Monthly Archives: December 2017

Kitchen Bargains

Looking for a last-minute gift for a home cook? Try one of these — three pieces of essential kitchen equipment, with a special discount from The Taster:

Engraved Knives (with 40% discount!)

The last word in cutting edge gifts — Flint & Flame’s laser-engraved knives. Whoever the chef in your family is, inscribe their name on these fantastic high-performance kitchen knives for a specially thoughtful prez!

Prices are normally £60+ but use discount code TASTER40 for 40% off all knives— prices from £36Kitchen Knife

I can’t live without my knives from Flint & Flame, which are great in the home and in a professional kitchen. I like the small utility and vegetable knives for everyday use, and the range also includes a set of beautiful steak knives, which has real WOW factor when I entertain.”  Monica Galetti – Brand Ambassador, BBC Masterchef judge

Click HERE to see the full range

Kitchen Thermometer (20% discount!)

Top tip for Christmas — but make sure Cook opens his or her present before the turkey finishes cooking. Ensure your turkey/goose/rooster reaches a safe internal temperature (74°C) by using this clever Kitchen Thermometer on the big day — and say goodbye to dry, overcooked meat; or even worse, an underdone and perilous roast. Link HERE

Use code TASTER-17 to get 20% off until 31 January 2018
From about £32, or £25 with TASTER-17 discount

Kitchen thermometer

Premium Pans (20% discount!)
Gastrolux wok
Gastrolux pans enable oil-free cooking – great for slimmers

Gastrolux is a family business with over 35 years of research & development, innovation and craftsmanship. They make all kinds of cooking pans using the best recycled raw materials, hand-finished by Danish craftsmen. Top chefs including Jean Christophe Novelli are happy to use Gastrolux pans, all of which have a unique coating (BIOTAN) of natural bio-minerals and ceramic particles. They can be used on induction and non-induction stovetops, are guaranteed not to warp, and are a great help for anyone trying to lose weight, as they can cook food with minimal or no fat or oil. Each pan has a unique stamp to make it traceable for quality control and warranty. Link HERE

Use code GAS20 to get 20% discount


Cotswolds Whisky

Cotswolds whiskyA very special Christmas gift for whisky devotees! This autumn (2017), a second batch of the first Cotswolds whisky ever distilled went on sale in Warwickshire. To date, the young spirit has been awarded a very high score of 94/100 for two years running in Jim Murray’s annual Whisky Bible (generally agreed to be the world’s leading whisky guide). Distiller Zoë Rutherford describes it as ‘rich and fruity’ and it is expected to become something of a collector’s item.

Made from 100% locally grown barley and aged in ex-bourbon and red wine casks. The distillery also sells gin, absinthe, a summer cup (ie like Pimm’s), a Martini mix, sherry and ‘Cotswolvados'(!), all distilled and blended in the Cotswolds. To order or to find out more, click HERE
ABV 46%, £44.95. Ask for the Single Malt 2013 Harvest, Organic Odyssey (reservation)– mainland orders will be dispatched in mid-December, in time for the Cotswolds whisky to reach recipients by Christmas day


For more Christmas food & drink ideas, click HERE

Natural Wine

We’ve all read conflicting articles on wine — is it good for you? Is it bad? It is a question that has long plagued The Taster, as anyone who reads our regular Scare Watch column knows (basically, the advice given one month is usually reversed or contradicted the next). Our own (hugely unscientific) observation is that some cheap white wines do seem to have a certain allergenic quality — that is, the first glass is accompanied by a brief, but explosive, sneezing fit. There may be something in the idea that low-sulphite wine don’t trigger such reactions?

Natural WineAccording to Good Wine Online,  natural wine can be very beneficial if it is produced without harmful additives or heavy filtration, which removes the natural goodness. ‘Natural’ wines have virtually nothing added nor taken away. They are basically fermented grape juice, unfiltered, retaining nature’s most powerful antioxidants (polyphenols): resveratrol, quercetin and epicatechin. They are five times more powerful than vitamins C & E and help protect against cancer, diabetes and dementia. Natural wine also reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and the risk of stroke and vascular disease, and has numerous other health benefits. The human body cannot store polyphenols, so the American ‘Wine Doctor’ Dr Philip Norrie* suggests that, for optimum benefit, we drink a little natural wine every day.

Find Christmas-mix cases, or create your own cases, HERE with Good Wine Online; there is also a page of ‘Sensational Wines’ if you just want to give somebody one exquisite bottle.

For more Christmas food ideas, click HERE

*Philip Norrie MBBS, MA, MSc, MSocSc(Hons), PhD, MD  writes about natural sulphite-free wines HERE

Free Range Herb Fed Turkey

For free-range, herb-fed turkeys, chickens and roosters, try THIS lovely company. Herb Fed birds enjoy a high quality of life. The Yorkshire flock are fed a unique diet with over 10 types of herb, sustainably supplied as excess or trimmings from our friends at Herbs Unlimited. Fresh herbs are put in custom-made miniature hay racks in the fields, where the birds can peck at them at will. Choosing and eating herbs gives the birds extra nutrients and keeps them occupied, stimulated, happy and healthy.

Free range turkeyThe birds don’t taste ‘herby’ as such, but they have an overall superior, deep flavour. Six volunteers for The Taster carried out a blind taste test on Herb Fed versus normal free-range chicken, and everyone identified the Herb Fed bird as having a noticeably more interesting flavour.

The turkeys are slow-grown on the farm from day-old chicks. They are game-hung, hand- finished, and individually boxed with the fresh herbs required for the chestnut & apple stuffing.

