Sunday, 30 September 2012

CCC No 9 - Strawberry Diaquiri Cake - Cake in the City

Our most recent meeting of  the South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club was our first in Preston city centre, in celebration of this event a theme of "Cake in the City" was chosen.. On a wild wet and windy night we arrived with our cakes at our lovely venue "Winckleys", a cute coffee shop in the historic centre of the city. 

Our very talented bakers certainly rose to the challenge of the theme and the event was well attended considering we were competing with Great British Bake off on TV and the weather too, members old and new brought along fabulous creations of a pina colada cake, mojito cake, strawberry diaquiri cake, handbag cake, red velvet cake, "parkin" cake and a pear and ginger cake. We all had a fabulous time and were very impressed with Winckleys which most of us hadn't visited before.

Winckleys serves a great selections of beverages and refreshments and uses some great local suppliers like the Ginger Baker too. Please pay this local independent coffee shop a visit when you are in the city and you are sure of a warm "Winckleys" welcome.

South Lancs CCC enjoying the cake @ Winckleys
For the event I made a Strawberry Diaquiri cake, here's the recipe if you fancy having a go, interestingly enough all the cakes that where representing cocktails were rum based cocktails, I wonder what that says about our membership.

Strawberry cake 
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour - sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter or quality margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 3/4 cups crushed fresh strawberries
  • Pre heat oven to 180c / 170c fan
  • Grease and base line 2 x 8" round cake tins
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder onto a plate
  • In your mixer combine the butter(or marg), sugar, eggs and vanilla
  • Add the flour mix and strawberries in 2 halves to your mixer, mix until you have a well incorporated mixture
  • Scrape into the prepared tins and smooth the top 
  • Bake for 25 -30 minutes until the cakes test as done with a skewer or cocktail stick
  • Cool in the tins, whilst still warm prick all over and pour over diaquiri syrup
Diaquiri syrup
  • 50ml water
  • 50ml white rum
  • juice and rind of 1 lime
  • 50g sugar
  • Heat the water and sugar to make a syrup, remove from heat and and lime juice and rind
  • When cool then add the rum
Cake filling
  • Sliced fresh strawberries
  • Quantity of whipped cream
  • White chocolate dipped fresh strawberries
  • White chocolate shards with strawberry popping candy
You can find Winckleys just off Winckley Square at 12 Winckley St, Preston. 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Chicken, green bean and courgette salad

The harvest from the garden is starting to slow but we are still battling a couple of gluts, mainly green beans (well actually purple beans as they are Blue Lake) and courgettes ( both yellow and the more traditional green), we still also have a pretty good selection of salad leaves growing too. Inspired by a recipe in River Cottage "Vegetables" this is a versatile lunch dish which has the comforting warmth of the beans and courgettes to lift it on these cooler days, the addition of  cooked shredded chicken ups the protein content, but can easily be omitted if you require a vegetarian dish.

  • Shredded cooked chicken
  • Mixed salad leaves (spinach, rocket, lettuce leaves, maybe a little mint)
  • Cucumber
  • Courgettes - sliced 
  • Green beans, cut into bit sized pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Arrange the salad and shredded chicken on a plate
  • Cook the green beans until tender
  • Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper in a jar to make a dressing, taste 
  • Fry the courgettes until softened and lightly coloured
  • Add the beans and courgettes to the salad leaves and then drizzle with dressing
  • Serve immediately


Inspired by  the classic Greek dish Moussaka and also as a way to use up courgettes from the garden this recipe was born. Its a delicious easy family dish which is pimped by the addition of some delicious chutney I received to review from FATJAX chutneys, which delivers a fresher flavour layer to the base bolognaise sauce.

  • Low fat ground minced steak
  • Onion - finely chopped
  • Garlic
  • Mixed herbs
  • Beef stock and /or wine
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 1/2 jar of FATJAX Mediterrean vegetable chutney.
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large courgettes, sliced using a potato peeler
  • Potatoes , sliced and parboiled
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fry off the onion in a little oil , then the garlic, then add the minced steak and cook until coloured
  • Now add the beef stock, wine, tomato puree, chutney, tomatoes and mixed herbs, Stir and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Cook on a gentle simmer until the the mince is cooked and the vegetables softened
  • Keep cooking until the suace is reduced and taste for seasoning
  • Meanwhile make cooked off the courgette ribbons in a little oil in a seperate frying pan
  • Once the courgette is softened, put the bolognaise sauce in the bottom of your chosen dish, top with the courgette ribbon and parboiled potato slices
  • Now make a roux sauce, using the butter, flour and milk, season to taste
  • Pour this on top of the potatoes
  • Sprinkle the dish with grated Parmesan cheese
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 170c until golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes or so
  • Delicious served with a dressed green salad.

