feeding’?  Yes I’m afraid like most cat or dog owners I find myself talking to them (well I do anyway) and once feeding is mentioned they both appear from wherever they’ve been sleeping.

Cats aren’t at all daft either, they know what they want and they are fussy too.  They know which food they like and don’t like, neither of ours will eat cat food that’s in gravy, only cat food in jelly will do for them.

Do take a look at the fun and amusing video ‘How to Please Your Cat’ from Purina FELIX® I think no matter what you buy them or do for then, this video sums up what cats really, really want!

If you have a cat, what do you find is the best way to please him or her?

Why not subscribe to Purina FELIX® YouTube channel
For more information pop over to the Felix website

This post is sponsored by Purina Felix.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Kinetico - FREE Simple Water Recipes eBook

Water is of course essential for life, but most of us probably don't drink enough of it.  It is recommended that we drink more than a litre a day; but you may prefer water with a hint of flavour to it.  Shop bought flavoured waters can be full of sugar so I find it's far better for you to make your own.

My Carrot and Orange water is very simple to make as are the other recipes in the Kinetico eBook.  The Simple Water Recipe Book is FREE to download and share - click here.

Kinetico are World NO.1 in water treatment and have the largest dealer network in the UK.  They have a range of water softeners and water filter systems to suit your needs for perfectly filtered water on tap 24/7
and can also filter your tap water to reduce the hardness, ions, calcium and magnesium, in your water and helps to prevent limescale build-up in your kettle, iron and food steamer, keeping them in pristine condition for longer.  Water will be better for you and your family to drink too.

To find out more about pop over to the Kinetico website.

Twitter @KineticoUKltd

Disclaimer: I received payment for my time creating a couple of recipes for the eBook.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cheats Kefta Mkaouara - Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Eggs

Kefta Mkaouara is a delicious, and very popular Moroccan Tagine of meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce and is usually served with flatbread.  
I’ve adjusted the amount of spiciness to make this suitable for children.  Also instead of coriander which is more common to finish the dish, I’ve used flat leaf parsley since it will appeal to the whole family. 

Life is so busy for pretty much everyone these days, but with my simple cheat you can still provide a delicious meal your family will love.  Scan Meatballs don't contain any artificial colour or flavour either so that's good to know. 

There's no need to faff about making meatballs; by using ready made Scan Authentic Swedish Meatballs (which only need to be reheated) this lovely Moroccan dish can be on the table and ready to eat in around 45 minutes.  Once you've added the eggs it can be bubbling away in your oven whilst you have a shower.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe - Perfect Topping for Burgers

Chicken fillet topped with crispy bacon and melted cheese, finished with a good helping of barbecue sauce - homemade of course.  Okay, whilst this isn't the most healthiest of food to eat, it has to be said it is probably very naughty but it is also very nice!  That said the chicken fillet is fine, it's just the bacon and cheese - oh and the sauce that have all the calories....and perhaps the skinny chips, but I'm pretty sure the lettuce makes it all okay?!

Chicken Burger and Chips with BBQ Sauce

This makes quite a bit of sauce - hard to say for how many as it depends on how much sauce you want to pile on your burgers!

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Anyone, especially vegetarians and vegans will love this book; a sophisticated vegetarian cookbook with everything you need to feel at home in the kitchen, cooking in the most nourishing and delicious ways.

Amy Chaplin has a love for whole food and with her expertise as a chef has written a book to entice everyone to eat well every meal, every day. She provides all the knowhow for creating delicious, healthy dishes based on unprocessed, unrefined food - from the basics of good eating to preparing seasonal feasts all year round.

Part One; lays the foundation: how best to stock your cupboard. Not simply a list of ingredients and equipment, it provides real working knowledge of how and why to use ingredients, plus an arsenal of simple recipes for daily nourishment.

Part two; is a collection of recipes celebrating vegetarian cooking in its brightest, whole, most delectable form, with such vibrant dishes as black rice breakfast pudding with coconut and banana; fragrant aubergine curry with cardamom basmati rice, apricot chutney and lime raita; and honey vanilla bean ice cream with roasted plums and coconut crunch. Inspirational, healthy, sustainable and delicious - this is whole food cooking for everyone.

Persian Halloumi Cookalong with Toshiba and Gousto

Recently myself and a few other bloggers were invited by Toshiba and Gousto to take part in the #ToshibaCookalong via Skype.

