Entries in cheese (12)


Virtually Instant Fondue

I like to keep things in the pantry and fridge at this time of year that allow me to put together a wonderful meal with ease.  Christmas is a time when people come calling or if you are anything like me you invite people 'come back to ours' after any event you are at - a carol service, closing time at the bar or a bracing walk on the beach.  Having people in my home seated around my table is one of my favourite things year in year out.  I will never tire of cooking for others.

At this for many the most wonderful time of year a simple Christmas Cheese Fondue is a delight.  You can make one from scratch using the fantastic Marks and Spencer range of cheeses or you can make a virtually instant one using this soft French Le Bon Grivois cheese from Marks and Spencer.  I have never known anyone to turn down fondue.

Make a light cross on the top of the cheese then bake in a hot oven, about 220' for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and gooey.

Serve with slices of crusty Northern Irish wheaten bread cut into fingers.  The sweet moist crumb of the bread with the running bubbling cheese.

Le Bon Grivois is a soft round cheese, made of raw milk, and it has a washed rind which is washed every couple of days with salt water. It is matured for three weeks on wooden spruce boards. Soft and unctuous without being too sharp, I love its taste with the nutty wheaten bread.

I always have a pot of soup ready to feed people at Christmas this year it is leek and potato.  I serve it with pieces of crispy black bacon scattered over the top.  Serve a bowl of soup with this Marks and Spencer Le Bon Grivois fondue and you have a delicious hearty and quick meal.

And of course  - with bread and cheese a glass of chilled Sauvigon Blanc always goes down a treat.  This Seaglass Californian sauvigon blanc from Marks and Spencer is fresh and its lemony sharpness cuts through the cheese.

Merry Christmas, that's it for now ...




Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Ikea Food Hamper

I love the foodhall at Ikea - there are so many fantastic treats, like gingerbread, and rye crackers, chocolates, and sparkling apple juice.  Chocolate spread with pieces of honeycomb, sour cream crisps, mulled cider and juice.  

If you are not sure what to get someone for Christmas you should pop into the Ikea food hall and pick up a whole range of delights.  A food hamper from Ikea is the gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Christmas,

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Cheese Fondue - my favourite way to entertain on New Year's Eve

Fondue's are social, fun and delicious.  Each Christmas and New Year we host a fondue party.  Not only is it a relaxing, entertaining evening, it is also a brilliant way to use up leftover Christmas cheese.

To have a good fondue you need great cheese and we use a range of Marks and Spencer cheeses - white apricot stilton, parmeasan, French brie, soft cheese and cranberry stilton - as they are delicious, well sourced, and provide flavours of lovely balance.

Gathering friends around a pot of bubbling cheese, each armed with a pronged spear.  They reach and laugh, dip and inevitably drop things into the fondue.  

The cheese fondue is surrounded by plates of roast ham, baby tomatoes, roast baby potatoes, sweet potatoes wedges, olives, a really crunchy salad with a sharp cranberry dressing and bowls filled with slices of toasted baguette, pickles, roasted peppers and artichokes.

We use day old baguette from Marks and Spencer thinly sliced then toasted in a low oven.

Ham is thinly sliced then shredded.

Marks and Spencer delicious cheese melts - emmental, gruyere and calvados, and cheddar and cider, are served bubbling on the table.  These can be put out individually with salad and rustic crusty bread or as a ready made fondue supper, or as part of a larger fondue table.  They have rounded flavours combining the richness of cheese with dry bittersweet alchohol.

Fondue is the perfect food to gather friends around the table at Christmas, by its very nature it encourages sharing, and laughter.  The food is relaxed, filling, warm and soothing, the latter two particularly important during cold sparkling frost weather.

Cheese fondue is a heavy rich food, that takes time to eat.  It sound be eaten slowly in a relaxed manner.  Red wines can be refreshing with it, but they are also heavy, I recommend brut champagne or sparkling wines, the bubbles cut through the richness of the cheese.  Glasses of ice cold Austrian schnapps are also delicious - you can even suggest your guest drink a shot for every item dropped into the fondue.

There are lots of ways to make cheese fondue, with many different recipes but a cheese fondue is bascially melted cheese and alcohol, and can be made in lots of different cheese combinations.  There is no right way to make fondue, you should make it according to your own personal tastebuds.

For this fondue, to serve about five people I crumbled up  about a cup of each of the following the Marks and Spencer White Apricot Stilton, Cranberry and Cointreau stilton, French Brie (remove all the rind), soft cream cheese, and about 2 tbsp of grated parmeasan.  Have the cheeses at room temperature before cooking.

After frying a plump clove of garlic in butter, I added four cups of cider and boiled for rapidly for a couple of minutes, then over a low flame, I added the cheese, stirring with a wooden spoon until it was all dissolved. (This can be done over the fondue, but I prefer to do it in a pot, then add to a warmed fondue dish)

The cider provides a dry refreshing backdrop to the rich sweet cheeses.

Light the fondue with a low flame and add the melted cheese to the fondue pot, allowing your guests to spear, with lots of things from the table to dip into the bubbling, oozing cheese.

