Review: Chancham Hot Pepper Sauce and Marinades


Chan Cham Sauces

As a food blogger I am lucky enough to be sent samples of various sauces and marinades to try out.   Most recently I was sent some samples of Chancham sauces.   The Chancham Pepper Sauce is where it all started.   It was developed in a cafe in Reading and when the sauce became increasingly popular the owners decided to focus full-time on creating and selling sauces.   Today Chancham is a family-run business owned by three sisters and their partners.

Naturally we had to try the Chancham Pepper sauce first to find out what made this Caribbean sauce so popular.  It’s hot of course and gives a naturally sweet and fruity kick to anything you add it to.   I loved it on scrambled eggs and also on toasted cheese sandwiches.   My husband went the extra mile to make his sandwich with cheese, pickled onions, jalapenos, mayonnaise and the hot pepper chancham sauce.   It could also be used on burgers, pizzas or to flavour stews and casseroles.    As with most hot sauces – a little goes a long way!

The marinades are the perfect size to make a meal for five people, although I’m sure you could make them serve 6.   We first tried the Hot Jerk sauce by cooking some ribs smothered in it in the slow cooker.   I love slow cooked ribs and this was a tasty way to use the sauce, although my husband would have liked them to have been a little sweeter.Chan Cham Jerk Ribs

The Zingy Chilli Marinade has an Asian flavour and so I used it as the base of a vegetarian curry.   It was a really quick meal using mushrooms, peas and spinach – nothing that needed long to cook.   I added some extra spices and coconut and it was really delicious. It may not look the prettiest meal but it was good for a quick midweek dinner.

pea and mushroom masala


Disclosure: I received free samples of the sauces and the views in this review are my own.

Mushroom Strudel

Mushroom strudel

I have a weakness for pastry.   Any type of pastry.   I grew up eating pies and quiches a few times a week and so I can’t resist making things like this every now and again.   I’ll admit that I wasn’t eating filo pastry as a child but it still reminds me of the type of food I used to love.

So this month when I received my Secret Recipe Club assignment, Corey at Learning Patience,  it was this delicious savoury mushroom strudel that caught my eye first. Corey comes from the US, has just spent 4 years living in Trinidad and has recently moved to London.  Like me she also loves running but is far more dedicated than I am.   I really need to get back to it as I’ve been a bit lazy over the past month.

Anyway, back to the strudel recipe, Corey made it for a pre-birthday celebration and so if a crowd of people loved it then it had to be good and I know I’d love to nibble on slices of it at a party.   I just made it for me and my husband.   I suspected it would be too good to share with everyone else and I was right!    The mushroom and cream cheese filling is deliciously creamy and a great contrast to the crisp pastry. The breadcrumbs sprinkled between each layer added a bit of extra crunch too.  It kept well in the fridge and was just as tasty reheated the next day.

If I hadn’t made the mushroom strudel I would probably have made Italian Slow Cooker Pork Chops – I still might.   They sound so good and I love using my slow cooker at the moment.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

500g mushrooms, diced


Black pepper

120g cream cheese

50g butter

4 sheets of filo pastry


How to Make Mushroom Strudel

1. Put a little oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until softened then add the garlic and mushrooms.   The mushrooms will shrink and let out some water as they cook.   Continue to cook until the pan goes dry. Then leave to cool.

2. Using a fork mash the mushroom mixture into the cream cheese and season with a little salt and black pepper.

3. Put the butter in a bowl and melt it in the microwave.

4. Put a sheet of clingfilm or a clean tea towel on the work surface. Lay a sheet of filo on top and brush with the melted butter.   Scatter a few breadcrumbs on the top and then lay another sheet of filo on top.  Repeat the layering process by brushing with butter and scattering with breadcrumbs until all the sheets of filo have been used up.

5. Put the cream cheese mushroom mixture onto the filo pastry in a line about 4cm from one of the long sides.   Leave a gap of about 4cm at each end too.

6. Fold over the two ends first.   Then using the cling film or tea towel to help, gently roll the strudel up.    Brush a little of the butter over the top of the strudel and sprinkle with a few more of the breadcrumbs.

7. Bake in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes.    Leave to cool a little before serving but serve warm.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

Slow Cooked Lamb with Apricot and Almonds

Slow cooked Lamb with apricots and almonds

Recently in a post I said something unflattering about lamb.  Yes, I know it’s only a meat and it won’t get offended but I’ve been thinking about it and I do actually like lamb.   I didn’t use to, but then I didn’t use to like beef either.   I don’t think roast lamb is ever going to be my favourite meal but slow cooked like this?   Yes, that’s something that could get on to my favourites list.

