Saturday, 6 February 2016

Beech's Fine Chocolates - Giveaway

60g bar selection 

Taste testing chocolate, oh its a tough job but someones got to do it !

Our friends at Beechs' Chocolates in Preston sent us a selection of their delicious chocolates for taste testing recently and what fun we have had.

Beechs' are some what of a Lancashire Legend, formed in 1920 this Lancashire Chocolate company have been supplying the fine people of Lancashire and  the world with delightful chocolate treats for nigh on a hundred yeas. Their factory is in Preston so pretty local to us and still in its original location.

60g Bar various

So onto our taste testing, we tried the dark chocolate selection first, the Dark Chocolate is 54 - 55% cocoa solids so its not a dark dark chocolate, personally I prefer a higher percentage but that a question of personal taste and we still really enjoyed the selection, the ginger  and mint crisp deserve particular mention , the ginger warming and aromatic and the mint cooling and smooth. The Lime and Chilli starts like a chocolate lime and progresses to a warm heat to finish. All in all a good range of flavours.

Dark chocolate / Dark Chocolate with Ginger / Dark Chocolate Lime and Chilli / Dark Chocolate Mint Crisp.

White Chocolate

Rich smooth and creamy, classic white chocolate with a distinct vanilla hit, melts well.

Selection of 60g bars

Milk Chocolate / Milk Chocolate Anglesey Sea Salt / Milk Chocolate Popping Candy / Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel / Milk Chocolate Crunchy Honeycomb

The milk chocolate is 30% cocoa solids and is noticeably richer in taste than the average high street bar, all the milk bars were creamy and we loved all the flavours, particularly the Anglesey Sea Salt and Salted Caramel as the salting was very well handled and just subtly added to the bars flavours. The popping candy bar is novel and lots of fun and was the favourite of Mr Lancashire Food, plenty of pop !

Gift Boxes

Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons - 9 square pieces of rich and very coconutty macaroon in a presentation box

We are loving the packaging, its colourful and bright and is traditional showing Beechs' roots yet modern at the same time, inside the 60g bar pack you will find a clear cellophane wrapper containing the chocolate bar, a bit of a surprise if you aren't expecting it, but you can clearly see what you are getting. The boxes are dinky proper little boxes of chocolates with a tray and corrugated topper and of course the lovely contents, the boxes make a great gift and are really pretty too.

Beechs' chocolate are available in many fine retailers including Booths Supermarkets, at various fine food fairs, QVC UK and also on line via their e store 


Would you like to win a Beechs Fine Chocolate Tasting Pack, just like ours ?

Well you can, we have one Prize of 10 of the 60g bars of chocolate (various flavours) and also the four gift boxes, just like in our taste test, delivered to UK addresses only.

Entering is easy, just use the rafflecopter widget to enter

Terms and Conditions

1. Complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
2. Entries are by blog comment, Twitter, Facebook etc
3. Closing Date: 14th February 2016
(For more information on how to enter blog giveaways using Rafflecopter please see this short video

You can win more bonus entries by tweeting on a daily basis. Good Luck ! 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Kevin Stickley from the Cottage Loaf Bakery in Eccleston

This months foodie is Kevin Stickley from the Cottage Loaf Bakery in Eccleston, Chorley. Kevin is very shy like most bakers so we don't actually have a picture of Kevin. Needless to say he's an earlier riser like all craft bakers and proudly still bakes on the premises.

I have been at the bakery since April 1989, when my family moved from Northampton. After getting married in 1998, my parents and sister retired and left me in sole charge. With a good team of staff and help from my wife, Lesley-Ann, the bakery is still going strong today.

We produce traditional bread, cakes pies and sandwiches, and also supply local businesses as well.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
The Craft Bakers Book of Bread Making.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
It’s straight forward, tasty and well worth searching for a good producer.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I nearly joined the Navy before I became an apprentice baker, so, a Naval officer by now.

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
I need my oven and mixer, but I have a scotch scraper that I have used for 27 years, it’s still got a few years left in it.

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Paul Hollywood, to keep the wife happy, and Peter Kay, very funny man and I think he appreciates a good pie as well.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Choose staff more wisely, don’t be frightened to experiment and try new ideas, take more time out.

Describe your style in three words
Laid back, traditional and dedicated

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
My 1955 Hobart mixer has died, so I have joined the world of spiral mixers.

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Surviving for 27 years, while 6 bakeries around us have disappeared.

What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Putting business before family.

