Sunday, 21 September 2014

Anything Goes at Caffe Manna Eccleston - South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club

For our 24th meeting of South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club, we paid a return visit to Caffe Manna in Eccleston near Chorley. This is our first visit to Caffe Manna but not to the lovely hosts as the same team used to run Coffee at the Carrington, which has since been demolished and a lovely new larger coffee shop built on the same location.

Caffe Manna is a great coffee shop that serves the finest coffee's and other refreshments to locals and visitors to the village (Eccleston is home to Sir Bradley Wiggans no less !), with ample parking outside the door its well worth a visit if you are passing.

On a warm sultry September afternoon members arrived bearing a fabulous selection of cakes for our anything goes theme, including several gluten free cakes. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was great to catch up with members old and new and indulge in cakey gossip ranging from GBBO to vegetable growing.

Coffee walnut cake

Gin, tonic and lemon cake

Licorice allsort cake

Courgette and orange cake

Coffee cardamon and walnut cake - gluten free

Coffee Cake - gluten free

Apricot and Almond cake

Victoria Sponge

Zeeuwe Knop caramel Cake

Cappucino Cake - gluten and diary free

Unfortunately not photographed (sorry Kate,Margaret and Harvey) we also had a delicious Strawberry cake, sticky toffee pudding cake and victoria sponge to enjoy.

Thanks to Caffe Manna for hosting our event, you can find the coffee shop at the Carrington Centre, The Green, Eccleston. They are open every day except Sunday.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Kiwi fruit cupcakes

I have never made Kiwi cupcakes before despite this being a fruit I often enjoy eating, I like the combination of juicy fruity almost opal fruit flavour and bright green flesh. They are however not a fruit that immediately springs to mind when you fancy baking.

I think kiwi fruit are cute, like little furry creatures that live in the fruit bowl and there are numerous ways of accessing the bright green flesh, my preferred method being slicing and I have made kiwi fruit jam in the past with great success.

For this recipe you can dress with butter cream and a kiwi slice or just leave plain and sprinkle with demerara sugar for some crunch. Its an easy tasty bake which works with gluten free flour as well as normal wheat flour.

What you need
  • 2 large kiwi fruits or 4 small kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 cups of plain flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg - free range
  • 1 cup skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil - melted
  • Demerara sugar - for sprinkling
  • Buttercream (optional)
  • Slices of Kiwi for decoration
  • Large muffin cake cases

What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c /180c fan
  • Line the cupcake tin with the case cakes
  • Beat the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl, I used my mixer. 
  • Sieve the flour,baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt into the bowl and mix together quickly
  • Fold in the chopped kiwi fruit
  • Spoon the mixture into the cake cases - this mixtures makes approximately 12 large muffins / cupcakes.
  • Sprinkle the tops with demerara sugar if using
  • Pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so until well risen, golden and cooked through when tested with a cocktail stick
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack
  • When fully cool, decorate with buttercream if you wish

I'm entering this post to this months Alphabakes hosted by The More than the occasional baker , the letter this month being K - for Kiwi fruit in this case.


 And to Bake of the Week hosted by Casa Costello

                                                            Casa Costello

And also to Treat petite over at Cakeyboi, the theme this month being "Anything Goes"


Love Cake Jibberjabber - the theme this month is Back to School - Something new. As I said earlier in the post I haven't baked with Kiwi fruit previously.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Beef and Vegetable Cottage Pie topped with Rosemary Crushed Potatoes

A perfect dish for a Sunday tea or a a busy weeknight when you can't be bothered cooking, it has the perfect combination of roast crispy potatoes and cottage pie filling and the good news is that the vegetables are in the pie. 

The topping is inspired by Casa pie from Vanessa Kimbell's "Prepped" book and is something that I use a lot instead of mash to top fish pie and also chilli and bolognaise. Its an easy no fuss dish which freezes beautifully so you can batch make and the pie filling can also be used in pastry pies as well.

