Sunday, 28 April 2013

CCC No 14 - Park Life - South Lancashire CCC visits Cuerden Valley Park Trust

This month saw South Lancashire Clandestine cake club visiting Cuerden Valley Park, a well loved local country park close to Chorley, Leyland and Preston. Our visit was hosted in "The Tearoom" in the Barn visitors centre,manned by volunteers we were warmly welcomed by Jean and her team.The barn is shared between Cuerden Valley Park Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Set in stunning countryside the park hosts a very popular local farmers market and also an annual green fair and beer and cider festival. To support the important conservation work being undertaken the trust also has quality woodland products  for sale,including firewood, traditionally made charcoal,woodchip and even rare breed lamb raised on conservation grassland which is available from time to time.

If you are ever in the area then please visit the park, the tea room is open every weekend (Sat & Sun) from 11am to 3.30pm, if the farmers market is on then they close at 3pm. The Farmers market is also worth a visit as some great local producers featured.

In honour of our location we choose a theme of "Park Life" for our visit and as ever our bakers rose to the challenge and were inspired to create a fabulous selection of cakes which particularly impressed our hosts, we were also pleased to welcome members old and new for this fun event in the countryside, even if the British weather choose to give us hail, rain and sunshine all in the space of 10 minutes.

Cake List as follows:

Neopolitan cake

Coffee Daisy Cake

Cherry Blossom almond cake

Rhubarb, rose and cardamon cake

Lazy daisy lemon cake

Rose cake with grass icing and chocolate ganache

Bee-sting cake

Socially &Environmentally aware hedgehog cake (fairtrade and organic)

Sandpit cake (apple crumble cake)

MacArthur Park lavender cake

Squirrel cake (chocolate & Hazelnut cake) with extra special label 

We all had a fabulous time and as all cake clubbers know there is always lots of cake left over at the end of the meeting so we invited all the hard working volunteers who where erecting the stalls ready for the next days Farmers Market to join us for cake, this proved a difficult choice for some.

Can't wait for our next event-  Baking the books ! at a secret location soon, check out the South Lancs CCC page for more details.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wild garlic mash topped cottage pie - a English classic

It finally seems to be Spring here in Lancashire and the ramsons (wild garlic) is popping up in the hedgerow, later this week it St Georges Day, a celebration of all things English. So here's my contribution an English classic updated with a great foraged ingredient, the wild garlic mildly fragrances the mash and adds to the intense savouriness of the dish. Its also British Beef week as well and my cottage pie uses quality British steak mince as its base.


  • British minced steak
  • Onion
  • Beef stock ( I used essential cuisine)
  • Brown sauce / caramelised onion chutney
  • Freshly chopped parsley - fine
  • Slaked cornflour or gravy thickner (bisto or similar)
  • White potatoes
  • Butter
  • Wild Garlic - chopped finely


  • Firstly make your mash in the usual way by boiling your peeled potatoes until soft, for the last few minutes of cooking add your wild garlic to soften.
  • Once cooked drain through a sieve so as not to loose your wild garlic, add a good quantity of butter and mash until you have no lumps. Set aside.
  • Dry fry the mince in a large frying pan, until all coloured, now add the onion to the pan and cook using the fat that has come from the mince until slightly softened.
  • Add the beef stock to the pan until the meat mixture is just covered and simmer for 10 -15 minutes until the onions are soft, the meat is cooked and the gravy a little reduced, now add the gravy thickener to achieve the thickness of gravy you desire.
  • Pour the meat mixture into the dish you wish to bake it in, leave to cool for 10 minutes or so and then top with the wild garlic mash, leave your pie craggy so that when it bakes it has some lovely crispy bits.
  • Place on an oven tray and bake for 35-45 minutes at 180c until golden and bubbling
  • Serve with any side vegetable to your hungry family.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Slow cooker Brisket of beef

I love beef brisket, this cheap cut of beef is awesome slow cooked so that it becomes melting tender. This recipe, if you can call it that is so simple, its actually an insult to call it a recipe to be honest.

To get a good brisket you will need to visit a butchers as most supermarkets don't stock brisket (Booths and Morrisons do normally have them however) not sure why I think they must think it a downmarket cut, more fools them as its great. Plus make sure you buy British Beef, look out for the Red Tractor mark.

