It’s been described as Ann Summers for foodies and there’s certainly something satisfying about the idea of eating to make money – which is exactly why UK food-tasting company My Secret Kitchen is whetting the appetite of home cooks up and down the country.
The brainchild of Clare Moran, company founder and CEO, My Secret Kitchen first launched in 2006 with the aim of giving foodies ‘a rewarding new way to share their passion’. Over the past few years they’ve developed an extensive range of award-winning quality products, but it’s their tasting events which are really causing quite a stir.
‘We felt that the perfect way to choose food is by trying it first, so we decided not to sell our products in shops but through tasting events.’
From invitations and host packs, to the preparation, cooking and tasting menu itself, hosting a tasting party is a lot easier than it sounds – all you have to do is invite your friends and provide some drinks. Hosts earn £5 worth of products for every £50 spent (minimum £100 spend), which can either go straight into your pocket or form the basis of a great fundraising event with a percentage of the sales donated to your chosen charity.
It’s certainly a sure-fire way to put My Secret Kitchen’s food to the test, and their success up until now is real credit to the quality of ingredients and products on offer. I recently discovered their Red Wine & Port Finishing Sauce (250ml, £6.99) and have been using it to transform even the plainest meat-and-two-veg meal into a rich a romantic dinner. The fruity, warm flavours have a luxurious Christmas feel which, when reduced, create a deep, adult sauciness perfect for glazing meat and adding to ragouts or bolognese sauces. Summer might not be the best time to get hooked on a sauce like this, but I’ve found it delicious just drizzled over sausages and used as a barbeque marinade, so I can’t wait for winter when this sauce will no doubt take up a permanent residency in my slow cooker.
Another boozy speciality is their beer bread mix (£3.99). This box of two yeast-free bread mixes (one original, one wholegrain) justs need 150ml of beer (or other carbonated drink) to make a 1lb loaf of bread without any kneading or proving. I tend to prefer the malty taste of the wholegrain mix but sweet tooth’s will love their recipe for jammy doughnut buns, which combines the original bread mix with lemonade, caster sugar and strawberry jam.
The next thing on my (not so) Secret Kitchen shopping list is Saffron Tagine Paste (£5.49).
This 140g jar of ready-to-use paste is packed full of punch and is so versatile I’ve struggled to resist giving every meal or piece of meat a Moroccan twist. Coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, mint and saffron are blended together to give an exotic depth of flavour and fragrance I’ve found difficult to recreate on my own. Suitable for use in tagines, stews, marinades and dressings, my favourite of their recommended recipes is the lamb tagine with apricots. The lamb is marinated in the saffron paste overnight, and then slowly cooked over 4 hours with passata, chickpeas, stock and chopped apricots. I’m always a big fan of the slow cooker and the use of saffron really does add some indulgence to cheaper cuts of meat.
With prices averaging around £5 a product, My Secret Kitchen might not be your go-to for everyday essentials but it’s definitely worth splashing out for now and again. These are the ingredients that will lift any meal and ensure any dinner party ends with clean plates. The smart packaging makes them ideal gifts for any foodie and come Christmas there’s no doubt I’ll be filling my basket and adding their bestselling Balsamic Vinegar to my wish list.