Sunday, 14 September 2014

Beef and Vegetable Cottage Pie topped with Rosemary Crushed Potatoes

A perfect dish for a Sunday tea or a a busy weeknight when you can't be bothered cooking, it has the perfect combination of roast crispy potatoes and cottage pie filling and the good news is that the vegetables are in the pie. 

The topping is inspired by Casa pie from Vanessa Kimbell's "Prepped" book and is something that I use a lot instead of mash to top fish pie and also chilli and bolognaise. Its an easy no fuss dish which freezes beautifully so you can batch make and the pie filling can also be used in pastry pies as well.

Its a pretty frugal dish too as you can use frozen vegetables in the meat filling and the herbs are from the garden plus  its also gluten free as well as I have used cornflour to thicken the gravy. Its a great way of adding more vegetables to your diet without really noticing and also for upping the fibre content of cottage pie as the crushed potatoes are still in their skins.

What you need
  • Small washed new potatoes boiled until just cooked - halved if large
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Fresh rosemary- leaves removed and chopped finely
  • Minced steak
  • White onion - finely chopped into half moons
  • Beef stock ( I use essential cuisine)
  • Cornflour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme - leaves finely chopped
  • Parsley - finely chopped
  • Carrots - peeled and diced, or you could use frozen
  • Peas - I used a good handful of frozen petit pois
  • Tomato ketchup (ensure gluten free if necessary)
What you do
  • Firstly heat a little oil in a large frying pan and saute the sliced onions until translucent 
  • Now add the mince to the pan and fry off golden and well coloured
  • Now add the thyme, parsley and a tbsp of tomato sauce to the pan along with enough beef stock to cover the meat, stir and then add the diced carrot to the pan.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked and the carrot tender through, now using a little water to slake the cornflour and use to thicken the gravy. 
  • Add the frozen peas to the meat mixture and place in ovenproof dishes 
  • Top the pie mixture with the small potatoes crushing them slightly using your thumbs , sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and drizzle with a little rapeseed oil
  • Bake in the oven at 180c for 40 minutes until the top is golden and crispy and the filling bubbling.
  • Serve immediately

I'm linking this recipe up to extra veg created by Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Flavours and hosted by Elizabeths Kitchen this month.
We are also linking up to Credit Crunch Munch, created by Fab Food for all and Fuss Free Flavours hosted this month over at Maison Cupcake.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Spicy sweet potato, lentil and chipotle soup

Its starting to feel a little autumnal here in Lancashire so my thoughts as usual move from salads to soups, I love homemade soup and often knock up a soup for a weekend lunch using seasonal vegetables or something from the garden, luckily for us we were recently given a number of products from Some Like it Hot to try, so I thought the addition of chipotle sauce to a sweet potato soup would make an interesting addition.

This Chipotle sauce is made from Ancho chili for depth of flavour and Guajilla for the intense red colour they bring to the sauce and of course chipotle for the smoky notes. Its a delicious addition to the store cupboard and can be used in place of normal ketchup or as addition to many dishes, as well as this soup we have also tried it in a slow cooker BBQ ribs recipe, which frankly were amazing. In fact so much so that photography was planned for a post but they disappeared so quickly, we didn't take any of the shots !

What you need
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion - peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls red lentils
  • Vegetable stock - I always use Essential Cuisine
  • 1 tbsp or more (if you like it more spicy) Some Like it Hot Chipotle Sauce
  • Additional water if required to thin soup to desired consistency
  • A little rapeseed oil or butter
  • Yogurt to serve
What you do
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  • Add the onion and sweet potatoes to the pan and cook over a low heat until the onion is starting to soften slightly.
  • Add the lentils to the pan, along with enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and simmer until the vegetable are softened and the lentils cooked.
  • Add the chipotle sauce and blend with a stick blender until smooth, taste and season to taste
  • Serve hot, swirled with yogurt and sprinkled with a little fresh coriander

Some like it hot is a sister brand to Fatjax chutneys, so you can purchase their sauces and rubs range were every you can pick up the Fatjax range, which is many quality outlets across the north west, plus at various farmers markets.