I adapted the recipe from one in the November Sainsbury’s magazine which was for lamb shanks.   I used lamb neck instead.   It’s cheaper so is good if you are on a tighter budget and it’s a great piece of meat for slow cooking too.   This had about 8 hours in the slow cooker and it was falling apart but still lovely and moist when it was ready.   One of the things I loved about this and will do again in the future was using the cooking liquid from the slow cooker to hydrate the couscous.    It was a perfect way of making really tasty couscous and of course it went well with the lamb it was served with afterwards.

The fresh herbs brighten up the dish at the end and the toasted almonds add a lovely crunchy and nutty dimension to the meal too.   Sometimes a slow cooked meal can be a bit mushy so this was a great way of giving it some texture and freshness.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g lamb neck

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, diced

Small piece of root ginger, peeled and finely diced

500ml chicken stock

Handful of almonds

Small handful of dried apricots

100g couscous

Handful of mint leaves, stalks removed

Handful of parsley leaves

How to Make Slow Cooked Lamb with Apricots and Almonds

1. Put the lamb in the bottom of the slow cooker.   Add the spices and mix into the lamb.  Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Add just enough stock to cover the lamb.   Cook on low for 7 hours.

2. Add the dried apricots to the slow cooker and cook for another hour.

3. Put the almonds in a dry frying pan and heat gently, keep shaking the pan so they don’t burn.   When they are golden, set them aside until you are ready to serve.

4.Take the lamb out of the slow cooker but put it somewhere where it keeps warm.

5.Put the couscous and most of the chopped herbs in a bowl.  Ladle about 160ml of the liquid from the slow cooker over the couscous.   Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

6. Put the pot from the slow cooker on the hob and simmer to reduce the liquid a little.

7. Serve the lamb on top of the couscous, topped with the liquid from the slow cooker, the toasted almonds and the extra herbs.  You could also add some lemon wedges and harissa.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays


Creamy Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Quiche

Pumpkin, spinach and feta quiche

Would you look at this quiche and refuse to eat it?  Can’t you see how creamy, herby and delicious the filling is just from the picture?  Look at the pastry now.   There’s no soggy bottom here either – thin and even with just the right amount of crumbliness.  If I may be just a little big-headed for a moment, I’ll say this is one of the best vegetarian quiches you can make and most definitely the best pumpkin quiche.

Do you dare to disagree with me?  Because if you do, let’s just say goodbye now. If you have been reading my blog recently you may already have quite rightly deduced that this was the delicious pumpkin creation my lovely husband turned down the opportunity of eating.

He may not like quiche and he may not like pumpkin either but sometimes the combination of two things you don’t like can produce something tasty and delicious.  It’s possible to dislike banana and avocado but still love this Banana, Avocado and Nutella Smoothie for example. Now please don’t argue with me and say it’s not the same.   I won’t listen and so you’ll simply be wasting your time.

The only thing I want to say is try this quiche, and then let me know if I’m right or just a bit delusional.  I don’t believe I am, but then I wouldn’t, would I?

Ingredients for the Pasty

225g plain flour

115g butter

1 egg yolk

Ingredients for the Filling

300g pumpkin, peeled and cubed

150g spinach

4 eggs

150ml double cream

150ml milk

100g feta cheese, cubed

Large handful of parsley, chopped

How to Make Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Quiche

1. Make the pastry case first.   Put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs.   Add the egg and pulse briefly until it begins to form a dough.

2. Tip it out onto the work bench and bring it together to form a smooth dough. Be careful not to overwork it.   Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the refrigerator.

3. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the dough so it is thin but covers a 23cm tin.   Put the pastry in carefully and then prick the bottom with a fork. If it is a loose bottomed tin then make sure there are no gaps as the filling will then leak out in the oven.   Put some baking paper in and fill with baking beans.

4. Bake in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.   Remove the baking beans and baking paper and return the tin to the oven for another 10 minutes.

5. Toss the pumpkin  in a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  At the same time wilt the spinach by putting it in a pan with a few tablespoons of water.   Leave it to cool in a colander and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze any excess liquid out.

