Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Food Bites – September 2015

Herb Omelette

Trying out new foods and products is one of the joys of being a food blogger. Food Bites is an occasional series showcasing some of the edible offerings that have landed on the kitchen counter at Tin and Thyme recently. This month it’s mostly about liquids: alternatives to meals as we know them, condiments, dessert wine and then wrapping up with a few sweet treats.

Huel

Huel has been in the press quite a lot recently and is the subject of much controversy. Is powdered food that you just add water to really the future? As an open minded sceptic, it was certainly worth a try.

Even before opening the packet a wave of vanilla hits the senses and makes the rather undistinguished looking powder seem instantly more appetising. The instructions were to just add water and use a blender, shaker or whisk to mix to a smooth consistency, so I bunged it in my Optiumum 9200 Next Generation blender.

Huel

I heard the discussion with founder Julian Hearn on Radio 4’s You and Yours a few weeks ago and found it interesting, but I was sceptical. So now I’ve tried it, what is my verdict? Both CT and I really liked it. It has a pleasant oaty flavour which reminds me of Ready Brek, a childhood treat I only ever experienced away from home; it wasn’t wholesome enough for our household. It also has a roasted nutty wholesome quality about it. One slight downside is that Huel is sweetened with sucralose, a calorie free sweetener derived from sucrose. As a result, I find Huel a little too sweet for me and it leaves a slightly peculiar aftertaste.

But as a permeant replacement to food as we know it? I’m not so sure. Food is so much more than just fuelling our bodies and I’m also not convinced that we would obtain all the nutrients we currently get from a varied diet. However, as an occasional fill-in for a meal when time is short, I can see nothing wrong with it.

Huel is marketed as a complete food, it contains no dairy, soy, nuts or animal products and is made up of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and %30% fats. The main ingredients are oats, peas, brown rice, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and coconut. You can find out much more about Huel on their website. One week’s supply costs £45. 

Potash Farm Sauces

Whilst it’s always sad to see summer go, I do love autumn. It’s the time of mists, falling leaves, burnished colours and bountiful harvests including one of my favourite nuts, hazelnuts. As well as the wild hazels which grow copiously around here, but whose nuts the squirrels get to before ever I can, there are also the cultivated varieties, cobnuts and filberts. They are known for being particularly nutritious and apparently six cobnuts offer the equivalent iron and protein of ½ lb of red meat. Potash Farm are well known for growing Kentish cobnuts. They don’t just grow and harvest them however, they also use some of their harvest to make a variety of creative products. Last year I tried some single origin chocolate bars and Kentish honey, the year before it was chocolate fudge and this year it is red pepper sauces – handmade as always on the farm premises.

The 250ml bottles are available from the Potash farm website and cost £6.95 each or two for £12. However, Tin and Thyme readers can get a 10% discount by using the following code: TANDT2015

Pepper Sauces

 

Smokey Roasted Pepper Sauce with Kentish Cobnuts

I’ve not come across nuts in this type of sauce before, so was intrigued to try it. Inspired by the flavours of Morocco, this is made with chillies, sherry vinegar and various other spices as well as the headline smokey roasted peppers and cobnuts. It has a dark rusty red colour which make it a good fit for autumn; it’s not only the colour however, the smokey notes are warming and make me think of bonfires. It’s slightly sweet, spicy with a bit of a chilli kick and surprisingly, the flavour of hazelnuts really comes through. They provided a bit of added texture as well as flavour and the consistency is definitely sauce rather than ketchup; care is needed when pouring from the bottle. I got rather more than I bargained for with my first attempt. It’s a very tasty and unusual sauce and I found it goes particularly well with eggs. Drizzled over a fresh herb omelette made for a most satisfying lunch, as you can see from the picture at the top of the post.