Its a pretty frugal dish too as you can use frozen vegetables in the meat filling and the herbs are from the garden plus  its also gluten free as well as I have used cornflour to thicken the gravy. Its a great way of adding more vegetables to your diet without really noticing and also for upping the fibre content of cottage pie as the crushed potatoes are still in their skins.

What you need
  • Small washed new potatoes boiled until just cooked - halved if large
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Fresh rosemary- leaves removed and chopped finely
  • Minced steak
  • White onion - finely chopped into half moons
  • Beef stock ( I use essential cuisine)
  • Cornflour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme - leaves finely chopped
  • Parsley - finely chopped
  • Carrots - peeled and diced, or you could use frozen
  • Peas - I used a good handful of frozen petit pois
  • Tomato ketchup (ensure gluten free if necessary)
What you do
  • Firstly heat a little oil in a large frying pan and saute the sliced onions until translucent 
  • Now add the mince to the pan and fry off golden and well coloured
  • Now add the thyme, parsley and a tbsp of tomato sauce to the pan along with enough beef stock to cover the meat, stir and then add the diced carrot to the pan.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked and the carrot tender through, now using a little water to slake the cornflour and use to thicken the gravy. 
  • Add the frozen peas to the meat mixture and place in ovenproof dishes 
  • Top the pie mixture with the small potatoes crushing them slightly using your thumbs , sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and drizzle with a little rapeseed oil
  • Bake in the oven at 180c for 40 minutes until the top is golden and crispy and the filling bubbling.
  • Serve immediately

I'm linking this recipe up to extra veg created by Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Flavours and hosted by Elizabeths Kitchen this month.
We are also linking up to Credit Crunch Munch, created by Fab Food for all and Fuss Free Flavours hosted this month over at Maison Cupcake.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Spicy sweet potato, lentil and chipotle soup

Its starting to feel a little autumnal here in Lancashire so my thoughts as usual move from salads to soups, I love homemade soup and often knock up a soup for a weekend lunch using seasonal vegetables or something from the garden, luckily for us we were recently given a number of products from Some Like it Hot to try, so I thought the addition of chipotle sauce to a sweet potato soup would make an interesting addition.

This Chipotle sauce is made from Ancho chili for depth of flavour and Guajilla for the intense red colour they bring to the sauce and of course chipotle for the smoky notes. Its a delicious addition to the store cupboard and can be used in place of normal ketchup or as addition to many dishes, as well as this soup we have also tried it in a slow cooker BBQ ribs recipe, which frankly were amazing. In fact so much so that photography was planned for a post but they disappeared so quickly, we didn't take any of the shots !

What you need
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion - peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls red lentils
  • Vegetable stock - I always use Essential Cuisine
  • 1 tbsp or more (if you like it more spicy) Some Like it Hot Chipotle Sauce
  • Additional water if required to thin soup to desired consistency
  • A little rapeseed oil or butter
  • Yogurt to serve
What you do
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  • Add the onion and sweet potatoes to the pan and cook over a low heat until the onion is starting to soften slightly.
  • Add the lentils to the pan, along with enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and simmer until the vegetable are softened and the lentils cooked.
  • Add the chipotle sauce and blend with a stick blender until smooth, taste and season to taste
  • Serve hot, swirled with yogurt and sprinkled with a little fresh coriander

Some like it hot is a sister brand to Fatjax chutneys, so you can purchase their sauces and rubs range were every you can pick up the Fatjax range, which is many quality outlets across the north west, plus at various farmers markets.

We are linking up to No Croutons required hosted alternatively by Tinned Tomatoes and Herbs and Spice, a vegetaerian blooging challenge for Soups and Salads.

No Croutons Required

And also My Legume Love affair (MLLA) over at Ammaji Kitchen



Friday, 5 September 2014

Blog hop nominated by Vintage Folly

Right everyone, I've been nominated by my fellow blogger Vintage Folly for a blog hop, thanks Rachel for the nomination.

