Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Original farmers Arms Eccleston

Lunch stop for a post xmas walk, pleasantly surprised with the quality of food on offer as I have heard mixed reviews. Wide pub grub choice very nicely done. We choose from the light bites menu but the portion size were ample. Country style pub with rooms.

Fusion Room - Preston

Excellent city centre venue, pity about it being on Frairgate but otherwise fab. A party of 18 of us visit for a Xmas lunch package, the food was excellent , beautifully presented and very flavourful. Very Reasonable prices too. I have promised hubby we will visit next time we are in town.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Warehouse Brasserie - Southport

Wow, what a find, tucked down a side street near Lord Street in Southport is the Warehouse Brasserie, we visited for Lunch on a recent shopping trip. We opted for the bargain priced "Lunch Special", 3 courses for £10, we weren't disappointed in any way. The decor is modern and funky , the staff friendly , service attentive. The food was fresh, modern , portion size ample and well presented. We will be visiting again soon

Southport by The Sea and the chippy tea

As Southport is so well served with theatres, we often visit in the evening to attend gigs, concerts, plays and the like. One of our favorite venues for that Lancashire favorite - the "chippy tea" is the Sandgrounder Chippy on Victoria Street. The cafe upstairs is open on Friday and Saturdays in the early evening so you can sit in, its clean , welcoming and the staff are very attentive. Best of all they serve a great selection of meal deals, fish & chips, pie & chips, Pud & chips, even spam fritter, all accompanied with the regulation peas or beans and gravy, bread and butter and choice of tea or coffee. Great value prices too.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Who ate all the pies ?

On a recent shopping trip to Wigan, a town famous for its love of pies, we visited what must have been the only cafe which does not serve this local delicacy. The Stables Brasserie was a revelation , a cosy brasserie / cafe on Millgate. Lovely contemporary style decor, good brasserie style food and attentive service. Delighted to note that they have monthly theme nights featuring different countries cusiene. Visit them soon, it gets very busy at lunch time.

Friday, 9 October 2009

More tomato recipes - Tomato Tart

Further way of using up the glut of tomatoes, Tomato Tart

Using ready made puff pastry , lined an oven tray, spread the base with pesto sauce or oil and chopped basil, then cover with slices of tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. Bake in the oven @ 200 deg C, until the tomatoes are soft and golden. Serve a large slice with rocket salad or a balsamic dressing.

Butternut squash

Look what I found in the garden today !

I have never grown squashes before so I am pretty impressed with the results. I love butternut squash roasted , so after a few days hardening in the conservatory I will be cooking roast autumn vegetables.

Tomato Ketchup

Still trying to deal with a glut of tomatoes from the garden and no more will fit in the freezer, so ketchup it had to be.

  • 3Kg tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 4 onions sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped

Place in a large pan and cook until soft. Push this through a sieve into a large pan.
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 200ml cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp english mustard powder

Add the spices in a muslin bag
  • Piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised

Bring to the boil and simmer , remove the spice bag after 20-30 mins , cook until pulpy , pour into sterilised bottles.

Best used with chips, burgers, etc. Result is pretty almost as good as heinz

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sweet chilli sauce - a taste of lancashire

Last year due to a glut of peppers and chilli's in the garden, I made sweet chilli sauce and very impressive were the results, particularly popular with one of my friends Jo. So this year I promised her we would make her a supply using a combination of our garden produce.

Artichokes, lifes too short

We have been growing globe artichokes for the first time this year and to our surprise they have actually produced a couple of heads. I consulted several books for guidance on the best way to prepare, but what a faff ! by the time you have peeled, acidulated, trimmed and removed the choke there isn't much left to eat, you then got to cook it. Life's way to short, I like the flavour but might try the baby ones next time.

Rather beautiful to look at though

Oak Leaf Wine - result

We have just racked off the first couple of bottles of Oak leaf wine, (see earlier post), and I must say it's pretty good. Slightly sweet but with a dry edge, very palatable. Just had a glass with my dessert


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Beetroot ice cream anyone !

I know it sounds revolting, but it isn't, rather delicious actually. Following another HFW recipe as a guide and using homegrown beetroots. Its fairly simple, just a rich egg custard, cream and beetroot puree. Yummy ! Photos to follow shortly

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Stirk House Hotel Gisburn Lancashire

Just returned from a Shakespeare evening at Stirk House Hotel, Gisburn. Fabulous country house hotel,which practices special attention to local sourcing. We enjoyed a fabulous 2 course dinner, we started with smoked haddock canapes, followed by sea bass on samphire for hubby and Pea lettuce and lovage soup for me. The main courses we beautifully presented , slow cooked lamb shank , soft and tender, falling of the bone with peas, beans and seasonal vegetables, I chose Organic salmon with watercress sauce, again served with seasonal vegetables. Everything was cooked with precision and attention to detail. On leaving the table we were given a basket of goodies to enjoy with the performance, this included champagne, strawberries and cream and sweets.

During the performance interval we were offered home made shortbread and after the performance warm bacon barms.

In the morning we enjoyed a full Lancashire breakfast , of particular merit were the sausages and bacon.

We would thoroughly recommend a break at this hotel for the food alone, but don't miss out on the the wonderful setting and well appointed rooms.

Perry Fruit Jelly ala Mark Hix GBM

We hosted a dinner party recently for friends and wanted to serve a dessert that used fruits from the garden. Over the years we have always watched the "Great British menu" competition on the BBC and were particularly impressed with the perry jelly served a couple of series ago. I was surprised as to how easy the jelly was to make and how impressive the finish was on the completed jelly. The jelly was served with home made elderflower sorbet. Delicious and extremely light and refreshing on a warm summers evening.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Plum Job AKA its raining plums

Its raining plums in the garden, for the first time ever our plum tree has produced a decent crop, its taken about 10 years for this to happen ! I think the variety is called 'Avalon' , its was birthday present quite a few years ago. Its been a race against the wasps for who gets to the ripe fruit first, Due to the size of the glut I think I will be freezing most of it for pie, crumble and cobbler filling, but I also love English plums raw.