We are linking up to No Croutons required hosted alternatively by Tinned Tomatoes and Herbs and Spice, a vegetaerian blooging challenge for Soups and Salads.

No Croutons Required

And also My Legume Love affair (MLLA) over at Ammaji Kitchen



Friday, 5 September 2014

Blog hop nominated by Vintage Folly

Right everyone, I've been nominated by my fellow blogger Vintage Folly for a blog hop, thanks Rachel for the nomination.

Our hens in the garden
Basically a blog hop is were I answer a few questions and then nominate a couple of other bloggers to do the same, its great fun and a chance for everyone to explore new blogs and gain an insight into bloggers that they may not have come across before.

I love blogging and like Rachel have met (virtually in a lot of cases) people I now consider friends, although Rachel is a bit different in the fact that I have actually met her in the flesh on numerous occasions being a member of my WI (yes I know, but we both love it and its a "young" WI) and she is also a member of the clandestine cake club like me.

The food blogging community is very friendly and supportive and I have learnt loads from others which has enabled the quality of my posts to improve over the years. Blogging has also raised my profile to others and without this blog I would have never had the opportunity to be published in several recipe books, appear on radio and television and also write about food in magazines. I have worked with some amazing people and love the "voice" the blog provides me with,  happily food photography has also become something my husband has excelled at so we now have a great shared hobby.

Mr and Mrs Lancashire Food
Why do I write ?
I write as I love sharing, whether it be recipes or just my thoughts on the latest food fad.The blog started off as a way to share recipes and images of what I was cooking and eating but has grown over the years to become alot more.
The blog is now my hobby and I know this sounds weird but my stress relief from my "day" job and exactly like Rachel over at Vintage Folly a way of keeping in touch with my "virtual" friends and acquaintances, its so much fun linking up and sharing your creative ideas with others and seeing their ideas too.

What am I working on ?
Currently I am researching and writing my next months article for a magazine I write for, along with banking a few blog posts ready for publishing over the next few weeks and planning my posts for the next month or so. I am also planning a WW2 outfit and some suitable food for our next WI event and making jam and practising cake recipes ready for the WI county show.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre ?
It's focused very much on Lancashire Food which is different that other food blogs, we proudly promote and support local Lancashire food products, producers and venues. We also enjoy creating recipes using homegrown or locally foraged food and letting people know where in Lancashire you can buy some great local produce or eat out well. We really get a great fillip when one of the small producers or venues wins an award, its so humbling to see the hardwork and determination that has gone into growing a local food business.

How does my writing process work ?
I write on a laptop normally in the loving room, grabbing spare time whenever I can, often this is inspired by a new recipe I have been planning or seasonal product that I have spotted in the market or growing in the garden. I tend to do some reading around whatever I am planing on writing about and then set about the planning the post and the images that will go with it. Its then that I am off to the kitchen to play and cook up a storm ready for the photography later. Some posts and particularly the photographs takes hours to perfect before its something that I'm happy to let loose on the world.


My nominations are Irwin Kraus author of The Amateur Peasant a great food blog which displays Irwin's Italian food heritage and  the thought provoking Whispers From the Ledge, he's based in New Hampshire in the States.

My other nomination is Janice Pattie who writes Farmers Girl Kitchen blog from the borders area of Scotland.
Over to you two ........... you have until the 15th September to publish your post, go on share some blog love.

Essential Cuisine - the professional choice for stock

As someone who cooks rather a lot, stock is an essential in the store cupboard. When I have the time I make my own and freeze it, but I don't always have the time, that's were a stash of quality stock powder comes in very useful.