Cheese fondue is simple, delicious and food that will leave those dining satisfied and relaxed, it is one of my favourite ways to entertain.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Christmas Food and Drink gifts from Marks and Spencer

Royal Palace Colheita Port, 2001 from Marks and Spencer is a classic single harvest Tawny Port.  Add a packet of cheese straws to create a present with both smooth flavour and crunch.

The Marks and Spencer Royal Palace Colheita Port matured in small seasoned oak casks which means the wine has lost it ruby hue  but developed its evocative amber colour, fine complex aromas and smooth palate, which opens with a fresh slightly tangy flavour, and ends with a rounded rich lingering flavour.



This Rare Cream Sherry from Marks and Spencers is the perfect present for an uncle or aunt, Grandparent, or elderly next door neighbour.  Aged in oak barrels it has a luscious beautifully balanced rich sweet flavour with deep spice notes and plump juicy fruits.  The taste is reminiscent of Christmas cake and it is perfectly paired with a slice of fruity Marks and Spencer Christmas cake

A Christmas cake may seem initially like an odd present, but I suggest you buy one and give it to someone who might not be able to get a Christmas cake this year.  Maybe leave it at a shelter, or give it to Food Bank. This Marks and Spencer Christmas Cake, rich with a moist crumb, alongside a great variety of sweet and plump fruit.  Nuts are plentiful without being annoying, the marizpan is a light almond flavour which isn't clawing, and the candied peel is citrusy.  There is a warm depth of flavour in each mouthful.

This Marks and Spencer British Cheese cake stack - has a piece of Stilton, a ripe brie and a mature cheddar cheese.  It comes with nuts and plump sultanas and raisins.  It is a brilliant present for any cheese lover.  it can be served in a cake formation, allowing people to help themselves.

This wheel of Stilton makes a rich tasty present, it can be given individually or is a wonderful accompaniment to the bottle of port.   

Pierce the top of the stilton with a fine skewer, set on the nuts and fruit, then pour over a small measure of stilton, leave at room temperature to breathe for an hour or so and serve.


That's it for now ...



Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Christmas Cheese from Marks and Spencer

 Eating cheese at Christmas is one of life's pleasures.  Cheese is a sociable food, created to be sliced and shared between lots of people.  Whether sitting around a table with it as the main focus of the meal or eating it at the very end as is the British tradition or before pudding as is the French tradition.  Cheese is comforting, soothing and delicious.

Marks and Spencer  have a wide and varied range of cheeses from superb producers, a range that is delicious all year round, but widens at Christmas.  Their cheeses are carefully sourced by experienced store buyers from artisan and larger producers across the world.  Both the producers and the buyers really care about the end cheese product, and want to bring wonderful tastes to the customer. 

The choice of cheeses at Marks and Spencer makes me very excited.  The selection of three Irish Cheeses are superb, I had a chance to meet the supplier at the M&S Ireland Christmas party - there is Cashel Blue with a creamy sweet tangy flavour, Cooleeney cheese is a camembert style cheese and is made using cow’s milk, with a soft flowing centre, both from County Tipperary and a mature red cheddar.  


All three are best eaten at room temperature.  They go perfectly with Marks and Spencer water biscuits, black olive crackers or with oatcakes, depending on the type of biscuit you like to eat.  

 Cheeses can be served at the end of a meal, as a light supper with grapes and slices of apple, or as the feature of a lunch, with soup, crusty bread, salads, olives and sticky cocktail sausages in a cranberry sauce.

 Cheeses can also be served individually, like Cashel Blue with Marks and Spencer salted almonds, black olive crackers and grapes.

This olive board is part of a special Christmas set from Marks and Spencers comes with Rosemary crackers, which have a thin shortbread texture, and a jar of fig chutney.  Add a cranberry stilton and you have a perfect cheese board. There is a myth that cheese boards should have a selection of different cheeses, but I find one cheese elegantly presented on a beautifully wooden board, with good crackers and chutney, creates a beautiful cheese experience.  Elevating and celebrating the beautiful cheese. 

This Marks and Spencer stilton with cranberry comes topped with a little wreath of candied orange, which not only looks very cute, but brings a new flavour and depth to the cheese.  It has a crumbly semi firm texture and is full of plentiful plum cranberries.

Grouping similarly flavoured cheeses together on one board also makes a great cheese platter if you have lots of people wanting to eat cheese.  These Marks and Spencer flavoured cheeses come in packs of four, and have a good well rounded feastive flavours - chilli, caramelised onion, cranberry and blueberry and apricot, they are delicious served with grapes, and water biscuits.  They also make great toppings for any Turkey burgers or sandwiches that might be made with leftover Turkey and Ham, from Christmas dinner.

Serve cheese simply on a plain slate, marble or wooden platter, allowing the cheese to speak for themselves.

The Marks and Spencer Cornish Cruncher combines a strong English cheddar with onions slightly pickled in balsamic vinegar.  It creates a large flavoursome cheese that is very morish, and absolutely delightful when used for cheese on toast, or on a grilled Cheese Turkey sandwich with mustard.

When storing your cheeses wrap them in either wax or baking paper, do not use clingfilm, or tinfoil as these cause the cheese to sweat and go off quickly.

