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.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Middle Holly Cottage Tea Room and Cake Parlour - Afternoon tea

In Lancashire we pride ourselves on a warm and friendly welcome and there is no finer way to spend an afternoon then enjoying the delights of afternoon tea. On a cold blustery spring day we ventured forth to Middle Holly Cottage in Forton for such an afternoon.

On our journey up to Forton where Middle Holly is situated, we saw the cars temperature gauge plumet by 3 degrees and experienced hail, rain and thunder. Fortunately for us Middle Holly is really easy to find being situated just of the A6 and on arrival we were warmly welcomed into the cosy tea room and cake parlour by Gill who runs Middle Holly with her husband Andy. 

Originally from Cheshire but now firmly settled in Lancashire, Gill and I enjoyed a lovely chat about all things food, the WI (she's a member just like me), the Clandestine Cake club, catering for free from diets and Lancashire in general.

Gill is really passionate about her beautiful B and B and tea room being the best they possibly can and she carefully features the best  quality local and seasonal produce on her menu's. She wants all her customers to experience a warm, genuine and memorable experience when staying or eating at Middle Holly.

Gill makes all her own bread, cakes, jams, chutneys and her eggs come from her own  garden hens and sources all her other ingredients as locally as she can. For example she proudly serves Dewlay's Lancashire Cheese, which is little a few minutes walk down the road.

We were invited to experience the Deluxe Afternoon tea which was served in the pretty Garden Room area, thoughtfully decorated in country pastels and the tea, cakes and sandwiches all served on eclectic vintage china, complete with home knitted and crocheted tea cosies by Gill's Mum !

We started our tea with a shot glass of homemade seasonal vegetable soup, very tasty and flavourful which was very welcome given the weather outside, Gill makes sure that when she blends her soup you still have little chunks of vegetables so you can really taste the fresh vegetables in the soup.

Next came our tottering tower (cake stand), strewned with viola flowers, salad and herb leaves, and bedecked with finger sandwiches of home cooked ham, egg mayonnaise and Lancashire cheese and homemade chutney, all served on homemade organic bread. Gill likes to ring the changes and try different flours in the bread baking (most of the bread is made by Andy), so our selection was farmhouse white and  a seeded bread. The sandwiches were delicious, generously filled  and the homemade bread makes such a difference to the taste experience. Alongside our sandwiches we also had a little bowl of Lancashire Crisps, we love those too and again show careful thoughtful sourcing.

Our next  cake stand layer was a fruity raspberry fool served in a pretty vintage teacup and homemade crisp and light chocolate eclairs. The fool was perfectly balanced in terms of sweetness and tartness so as not to be cloying, the eclairs light and airy and filled with fluffy whipped cream.

The top layer of the stand has two huge pieces of cake, which we split in half so both myself and Mr LF could experience the floral rose and almond cake and slated caramel layer cake. Again all homemade, We particularly loved the salted caramel layer cake with its salty yet sweet topping. By this stage we were getting very full so we agreed with Gill to take away our scones (choice of fruit or plain), if you can squeeze them in they come accompanied with cream and  a choice of Gills Homemade jams. The scones are huge, and unlike a lot of other scones I have tried, not in the least bit disappointingly dry and tasteless, these were light and tasty, they were our treat later in the day when we returned home with the last of our homemade rhubarb and strawberry jam.

Last but not least a handmade homemade truffle each, just to round things off !! 

Outside Middle Holly has views over to the Bowland Hills, a little misty and obscured whilst we were there due to the inclement downpour but stunning non the less. 

We loved our visit to Middle Holly and meeting and chatting with Gill, despite it being an awful day the tea room was still fairly busy, so if you are planning a visit I would book just to be on the safe side as given the high standard of afternoon tea and cake on offer, Middle Holly is sure to be very popular. The tea room is currently open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and in the summer on Sundays too.