I have always been unhappy with the quality of the majority of stock cubes and powders available in supermarket, they are often overly salty and of variable quality. So a couple of years ago I was delighted to be sent a sample of professional quality stock powders from Essential Cuisine, since then this stock range has become a regular feature of my larder.

The stocks are of high quality, light and fresh tasting and a great addition to any dish giving a professional finish, the powders dissolve easily in water or milk or when added straight to the pan. The black pots stack easily and come in vegetable, fish, lamb, beef, chicken and veal varieties and each pot making a minimum of 6 litres of stock so they are also great value.

I can't recommend them highly enough, they can be purchased via a selected range of stockists, mail order via their easy to website or at various food shows across the country.

                                          The Guild of Fine Food

Monday, 1 September 2014

Mulled Wine apple cake, featuring Holy Lama Spice Drops

A few weeks ago one of my fellow bloggers was tweeting about some amazing new spice drops she had been sent by Holy Lama Spice drops, so I was pleased and really intrigued when I was also sent a couple of flavours to have a play with.

The spice drops are essentially contracted extracts of natural spices, ethically sourced and simple to use.You just add as much as you need to your recipe using the dropper,They also have a 3 year shelf life so no more fusty musty stale jars of spices.

Holy Lama also have several blends as well as single spices in their range so you can understand why the range is popular with chefs and home cooks alike., in fact you have 27 to choose from. The drops retail at 3.49 a bottle so good value in my eyes as they last well and have a great just ground flavour and aroma.

Inspired by my samples I decided to use the "mulled wine" drops in a classic rustic style apple cake, this also enable me to use some of crop of apples from the trees in the garden. The resultant cake produced a wonderful aroma whilst baking and is delicious served warm or cold.  Please don't worry if you don't have any spice drops to hand as you can produce excellent results by using cinnamon or apple pie spices in your bake instead.


The bake is one that works both gluten free (with slight adaptions) or with wheat flour as this is a recipe that I have made many times over the years, another recipe why I like the recipe is that it makes two round cakes so giving you one to freeze or gift to a friend.

What you need
  • 5 or 6 eating apples , peeled cored and cut in thin slices
  • 2 eggs -free range (use 3 if using Gluten Free flour)
  • 350g granulated sugar
  • 2 droppers of Mulled Wine Spice drops or 2 tsp of cinnamon or apple pie spice
  • 120ml Sunflower oil
  • 300g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 x 9" baking tins - oil sprayed and base lined 

What you do
  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Measure all the ingredients except the apples, eggs and oil into a large baking bowl, once you have sliced the apples toss in the flour mixture to prevent them oxidising.
  • Once all the apples are in the bowl, add the eggs and oil , mix together thoroughly. This will be hard work as the mixture is quite dry but all will be fine.
  • Split the mixture between the two prepared baking tins and smooth the top with a spatula
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 50 -55 minutes until golden and well risen.
  • Cool on a wire rack, serve warm or cold with custard, cream or yogurt
The spice drops add a beautiful warm spicy fragrance to this bake.

Holy Lama Naturals Spice Drops header image

Sunday, 31 August 2014

September 2014 - Amy Cheadle from Northern Dough Company

Say Hi everyone to Amy Cheadle one half of the talented Northern Dough Co Pizza dough company (the other being Chris her husband), who lovingly create artisan frozen dough so you can create a superior pizza at home. Available at various farmers markets, quality food outlets and also from Booths,Waitrose and Ocado, this is a Lancashire food business success. Amy is currently cooking a little dough ball all of her own which is expected any day soon so she managed to fit in answering our questions whilst resting at home.

Their ready to roll bases are available in four flavours, original, wholemeal, rosemary and chilli they have a base to suit all tastes. Self confessed pizza addicts they love what they do and the product they have created.

Northern Dough Co

Recently featured in BBC Good Food Magazine as a face of Clitheroe food festival the team are a regular feature of local food shows.

So on to our questions, so what makes Amy tick .....