Our hens in the garden
Basically a blog hop is were I answer a few questions and then nominate a couple of other bloggers to do the same, its great fun and a chance for everyone to explore new blogs and gain an insight into bloggers that they may not have come across before.

I love blogging and like Rachel have met (virtually in a lot of cases) people I now consider friends, although Rachel is a bit different in the fact that I have actually met her in the flesh on numerous occasions being a member of my WI (yes I know, but we both love it and its a "young" WI) and she is also a member of the clandestine cake club like me.

The food blogging community is very friendly and supportive and I have learnt loads from others which has enabled the quality of my posts to improve over the years. Blogging has also raised my profile to others and without this blog I would have never had the opportunity to be published in several recipe books, appear on radio and television and also write about food in magazines. I have worked with some amazing people and love the "voice" the blog provides me with,  happily food photography has also become something my husband has excelled at so we now have a great shared hobby.

Mr and Mrs Lancashire Food
Why do I write ?
I write as I love sharing, whether it be recipes or just my thoughts on the latest food fad.The blog started off as a way to share recipes and images of what I was cooking and eating but has grown over the years to become alot more.
The blog is now my hobby and I know this sounds weird but my stress relief from my "day" job and exactly like Rachel over at Vintage Folly a way of keeping in touch with my "virtual" friends and acquaintances, its so much fun linking up and sharing your creative ideas with others and seeing their ideas too.

What am I working on ?
Currently I am researching and writing my next months article for a magazine I write for, along with banking a few blog posts ready for publishing over the next few weeks and planning my posts for the next month or so. I am also planning a WW2 outfit and some suitable food for our next WI event and making jam and practising cake recipes ready for the WI county show.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre ?
It's focused very much on Lancashire Food which is different that other food blogs, we proudly promote and support local Lancashire food products, producers and venues. We also enjoy creating recipes using homegrown or locally foraged food and letting people know where in Lancashire you can buy some great local produce or eat out well. We really get a great fillip when one of the small producers or venues wins an award, its so humbling to see the hardwork and determination that has gone into growing a local food business.

How does my writing process work ?
I write on a laptop normally in the loving room, grabbing spare time whenever I can, often this is inspired by a new recipe I have been planning or seasonal product that I have spotted in the market or growing in the garden. I tend to do some reading around whatever I am planing on writing about and then set about the planning the post and the images that will go with it. Its then that I am off to the kitchen to play and cook up a storm ready for the photography later. Some posts and particularly the photographs takes hours to perfect before its something that I'm happy to let loose on the world.


My nominations are Irwin Kraus author of The Amateur Peasant a great food blog which displays Irwin's Italian food heritage and  the thought provoking Whispers From the Ledge, he's based in New Hampshire in the States.

My other nomination is Janice Pattie who writes Farmers Girl Kitchen blog from the borders area of Scotland.
Over to you two ........... you have until the 15th September to publish your post, go on share some blog love.

Essential Cuisine - the professional choice for stock

As someone who cooks rather a lot, stock is an essential in the store cupboard. When I have the time I make my own and freeze it, but I don't always have the time, that's were a stash of quality stock powder comes in very useful.

I have always been unhappy with the quality of the majority of stock cubes and powders available in supermarket, they are often overly salty and of variable quality. So a couple of years ago I was delighted to be sent a sample of professional quality stock powders from Essential Cuisine, since then this stock range has become a regular feature of my larder.

The stocks are of high quality, light and fresh tasting and a great addition to any dish giving a professional finish, the powders dissolve easily in water or milk or when added straight to the pan. The black pots stack easily and come in vegetable, fish, lamb, beef, chicken and veal varieties and each pot making a minimum of 6 litres of stock so they are also great value.

I can't recommend them highly enough, they can be purchased via a selected range of stockists, mail order via their easy to website or at various food shows across the country.

