Teapigs Matcha Challenge

Teapigs Matcha Challenge Kit
Teapigs Matcha Challenge
Teapigs Matcha Challenge

Have you heard of matcha? It’s a green tea that comes in powdered form, is full of good stuff and I’ve got a friend who loves it and says it gives her a nice steady energy rise during the morning with no crash.

It looks like this.

teapigs-matcha
Don’t panic. It doesn’t taste like spirulina

Traditionally, matcha is drunk whisked in hot water but if it’s not to your taste drunk ‘neat’ like that you can use it in lots of different ways, e.g. in cookies, ice cream, juices or – as I did this morning – smoothies.

Blueberry, blackberry and raspberry smoothie
I hid my matcha in a blueberry, blackberry and raspberry smoothie

I’ve tried matcha before but not regularly (i.e. I kept forgetting I had it) so when Teapigs asked me if I wanted to take part in their matcha challenge to take matcha every day for two weeks and let them know how I felt at the end of the challenge, I accepted.

Teapigs sent me everything I needed to get going. A pot of matcha, a shot glass and measuring spoon, a hand-held whisk/milk frother and a chart on which to tick off each day of the challenge (which will be a great aid in reminding me to take my matcha).

Teapigs Matcha Challenge Kit
The Teapigs Matcha Challenge Kit

I’ve ticked off day one and if you’d like to join in the Teapigs Matcha Challenge, you’ll find all the information you need on the Teapigs website.

Additionally, they’re also holding a daily giveaway of a 30g pot of matcha for a photo selected from Instagram. To be in with a chance of winning, upload your Teapigs Matcha Challenge photo to Instagram, tagging @teapigs and using the hashtag #matchachallenge.

 

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Mix Your Own Cocktails

chi-chi-cocktail

The last time I went to a cocktail bar, it was so dark you couldn’t see the bottom of the stairs leading from the street to the bar, it was so noisy I almost gave away my age and asked for the music to be turned down and it was so hot I thought it was the early onset of the menopause. However, I stuck it out because a) I love cocktails; and b) we had Groupon vouchers which meant our cocktails were v. cheap.

Despite loving cocktails though, I’ve never made my own. Not alcoholic ones, anyway. thebar.com is a great site for cocktail recipes if you fancy testing your Tom Cruise skills; search by brand, mixer or fresh ingredient to find your perfect combination.

My favourite cocktails are those that are nearer to a dessert than a drink – you know the type; the creamy, indulgent, fruity ones. I typed in ‘coconut’ and a list of eleven cocktails containing coconut appeared on the screen. The chi-chi caught my eye – it’s a blend of vodka, coconut cream and pineapple and, according to the blurb, it’s like a disco in a glass.

Now I just need to buy some cocktail glasses, a cocktail shaker, some paper umbrellas and, oh yes, some vodka, cream of coconut and pineapple juice.

Yum.

I’d love to know what your favourite cocktails are – leave a comment below.

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Waitrose Vegetarian Foodie Wine Case

veggie-foodie-case

What a great idea – a vegetarian wine case, complete with a booklet of recipes to accompany the wine. Or does the wine accompany the food? Either way, I applaud Waitrose Cellar for coming up with this. I applaud them even further for sending me a case to try.

waitrose-vegetarian-foodie-wine-case

The case contains six bottles – three each of red and white –  A South African Chenin Blanc, a German-sounding French Gewürztraminer and a more French-sounding French Roquefortissime, an Italian Barbaresco, an Australian Pinot Noir and an Argentinian Malbec.

Inside the recipe booklet are six recipes, one to go with each of the wines. I quite fancied making the Sri Lankan Nut Curry but, even though he hasn’t explicitly said so, I’ve always had the feeling The Meat Eater doesn’t like nuts in curries so I decided to make the Spanakopita as I’ve made that before with no complaints (I told The Meat Eater I’d got the feeling he didn’t like nuts in curries and he confirmed my suspicions).

Waitrose’s recipe makes 20 small spanakopitas but as I have mentioned previously, I’m a lazy, impatient cook who avoids any faff, and fiddling about with filo pastry making 20 spanakopitas definitely falls into the category of faff, so I made one big spanakopita. And very nice it was too. You’ll have to forgive the terrible photograph, just be assured it tasted nicer than it looks.

spanokapita

The wine that went with the spanakopita was the Waitrose Cederberg Chenin Blanc 2013, which clearly has the vegetarian ‘V’ symbol on the back of the label (the only one in the case to do this).

wine-marked-vegetarian

I’m not going to even attempt to try and sound like I’m the slightest bit knowledgeable about wine, so I’m just going to say it was white and it was nice. The Meat Eater doesn’t drink wine (yeah, I know. Weirdo) so he accompanied his meal with a pint of non-vintage Tesco Summer Fruit Squash 2014.