  •      What is your favourite cookery, food book or publication ?
There’s so many cookbooks I love – I have Delia’s ‘How to Cook’ where I learnt the basics and find Jamie’s fresh flavours and simplicity great for everyday, but one of my favourite times of the month is when my foodie mags pop through the door and I can sit down and leaf through the seasonal recipes – I cut out my favourites and keep them as an ongoing scrapbook to refer back to on a regular basis. Olive, Delicious and BBC Good Food are all delivered to the door.
  •         What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Hearty, homely and comforting – food that brings family and friends together.
  •         If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I absolutely love working with food, but my long term dream is to write a novel, so I’d love to spend my days in a cottage in the countryside gazing over a lovely view and coming up with plots – food would have to feature heavily though!
  •         Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My pizza peel – it makes getting a pizza in and out of a hot oven on a stone really easy and is always a talking point when people come over for a pizza party. They’re not expensive though, about £10 or so for one that will last a lifetime.
  •         Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My ultimate guest would be Roald Dahl, his stories fired my imagination as a child, The Witches was my favourite and I thought it was delightfully frightening that you could be turned into a mouse by eating chocolate and sweets! I’d also invite a true Neopolitan pizza chef and the team at Bake Off – Mel and Sue as they would provide the entertainment and Paul and Mary to keep me on my toes and make sure my baking was up to scratch!
  •         What advice would you give to your younger self ?
That setbacks are critical to finding the very best solution. Sometimes at the time things not going the way you planned feels tough, but in hindsight I’ve always learned far more from situations that I’ve had to approach for a second or third time – challenge inspires innovation and that’s what keeps things interesting. (This doesn’t however apply to my driving test, which took 9 attempts to pass!)
  •         Describe your style in three words
Currently its comfortable, cool and expandable as I’m 8 months pregnant but usually its pretty much summed up as classic – whether it be fashion, food or at home, I love the basics but keeping things fresh with a little twist here and there.
  •         What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A Kitchen Aid pizza wheel, it was ludicrously expensive given you can pick up a similar gadget for a few pounds, but it slices through any pizza/ topping like a knife through butter and at food shows we can cook 50 pizzas a day and cut them into 30 mini slices for sampling, so efficiency is a must!
  •         What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Creating a brand at our kitchen table and getting into onto supermarket shelves nationally within two years. We started the business with a small sum of money left to my by my late Grandmother, who was renowned for her larger than life personality and strong work ethic and it makes me very proud to think of the delight she’d take in our success. I also love when people are surprised that as a husband and wife team, people think that Chris and I would drive each other crazy living and working together – its quite the opposite, I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather run a business with.

  •         What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Making things overcomplicated – at our first food show in 2011, we were making samples so people could taste the pizza dough freshly baked. I devised an elaborate list of different toppings, and tried to re-create them on the stand only to find that it was an absolute disaster and meant timings were all over the place. Since then, we opt for tomato and mozzarella and let the dough speak for itself – I also always look to Chris to simplify things, he’s great at seeing through the detail and pulling out the one or two key elements that are important.
  •        Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
There’s not much in the food world that I don’t enjoy – sweet, savoury, all the cuisines of the world and food is always a huge part of holidays and day trips wherever I am. Not a secret, especially for someone working in the food industry, but if someone was to offer me a last meal ever, it wouldn’t be lobster or fillet steak, I’d head to a chippy in Preston city centre and order chips, cheese and gravy and sit on a bench outside to eat them, covered in vinegar! It was a student staple years ago, and still something I crave as comfort food.

Dough sticks

Northern Dough Co

Monday, 25 August 2014

Courgette loaf - gluten free

I knew I couldn't get through another summer without creating a new courgette cake recipe. This one is gluten free and uses one of my favourite vegetables for baking with. I always have plenty of courgettes to experiment with from the garden.

