Saturday, 23 July 2016

Double chocolate banana bread, great way of using overripe bananas.

Dark and foreboding.... this is just the case, rich in chocolate flavours, you would swear it contains alcohol (it doesn't !) dense, moist and or so very moreish.

We've all experienced the guilt of overripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl becoming progressively blacker and blacker, this recipe solves that dilemma. Based on a recipe by Smitten Kitchen this is an easy recipe and is an excellent way of using those manky bananas to their best effect.

What you need

  • 3 very ripe bananas - mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted), or coconut oil. Cool slightly
  • 3/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chocolate essence( I get mine from Bakery Bits)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 cup plain flour (would probably work gluten free, but I haven't tested as yet)
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa (I always use Green and Blacks)
  • 1 pkt of dark chocolate chips / chunks
You will also require a 2lb loaf tin, oil sprayed and base lined. I prefer to use loaf tin liners

What you do
  • Pre heat your oven to 180c
  • Mix the mashed banana and butter, sugar and egg, essence in a large bowl or use a mixer.
  • Sieve in the flour, bicarb, cocoa and salt and fold until just mixed 
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and the scoop into your prepared tin
  • Level the top and place in the pre heated oven
  • Bake for 55 minutes or so until risen and tests cooked when a skewer inserted into the loaf shows its cooked through
  • Cool for 10 -15 minutes in the tin on a wire rack and then remove from tin and allow to cool fully.

We are linking up to several challenges this month

      We should Cocoa, theme this month is Anything Goes, hosted this month by Tin and Thyme.

            No waste food challenge hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Casa Costello Cake of the Week over at Casa Costello

Casa Costello Bake of the Week over at Casa Costello

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Lancashire Cook Book - review and giveaway

Lancashire is a county famous for its warm and friendly welcome and now increasingly its amazing food. Meze publishing have worked with a range of chefs and food producers from across the county to compile a beautiful celebration of the amazing food that is available in my home county.

I am really lucky to have eaten at most of the venues and sampled the wares of most of  the producers and the book does a fab job showcasing the amazing array of produce that I am lucky to have on my doorstep. The compilers have also worked with and Hospitality Action, who both do great works , one is promoting visiting Lancashire (food being an important attraction) and the other working to support members of the hospitality industry who have fallen on hard times.

The eagerly awaited Lancashire Cook Book was released on June 23rd, brimming with recipes and stories from local heroes all sharing a passion for upholding Lancashire’s reputation for proper food.
This book will be number 12 in the series of regional ‘Get Stuck In’ guides by Meze Publishing, who were recently crowned Best Newcomer at the Independent Publishing Awards.

Award-winning Celebrity chef Andrew Nutter has written the foreword and his ethos sets the tone for Lancashire’s passion for first-rate local produce:
“There's never a dull moment in the life of a restaurateur but what excites me on a daily basis is the delivery of all the fabulous regional Lancashire produce - utterly inspirational - so check out the recipes"“I'm very proud to be part of the Lancashire Cook Book, firstly showcasing my flagship restaurant Nutters but secondly being able to share with you the birth of The Bird at Birtle my new gastro pub venture,” he says.
With his brill and wild garlic pesto recipe, Nutter shows how Lancashire is mixing up innovation with tradition in the most delicious way, and Preston City BID manager Mark Whittle shares his enthusiasm:
“Preston city centre has a vibrant and evolving restaurant scene; we are delighted that it has been recognised and showcased in this fantastic publication.”
BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Barden contributes his Jacob’s ladder recipe and Chadderton’s very own Simon Wood also features fresh from his 2015 MasterChef win and the release of his first book At Home with Simon Wood.
Lancashire’s independent food scene leaps off the page with entries from traditional pubs and fine dining restaurants including 2015 Good Hotel Guide’s ‘Editor’s Choice Award’ winner The Inn at Whitewell and the folks at The Catford Inn who landed themselves ‘Tourism Pub of the Year’ 2015.