To take part we were all sent a box of ingredients from Gousto and a Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 laptop and very nice it is too, more about that in a minute!
We all had to link up via Skype to cook-along with Gousto's talented Chef, Alice Feaver and follow her recipe for Persian Halloumi.
Persian Halloumi

It's a shame I didn't get any pictures of the actual cookalong (apart from one I shared via FaceBook and Twitter) as I was too busy worrying about how it would go since I'd never taken part in a cookalong before!

All set with the Toshiba laptop and ingredients at the ready when 6pm came we were off.  The cookalong was great fun despite a couple of us loosing connection at one point.  But with the recipe to hand I carried on regardless and hoped for the best.  Once the connection back up and running I had pretty much managed to keep up with everyone apart from my onions; yes my onions could have done with being cooked a little longer to caramelise but hey ho the finished dish not only looked good but it tasted good too.
The Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 is fantastic, especially for use in the kitchen since when in tablet mode it isn't much bigger that a large cookbook.  To be honest I rarely use cookbooks as I often look up recipes on the net and as the Toshiba Radius has touchscreen it's brilliant for scrolling through recipes.

Another thing; it's also great for watching catch up TV - we have a smart TV in our kitchen but not all channels (that I want to watch) are available catch up purely because the manufacturer of the TV doesn't support them.  However all is not lost as the Toshiba Satellite Radius is WiDi enabled (wireless display) this means you can project what's showing on the laptop screen onto your TV screen pretty marvelous ah?  So, as you can see I'm full of knowledge (lol) and I can now watch anything I fancy whilst cooking!

The Toshiba Radius flips round to enable laptop, tabletop, presentation, audience and tablet this laptop is absolutely perfect for Skype.  It's fast too and great for writing my blog and editing photos as it has 500GB hard drive for storage and 32GB of cloud storage. 

Print Recipe

Persian Halloumi - recipe by Gousto

To serve 2 you will need:
250g halloumi cheese
150g bulgur wheat
2 red onions
20g dried barberries
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
10g fresh mint
1 tbsp ras el hanout
1 lemon
1 tsp black pepper
olive oil
salt and black pepper to season

How to do it:
Boil a kettle. Add the bulgur to a pot with 275 ml of boiling water, cover with a lid over a medium-low heat.
Simmer for 5-7 min or until almost all the water is absorbed.  Remove and set aside with the lid on for 10 min, until dry and fluffy .

Meanwhile, put the barberries in a small bowl and add 100 ml of hot water, add 1 tbsp of sugar and mix well.

Peel the onions, cut them in half and slice finely.  Chop the mint finely and grate the zest of the lemon.
Cut the halloumi into thin slices (approx. 1cm thick) 

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the halloumi.  Combine half the ras el hanout with 1 tsp of black pepper for the spice mix. Coat the halloumi in the spice mix.

Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to a large pan on a medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 4-5 min or until soft and lightly caramelised.

Add 3 tbsp of the barberry water to the bulgur wheat - now drain the barberries and add to the bulgur wheat.
Combine the barberry bulgur with the mint, lemon zest, remaining ras el hanout, pomegranate molasses and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper.

Push the onion to one side of the pan and add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the halloumi and cook for 1-2 min on each side or until golden all over.
Serve the bulgur wheat with the onion and halloumi and enjoy.

I reviewed a Gousto Box a little while ago and I think they're excellent; you can read my review here.

Check out how the bloggers got with the #ToshibaCookalong:
Farmersgirl Kitchen
Food Quine

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11

Website www.toshiba.co.uk
Designed for mobility, delivering a smooth, seamless PC experience anywhere
500 GB hard drive for storage along with a responsive 32 GB of cloud storage
Fast boot-up and online access

Twitter @ToshibaUK

Twitter @FollowGousto

Disclaimer; I was sent a box of ingredients and a Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 to keep and take part in the #ToshibaCookalong.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Sizzling Steak with Peppers Onions and Chilli - Judge Sizzle and Serve

Steak needs to be cooked quickly over a high heat so that it seals, keeping it tender and juicy.  All you need is a good piece of steak, sliced along with onions and peppers; coated in tiny amount of oil, soy sauce with a bit of seasoning, and a few chilli flakes and you have dinner ready in just a couple of minutes.

Sizzling Steak with Peppers

But of course your pan needs to be HOT really hot, and this cast iron sizzle platter from Judge Cookware is perfect for creating sizzling meals or side dishes that can be taken straight to the table thanks to the maple wood stand that's included.  Sizzle and Serve range is suitable for all hob types and barbeques, and is oven-safe up to 240°C
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