Renna's Discoveries: September 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Clonakilty's - What is it famous for ? Black Pudding

Black Pudding isn't something that you see that often, it's kind of hidden away on the supermarket shelves or sold in the butchers, but it's not a product that everyone has in their fridge. It's not like sausages and bacon, which most meat eaters have on a weekly basis. So, I'm going to tell you a bit about it. The brand Clonakilty is famous for it's Black Pudding and is one of the most popular Irish brands.

The history of Black Pudding dates all the way back to 800 BC and was originally called blood sausage. No one really knows who made it first, it could have been in Africa, or Europe, but what we do know is that it has traveled around the world and the recipe has slightly changed depending on the country. Different countries have different spices and fillers, like oatmeal or rice but ultimately, it is using up the different parts of the animal that is only suitable for a sausage.

It was made for the rich and the poor, and was a favourite of King Henry VIII at his banquets. It is now incredibly popular to have it for Breakfast alongside your fry up and is now in Michelin Starred restaurants served with Scallops. I used to grill it or fry it it years ago when I worked in pub and hotel kitchens and some people who were the regulars used to ask for extra black pudding, as one slice was never enough!!

Clonakilty's Black Pudding is made the traditional way of combining beef, oatmeal, onions and beef blood with their own concoction of spices and the White Pudding is made the same way, but with Pork.

Clonakilty is actually a seaside town in West Cork, in the South of Ireland, and by looking at pictures, it looks absolutely amazing and actually won best town in Europe in 2017, so, even more of a reason to visit and eat Black Pudding whilst sitting on the beach.
 Years ago in Clonakility households would make black pudding and sell it to their local butchers to make some extra money, and Edward Twomey had his own butchers that he took over in 1976 and really didn't want to make his own black pudding as he felt is was a chore. However, in 1980 he decided to make more of an effort with it, and started a roadshow to celebrate the Clonakilty Black Pudding and more and more people tasted it, then the demand was so high that even supermarkets started to stock it. In 1986 they kept the same recipe and methods, but made White Pudding with Pork instead and this has become equally as popular. So with no surprise in 1989 they won first prize at the Butchers Association National Awards for their Black & White Pudding and have continued to win awards ever since.

Clonakilty's now have a range of products including different types of sausages and bacon. So I've been having fun tasting some of it with friends and family. Of course with everyone - we all have different tastes and enjoyed different products. 
My husband loves the black pudding and I prefer the white pudding. We've all loved the bacon, as it's not salty, but full of flavour. I will be buying a lot of the bacon. The Ispini sausages, my husband thought were a little too salty, but I loved them. To me, I thought they tasted like traditional sausages full of pork flavour and not hidden by herbs or anything else to bulk it out with. So I would recommend to try them all and see what you think and have a proper Irish Dinner. 

The puddings are both easy to slice, although I was using my Magic Knife which slices through anything, but you can make the slices as thin or a thick as you like, although Clonakilty recommend nice big slices. You can fry, grill or dry fry it, and can even slice it up and add it to stews, or actually, there are loads of ways you can use black pudding, I've a few options below ...

This is Ian Rankin's Stoneground Irish Wheaten Bread lightly toasted with Spinach and Black and White pudding on the top, with the added beauty of a poached free range Golden Irish Egg.

This is a wholemeal thin with crushed Avocado and Black and White pudding on the top, with a poached free range Irish Egg.

Finally, I added White Pudding to a pasta tortellini dinner, with dry fried spinach, red peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms
Obviously, you can just slice it and fry it and add it to whatever meal you are having really. There are no limitations on how you can use it. 

The Ispini sausages which I loved, cook really nicely fried or oven baked, personally I prefer to oven bake sausages so they get an even colour and the risk of burning them is minimal... We had these with the puddings and with chips, and even with a salad, and then we also just had them with dipping sauce. They are a very versatile little sausage and my son and I literally had to fight over them...

The Bacon, which really is amazing, I had with sliced Avocado on Ian Rankins Stoneground Irish Wheaten Bread. This bacon is too good to slice up and add to a dish, it needs to be appreciated as a proper rasher of bacon.

To complete any Irish meal, you have to have a few Lily O'Brians -

Have you ever eaten Black Pudding before ? If not, it's definately one to try, and from an Irish friend of mine ...... Clonakilty make THE BEST !!!! She always has it in her fridge.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Ugly Drinks - Fruit Flavoured Sparkling Water

Ugly drinks have nothing ugly about them, they are literally just a sparkling water fruit drink with no added ugly nasties. That's it !!! There's No Sugar, No Sweetener, No Calories, No Nothing, and it's all natural oils or flavourings from the fruit the water is infused with. 
I love the bright funky packaging, and the way ugly is written. It's fun and inviting. I also love the fact that all the cans are made from recycled materials and can be recycled again and again, so it's great for the environment and its healthy for us too.
There are four Ugly Drink flavours at present, Lemon & Lime Ugly, Orange Ugly, Tropical Ugly and Triple Berry Ugly. Something for everyone. 

 There are four flavours at present, Lemon & Lime, Orange, Tropical and Triple Berry.
The flavour is very subtle, almost like an after taste of fruit, but very refreshing served chilled, and perfect for these hot days, or an after workout drink to cool you down. They are fine for everyone in the family and are great for those people who just can't stand water ..... you can even give these to the kids in their packed lunches with no guilt attached. No nasty E numbers and no nasty chemical sweeteners.