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
Considering the fact I get up at 1AM, I hate early mornings.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Free From Cakes - South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club at Duk Deli and Cantina, Chorley

For our most recent meeting of  South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club we are back in Chorley, where our meeting was kindly hosted in the newly opened Duk Deli and Cantina on Cleveland Street, right in the heart of the town near the market.

The theme of "Free From" Cakes was chosen as our venue is award winning when it comes to catering for allergies of all types. We had cakes that were gluten free, dairy free, egg free, sugar free, fat free, gluten and dairy free and you just couldn't tell , the cakes were amazing, we had lemon drizzle, chocolate cake, date cake, strawberry cake,sugar free carrot cake, vegan raw cake and many more.

We had a great time and were very well looked after by the lovely friendly staff at this cute new town centre venue, members discussed the different gluten free flours now avaliable, free from baking in general and our favourite healthy cook books.

Pictures are courtesy of Lancashire Food Photography and Colin Shepherd one of our baking members. Apologies as a couple of cakes are missing from the images on the day, they were all delicious.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Philippa James - A Great Loss to Lancashire Food - A Special Edition of a Quick Bite of Lancashire Food

Published with the kind permission of Foody Phil - Bite Local / Bite Network, as a special edition of A Quick bite of Lancashire Food in tribute to Philippa James who passed away recently. I met Philippa on a couple of occasions and she will be sadly missed by the food community in Lancashire for her passion and enthusiasm about all things food in Lancashire.

A Great Loss to Lancashire Food

                                                            Picture Credit: BBC News

It was with great sadness that I recently learned about the passing of a dearly loved, extremely passionate local food personality, and friend, Philippa James.

Often affectionately referred to by her nickname, ‘Tigger’, so called, quite appropriately, after the larger than life and rather mad bouncy character from Winnie the Poo; Philippa first had a successful career in sales and marketing, later going on to enjoy a number of successful food related roles: She cooked on yachts in the Caribbean; owned a deli and tea room; operated her own cookery school; won a gold award for her Lancashire Tea Bread at the Great Taste awards; delivered lessons to school children about WW2 rationing; worked on Lottery funded ‘Healthy Living’ courses, as well as many more valuable contributions!

Also, a regular contributor on BBC Radio Lancashire, Philippa was particularly well known in local food circles around Lancashire. She was often invited to perform her always entertaining cookery demo’s at markets and food festivals, and was a major force when it came to promoting Lancashire produce, once appearing on BBC TV’s ‘Flog It’ programme and cooking her famous ‘Lancashire Tortilla’. Later, she found another outlet to demonstrate her unbounded enthusiasm for food and local produce, when she occupied the role of Food Editor at Lancashire Life magazine. Here she produced numerous articles extolling the virtues of local food and drink businesses, and became extremely well known and loved throughout the county.

A Lancashire ‘lass’ through and through, Philippa’s much too early death came as a great shock to the local food community she was so close to. She will be very fondly remembered and sadly missed by all!


                                               Picture Credit: Lancashire Life Magazine

Monday, 11 January 2016

Raw brownie bites - a healthy treat, gluten and dairy free

Got a chocolate craving ? but you are trying to eat healthy, what about these deliciously moreish raw brownie bites. Easy to make if you have a decent food processor and dairy and gluten free, they are also a great way of using up the last of the Christmas nuts too, as you can mix and match the nut content with whatever nuts you have to hand. Favourite in our household is almonds but pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts would all work well.

The keep well in the fridge in a container cut into small bite-sized pieces, but they won't last that long I promise you. I would recommend if possible just a couple a day to stave off the chocolate cravings, they also only contain just a little honey as a sweetener, as there is no baking involved I used some of our precious Honey from our hosted hive.

So what's not to like.......

What you need

  • 100g Whole shelled nuts with skins on - almonds / walnuts / hazelnuts
  • 250g pitted dates (ordinary or Medjool if you can get them)
  • 2 generous tablespoon of Local Honey (I used some from our hive)
  • 80g Cocoa powder (Raw or at the very least Organic)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50g Chopped nuts - pecan, walnuts, almonds, I used flaked  almonds as that's all I had
What you do
  • Blitz the whole shelled nuts until you have a coarse powder in your food processor
  • Add the Dates, Cocoa, Honey and salt to the bowl, blitz until the mixture is well chopped and starting to come together.
  • Add the chopped nuts, and quickly incorporate into the mixture.
  • Tip into a greaseproof lined cake tin, a 20cm square seems to be about the right size.
  • Press down the mixture firmly, cover with clingfilm and press down again
  • Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours
  • Remove from fridge and then chop into small bite sized squares, pop them in an airtight box in the fridge to store.
We are joining in with "We should Cocoa" created by Choclette over at Tin and Thyme and hosted this month by Lovely Appetite. The theme this month being "Simple Recipes"

                                                          chocolate recipes

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Round up of all our featured foodie's for 2015

Twelve of Lancashire's finest foodie's, all featured this year as a Quick bite of Lancashire Food. Why not nominate your favourite to be featured in 2016.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Yuletide Gingerbread - dairy and gluten free

Who doesn't like sticky gingerbread, the prefect accompainment to present wrapping and one sure fire way of putting in the festive mood. 

