Showing posts with label product review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label product review. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Nespresso: new decaffeinated grand crus and lattissima+

Nespressso : espresso grand cru Arpeggio decaffeinato
Nespresso never fails to impress me and once again they have launched another amazing new series of products, the decaffeinated Grands Crus  If you follow this blog you know I am a fan and having visited the Nespresso HQ in Lausanne you can read all about it here
Nespresso, Swiss-based coffee company. The total Nespresso range offers 23 unique and delightful Grand Crus. This consists of espresso, lungo and decaffeinated blends as well as Pure Origins, exclusively made of coffee from a single country of origin, and permanent variations. Additionally, Nespresso creates several rare limited edition Grands Crus every year. A collection of accessories for coffee connoisseurs to enjoy a very high-end coffee experience at home or office is also available to buy at boutiques worldwide and online.

Nespresso decaffeinated grand crus
The new decaffeinated grand crus have been developed to cover a gap in the market for good quality decaf coffee for customers that for heath reasons (i.e.: pregnancy) or for those who can't drink regular coffee after certain hours as it will keep them awake.  Nespresso developed a high-end coffee that has been decaffeinated using water and CO2 methods, that are gentle processes that keep the structure of the beans therefore, maintaining the high standard of Nespresso regular coffee. No compromising in quality.   Something to be noted is that the decaffeinated methods don't remove all caffeine, there is still a very small percentage of caffeine present in the pods.
The new decaffeinated packaging is clearly distinctive from the original Grand Crus and still retains the Nespresso branding.  A red dot and description have been placed on the packaging and pod, so if it gets mixed up you can still tell which ones are the decaff pods.  The packaging description and intensity ruler is also very helpful when making coffee of choice. 
Nespresso decaffeinated grand crus

New decaffeinated grand crus as decribed by Nespresso: 

Arpeggio Decaffeinato is dark roasted and rich in flavour, and has the same strong character, intense body and indulgent cocoa notes as the original Arpeggio Grand Cru. The split roasting reveals the specificities of each origin: longer roasting yields a darker bean and releases the intense, cocoa-like flavours of the Brazilian and Costa Rican Arabicas; a shorter and lighter roasting of the selected Arabica from South America highlights its softer fruity notes. Intensity 9
Volluto Decaffeinato: Delightfully sweet and smooth, Volluto Decaffeinato has the same rich flavours and round body as the original Volluto Grand Cru. The selected pure Arabica beans are roasted separately to highlight their specificities: a shorter roast unfolds the sweet biscuity notes of the Brazilian Arabica, while a longer but lighter roast preserves fresh and fruity notes of the Colombian beans. Intensity 4

Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato: A complex yet balanced blend, Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato has the same rich character as the original Vivalto Lungo Grand Cru: roasted, lightly woody with sweet cereal and subtle floral notes. It is a pure Arabica blend from several origins including South America and East Africa. Separate roasting of the beans brings out the characters of the different origins and develops the complexity of the flavour: a shorter and lighter roast preserves the subtle flowery bouquet of the Ethiopian beans and the fruity notes of the Colombian, while a darker and longer roast reinforces the character of the blend and develops its bitterness. Intensity 4

Nespresso new decaffeinated coffee at home: espresso, cappuccino and latte macchiato, when add milk the new decaffeinated Grand Crus develop new taste dimensions. 
delicious decaffeinated coffees with a superb finish made at home/office, incredible quality, character and aromas without loosing the quality of original Grand Crus. Drink coffee anytime of the day without worry about caffeine effects. On sale from January in the UK and worldwide online and at their boutiques.

Where to buy: 
online and at your nearest Nespresso boutique, there are over 320 exclusive boutiques all over the world.
I had the pleasure to test-drive the Lattissima+  from Nespresso
 Making lungo with Vivalto Decaffeinato with Lattissima+

Nespresso & Delonghi Lattissima Plus  single-serve coffee machine comes with the milk frother, and it is a good size for domestic kitchens and offices. A great coffee machine that delivers different coffees including Cappuccino & Latte drinks. 

Easy to use, sleek and beautifully masculine, square looking machine. Compact size: efficient design with compact technology. Use filtered water as the water tank hasn't got a filter.  The milk container is fantastic, it can be  store in the fridge and there are two options for more or less foam and a clean button. Espresso, Lungo, one-touch Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato drinks on automatic settings or make your settings.