Not to mention a plethora of local retailers throughout Saddleworth, Chorley, Bury and Clitheroe, such as Huntley’s Country Store whose very own Tom Wood won 2015 ‘Butcher of the Year’, the award winning Butlers Cheese and many more including Browns Butchers whose owner Chris Brown had this to say:
“At Browns we can’t wait for The Lancashire Cook Book to be released. We feel this is a wonderful stepping stone to the heart of Lancashire and what it truly offers. Being involved is a fabulous experience.”
Ian O’Reily at Gazegill Organic Farm feels just as passionate about the book’s release:
“We have always been passionate about local and sustainable food and to have this great cook book reinforces our love of local whilst highlighting the oasis that Lancashire is for food outlets and destinations, there can be few counties that can produce just about every ingredient you could wish for and at unbeatable quality.”

From Bashall Barn Farm Shop’s braised blade of beef to twice-cooked confit of duck with rabenda jus at Samlesbury Hall; Lancaster lemon tart at Barton Grange Garden Centre to blood orange cheesecake at The Yellow Tree Inn; The Lancashire Cook Book promises to deliver something for every palate.

The Lancashire Cook Book retails at just £14.95 and will be available soon in all of the businesses featured in the book as well as select local gift shops, book shops including Waterstones and online at

Just a couple of points to note Dukpond - Preston is now closed and The Yew Tree, Anglezarke is currently closed due to a fire. My only slight niggle with this gorgeous book is why when Lancashire has amazing new potatoes( in fact potatoes in general) do several recipes feature Jersey royals, which are good but not exactly local.

We are lucky enough to have one copy to giveaway to a lucky reader of this blog, your prize will be sent to you direct from Meze Publishing. Just enter via the rafflecopter link

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules for giveaway

We have one book to giveaway - , this can only be posted to UK addresses and will be sent direct from Meze Publishing.

Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget above. 
To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced. 
You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis. 
Rafflecopter will pick a random winner. 
The competition runs until the 31/07/16
If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details quickly and within 24 hours or the prize will be passed to the next person drawn. 

Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

Some content and all photography supplied by Meze Publishing. Review copy was supplied free of charge from Meze, all thoughts, opinions are my own.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Lemonade scones

Lemonade scones, a slightly unusual recipe but a scone never the less and one that creates the prefect scone for afternoon tea in a flash. Scones in my humble opinion need to be fluffy and light and no so sweet as to be cloying when served with fruit jam, this scone has it all despite containing lemonade it fresh and light and slightly scented with lemon, a perfect accompaniment to a dollop of homemade jam.

The recipe only has three ingredients (if you use a self raising flour- 4 if you use plain and baking powder) and the science bit is that the fizzy acidic lemonade activates the baking powder in the flour to give a superior rise in the oven. And rise they do, they tower as long as you don't man handle the dough too much. Some recipes also use double cream, not something I normally have in the fridge so I use creme fraiche and it works perfectly.

What you need
  • 400g self raising flour
  • 175ml lemonade
  • 175ml creme fraiche
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c fan /220c non fan
  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, I use a stand mixer but you could knead together by hand
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and cut using a round cutter to desired size, I use about a 2 1/2" cutter 
  • Place on a lined baking tray and bake for approx 15 minutes until golden, the exact length of time will vary depending on the size of your scones
  • Cool on a wire rack and serve when cold with cream (clotted, double whipping , your choice) and homemade jam, curd or honey.
I have also made these scones with gluten free flour (my own mix) and they work fine, they obviously don't rise as much but they are still very tasty, more of a scone meets shortcake, they could also be made dairy free if you can get hold of a dairy free cream substitute, its already egg free so very allergy friendly all round.

Gluten free version 
I recently discovered  a half used bottle of lemonade in the back of a cupboard, past its best before date but still fizzy so  that what I used in this recipe and they turned out fine. So I am going to use this post as my link up to Credit Crunch Munch this month.

