Tuesday, 28 January 2014

We should cocoa roundup -New Ingredient challenge January 2014

We have really enjoyed being guest hosts for We should cocoa and have been amazed by how inventive this months participants have been in their combination of ingredients with chocolate. I must thank Chocolette for allowing me to host her lovely bloggers challenge.


Our first entry was a gluten free Chocolate gingerbread molasses cake, from none other than yours truly Lancashire Food, I hadn't cooked or baked with molasses previously and was intrigued by the deep spicy, earthy sweetness of the molasses.


Our next entry was from Veggiedesserts a healthy Beetroot chocolate protein ball, the ideal sweet treat for this time of year, almost guilt free. This is a new combination of chocolate and peanut butter for this blogger. 


Healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies was our next contribution and  the resultant brownie is a wonderful combination of a chilli paste and moist butternut squash, an excellent entry from the Hungry Hinny.

                                            Holy Moley Soup from Soup's On!

Next up was Holey moley veggie and rice soup from The Taste space, with a lovely warming recipe for winter time. I love its rib sticking qualities, a recipe inspired by the bloggers recent trip to Mexico.


The more than occasional baker joined in the fun with an inspired combination of olive oil cake with rosemary and chocolate, this is definitely recipe to be bookmarked for later as I am intrigued as to how this one tastes. Careful balancing of flavours required I think.

                                           Eat Your Veg | Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Eat your Veg was next to bring us a tasty quick recipe for a Chocolate Avocado mousse, I love combining avocado and chocolate, so I can thoroughly recommend this one, its also a great way to get kiddies to eat avocados.

                                            Pomegranate-Double Chocolate Cookies

Alexandra over at The lass in the apron has created the delectable looking double chocolate pomegranate brownie cookies, combining the superfood pomegranate in a chewy cookie. Another recipe that should prove popular with all the family.


Another cookie recipe this time from Mainly Baking, Chocolate chip cookies with sour cherries and szechuan peppers, this is another recipe that has needed careful flavour balancing so that the mouth numbing pepper can be tasted but not overpowering the rest of the flavours.


Our next contributor is Grace over at Life can be simple with a stunning flourless chocolate cake, which is gluten free, diary free,sugar free and  free from soya . This cake was made in celebration of a 5th wedding anniversary and is a beautiful thing to make for the one you love. 


Law students cookbook brought another cookie recipe to the challenge, the new combination being bacon and chocolate chip in a bacon chocolate chip cookie, this is a combination I have tried and enjoyed but in a muffin.


Next up is Dom over at Belleau Kitchen with Reese's peanut butter cup blondies, springboarding off a Simon Rimmer blondie recipe combining with those wicked sweet salty peanutty cups. Very pretty and very very naughty.

                                            Nibby Kind Bars | BakeNQuilt.com

Our next contribution comes from Bakenquilt with Nibby kind bars, a healthy cereal bar recipe featuring brown rice syrup, cocoa nibs and lots of other healthy treats, my kind of baking !

                                                   Honey chocolate madeleines in teacup

Honey chocolate madeleines ! what's not to love, combining honey and chocolate Living is a great adventure's recipe has already gone on my bookmarked list, ideal for afternoon tea and so beautiful too.


Triple coconut chocolate cake is our next recipe from The Kitchenmaid, stunning beautiful and featuring coconut sugar, coconut flour and coconut oil. Another one for my list, packed full of healthy ingredients and gluten free too.


Chocolate chilli pie anyone ? brought to us by the talented "I'd much rather bake than" a traditional pie packed with your favourite chilli with the sneaky addition of chocolate.


Cookies are popular for this challenge, this recipe from Corner Cottage bakery has the addition of Scottish tablet  to a traditional chocolate chip recipe, inspired choice of combination given its been Burns night this last weekend.

                                          Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

Next is a Jerusalem artichoke cake from creator of We should Cocoa, Chocolette. This cake looks amazing and is a combination I haven't seen before, It would appear that the legendary effects of the artichoke have dissipated in the baking process !

                                          Chocolate in a Salad. Really.

The Usual Saucepans contributed a beetroot, feta and chocolate couscous salad which is a beautiful colour, ideal to brighten a winters day, another dish carefully balancing sweet, salty earthy flavours. Great work.


JibberJabberUk contribution this month is a deliciously moist looking Chocolate and coffee bean cake, as a coffee hater this is Jibberjabbers first foray into using coffee beans that she was given in a secret santa at cake club. I love the combination of coffee and chocolate, so send a piece this way please.

