Review: Flavour Box

I was rather excited to have a Flavour Box delivered the other week. It’s always fun to receive parcels by post, and even more so when they contain food – and artisan food at that.


Flavourly provides a monthly food subscription service costing £20. Their customers receive a monthly Flavour Box packed full of delicious, independently produced, artisan food products sourced from all parts of the UK. It costs less if you sign up for three or six months at a time.

According to Flavourly’s founder, Ryan O’Rorke, the company works closely with many niche producers and by featuring their products in the Flavour Box they provide them with a solid marketing channel, getting their foods directly into the hands of foodies, small shop owners and market traders. What’s more, for every Flavour Box bought, Flavourly donates a meal to some of the 250 food banks throughout the UK through the FareShare community food charity.

It sounded like a great concept to me. The idea of a surprise box of tasty foodie delights arriving each month certainly appeals and it could be a good way of discovering interesting new artisan products and producers. So of course I was up for receiving a box to try out.

In our sample box we received:

  • Cambrook Caramelized Almond and Blueberry Bar
  • Cambrook Sesame Peanuts
  • Trotter’s Mostarda
  • Bath Pig Well Hung Chorizo
  • Corn Again Chilli and Lime Popcorn
  • Cochrane Cottage Lime Salad Drizzle.

It was quite a novelty opening a delivery of food and having absolutely no idea what was in there. As you probably know, I’m a big advocate of meal planning and so pretty much everything we buy and eat has been planned with almost military precision. I won’t go into detail here about why I plan meals so carefully – suffice to say it saves us lots of money by doing so and you can read more here in my very first blog post. And so opening and going through the Flavour Box felt rather exciting and very indulgent.

Pretty much everything in the box got a thumbs up from my family.

FlavourlyCollageThe sesame peanuts from Cambrook were a particular favourite with both me and my youngest daughter. We devoured the packet between us in one sitting, although my husband and oldest thought they were a bit too sweet and could clearly take them or leave them. The children unfortunately didn’t get a look in on the scrumptious chilli and lime flavoured popcorn from Corn Again. The idea of chilli as a popcorn flavouring appealed but I wasn’t too sure about the lime, but it absolutely worked, giving a fresh zingy taste with a good chilli kick that grows gradually. My husband and I polished off the packet in no time, washed down with a cold bottle of beer when the kids were in bed. Lovely. We did leave them the almond and blueberry bar, again from Cambrook, which they thoroughly enjoyed as a snack while we watched the monkeys at Longleat during the Easter holidays.

Another favourite of mine is the Trotter’s Mostarda, a divine compote of fig, apricot, apple, prune and mustard seed. I am rapidly working my way through the jar, enjoying the contents whenever I eat cheese or cold meats. The Cochrane Cottage Lime Salad Drizzle is very good. It’s fresh and spicy and, at only six calories per serving, is proving a bit of God’s send on 5:2 diet days.

The Bath Pig is the only brand of all those featured in the box I was already familiar with. We tried the chorizo as part of a spread with other cold meats but it wasn’t all that popular. We all agreed it tasted much better cooked when I used it in a simple dish recently of Jerusalem artichokes with a chorizo breadcrumb topping. I love the way the chorizo turned the breadcrumbs bright orange!

jerusalem artichoke with chorizo

So all in all, the individual contents of the Flavour Box were extremely well received in the Bangers & Mash household. But the big question remains as to whether we’d ever consider signing up for the subscription service ourselves.

While I really like the concept and probably would have signed up like a shot say ten years ago, before we had children, I probably wouldn’t these days. We’re on an extremely tight budget and although I love the surprise element, I need to carefully plan how we spend our food budget and so a monthly box like this just wouldn’t work.

But for anyone in the fortunate position not to have to worry so much about their finances, I would highly recommend the Flavour Box as a fun and tasty way to have delicious and interesting new foods delivered to your doorstep. I’d also be  interested if Flavourly ever introduce the option to send a Flavour Box as a gift, and I’d be dropping very unsubtle hints to friends and relatives about the existence of such a service!

Try a Flavour Box yourself with a £10 discount code

Flavourly is giving Bangers & Mash readers the chance to test drive a Flavour Box themselves by offering them £10 of their first box. Simply use the redemption code FLAVOURLY10 at their website checkout.

