Crossing Over with Tideford Organics

I’m often asked to review products on one of my blogs or give an opinion. I turn down most companies, mainly because I believe in clean, healthy food. It’s the kind of food we planted and harvested on the farm in West Virginia where I grew up, and the kind of food I prepare for my own family still. I could never be bothered to review products that don’t fit into that profile, and sadly, many do not. Enter Tideford Organics. A most unusual company. Unusual in all the best ways.

If you haven’t yet heard of Tideford Organics, they have been around since 1996 and were built on a commitment to organic food and the environment. They are now in a purpose built factory in Devon and designing food that tastes like you made it at home. If you haven’t already read it, here is my review of the products I was sent.

Back in October, one of my friends/readers saw that Tideford was looking for food bloggers to review their new line. Normally, I would pass the link on to another blogger, but I found Tideford intriguing. I’d seen their products while perusing the gluten-free tag on the Ocado website. I always look at the ingredients lists of products if they are available and was impressed by the fact that their soups and sauces seemed to be all prepared from fresh organic ingredients. So I agreed to review all the gluten-free vegetarian items that they’d like to send my way.

A few weeks after my review went live, you can imagine my surprise when I got another email from Tideford saying they were sending me a second batch of goodies that had been “tweaked in response to your comments on your blog.” What? I was stunned. Where was the normal “thank you for your review, we’ll take your comments into consideration” or the dreaded “like us on facebook you could win in a £250 voucher!”  I told you they were unusual! I was also amazed at how much they’d accomplished with just a few lines of suggestion. For that is what it was, only suggestion, I had no idea that after a 3rd batch tasting and discussions with the managing director that we’d be in negotiations for my consulting on next season’s line.

So there it is. I’ve now crossed over from independent reviewer to consultant. I thought you should know, and I’m hoping to be able to share as much of the experience as possible in the coming months. I’m headed down to Devon on Thursday next and cannot wait to meet up with the team. I’m so pleased at the prospect of working with a company that holds the same ideals about food that I do. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Tideford Organics Review

My first impression of the line of soups and sauces that we were sent from Tideford was the simple fresh ingredients. For those of you who are “eating clean” or limiting the amount of ingredients in each meal, these may fit your lifestyle. I was so pleased to find that their products are not only wheat and gluten free but also vegetarian and organic. This includes many products for vegans as well! Every day we see more and more gluten free products on the shelves, but they are often filled with less than healthy ingredients and are rarely organic. Kudos to Tideford for raising the bar. Below are our opinions on the soups and sauces we were sent to try.

Organic Italian Tomato Soup with Red Pepper & Lentils

First impression was that this soup tasted fresh and home made. Lovely balance of tomatoes, red pepper and lentils. Garlic isn’t overpowering and you can taste each individual flavour in turn. A bit light on seasoning for my taste, but great for those who are concerned about sodium intake and you can always add more if you wish!

what the other taster said: (@solobasssteve)
Tastes wonderfully home made yet light on seasoning which means you can embellish.

Organic Jalepeno Pepper Salsa with Lime Juice

I was not keen on this salsa. My readers know that I’m a bit of a salsa snob and this tasted like the base was tinned tomatoes rather than fresh. That might not be the case, but it was what came to mind after the first bite. Tomato seemed to be the dominating flavour and the other ingredients were hard to perceive. Salsa for me needs a bit of a pepper bite, which this did not have. There was a hint of garlic but could not pick out the coriander and lime.. I liked the consistency, it was like a true mexican salsa…but it just needs more flavour to be considered a salsa rather than a bland tomato sauce in my opinion.

what the other taster said: @solobasssteve
This tasted like cold soup.

 Organic Spicy Butternut Soup with Sweet Potato

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one as I am normally not a fan of butternut soup that isn’t home made but said “WOW” after my first bite. The first flavour to hit my palette was cumin which was unexpected. This soup was flavoured very much like a subtle Indian daal. Absolutely lovely favours that all mesh well together and it was perfectly seasoned.  Also I felt great after eating it. Fantastic combination of butternut squash, sweet potato and red lentils. Well done. My favourite so far!

what the other taster said: @solobasssteve “This not only tastes home made…but like you made it.” (I have him brainwashed!)

