The Taste Test: Feta Cheese

After last week’s taste test post, I’m going back to human food. For now, at least. If anyone has a puppy they want to lend me to help out with a dog food taste test, just let me know. Today though, feta cheese. One of the very first taste test blogs I did was on cheddar cheese, but really, why stop there? Now I think about it, there are dozens – hundreds, even – of cheese related taste tests I could do. Halloumi? Parmesan? Stilton? If you are particularly curious about any specific cheeses, then let me know in the comments and I will make it happen.

I also keep meaning to get round to posting a recipe for a baked vegan feta cheese substitute. I had some at a class I was helping with a couple of months ago and, my god, it was a revelation. I’ve absolutely no need (in dietary terms) to eat vegan cheese rather than normal cheese, but this stuff was stupidly delicious. Again, if you’d be interested, then let me know.

For now though, feta. I try to keep some feta cheese in the fridge most of the time, because it’s wonderful versatile and delicious. Whether you’re crumbling it on top of a salad, stirring it into a pasta dish, or having it in fritters, it will always give you a satisfying kick of salty flavour.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of feta cheese or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which supermarket had made A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Feta Cheese


per 100g
Lidl – Eridanous
 Totally Greek Feta Attis

A – Attis Totally Greek Feta – 4/10

  • Fair amount of water coming off it. Very smooth and soft, rather than crumbly. Tasted kind of like set cottage cheese – not particularly salty. Fine, but not great.

B – Tesco – 6/10

  • Less water coming off than A – firmer, and more crumbly – more pleasant to eat. Decent flavour, reasonably salty. Good, but not amazing.

C – Lidl – Eridanous – 8/10

  • Another firm and crumbly feta – what I would expect from feta texture. Well-flavoured, quite sharp with a lemony taste, good level of saltiness.

D – Waitrose – 7/10

  • Fairly firm, and somewhere in the middle regarding crumbliness. Saltty, rather than lemony. Not as flavoursome as C, but pleasant to eat.

E – Sainsbury’s – 6/10

  • Firm, no water coming off. Not crumbly like some others. Not overly salty, quite lemony, with a stronger cheese flavour.


Sample A seemed notably different to the other four samples, and it was my least favourite. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but did seem like a different kind of product, and less suited to my personal taste. Generally, any of the other four feta samples would do me just fine, although once again the Lidl cheese was my favourite. Turns out, Lidl do good cheese.

That said, none of these samples were anything like as good as the feta from Blackwoods Cheese Company that I brought from 2 North Parade a few weeks after doing this taste test. It’s not a day-to-day supermarket purchase, and it’s pretty extravagant, so it doesn’t really belong here. But if you’re looking for something special then go and buy it – you won’t regret it.

Otherwise, go to Lidl!

*Prices correct at time of writing.


Courgette and Feta Fritters

These courgette and feta fritters do a pretty good job of exemplifying my attitude towards health food. That is, you can take something perfectly healthy and fresh and lovely, like a courgette, and that’s fine. But then you can mix it with eggs and cheese and fry it. Yes, you’ve kind of marred its health credentials. But hey, you’ve got a super tasty snack.


This is the second in my series of recipe collaborations. Last time, I was working with Wild Honey. This time, it’s 2 North Parade. They’re a fantastic independent produce shop here in Oxford, who work with local suppliers and really focus on high quality, fresh, seasonal food. When I visited the shop to pick up some bits and pieces to work on this recipe collaboration, I was absolutely spoilt for choice.

For these courgette and feta fritters, I’ve used 2 North Parade’s beautiful courgettes, along with the feta they sell from Blackwood’s Cheese Company (seriously the best feta I have ever tasted), and the yoghurt they stock from North Aston Dairy. When I was there, though, I also picked up some beautiful sweetcorn, along with a delicious jar of local honey. The staff are really friendly and very happy to chat with you about all the produce they stock. Well worth a visit, particularly if you are looking for something special.