Disclosure: Flavourly sent me a complimentary Flavour Box  for review purposes. No money exchanged hands.

Review: Amoy Special Selection Soy Sauce & Sticky Glazes

Amoy Collage

We consume rather a lot of soy sauce in our house. Perhaps it’s down to the Chinese Malaysian ancestry. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved the stuff and I could probably survive on a diet of boiled white rice smothered in soy sauce. Just the thought of it now is making me hungry.

I usually buy huge bottles from the Chinese supermarket because we get through so much of it. So when Amoy asked if I’d like a complimentary bottle of their new ‘Special Selection’ soy sauce to try out, of course I had to say yes.

It’s actually very good, and I’m not just saying that because I got it free. I fully intend to buy some when we finish this bottle, which won’t be long, and I’d certainly recommend it.

According to Amoy, their Special Selection soy sauce is made from the finest extracts of soya beans and blended with sea salt to provide an intense and full-bodied flavour. They’re absolutely right about the full-bodied flavour – it’s deliciously deep and rich and very, very moreish. We’ve tried it with rice, noodles and stir-fried vegetables and the whole family has given it a thumbs up every time.

Amoy also sent me some of their Sticky Glaze sauces to try: peanut satay, Chinese barbecue and sweet soy.


While I don’t normally buy packet sauces, I was quite impressed with these, although they were all a little on the sweet side. That’s probably why they were so popular with the children. The glazes are an extremely speedy marinade for meat, fish and vegetables, so they’d be quite a useful ingredient to have in the cupboard when you’re short of time and need something quick and easy for dinner.

The children loved the peanut satay in particular, which we had with chicken, but they do usually love food of any description on a stick. It was supposed to have ‘a chilli twist’ but I couldn’t really detect any chilli in there. My favourite was the Chinese barbecue glaze, which I used on pork spare ribs. Sweet and sticky and finger-lickingly good, just as good ribs should be. I can see myself buying that one again in future. I wasn’t so taken with the sweet soy glaze though – I much prefer my own version I made at Chinese new year!

Disclosure: Amoy sent me a complimentary bottle of their new Special Selection Soy Sauce and the three Sticky Glazes  for review purposes. No money exchanged hands.

Review: Breville 3-in-1 Hand Blender Set

The good people at Littlewoods recently sent me a Breville 3-in-1 hand blender set to road test. The neat looking gadget comprises a balloon whisk, blender and mini chopper, so I decided I’d really put it through its paces by putting it to work on a three-course lunch.
breville hand blender

For a simple starter I made Dukkah, an Egyptian spice mix that’s wonderful served with bread and oil.

breville chopping bowl
The mini chopper

Grinding up the toasted nuts and seeds was an ideal way to test out the mini chopper.

chopping nuts
Chopping almonds and walnuts for dukkah

The chopper did a pretty good job, making light work of grinding up the nuts and seeds very quickly. But it was extremely noisy and sent the children fleeing from the kitchen with their hands over their ears!

I used the mini chopper again to chop and blend the ingredients for a pesto sauce to serve with spaghetti. I experimented with watercress and pistachio, which turned out to be a delicious combination, getting a big thumbs up from all the family.

Making watercress and pistachio pesto
Making watercress and pistachio pesto

Again it worked well and I managed to achieve a good smooth consistency. But the container isn’t big – not a particular problem for pesto as you use the sauce fairly sparingly – but could be when you need to grind or chop larger quantities.

Time to try out the balloon whisk next, and it had to be egg whites. So for pudding I made my first ever lemon meringue pie, which was much, much easier than I’d anticipated.

Whisking egg whites for lemon meringue pie
Whisking egg whites for lemon meringue pie

The whisk worked like a dream – albeit a rather noisy dream – with the egg whites forming wobbly peaks in what seemed like seconds. It was so much quicker than my last whisk. I only used the lowest setting; I can’t imagine ever needing to use the higher setting.

lemon meringue pie
Lemon meringue pie

The resulting meringue was beautifully white and fluffy and almost marshmallow-like. Absolutely perfect.

I used the whisk again a few days later on a cheese sauce. This time I did find myself wishing I could lower the speed, as I found it practically impossible to whisk the sauce in the pan without it splashing everywhere.