FATJAX chutneys and relishes

I have been really lucky to be given the opportunity to review some great local products from FATJAX Chutneys, who are literally a couple of miles down the road from me. Creating artisan cheeky chutneys, vinegars and  ravishing relishes produced by chefs in small batches to capture freshness of flavour. FATJAX chutneys also make addition to savoury dishes where you are looking to add that extra dimension of flavour, check out the  post for Courgettsakka.

So here goes, my delish samples (proper full sized jars mind you so I could have a good taste and share with friends too ),and its true what the say "The difference is in the taste".

Mediterranean Vegetable - A delightful vegetable chopped chutney, bit like ratatouille only nicer. I could see this being served as an alternative to a salsa or alongside fish, I think its would also make a great combo with tuna fish and mayo grilled as a toasty.

Onion and fennel seed - The outright favourite of everyone who has tried the chutneys, lovely with cheese of course and cooked meats too. A new flavour to the FATJAX stable and from the feedback I'll be giving hopefully a permanent addition to the range , its the contrasting aniseedy hum which combines superbly with the sweet onions that everyone loved.

Sweet Red Onion and  chilli - an ideal partner to meats, cold or hot with a little bit of a kick ( don't worry not too much). My brother loves it on a bacon butty ! Also I think this would be delicious stirred into a chilli to provide extra flavour depth.

Bengali Pineapple - apparently FATJAX best seller by a mile, think mango chutney but fresher and pineapply (of course), delicious with curries and poppadoms, I can see this in filo pastry with shredded cooked chicken a little creme fraiche, hey presto chicken korma parcels  !

The chutneys are available direct from FATJAX via their website or at one of the many local food markets they attend or in a number of carefully selected local food emporiums.

Thanks to the wonderful Synergy Monochrome for the great photography for this post 

Simple seasonal blackberry cake

A simple cake that uses this autumnal berry an easy bake which would be great served at tea or as a dessert dish when accompanied with cream or custard.

  • 1/2 cup quality vegetable margarine
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs large free range
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • Icing sugar to sprinkle
  • Preheat oven to 180c
  • Grease and base line a 8" loose bottomed tin
  • Cream the margarine,sugar,and vanilla together until lightened and fluffy
  • Add the eggs and flour and mix until a smooth dough
  • Spoon into tin and smooth to cover the tin,  top with the blackberries
  • Bake for 45 mins until cooked through
  • Cool in tin

I am entering this in Simple and in Season hosted this month by Feeding Boys and a Firefighter and the lovely Fabulicious Food

Thanks to the fabulous Synergy Monochrome for the wonderful photography.


We are linking up to The Great British Blackberry Recipe Round Up with Lavender and Lovage and Farmersgirl Kitchen.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Baking fairtrade - Coffee and Raisin Cake

THE BIG FAIR BAKE - Buy it, Bake it, Share it

I am getting involved in the Big Fair Bake - Fairtrade Baking Challenge, I think it great when you bake something that in a small way makes a difference to the world we live in. Baking with fairtrade ingredients is something that I do where every possible in my recipes, because supporting fairtrade means that you offer growers and workers all over the world a fair price for their produce or product and a better life long term.

Foodies100 is running a challenge to create a baking  recipe using ingredients which are fairtrade which you cake bake and share with friends and collegues to raise awareness of Fairtrade.

As part of the Take a step campaign , you have a chance of winning a lovely Kitchenaid blender, all you need to do is visit the Fairtrade website and tell them who you are baking for ! Easy or what.

You can buy lots of baking ingredients that are fairtrade such as
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Chocolate / Cocoa powder
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Ginger
  • Brazil nuts
  • Tea
  • Vanilla
To name just a few, so next time you are out shopping if you have the choice buy fairtrade. Because this little tiny action makes a big life changing different to producer.

This is an easy recipe and is well liked in the Lancashire Food household , perfect for serving with a mug of fairtrade tea.