6. Beat the eggs in a jug with a fork and then add the milk and cream.   Season with salt and black pepper.

7. Put the pumpkin cubes evenly over the bottom of the pastry. Dot with the spinach. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and arrange the cubes of feta cheese evenly over the top of the quiche too.   Pour on the egg, milk and cream mixture.

8. Bake in the oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes until it has just set in the middle.

9. Let it cool for about 15 minutes in the tin before removing the tin and serving.

Vegetarian roasted pumpkin, spinach and feta quiche


I am linking this to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.  As this contains lots of herbs and spinach I am also linking to Eat Your Greens at Allotment 2 Kitchen.

Recipe of the 'WeekEat Your Greens

Mauritian Chicken Daube

Mauritian Chicken Curry

It’s quite a while since I’ve written about a curry on here.  Far too long in fact, especially considering I would be quite happy to live on curries and spicy stews if I had to choose just one type of food.

Chicken daube is a traditional one pot meal in Mauritius made with chicken, potato and spices.  It’s like a cross between a stew and a curry – all the lovely flavours of a curry but with the consistency of a stew.  Although a daube is traditionally a French stew made with beef, wine and vegetables,  this adaptation has become just as much a traditional Mauritian dish.

If only I could actually go to Mauritius…

I may not be able to travel around the world at the moment and I haven’t even left England during the last three years so trying different spices and cooking up meals like this is the closest I can get to travelling.  Eating this also reminded me of just how much better homemade curries and stews are than anything you can buy and I really really need to make them more often.

I normally like to mix my own spices together but this time I tried a spice blend, Mauritius Massalé from Seasoned Pioneers.   It has a warm peppery flavour and a lovely smell of cinnamon and cloves.   Of course you could use another curry powder or even miss it out altogether and this would still be delicious.   Maybe just add a few cloves and cinnamon. Definitely don’t let not having the right curry powder stop you.

If you do love to try different spices and spice blends and don’t want to mix up your own spices, Seasoned Pioneers have a huge range and it’s worth having a look at what they’ve got.  I’ve recently made a lovely peri peri chicken using their spice rub.

Ingredients – Serves 2

I onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Small piece of root ginger, grated

1 green chilli pepper, finely sliced

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp Seasoned Pioneers Mauritius Massalé spice blend Or curry powder

200g chicken

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 potato, cut into about 8 pieces

Handful of coriander leaves

How to Make Mauritian Chicken Daube

1. Put a little oil in a saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds.  Then add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli pepper and cook until soft.

2. Stir in the curry powder and then add the chicken.   Cook and keep turning until the chicken is sealed on all sides but not cooked through.

3. Add the potato, most of the coriander and chopped tomatoes.  Add a little extra water if necessary to just cover the chicken and potatoes.   Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer for about 40 minutes.

4. Serve with rice and topped with a little of the reserved coriander.




Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

Roasted vegetables, harissa and pine nuts served with pasta

I quite often stir a spoonful of harissa into couscous or rice to give it some flavour so why not pasta?   It’s also quite normal to just stir a spoonful of pesto into a bowl of pasta so why not harissa?  Exactly.

I had been planning to make this pasta all month long.  I made it last month but a really simple version with just harissa and pasta.   It was one of those days when I didn’t feel like cooking but just wanted to make something quick, easy and tasty.  I was surprised by how much liked it.

This time I made it I wasn’t feeling quite so lazy as before and I also wanted to make the dish a little more interesting and so added some roasted peppers and onions as well as a few pine nuts.   That was all.   You don’t need to do anything else, although if this is too simple for you, I’m not stopping you from making your own harissa.  Whether you do or not, this pasta recipe is really easy and perfect for a lazy week night.  It’s hot and spicy from the harissa and if you love hot pasta sauces I promise you, you’ll love this.

Well, back to my inspiration for this dish, a couple of months ago I made a lovely olive and dukkah pasta for the Secret Recipe Club from Rachel Cotterill’s blog.   That dish was probably the dish that got me thinking about mixing up Middle Eastern and North African flavours with pasta and that led me to using harissa on the pasta dish I mentioned earlier.   When I saw that Rachel was hosting this month’s Pasta Please and that the theme was fusion, I felt I had to take part.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g pasta

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, cut into 8 chunks

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp harissa paste

How to Make Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

1. Put the onions and peppers on a roasting tray and drizzle on a little olive oil.   Roast in the oven at 200c for 20 minutes.

2. Put the pasta on to boil.  At the same time put the pine nuts in another pan and heat them gently so they brown slightly.