 Organic Beetroot Soup with Creme Fraiche & Dill

Ooh! Another lovely soup! Tastes light and delicious and comes the closest to the beetroot soup that I make at home.  I’d love to taste it with a tiny hint of acidity to balance the sweetness (apple cider vinegar would be perfect)  but this is being picky as it works fine without it. Again, not overly seasoned and lots of room for embellishment at home. Add some plain yogurt, soured cream or fresh dill on top!

what the other taster said: @solobasssteve
“Tasty. Feels like a well balanced canvas that has room for more paint. Understated but delicious.”

Organic Spinach and Split Pea Soup with Nutmeg

I enjoyed the soup but I think that the name is misleading. If it had been called Organic Spinach and Split Pea Soup with Cumin, I would have known what to expect. Tasty though, and just the right amount of salt. But don’t expect the subtle flavours of a normal pea soup or the flavour of nutmeg. I added a bit of strong cheddar to mine halfway through and it was delicious.

2nd taster skipped this one as he wasn’t feeling well that day. 🙁

Organic Tomato and Basil Sauce

This was my favourite of the lot. I NEVER buy pre-made pasta sauce but this is already on my shopping list. I defy you to find a better tasting pasta sauce with more flavour and less ingredients.   Deep rich tomato flavour, perfectly seasoned with a nice edge of basil. I used it to accompany my gluten-free penne and it was a perfect companion. Can’t wait to try this as a pizza sauce on a delicious wheat-free and gluten-free base!

 what the other taster said: @solobasssteve As the husband of a chef, one of the best complements that I can give to a product is to say that it tastes home made. This does. This sauce is perfectly balanced, rich and creamy and I’d be happy to have this on a regular basis. This does not taste like it came from a jar. Well done!!

If you’re interested in trying Tideford Organic products for yourself, including their range of porridge, rice pudding and jellies, click here to find a local stockist. Or buy online from Ocado!


Touring with Food Allergies…Tips and Guides for Safe Eating

So I am again off on tour in the USA until July 4th. This trip has been a revelation so far…it’s amazing to see how many allergy friendly places have cropped up since last year and how much easier it is to find proper allergy friendly food at grocery stores. The labeling has also improved and you can pretty much count on the labeling listing allergens which is a vast improvement from past years. So over the next few months I shall be giving you the heads up on some of the places I’ve visited, tell you about some of the people I’ve talked to, and tell you how I tour with a severe wheat allergy. It’s not always easy, but things are getting better! I can’t wait to tell you about Mozzarelli’s in NYC. BEST PIZZA EVER and they are doing everything right. I got to have a nice conversation with manager Judith and she has officially restored my faith in allergy friendly Italian fare. Stay tuned friends!! xoLo.

Neil Sumner: Gluten-Free Chocolate Bombs and Pastry Crust

Hi Everyone!  Sorry that I’ve been away for so long.  We’ve had quite a lot going on here, including a move from South to North London in the last few weeks.  I’ve got quite a few wonderful guest postings coming for you in the following weeks, this one from the lovely Neil Sumner.   I’m so happy to have him posting some of the delicious recipes he uses here.   Neil says when he is not creating gluten-free treats, he spends his time working as a technology consultant, slowly doing up an old house and playing the bass. One day he may even learn to play the piano that came with the house. 🙂

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and when Jo my wife (twitter: jo_sumner) was
diagnosed with gluten intolerance 3 years ago I set about adapting
recipes and also did a gluten free baking course at Lucy Cooks in the
Lake District. Jo’s symptoms included asthma, indigestion and frequent
headaches, all of which have cleared up after we switched to a gluten
free diet.

I’ve found that most recipes that involve baking can be made without
gluten and are indistinguishable from their so called normal
counterparts. This includes sticky toffee pudding, profiteroles (yes,
really!) pancakes and cheesecake. This is in no small part due to the
wonderful range of Dove’s Farm gluten free flours that are now
available. Unfortunately, truly decent gluten free bread has eluded me
but then Genius bread came along and I gave up!