I’ve also used the blender attachment a number of times over the last couple of weeks to make smoothies and liquidise soups. It does a good job, but again it is a lot more noisey than any blender I’ve used before. If you like being on your own in the kitchen that could be a good thing I suppose, as no one sticks around when you’re using it.

The final verdict

All in all, I’d say the Breville 3-in-1 hand blender is a fairly decent piece of kit considering the price. At the moment you can buy it from Littlewoods for just £34. But it could definitely do with being quieter and offering a lower speed level, particularly when using the whisk attachment.

Disclosure: Littlewoods sent me a complimentary Breville 3-in-1 hand blender set for review purposes. No money exchanged hands.

Egyptian Dukkah
Egyptian Dukkah
Spaghettie with watercress and pistachio pesto
Spaghetti with watercress and pistachio pesto
Lemon meringue pie
Lemon meringue pie

Eggspress review and giveaway for Valentine’s Day

Have you ever wanted to say “I love you” in egg-form but never quite known how? Alright, so the vast majority of people are unlikely to have felt such an urge but for those that have, this neat little Eggspress heart-shaped boiled egg mould might be just the thing!

When I was first invited to review an Eggspress on the blog, I immediately said yes. Eggs are a staple foodstuff in our house and we get through a fair few. So I’m always open to new ways to serve this most ovate of ingredients.

But on receiving my Eggspress, I realised it was actually for moulding cold, hard-boiled eggs. I’d assumed for some reason it was a mould in which to poach an egg, which actually would have been slightly more useful I think. My family doesn’t really eat all that many hard-boiled eggs. I much prefer them soft-boiled so I can dip my hot buttered soldiers into them on a lazy Sunday morning.

Anyway, on Saturday I tried the Eggspress out on my daughters. They were having a cold tea and I thought some hard-boiled eggs might make a nice addition.

The idea is you hard-boil your egg, leave it to cool, remove the shell and then place it into the Eggspress mould. Once you’ve firmly closed the mould, you then leave it for another 10 minutes immersed in cold water while the egg is squeezed into a heart-shape. To be honest, I found all this a little bit of a faff. The instructions say it should work on small to medium eggs, but I found my medium eggs were still a little too big and had to be forced into the mould – which probably explains why they came out slightly wonky!

My children did remark that they thought the eggs looked lovely, so perhaps the effort was worth it. For all of those five minutes that it took the kids to wolf down their tea…


While I don’t think the Eggspress will end up getting much use in the Bangers & Mash house, maybe it’s more your cup of tea? If you’re the kind of person who prefers their eggs small, cold and hard-boiled and has a penchant for anything heart-shaped, then you really need to have one!

I have one Eggspress to give away to one of my blog readers. Simply add a comment below letting me know you’d like one before midnight on Thursday 14 February, and it could well be yours. The first name drawn from the hat after the closing date will be the lucky winner.

Please note: this competition is only open to UK residents due to shipping costs and there is no cash or other product alternative.

Disclosure: I received two complimentary Eggspress moulds for review and giveaway purposes. No money exchanged hands.

Spicy Indian-style dips

We love dips in our house. Whether they’re shop-bought or homemade, we always have a supply of dippy things in pots in our fridge – hummus, babaganoush, taramasalata, tzatsiki – perfect with a few breadsticks or carrot chunks for an impromptu snack when the children are peckish.

And we’re rather keen on our Indian food too. I reckon our girls developed a taste for Asian spices when they were in the womb. I craved curries during both pregnancies and in the final weeks, in particular, I consumed a vast quantity of particularly hot curries in a vain attempt to bring  on labour.

So when Warburtons recently got in touch to see if I’d like to test out some recipes created by TV chef Monisha Bharadwaj for a range of Indian-style dips to complement their new baked naan chips, I thought why the heck not?

As well as directing me to Monisha’s selections of recipes on Facebook, Warburtons kindly sent me some packets of their baked naan chips in ‘classic tikka’ and ‘fiery hot’ flavours to try with them.

I decided to test out two of the dip recipes. The two that appealed most were the manuka tamater ki chutney, made with tomatoes, raisins and spices, and a mint and sunflower seed chutney.