This gingerbread is the sticky cakey kind and not the crunchy gingerbread man type of gingerbread, again not a beauty and a recipe that practically always sinks slightly in the middle but it has a beautiful spicy warmth with just the right amount of cloves. Easily made dairy and gluten free if required so its a recipe for all. 

A tip for you - lightly oil the container you measure the treacle in otherwise it will make a very sticky mess.

What you need
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 120g quality vegetable margarine (dairy free) - I use Pure
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 150ml treacle
  • 300g Self raising flour ( I have made this gluten free and it works fine, you may need to a little more water)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60ml of warm water
2lb loaf tin - oil sprayed and lined

What you do

  • Prepare the baking tin
  • Preheat the oven to 175c
  • Cream the sugars and margarine in a mixer , until well mixed, fluffy and lighter in colour
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixer
  • Mix quickly until you have a smooth mixture
  • Scoop into the prepared tin and place in the pre heated oven
  • Bake for 50 - 55 minutes
  • Cool initially in the tin
  • Remove from tin to a wire rack to cool fully
  • Wrap and store in an airtight tin, if you can leave it for a few days its starts to go delightfully sticky.
  • Delicious served with a cup of tea 

We are linking up to Love Cake over on JibberJabberUk , theme this month is "Festive Fun"

                                                        Love Cake logo

Simply Eggcellent - with Dom at Belleau Kitchen, theme this month "Anything Goes"


And finally Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

                                                           Link up your recipe of the week

Friday, 4 December 2015

Banana Cinnamon Swirl loaf

I love baking and can't think of many things that create that sense of clam and contentment in a household like a freshly baked homemade cake. The weather in Lancashire is currently blustery but still fairly mild for the time of year and we have only experienced one frost so far this season, I love cooking with warming spices and cinnamon in one of my absolute favourites and thought that the addition of a cinnamon sugar swirl would work well and oh my it does. Since coming up with this twist on a basic banana loaf I have made this loaf at least 4 times already, its that good.

Its falling off a log simple to make, an easy recipe and another one for using up manky bananas, as mentioned earlier I love cinnamon and buy it in industrial quantities, just make sure that it still fragrant before baking as you want that beautiful cinnamon amours to perfume your whole house whilst you are baking.

What you need
  • 3 soft ripe bananas - peeled
  • 1 egg - free range
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter or if diary free - sunflower oil
For the swirl
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
You also need a 2lb loaf tin, lined

What you do
  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Mix the swirl ingredients together in a ramekin, put to one side.
  • Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a fork until you have a smooth puree, add the vanilla to the bowl.
  • In the large bowl, I use my stand mixer add all the other ingredients (except the swirl mixture) and mix until you have a smooth mixture
  • Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with just over half of the cinnamon swirl mixture
  • Top with the rest of the banana cake mixture, smooth level with a palette knife and then sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cake tests baked with a skewer
  • Cool initially in the tin for 15 minutes and then cool fully on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Richard Lowthian - Ham & Jam Coffee Shop Preston

Born in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne a true Geordie. I moved to Lancashire in the 1990's having met my wife Cindy who was at Newcastle University we have a daughter Felicity. I have worked for some fantastic social housing organisation for over twenty years in the North East and North West of the country and made some great friends during my social housing career. In the summer of 2014 I had a fantastic opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and follow my dreams. So for the past twelve months I've develop our business plan for Ham and Jam coffee shop Ltd and we are hoping to open Autumn 2015. 

Ham and Jam is now open and can be found on 50-52 Lancaster Rd, Preston, near the Guild Hall.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication?
Anything by Rick Stein as I seem to have more of his books than anyone else’s.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you?
For me it’s got to be Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Lancashire Hot Pot and good old, Lancashire cheese!

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be?
I am very lucky as I've moved on to what I've always really want to do!

Which piece of kit could you not do without?
San Remo Zoe Two Group Espresso  Machine it’s a piece of kit for Ham & Jam coffee shop that we are investing in to ensure fantastic quality coffee for our customers.

