Thursday, 28 June 2012

Larder larks no. 3

My #foodiepenpals parcel arrived mid-month and I can only say that I was overjoyed at the contents. Ruth, my benefactor, really pulled out all the stops to send me a truly exciting and inspiring box of goodies in the midst of a double house move.
Inside was a good mix of treats and snacks plus what I love to experiment with - ingredients! I wasn't disappointed with the latter and indeed went rushing off to research some of the more unusual items.

Among the treats and snacks were a packet of mini grissini - perfect for the solo snacker parked on the sofa in front of the TV, a tasty raw fruit bar that was free of all the usual additives (and I really like that the company supports some very worthwhile charities), a packet of organic instant miso soup - one of those items it's really handy to have in the larder, and a tiny pot of Barnet honey, local to the north London district. With spectacular timing, Ruth had also popped in a small pot of garam masala - mine had just run out so I was happy with that.

Perhaps the most unusual snack (in the long red packet) was the Iranian fruit roll - a long thin strip of pressed apple and barberry. I had to look up the barberry fruit as I'd not heard of it. The strips were encased in plastic film, which took some prising off and then, time to taste! The texture was very chewy, not unlike liquorice, and the fruitiness was intense, with a short burst of sweetness and a tarter after-taste lingering on the palate that pleased me as I don't have a hugely sweet tooth. Thumbs up. I have an Iranian deli near to me so that's something I'll look out for.

I use chipotle chillis quite a lot, as I prefer their smoky flavour to the searing heat of fresh varieties, so I was delighted to find a pack in the box. On closer inspection, they were not chipotles at all but a variety of dried chilli called pasilla. This is also smoked when dried but is much hotter than chipotle and the pack comes with a warning to wear gloves when preparing them.

I was also very excited to receive a packet of artisan pasta produced in the oldest traditional manner - with an unusual twist. It was flavoured with cocoa (at nearly 10% of the ingredient list). There was a recipe on the box for a sauce made with mascarpone, parmesan, pine nuts and parsley - almost a pesto - but I've been experimenting...

Here's my twist on a much-loved favourite.