Marks and Spencer know the pleasure that comes from serving brilliant biscuits from a beautiful tin, the selection of water biscuits, poppy seed crackers, salted cheese crunches are delightful, and make not only a lovely addition to the Christmas table but a great gift.


That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Fig, Stilton and Spinach Salad

Salads seem to get overlooked at Christmas which is a shame.  Not only is it important to get in our greens in the mix of rich party food, drinkies, canapes and of course Christmas dinner, but salads can taste delicious. Gone are the days of an Alisa Craig tomato, a piece of limp lettuce and maybe a scallion or two.

This winter Fig, Stilton and Spinach Salad, made with Marks and Spencer Stilton.

Tuxford & Tebbutt in Leicestershire – one of just five licensed creameries in the world producing this PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese - are the producers selected by Marks and Spencer to make all their Stiltons.

This salad uses three main ingredients - stilton, spinach and figs, and is dressed with runny honey and a few drops of apple cider vinegar.  It works really well with leftover turkey or ham.

Marks and Spencer Stilton has an initial feel in the mouth is lovely, creamy, with plenty of salt and a balanced aftertaste.  Marks and Spencer's Stilton is balanced and moist with a pleasant tang, that doesn't overpower the palate.

It's a cheese that needs just a few other good ingredients to make a delicious salad that is perfect served alone, with some crusty bread, as a side alongside leftover turkey, or with some slices of roast beef.

Marks and Spencer, Black Olive Crackers, which have a good crunch and melt in the mouth texture, (and a strong black olive flavour, they make excellent instant croutons, or are great crumbled over soup) also work well as a brilliant accompaniment.  

Serve the salad with a glass of ice cold Marks and Spencer Royal Palace Colheita Port, which has fig and almond flavours, and nutty spice aromas which enhance the flavours in the salad, and sit beautifully with the creaminess of the Stilton Cheese.

Fig, Stilton and Spinach Salad


(serves two as a main or four as a side)


  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 5 figs cut into eighths
  • 200g of Marks and Spencer Stilton
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1tsp apple cider vinegar
  • black pepper


optional extra - slices of grilled pears, handful of salted almonds or honeyed cashews.


  1. Arrange a three or four handfuls of baby spinach on a plate or bowl
  2. Set on the pieces of fig which have been cut into eighths (quartered then each piece slice in half again)
  3. Crumble the Stilton cheese over the top
  4. Mix the honey, black pepper and cider vinegar together then lightly drizzle over the top of the salad
  5. Serve immediately

I don't feel this salad needs salt, as the cheese is salty enough.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Cheese and Wine - the perfect housewarming gift ...

Moving house is right up there as one of the top three 'most stressful events' in our lives.  As someone who is often on the move - jumping countries for work, I know how important it is to be able to pack well, because unpacking, is a chore.  

Not to mention a bit of a bore.

Recently not only have I been moving, but I've helped family and friends do the same.  Maybe it's because I have a big car, with an enormouse boot/trunk! 

One of the nicest things about moving house, is having people come visit.  And, they bring gifts!  Is there anything more lovely than receiving a gift - well apart from buying one of course.

Recently I've been asked for my thoughts on 'housewarming gifts' - and my favourite every time has to be 'cheese and wine'.  It's a gift you can hand deliver or send via delivery, and its one that will be enjoyed every time.

Wine and Cheese - it's a gift made to be shared.  There is something very special about sharing a good bottle of wine, and nibbling on cheese and crackers.  It creates community and connection.

It can be tricky to find a decent Barolo for under £30 but Asda have done a great job with this Italian Extra Special Barolo 2009.  It has a complex dark fruity nose with bitter cherry, blackberry, even a haunting of redcurrant and the slightest hint of smokiness.  It's warm red colour reveals the lingering floral notes that make a Barolo so very special.

It works well with steak, rich tomato based sauces, pizza and cheeses, especially strong blue cheeses which bring out the wines, complex tarry flavours.

Matching the wine with a piece of creamy blue cheese and a box of Extra Special biscuits for cheese, otherwise known as crackers, allows you to give a gift that is complete.  The hostess does not have to go searching for something to eat while they drink the wine and it provides an opportunity for those eating and drinking to make a special memory.

These Asda Extra Special biscuits for cheese have many things going for them - there are No artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fat, and they are suitable for veggies - not something you would often consider, that all crackers are vegetarian friendly!  Baked at a family bakery in rural Dorset, they show Asda's commitment to local producers.  They come ifour flavours, each with its own distincive taste -Wheat Charcoal Crakers (my absolute favourite, I love their smoky oaty texture) Poppy & Sesame Seed Biscuits, (these are sweet crackers and could actually be served on their own with a cup of tea) and Sesame & Pumpkin Seed Flatbreads (these fellas are curved and crunchy, with the seeds adding just that extra dimension of flavour.


Cheese and Wine with some delectable crackers, is a present that will make every move to a new house, just that little bit easier.  It's a gift that can be eaten among the boxes or even during the unpacking, and make the whole process seem just that little bit easier and less likely to case rucktions.  

What's your favourite homewarming present?


That's it for now ...



Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable