Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Maple syrup roasted carrot and ginger soup

Its been a wild weekend for weather in the UK and I am in need of comfort food and this soup certainly hits the mark on that score, using fresh local juicy carrots, a touch of warming ginger and the gorgeous smoky warmth of maple syrup this is a soup equivalent of a warm fluffy blanket.

Maple syrup is a natural product and I would love to go tapping maple trees but I don't think we can grow the right type of trees in UK, I have even found a website that tells you how to carry out the process.

On with recipe !

What you need
  • 5 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped into batons
  • 1 white onion ,peeled- cut in chunks
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into match sticks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chives to garnish
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c 
  • Place all the vegetables and ginger in a roasting tin and toss with the oil and maple syrup
  • Bake for about 45 minutes until the vegetables are slightly caramelised 
  • Allow to cool slightly and place in a  suitably sized saucepan, add the stock
  • Blitz with a hand held blender until smooth
  • Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and season to taste.
  • Serve when piping hot, garnished with snipped chives.
We hope you enjoy the recipe, we did if you'd like to leave a comment then please do so below. We love reading your comments.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Game week at the Freemason Arms at Wiswell - Great British menu night !

Freemasons logo

Game Week 2013

This week we were fortunate enough to be invited to the Freemason Arms at Wiswell 5th Annual Game week celebrations.

Our evening was the Great British Menu night where two North West chefs were to  compete to be the champion for the Region for the night. Our featured chefs, Mary Ellen McTague (Aumbry) and Chris Holland (Alderley Edge Hotel) have both previously competed on the Great British menu for real, so along we went to this cute country inn feeling like Prue Leith and Mathew Fort for the night.

The Freemasons Arms in situated in a cute village in the Ribble Valley and has the perfect blend of pub with high end restaurant food, calm, comforting and relaxing interiors blend seemlessly with beautiful food.

Our menu for the evening as appropriate for Game Week featured Hare, Deer, Mallard and Pheasant and seasonal vegetables and flavours. All diners were provided with voting slips for us to chose our favourite dish from each course, just like on the tv show and of course we had no idea which chef had createdw hich dish. Not having eaten at either chefs restaurant we weren't familiar with either chef's body of work and signature style, so we had no preconceived ideas of what to expect.

Onto our delicious menu, our welcome canape was a dinky little "hotdog" made of foie gras rolled in a coating and served in a lovely white roll with sauce and mustard, no picture I am afraid as they disappeared before I even had chance to grab a photo, they were delicious.

First Course

Hare Consomme vs Surf and Turf

Tasty and a little gamey consomme accompanied with rare hare fillet, earthy turnip shoots and crunchy cubes with an amazing English truffle garnish. A nice balance between the consomme and the meat dish. This was instantly our favourite.

We found the smoked roe deer tartar disappointing as we couldn't detect any smoke in the flavour and despite being a well balanced tartar the meat could have been anything. The langoustine on the other hand was well flavoured and autumnally complemented by the cinnamon sauce.

Winner - Surf and Turf - Chris Holland

Main Course

Duck and Rosehip vs Pheasant Pie

Tender juicy slow roasted mallard with the rosehip wine syrup providing a delicious sweet and unusual sauce for the dish, roasted cabbage and a crunchy artichoke and sage crumb contrasting with the soft meat and the baked salsify was very savoury and tasty. Mr Lancashire Food's vote was won.

Buttery crisp pastry encasing a little pheasant and comforting savoy cabbage, chestnuts and bacon, moist pheasant fillet with a tasty gravy and celeriac puree. This one got my vote mainly due to the "pie" and the comfort food factor.

Winner - Pheasant Pie - Mary Ellen McTague

Dessert Course

Pumpkin and Parkin vs Beetroot & Chocolate Cakes
This is where things started to get really interesting as we both love desserts, the perfect dish in our humble opinion, the sweet hum of nutmeg marrying beautifully with the parkin crumble and slightly sharp honeyed and oranged pumpkin, our only disappointment no popcorn in the ice cream could be found.

Moist dense chocolate cake and the most amazing hazelnut ice cream were our favourite elements of this dish, the beetroot mousse cake was very attractive in colour but lacked any real flavour for us and also the toffee and bee pollen were hard to detect in the dish.

                                    Winner - Pumpkin and Parkin - Chris Holland

So our overall winner was Chris Holland, on a couple of courses it was a close run thing particularly the Pheasant Pie which divided our table. We really enjoyed our evening at the Freemason Arms and were delighted to meet foodie friends we have made through facebook and twitter. After service, the chefs Mary and Chris along with Steven Smith mingled with diners chatting about their food and how excited they were to be cooking for us. The diners were the winners on the night experiencing classic British courses from these talented chefs.