It's quite fast to make any coffee drink. It's great fun playing around with this machine making different drinks with different foams and crema the layers are quite distinctive. Coffee art is not quite possible.
 Thanks Nespresso for sending the Lattissima+ and the new decaffeinated Grand Crus coffee pods for this personal review.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

apple and rosemary bread and butter meringue

apple and rosemary bread & butter meringue

Top of Form


British food forthnight  2014 started over the last weekend. It's a celebration of British produce, food, drink and the harvest season through out the land.  During the next two weeks British fare is being promoted across all sectors of the industry from caterers, producers, retailers and local shops.  
'The word “harvest” is from the Old English word hærfest, meaning "autumn". It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products.The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. So in ancient traditions Harvest Festivals were traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October'
To celebrate British food, I put together two traditional recipes together bread and butter pudding and meringue with a herbal twist.

Apple and Rosemary bread & butter meringue recipe

makes : 4-5 ramekins


½ loaf of wheat and gluten free bread

2 apples of choice and in season

1 cup (200ml) of dairy free cream

2 egg yolks

1  vanilla pod

1 star anise

2 cassia bark

1 sprig of rosemary

4 tbsp (tablespoons) caster sugar

2 tablespoons of butter (dairy-free)

sugar and butter for greasing and dusting


2 egg whites

4 tbsp of caster sugar


1) in a small pan, gently heat the cream until comes to simmer(small bubbles to the surface), switch off the heat and add the star anise, cassia bark, and a sprig of rosemary let it steep for at least one hour. Let it cool completely, drain it. Add the vanilla seeds. Mix well. Reserve.

2) grease 4 -5 individual souffle ramekins with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Reserve.

3) pre-heat the oven at 150C, low temperature.

4) cut the bread to fit into the ramekins

5) With a sharp knife cut the apples in half. Remove the core and discard them. Slice the apples.

5) In the prepared ramekins, Intersperse slices of bread with sliced fruit to completely fill the ramekins.

5) in a bowl mix well the egg yolks, cream and sugar, pour over the ramekins filled with bread and apple.

6) place the ramekins in the oven in a water bath by place the ramekins in a large baking tray. Carefully pour some boiling water into the tray, close the oven and bake for 30 minutes.


Meringue topping:

1) beat the egg whites in a clean bowl mixer, for 5 minutes till they are nicely fluffy and stiff peaks.  slowly add the 3 spoons of sugar

2) pipe the egg whites onto the cooked apple ramekin

3)Take the ramekins back to the oven and bake for another 20 mins at 150C

For sometime I needed a new mixer and a new blender, the lovely people at Viking Direct send me a Tefal mixer and blender combo to review their service and products.  Viking is an online office supplier.  They also sell kitchen equipment for the home and office as well as household goods.  I am delighted by the Tefal mixer and blender combo:  great design, robust and sturdy.
Disclosure: I was given the Tefal mixer and blender combo by Viking.  I received no further remuneration. All views are my own.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Donald Russell at Christmas

Donald Russell, the Scottish butchers, was set up about forty years ago when it only supplied the trading industry. As a butcher they don't just supply beef, but any meat you can think of including poultry, fish, game, ready dishes, pasta, meal planner boxes and speciality breads and quiches. Nowadays, their products are available to buy online. You have a choice whether you have your order sent chilled or frozen. They hold the Royal Warrant
Donald Russell has been very generous to me this past year. They have sent me numerous products ranging from meat, pot roasts to curries and deserts in return for feedback on their products and services.  They have also, invited me to a delectable meal at the fabulous  The Balcon back in February where I met their friendly marketing team. 
Fast forward to a cold December night last week I got home to find a big Christmas party box including a Mosimann's Christmas pudding, which is sold separately - what was not to like about it? Fantastic! The products came frozen in a chilled box with dry ice and inside a very nice letter.  They have a selection of Christmas boxes and products on sale at the moment.

The Box

 The  Christmas box contained the party season favourite party food:

- 16 juicy Pork Chipolatas
- 8 Mini Fish Cakes - once cooked they were crisp in the outside and creamy inside

- 24 Beef Meatballs - full of flavour
- 10 flaky Mini Ham Croissants
- 12 Mini Steak Burgers - they were thick and juicy
- 16 meaty Mini Artisan Sausage Rolls

and separately the 
- Mosimann's Christmas pudding, delicate and healthy version but still full of the Christmas flavours

I invited my long suffering neighbours, who have been my guinea pigs for the last 23 months, for a bite to eat and an early festive celebration. Pretty good indeed!  I even made some light brioche burger buns to go with the mini steak burgers. Below is the recipe adapted  from CommeÇa  via New York Times and Smitten Kitchen.