The garden has been particularly bountiful this year, currently I am picking

· Cucumber - I can thoroughly recommend cucumber sandwiches a la Val Warner
· Courgettes - that’s a story for another day
· Beans - broad and french
· Rocket
· Tomatoes
· Blackberries / loganberries
· Spring onions
· Beetroot
· Potatoes
· Baby Carrots

Wow that’s a lot of fruit and veg.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sourdough using the creature in the cupboard

Well first sourdough loaf completed, for a first attempt not too bad even looks like the picture in the River Cottage Bread book I have been following.

The process took approx 36 hours to complete so this is real "slow food", firstly you make your sponge with some of the starter ( this is the creature in the cupboard), this is left over night, apperared to be successful and became all frothy, this is then the next morning mixed with more flour to form the dough, this is then needed as normal, the mix is quite sloppy and sticky, but after 10 mins kneading, looks a lot more light normal dough. This is then left to rise until doubled in size, this took about 3 hours for our mix, amazing considering we haven't added any yeast, this is then knocked batch and left to prove again to improve the flavour, this took about 3 hours, you then bake. Result is a very holey chewy and deeply satisfying bread, crust was a bit hard, but this was my first go at sourdough.

Elderflower sorbet recipe

Make this absolutely delicious sorbet with elderflowers and freeze for us later in the summer. Goes particularly well with strawberries / gooseberries, in fact any other soft fruit.

225 grammes white sugar, in 600ml water, boiled for 7 mins to make a sugar syrup, take off heat and add 8 elderflower heads, peel and juice of 3 lemons, allow to cool fully, then churn in ice cream maker. Alternatively if you don't have an ice cream maker, put in freezer box and freeze for an hour, then , beat and refreeze, keep doing this until you have a smooth finish to your sorbet.

Never wash the elderflowers as you loose the flavour, just pick off any insects , leaves etc

Elderflower Champagne recipe

  • 4 litres of cold water,
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar,
  • 4 large flower heads, (I sometimes use a few more depends on the size of the heads),
  • 2 lemons sliced,
  • 2tbsp white wine vinegar.

Put all the above in a bucket and cover for a couple of days ( don't worry if it goes scummy), then strain and bottle.
Ready after approx 2 -3 weeks, best served chilled.
Just watch out for the pressure rise in the bottle, you may need to chill your bottles to calm fermentation or alternativelt degass every couple of days.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cuerden jacobs lamb & mint sauce

I was very fortunate early this year to secure a whole Jacobs lamb which had been raised on Cuerden Valley park by the wildlife trust.Apparently they ahd been so sucessful that they needed to cull a few. The meat was a bargain and was of the highest quality and food miles were minimal given that it travelled approx 2 miles to be slaughtered. I then collected from the butchers in front of the slaughter house in Bamber Bridge. This has meant that my stock of home made mint sauce ran out a couple of weeks ago, so now is the time to replenish stocks, especially as the mint is going bonkers in the garden.

I returned to the faithful WI recipe I have used before, its easy peasy, just strip mint leaves from the stalks, chop the leaves fine (I do this in my food processor) and then pack in a clear glass jar, top up the jar until all the mint is covered with basic bog standard malt vinegar. Store in a cool dark cupboard.

Once you come to use it (leave for at least a few weeks, couple months even better) , dilute with more vinegar and a pinch of sugar.

Victoria's cafe Barnoldswick

Dropped in to this friendly very reasonably priced cafe, whilst detouring due to two sets of road closures. Food good basic cafe fair, but at very good prices.

So if your every in the Barnoldswick neck of the woods call in !

Re opened Travellers Rest Euxton

Visited with friends for Sunday Lunch, not much has changed inside, food average but thinks it something special. May be I'm fussy but I won't be visiting again

Chichory Lytham

Attended this fine establishment for a Lancashire Evening and wine tasting about a month ago. Firstly Lytham was a revelation, quietly sophisticated, Chicory was great, excellent food all sourced from within god's own county ( Lancashire) and accompanied by excellent wine.
A visit is highly recommended

Its food hero time again 2009

Heh, remember to vote for your local food hero at Good Food for 2009. So vote now !

Creature in the cupboard

I've got creature in my kitchen cupboard, it needs feeding every day and doesn't like metal.

What is it ?

My sourdough starter ! recently I have really got into bread making and everytime I make bread things are getting better and better. Initially I had problems getting my dough to rise well and the laof was rather heavy, but I went with advice on the internet to have a more moist / sticky dough and not to be afraid of it. Well I am pleased to say this has really helped. I have now progressed to Sourdough, for the unitiatied amongst you, this bread raised with natural yeasts. I am into natural yeasts in a big way given that elderflower champagne uses natural yeast to create its sparkle. I have to keep feeding it for a week , before I bake with it.

I am hoping for a wonderfully flavourful bread , so lets see.

Oak leaf wine - are we too late !

Further inspired by HFW (Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall) on his recent River Cottage, a couple of weeks ago we set about our first real brew !

Early June saw us scouring our local hedgerows for young oak leaves to turn into wine. Apparently you need young leaves otherwise the end result can tan leather rather than produce drinkable wine, so following HFW recipes in his "A cook on the wildside" we started off the batch, initially in a large plastic bucket for its first ferment, and now in a demi john with airlock. So far so good, we have regualrly bubbles of C02 being given off, so the yeast is working. So will update you in a couple of months when we "rack" off into bottles and get to taste the fruits of our labours.
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