I found the mint and sunflower seed chutney a little too flavoursome, verging on pungent. So I mixed in some Greek yoghurt which calmed it down perfectly and made for a very tasty, creamy and refreshing dip. As well as mint, it contains lots of coriander, which I think always work so well together. The recipe also calls for a couple of chillies, but since I was trying this out on the kids I only used one so it wasn’t too hot for them.

The manuka tamater ki chutney was very good, although a tad on the sweet side. It features raisins, so I probably wouldn’t bother with the sugar as well next time. This was the dip the children liked best, although my husband and I preferred the mint and sunflower seed one.

While we rather liked the dips, I have to admit the baked naan chips weren’t really our cup of chai. Our eldest, Miss Mash didn’t think they were spicy enough but Miss Bangers, the four-year-old refused to eat them because they were too spicy. My husband and I could take them or leave them really. I also took a couple of packs into work to share with colleagues, and the response was similar – although during the course of a day they did all get eaten, so they can’t have been that bad!

Have you tried any of the Warburton dip recipes? If so, what did you think? And what do you reckon to the baked naan chips? How do you think they compare to their pitta chips?

Disclosure: I was provided with four complimentary packets of Warburton baked naan chips for the purposes of this review.

Review: Hotel Chocolat Easter Goodies

I haven’t been writing a food blog for all that long, so when I was recently asked if I would do a review for the first time I almost fell off my chair. Especially since it was Hotel Chocolat doing the asking.

I’ve been a fan of Hotel Chocolat for quite some time. Whenever I walk past their shop in Bath I have to pick up speed and put my head down, as I know if I glance in, well that’s it. I’m a gonner. I’ll be in there spending the next week’s food budget on chocolate.

Hotel Chocolat invited me to review something from their Easter selection. Now, when I think of Hotel Chocolat, I think grown up chocolate. Dark, serious chocolate you need to take your time over and savour. Problem is, my blog is very much about family food. So I had to go against my instincts and choose something the whole clan could share, including my two girls age four and six.

Our family-friendly choice was You Crack Me Up, which Hotel Chocolat describe as

“an irrepressibly upbeat egg cast in 40% milk chocolate and bursting with our cheeriest chocolates, from smiley face pralines and happy chicks to classic Easter bunnies.”

We were all very excited when the package arrived in the post. Jessie’s jaw literally dropped. Straight off they knew this was going to be a little bit more special than their usual Buttons or Smarties eggs. And when the extra thick chocolate egg was opened up to reveal an assortment of fun treats, the girls wanted to dive straight in.

The googly-eyed funny faces in particular appealed to the girls: two chocolate brownies and two crunchy pralines.

And the fried eggs and white soldiers were rather popular.

The girls were also rather partial to the extra thick chocolate shell. I love Hotel Chocolat’s story behind this…

“When we first started making eggs 12 years ago, we were advised by industry experts to use the least amount of chocolate by making them as thin as possible and to arrange the chocolates around the outside of the egg to make it look as big as possible. We did the opposite and made ridiculously thick shells with all of the chocolates hidden inside for extra Easter excitement.”

It works. Opening up the egg to discover what lies within takes me back to my own excitement as a child at Easter time.

So my daughters were duly impressed. Although when asked if they preferred the Hotel Chocolat egg to their usual Easter eggs, Mia’s response was that she’d rather have Buttons “because they taste better.” She is only four of course.

And what about me and my husband? I think it probably goes without saying that we enjoyed the chocolate array. It’s bloody good chocolate after all. But the earth didn’t move. And it usually does for me when I eat Hotel Chocolat.

I think the problem lay in me trying to choose an egg that I thought the kids would enjoy too. Of course the children liked it but then, they would happily sit and eat the contents of a jar of Nutella if you let them. We thought it was a nice egg but nothing amazing. We preferred the shell to the cheery contents. But it just wasn’t intense enough. And we’d have been a bit disappointed if we’d paid £26 for it.

So lesson learned. If I had the choice again, I’d go for Your Eggscellency. One half of the shell is milk chocolate, the other half is dark. With 12 truffles filled with soft cream ganaches with Champagne, Amaretto, vodka, mojito and more. Much more grown up, and I imagine much more my kind of chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, it seems, you need to be selfish. Mother love has no place here. Ah well, we all live and learn.

You’ll find the full range of Hotel Chocolat’s Easter creations here.