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Sid Bowen (my father in law who I sadly have never met) as the stories I’ve  heard about him from my wife, mother in law, and sister’s in law make me laugh. 
Sir Bobby Robson a true Geordie footballing legend so many stories so much knowledge. 
For the musical entertainment Alan Hull a Geordie singer song writer founding member of Lindisfarne and of course Bryan Ferry Roxy Music. 
To help in the kitchen obviously Rick Stein and Antonio Carluccio and of course finally Cindy my wife (but not in the kitchen) to keep the conversation flowing as she never shuts up!         

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take a risk and live your dream no matter what it is!

Describe your style in three words
Enthusiastic, honest and passionate!

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase?
Lincat six plate commercial oven for Ham and Jam

What is your greatest achievement to date?
Living so long in Preston Lancashire I am an exiled Geordie and I miss the Toon!

What is the worst mistake you have made?
I don’t believe in ‘making mistakes’ per se as I’ve always learnt so much from my experiences I  would not be where I am now without these experiences   

Tell us a secret about yourself? May be something we wouldn’t expect! 
Growing up living on a council estate in the west end of Newcastle John Carver ex Newcastle United Manager and Eamon Donnelly (Declan’s Donnelly’s oldest brother Ant and Dec fame) were great childhood friends who I grew up with, had a laugh with and attend school with. My claim to fame and dinner party story.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

American Classics - Ham & Jam, Preston - South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club

Carla's - Amazing Banana maple syrup and pecan bundt

In celebration of Thanksgiving the theme for our cake club was American Classics and what a fun afternoon we had.

We had the following cakes, Banana, maple syrup pecan bundt, Reeces Pieces Cake, New York Cheesecake, Peanut butter and Jelly bundt, Sweet Potato bundt, Boston Cream Pie, All American Carrot Cake, Baked New York Cheesecake, Strawberry shortcake,Apple and Apricot Cake, hummingbird Cake, Ginger Chocolate Brownie Cake and some American Buttermilk biscuits (not strictly to CCC rules but brought along as a kind gesture by a bakers guest).

Hosted by a fab new coffee shop in Preston City Centre - Ham and Jam we enjoyed a massive selection of wonderful baking, great coffee and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Lucky us, we were also joined by Dorrett Conway -  one of this years Great British Bake Off contestants who lives locally.
Cake clubbers old and new joined us to much our way through cake mountain (Mount Sugar Rushmore !). Everything on Ham and Jam's menu is locally sourced where possible so we were happy to see Atkinson's Coffee being served.

We loved Ham and Jam, a great addition to Preston City Centre as we love to support local independent venues as its what we are all about. Check out their website here

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Pear, ginger and cardamon loaf

This is a perfect recipe for this time of year, slight spicing adds a warming note to this delicious bake, great served with a steaming mug of tea after a wild and windy walk, but also great as a pudding cake served with custard.

This loaf cake isn't going to win any prizes in the beauty stakes but is definitely a prize winner in the flavour stakes, I just love the moist fruity pear chunks and the crunch of the flaked almonds. It does have the habit of swallowing the pears and almonds into the cake but I still love it, its frugal too as it a good recipe to use up pears that are starting to become overripe. I am using British Conference pears here which have a great flavour, they aren't in season very long so make good use of them while you can.

So go on embrace the season and create a beautiful warm spicy fug in your kitchen as a perfect antidote to the weather outside, the Danish have a word for it Hygge, give it a try......

What you need
  • 175g softened butter or quality vegetable margarine
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 3 conference pears - peeled, cored and cut into 1/8ths
  • 2 free eggs 
  • 175g self raising flour (gluten free works fine)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 2lb loaf tin - lined
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in your stand mixer
  • Add the flour and baking powder, spices,  and eggs to the bowl, mix until you a smooth mixture
  • Place half the mixture into your prepared tin, roughly level with a palette knife, place roughly half of the pears (chopped into little cubes) in a layer on the cake mixture
  • Top the pears with the rest of the cake mixture and places the rest of the pear slices on the top, sprinkle with flaked almonds
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and cooked through.
  • Cool in the tin for at least 20 minutes or so, perfect warm on its on or with cream or custard. Cold its great with a cup of tea.
  • If you like serve cold with a dredging of icing sugar
We are linking up to Recipe of the Week over on AMummyToo 

                                                                 Link up your recipe of the week

And to Casa Costello's Bake of the Week 

                                                          Casa Costello

JibberjabberUk - Love Cake linky whose theme this month is Best of British


And two of my favourites Credit Crunch Munch from Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food for All, hosted this month by Elizabeths Kitchen and No Waste Food Challenge from Elizabeths Kitchen, hosted this month by Its not Easy being Greedy.


                                                              Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

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