  • 450ml strong freshly brewed coffee (fairtrade)
  • 300g granulated sugar (fairtrade)
  • 110g butter (vegetable margarine if you wish to make vegan version)
  • 150g raisins (fairtrade)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (fairtrade )
  • 375g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c/ 170c fan / Gas 4
  • Line a deep square cake tin approx 20 cm by 20cm
  • Sieve the flour, bicarb and baking powder into a bowl
  • In a large pan bring the coffee, sugar,butter, raisins and spices to the boil, allow to cool slighty
  • Mix the coffee mixture into the flour, stir until well mixed
  • Pour into your prepared tin
  • Bake for 45 -60 minutes, until tested cooked with a skewer
  • Cool in the tin
  • Decorate if you wish with melted chocolate or flavoured buttercream
The cake smells wonderful whilst cooking , a little like a cinnamon latte . As the recipe does not contain eggs it can easily be made vegan by substituting vegetable margarine for the butter. Pretty sure it would work well as gluten free too. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Spicy Fish Cakes with sweet potato wedges and dip

Total Greek Yogurt  is the only authentic Greek yoghurt for sale in the UK. Its made in Greece by traditional methods, that way it is much thicker and more robust than Greek style yogurt. It is great in cooking or to eat on its own and great for you too. Total Greek Yoghurt is a 100% natural and absolutely delicious. Why not check out their range at

To help you out and to make it easy to eat healthy  Total Greek Yoghurt have recently released 1,000 new recipes and usage suggestions on their website - or alternatively for those of you on the go the recipes are  also available in a brand new Facebook app, so you don’t even have to leave Facebook to get inspiration for a meal -

I have recently fallen in love with this ingredient (so much so its a regular now in the shopping basket)as its so versatile and can be used in so many ways, so here is a recipe from the Total website that I have tried in my own kitchen, created by nutrionist Martin MacDonald as a weightloss recipe.

Spicy Fishcakes with sweet potato wedges and yoghurt dip.

  • 40g Total Greek Yoghurt (0%)
  • 200g sweet potato, cut  into chunky wedges
  • Olive oil - drizzle
  • Paprika spice mix
  • 100g salmon
  • 50g prawns
  • 1/2tsp thai curry paste (panang paste)
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves - chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 25g green beans
  • 160g mixed salad ( lettuce, cucumber, spinach, celery)
  • 10g coconut oil
  • 1/4 chilli
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 375F / 190C / Gas mark 5
  • Place the wedges in a bowl, mix with salt, pepper and spice mix and place on a baking tray. Cook in the middle of the oven for  approximately 45 minutes
  • Place the salmon, prawns , thai curry paste, coriander and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until a paste is formed. Add the beans and blend again. Turn out of the processor and place in a bowl.
  • Refrigerate for about 10 minutes
  • Prepare the salad on your plate
  • With cool hands shape your fish mixture into small patties
  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry for approximately 10 minutes on each side over a low heat
  • Prepare the dip by mixing the copped coriander and chopped chilli with the greek yoghurt
  • Once the wedges have nicely crisped and the fish cakes ready, place on your serving plate with the yoghurt dip.
We really enjoyed this recipe, particularly the spicy fish cakes which were very easy to make and the lovely cooling yoghurt dip to offset the spices in the fish cake. The recipe is enough to serve 2 adults. If you tempered the chilli and thai red curry paste it would also be suitable for the whole family.

Total Greek Yoghurt supplied the ingredients for this blog post .Why not join in the fun and prepare a healthy meal, check out some great new recipes  and  take part in the treasure hunt !

Easy Tasty Clean - Janice Cumberlidge

Easy Tasty Clean is a new e book from Janice Cumberlidge, focusing on easy, tasty, healthy recipes which can assist in weightloss. Janice  the author really practises what she preaches and has dropped over 2 dress sizes by following this diet and lifestyle plan. She is also based in Lancashire too !

Janice Cumberlidge

Janice has kindly asked me to review her book and allowed me to publish one of her recipes, but more of that later. The e book is available from  and covers the nutritional background to each of  the recipes and features a section on healthy clean ingredients and on healthy cooking techniques. Every recipe is illustrated and the book also features photography by the author and a foreword by her "guru" Nancy Reinhardt.

The book has a great layout and I particularly liked the sections on the more unusual ingredients such as chia seeds, quinoa amongst others and how to prepare them, the word layout on some pages was a bit strange and didn't seem to be justified correctly but that might be my PC. All the recipes look tasty and the recipes cover breakfasts, balanced main meals, savoury snacks and soups, sweet snacks and desserts , and smoothies. 

The recipe I chose to test from the book is
Stuffed Walnut Topped Mushrooms

Serves: 2. Prep: 10 mins. Cook: 25 mins.   

