Wednesday, August 15

Dines In: Hot tips

- August 6, 2018

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In the recent heatwave the idea of going out to dine could not be further from my mind. Much as I love restaurants I am equally in love with cooking at home. So this week I am going to share a few new found delights.

Just a quick ray of sunshine brings out BBQ man. I’m no great fan of burnt meat that is still raw in the middle, but in good hands a BBQ can be fun. A recent package to my home contained a collection of Texan inspired Sweet Beet products, and before we talk air miles, these are produced in the UK.

I opened jar after jar, wondering exactly how I might make use of them, but I soon found myself dipping, spreading and marinading like a cowboy – well perhaps not a cowboy but with true relish – in every sense. The predominant flavour is of course chilli, but not that fierce burn that so appeals to macho man. Not here, the spice is balanced and easy to moderate.

I cannot wait to experiment with the maple bacon jam

I love the Habanero Lime Jelly’s citrus zing and the darker profile of the Beer Jelly. The Oak Smoked Apple Butter is intriguing and when coupled with good grilled cheese really hit the spot. And I cannot wait to experiment with the Maple Bacon Jam, as yet un-opened but crying out for a well made burger I guess. But above all I am in love with the Strawberry Chipotle, which I have to admit sounded very odd indeed but turns out to be a triumph of sweet and spiky. So far I have basted pork ribs, chicken thighs and lamb cutlets with this clever concoction, and yes, I’ve eaten it off the spoon! I am about to try using them in cocktails too! To find out more go to the sweetbeet.co.uk

So there is my hot tip for the week, now for a cool tip. With the world gone gin crazy it was inevitable that the industry would soon follow with tonic water. It’s no longer enough to say gin and tonic, you now have to specify which tonic – and my word, how many are there?

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I actually prefer a straightforward tonic, I like to taste the gin to be honest. But there are times, especially when it’s too hot to drink booze, that I want a cooling but grown up soft drink. No slouches, Gordon’s have released a range of alcohol free G&T drinks. They say ultra-low alcohol not alcohol free so there is a tiny percentage, 0.5%, of the good stuff in there, but I guess you would need to drink an awful lot to get squiffy.

Anyway, what are they like? Well they are very nice, very drinkable, one with grapefruit and one with lime, and if I was in a bar and not wanting to drink I would certainly give them a go. The overriding hit of course is juniper, the dominant and essential ingredient of any spirit daring to call itself gin. It’s an interesting product, and for the designated driver a safer option.


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