                                         Credit Crunch Munch - Fab Fod 4 All

Credit Crunch Munch is a blogger challenge created and hosted by Fab Food 4 all and Fuss Free Flavours.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Credit Crunch Munch - July 2016

                         Credit Crunch Munch - Fab Fod 4 All

We are really pleased to be hosting Credit Crunch Munch,  a fab blogger challenge this month which is exactly what it says, all you need to do to  to take part is blog about a money saving foodie idea or recipes. Created by the awesome bloggers Fab Food 4 All  and Fuss Free Flavours, here are some suggestions of ways you could take part but we are sure there are many more.
  • Dishes using cheaper ingredients
  • Cheap cuts of meat or vegetarian
  • Meals using leftovers
  • Meals using up the ends of packets
  • Substitutions of cheaper ingredients
  • Packed lunches
  • Meals that use less energy to cook 
  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking
  • Faster cooking – less oven time for example
  • Batch cooking for the freezer
  • Sustainable foods
  • Food you have grown yourself
  • Meals from reduced food in the supermarket
Basically a recipe that saves money in these challenging times...... yet produces some great tasting food !

I for one want to use more of my homegrown produce from the garden to best effect, or may be what about ingredient substitutions when the cupboard is bare. If you would like to see previous month challenge for inspiration check out Helen or Camilla's pages.

If you fancy hosting later in the year please get in touch with Helen at fussfreeflavours dot com

To take part you just need to 
  • Link back to Fab Food 4 All , Fuss Free Flavours and me (Lancashire Food)
  • Complete the linky below to take part
  • Use the lovely Credit Crunch Munch badge in your post
  • And if you tweet use the lovely #CreditCrunchMunch hashtag and we'll all try to RT you.
  • The closing date is 31st July 2016
  • By entering you are agreeing to let us use an image from your entry on this site, and to pin to Pinterest.
Please be respectful of other people’s copyright when blogging recipes and give credit to the originator. But feel free to send to as many other entries as you like, let’s help everyone save money!
To enter just fill in the linky below which you can also share on your post if you so wish, its a blog hop so lets have some money saving fun.
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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Fruit by Rosemary Sassoon

Book Guild Publishing recently sent me a copy of the newly published book from Rosemary Sasson, Fruit - Grow, cook and preserve your own.

This handy sized softbacked book retails for £9.95 and is not your usual preserving, gardening book. Its more a sort of diary and the musings of Rosemary, her garden and how she uses the produce she grows. 

Its a practical book illustrated with her own photographs and rather than lavish pages of recipes its a chatty guide in three parts, Growing, Cooking and preserving. The last section particularly also reflects on life and its demands which impact the time or ability  you have to garden and cook as you progress through life. There are lots of handy hints, tips and ideas on using produce if a little focused on the more suburban or country dweller.

Market Fresh - Cakes from a Country Kitchen at Bees Country Kitchen, Chorley.

On gorgeous sunny summer day in England, scrub that, who am I kidding on a humid dank overcast and thundery summers day intrepid members of South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club made their way through floods (yes really it was right up to the wheels on the car) and thunderstorms to have a beautiful summer themed cake club at Bees Country Kitchen, Chorley Market.

Our theme was Market Fresh - Cakes for a country kitchen to tie in with the fact that our host are on Chorley Market and are proud to use produce sourced from the market in their delicious range of fresh, seasonal and healthy country style street food. Their range includes, stews, curry's and casseroles, rich in fresh vegetables and a fab range of cakes, check out their facebook or instagram feed for more. Sarah one of members runs Bees with her husband and daughter so we had the perfect hosts for our gathering. Lashings of hot drinks where consumed from the cute enamel mugs and we munched cake off lovely vintage crockery.

