Heston from Waitrose Rhubarb, Bramley Apple & Strawberry Crumble with Coconut & Rosemary

I’ve been pretty busy recently producing a new musical, a film, an outdoor theatre piece and a narrative spoken word piece. I’m also trying to buy a flat. Then the other week I sliced the top of my finger off using a mandolin. In the midst of all this I have been eating, but I haven’t found the time to take photos of my food and then write about it. So over the past couple of months my blogs have been less regular than I would have liked, but I hope that in the next few months I will have a completed musical, film, theatre piece and spoken word piece, I will be the proud owner of a flat and will once again have ten fingers each with the full quota of flesh.

If there was one thing that was going to get me out of my blogging malaise it was stumbling across a rhubarb product, I love rhubarb and feel it should be taken to the heart of everyone’s culinary existence. This particular rhubarb dish has been developed by Heston who by all accounts is the best of the bunch when it comes to new dishes available in the supermarket.

Heston Crumble

The crumble has a long list of ingredients in its title and includes the headline rhubarb, but also bramley apple, strawberry, rosemary and coconut, this sounded like it was going to be good. With crumble however the filling is only the half of it, a good topping can make or break a crumble and this one is described as “…a complex crunchy topping containing oats, golden syrup with hints of rosemary and coconut, this is a far-from humble crumble.” and a second description “… a beautifully textured crumble composed of butter, sugar, oats, golden syrup coconut and rosemary” which all sounded good to me.

The crumble was warmed through in the oven for 20 mins and then I smothered it with Ambrosia custard (is there any other kind) and stuck my spoon in. It was horrible. The only flavour that came through all those ingredients was rosemary. It was essentially a rosemary crumble. Rosemary is  my favourite herb, but when it powers through and obliterates my favourite thing rhubarb then I lose respect for it’s woody ways. Often with Heston products I complain that he includes an ingredient in the list but then you can’t taste that ingredient in the product (I ususally apply this to Earl Grey which Heston claims is in about 25% of his stuff but which you can taste in 0% of it) but with this rosemary concoction he has gone so far the other way that pudding was ruined. I really struggled to pick out any rhubarb flavour, in spite of the ingredients list claining it made up 39% of the dish, at one point I did get a chunk of bland apple and when I did get a taste of fruit it was of some overly sweet strawberry gloop which is only 8% of the total. As for the coconut I wouldn’t have had a clue that was there until about 10 minutes after we had finished eating when Naomi picked a shaving out of her teeth. The topping itself was ok, it had good texture, was quite buttery and not too sweet but again it tasted largely of rosemary so it’s hard to say for sure.

Crumble and Custard

I’m hoping that with Christmas just around the corner Heston can pull some good stuff out of the bag but for now all I’m left with is the lingering taste of rosemary.

Heston from Waitrose Rhubarb, Bramley Apple & Strawberry Crumble with Coconut & Rosemary £3.99 for 500g

3/10

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Heston from Waitrose Brioche Burger Buns

Many years ago culinary wizard Heston Blumenthal taught us that the secret to a perfect burger was to ensure that all the strands of minced beef face the same direction. No more were we to take our mince and manipulate it into a patty by any means, the new world order involves lining up your mince strands, packing them into a meaty log before refrigerating and cutting off the perfect burger. Heston also conducts research into the perfect bun and quite rightly he settles on a brioche bun as the most appropriate home for the patty.

These days with Heston’s range in Waitrose he sells both burgers and brioche buns. His burgers are true to his research and use three different cuts of meat and the strand alignment technique. They cost £4.99 for two so I didn’t buy them instead heading to my great local butcher Flock and Herd where a burger costs £1.50 and taste great whatever way the beef strands sit. I did however invest in Heston’s brioche buns.

Heston Brioche Buns

Heston says “Complement your burger with a great bun. When toasted it is the ultimate combination of rich, soft and buttery, to accompany a juicy meaty burger.” so not wanting to shy away from an ultimate combination I cooked the burger and then added the brioche buns to the griddle in order to get satisfying grill lines across the surface of the bread.

When I took the buns out of the packet they were the softest pillows of bouncy bread you ever did feel. If it wouldn’t be too weird and a big waste of food they’d be the perfect replacement for a comfort blanket. I took my lightly griddled buns, plonked on the burger and took a bite.

Burger in bun

The buns were very sweet, light and buttery and despite their soft and delicate texture they held the burger without any trouble. The downfall of many a good burger is a bun that disintegrates under the might of its filling, leaving the eater covered in beef juice, mustard and tomato pulp. Not so with Heston’s buns –  partly because I didn’t have any tomato in the burger but largely because the structure of the bread was so good.

I can’t think of a better burger bun than Heston’s brioche version, they win through on all counts. Some people may find them overly sweet but I was quite happy.

Heston from Waitrose Brioche Burger Buns £1.39 for two buns

8/10

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Heston from Waitrose Salmon Pate

I’ve got to be honest I only bought this pate because it was reduced from £2.99 to £2.09. It’s not the greatest bargain that anyone ever got but in Waitrose terms a 90p reduction isn’t that bad as they’re pretty stingy on how much they will knock off. I reckon if I’d been in Tesco and they had some £2.99 pate that was going to be out of date in a matter of hours I’d get it at least half price, but Tesco is shit and Waitrose is great so I mustn’t grumble.