The first recipe is one I picked up from Sam Watherston at a Books for
Cooks course. I simply swapped wheat flour for Dove’s Farm self raising.
Incredibly indulgent and delicious but only if you are not allergic to
eggs. Not vegan friendly either…

Gluten Free Chocolate Bombs
185 g good quality chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
185 g butter chopped into cubes
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp gluten free flour (Doves Farm self raising or bread flour works
just fine)
Icing sugar to dust – optional
1 vanilla pod, seeds extracted or vanilla essence
Creme fraiche to serve

PREHEAT Oven to 220 C  Butter some moulds or
ramekins and cut out rounds of grease proof paper to put in the
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl over simmering water
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they thicken and go pale
When you can see the ribbon effect of the whisk in the mix is
Mix the chocolate with egg, then sift in the flour, fold in.
Divide between the moulds.
Put in the fridge until ready
Cook for 15 minutes. (sometimes takes a bit longer)
Whilst the bombs are cooking score the seeds from the vanilla
pod and mix with the creme fraiche or just add vanilla essence.

They should be just cooked like a light sponge on the outside with a
warm runny centre…..

we also found that they were delicious cold the next day ;o)

The second is a pastry recipe from Lucy Cooks. I have tried to make puff
pastry with this mixture with some success. It turned out like a very
light shortcrust which was absolutely delicious as a substitute in
Raymond Blanc’s tarte tatin recipe.

I’ve also tried this with Dove’s Farm self raising flour and it was

Shortcrust Pastry
85g Rice Flour
85g Polenta/fine maize
85g Potato flour

or – 250g Dove’s Farm self raising flour

1 tsp xantham gum (you do not need this if using Dove’s Farm flour)
pinch of salt
140g butter cubed
1 egg mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
55g caster sugar (for sweet pastry)

Pre-heat the oven to 160 C/300 F/ Gas Mark 2

Mix the egg and water
Sift the flour(s), xantham gum and salt
Rub the flour and butter together to form crumbs
Add the egg mixture and mix well to form a dough
Kneed, wrap and chill for an hour (maybe with a nice glass of wine)

This can then be used as a gluten free shortcrust pastry.

With thanks to:

Sam Watherston

Books for Cooks

Lucy Cooks

Dove’s Farm

Raymond Blanc

Thanks so much to Neil!  Next week, an update on my use of flax seed in my diet and the amazing results!  Also a guest posting from Clare from Flax Farm!!

Flaxjacks at Borough Market!

We happened to be tooling around Borough Market near London Bridge on Saturday and saw a sign for Flaxjacks (a product developed by The Flax Farm…lovely flapjacks made with ground linseed meal.  Now normally flapjacks are not gluten-free…only wheat-free as one of their main ingredient is oats.  Enter the Flax Farm.  I chatted with the lovely Clare to get to know a little more about the healthful benefits to both humans and animals as well as its diverse uses in cooking.

I remember flax oil (or linseed oil) from my childhood.  My parents used it when refinishing furniture.  The smell brings back pleasant memories of  stripped down furniture waiting to be redressed. 🙂 Until I studied nutrition at university, I had never really thought of using flax seed oil for it’s nutritive qualities.  I came across it a lot in my research on anti-inflammatory foods…though it’s not been a substance I’ve used much due to it’s strong flavour.  But when I tried these Flaxjacks from the Flax Farm, I realised what I’d been missing!  Gorgeous sweets that really make you feel good, and finally something for the wheat, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan!  For yes, Clare has also developed a range of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan flaxjacks as well.  YAY us!

So, I’m now hooked and think I’m going to try and replace my normal wheat-free sweet treats with Flaxjacks and see how much better I feel in future.  I’ll let you know!  In the meantime, please go have a sample for yourself, visit Clare and her team every Saturday in the new covered Jublee Market nearest the Rake public house, or make an order online here. The Chocolate Tiffin ones were my favourite, and I’m sure that Clare has also developed a gluten-free version as well. Let me know what you think and if you’re an avid user of linseed oil or flaxseed products and if you’ve experienced any health benefits from your use of them.  Eat well and be happy!

I’ll leave you with a fantastic pic taken by my lovely friend and amazing photographer/videographer Brian Wilson.  You can see some of his video work here (this is from the house concert we did at his place this year)…..have a gander/listen while you’re enjoying your flaxjacks!!

If you’d like to order Flaxjacks by phone, call Clare at: 01403 268844 or 079171 232422