You know what it's like when the kids are sick and off their food so you try to tempt them with lots of different scrummy things and by the time the evening rolls round and it's time for the grown-ups to eat, you're just too shattered to start cooking a big meal again ? Yep, that's been The Madhouse since last week, but Donald Russell took me under their wing and got everyone's tummies filled with some top notch nosh !
Never heard of them? Umm, I'll be honest, I hadn't, but the Donald Russell company is a Royal Warrant holder and Britain’s leading mail-order and wholesale meat supplier. Based in Aberdeenshire, they are a pioneering company, using shock-freezing methods to perfectly capture matured meat at its optimum flavour moment, allowing consumers to enjoy restaurant quality products in the comfort of their own home. They sent us through a lovely piece of slow-cooked lamb that we haven't eaten yet, but this week, we've been trying out their brand new range of vegetable side dishes (a first for the company) and potato rösti. The range includes:
Broad Beans, Petit Pois & Bacon in Béchamel
Carrots & Petit Pois in Béchamel
Creamy Savoy Cabbage
Leaf Spinach in Béchamel
Buttery Mashed Potato
Crème Cheese & Herb Potato Rösti Bites
Hot Dog Potato Rösti Bites
Alpine Cheese & Bacon Potato Rösti Bites
The vegetable side dishes are ultra convenient. They come in plastic trays with a film on top and can be cooked in a microwave or conventional oven from frozen. This cauliflower cheese, for example, took just five minutes in the microwave and I decided to pop it under the grill for a couple of minutes extra to give it some colour. The sauce was nice and creamy and the kids loved it. There's just enough in a pack for two side servings or three small children's portions.
I decided to tempt the poorly kids with these Hot Dog Potato Rösti Bites. Again, they can be cooked from frozen and just need to be popped in the oven for 15-18 minutes. (They can be cooked in the microwave but you wouldn't get the crispy golden texture that I wanted.)
I wasn't really sure what to expect, and nor were the kids, so they were quite excited when I called them to the dinner table ! You actually get one long hot dog sausage encased in potato rösti (like hash browns) that are the perfect consistency, soft on the inside but crisp on the outside. The kids absolutely loved them and asked if there were any left !
There weren't, but they also loved the Alpine Cheese and Bacon Rösti Potato Bites, which are similar but smaller. They're very cheesy and had a definite smoky bacon flavour, although we couldn't see any visible bacon pieces in them.
If you struggle to get your kids to eat their five-a-day, the side dishes are a godsend. The Carrots & Petit Pois in Béchamel also disappeared in record time, despite the Madhouse kids often turning up their noses at regular peas and carrots !
Time for the grown-ups to get a look-in ! I chose the Broad Beans, Petit Pois & Bacon in Béchamel for us, which was as delicious as it sounds.
I paired these with the Crème Cheese & Herb Potato Bites and some Chicken Sausages, both of which took about 18 minutes in the oven - giving me time to put the kids to bed while it cooked itself.
It was delicious and looks and tastes freshly made, not at all like something you've just pulled out of the freezer and cooked from frozen.
That's what you have to remember when you look at the prices - this is restaurant quality food that can be reproduced in minutes in the comfort of your own home with zero effort. Don't lose from sight that this is the award winning supplier of meat to HM the Queen! The vegetable side dishes cost £7 for 2 packs (2 x 210g) and the rösti cost £3.50 for one pack of 6. Definitely more expensive than frozen vegetables from the supermarket but that's a bit like comparing a fast food hamburger and a sirloin steak ! You can also buy in bulk which makes it slightly cheaper - for example, the Vegetable & Rösti Selection, containing a total of 11 packs of everything we received, costs £41.75. They also have weekly and monthly meal planner boxes, that look like a great idea, but they sell everything, from meat, pies and ready meals to desserts. It's definitely worth having a look around the website to see what's on offer. I'll be very tempted to stock up the freezer before Christmas.
As I love hunting out bargains, I couldn't fail to spot the chance to win £250 of products for signing up with your email. As I googled Donald Russell, I also stumbled across an amazing Groupon offer for a steak selection pack at up to 59% off (you pay £29 instead of £70.50 !). There are also numerous mentions of discount codes so it's well worth googling to see if there are any current codes available. (You actually get one in your welcome email when you sign up.)
for more information : www.donaldrussell.com
Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.