  • 4 Portobello mushrooms (large, flat) 
  • 300g / 3oz tub low fat, low sodium cottage cheese 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped 
  • 1 banana shallot or 2 small regular shallots, finely chopped 
  • Ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 10 walnut halves, finely chopped 

  • Preheat oven to 190C / 375F / Gas 5. 
  • Cut off the stalks of the mushrooms then lay them upside down on an oven tray. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, garlic, shallot and red pepper. 
  • Spoon the mixture onto the upturned mushrooms, pressing it down slightly and making sure it is pressed into all edges. 
  • Add freshly ground pepper to the surface of the cottage cheese mixture then top with the finely chopped walnuts. 
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time. Once the walnuts start to brown the stuffed mushrooms are done. 
*You may find that quite a bit of water is released from both the mushrooms and the cottage    cheese, this is quite normal and the water can be discarded. 
Serve immediately with some steamed vegetables on the side.   
Nutritional information:
Two stuffed mushrooms gives: 219 calories, 21g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 10g fat (2g of which is saturated fat).   
Pre-bake the mushrooms in the oven for 15 minutes and they will release much of their excess water ready for you to use in the recipe as directed.
Here is Janice's picture 

and here is mine

I tweaked the recipe slightly as unfortunately Mr Lancashire Food doesn't do nuts, so I substituted a sprinkling of oats to add crunch ( this will affect the protein content of the recipe) and also I added a pinch of dried thyme to the cottage cheese mixture to give a little extra flavour as sometimes cottage cheese can be a little bland especially as I was omitting the nuts. This was a nice snack dish and I served it with steamed homegrown green beans. I am keen also to try some of the other healthy dishes too but as quite a few feature ingredients I don't have in the store cupboard so I  will need to visit the health food shop first.

The book would be great to purchase if you were looking to make a serious change of diet and follow Janice's healthy living plan to eat easy, tasty and clean. Check out her website or facebook page for more information.

Easy Tasty Clean

Monday, 10 September 2012

Autumnal blackberry and lavender cobbler

The weather is definitely turning cooler plus our ever reliable blackberry plant "Loch Ness" in the garden has once again produced a bumper crop of blackberries, so this recipe was created. I love the subtle flavour lavender adds to blackberries a spicy edge and no hint of old ladies handbag. Cobblers for those not in the know are very popular over the pond in America and are a topping for a sweet dessert made out of a soft scone mixture.

This dish fragrances the house whilst it baking creating that loving fug of a homely dessert, cobblers are never the most beautiful dessert but they more than make up for it in flavour stakes, this is a great combination. Perfect served hot with custard or cream, or cold on its own or with yoghurt or creme fraiche. Why not join in the baking fun by plundering your local hedgerows !

  • Approx 1lb ( 500g) Blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers (make sure its an edible variety)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
Mix all this is one large bowl and then place in your baking dish.
  • 6 oz self raising flour
  • 3 oz butter - soft
  • 125ml plain yoghurt
  • 3oz caster sugar
Mix all this together (preferably in a mixer or food processor) until you a smooth soft sticky mixture, place dollops of this on top of your blackberries , alternatively add a little more flour and use as scone dough and cut cute shapes using a biscuit cutter.

Bake for approx 40 minutes until the cobbler is well risen and golden and blackberry cooked.

I am using this post as my contribution to Simple and in Season this month hosted by Feedingboys

and also for Herbs on Saturday hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage

This post is also being linked up to the Great British Blackberry Recipe Round up created by Lavender and Lovage and Farmers Girl Kitchen.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Preston Cake City

As part of the celebrations for Preston Guild 2012 , Preston City is to be built in cake !

Myself and a number of other avid cake bakers in the area quickly signed up for the challenge of building an iconic building in PRESTON in cake.

Our chosen building 
Preston Cake City is to be built in a victorian square in the city centre as part of the "Square Food Festival" which is in turn part of the Vintage Guild. Preston guild is an ancient merchant guild celebration which dates back from 1179 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The Guild only occurs once every 20 years , we even have a local saying of "once every Preston guild", meaning something that happens very infrequently.

Sue, Carla, Kate, Jo, Hazel and myself have all come together along with some great local sponsors
Artisan Foodworks
Mick The Egg man Brooks
Foodlink Lancashire
and my hubby, local design house 6 and  7's to create a pyramid shaped building which resides on the sides of the entrance to the closed dock area of Preston and controls the swingbridge over the entrance.

Our creations have been forming for the last month or so, baking and freezing and deciding on cake mixes and tin sizes and how many eggs, how much butter,which flour.