                                          The Guild of Fine Food

Monday, 1 September 2014

Mulled Wine apple cake, featuring Holy Lama Spice Drops

A few weeks ago one of my fellow bloggers was tweeting about some amazing new spice drops she had been sent by Holy Lama Spice drops, so I was pleased and really intrigued when I was also sent a couple of flavours to have a play with.

The spice drops are essentially contracted extracts of natural spices, ethically sourced and simple to use.You just add as much as you need to your recipe using the dropper,They also have a 3 year shelf life so no more fusty musty stale jars of spices.

Holy Lama also have several blends as well as single spices in their range so you can understand why the range is popular with chefs and home cooks alike., in fact you have 27 to choose from. The drops retail at 3.49 a bottle so good value in my eyes as they last well and have a great just ground flavour and aroma.

Inspired by my samples I decided to use the "mulled wine" drops in a classic rustic style apple cake, this also enable me to use some of crop of apples from the trees in the garden. The resultant cake produced a wonderful aroma whilst baking and is delicious served warm or cold.  Please don't worry if you don't have any spice drops to hand as you can produce excellent results by using cinnamon or apple pie spices in your bake instead.


The bake is one that works both gluten free (with slight adaptions) or with wheat flour as this is a recipe that I have made many times over the years, another recipe why I like the recipe is that it makes two round cakes so giving you one to freeze or gift to a friend.

What you need
  • 5 or 6 eating apples , peeled cored and cut in thin slices
  • 2 eggs -free range (use 3 if using Gluten Free flour)
  • 350g granulated sugar
  • 2 droppers of Mulled Wine Spice drops or 2 tsp of cinnamon or apple pie spice
  • 120ml Sunflower oil
  • 300g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 x 9" baking tins - oil sprayed and base lined 

What you do
  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Measure all the ingredients except the apples, eggs and oil into a large baking bowl, once you have sliced the apples toss in the flour mixture to prevent them oxidising.
  • Once all the apples are in the bowl, add the eggs and oil , mix together thoroughly. This will be hard work as the mixture is quite dry but all will be fine.
  • Split the mixture between the two prepared baking tins and smooth the top with a spatula
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 50 -55 minutes until golden and well risen.
  • Cool on a wire rack, serve warm or cold with custard, cream or yogurt
The spice drops add a beautiful warm spicy fragrance to this bake.

Holy Lama Naturals Spice Drops header image

Sunday, 31 August 2014

September 2014 - Amy Cheadle from Northern Dough Company

Say Hi everyone to Amy Cheadle one half of the talented Northern Dough Co Pizza dough company (the other being Chris her husband), who lovingly create artisan frozen dough so you can create a superior pizza at home. Available at various farmers markets, quality food outlets and also from Booths,Waitrose and Ocado, this is a Lancashire food business success. Amy is currently cooking a little dough ball all of her own which is expected any day soon so she managed to fit in answering our questions whilst resting at home.

Their ready to roll bases are available in four flavours, original, wholemeal, rosemary and chilli they have a base to suit all tastes. Self confessed pizza addicts they love what they do and the product they have created.

Northern Dough Co

Recently featured in BBC Good Food Magazine as a face of Clitheroe food festival the team are a regular feature of local food shows.

So on to our questions, so what makes Amy tick .....