                                               Mayonnaise brownies

Secret (mayonnaise) brownies from Tales of pigling bland are the next course on our chocolate menu, another ingredient that the blogger isn't a great fan of, but used creatively its been turned into a delectable treat. I've baked with mayonnaise myself and found that its great for adding moisture to cakes, after all classic mayo is just eggs and oil ! 


Kumquat and white chocolate muffins, surely one of your five a day ! Thanks to Lapin d'Or and more for this zesty tasty recipe using a great seasonal ingredient that's just that bit more interesting than orange.


Maison cupcake were next up with these charming creations of Hot stuff brownie lovebites with Oaxacan smoked chilli honey. Suitably glammed up with gold leaf no less as the new ingredient combination. Sarah's planning ahead for her valentines celebrations here. They are gluten free too !


Another bitesized treat next ! Chocolate dipped rose fudge from nuttytart , a myriad of first time combinations in this post and the results look amazing, another recipe that would make a great valentines gift.

                                            chocolate ginger beer pudding3

Our penultimate contribution is from Baking in Franglais, who has linked up a fab looking Chocolate and ginger puddle pudding. This twist on the classic chocolate saucing recipe featuring the novel combination of ginger beer (alcoholic in this case) and chocolate. 


Finally we have from Cake of the Week, Goats Cheese brownies, possible not the first combination you would think of but I can see how this would work, again balancing the sweet salty flavours. 

Thanks to all contributors to this month's We should Cocoa, you are obviously all very creative to come up such novel flavour combination and also thanks for the stunning photography. Next months challenge is back over with Chocolette at Chocolate log blog. So reader if you are inspired why not join in the fun next month !


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Is tha comin t' Wigan Food and Drink Festival ?

Wigan holds a special place in my heart as I spent several years studying on a day release basis at the college in my youth. Home to honest a goodness folk who love their town, Wigan is the land of the pie, home to the legendary Uncle Joe's mint ball and the "pier" of George Orwell fame, its also a town where rugby is still the number one sport, in other words a grand Northern town.

The town holds an annual food festival celebrating its food culture and great local food products and produce, in this its 7th year the theme is Baking and Beer

Here's the link to the website with all the details here

A packed programme is planned starting on 27th February and running through to the 9th March 2014, there are chef demo's, theme dining events, baking challenges, beer festivals in fact something to tickle everyone's taste buds.

Of special note local lad and baking hero and 2012 Winner of the Great British Bake Off - John Whaite will be hosting on Saturday 8th March a "Baking with the Best" masterclass and then hosting an afternoon tea. (More details can be found in the programme)

The festival - sponsored by Euromark - kicks off with the 27th Wigan CAMRA Beer Festival, offering 60 real ales, 35 real ciders and perries and a great selection of foreign draft beers, plus live music and food. Plus also a special bus tour has been organised of Wigan's three famous micro breweries, Allgates, Prospect and Problem Child.

Also in town for this event will be none other than former "Corrie" star Sean Wilson, soap star turned award winning cheesemaker at The Wigan Wine Festival, he will talking all things cheese and signing his book "The Great Northern Cookbook". Which coincidentially we have a copy for you to win, just complete the widget below to be in with a chance of winning this fab prize.

So things are shaping up for a great festival and I for one will be booking my tickets for the events very soon as I am sure they will be popular. A full copy of the festival guide is downloadable via the festival website.
Please enter our giveaway below, the prize can unfortunately only be mailed to UK addresses, sorry !


I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press launch for the festival and was treated to a lovely local afternoon tea and goody bag by the promoters. This included some How's yer Farther cheese from the Saddleworth Cheese Company, some Silvertally beer from Prospect Brewery and some Uncle Joe's mint balls from Santus and also the signed book for the giveaway.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lentil and vegetable potage in the slow cooker

I love making home made soup, its so comforting and ideal for a weekend lunch or for packing and taking to work. This recipe is so simple and so delicious and is so healthy too, what ever your diet this soup is for you. Potage was a medieval staple and even though I have taken some "poetic" license in including ingredients that were not available at that time, such as potatoes, onions, etc,  I think its can still be called a potage.

Lentils are used to give a smooth rib sticking velvety feel to the soup supplemented with seasonal local vegetables. I slow cooked this soup  in my slow cooker but this is not absolutely necessary and you would get the same great results on the hob.