Roast Turkey Recipe

This recipe comes from the farm, which has devised it especially for their Free Range Herb Fed turkeys: a delicious roast with traditional stuffing.

Free Range Turkey

Perfect Chestnut & Apple Stuffing
Fry a fine-chopped onion, 4 rough-chopped celery sticks and a sprig of snipped thyme in 55g butter until soft. Then add: 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, 1 tbsp chopped sage, 170g firm white bread cut into dice, 450g peeled, fine-chopped cooking apples, 450g rough-chopped tinned chestnuts and the zest of a large orange. Season and mix well. Mix in 680g sausage meat, bind with a beaten egg and let cool.

Roasting A Herb Fed Turkey
Remove the bird from the fridge the night before cooking (to reach room temperature). Heat oven to 180°C & check the cooking time for your Herb Fed turkey on the website. Stuff the neck of the bird only. Start the bird in the oven breast side down; Herb Fed turkeys self-baste due to the higher fat content of a slower-grown, traditionally produced bird. Halfway through roasting, turn it over to brown the breast. The bird is done if the thigh juices run clear when skewered; if pink, return the bird to the oven. Check every 10 minutes.

Christmas Roosters

Christmas Rooster

For something different, or for smaller gatherings, try a Christmas Rooster. These are also Herb Fed, and are very special chickens produced just once a year. They are a classic alternative to turkey and, as a smaller bird, are perfect for smaller festive gatherings.

Order all birds from

For more ideas on Christmas poultry, see HERE

Or see HERE for more ideas for Christmas foods generally

Organic Olives

These Real Olive olives aren’t just organic, they are fresh and plump and marinaded in a variety of imaginative ways. Our favourites are the rosewater & cumin “Kasbah” olives — involving a use for rosewater we’d never considered before, but it gives the olives a lovely floral flavour, odd though that may sound. For traditionalists, there are mixes of olives with basil & wild garlic, herbes de Provence & mustard, piri piri, or a special antipasti mix with crunchy cornichons, caper berries, sweet red peppers and tangy sun-dried tomatoes.

To make easy/emergency canapés, warm bite-size slices of ciabatta bread (cut it into two, or four, as necessary to make it bite-size) under the grill, spread with black olive tapenade or green pesto, and press a few olives into the spread. This makes small, easy-to-handle canapés. If the organic olives are accompanied by shreds of sundried tomato or tiny cubes of Feta, so much the better — just press them down to stop them rolling off the toast

To make an authentic Greek Salad, find the best (ideally organic) tomatoes and cucumber you can, and quarter and slice them respectively. Pour on some uncomplicated Real Olive Company olives — Kalamata and Nocellara del Belice are suitable — along with all their oil. Add fresh, cubed Feta cheese. Sprinkle liberally with dried (not fresh) oregano. Pour on extra-virgin olive oil, the greener the better, and mix gently by hand. (Shut your eyes, forget about the grocery bill and pretend you’re in Greece, where EV olive oil is 10p a gallon.) Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the flavours mingle. Serve with thick-cut crusty bread and a cold, bold white wine.

Find your perfect party olives from The Real Olive Company by clicking HERE

Welsh Whisky

Organic, pure, delicious, and somewhat paradoxical — Welsh Scotch! One of The Taster’s friends, Dà MhìIe Distillery, which commissioned the world’s first organic whisky at the Springbank distillery in 1992, has just released the second edition of its Organic Single Grain Welsh Whisky (the first is sold out). Comes in full or stocking-filler (5cl) size!
Welsh Whisky
Dà MhìIe produces several great (and organic) spirits, including a seaweed gin and delicious orange and sloe liqueurs, apple brandy and more. We expect this whisky to be of the same high quality. All bottles will all be sold on a first-come first-served basis!

This whisky has had a limited run of just 400 bottles, and is 46% ABV. It should be a good collectable and a good investment (in the unlikely event you decide not to drink it yourself). Selling for around £55-£60 for a full bottle, or you can get stocking-fillers for just £7

Click on for full details.

Seaweed Gin

Seaweed GinThis seaweed gin taps into two current trends: gin and seaweed. More interestingly, it’s particularly designed to complement seafood (perfect for the smoked salmon & prawns course at Christmas lunch). A very pretty stocking-filler, or get a bigger bottle as a main gift. From £4.95. Click here for full details of this and the other gins

Christmas Hamper

In the right circumstances (a lot of relatives spending Christmas in one place), the Christmas Hamper satisfies nearly all the gifting requirements in a single online purchase. Compared to the cost of buying and posting individual gifts, a hamper can be a real bargain. The mere size of the thing is impressive, but the real joy of a hamper is its revelatory quality. It cannot be unpacked at once. The unpacker must extricate the full range of items, one by by one, and wave them under the noses of the recipients. The most curmudgeonly scrooges find it difficult not to ooh and aah. It is a massive vote-winner.

Hampers of Inspiration, “Under Fine Wraps”

One of our friends, Clare Underwood, started her business after being inspired to put together a personalised hamper for her parents. It was such a success, she took the idea further — and she now creates all manner of interesting hampers, from the standard “Christmas Cheer” hamper to more original themes (German, housewarming, wine & curry, among others). As well as luxury items, the hampers hold artisan and regional specialities from Clare’s home county of Rutland (we particularly like the sound of Vivia Crump’s Extremely Scrummy Chutneys). Many items aren’t available in supermarkets, and Clare is passionate about theming; nothing is put in just to fill a gap. Below are just half a dozen options

Click HERE to visit the website and find many more Christmas hampers. Happy hunting!

Order by 12 noon on 18 December for delivery on 19th. Prices from about £30 to £192 (currently with 10% discount if you sign up to the newsletter).