Thai Chilli Sauce with Kentish Cobnuts

 As you’d expect with a Thai sauce, this had more than just a kick. It’s simpler than the roasted pepper sauce in terms of ingredients, but also much punchier. Flavoured with limes, ginger, garlic, soya sauce and cider vinegar as well as chillies of course, the cobnut flavour was less pronounced. It’s a brighter red than the pepper sauce, but also fits in with classic autumnal colours. It makes for a good dipping sauce, but as it’s quite sweet, I found it goes really well with tomatoes. I made a quick chilli tomato chutney by frying up some spring onions, garlic and herbs with tomatoes and adding a dash of this sauce. It was delicious and made a nice accompaniment to the omelette in the top photo.

Skylark Farm Vinegars

From one farm to another. Skylark Farm is a smallholding based in Suffolk. As well as looking after a herd of goats and flock of chickens, they also produce a number of hand crafted items including some rather special flavoured vinegars from their Fancy Pantry.

On checking the website just now, it’s unclear quite what is going on with availability of these vinegars, so I do apologise if you are now desperate to get hold of them.

Flavoured Vinegars

Choc What! Chocolate Vinegar

Made with organic cocoa powder, sugar and a combination of malt and white wine vinegars, this is fantastic drizzled over ice-cream and other desserts and adding to dark gravy like sauces. It worked wonderfully with the strawberry blancmange I made back in July, contrasting nicely with the sweet creaminess of this classic dessert.

Raspberry Vinegar

This not only smells of raspberries, but it tastes of them too. Much like my blackcurrant vinegar, it makes an intriguing salad dressing and is also very good as a refreshing drink when added to water.

Vee Vee Vanilla Vinegar

Infused with real vanilla pods, this slightly sweetened vinegar has a heady aroma. I’ve been using it in baking recently instead of vanilla extract as it gives the flavour, but also reacts with bicarbonate of soda to give a good rise. These retro apricot vanilla buns were one such bake.

Lime, Chilli & Coriander Vinegar

This vinegar also smells delightful. It makes for an excellent salad dressing; the flavours are clean, fresh and zesty. It also has a bit of a chilli after kick to it, which I’m all in favour of.

Tanners Sauternes

Established in 1842, Tanners are a British independent family run wine merchant based in Shrewsbury. They offer a range of good quality wines and have a whole swathe of awards and accolades to their name. With my sweet tooth, I find a good dessert wine hard to resist. So when I was offered the opportunity to pick a wine of my choice to review, it was this bottle of French Sauternes that I went for. The wine is shrouded in mystery; it has an appellation Sauternes controllée, but the Sauvignon and Semillon grapes are grown in a top secret vineyard somewhere in Bordeaux.  It’s definitely a sweet wine and quite strong too (13.5%), but with a refreshing fruity flavour; there are notes of raisins and honey. Super taster CT, reckoned it was also rather pruney with an undertow of liquorice.  Either way, it’s very nice to drink and I reckon this would work well in supporting one of my fruit puddings – I’m thinking apple crumble. Here’s to autumn. Cheers.

Sauternes

A 50cl bottle costs £12.95 and is available at various outlets around the country as well as on the Tanners’ website.

Madécasse Toasted Coconut Chocolate

Since I was first introduced to Madécasse earlier this year, it has become one of my favourite chocolate brands. Not only are the Madécasse chocolate bars deeply flavoursome, but the company has an ethical stance that I can relate to.  You can read more about it in my Valentine’s Treats post. The milk chocolate has a distinctive smell and taste that reminds me of buttermilk. In fact all of the chocolate I have tried from Madagascar has that certain distinctive note. The bar is deeply flavoursome with a slight buttermilk aroma as well as that of tropical coconut. It tasted just as delicious as I expected – I am a real sucker for coconut chocolate. The coconut here was not a flavouring however, it was the real thing, toasted and scattered across the top.

Coconut Chocolate

Madécasse bars are available at Waitrose and retail at £2.99, though I notice they are on offer at the moment at £2.29.

