Great Taste Awards

Irish Black Butter

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Let’s make a short hop, skip and a jump over to Ireland for this post, to highlight a small jar of pure versatility in the form of Irish Black Butter - a new concept using ancient techniques, for us all to enjoy whether we want to go down the sweet or the savoury route. The main ingredients here are the rich bramley apples from Armagh which are then blended with cider, brandy and spices, producing a mouth-watering conserve of dark velvet indulgence.

Now the obvious choice here for us at The Amazing Blog would be to try this on a slice of toast - very yum we can confirm - or perhaps a more decadent scone with some cream perhaps - completely yum - but the versatility of this ‘other black stuff’ comes when we start using in a more experimental manner for the ultimate ‘yum’. How about on our porridge? Or mixed with some thick greek yoghurt? The options for this little pot of black gold are endless, but one recipe, we would urge you to try is to slather it over a ham before cooking it - the delicious flavours from the oven will swirl around the kitchen like a warm Irish hug and tease those taste buds for what is to come. Not forgetting to mention that it is vegan, vegetarian friendly, dairy free, wheat free and comes in cute little jar. 

The Irish Black Butter Company was formed in 2017 by Alastair Bell who has a background in farming and events management. Clearly a well-founded belief in his Irish Black Butter, which has gone on to sweep boards of awards with two stars in the Great Taste Awards 2018 and Chefs Choice Award in the Irish Food Awards 2018; and of course, now securing many stockists throughout Ireland. Of course, in this day and age we don’t have to be local to the Emerald Isle to get our hands on a jar, as we can simply go to here and click on their shop to order - 125g will cost you £3.95, and the 225g jar costs £5.95. If ever there was a condiment which no self-respecting larder should be without, then surely this is it.

 

Summerdown Mint Teas - Peppermint Tea and Spearmint & Camomile Tea

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As the weather cools, there is nothing nicer than hugging a comforting cuppa. Besides the warming effect, tea can do so much for our systems. Dandelion tea helps with bloating and promotes liver health, green tea is full of antioxidants, ginger tea helps with nausea associated with motion sickness, and peppermint tea is known to aid digestion. The Amazing Blog was thrilled to receive a selection of teas from Summerdown Mint, a specialist British peppermint company.

Summerdown Mint was founded by Sir Michael Colman over twenty years ago, in green and leafy Hampshire. He decided to cultivate a unique variety of Black Mitcham peppermint, a type of mint that was grown in England over 100 years ago. Summerdown Mint also produce a variety of other mint infused products, such as chocolates and sweets, and products for the bath, body, and home. We wrote about their fragrant Lemongrass & Mint Body Wash here. Many of their products have already achieved great accolades, being winners in The 2018 Beauty Shortlist Awards and the Great Taste Awards. Best of all, with Summerdown Mint, you know you’re getting an authentic home-grown English peppermint oil. An added bonus is that all of the products are 98% natural, and are free of sulfates, parabens, PEGs, petrochemicals and artificial colourings.

The English Peppermint tea consists of Black Mitcham mint leaves and oil. It comes either in regular tea bags or their rather charming pyramid shaped bags, which not only give the loose-leaf tea more room to steep, but they are biodegradable too. The dried leaves are infused with their oil from the distillery, which is where you get a wonderful, authentic English Peppermint tea taste. This packs a bit of punch, with a crisp, bright and full fresh mint flavour, and apparently it does wonders to calm the nerves! We also tried the English Spearmint & Camomile tea and found that this had a gently sweet and refreshing taste, while the ingredients help to aid digestion and reduce tension. First, the camomile flowers are harvested and dried, and then they are brewed with spearmint oil. We’d definitely recommend trying these teas, as they make a terrific break from our regular black tea.

 

If you would like to try Summerdown Mint’s English Peppermint tea (either the pyramid tea bags with 15 sachets, or regular tea bags containing 20 tea envelopes) or the English Spearmint & Camomile tea (20 tea envelopes), they can be all be purchased here from £3.40 per box. There is free delivery when you spent £25 or more within the UK.

Passionfruit , Chocolate Orange and Sour Cherry Curds - Thursday Cottage

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What we really miss during the Winter months at The Amazing Blog, is the vibrancy of summer tastes, we have always found that just as everything looks brighter in the summer so too are the flavours stronger. While it might be hard to believe it's June by looking out the window, you can certainly tell it is as you stroll through the supermarket aisles. As big fans of summer flavours we couldn’t wait to get our (oven) mitts on Thursday Cottage’s delicious jams, curds and marmalades. We love the twist that they put on traditional flavours to create unique and mouth-wateringly good products. We decided that we had to try their Sour Cherry Curd, Passionfruit Curd and Chocolate Orange Curd to really get us in the summer spirit.

Thursday Cottage takes great care in choosing the best ingredients for their products and combines a variety of traditional and unusual fruits to recreate your favourite summer flavours. It’s, therefore, no real surprise that they’ve won so many awards including the 2010 AND 2012 Great Taste Awards. We loved the Passion Fruit Curd, which had a delectably moreish sweet and tart flavour that was fantastic at jazzing up some plain vanilla ice cream or adding a zing to a Pavlova. In fact, it was this curd that won the much sought after award in 2012.The other two curds we tried are relatively new to Thursday Cottage as they only came out in 2016. The Sour Cherry Curd is bursting with a vibrant taste and sent us back to our childhoods – just as it promised it would. The Chocolate Orange seemed like something entirely different and unusual. With a smooth and creamy texture, the curd had chocolatey overtones with subtle hints of Orange coming through; this flavour is so good it was awarded one gold star at the 2016 Great Taste Awards. We found that the chocolate orange was a great addition to cakes, acting as a moist and flavoursome filling. What’s more, these curds are vegetarian. Thursday Cottage uses pectin instead of gelatin so everyone can enjoy these delicious table favourites.