Salmon Pate tub

I’m not one of those people who can get excited about pate, it sits alongside terrines and rillettes in a category in my brain called “cheap lunch menu starters”. They’re the kind of  dishes that a restaurant can knock up in big portions relatively cheaply. They get stuck in the fridge ready to whack out as an option next to soup and a goats cheese salad on a three courses for £16.50 menu.  I admit that that doesn’t necessarily make them bad, but in my mind it does make them boring.

Pate on toast

And so it was with my 90p discount and my lack of enthusiasm for pate that I got to business and toasted a couple of slices of St John Bakery sourdough and slathered on the pate. The packaging informed me that “Smoking in Lapsang Souchong gives this pate a boost in flavour that really brings it alive. The perfect dip or spread for hors d’oeuvres.” and do you know that packaging was pretty accurate. I’m loathe to agree that anything is perfect so I won’t go as far as that, but it was delicious. It was creamy from the cream cheese, you got a hint of the smoky Lapsang Souchong but it wasn’t overwhelming, the herbs were fragrant, there was a touch of acidity from the lemon juice and even though salmon isn’t the most flavoursome fish going there was plenty of it and I could taste it alongside all the other elements. The pate hadn’t been blitzed to a paste so there was a great texture with small pieces of salmon left in tact – delicious!

It can be a bumpy journey with Heston products, they’re largely good sometimes excellent and occasionally disasterous but with his salmon pate I think he’s back on form and as boring dishes go, this is one of the best.

Heston from Waitrose Salmon Pate £2.99 per pot (unless you get a 90p discount)

8/10

nb Sorry about the lack of accent on the word “pate” but even at the tender age of 35 I’ve still not figured out how to do it!

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Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper

Before this post begins properly I warn you that it is the shortest blog I have ever written because I have very little to say. So here goes…

Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper is described on the packet as having “… a rich and fruity flavour. It’s often called the finest in the world. A little goes a long way!” so far so good. I popped off the lid and there was a nice fragrant peppery aroma that came out. I thought I was in for a treat but it tasted like any other pepper. The end.

Jamie Oliver Pepper

Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper £4.99 for 180g from TK Maxx (this is a real bargain – it is £2.50 for just 50g of the bog standard one in Sainsbury’s).

5/10

 

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Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Yorkshire Pudding Mixture

It’s a few months since I tried Sean Wilson’s pancake mix which was my previous encounter with the range. In that blog I made my thoughts on packet mix batter very clear and the same rules apply to Yorkshire Puddings as they do to pancakes, which is that they are all shades of wrong. Sean likes to go the extra mile though and not content with making stupid products he couples it with bad copy.

IMG_0485

This is what Sean has to say about his Yorkshire Pudding Mixture “It’s not just this fab recipe that gives you the best Yorkshires. There are a few simple rules to follow when cooking, to make the ‘perfect’ Yorkshires. They should ALWAYS be made by an adult.”. Now putting aside the obvious cringe factor I wonder why Sean is so insistent that an adult has to be involved? Has there been some instances of 7 year olds ending up in A&E because Sean wasn’t specific about who should be using his mix, or is it just part of a greater concern Sean has for our wellbeing as evidenced in the next paragraph with phrases like:

“..until the fat is just smoking (be careful here).”

“Very carefully, with oven gloves on…”

“…place on a safe surface.”

“With your oven gloves on again…”

As we’ve already been told that only adults should be making the Yorkshires I would expect them not to pick up a scorching hot tin without oven gloves, or place it on an unsafe surface, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. At the end of the blurb he tries to justify all that safety advice by telling us “We want you to have FUN with your Yorkshires and impress your family and friends every time you use our traditional recipe and follow my instructions.”. So it seems it was all because he wanted us to have fun – which is nice. I do take issue with his use of the term “traditional” though as the ingredients list includes Calcium Carbonate and Iron Nicotinamide which are two ingredients I don’t think I would have ever found in my Granny’s traditional pantry.

Yorkshire batter

Anyway I’ve spent enough time examing the packet so it was time to give them a try. I whisked up the powder with 200ml of water and an egg, chilled the batter for a bit before pouring it into the preheated tin and cooking for 15 mins. They came out brown and puffy and looking delicious.

Sean Yorkshires

I was partnering these Yorkshires with a cote de boeuf that cost me £24 so they were in good company. Ironically after taking the beef out of the oven in its grill pan karma kicked in and I forgot to put oven gloves on and seared the skin off my fingers. Where was Sean and his sage advice when I needed him most?

I served up my dinner and got stuck into the Yorkshires. It pains me to say they were a pretty good version, sure they could have had a bit more seasoning but they were light and had just the right amount of chew and they would stand up pretty well against a home made version. I did not see that one coming.