Courgettes are great for gluten free baking as they add additional moisture to the bake, something that gluten free bakes often lack, this is due to most gluten free flours having a good quantity of rice flour in them which robs moisture from the mixture.

Makes 2 x  loaves

What you need
  • Oil spray and loaf tin liners
  • 380g gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 240ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla paste
  • 220g courgettes - finely grated
  • 1tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)
What you do 
  • Oil spray and line two loaf tins
  • Pre heat the oven to 160c
  • Grate the courgettes ( I use a food processor), don't squeeze the moisture out
  • Mix along with all the other ingredients in a food processor or mixer
  • Pour into your prepared tins
  • Bake for 50 -55mins until well risen and golden, test with a skewer
  • Cool in the tins initially and then on a cooling rack
  • This freezes well when wrapped in foil
  • Serve plain and or simply iced

As host of bake of the week this week I am linking to Bake of Week, created by Helen at Casa Costello 

                                                         Casa Costello

Bake of the Week w/c 25th August 2014

Casa Costello

The lovely Helen over at Casa Costello is currently on a well deserved holiday so we are excited to be hosting and babysitting "Bake of the Week" whilst she is away.

I am taking over from Hay in a Day so why not join in the fun by linking up a bake you have made this week and also check out the round up from last week.

So calling all cake fanatics and baking lovelies! How do you fancy showing off your creations each week?

So just as Helen does I am posting my bake of the week and I invite you to do the same.
Add your blog post link to the linky underneath my Bake of the Week post and lets admire each other’s creations.

All types of baking are welcome – savoury bakes, biscuits, breads, cakes, tarts.

All entries are pinned to the Bake of the Week Pinterest board, Tweeted (@casacostello @LancashireFood) and Commented on.

There is only one rule: The bake must be yours!! Please add the badge to your blog post to let others know you are entering a Bake of the Week.

So just add your bake to the linky

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Rustic plum cornmeal cake

This summer has been fairly poor for our Marjorie plum tree, a reasonable crop was developing but then we had a freak wind storm, followed by drought and then rain, so I had to do battle with the local wasps to snaffle enough plums to make this cake. I love English plums but the season is very short and unless you can get your hands on a supply from a generous local grower making jam or any type of preserve can be an expensive business.

I decided to make this cake to showcase my plums and combine them with a tasty polenta cake recipe I had been meaning to bake for sometime. The plums impart a delicious moist tang to each slice and provide colour to a very plain bake.

Stunningly simple and very rustic this cake needs no more embellishment than a light dusting with icing sugar.

So lets bake and create a beauty

What you need

  • Oil Spray for the tin
  • Couple of English plums - cut into segments, stoned removed
  • 175g softened salted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs - free range, beaten
  • 150g fine cornmeal / polenta (ensure gluten free)
  • 100g gluten free flour - plain
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Icing Sugar (optional)
Round loose bottomed cake tin - oil sprayed and base lined 

What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  • Now add the rest of the ingredients (except the plums and icing sugar) to the mixture and mix until well incorporated.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and artistically arrange to plum segments on the top of the cake
  • Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden, well risen.
  • Cool in the tin
  • Once cool remove from tin and serve (optionally sprinkled with icing sugar)

I am linking up to this months Alphabakes hosted by Caroline Makes and The More than the occasional baker in rotation. This month's them is P - for plums and polenta in my case.

And also bake of the week created by Casa Costello and hosted this week by Hay in a Day

                                                         Casa Costello

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Blackberries and rose geranium crumble

When the blackberries are starting to ripen on our generous bush in the garden I know that summer is starting to come to a close, crumble is wonderful pudding at all times of year and is liked by most visitors whether served hot or cold. It can be infinitely varied depending on the fruit used under the crumbly crunchy topping. In this recipe we combine juicy blackberries with the fragrant rose geranium to give a slightly perfumed compote.