Check out the website for further details of the tea room and B and B

Our meal was provided free of charge for review purposes, we were not compelled to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

John Caffery - Manager of Chorley Dukpond

This months featured foodie is John Caffery, Manager / Maitre D of Duk Pond in Chorley towncentre, John is passionate about local seasonal food and is happy to head up this newly opened deli / cantina / tapas bar. Pop in for a warm and friendly welcome and some great food, you can find them on Cleveland Street, close to the market. So we can understand what make our foodie tick he ansewered our usual selection of questions.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
2 cooks and a suitcase, by Dougie Bell

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
The most Diverse, quality food in the country

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
A cheese maker

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My global Knife set

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
  • Heston Blumenthal (To Cook),
  • Johnny Depp (would make my wife happy),
  • Luc Besson and Guillermo Del Torro (favourite film directors)
  • Peter Kay.
  • Stan Lee,
  • Steven Fry.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
It will all work out in the end.

Describe your style in three words
Eclectic, rock n roll,

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A pressure cooker

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Running my own business

What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Trusting the wrong people

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I used to be the lead singer in a punk rock band

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Cakes Regional and Traditional - Julie Duff

In what seems ages ago I was kindly sent a copy of a the lovely Cakes, Regional and Traditional by Julie Duff by the publisher - Grub Street. I love a good recipe book and this was let me tell is fab, its stuffed full to the gunnels with over 200 recipes for some fantastic British Cakes. 
Handily the book is divided into small and large cakes both regional and country (meaning baked across the country), there is also a section dedicated to Ginger cakes too. The recipes are throughly researched and you get the feeling that these are recipes that have been handed down through the generations and all the ones I have baked from so far have been very reliable.

 Now avaliable in paperback its a great addition to my extensive cookery book collection (bookcases now groaning !). I am pleased to note that there are all the Lancashire favourites featured and also a couple of more unusual ones too, the only little niggle with the book being not every recipe being illustrated.

Pictured are the Lancashire Teacakes which feature in the book and are for the unitatited a little like a fruited scone , using strong bread flour but raised using baking powder. They were very tasty served buttered and disappered quickly.

The book is avaliable from any good local book seller - ISBN-978-1-910690-06-2 published by Grub Street.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Love Chin Chin - review and giveaway

Love Chin Chin is a tasty West African snack food sensation, based on a traditional family recipe this scrummy treat is very moreish. Crunchy yet cakey Love Chin Chin is avaliable in four flavours, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon and chilli.

"Crunches like a biscuit and tastes like cake"

The 70g packs feature only natural ingredients and are decorated with ethnically inspired motifs. Love Chin Chin is avaliable in 400 ASDA stores and 90 Tesco stores.

Popular with the whole family Love Chin Chin is not too sweet or too salty and is delicious with a coffee and ideal for lunch boxes.

We particularly enjoyed the cinnamon and vanilla flavours and loved the crunch yet cakey mouth feel, definately a satisfying snack. The Great news is that you too can try Love Chin Chin as we have a case of 24 packs to giveaway in an easy enter rafflecopter draw.

Rules for giveaway

We have one case to giveaway (this can be either single flavour or a mixed case) - 24 packs in a case, this can only be posted to UK addresses and will be sent direct from Love Chin Chin.
  • 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 17/04/16
  • If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details and choice of case 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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prize for this giveaway is provided by Love Chin Chin who will send the item direct to the winner.
                                                              Love Chin Chin

Friday, 1 April 2016

Chris & Christine Thomasson - Rivington Chocolates

Partners Chris and Christine  Thomasson are Horwich based artisan chocolatiers who formed  Rivington Chocolates in November 2014. 

Combining the best Callebaut sustainably produced chocolate with fresh tasty fillings using local produce whenever possible. 

They work from home, producing small batches to ensure our chocolates are always fresh, trying new flavour combinations and always looking to build and improve our product. 

They are excited to have made their first batch of bean to bar chocolate; 70% Ghanian dark; vegan – described as ‘Lush’ by a customer and it is hoped their second batch will live up to this.

Rivington Chocolates can be found every month at Bolton Artisan Market and other local events.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
The Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cook Book, I've had it since I was 18; its been very well used.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Tasty,comforting and full of surprises.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
A hippy or our cat Mo.

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
I have a chocolate mould that is a beautiful domeshape- allows endless variations that look amazing.-

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Family and friends – always the most special times.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself.

Describe your style in three words
Classic, polished, and surprising.

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A grinder for making bean to bar chocolate

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Rivington Chocolates and completing a triathlon

What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Not going with my instinct

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I'm a qualified scuba diver
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