Created using vanilla sponges, butter cream and fondant icing and even Blackpool Rock, the creation is taking shape.

Its been great fun, but also very stressful, will the building stand up ? what will the weather do on the day ? will it look anything like what is supposed too, how will we transport it  !
Ace of Cakes, Cake boss and numerous other TV programmes come to mind.

Final touches will be made to the cake on Saturday 1st September, on the same day an edible map of the city is being created by the public and then on Sunday the 2nd , we deliver our cake for public viewing and ultimately consumption by the public !

Cake carving of the mid section and the decoration of the base layer where completed on the friday evening, the top section and the mid section were completed on the Saturday along with a dry run of the final assembly, Hubby kindly worked out how to transport and pack the cake for the Sunday delivery. 

We dropped off the cake at approx 11.30 am and then had to wait patiently whilst the finishing touches went on the map, all completed by about 3pm and then judging was held of the bakers favourite cake and then consumption by the general public. This was like the feeding of the 5000 !!!! 

Great fun but very tiring ! Fabulous community event and a lovely focus for the Square Food Festival event and a great way to celebrate the city.

Thanks again to 

Click to visit Dewlay website

Click to visit Artisan Foodworks website

Food Link Lancashire

Eagle & Child at Bispham Green

In need of some restorative local food and not having the desire to do the cooking, Lancashire Food ventured out on a Monday to find a suitable spot for lunch. Now Monday is the one day of the week when the majority of the more select establishments in the area seem to shut, so this limited choice some what, however we were undeterred and found ourselves in the delightful little hamlet of Bispham Green, just outside the larger village of Mawdesley.

We had been promising ourselves a visit for several years to this establishment but as seems to happen one thing or another gets in the way and you never quite get there, well we should is all I can say as we have been missing out.


On a lovely Lancashire afternoon in early September we discovered the Eagle and Child at Bispham Green , part of the larger foodie Ainscoughs empire , this pub is cutely nestled in the heart of the tiny hamlet of Bispham Green, over looking the village green. Dating from the 18th century the "bird and brat" is a gorgeous looking country pub, rustically furnished but not over done, with flag floors and real fires.

We were welcomed and found a table which overlooked the stunning Lancashire Countryside, we were given 2 menus to peruse, one the standard menu and the other the specials which change fairly regularly as they were still being chalked on the board when we arrived. As this was lunchtime  and not being familiar with the portion sizes served, we decided that we would skip the starters delicious as they sounded go straight to the mains and opt for a pudding if we weren't full.

I was pleased to see that the menu featured "Lancashire Hotpot" , despite this being THE iconic Lancashire dish, its a rare dish to find on a pub's menu. Mr Lancashire Food choose this as his dish and I opted for one of the seasonal specials a Chicken, ham and mushroom pie. The pub also has a reputation for fine ales and had a wide selection of different brews from a number of local and regional breweries to sample, a pint of "Golden Sands" from Southport Brewery was ordered.

The friendly front of house staff delivered some fine heavy silver cutlery and then our meals arrived, after a comforting wait ( fairly sure no microwave meals here) , the food arrived a fine looking hotpot with a separate generous dish of red cabbage and my pie, accompanied by rustic chips and seasonal vegetables. My only slight disappointment was that it wasn't a real pie with sides, just a puff pastry top, but the filling more than made up for the lack of pastry, lots and lots of real chicken , hand stripped from the bone, just like your mum's chicken pie made with the roast leftovers, tender ham and juicy earthy mushroom in a creamy white sauce with the delicate hint of freshly cut chives.

The chips chunky homestyle, fluffy and delicious and the vegetables, nothing frozen here, freshly picked broccoli, carrots and runner beans ( wow, seasonal or what !, never had them in a pub before, normally those dinky african things), just like they had been  picked from dad's allotment.
Mr LF was impressed with the hotpot , packed with tender meat, well flavoured and a nice crispy potato topping too. All in all the food was of  a very good quality and the portion size more than ample, sure its not the cheapest place but I am a great believer in you get what you pay for. We didn't get to try out the dessert menu on this occasion but I am sure we will be back to try it out in the future. Our bill including drinks was a smidgen over £25.

Next door to the pub is the Home Farm shop also part of the same group, as I visited on a Monday it was closed but it definitely warrants a visit another day as it promises local foods, organic local meats from their own farm and locally grown vegetables. I feel another blog post coming on.

The Eagle and Child did not know I was visiting and we paid for our food and drinks, this was our experience of our visit.

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