If you fancy visiting the Freemason Arms then all their contact details are here.

Here is an earlier blog post of a visit to The Freemason Arms

We were kindly invited to attend this event on a complimentary basis, no payment was made for this blog post or a blog post requested as a condition of attendance. All the comments are my own opinion.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nordic ware bundt baking tester

I decided to treat myself this month after seeing Jo Wheatley winner of the Great British Bake Off a couple of years ago singing the praises of this little gadget on facebook. So I promptly placed it on my Amazon wishlist, for there it to sit for a couple of months.

I am not really a fan of purchasing through Amazon for a variety of reasons but I happened to have a gift voucher to spend plus I hadn't seen this gadget for sale in any of the kitchen shops I visit in my area, so I took the plunge and ordered it on line.

I have now had this little dinky blue stick for a couple of weeks and its turning out to be a valuable gadget to have in the kitchen, as a keen baker the last thing I want is an underbaked cake.

Nordic ware are an American company world famous for their range of bundt tins but you don't need to be baking a bundt to make use of this tester, you just plunge the tip into your cake for 5 seconds and if the tip turns bright red your cake is done, obviously you don't want to be testing the cake until its ready, the rule I use is not to open the oven door until at least 3/4's of the baking time has passed. Its easy to use and so far hasn't let me down.

The opinions expressed in the post are my own and I have not be paid for this post, I purchased the item from my own funds.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Flap O Jacks - A review

We like to support lovely local businesses here at Lancashire Food, so we were happy to receive some samples of scrummy looking Flap O Jacks to try.

Flap O Jacks are made in Lancashire from quality ingredients, these uniquely shaped, handmade gooey treats are made with gluten free oats and come in over 42 different flavours for you to enjoy.

Sold in venues across Lancashire and also on a pop up basis you are sure not to be far from a stockist,You can also order them mail order to.

Ours were sent in a dinky little box and featured a variety of flavours all delicious and very moreish and their surely is a flavour to suit everyone.

Check out their facebook page or follow them on twitter 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Trout with a rosemary and sun dried tomato crust.

Just found the piccies for this post in the archive and thought I'd do a quick post for this quick and easy topper for oily fish, ideal with trout, salmon or mackerel. Its also a great use of that leftover end of the loaf as well blitzed up in the food processor.

What you need 
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Olive or rapeseed oil
  • Fish fillets ( de-boned but with skin on)
What you do
  • Place your fillets in an ovenproof dish or tray
  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Whizz up your breadcrumbs with the rosemary leaves an some sun dried tomatoes until you have a rough paste, use a little oil if you need to.
  • Spread this topping on your fish fillets
  • Bake in the oven until golden and crispy

Serve with seasonal vegetables, the crumb topping protects the fish and keeps it moist and juicy.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

BBC Lancashire - Monthly Foodie Round-up

It's that time of the month again. We have been invited back onto the John Gilmore "Gilly in the afternoon" to take part in the monthly Foodie round up.

This month, we will be talking about seasonal produce, and as we are well into Autumn our thoughts turn to home made brown sauce and bread making. A new Lancashire cheese has appeared in the shops. Have you tried it yet ?

Also, as it's week 9 (semi-finals) of the "Great British Bake Off" and we will be chatting about tonight's episode - French specialities 

You can catch us this afternoon - between 3 and 4 on the John Gilmore Show

Thursday, 10 October 2013

One pot pasta

I initially spotted a version of this recipe on Martha Stewart's website, intrigued I thought I would give this a go. Apparently cooking pasta and its sauce in the same pan is a traditional way of cooking pasta in the Puglia region of Italy, given that I love Italian food and its saves washing up what had I to lose. I haven't slavishy followed Martha's recipe and have created my own variation.

What you need

I am making a meal for 2 people
  • 3oz of dried pasta per person (penne, spaghetti, farfelle, etc)
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of chilli
  • Chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 small white onion - finely sliced
  • Glug of olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese - to serve (freshly grated)
You will also need a large heavy cooking pot, I used my cast iron pot with a lid.

What you do
  • Place everything in pan (except the parmesan)
  • Bring to the simmer, cover and stir to prevent sticking every few minutes.
  • Once the pasta is nearly tender, remove the lid, give it a stir and then continue to simmer until most of the moisture have come off the dish.
  • Serve at once with freshly grated parmesan.

I was impressed by this dish as the pasta is cooked al dente and has a lovely creamy coating sauce on it. You could also add chopped cooked chicken, bacon or prawns at the end of the cooking if you want to up the protein content of the dish. Why not give it a try.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Parsnip, apple and maple syrup cake for Harvest Home Clandestine Cake club event

The theme for this months clandestine cake club is Harvest Home - fruit and vegetable cakes. I enjoy baking with vegetables even the more unusual such as avocado as I appreciate the flavour, texture and moisture they can bring to your cake.