The Waitrose Cellar Vegetarian Foodie Case costs £70. For more information and to order a case, visit the Waitrose Cellar website.

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Aubergine and chickpea penne

aubergine-and-chickpea-penne

I had written ‘saffron’ on the shopping list but The Meat Eater went to the supermarket on his own and came back saffronless as he couldn’t bring himself to pay so much for it. Saffron is, after all, more expensive – pound for pound – than gold.

Still, I found some in the back of the spice cupboard so it didn’t really matter. I may still put it in the trolley when he’s not looking though.

Today’s recipe is another one from Vegan 100 Everyday Recipes and it was perfect summer evening food.

What I did differently to the recipe:

I cut down on the amount of coriander, as coriander’s not really my thing.
It asks for cumin seeds, crushed, so I thought this was probably the same as ground cumin, so I used that.

I didn’t have tinned chopped tomatoes with garlic, so used plain tinned tomatoes and added 1tsp garlic powder (I would have used fresh but didn’t have any).

I left out the cinnamon as The Meat Eater doesn’t like it in savoury stuff.

Aubergine and chickpea penne (serves 4)

large pinch of saffron threads
450ml vegan stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
350g aubergine, diced
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
400g canned chopped tomatoes with garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
30g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated and roughly chopped
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
280g dried penne
salt and pepper

Toast the saffron threads in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat for 20-30 seconds, just until they begin to give off their aroma. Place in a small bowl and crumble with your fingers. Add 2 tablespoons of the hot stock and set aside to infuse.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry for 5-6 minutes, until golden brown. Add the cumin and fry for a further 20-30 seconds, then stir in the aubergine, red pepper, tomatoes, cinnamon, coriander stalks, saffron liquid and remaining stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas to the saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, removing the lid to reduce and thicken the sauce if necessary.

Serve with penne or other pasta.

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Savse raw smoothies

savse-smoothies

I’m always dubious by those smoothies you find on the shelves. Are they really as healthy as they make out? I’m not so sure.

Savse raw smoothies, however, are so healthy, just one little bottle provides you with two of your five a day. They’re 100% natural, unpasteurised, contain no added sugar and each bottle bursts with fruit and veg.

I tried the least scary looking one first – rhubarb, carrot, strawberry, apple and yoghurt which was thinner than I was expecting (it’s not smoothie-thick) but beautifully tasty and refreshing.

Feeling braver today, I tried one containing broccoli, pear, spinach, kale, lemon and banana. Delicious, although one to avoid if you don’t like bits in your drink – personally, I liked the extra dimension they gave it and I’m saying that as someone who’s not usually a fan of bits in drinks.

Savse raw smoothies come in five combinations, and you can find out where to buy them on their website.

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JuiceBurst–the world’s first digitally interactive soft drink

JuiceBurst

JuiceBurst comes in 14 fruit flavours, most of them containing one of your five a day. What’s unique about this drink though is the Blippar technology that allows you to enter an interactive world where the fruit bursts off the label and out of your phone/iPad. You can even play the fruit machine game where you can be in with a chance of winning your own stash of JuiceBurst.

Just download the Blippar app and ‘blipp’ the bottle!

JuiceBurst RRPs at £1.29 and is stocked at WHSmith, Superdrug, Onestop, Greggs and selected Tesco stores.

For more information, visit the JuiceBurst Facebook page.

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Greenall’s Gin and Pink Grapefruit

greenalls-gin-and-pink-grapefruit

This was the second time I’ve ever had gin. The first time was in a goth club in Liverpool in 1989 when someone had smuggled a bottle in and I tried some. Actually, I’m not sure if I tried it or just smelt it. I definitely remember smelling it though and it smelt like paraffin.

Greenall’s Gin and Pink Grapefruit doesn’t smell like paraffin, it smells like grapefruit. It also tastes of grapefruit but it doesn’t overpower the taste of the tonic and gin.

Now I am no longer a goth and now embrace all things pink (although my inner goth still burns darkly), the colour appealed to me.

It’s nice, buy some. It’s 6.5%, comes in a 250ml can and can be bought in all major supermarkets for around £1.85.