I’ve only got a packet of dumpling mix and some cheese crisps to go before Sean and I stop meeting on these pages, but I feel like I can look forward with a little less dread in my heart.

Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Yorkshire Pudding Mixture 39p for 128g packet (B&M Bargain).

7/10

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Apple and Elderflower Candy Kittens – Jamie Laing

It had to happen. It was only a matter of time. For the sake of the human race I am saddened. For the sake of this blog I couldn’t be happier. One of the cast of Made in Chelsea have stepped up to the plate and decided to spend their well deserved, hard earned cash on setting up a food business.  Jamie Laing (the blonde one with a posh accent if that helps) has set up Candy Kittens which the website describes thus “We’re a fashionable confectionary company that is truly young at heart. By combining fashion and confectionary we aim to challenge the dated traditions of the market, striving as we do, to make candy cool. We believe we’re bringing something that’s fresh and unique to your shelves. Sugar has never been put to better use.” You can make your own jokes.

The fashion area of the business includes things like a pink beanie hat with candy written on it, a top with Laing 13 to emphasise the ego of it’s creator and a t-shirt that comes complete with in built sexism saying “I’M A CANDY KITTEN”. The range of clothing is only for women so unfortunately I won’t be donning any of Jamie’s wares. I don’t think this an oversight though as one of the ideas behind the brand is that the people selling you the sweets are “his” Candy Kittens. Being a Candy Kitten means you get to wear a skinny tshirt and look sexy whilst you sell sweets, or if you’re particularly lucky you get to drive around in (and this is honestly true) the Candy Van and sell sweets on the streets of London. Watching the promo video of the candy van it looks like you are only allowed to buy the sweets if you’re female, but men can stand in the background and watch you do it.

Candy Kitten Bag

Anyway you aren’t reading this to hear me pass judgement on a business model you’re probably here to see if this new range of “candy”, not sweets – even though we’re in the UK are any good. Well the answer is that yes they are, I like them. The candy comes in four flavours Peaches and Cream, Eton Mess, Sour Watermelon and the flavour I have Apple and Elderflower. They are made with all natural ingredients, are gluten free and contain real fruit juice. They look a bit plasticky but the texture is excellent, it sits somewhere between the gummy one in a Haribo Starmix and a Percy Pig. Initially I thought the flavour was a little subdued but I’m now on my second sitting and eating them for breakfast on a Sunday and the tartness of the apple is punchy, you can still taste the elderflower and being candy they are of course very sweet.

Candy Kitten sweets

Surprisingly, in spite of being male, I enjoyed these creations and would like to give some of the other flavours a try – not the Eton Mess one though, that’s just wrong. If you can find them (my bag came from Topshop) or spot the candy van then let me know what you think.

Apple and Elderflower Candy Kittens – Jamie Laing £3 for 150g bag

7/10

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Estrella Inedit – Ferran Adria

A few weeks back I reached my tolerance level for eating horrid food stuffs created by celebrities. I was struggling to muster the enthusiasm to put fingers to keyboard and write enthusiastically, or indeed scathingly about them and consequently I haven’t published a new blog for some time…. But after a summer of eating at some decent eateries – Zucca, Coast in Saundersfoot, Jackson and Rye, Cafe Murano, Stax Diner, The Dairy and The Camberwell Arms if you’re interested, I have raised the bar in my eating expectations and am ready to have them dashed once more with a return to the ridiculous, the mundane and the downright disgusting. I have also spent that time stockpiling products ready to carry me through the next few weeks. There’s a couple of Jamie products, the ongoing horrors of the Sean Wilson Signature Collection, some sweets from a chump on Made in Chelsea and no less than two products from culinary mastermind Ferran Adria.

Adria Beer Bottle

I am picking up again with a beer as it seems to be the new thing to endorse. Not long ago I tried an ale from Professor Green, now Ferran Adria is getting involved and Rick Stein is in on the act but I haven’t tried his yet. If you read my Professor Green blog you will know that reviewing a beer is particularly tricky for me as I’ve been pretty much tee total for the past 17 years. Trying to impart knowledge as to the quality of a product I know next to nothing about is tricky, but then the majority of blogs are from people imparting knowledge about stuff they know next to nothing about so I’m in good company.

The label is surprisingly light on copy, it simply states “WHITE & LAGER BEER BLEND CREATED BY FERRAN ADRIA THE WORLD’S MOST AWARD-WINNING CHEF”. If you saw the bottle on the shelf and didn’t read the copy you wouldn’t know that Ferran was involved, but when you got to the till and were charged £5.95 it might give you a clue that this is something more than a can of Skol! To be fair there is 750mls of the stuff so we can forgive him the price tag.

Adria Beer

As the label suggests it’s a very light beer in both look and taste, the best description I can give is that in beery terms it is the opposite of Guinness. I asked Naomi (my girlfriend) to expand and all she could come up with was “It’s like Leffe – a bit fruity, slightly creamy you know. It’s alright, but I’d expect more from the greatest chef in the world.” so there you have it, that’s as much of a recommendation as you’ll get here.

Estrella Inedit – Ferran Adria £5.95 for 750ml

5/10

 

 

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