Making Pesto at home with Parmigiano Reggiano

At the moment, during lock down, my daily happiness depends on what I find in the fridge! Parmigiano Reggiano is the one luxury staple we are always stocked up on … this special Italian hard cheese can really make or break the simplest meals … whether it’s as a last-minute accompaniment to spaghetti or a yummy topping for cheese on toast.

Parmigiano Reggiano

A few years ago, I visited Parmigiano Reggiano’s area of origin in Northern Italy, where it is exclusively produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna to the left of the river Reno, and Mantua to the right of the river Po. As a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, Parmigiano Reggiano is a healthy choice, as it is all-natural, made with only 3 ingredients, and every wheel of cheese is individually quality checked before it can be sold. Made with cow’s milk and usually aged for 12 – 36 months, it is a granular cheese with a salty umami taste that can add flavour to an array of dishes.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Pesto is one of my favourite recipes with Parmigiano Reggiano. For me, it brings back strong memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Provence, collecting pine kernels from the nearby forest and using an old pestle and mortal to make delicious fresh pesto. We’d sometimes take a day trip over the border into Italy, to visit their vibrant markets and buy huge chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano

At the moment it’s not as easy as usual to get all the ingredients you need, and pine nuts are often not available in local shops, so I’ve come up with three pesto recipes to help you make the most of your store cupboard ingredients, all showcasing Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiana Reggiano

Classic Pesto

100g basil, leaves picked

75g toasted pine nuts

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

100ml olive oil

Parmigiana Reggiano

Parsley & Hazelnut

80g flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

100g toasted hazelnut

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

zest and juice of 1 lemon

100ml olive oil

Parmigiana Reggiano

Sun-dried Tomato & Walnut

150g sun-dried tomatoes in oil (weight incl. oil)

100g walnuts

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1 clove of garlic

Additional olive oil if needed, but mostly use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

Parmigiano Reggiano

Method

Put all ingredients into the food processor, apart from olive oil and whizz up into a paste. Once mixed gradually add the olive oil while the mixer is still on. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Alternatively you can use a pestle and mortar to break down the ingredients and create a paste, starting with the dry ingredients and finishing with the oil.

Parmigiana Reggiano

Pesto can be used in so many recipes, as a pasta sauce, a salad dressing or a smart canapé spread. I like to make a big batch, and freeze portions in an ice-tray for later use.

You can buy Parmigiano Reggiano from all major supermarkets in the UK. Follow them on instagram @Parmigianoreggianouk and on Twitter @Parmesanuk.

This is a collaboration with Parmigiano Reggiano, visit their website here for more information.

Best beauty products for home pampering

The last month of lock-down has provided me with the opportunity to scrap make-up routines and look after my skin, face and hair a bit more. With no opportunities for eyebrow threading, bikini waxing or blow-drying… I’ll never felt more of a need to pamper myself at home. With this in mind I have round up some of the products which are making me feel glamorous at home.

Face

Chantecaille

Chantecaille Hibiscus Soothing Mask – This indulgent face mask is the ultimate pick-me-up. I like to apply a mask on Sunday night to revitalise and relax my skin before the new week. The Chantecaille Hibiscus mask feels and smells delicious thanks to the grapefruit extract it contains. The cream is rich in Vitamin C (which we all need lots of at the moment) and only needs to be left on the skin for 3-10 minutes to see the effects and improvement in complexion.

Murad

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 & Night Fix Enzyme Treatment – With all the sunshine we’ve been experiencing recently, I’ve been on the lookout for a great moisturiser which incorporates a good SPF protection. This nourishing cream has a blissfully light texture and a lovely citrusy scent. For an extra hit of hydration massage the Night Fix Enzyme Treatment into your skin before bed. Not only does this magical product repair the skin, it also helps you have a more restful sleep.

Paula's Choice

Paula’s Choice Super Hydrate Overnight Mask – For no fuss pampering try Paula’s Choice super hydrate mask. Apply a generous layer before bed and let it work its magic overnight (you can wash off or leave on). This mask is gentle and great for all skin types, promoting healthy skin and hydrating damaged skin. Ingredients include Cloudberry and Reishi Mushroom, a lovely selection of Nordic ingredients that are meant to be particularly good for sensitive skin.