This cake is an easy bake and is already featured on the blog here 

For this cake club I decided to pimp the decoration and also make it a layer cake suitable for the event. Its easy to make a layer cake just carefully slice across your 2 sandwich cakes, hey presto 4 layers. These were then filled with vanilla buttercream and one layer was homemade damson jam and then topped off with spun sugar decorations, the secret to perfect soft fluffy buttercream is to whip the mix for at least 6 minutes and to ensure that the butter is soft before using.

Spun sugar is relatively straight forward to make from sugar melted in a pan, once golden in colour, remove from the heat and stir until you sense some resistance. This is the point you make the shapes you wish, I chose free form shapes. Protect your spun sugar from humidity and only prepare an hour or so before you wish to use it otherwise it melts and goes very sticky.

I had a minor disaster on the way to the venue where the top two layers slid off the two bottom layers, so apologies for the slightly shoddy appearance  As a seasoned cake clubber I am used to this sort of thing happening and managed to arrange a recovery of sorts, the spun sugar decoration were added once I got to the location so survived intact.

Carrot Cake

I admit it I've got a thing for vegetable cakes, a few years ago carrot cake was considered a bit fringe and rather unusual, nowadays its everywhere. Its an easy bake and this recipe is one I have been using for a number of years, I can't even remember where it came from, topped and filled with a vanilla cream cheese buttercream its a fab afternoon tea table staple.

The carrot adds moistness and the spice additional layers of flavour, to this lovely cake.

What you need
  • 2 carrots - finely grated (I use my handy microplane grater)
  • 3 eggs - free range
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g plain flour ( you could use part wholemeal if you like)
You will also need to oil spray and base line two approximately 20cm sandwich cake tins

What you do 
  • Pre heat your oven to 180c 
  • Sieve the flour, spices and baking powder onto a plate
  • In your trusty mixer beat together your eggs, sugar and oil, now add the grated carrot. 
  • Add the sieved flour mixture and quickly mix in the flour retaining as much air as possible in the mixture
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins, bake in the pre heated oven for 25 minutes or so until cooked through when tested with a skewer.
  • Cool for a few minutes in the tin, then cool fully on a cooling rack
  • When fully cool fill with your favourite buttercream and if you like top it with buttercream too.

This months theme for the Alphabakes challenge is C - so carrot cake qualifies easily, check out the challenge on The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes blog for more details.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

CCC No 19 - Harvest Home at Huntleys Country Store, Samlesbury

In celebration of the harvest season our 19th Clandestine Cake club was at Huntleys Country Store in Samlesbury.


This iconic foodie venue is on the A59, so its dead easy to find and is home to a fantastic food hall stocking loads of great local produce and other retail opportunities plus a cafe bar and restaurant  They also hold lots of seasonal events and currently have a miscanthus maze on site for you to enjoy.

On a distinctively autumnal afternoon members travelled to our seasonally themed event and brought some fantastic cakes
  • Caramel Apple Mummy
  • Chocolate beetroot cake
  • Parsnip, apple and maple syrup cake
  • Blueberry, apple and walnut cake
  • Carrot cake
  • Pear and blackberry cake
  • Pear and nutella cake
  • Dorset apple cake
  • Courgette and lime cake
  • Courgette and walnut cake
  • Pumpkin roulade

We were warmly welcomed by all the staff and the resident peacocks too and lucky us we probably had the best table in the house for our cake table next to the scenic balcony overlooking the lovely Lancashire countryside.

The venue  is a great day out for all the family, so pay them a visit soon.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Apple, raisin and cinnamon sticky buns

In celebration of autumn and our apple trees in the garden being laded with some gorgeous apples, Mr Lancashire Food baked by special request some lovely sticky buns. The photography is phenomenal but please be assured they tasted even better than they looked.

Sweet dough is somewhat of an acquired skill and its a skill Mr LF has mastered, here's the recipe if you fancy giving them a go.