Kallo Milk Chocolate Corn Cakes

Milk chocolate (27%), corn, sea salt

I’ve been a regular consumer of Kallo’s rice cakes for years, but had no idea they had branched out into chocolate covered ones nor that quinoa cakes and corn cakes were also in their repertoire. As it happens, I was a little bit dubious about tasting these as I wasn’t sure that puffed corn and chocolate sounded like a good combination. How wrong I was. The corn, strangely did not have either the taste or the texture of popcorn, which was what I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, I like popcorn, but this tasted more like a childhood cereal, puffed wheat, only better cos they got chocolate on ’em, innit?  The cakes were delightfully crunchy, without having any of the hard bits often found in popcorn – I took a filling out with some last year.

Kallo Chocolate Cakes

The layer of sweet milk chocolate on top is a perfect foil for the slightly salted corn and is a match that could become rather addictive. The cocoa content of the chocolate was not high, but it was real chocolate. As regular readers will know, I have a sweet tooth, but don’t like thing to be overly sugared. I find much of our British confectionary too sweet, which is a real shame as we are quite innovative in that department. However, these were a perfect balance of sweet, savoury and salty and quite frankly had me reaching for more. One cake will set you back 78 calories and contains 3.4g fat and 4.5g of sugar. So as long as you can stop at one, or maybe two, these are a very nice treat indeed with the added bonus, they are gluten free.

These are now available in Waitrose and Asda and retail at £1.59.

Dobbies Garden Centres Strawberries & Champagne milk chocolate bar

To celebrate their 150th anniversary and to coincide with Wimbledon this year, Dobbies Carden Centres came up with this rather wonderful idea of a celebration Strawberries & Champagne milk chocolate bar. The chocolate is mildly flavoured with strawberries and Champagne, but its piece de resistance was the popping candy which exploded in the mouth giving the illusion of Champagne bubbles. The chocolate has a perfectly acceptable 33.6% cocoa solids and was fun to eat.

Strawberry Chocolate

It costs £2.29 and is available at Dobbies Garden Centres.

Miss Millar’s Marshmallows

As a vegetarian, marshmallows are not something I should really eat, but whilst I would never use gelatine in any of my recipes or buy products containing it, I do find a good marshmallow hard to resist if it’s offered to me. These Raspberry Eton Mess Mallows were definitely good ones and totally irresistible. Not only did these clouds of fluffy delight gently flavoured with raspberry taste good and have the perfect mallowy texture, but they looked beautiful too. The ingredient list is short, no additives or preservatives are used and raspberry is not just a flavouring but is the real deal, raspberry purée. These came with a scattering of meringue on top which gave a good contrast in texture. I found, rather naughtily, that they made a wonderful topping for hot chocolate.

Raspberry Marshmallows

Miss Millar’s marvellous marshmallows, as proclaimed on the box, are handcrafted from start to finish. They may not yet be vegetarian, but a vegan version is being worked on and they are gluten free.  They come in 15 different flavours of which I particularly like the sound of: apple blackberry crumble, mango meringue and toasted coconut and lime. A box of 8 large mallows costs £4.50 and is available via the Miss Millar’s website.


 

Do take a look at my other reviews and if you are in the food business and would like me to feature your products in a future Food Bites post, please get in touch.

Disclaimer: the Optimum 9200 is an affiliate link. If you buy one through this link, it will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Lucy @ BakingQueen74
    20th September 2015

    What a lot of lovely products, the Potash sauces and lime and chilli vinegar in particular gave caught my eye!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      20th September 2015

      It’s all good Lucy, but you’re right that lime & chilli vinegar is mighty fine.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Tracy
    20th September 2015

    Ooooh, I love the sound of that coconut chocolate – I think I might have to try and get some whilst it is on special offer

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      20th September 2015

      Go Tracy go, it’s really delicious. I only wish we had a Waitrose a bit nearer to us. On 2nd thoughts maybe not such a good idea 😉

  3. Leave a Reply

    My Life As A Mummy
    20th September 2015

    I love the sound of the coconut chocolate and the marshmallows. Am very intrigued with the chocolate vinegar, those are two flavours I never thought would go together.