3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan with a little of the water.    Add the roasted vegetables and harissa and heat through.

4. Serve the pasta with the pine nuts sprinkled on top.

This month Pasta Please is hosted by Rachel Cotterill and is run by Tinned Tomatoes.

Pasta Please

Vegetable Chilli Stuffed Marrow

Baked Marrow stuffed with vegetable chilli

Marrows marrows marrows. Marrows have been my discovery of the season this year. I’ve gone from imagining they were boring and bland to absolutely loving stuffing them to make healthy and delicious meals.  If only I’d discovered them a few years ago I could have been a marrow recipe expert by now!

What’s that?  You don’t share my love of marrows?   You might be scared of coming to my house in case I serve you up three courses of marrow?    Hmmm, I think that might be a good idea.   Maybe I could serve a marrow ratatouille on crispy bread with fresh herbs and olive oil for a starter, followed by one of my delicious stuffed marrows and then for dessert I could concoct a yummy moist chocolate cake with marrow in it.   I’m sure you’ve had carrot cake so don’t turn your nose up.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t made a marrow cake yet and I think it might be a  bit late now but the idea is brewing.   I WILL get back to you about that one.

But, going back to this recipe.   It’s basically just a vegetarian chilli  inside a marrow.   Nothing could be simpler.   What you do need is good hot chilli peppers, if you like your food hot that is.   Use whatever your favourites are or even just use some hot sauce instead but it is important that the chilli has lots of flavour.   The flavour will then soak into the marrow and make it just as delicious.   I loved the cheese on top too.   Cheese goes so well with tomatoes and chillies and makes this a really comforting dish too.   I didn’t have any coriander when I made this but if I’d had some, a little fresh coriander stirred into the chilli just before putting it in the marrow would have been lovely too.

Ingredients – Serves 6

1 marrow (overgrown zucchini)

1 red onion, finely diced

2 green chillies, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 peppers, sliced

1/4 aubergine, diced

400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

400g tin chopped tomatoes

Black pepper

Olive oil

A little grated cheese to serve (optional)

How to Make Vegetable Chilli Stuffed Marrow

1. Cut the marrow in half and scrape out all the seeds from the middle.  Place on a baking tray, season and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in the oven at 180C for an hour.

2. Put a little oil in a saucepan.   Cook the onion, chillies and garlic gently until soft then add all the other vegetables including the kidney beans and tinned tomatoes.   If it is a little dry, add a little water too and then leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Spoon the  chilli into the marrow and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Serve with a little grated cheese on top.   Any leftover marrow can be frozen.

The marrow was picked at Garsons, which is my local Pick Your Own farm and so I am linking this to Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  I am also linking to Simple and in Season hosted by Ren Behan. Finally I am linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by A New Addition, as picking your own vegetables is much cheaper than buying them in the shops. Credit Crunch Munch is run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food for All.

Shop Localsimple and in SeasonCredit Crunch Munch

Salmon Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Salmon miso noodle soup

This is the type of meal you want to make if you are trying to be super healthy.  Just eating, even slurping it makes you feel good.   Healthy salmon, green vegetables and brown soba noodles in a miso broth.  Of course, you could use rice noodles or egg noodles instead but there’s something about brown carbs that just makes you feel virtuous – brown pasta, brown rice, chocolate cake.  Sorry, not all brown carbs, not chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits or treacle tart.  Or anything with caramel in come to think of it.

Oooops.  Now I’m stuck thinking about the wrong kind of carbs. If only they had a different name.  Well, it’s not really a problem for me, I’ve already eaten this lovely soup.  I was virtuous at the time.  It’s you I’m worried about – I don’t want to ruin any healthy eating plans you’ve got before you’ve even started.

For me, this soup was a new challenge.   I’ve made a lot of noodles soups in the past but usually with lots of chilli and garlic in.   This time I left the chillies in the fridge and decided to experiment with miso as I had a jar of Yutaka Oraganic Miso Paste I wanted to try.  I’m definitely not an expert at Japanese food.   It’s probably one of the cuisines I know least about. I rarely cook Japanese food and I don’t eat out at Japanese restaurants very often.   This means I haven’t had many miso soups and so I didn’t want the miso flavour to be overwhelming.