You can fritter all sorts of vegetables! Sweetcorn? Definitely. Cauliflower? Why not! Broccoli? The choice is yours. Make your own adventure. If anything, courgettes are the slightly (ever so slightly) trickier option, because you have to wring the excess liquid out of them.

This recipe should make around 10 fritters, depending on how large you make them.


500-600g courgette (you don’t need to be too exact, but it’s about 2 large courgettes or 3 medium ones)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
150g feta cheese, crumbled
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
100g wholemeal flour (plain works fine too, but I like the taste of the wholemeal here)
½ tsp baking powder
a generous pinch of chilli flakes
olive oil, for frying
150g plain natural or Greek yoghurt
a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped


  1. Put your oven on a low heat – around 100C/ gas 1. First, top and tail your courgettes, and then grate them roughly. Toss the grated courgette with a good pinch of sea salt, then pop it all in a sieve above a bowl to drain for ten minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, crush your garlic, finely chop your onion, and pop them both in a large bowl. Add your eggs, feta cheese, lemon zest, and a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Once your courgettes have had around ten minutes of draining time, get a bit more water out of them by either pressing them firmly against the sieve or popping them in a clean tea-towel and wringing them out. Put your drained courgettes into the bowl with the other ingredients, then add your flour, baking powder, and chilli flakes. Give it all a quick mix until combined.
  3. Pop your biggest frying pan on a medium-high heat, and pour in a generous glug of olive oil, to just coat the base. Shape the courgette mix into fritters in your hands. When the oil is hot, put your fritters in (in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan) and fry for 3-4 minutes a side until golden. When they’re cooked, remove from the pan and pop in the low oven to keep warm while you fry the rest.
  4. Finish by mixing your yoghurt with your lemon juice, dill, and seasoning to taste, and serve the courgette and feta fritters warm with the yoghurt.

Cucumber Salad

I am a complete animal obsessive – the kind of person who will stop people in the street so that I can talk to and pet their dogs (while ignoring the human attached to the dog because talking to those who can talk back is too much effort). When people ask me if I am a dog or a cat person I say I adore both, which is true: my brother and I grew up with three cats and two dogs in the house, and I love them more than most humans. That said, I think I am a cat person at heart. They are emotionally complex, tempestuous and smart and sulky, which apparently appeals to me in an animal. This is why I have let our cat-who-is-not-our-cat, Freddie, massively emotionally manipulate me until I am basically a slave who exists to serve her.


When Freddie first showed up at our door, she was all tentative and nervy, needing cajoling to convince her that we were good, cat-loving, unintimidating folk. We’re way, way past that point now, though. She has played James and I like fiddles. Without even realising how we got here, we’re at the point where if I start to eat any sort of human food near her she will come and try to put her nose in it to share it with me, and I have to actively push her away if I do not want to lose my breakfast to a feline.

These days I have to be extremely careful when I do my food photography. If I set everything up and then turn my back for a second to pick up my camera, that cat is across the room and jumping onto my little set like an overjoyed kid being let out of a classroom and into a playground. The problem is that she has discovered that human food is more delicious than animal food, and now she’s not interested in anything else.


Anyway, luckily cats are obligate carnivores and not really interested in cucumber, so this little dish was spared the threat of Freddie’s tongue. This salad is a weird mish-mash of different cuisines, but it’s light and summery and only takes ten minutes to make and, hey, I think it’s tasty and it didn’t get eaten by the cat, so here it is.


Notes: This should feed 3-4 people as a side dish, or two people as the base for a main meal with, for instance, some grilled chicken or fish.

Don’t skip the black onion seeds! They may sound like an odd ingredient if you are not used to them, but they are delicious and they make this salad, adding an interesting bitterness. You can get them from large supermarkets or local Asian shops – if you live in Oxford, you can get them in most stores up and down the Cowley Road.