What you need
  • 1 cup red/orange lentils
  • 1 large onion, peeled and  chopped 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • A little oil / butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Small piece of pared lemon rind 
  • About 1 litre vegetable stock - this needs to be hot / boiling
  • Salt and Pepper
What you do
  • Switch on your slow cooker to pre heat
  • Heat a little oil or butter in a large pan and add the vegetables, cook for a few minutes until slightly softened
  • Place the vegetables along with the lentils, stock, herbs and lemon rind in the slow cooker
  • Cook on high for about 2 - 3 hours, until the vegetables are soft and the lentils mushy
  • Remove the bay leaves, rosemary and lemon rind
  • Process to a smooth velvety texture with a hand held blender, taste and season as appropriate, you may also want to add a little hot water or stock to thin the soup to your desired consistency.

I am using this recipe for  entry into several related blogging challenges.

Slow cooker challenge - this months theme is soup.The challenge was created and is hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen, I used my slow cooker to create my soup so it more than qualifies.


Cooking with herbs (theme this month is citrus) - January 2014 created and hosted by Karen over at Lavender and Lovage, the recipe features bay leaves, rosemary and lemon peel.


Simple and in Season - January 2014 created and hosted by Ren over at Renbehan.com . The recipe is a simple seasonal soup using local winter vegetables and herbs from the garden.

                                               Simple and in Season

No croutons required Vegetarian Soup and Salad challenge hosted this month by Lisa at Food and Spice, the recipe is suitable for vegetarians and could easily be made vegan by using vegetable oil rather than butter.

                                                        no croutons required logo

My Legume Love affair hosted this month by Briggishome , as the recipe uses lentils it qualifies for this challenge. The rules of which you can find here , a lovely blogging challenge created by Sue at the well seasoned cook.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

January 2014 - A Quick Bite of Lancashire Food

Gail Brown, Thornleys Natural Foods

Thornleys is a family company producing a range of sauce and recipe mixes. Free from preservatives, additives, colours and MSG, the range uses only natural ingredients to created powdered sauces in handy foil packets. The range is also gluten free and wheat free – with three generations of coeliacs, the family understands the demands of satisfying a hunger for delicious, natural tasting food suitable for the gluten free diet. At the helm is Gail Brown, a coeliac herself, who started up the company in 2013.

  • What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
It would have to be ‘Basic Cookery’ by Jennie Reekie. My grandmother gave it to me for Christmas when I was 16. My teenage self wasn’t all that impressed to receive a cook book, but if you could see it now all dog- eared, well-thumbed and food-splashed, you’d know that I use it all the time. It’s got plenty of never fail recipes - the barbecue sauce in particular is just amazing!

  • What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Simply, honest and hearty food – like the hot pot my mum used to make when we were small. I now make these for my family.

  • If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I’m exactly where I want to be – I feel privileged to be running my own business. But if I were to be doing anything else, it would be lecturing in business admin, something I qualified in years ago.

  • Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My blending machine. This is what we use to blend the dry ingredients that go into Thornleys sauce and recipe mixes. If we didn't have it, we’d be there shaking bag after bag of the mixes – I've been there in the early days of Thornleys and, believe me, I don’t want to go back!

  • Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Definitely Jeremy Vine – I find him so witty and interesting. And Miranda Hart would be on my guest list too.

  • What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Believe in yourself!

  • Describe your style in three words
Simple, classic and unfussy.

  • What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
I’m not sure this qualifies as a gadges, but recently I bought myself a Joseph Joseph ‘Elevate’ serving spoon. At the food fairs we go to I often sample our chilli con carne and if there’s anything that drives me crackers, it’s chilli stains on my portable worktop! OK so this is more a spoon than a gadget but I love it !

  • What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Seeing Thornleys through from an idea to a successful business, and sharing our family recipes with our customers . The idea came when my daughter, a coeliac like me, wanted a tuna pasta bake while we were away on holiday. We couldn't easily find the gluten free ingredients to make the dish and I just thought there was a gap in the market for recipe mixes that are free from additives and preservatives and suitable for anyone, regardless of their dietary needs. My proudest moment was hearing we’d got Coeliac UK accreditation for our range, meaning our packaging could carry the universally recognisable Crossed Grain symbol. I was thrilled to have achieved what I set out to!