Ugly can be bought is many health shops and Tesco's and Sainsburys, and you can also buy online on their own website.
However, prices seem to vary depending on where and how you buy Ugly.
Ugly Website : 24 Cans in a box are £19.99 which works out at 83p a can
Amazon Website : 24 Cans in a box are from £22.00 which works out at 91p a can
Tesco: 6 Cans in a box in Tesco supermarket for £3.99 which works out at 66p a can.
Individually, the RRP is 99p
So, I would suggest that you try it and then if you enjoy it, buy it direct from Tescos.
If you are a sparkling water lover, then I would definitely recommend in tasting this and letting us know your thoughts unless you are already an Ugly addict !!

Best part....It's a London Drink, and all made and produced in the UK.

Follow them Here : Facebook , Instagram & Twitter #TheUglyTruth

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wild & Game - Exquisite Game Straight from the British Countryside

In the cooler months, I like to eat more homely foods, like stews and pies and anything with gravy really. It warms you up after a long cold day and is actually generally very healthy. I love a good stew, and a bonus is when the stew is placed inside a pie !!!

Years ago the pie crust was used purely to hold the meat stew, or to keep the stew encased and safe, which meant it was easy to travel with. Originally, they say the Greeks invented the pie, which is a genius way of eating. No plates required, just the pastry. Nearly everyone ate pies, as it really was the only way to eat in many parts of the world.

Nowadays, we love pies. We have a massive variety of fillings, from beans, to vegetables, to meats, to fish. However a proper pie is with a base and a lid, if it is a casserole with just a pastry lid - it is NOT A PIE, it's a casserole with a lid. Many people will argue over this, but it's true.

I was sent a few items from Wild and Game to try out, as I absolutely love pastry and they supply Game Pies. Game is meats from sustainable wild animals. You have different categories such as Winged Game, Ground Game and Large Game. Winged game is Quail, Pheasant, Duck, Pigeon, Grouse and Partridge. Ground Game is Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel and Large Game is predominately Venison, which is different types of Deer.

Wild and Game would like more people to eat Game not just for their benefit, but actually for ours. I think it's a great idea, and Game is so much more easier to buy from the butchers and specialised Game Food producers these days. I actually agree with Game Meat, because the animals are of course Wild animals. They've had the freedom they deserve to roam the forests, fields and mountains. They haven't been bred purely to be kept in a pen with no natural lighting, or taken away from their parents or branded. They are not used to work the fields, in fact they are not used in any way by humans. They are free to do as they please. Which is why Game meat is probably the best meat to eat, plus it's super lean and organic in every way. Game was always classed a high class meat, and many upper class used to go out to hunt and supply meat for dinner. In fact our Royals still do. Now we also have trained huntsmen to gather the meat from the forest and treat it with the respect it deserves. So, although our diets are changing and people are becoming more aware of how farm animals are treated, game is becoming more and more popular.

Wild and Game sent me a few items to try out and I have to say, I was very impressed. They all had so much flavour, we were trying to work out all of the ingredients, as these are not your ordinary flavours. There is so much more to each of the products. The richness of the game meat really comes through and just makes them so much nicer.

Steak & Pheasant Sausage Roll was by far our favourite. The puff pastry was flaky, melt in your mouth delicious and the filling was very fine and easy to eat. These are £2.54 each, so I would recommend at least 6 !!

 Country Chicken & Pheasant Mushroom Pie with a shortcrust base and puff pastry lid. They had so much meat in there, I would have preferred larger chunks and not so much shredded meat, but chicken tends to shred very easily when there is so much. So, there's the bonus that it isn't bulked out with a load of unnecessary extras. Great quality pastry too. Each individual pie is £2.79

Country Steak & Pheasant Ale Pie. This is their Best Seller, for obvious reasons ..... it's amazing. The taste just literally punches around your mouth, with really good chunks of meat. It's deliciously rich and very tender. This also has a shortcrust base and puff pastry lid, and each one sells for £2.79.

 Country Game and Cheesy Mash Pasty with Turkey, Bacon & Pheasant. This was really good, and it was so filling, you really don't need to eat it with anything else. It had the perfect amount of filling and the pastry was delicious. Definitely one to cook and take with you. This is the traditional way of eating, who needs plastic wrapping when you have a pastry wrapping ?! These are £2.99 each and well worth it.
They all arrived frozen, and you can defrost them overnight or cook from straight from frozen.
Defrosted dishes are approx 20 to 25 minutes and frozen dishes is 35 to 50 minutes depending on the dish.

Update: 23/04/19
Wild and Game have a few new delicious pies and they even won Medals at the British Pie Awards. The Pheasant, Pork and Carmalised Onion pie won a Gold Medal which is absolutely amazing. Pictures are below.
The Pheasant and Grouse layered pie won a Silver Award and the Pheasant and Pork won a Bronze Award. These are all produced by The Outdoor Pig company who work very closely with Wild and Game. Summer is perfect for cold buffets, so these little pies should definitely make an appearance. These are £1.65 each.

So if you want something slightly different or for a special occasion, get your orders in. You can order direct from their website and it is delivered within just a couple of days. You'll notice from their website that they have a great selection of pies with different fillings, but for me, the pasty and the sausage rolls win, purely for the ease of cooking and storing.
Have a look, and let me know what you think.

*these products were all gifted for an honest review