We had a fab range of cakes 

Eton Mess Cake

Semi naked Cake

Zucchini cake

Peach and raspberry cake

Apricot and butternut squash cake

Banana, raspberry charlotte russe

Blueberry, raspberry and lime drizzle cake

We didn't let the horrid weather spoil things and had a great time under the awnings sharing cake and sheltering from the rain, we attracted quite a lot of  attention from shoppers in the market who were admiring our gorgeous range of cakes. 

Many thanks to Bees Country Kitchen for being such lovely hosts.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Gill Osborne - Middle Holly Cottage

We have another shy featured foodie this month, so instead of a picture of Gill we have a photo of the lovely Middle Holly Cottage which Gill runs with her husband Andy, as a country B and B and now Tea Room and Cake Parlour. Despite hailing from other parts Gill loves Lancashire and its produce which she uses extensively in her establishment.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication?
That’s difficult bearing in mind I must have over 100 cookery books on my shelf! I mostly use books by Annie Rigg, Rachel Allen, Mary B, Dan Lepard. Pinterest is great and so is the Internet. Plus I do purchase several monthly publications too.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Good, honest, down to earth and wholesome food, maybe with a few tweaks here and there!

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
That’s, easy, I’d love to run my own high street bakery selling high quality bread, cakes and patisserie.

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My 35 year old Kenwood Chef, my third arm. I’ve used it nearly every day and it’s only let me down once. In my opinion it was the best wedding present we got!

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Just my family, they’re the most important people in my life. I don’t think I could handle anyone famous, I’d be too on edge and not sleep for days before!

What would you tell your younger self?
Go for it, believe in your own ability, don’t be afraid of what others think, just be your own confident self

Describe your style in three words
Honest, Creative, Confident

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase?
A little Russell Hobbs blender, great for whizzing herbs or bits of anything really. Oh and my microplane greater – every kitchen should have one!

What is your greatest achievement to date?
Opening the tea room at Middle Holly Cottage, my dream to bake for others to enjoy.

What is the worst mistake you have made?
Not going to catering college when I left school, it wasn’t the thing to do then but gosh do I wish I had. Everything I know now is pretty much self taught.

Tell us a secret about yourself ? It may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I was a Rosebud Queen in our village fete when I was 8 years old. I still have the head-dress I wore.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster and The Foodworks Restaurant.

Despite Lancaster being the county city of Lancashire, its one of those places that I rarely visit. Its an impressive city with an ancient castle and also the home to an equally impressive university. So we were pleased to be invited to enjoy a stay at the Lancaster House Hotel and a experience a  meal in the award winning Food-works Restaurant, the perfect excuse to venture a little further north.

Lancaster House Hotel is a comfortable four star hotel, situated very close to the university, its a little out of town but for me that's a good thing, and its easy to find, just off the A6 and well sign posted. Handy for the Southern Lake district, The Trough of Bowland or Lune Valley its ideal for town, country or coastal pursuits.

Boasting 99 rooms and 19 suites, the hotel is decorated in a comfy welcoming country style and is proud to serve local seasonal produce throughout the hotel to guests.Part of the English Lakes Group, Lancaster House Hotel features a pool and spa area, Sandeman's Bar (the Port and sherry people with whom they have a long standing partnership) and Food-works Restaurant, plus various function suites and conference facilities.

The other hotels in the Group are Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina on the shores of Lake Windermere, Waterhead Boutique Hotel and Dining also on the edge of Windermere, The Wild Boar Inn, Grill and Smokehouse situated close to Windermere and The Midland Iconic Art Deco hotel in Morecambe. Each hotel having its own unique personality.

We enjoyed our stay at Lancaster House, the young team were very welcoming and everywhere was clean and tidy and ensured that our stay was comfortable and relaxing, our room was a beautiful suite over looking the front of the hotel, it even had a Juliet balcony. The suite was spacious, tastefully decorated and the bathroom area was huge with a big tub and a generous raindrop shower and an impressive array of nice smellies for your ablutions.