1/2 small red onion
juice of 1 lime
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1 whole cucumber
100g feta
1 small pack coriander
2 tsp black onion/nigella seeds/kalonji


  1. First, finely dice your red onion. Put the onion in a mixing bowl, and squeeze over the juice of the lime, then add a pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper (bearing in mind that feta is very salty, so you don’t want to add too much salt at this stage). Mix it all around and let the onion sit in the mixture.
  2. Next, halve your cucumber, scrape out the seeds (I use a teaspoon for this), and dice the remaining flesh. Crumble your feta cheese. Chop your coriander, stalks and all, as finely as you can be bothered to. Add your cucumber, feta, coriander, and black onion seeds to your red onion, give it all a good stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Job done.

Feta and Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad

James and I take turns in choosing the films we’re going to watch, and we realised last week that he always picks films where everyone dies at the end, and I always pick films that end happily. We are probably educating each other in some way. It’s not that the films I pick are all sweetness and light, it’s just that the important protagonists tend to avoid actually dying. You know, so that they can stay alive to appreciate learning an important moral lesson, watching their children grow, or rocking a new makeover.

Part of the reason that I don’t particularly get along with films where everyone dies is that I think huge numbers of casualties tend to de-value each individual death. There’s no real way of discussing this without spoilers, but we watched Prometheus a couple of weeks ago, and… well, for me, a continuous slew of death after death starts to render the event meaningless. The first one is shocking and sad. But after that? You don’t have time to mourn any of the characters, and instead of regretting their demise you start thinking ‘Seriously? Another one? Why did they go in there? How did they not see that coming?’



My exception to this hard-hearted and blasé attitude is animal death. This probably makes me some sort of monster, but although watching people die in films is bearable – albeit sometimes heart wrenching – watching animals die in films is not. I cannot ever watch I Am Legend again, because I first watched it alone and unaware and was severely traumatised. When James and I watch films together now and it looks like an animal might die, I close my eyes and block my ears and he has to tell me when it’s over. Yes, I know I am pathetic.

(By the way, if anyone out there is as pathetic as me, you will find this to be an excellent resource: https://www.doesthedogdie.com/)

Anyway, yesterday we went to see a film that we chose jointly. No animals die, so it is safe. We were very late to this party, so I am sure you have already seen Inside Out, but if you have somehow missed it then you should really go. I laughed out loud and I cried. It is one of those brilliant, beautiful, animated kids’ films that manages to appeal to children and adults alike by being fantastically funny, touching, and insightful. Some jokes will be lost on little children and appreciated only by adults, and some of the slapstick humour will have kids delighted. It is cleverly pitched to appeal both to children and to the guardians that have to take them to the cinema, so that no one is grumpy and falling asleep. It also cleverly makes a lot of psychological concepts accessible to younger children and gives them a language and a set of characters to comprehend and aid emotional expression.



Anyway, to the recipe, which is completely unrelated as usual.

Notes: I make this salad all the time. Probably too much. It’s quick and easy, and it feeds a crowd. It’s very adaptable, and you can chuck more stuff in or take things out according to preference. It’s basically my bastardised version of tabbouleh.

This recipe will make a big bowl of salad that could be a side dish for 5-6 people.


250g cooked mixed grains (lentils, bulgar wheat, quinoa, freekeh, cous cous, brown rice… whatever you fancy, or a mixture)
1 cucumber
1 200g pack of feta
1 pomegranate (or a pack of pomegranate seeds, for speed)
1 lemon
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of coriander
1 bunch of parsley
good olive oil
salt and pepper


  1. This is just an assembly job and you probably don’t need me to tell you what to do, but just in case… Tip your cold grains into a large bowl. Chop your cucumber in half, de-seed it, then chop it into a small dice. Add the cucumber to the grains and mix. Crumble your block of feta over the grain mixture and stir. Add your pomegranate seeds. Juice your lemon and pop the juice in there too.
  2. Pick the leaves from your handfuls of herbs, and either chop them very finely or (if you’re like me and don’t have any patience) whack them all in the food processor and blitz. I then add olive oil to the mixture in the food processor as it’s running until it becomes a loose paste (probably around 5 tbsp). Add the herbs and oil to your grains. Season well, and stir.
  3. Cover and pop it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour: this salad is best served cold. It will keep in there for a couple of days, and is great for lunches if you have leftovers.