Embellish with Relish, written by the co-founder of the Hawkshead Relish Company Marie Whitehead, is a treat.
Before going any further though, I must confess that I’ve never tried their products. However, after reading about the dedication to high-quality ingredients, and that all their relishes are gluten and nut-free, I knew they’d be right up my street.
Being unfamiliar with this Lake District company’s wares I had mistakenly thought it was a book full of recipes about making relish, so I was intrigued to discover it was actually a cookbook. After an initial flick through, I wondered if it was more of an advert for relish than a cookery book but, while it does showcase some of their award-winning products, it is chock-full of tasty recipes and excellent ideas.
The opening chapters share the journey the Whiteheads have chartered during their 20 years making jams, chutneys and sauces. There are interesting insights into the inspiration behind flavours and spice blends along with reminiscences of trips to exotic places.
It’s clear that this is a hands-on family business and Whitehead shares stories of family life as well as the business’s growth and expansion. This homely theme continues in the book with hearty comforting recipes such as Sticky Ribs made with their bestselling Westmoreland Chutney, as well as Glazed Duck featuring Fig and Orange Jam.
Each of the 10 chapters is dedicated to an individual chutney, sauce or jam giving new and innovative ideas on how to use them to pep up everyday family meals. I particularly enjoyed the beginning of the chapters which included the backstory of each product, such as the Salted Caramel Sauce which, at its source, hails from Brittany where it is made with the region’s famed salted butter. The Whiteheads decided to make their own version using the finest sea salt from Halen Môn on Anglesey, and I suspect sourcing such choice ingredients has been a part of their success.
Each lip-smacking recipe is paired with equally mouth-watering photos and I’m left wanting to try some of my own culinary experiments with several of their relishes – particularly the Black Garlic Ketchup. With a foreword written by food and drink journalist and broadcaster Nigel Barden and endorsements from the Hairy Bikers, it’s clear that their products and recipes have a select gastronomic following.
All said, it’s a lovely cookbook with lots of tips on how to turn those jars in the cupboard into delicious twists on mealtime favourites as well as lots of exciting new recipes. There’s something for everyone and, as well as sampling some of their sauces, I’ll be using Embellish with Relish to create some scrummy dishes in the future.
Embellish with Relish: Bring Your Store Cupboard to Life is available from the Hawkshead Relish Company website.