I don’t often do subtle flavours but that’s what I wanted this time so I just used 1 tablespoon of miso paste but you could use more or less depending on how gentle a mood you are feeling in.   I couldn’t be altogether meek and mild though and couldn’t resist throwing in some ginger and garlic and a little sesame oil on the noodles which also added extra flavour.   As I said at the start, you do feel healthy eating this soup, the miso flavour is subtle but it’s still a flavourful soup.  It might have been my first miso soup but it will not be my last.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 tbsp Miso paste (I used Yutaka Organic Miso Paste)

1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder

Small piece of root ginger, finely diced or grated

1 clove garlic, crushed

150g piece of salmon

5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced

2 large handfuls spinach

Soba Noodles

2 tsp sesame oil

How to Make Salmon Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

1. Put 600ml water from the kettle into a saucepan.   Add the stock powder, ginger and garlic and bring back to the boil. Lower the salmon gently into the water and simmer until the salmon is just cooked and begins to flake when you touch it with a fork.

2. At the same time cook the soba noodles according to the pack instructions.  When they are ready, drain them, toss them with a little sesame oil and put them in the bottom of the soup bowls.

3. Lift the salmon out of the water.   Add the mushrooms and spinach.  Cover the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Divide the salmon between each bowl. Ladle some of the soup and vegetables into each bowl

I am linking this to Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and also to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Souper SundaysTasty Tuesdays

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of the Yutaka Oraganic Miso Paste

The Ultimate Halloween Cake

Red velvet halloween cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate ganache coating

I love reading, or if not reading at least flicking through all the supermarket food magazines.  I’m often tempted by the pictures first and that was exactly what happened with this Halloween cake.  It’s the cake that was pictured on the cover of this month’s Waitrose Kitchen magazine.   Every time I caught sight of the front of the magazine I wanted to make this cake.   Well, I wanted to eat it, and if I was going to have a chance of eating it, I had to make it first.

How could I resist it?   Three layers of chocolaty red velvet cake sandwiched together with sweet cream cheese icing and smothered in a dark chocolate ganache.   It sounded as wonderful as it looked.   Normally I just don’t have time to make these type of cakes. I need to be seriously seriously tempted and that is exactly what I was, plus some friends were coming round for lunch and that is always an excuse for cake.

I can’t help saying this but every time I make a cake with any kind of decoration on at all I have such a good time and immediately want to make another cake just so I can play with decorating it.   This cake gave me the chance to  pipe with chocolate for the first time. I’m glad it was just a spiders web as I know it would have been impossible for me to pipe anything that needed a more controlled design.  The chocolate came out really quickly so I just needed to move the piping bag round and round.   My web does look a little more spindly than the one in the magazine but it was fun to do and I was impressed by how good the cake looked in the end.  Maybe if I’d been a little more ambitious I would also have tried piping a spider climbing up onto the cake but I didn’t want to ruin what I’d done.

Yes, the cake looked good and I was a little proud of myself but it also tasted good.  The cake was moist, not just in the middle but all the way to the edges, the icing in the middle was lovely  but not too thick and the chocolate ganache coating was like eating chocolate truffle.   The only thing that I was slightly disappointed about was that the red velvet colour was very very subtle.   I think you’d only know it was red velvet if someone told you.  Well, at least that is only cosmetic.  Apart from that, this is possibly the best tasting cake I’ve ever ever made.  If you have time before Halloween to have a go then do, and if not, why not make it after Halloween anyway.

Ingredients for the cake

350g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2.5 tsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

200g butter

375g sugar

3 eggs

1.5 tsp vanillla extract

284ml buttermilk

1tbsp white wine vinegar

20g red gel food colour

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Icing

120g butter

120g cream cheese

120g icing sugar

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache Icing

300ml double cream

250g dark chocolate

1.5 tbsp liquid glucose

50g white chocolate

How to Make the Ultimate Halloween Cake

1. Put the oven on to 170c to preheat.  Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.

2. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt.

3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.   I used an electric food mixer.  Beat for about a minute.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time and keep beating after each one. Then add the vanilla.

5. Add about 1/4 of the dry ingredients.  Beat together then add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat until you have beaten all the dry ingredients and the buttermilk together.

6. Finally stir the food colour and vinegar together and add them to the cake mixture.  Beat in until the mixture has all turned a pinky red colour without any streaks.

7. Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about an hour.  It is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

9. Make the cream cheese icing by beating together the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar.

10. Take the cake out of the tin and slice into three layers horizontally.

11. Spread the icing on top of the bottom and middle layers.  Put the layers back together and put the cake in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes for the icing to set.