  • Rolled brisket of beef
  • Tomato ketchup - 2 tbsp
  • Demarera sugar - 1tbsp
  • Wine vinegar 1 tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Make a paste of all the ingredients other than the brisket, rub onto the brisket, wrap in foil and place in slow cooker
  • Cook for 8-10 hours, turn over half way through (not essential)
  • When ready to serve, thicken juices in slow cooker with gravy granules or slaked cornflour
  • Serve slices with gravy and usual accompaniments , it will be meltingly tender.
This would be a great dish to serve up in honor of St George ! its also great if you have any leftovers on a chunky sandwich with horseradish and salad, or stir fried with oyster sauce and egg fried rice.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Another banana loaf

A while ago as part of a blog post I was sent some coconut oil, the jar has sat in the cupboard doing nothing, every time I go in that cupboard it waves at me and I think I must come up with a recipe that uses the ingredient.

My coconut oil was from The Groovy Food Company , Coconut oil is a source of lauric acid which is good for your cardo vascular system and despite being a saturated fat assists in regulating your cholesterol levels and boosting your immune system, it tastes from the jar like a coco-nutty wax, not unpleasant and faintly tropical tasting.

Coconut oil can be used like other oils  and in a warm kitchen will turn runny, I had an idea that the faintly tropical flavour would combine well with banana in a loaf cake, one of the staples in my kitchen.

The resultant loaf cake was deliciously aromatic and faintly tropical flavour as I hoped, moist too, it would may be benefit from a cream cheese buttercream icing if you wanted to take it towards a passion cake. Talking of additions you could also may be add blueberries or pineapple or mango if you wanted to up the fruitiness further.

  • 2 ripe bananas - peeled and mashed
  • 2 tbsp low fat plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs - free range please
  • 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil - melted
  • 1/4 cup soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Line 2 x 2lb loaf tins ,I use the ready made ones (i buy them from the £1 shop)
  • In a bowl whisk the eggs, coconut oil, yogurt, sugar and vanilla paste until well incorporated.
  • Now sieve in the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and soda, mix gentle and then stir in the crushed banana
  • Pour the batter into the lined tins and bake for about 40 -45 minutes until tested cooked with a skewer
  • Cool initially in the tin and then on a wire rack
  • Stores well wrapped in foil or alternatively freezes beautifully.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cheese of the Month - No 04

Bowland Cheese

My selection for this month is Bowland cheese, a variant of Lancashire cheese which is mixed with apple, cinnamon and sultanas prior to being molded into rounds. It is has a distinctive cinnamon coating and a sweet salty flavour, nicer than it sounds. I like it served with plain oatcakes. 

Bowland Cheese is a relatively new style of Lancashire cheese created by David Williams from Cheshire who's family had a delicatessen in Sandbach, originally created on a small scale , the idea spread and it is now commercial produced by several Lancashire diaries and is available all over the country.

The name Bowland is after the Forest of Bowland and area of outstanding natural beauty in Lancashire and reputed to be the area of the country where the Queen would like to retire to. The area has always been a royal hunting area and still has many shooting areas within it and the Queen visits privately most years. Who can blame her the area is stunning and the food amazing in this area. 

Haddock Gratin

We love fish here at Lancashire Food and like to experiment with different ways of cooking it. I currently have a great store of fish in my freezer (from Delish Fish) so we love to come up with new easy ways of cooking it.

This dish requires no great skill and is a great standby recipe made with store cupboard ingredients which is suitable for all the family, ideal if you need a quick supper dish, what's all important is the quality and freshness of the fish. Your supplier or fishmonger should be able to skin and de bone your fish for you.

  • Fillet of fish per person, I used haddock (skinless and boneless)
  • Cheddar cheese grated - 100g per fillet
  • Dijon mustard - 1 tsp per fillet
  • Crème fraiche - 2 tbsp. per fillet
  • 6 Baby cherry tomatoes per fillet - sliced in half
  • Freshly picked thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat your oven to 170c
  • Very lightly oil a baking dish the appropriate size for your fish fillets
  • Place the fish fillets in the bottom of the dish
  • In a separate bowl, toss the tomato halves with the thyme and some freshly ground pepper
  • In another bowl mix the Dijon mustard, crème fraiche and grated cheese, spoon this on top of the fillets in the baking dish and spread out
  • Serve with a fresh green salad or green vegetables.
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