REN

REN Perfect Canvas Cleanser – I’ve always liked REN products for their simple and effective approach to skincare. The tri-phase formula is a all-in-one cleanser that gently removes dirt, make-up (including waterproof) and SPF. Great for all skin types, the product is made with sunflower, meadowfoam and grape seed oils and extracts which helps combat dryness and replenish the skin’s protective barrier. It’s a jelly texture which transforms to a milky oil when used with water. When using before bed I recommend following with the indulgent Overnight Glow Dark Spot Sleeping Cream… you’ll wake up with a dewy, glowing complexion.

Body

rabot 1745

Rabot 1745 Three Shell Scrub – Rabot 1745 products are made in the UK, but offer the tropical essence of St Lucia. Since 1745, the Rabot Estate has farmed cacao on the Caribbean paradise of Saint Lucia. In 2018 they launched their range of cacao-infused products. I fell instantly in love with the Three Shell Scrub. Needless to say all the products smell wonderful, this scrub has a marzipan scent which reminds you instantly of summer. The scrub is made from scoops of island shells and it will gently exfoliate your skin, so you feel transformed after every shower. Try the whole range and find a scrub that suits you the best.

Decorté AQ Hand Cream – With all this essential hand washing my skin has been really suffering, so the Decorté AQ moisturisers have been a life-saver. This hand cream is light and absorbs quickly into the skin, avoiding any sticky residue. The cream improves elasticity and luminosity but it also good for visibly reducing wrinkles and age spots. I’ve also been enjoying the Revitalizing Body Cream which has been nourishing after stints in the sun.

Hair

leonor greyl

Leonor Greyl Masque à L’Orchidée – For thick, dry or frizzy hair these Leonor Greyl hair products are a saviour. This mask was my favourite of the products I’ve tried – the mask is formulated with plant ceramides that strengthen the hair, film-forming silk proteins for unparalleled shine and botanical oils to increase hair flexibility. I found that after use my hair felt extra soft and was much more manageable for blow-drying and styling. I also recommend trying the Shampoo Crème moelle de bambou to pair with the mask if your hair is extremely dry.

SachaJuan Over night hair repair – My hair is highlighted and fine so I am prone to bad split ends… as a trip to the hairdresser is not possible I have been trying hard to take care of my hair with masks and treatments. The SachaJuan Over Night Hair Repair is one of my favourite recent discoveries. This popular product from the cult Swedish brand and should be applied in the evening through the lengths of the hair and left on all night. In the morning it can be, but does not need to be washed off… making it a blissfully easy product to incorporate into your beauty routine. The hair repair has a lovely floral scent and uses sea algae and minerals to ensure the hair is left silky smooth and extra strong. For coloured hair I also recommend trying the Colour Protect Shampoo and Conditioner, even after one wash my hair felt like I’d been to a professional salon.

Living Proof

Living Proof Triple Detox Shampoo & Whipped Glaze Color Care – Living Proof offer everyday luxury haircare. Use the Triple Detox Shampoo in place of your normal shampoo, and try to leave on the hair for 1-2 minutes before rinsing out for the best results. This product will remove a build-up from hard water (a real issue in London), styling products and pollution. I promise your hair will feel super soft and shiny after. I’m also enjoying using the new Whipped Glaze Color Care, this styling product is ideal for those with highlights who feel the colour is beginning to look dull. Apply to damp hair after every other hair wash and leave in the lengths of the hair.

hair products

Schwarzkopf Root Retoucher – Four weeks of lock-down in and I already feel massively self conscious of my speckled grey roots. The Schwarzkopf is a quick and easy fix… a temporary root spray that will cover any unwanted greys and washes out after one wash (I may never need to have my roots dyed properly again!) If like me you are trying to wash your hair less while staying in try the Schwarzkopf got2b Dry Shampoo, it gives an instant (but long-lasting) refresh and has a lovely clean fresh fragrance.

Nails

CND – A monthly manicure has always felt like the biggest treat to me and it’s one of the small pleasures I’m missing the most at the moment. So I was very excited to receive these CND nail supplies to try at home. The vinylux range is like a 7-day shellac, without the need for UV light or salon equipment. The colours are creamy and rich and the varnish lasts incredibly well. For the ultimate nail care, invest in the CND treatment essentials – RidgeFx nail surface enhancer smooths the surface of your nails instantly, while the award-winning SolarOil hydrates your nails and cuticles, ensuring stronger healthier nails.