12. To make the chocolate ganache icing put the dark chocolate, cream and liquid glucose in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Keep giving it a stir until all the chocolate has melted.  At the same time melt the white chocolate in a different bowl.

13. With the cake on a wire rack, pour the dark chocolate icing over the cake and use a palate knife to smooth it over the top and sides of the cake.

14. Put the white chocolate in a small piping bag or a plastic food bag. Snip off the corner and starting in the centre of the cake, pipe a chocolate spiral onto the top of the cake.

15. Using a cocktail stick or a thin knife, drag it through the chocolate starting in the centre of the cake.

16. Put it in the fridge to set.  Before serving, take the cake out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

I am linking this to Chocolate Log Blog’s We Should Cocoa, hosted this month by Honey & Dough.  I am also linking to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

We should cocoaRecipe of the 'WeekTasty Tuesdays


Review of Gousto

Although I usually revert to a takeaway at least once a week, I love to cook most of our meals myself at home, avoiding ready-made sauces and using individual herbs and spices to get the flavours I’m looking for.

Gousto logo

I was recently asked if I would like to try Gousto, a company that delivers weekly meal kits containing everything you need to cook three dinners from scratch at home.   I received the ingredients to make Chicken Pad Thai, Persian Lamb Couscous and Parmesan Crusted Pork.  Everything came in just the right quantities to cook dinner for two people, although you can order the dinner kits for 4 people too.   There were icepacks in with the meat and refrigerator items so they stayed cold and everything, including the herbs looked very fresh.  I was even impressed by the reusable and sustainable wool packaging.

full gousto box contents

The pack included clear step by step instructions with pictures including exactly what to do at each stage of making the meal.  Even as a more experienced cook I found them useful and feel that they would really help a more novice cook feel confident about cooking the recipes.   The fact that everything comes in just the right quantities is also fantastic for someone who may want to have a go at say a pad Thai but not have ingredients like tamarind paste or fish sauce at home.   This way you don’t need to buy a whole bottle or jar which may end up going to waste later if you don’t use it up.

Of course, the most important thing is the taste.   Are the meals any good?   Well, I was impressed.   I especially liked the Pad Thai and the Persian Lamb Couscous.  I followed the recipes exactly and the pad Thai contained more sugar than I normally put in it but I actually liked the sweetness.   The only thing it lacked was a few crushed roasted peanuts.   Of course, I could have added a few from my own supplies if I’d really wanted.

Gousto pad thai

The Persian lamb was very easy to make.  I loved the flavours in the baharat spice mix and the crispy bits on the lamb mince.  It’s definitely something I’ll be making again at home and using this method but varying the types of mince and seasonings.

gousto persian lamb couscous

The final dish was the parmesan crusted pork and this was good too, but it wasn’t something I’d rush to make again.  This was the last dish I made and I made it on the ‘enjoy by’ day.   I found the parsnips had gone a little soft and bendy but they still tasted fine as mash.    The other vegetables and herbs were fine.

gousto parmesan pork

So overall, the pros were:

  • Great tasting meals that were full of flavour as well as balanced and relatively healthy
  • Easy step by step instructions
  • Quality ingredients including organic vegetables
  • Exact quantities are provided so there’s no food waste, no need for weighing or measuring and of course no need to go shopping for everything yourself
  • 10 varied meals to choose from each week, including vegetarian options
  • It encourages home cooking as once you’ve bought the meal kit you are less likely to resort to a ready meal or a takeaway

The cons:

  • If the week turns out to be busier than you expected, you might not have time to cook the three meals before the best before date.
  • It could work out expensive, although there is an introductory offer so you save on your first box.   The website claims that it is cheaper than using a supermarket but I’m not sure how this has been worked out.
  • You still have to be willing to spend time preparing the meals including washing and chopping up the vegetables.

Would I use it again?

Well, I’ve looked at the choices for this coming week and there are three things I would love to eat: Baked Chicken Tikka, Ras el Hanout Chicken and Mexican Beef Tacos.   So am I going to?   Well, as a food blogger I also have lots of other food plans so I know I just wouldn’t have time to eat these as well. I also have a fridge and cupboards full of half-used jars and seasonings which I enjoy experimenting with.  However, were it not for this, I would be seriously tempted.

If you’d like to win a free Gousto box then Gousto are running a selfie competition at the moment.  Just tweet a foodie selfie using the hashtag #GoustoGorge

Gousto box