I also like the fact that there was carafe supplied so you could collect  refreshing drinking water from the cooler  for your room rather than nasty plastic bottles, there was also an ice machine on the landing area too. The room has two (yes 2) wide screen televisions, one in the bedroom and one in the lounge area, the room was quiet and despite being someone who never sleeps very well in hotel beds, I had a good nights sleep at Lancaster House. Our only extremely minor niggle was in this day and age why not swap out one of the standard sockets for a usb combined socket so you can charge your phone whilst you sleep, plus its a bonus for your business guests who can make use of the free wifi.

Before our dinner reservation we availed ourselves with the facilities in the pool and spa area, the pool area is well organised and had a special area just for the little ones, plus a lane for the more dedicated swimmer and  an indoor Jacuzzi. Just off the pool area was the steam room (out of order at the time of our visit but should be fixed now), the sauna (traditional Finnish wood style) and an outside a large spa pool. The hotel also has a well equipped fitness area, were Mr LF tried out a few of the machines to offset his forthcoming dinner in the Food-works restaurant.

The Food-works Restaurant decor is contemporary and we just loved the mural of traditional Lancashire Folk, this combined with teacup chandeliers and dark wood dining tables and modern stripped back tableware gives the restaurant a unique ambiance.

Before dinner we chatted with Damien Ng - Executive Chef at Lancaster House about his  foodie influences (Gordon Ramsay), his careful sourcing of local produce for the menu and his favourite dishes to eat and cook (Lancashire Hotpot and any fish by the way).

The menu is varied and has something for everyone, plus lots of traditional Lancashire favourites including hotpot, Morecambe shrimps, parched peas  and of course fish and chips.

I started with slow roasted courgette, stuffed with tomatoes and Lancashire cheese, with a tomato garlic sauce. This was tasty yet light and started my meal off very well.

Mr LF has to choose the Lancashire platter of Goosnargh chicken liver pate, Morecambe bay shrimps on a chive potato cake, Black pudding bon bons and parched peas. This was served with a good chunk of bread and butter and disappeared very quickly, Mr LF particularly liked the pate and the parched peas which reminded both of us of our childhood and eating parched peas dressed with malt vinegar at Bonfire parties.

My main of Sea Bass, samphire and balsamic reduction was delicious, Damian know how to cook fish perfectly, crunchy salty samphire with a sharp yet sweet balsamic drizzle to cut the meaty fish.

Our other main just had to be Lancashire Hotpot served with hot aromatic spiced red cabbage, tender lamb pieces in a tasty sauce, moist falling potatoes and tender carrots. 

We followed with Sandemans sherry trifle, much to Mr LF's delight this was a traditional trifle with jelly layer, custard and fresh cream topping, good Sherry kick but the custard layer was a little disappointing and could have done with more vanilla to balance with the sherry notes.

My choice was Peanut butter cheesecake, a crunchy base with creamy cheese cake topping, not very peanut buttery but very tasty all the same, served with chocolate sauce and crispy crunchy shards of sesame toffee.

All in all a very enjoyable meal and of a very high standard, the service was attentive and efficient and the ambiance relaxed but with a special edge, we dined on a Saturday evening and the restaurant was almost full, so if planning a visit I would book ahead. the soundtrack playing was also a perfect complement to the decor / ambiance, its difficult to get right but we thought it was great.

Breakfast the following morning was served in the at Restaurant , there was a good quality buffet array of breakfast items, a nice range of hot and cold items were available. Special mention as well to the very good cup of tea served (in a lot of hotels it can be very wishy washy but not here) and I always find a cooked breakfast much more enjoyable if you don't have to wash up afterwards !

The hotel also has excellent Green credentials and is installing a 250W solar panel array, it also has 2 electric vehicle charging points and even has a loo in Africa twinned to its loo in the reception area.

You can find Lancaster House at

Green Lane

Bookings via the website 

                               Luxury Bedroom

We stayed and dined on a complementary basis, we were not compelled to write a positive review and all thoughts and views expressed are our own.

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