  • What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Letting my husband Stephen carry the chilli! Having made a chilli con carne at 5.30 am one morning, ready for a sampling at a food fair we were attending that day, we were loading up the car. Steven offered to carry the box containing our 6 litre slow cooker full of chilli con carne and our clean white aprons. It was an icy morning – you can guess what’s coming, can’t you?! He slipped on the ice, the chilli ended up all over our front steps, Steven was upside down on the lawn and our aprons were no longer white! I quickly went back in the kitchen to whip up another batch of chilli and dig out our spare aprons.

  • Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn't expect !
I would love to be a ballroom dancer - to put on a stunning dress and be flung around a dancefloor by a nice, young man!

Thornleys range of Gluten Free sauce mixes are available via their website and various outlets across the county.

Cheese of the Month - No 13

Sykes Fell Ewe's milk cheese -  Greenfields Diary Goosnargh

Sykes Fell ewe's milk cheese, is made at Greenfields Dairy in Goosnargh. This award winning cheese is made using locally sourced sheep's milk raised in the Forest of Bowland. Sheep's milk cheeses are smoother and richer than cows milk cheeses and is said to be easier to digest if you have lactose issues. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals that versatile cheese is an excellent all round family cheese.

This semi hard ewe's milk cheese has a good tangy cheese flavour and is made with pasteurised sheeps milk and vegetarian rennet. Ideal for cooking or eating just on its own. The cheese proved very popular in our household.

Available loose in Booths and from Liverpool Cheese, Sheep's milk products are the perfect alternative for people who are allergic to cow or goats milk. Sheep's milk cheese is very healthy with high levels of easily-absorbed calcium and zinc. This makes it ideal for growing children, nursing mothers, discerning adults and especially women in middle-age keen to maximise their calcium intake

Chocolate gingerbread molasses cake or Adventures in molasses for We should cocoa

For a while now I have fancied experimenting with Blackstrap molasses, blackstrap is what remains after extracting sugar from raw sugar cane. Rich in vitamin B6 and calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium it is now also regarded as a health food.

Molasses is famously combined in gingerbread or cookies giving a spicy sweet sour tang to the bake. As this months challenge for We should Cocoa is "New ingredient" I am giving this ago as my new ingredient, in baking  a rich dark and foreboding chocolate gingerbread cake.

What you need

1 3/4 cup flour ( I used gluten free)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp bicarb
1/2 baking powder
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 egg
choc chips if you like

2lb loaf tin, lined 

What you do

This is an all in one recipe and just ensure your coconut oil is liquid before quickly mixing up in your mixer until everything is well combined. Pour into a lined loaf tin and pop in the oven at 180c for 40-45 mins until risen and baked through.

The resultant cake was dense with a beautiful gingerbready tang, ideal with a cup of tea or in your lunch box.


We should Cocoa - January 2014 - New Ingredient challenge


Eeek ! I am so excited as this is a first for Lancashire Food, this month we are the lucky guest host of "We should Cocoa", the lovely monthly linky campaign created by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog.

We should cocoa has been running now for over 3 years and has had many themes, so I had to really get my thinking cap on for this months theme. I didn't want to make it too difficult but I also didn't want to make it too easy either, so here goes. 

As we are at the start of a fresh shiny new year, our theme is New Ingredient , this a new ingredient to you, an ingredient combination that you haven't tried with chocolate in one of its many forms. Your recipe can sweet, savoury and as simple or as complicated as you like but must conform to the theme.

My entry for this challenge can be found here, I have wanted for a long time to cook with molasses so I purchased a jar and decided to bake a gluten free chocolate gingerbread loaf.

If you've never taken part in We Should Cocoa before here is the round up to last month's theme - Alcohol 

If you fancy joining in , just read the list below and have a go :-)
  1. Post your recipe on your blog – accompanying photographs would be nice. Do please make sure you have permission to use any photos that are not your own. We love to see your creations
  2. Mention “We Should Cocoa” in your post and link back to Chocolate Log Blog and Lancashire Food (as host for this month).
  3. Use the linky on the bottom of this post to link your blog post to this post.
  4. Entries should be submitted no later than midnight of the 25th of the month.
  5. The round up of entries will be posted on the relevant host’s blog on or before the last day of the month.
  6. The new challenge will be posted on the 1st of the month.
  7. Mention " We should Cocoa" in your post and post labels.
  8. Use the lovely logo in your post.
  9. If you use Twitter, you can use the tag #weshouldcocoa and both @LancashireFood and @Chocolette8 will endeavour to retweet.
  10. Please feel free to add your entry to the We Should Cocoa group board on Pinterest. If you are not already a member and would like to join, please ask Choclette.
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