What you need
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 500g strong white flour - suitable for making bread
  • 10g sea salt
  • 100g butter - melted
  • 1 egg - free range beaten
  • Couple of apples - peeled, cored and chopped into little pieces
  • 60g butter - melted ( this is for the filling)
  • 100g raisins (you could use sultanas)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Couple of tbsp apricot jam -warmed with a little water - for glazing your buns and making them sticky.
What you need to do
  • Warm the milk until blood temperature warm, whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Leave to one side until the mixture is all frothy and the yeast active
  • In a large bowl mix the flour and salt , add the milk, egg and melted butter and mix with your hands into a rough dough
  • Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or so until the dough is soft, smooth and silky.
  • Leave the dough to rise in a lightly oiled clean bowl,covered until doubled in size. As this an enriched dough this could take several hours
  • Whilst you are waiting for the dough to rise, cook off your prepared apple pieces in a little of the butter, fry them gently for 5 to 10 minutes until slightly softened. Allow to cool
  • Also you can use the time to grease your tin or tins, I always find this difficult, you want a tin which will take 12 buns cosily. Do this by melting the rest of the butter and brushing the base and sides of the tin.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, gently roll out on to a floured surface and make a rectangle roughly 18 by 12 inches.
  • Brush the rest of the melted butter over the dough, leaving approx a 1cm edge clear of butter on what will be the middle of the bun.
  • Sprinkle the dough with the cooked apple, raisins and the mixed caster sugar and cinnamon.
  • Roll up the dough like you would a swiss roll
  • Divide up the roll into 12 equal sized pieces and place in the prepared tin(s), now cover with some oiled clingfilm for about an hour or so until doubled in size.
  • Pre heat your oven to 180c
  • Bake for 25 minutes or so until golden and well risen
  • On removal from the oven, brush with the melted apricot jam, so they are all sticky and golden
  • Cool in the tin, if you can resist that long !

This months theme for tea time treats is "sweet breads and yeast breads" , this bake would make a fabulous addition to any tea table , so I am entering this recipe in this blog challenge this month hosted by What kate Baked

                                              Tea Time Treats

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October - A Quick Bite of Lancashire Food

Craig Dugan - All You Knead

This months featured foodie is Craig Dugan the master baker at the fabulous real bakery "All you knead", a bakery born in a kitchen in Darwen after Craig and his wife Julie spotted a missing product at their local farmers market. That was back in early 2012 and the bakery has grown from strength to strength since, the team now have a artisan craft bakery at Botany Bay Foodhall, supplying various deli and cafes as well as various local Farmers Markets with bread made of quality ingredients and contains no preservatives.

All you knead also run bread making classes where you can learn who to create real bread.

All You Knead is a small, but perfectly formed, artisan bakery located within the Food Hall, on the ground floor of Botany Bay, Chorley.

They bake 7 days a week.Their range of breads, pies and confectionery are available at Botany Bay shop every day, at local farmer's markets, food festivals and at Light Ash Farm Shop, Bilsborrow, Preston and Thyme Deli in Horwich.

Here are Craig's answers to our questions

  • What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication 
Bread Matters by Andrew Whiteley - a must for all bread lovers.

  • What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
A visit to a local farmer’s market or farm shop and seeing the fabulous range and quality on offer, all grown, sourced or produced in Lancashire.

  • If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
Asleep – full time !

  • Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
Our 2 deck oven, not much would happen without it.

  • Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why? 
Apart from family and close friends, I would invite Stephen Fry for some engaging conversation, the entertaining Peter Kay, George Clooney, because my wife Julie has requested him, and Rick Stein to produce a great seafood menu.

  • What advice would you give to your younger self ?
You have nothing to prove, take life as it comes – you will be surprised where it takes you.

  • Describe your style in three words
Hardworking, practical, pragmatic.

  • What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
Weigh scales.

  • What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Professionally, it has to be starting my own business last year.

  • What is the worst mistake you have made ?
No big mistakes come to mind, more happy little accidents.

  • Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn't expect !
I studied Technical Illustration at college and love to sketch in my (limited) spare time.

Cheese of the Month - No 10

Fiery Jack from Kickass Cheese

This months cheese of the month is another great cheese from the KickAss cheese family, in fact this cheese has the same mature cheddar yet creamy cheese at its heart that we reviewed a couple of months ago. Fiery Jack is a great chilli infused cheese, made by blending Kickass cheddar, garlic, red peppers and jalapeno chilli's this is great addition to the Kickass stable (see what I did there !).

Unlike a lot of other chilli infused cheese this isn't just about heat, the garlic and the red peppers plus the creamy cheddary cheese combine to deliver a deliciously rounded cheese, which is really versatile and friendly even to chilli haters. Toasted its fab and its also good on sandwiches as well. We have come up with a recipe of it grated on top of nacho's for a great quick and easy snack which has another dimension, drizzle with salsa (either make your own or shop bought) and sour cream.

Kickass Cheeses are proudly made by Procters Cheeses in Chipping, Lancashire, they kindly provided a sample for us to try, you can purchase Fiery Jack wherever you see the KickAss cheese for sale and also on many farmers markets in Lancashire. Available off the block in deli's and also as funky little truckles with a red wax coating.

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