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In Nature Slim Lotus Tea

innature-logo

In Nature sent me some of their slim lotus tea to try. It comes in a beautiful box.

slim-lotus-tea-box

And on the back of the beautiful box it says Lotus Teas may assist:

Slimming
Detoxify
Cancer prevention
Heart condition
Anti-oxidant
Anti-bactieral
Constipation

and I am deeply dubious about claims made on the back of packs of tea. Wouldn’t you be?

Still, I said I’d try it, and after reading the instructions was thoroughly confused. Do I really need 11 steps of instructions written in poor English to make a cup of tea? No, I didn’t think so either.

I opened the packet and was surprised to see not the kind of tealeaves you usually get loose, but big bay-leaf size leaves. These guys aren’t lying when they say you’ll get leaves.

slim-lotus-tea-leaves I gave them a sniff and – ooh, they smelt lovely, fresh and light. The instructions said to use one or two teaspoons per 300ml cup or teapot but I didn’t know how many leaves would equate to one teaspoon so I just put a few in my teapot. Then I put a few more in and hoped for the best.

I let it sit for a couple of minutes then strained it into a cup and had a sip. WOW! I was amazed. This tea is beautiful. It’s light and fresh and leaves your mouth feeling clean. There was a slight menthol-ness to it which made me breathe easier.

This is a tea that I will definitely be drinking regularly – not just because it gives me an excuse to get my gorgeous red polka-dot teapot and cup out.

slim-lotus-tea For more information on the Slim Lotus Tea and the other teas in In Nature’s range, visit their website.

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Liefmans Fruitesse Fruit Beer Cupcakes

liefmans_fruitesseI love fruit beer. In London, I lived near a pub that sold all different kinds – now all I can get is whatever they sell in the supermarket, which is usually Fruili, a strawberry beer. Fruili is fab but it would be nice to have something different for a change, which is where Liefmans Fruitesse comes in. It’s a traditional sour brown Belgian beer, but with the addition of cherries, bilberries, elderberries, strawberries and raspberries.

It’s not as sweet as most fruit beers, so it would appeal to people who aren’t keen on fruit beer, as well as appealing to those who do. Personally, I’m keen on anything as long as it’s alcoholic.

Along with the beer I was sent to try, I was also sent a recipe for Liefmans Fruitesse Cupcakes, which has the beer added to them. I don’t like to waste alcohol by putting it in food and I’m not a great cake lover anyway, so I haven’t tried the recipe. If you want to have a go making fruit beer cupcakes, then here’s the recipe.

cupcakes

Liefmans Fruitesse Strawberry & Lime Cupcakes – designed by Masie Johnson, the ‘R&R Gastro Intern’

Ingredients (makes 12)

Cupcakes
100ml semi-skimmed milk
100ml Liefmans Fruitesse
115g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
250g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp strawberry flavouring
12tsp strawberry jam

Icing
75g unsalted butter
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
275g icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the milk and Fruitesse together in a measuring jug.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until a creamy texture is formed. Add the eggs separately, then pour in the flour and beat well.
  3. Add the milk/Fruitesse mixture and beat again until smooth. Then pop in the strawberry flavouring, along with the baking powder, and mix.
  4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, dividing evenly, approximately 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until moist. *TIP* Insert a skewer into the middle of the cupcakes, and if the stick is left clean, then they’re ready to leave the oven.
  5. Once baked, transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Using an apple corer, remove the middle of each cupcake to create space for a gooey jam centre. Using a piping bag, insert the strawberry jam until it reaches the top of each cake.
  7. For the icing, beat the butter with 5 tablespoons of the freshly squeezed lime juice, along with the icing sugar, until creamy. Pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with the lime zest. To give it a colourful finish, pop a strawberry, or a strawberry sweet onto each cake.

Liefmans Fruitesse is available from Waitrose, Asda and Tesco at £1.79 a 33cl bottle.

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Firefly Natural Drinks–Bramley Apple & Ginger

firefly_bramley_apple_gingerWhat I like most about this Jubilee edition of this Firefly Bramley Apple & Ginger drink is the corgi on the lid, it’s so cute. Saying that though, that doesn’t mean the drink is rubbish, it’s not, it’s lovely. It has a light, refreshing taste of apple juice with a hint of ginger that’s not overpowering.

It contains no artificial ingredients – the only ingredients are still water, fruit juices from concentrate (white grape, apple, blackberry, lemon), fruit extract and botanical extracts (rosemary, ginger, yerba maté, elderberry, guarana, liquorice). Now, don’t you feel healthy after just reading that list?

A bottle of Firefly contains 93 calories, is suitable for vegetarians and available at cafés, delis, hotels and foodhalls in over forty countries, as well as in Waitrose and Holland and Barrett.

A list of stockists can be found on their website.

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