    Laura x x x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      20th September 2015

      It is surprising, but I’ve made chocolate balsamic vinegar before and that worked really well too.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Declan Williams
    20th September 2015

    I want to try absolutely everything but I really want those marshmallows haha! Brilliant post, I’d like to do more food related blogging 🙂 x

  5. Leave a Reply

    Kacie
    21st September 2015

    Oh wow, the toasted coconut chocolate bar looks out of this world.

  6. Leave a Reply

    Glamorous Glutton
    21st September 2015

    What a lovely scoop of deliciousness. I’m intrigued with the instant food but as you say, there more to food than fuel. I love the look of the coconut chocolate. GG

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      21st September 2015

      Thanks GG. It’s all very interesting about the instant food. This particular product is making a big splash in the media. It does taste really nice, but not quite in the same way that the coconut chocolate is.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Kerry at Kerry Cooks
    21st September 2015

    Oh my goodness! What a lot of lovely things! I would LOVE to try the coconut chocolate, it looks so good! Definitely popping to waitrose to get some soon… but I wish you hadn’t mentined the choc corn cakes! I’ve bought the rice cake version before and eaten all six of them – I find them so addictive! I bet the corn would be even more morish!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      Haha Kerry. I haven’t tried the rice cake version, but I can assure you the corn cakes are very moreish indeed. As for the coconut chocolate? Oh my!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Janice
    21st September 2015

    I love the sound of those vinegars, gorgeous flavours. Like you I don’t fancy anything that would be a meal replacement, I love my food too much. Mmm chocolate – can’t go wrong there really, hee hee. Thanks for sharing these products I’ll certainly look out for them.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      Thanks Janice. The vinegars are definitely special, as is the chocolate. It sadly didn’t last long here.

  9. Leave a Reply

    waagmi
    21st September 2015

    My god!! What a collection dear choclette, Love to try all of them…Thank you so much for sharing!!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Parvathy
    22nd September 2015

    Brilliant write up. The chocolate vinegar really caught my eyes , thanks for sharing such good info

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      Thank you Parvathy, the chocolate vinegar is great fun. I’m a sucker for anything with chocolate in.

  11. Leave a Reply

    shobha
    22nd September 2015

    Thanks for sharing the product reviews.. and all the goodies.. 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      Thanks Shobha. One of the joys of being a food blogger is getting to try things you might not otherwise come across.

  12. Leave a Reply

    Sundari
    22nd September 2015

    Chocolate vinegar s new to me… a well detailed post it is..

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      Thanks Sundari. I’ve made chocolate balsamic vinegar before, so it wasn’t a new concept to me, but it was good.

  13. Leave a Reply

    LydiaF
    22nd September 2015

    That’s an interesting lineup of products. I haven’t heard of Huel, but there’s a product in the US called “Soylent” which sounds similar. I thought it was interesting that the developer of Soylent has made the formula open-source. I expect there will be many variations available eventually. Never heard of chocolate vinegar and was put off until I read you used it in a dessert. Then I was a little more receptive, hahaha.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      22nd September 2015

      That’s really interesting Lydia. I don’t tend to think of the US as being very good on open source, but the boot is on the other foot because Huel definitely isn’t. as for chocolate vinegar, it really is nice drizzled over hearty salads too.

  14. Leave a Reply

    Claire @foodiequine
    22nd September 2015

    A food replacement definately isn’t for me but I can see how it could be useful in some circumstances but personally food is way more than just fuel.
    Love the sound of the desert wine. Despite not having a sweet tooth I always look forward to it in a wine flight.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      23rd September 2015

      Yes, I guess food bloggers aren’t really quite the right audience for meal replacements Claire 😉 And the wine is rather delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had a flight of wine.

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