  •      What is your favourite cookery, food book or publication ?
There’s so many cookbooks I love – I have Delia’s ‘How to Cook’ where I learnt the basics and find Jamie’s fresh flavours and simplicity great for everyday, but one of my favourite times of the month is when my foodie mags pop through the door and I can sit down and leaf through the seasonal recipes – I cut out my favourites and keep them as an ongoing scrapbook to refer back to on a regular basis. Olive, Delicious and BBC Good Food are all delivered to the door.
  •         What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Hearty, homely and comforting – food that brings family and friends together.
  •         If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I absolutely love working with food, but my long term dream is to write a novel, so I’d love to spend my days in a cottage in the countryside gazing over a lovely view and coming up with plots – food would have to feature heavily though!
  •         Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My pizza peel – it makes getting a pizza in and out of a hot oven on a stone really easy and is always a talking point when people come over for a pizza party. They’re not expensive though, about £10 or so for one that will last a lifetime.
  •         Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My ultimate guest would be Roald Dahl, his stories fired my imagination as a child, The Witches was my favourite and I thought it was delightfully frightening that you could be turned into a mouse by eating chocolate and sweets! I’d also invite a true Neopolitan pizza chef and the team at Bake Off – Mel and Sue as they would provide the entertainment and Paul and Mary to keep me on my toes and make sure my baking was up to scratch!
  •         What advice would you give to your younger self ?
That setbacks are critical to finding the very best solution. Sometimes at the time things not going the way you planned feels tough, but in hindsight I’ve always learned far more from situations that I’ve had to approach for a second or third time – challenge inspires innovation and that’s what keeps things interesting. (This doesn’t however apply to my driving test, which took 9 attempts to pass!)
  •         Describe your style in three words
Currently its comfortable, cool and expandable as I’m 8 months pregnant but usually its pretty much summed up as classic – whether it be fashion, food or at home, I love the basics but keeping things fresh with a little twist here and there.
  •         What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A Kitchen Aid pizza wheel, it was ludicrously expensive given you can pick up a similar gadget for a few pounds, but it slices through any pizza/ topping like a knife through butter and at food shows we can cook 50 pizzas a day and cut them into 30 mini slices for sampling, so efficiency is a must!
  •         What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Creating a brand at our kitchen table and getting into onto supermarket shelves nationally within two years. We started the business with a small sum of money left to my by my late Grandmother, who was renowned for her larger than life personality and strong work ethic and it makes me very proud to think of the delight she’d take in our success. I also love when people are surprised that as a husband and wife team, people think that Chris and I would drive each other crazy living and working together – its quite the opposite, I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather run a business with.

  •         What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Making things overcomplicated – at our first food show in 2011, we were making samples so people could taste the pizza dough freshly baked. I devised an elaborate list of different toppings, and tried to re-create them on the stand only to find that it was an absolute disaster and meant timings were all over the place. Since then, we opt for tomato and mozzarella and let the dough speak for itself – I also always look to Chris to simplify things, he’s great at seeing through the detail and pulling out the one or two key elements that are important.
  •        Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
There’s not much in the food world that I don’t enjoy – sweet, savoury, all the cuisines of the world and food is always a huge part of holidays and day trips wherever I am. Not a secret, especially for someone working in the food industry, but if someone was to offer me a last meal ever, it wouldn’t be lobster or fillet steak, I’d head to a chippy in Preston city centre and order chips, cheese and gravy and sit on a bench outside to eat them, covered in vinegar! It was a student staple years ago, and still something I crave as comfort food.

Dough sticks

Northern Dough Co

Monday, 25 August 2014

Courgette loaf - gluten free

I knew I couldn't get through another summer without creating a new courgette cake recipe. This one is gluten free and uses one of my favourite vegetables for baking with. I always have plenty of courgettes to experiment with from the garden.

Courgettes are great for gluten free baking as they add additional moisture to the bake, something that gluten free bakes often lack, this is due to most gluten free flours having a good quantity of rice flour in them which robs moisture from the mixture.

Makes 2 x  loaves

What you need
  • Oil spray and loaf tin liners
  • 380g gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 240ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla paste
  • 220g courgettes - finely grated
  • 1tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)
What you do 
  • Oil spray and line two loaf tins
  • Pre heat the oven to 160c
  • Grate the courgettes ( I use a food processor), don't squeeze the moisture out
  • Mix along with all the other ingredients in a food processor or mixer
  • Pour into your prepared tins
  • Bake for 50 -55mins until well risen and golden, test with a skewer
  • Cool in the tins initially and then on a cooling rack
  • This freezes well when wrapped in foil
  • Serve plain and or simply iced

As host of bake of the week this week I am linking to Bake of Week, created by Helen at Casa Costello 

                                                         Casa Costello

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