Bring the Bar Home with The Whisky Exchange

With restaurants and bars shut across the world it time to make the most of your home bar. The Whisky Exchange is on hand to help out, with ‘Bring the Bar Home’ cocktail kits, featuring everything you need to create some delicious drinks designed by some of London’s top bartenders. For each box sold a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the bar, helping them through this difficult time while they remain closed.

There are a few options to choose from, some of my favourites include a Banana Rum Old Fashioned, created by Sly Augustin from Trailer Happiness (this bundle includes a bottle of Appleton Estate Reserve Blend rum, Giffard Crème Banane, Monin Gomme syrup and Bob’s Chocolate Bitters), and the Norman Conquest cocktail, created by Kwant’s Erik Lorincz (which includes a bottle of Avallen Calvados, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Angostura bitters and Woodford Reserve bourbon).

The Whisky Exchange

Last weekend I tried out the American Apples kit from renowned bar, Artesian in London’s Langham Hotel. The American Apples cocktail, created by Artesian’s Anna Sebastian includes a bottle of Michter’s Small Batch bourbon, Monin Pomme Verte, Mancino Vermouth and Gamillard Les Riceys Champagne. Everything you need to create this delicious refreshing cocktail, just make sure you have ice and lemon at home. The sweet apple syrup combined with the rich bourbon and dry vermouth created a perfectly balanced cocktail, topped with some decadent champagne bubbles.

The Whisky Exchange

The best thing of all about these ready-made bar kits – once you have you’re your special cocktails you then have the remainder of the bottles to use to create and experiment with other recipes. After making a couple of American Apple cocktails this weekend I used the rest of the champagne to make Bellinis with excess fruit we had in the fridge, and the bourbon has been perfect for an evening old-fashioned. Choose and buy your ‘Bring the Bar Home’ cocktail kit here.

The Whisky Exchange

With more and more of us getting creative with our home tipples I caught up with the Whisky Exchange’s Head Buyer, Dawn Davies to ask her about her top tips for isolation drinks at home.

What drinks have been most popular from the Whisky Exchange website during this lock down period?

Wine has been flying off the shelves, but as the isolation period goes on people are investing in spirits to create their own mini bars at home. Red vermouth and Campari have been incredibly popular recently which suggests people are mixing up their own negronis at home. A cocktail that was once reserved for a night out is now being recreated at home to create the feeling of a special treat.

Tell me a bit more about the ‘Bring the Bar Home’ cocktail kits?

These unique collections are an easy way for people to try something different at home. All the ingredients you need are included and hopefully it will inspire people to try something a bit different. It has also been a great way for us to support some of our favourite London bars who are really suffering during this period.

What drinks trends are you seeing emerging from this unusual time?

People are getting more adventurous and buying more unique and interesting bottles to create their own drinks with. The Whisky Exchange has a range of cocktail tutorial videos online which are encouraging and helping people to make and mix their own creative cocktails at home. As the lock down goes on longer our customers seem to be investing in better bottles to keep on their bar and use for different drinks.

Cognac

What have you got coming up in the next few weeks?

As the Cognac Show this weekend had to be cancelled we are taking the tastings online. I’ll be hosting a few Cognac Show virtual tastings on our Facebook page, an introduction to this historic French spirit. I am also currently planning some Perfect Measure kits which will be available on the Whisky Exchange website soon. These kits will offer a selection of 6 carefully chosen whisky / gin varieties which you can taste neat or use for cocktail making at home. It’s a great way for fans to enjoy, educate and experiment with their favourite spirit.

If someone was keen to start an ‘essentials’ home bar what would you recommend they buy?

– Gin

– Vodka

– Rum

– Whisky

– Red Vermouth

– Bitters (choose your favourite, but angostura are probably the most versatile)

What drink have you been enjoying at home during the lockdown?

I missed having daiquiris out at my favourite bars, so have had to start making them at home!

How do you make your Daiquiris?

I use two different rums in mine for depth of flavour – this is my recipe:

45ml Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum

15ml Clairin Sajous

20ml fresh squeezed lime juice

10ml simple sugar syrup

Shake, strain into a frozen glass and garnish with a lime

For more information head to The Whisky Exchange website here. And to take part in this weekend’s virtual Cognac tastings, sign up here.

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with The Whisky Exchange.