Mini burgers served on homemade light brioche burger buns and caramelised onions
10cm burger buns, in this case I made 20 small buns to fit the 5cm mini steak burgers.

3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

perfect homemade burgers buns
1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.
3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours.
5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 200C degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

artisan sausage rolls are generously filled and satisfying, fish cakes and mini ham croissants bite size perfect for party nibbles in a nice flaky pastry.
Pork Chipolatas I prepared with Seville marmalade and grain mustard - a winner
Donald Russell  have a Christmas section on their site with products for any type and size of party you might be having this time of the year.  I think it's a fantastic stress-free option for Christmas food shopping.  Happy ordering! 


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Donald Russell, The Butchers at The Balcon

Donald Russell, the Scottish butchers, was set up about forty years ago when it only supplied the trading industry. As a butcher they don't just supply beef, but any meat you can think of including poultry, fish, game, ready dishes, pasta, meal planner boxes and speciality breads and quiches. Nowadays, their products are available to buy online. You have a choice whether you have your order sent chilled or frozen. They hold the Royal Warrant, supplying the Royal household.
I was lucky enough to be invited together with Jeanne and Sabrina to sample their delicious meat at a dinner held at The Balcon, situated in the Sofitel St James, London one of many high-end luxury hotel and restaurants they supply.   We were told that all their animals are of UK origin with 80% coming from Scotland farms using the highest  quality control,  maturity and complete traceability.  Donald Russell's site is complete with tips, recipes and videos. 

The Venue:
The Balcon

Tasting of Welsh Trealy Farm charcuterie
 The wine of choice was Camino Romano, a  rich red purple color wine with a complex and  intense fruity aroma of red and black fruits. Full bodied, elegant, clean finish with a touch of oakiness. Perfect match to our red meat.
 The star of the night was the scrumptious and succulent rib of beef, which was expertly carved and served by the executive chef, Vincent Menager who previously worked at Brasserie Roux and before that with Frederic Anton and Alain Ducasse in France.  The rib of beef screamed 'eat me now'. It was so tender that looked like butter to the touch of the knife. The luscious béarnaise sauce that accompanied the meat was smooth, creamy and herby.  The fresh tarragon complemented the meat perfectly.  The fries was presented in lovely mini fryer's baskets, which I have seen before and I still think is a rather cute way to present them.  
I can't wait try Donald Russell's online products and service.
Thanks Jeanne for letting me use her fab pictures ©J Horak-Druiff (aka @Cooksisterblog)

Glorious meat!
Deserts were delectable too, specially the 'cheese-cake' filled bugnes (beignets):
dark chocolate souffle was light and fondant-like served with custard based pistachio ice-cream:
Fresh plum tart tartin with creamy clotted cream ice cream: 
Red berries and almond cake

After dinner Jeanne and I had the pleasure to be shown The Balcon,  which is the balcony that overlooks and gives the restaurant its name and where a massive fridge holds all the finest, rare and expensive champagnes available for sale at this establishment. My kind of fridge! 

St. James bar and The Balcon are both very relaxing.  The bar has a 1920's 'Coco Chanel' feel and the restaurant's white walls and double height ceilings make the room bright and airy. Fine refined French and British fusion fare can be found at The Balcon's menu. The service was attentive, friendly, very accommodating and impeccably well mannered.

Another lovely review from my gorgeous friend and dining companion that evening : Cooksister
Hot&Chilli was a guest of Donald Russell, The Balcon and WildCard PR
All pictures by Hot&Chilli, unless otherwise stated.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Unearthed - dips and Umbrian meat platter

Unearthed has brought their first ever selection of dips and a new platter of cured Italian meat for a light meal or to be served as appetisers. I called the neighbors for a get together to
taste the new products. 

The broad bean houmous dip is made of sesame seed paste and garlic. Nutty flavored twist on humous made with broad beans and a subtle kick of paprika. The creamy consistency of houmus and the chunks of broad beans add an interesting texture to this dip.