You can purchase all of these curds here on Thursday Cottage’s website for as little as £2.65. While you’re there, we seriously recommend checking out their other items as well as the recipes they suggest for their products. With this brand by your side, you’ll have the best desserts all summer!

 

Friday Favourites - Nut Butters Feature

We here at The Amazing Blog love when we come across a healthy snack we don’t feel guilty indulging in. This is why we decided to look for some delicious and health nut butters to make your meals and snacks fabulous and guilt free.

Soil Association approved, the Primrose's Kitchen Almond and Chia Spread is a delicious butter alternative to the tasty peanut butter we all know and love. It’s still just as nutty but it’s actually better for you! You can spread it on bread, add it to dress or use it in baking. The key ingredient, almonds, is our nut of choice because they alkalise the body and make the perfect high protein snack when combined with Chia Seeds. Not only is this spread organic, but it is also gluten, wheat and sugar free.

Mix it up a little bit and purchase Primrose's Kitchen Almond and Chia Spread here. 

 

Instead of a spread, we decided to try Meridian nut butter bars. They come in two flavours, Almond and Peanut, and let me tell you, they are literally crammed full of nuts.   
Each delicious nut bar is 55% nuts, providing an excellent source of nutrients and energy.
These bars prove to be a satisfyingly tasty choice for people on-the-go because they are high energy snacks and super healthy. Each bar contains 8 and 7f of protein respectively – significantly more than mainstream cereal and nut bars. All Meridian nut butter bars are suitable for vegans and are gluten, dairy, soy and wheat free. They would make a healthy addition to any lunchbox so purchase these Meridian bars and other butters here.

 

 

Get your taste of Moroccan sunshine in a jar. The Berber tribes’ answer to nut butter, Alassala’s Amlou Paste is a traditional Moroccan food that can be used as a spread or a dip for bread or crackers. Winner of a Gold Star at the Great Taste Awards 2013, Alassala Amlou Paste sets itself apart by being pure and natural with no added honey or sugars. Made with only 72% ground, semi roasted almonds and 28% Organic Argan Oil, the paste is perfect for both sweet and savoury dishes. It is a great source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to lower cholesterol. Its distinct almond flavour makes a delicious, healthy addition to any recipe. Moroccan’s thought it to be the ideal enhancement to any romance, and it has certainly made its way into our hearts and our kitchens.

If you’re looking to add an exotic twist to your nutty snacks, Alassala Amlou Paste is available in two sizes: 226 grams RRP £14.99 and 113 grams RRP £7.99. Alassala also has a selection of recipes available here. The Amlou Paste is currently stocked at The Hale Clinic’s Nutri Centre online, and at other independent Health Stores and Speciality Food Stores. You can also buy Alassala’s products online.

This all-new brand of natural nut butters is changing the game when it comes to providing customers delicious and nutritious products. Pip & Nut have recently launched their line with three yummy, irresistible flavours: Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and Coconut Almond Butter. Each one is free of palm oil, refined sugar, preservatives, additives and emulsifiers. Their motto is, “if it’s not natural and a squirrel wouldn’t eat it, then we don’t use it.” The brand has already been mentioned in an article from The Grocer about healthy January comfort foods available at Selfridges. The founder was mentioned in an article by The Guardian about sacrifices start-ups need to make when they launch. Talk about go-getters!

You can find these tasty nut butters on display at your nearest Selfridges, until the Pip & Nut website is fully up and running. The containers are £5 each, and since each jar is loaded with health benefits and great taste, they are worth every pound.

DipNation

Myself and my colleague at The Amazing Blog, Lucy, somewhat stupidly challenged ourselves to a lengthy period of abstination in the lead up to Easter. And so arrives the first day of Lent, and with it 40 long and looming days without chocolate. Tensions in the office are high, tempers are short; nails bitten to the quick. And with it only being day one of forty, it's anyone's guess how the next few weeks will pan out. However, in giving up chocolate, there's a whole world of savoury delights ready and waiting to be tried, and, luckily for everyone in the office a box of Dipnation arrived on my desk today.

Founded in 2009, Dipnation was set up by Jeremy and Juliet Williams, and Juliet’s brother Patrick Gilmour. Inspired by the variety of dips available overseas and bored at the lack of choice in the UK market, Jeremy and Juliet decided to fill a niche alongside  Patrick, who with his background in chefing, was able to create scrumptious recipes to appeal to a primed UK consumer.

Since its conception the family-run business based in Fife has built up a strong customer base of local Farm Shops and Delicatessens thanks to its fresh ingredients and delicious flavours. It has also won them numerous stars in the Great Taste Awards and a nomination in the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.

The Chunky Dips are made with a base of crushed cashews and real Parmesan shavings; we tried ours with Kettle Chips, which made the perfect afternoon snack. With dips like these, who needs chocolate?! Available online and from a number of independent retailers.