The combination came about as I wondered what recipes I could use my beautifully fragrant scented geranium leaf plants in, after all I had attar of roses, orange fizz, pink capitatum (lime scented) and Lady of Plymouth (rose mint scented) to try. 

I obtained my scented leaf geraniums from Otter Farm, home to Mark Diacono one time gardener at River Cottage and now Climate Change farmer, Otter Farm has a fantastic range of seeds and plants for sale for the more adventurous smallholder.

Since recently converting to gluten free I thought I'd have a go at making a gluten free crumble mixture, this recipe is great served with yogurt, cream or custard. The mixture will also store well in the fridge in a sealed container so you can whip a quick dessert in a flash, just combining with what ever fruit you have to hand.

What you need to make the scented compote
  • Blackberries 
  • A few rose scented geranium leaves
  • A drop of water
  • 1/2 weight of fruit in sugar (caster)

To make the compote
  • In a pan add the blackberries, sugar, geranium leaves and a drop of water, bring to a gentle simmer until the blackberries are softened then allow to cool. Leave the leaves in the pan with the fruit compote until cold so the flavours have time to infuse.
  • Once cold remove leaves and spoon into ramekins
To make the crumble, you will need
  • 200g Gluten free flour 
  • 100g Softened butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 50g  Gluten free Oats (if tolerated)

In a stand mixture mix all crumble ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture

  • Now top the ramekins with the crumble mixture 

  • Place in the oven at 180c on a baking tray and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden and the juices are rising from the berries.

  • Serve hot or cold with or without cream or custard

Lucky for us most of the ingredients can be sourced from the garden and every year we have  ample quantities of lovely berries so for me this is pretty frugal dish using what we have at hand. For that reason I am linking up to No Waste Challenge, hosted this month by I'd much rather bake than and created by Elizabeths Kitchen and also to Shop Local also created by Elizabeths Kitchen.


And Credit crunch munch crreated by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food for all , hosted this month by Elizabeths Kitchen.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lemon crunch cake

Who doesn't love a lemon cake (well I know someone who doesn't but you get the point), zingy yet comforting at the same time, perfect with a cup of tea whether its drizzling or sunny its a cake standard and one that everyone should have in their arsenal.

I have seen recipes for gluten free lemon cakes which contain mashed potatoes and at some point I will give them a go but this one is more conventional were some of the flour is substituted with ground almonds and the other flours are gluten free. The resultant cake is moist and very moreish, improved by the lemon drizzle topped off by a crunch lemon sugar topping.

Sorghum flour which is in this recipe is a fine  beige white flour from a millet like grain, obtainable on line and in any good health food store. Its a nutritious flour and adds a good flavour to the bake.

What you need
  • 175g melted butter
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25g tapioca flour
  • 40g sorghum flour
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 25g cornflour
  • 25g fine polenta
  • 1 tsp lemon oil
To make the sugar topping

  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tbsp sugar for sprinkling
  • juice of 1 lemon

What you do

  • Firstly lets pre-heat the oven to 170c
  • You will need a 2lb loaf tin, oiled and based lined or use a tin liner
  • Mix all the cake ingredients together in a large bowl, being careful that you melted butter is not too hot, otherwise you will scramble your eggs.
  • Once you have a smooth mixture pour into you prepared tin, smooth the top and place in the oven
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden, well risen and tests cooked if you insert a skewer
  • Remove from oven and cool in the tin.
  • Whilst the cake is cooling , melt the 50g of sugar and lemon juice in a pan. Once all the sugar has dissolved, pour over the still slightly warm cake and sprinkle immediately afterwards with a further tablespoon of sugar to create a delicious crunchy sugary topping once cooled.
  • Keeps well loosely wrapped and stored in a cool place.

I'm linking up to Hijacked by Twins who is babysitting the Bake of The Week for Helen over at Casa Costello

                                                              Bake of the Week

I'm going to be hosting this challenge in just over a weeks time after Hay in a Day has hosted the challenge
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