The Yogurt and green harissa dip, a glowing green seasoned with caraway seeds, coriander, lemon and very subtle chilli flavor. Not as punchy comparing to the other  two dips.
A delicious zingy and sweet pomegranate houmous with green harrisa dip is presented in two layers. The chickpea and pomegranate houmous is placed on top of the green harissa seasoned with oregano, bay leaves and clove. Ideal served with vegetable batons or bread. Full of flavor this dip is my favorite out of the three dips.
All the new dips are reasonably priced at £1.49 for 170g.

The cured Italian meats includes Italian Prosciutto Crudo - sweet and salty, this classic Italian dry cured ham is perfect served with crusty bread.  Perugian Salami was finely sliced, the way I like it, a fine paring with the prosciutto. We all loved this platter. It retails at £2.99 for 65g. We highly recommend it.
I will definitely be buying the meat platter and pomegranate houmous with green harrisa dip.
Unearthed is a national partner of Action Against Hunger and are committed to donate 1p per pack sold to support their campaign. 
Unearth products are available from Waitrose, Ocado and Abel & Cole.
Thanks to WildCard for sending the products to be reviewed.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hotel Chocolat Review and Christmas Traditions

I love chocolate and even after a big meal I can't resist eating them.  The worldwide tradition of Advent Calendar is one of the sweetest, and I love it because it lasts for almost a month. A German Lutheran custom, the Advent calendar pleases children and adults alike. A chocolate a day can certainly keeps any sadness at bay. Okay, my theory is not scientifically proven, but I am sure it helps. Needless to say, I was more than thrilled to receive a box full of chocolates goodies from Hotel Chocolat.  It contained chocolate and caramel mince pies, Brazil nuts covered in dark chocolate and a seriously lush advent calendar.  The chocolate advent calendar comes in a very impressive  Christmas red, white and gold themed box and contains twenty four two-bite Christmassy figures cast in seriously good 70% dark or 40% milk chocolate and stylish one-off designs. No added flavor to the chocolates what you see is what you get -just pieces of great quality chocolate. Not exactly the cheapest  advent calendar,  nevertheless a well deserved festive treat that lasts for twenty four days. Well, if you are disciplined enough not eat them all at one...

a selection of milk and  dark chocolate The Ultimate Advent calendar @ £17/box

In the Western Christian tradition Advent is the start of the Christian year, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve.  The idea of Advent is to prepare for the Second Coming while remembering the First Coming of Christ at Christmas.
The four Sundays of Advent are often celebrated by the gradual lighting of four candles (the coming of light into the world). The  Advent wreath is created by the construction of  a circle of evergreen branches, representing everlasting life.  The gathering of seedpods, nuts, and cones for decoration remind us of the symbol of resurrection. For the third Sunday a rose candle is used to represent a time of less penance and more rejoicing.
On the first Sunday of Advent, light one candle, the second Sunday two candles are lit; Third Sunday two purple and one rose candle are lit and on the fourth Sunday light all candles.
Eastern churches do not have a Season of Advent, but do follow the original forty-day routine of fasting, prayer and reflection.  

Christmas traditions varies around the world. However, somethings are common worldwide: the tradition of lights, Christmas tree, decorations varies according to culture, poinsettia, candles and the Christmas meal. On December the 25th, Christians and non-Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Most people celebrate by giving gifts. Children will be raiding their Christmas stockings, which is usually filled with big and small tokens. They may also be going to church with their families. Christmas has so many traditions and symbols associated with it, that it's difficult to pin point exactly how it came to be the festivity it is today. 
Also in the box:
Great stocking fillers: 

Chocolate mince pies six milk chocolate cups full of different textures;  filled with layers of crunchy praline and delightful salted caramel. What a treat!  Two big bite size of sweetness heaven.  Weight: 95g/box

Brazil Nuts : this beautifully designed tin contains 250gr of whole roasted Brazil nuts in 60% deep dark chocolate. In Brazil these nuts are called castanhas-do-Pará, literally "nuts from Pará". Brazil nut tree can be found on the banks of the rivers  Amazon, Rio Negro, Tapajós, and the Orinoco. The tradition of eating nuts at Christmas came from Europe. In Brazil they signify abundance and prosperity. A lovely thought for Christmas!

Find out more about Hotel Chocolat  range of  Christmas, occasion, by genre or corporate products here: Hotel chocolat  and their Tasting club  

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