All posts filed under: archive

From Mesolithic to Meringues – Cresswell Craggs, Welbeck and the Harley Cafe

Have you discovered the Welbeck Farm Shop and Harley cafe yet? We had a lovely walk from there to the bewitching ice-age lagoon and caves of Cresswell Craggs this week. We ended our walk with lunch at the Harley Cafe and then indulged in the little bit of heaven that is the Welbeck Farm Shop. The Harley Cafe sits in a beautiful courtyard of renovated buildings (including the Gallery which sits in the Welbeck Estate’s restored gasworks, which were originally built in 1860 by the 5th Duke of Portland to light his eccentric network of underground tunnels and apartments. They finally closed in 1928 when the Estate moved over to electricity). The courtyard now beautifully combines the old with the new. We loved the cafe colour scheme, with its deep orange/red and the black wooden outside furniture, modern and minimalist, it contrasts well with the warm hues of the old stonework.           Anyway, the food. The cafe sells a range of delicious -sounding hot dishes, all freshly cooked (and not your usual cafe fare …

Newark Pudding circa 1890, by “Good Housewives and Competent Cooks”

Bread Puddings exist in many culinary traditions. Most people would recognise, and love, a good Bread and Butter Pudding, essentially layers of sliced bread scattered with raisins and then covered in a custard of milk, eggs and sugar, possibly with nutmeg, and baked in the oven. The earliest bread and butter puddings were called “whitepots” and often contained suet rather than butter, and sometimes rice instead of bread (rice puddings – another great British staple) and any combination of fruits – currants, raisins, lemon zest, apples. One of the earliest recipes appeared in 1723 but variations of this have probably been around forever. Food historians have traced examples of bread puddings dating back to the 11th and 12th century (probably as a way to use up stale bread) and, stale bread soaked in water and flavoured with a little sugar was often known as “poor man’s pudding”. Most regions of England have their own version of such puddings, this one is “Newark Pudding”. The settlement of Newark, a large market town about 20 miles from …

Adam Handling at the Caxton, London, SW1…….lunch and a bit of a hot flush.

Way back in 2013 I sent one of the Masterchef (the Professionals) a tweet. I don’t normally tweet people on the television, I am a grown woman for heaven’s sake. But I did, and (based on the trailers alone) wished this rather attractive young Scottish guy good luck. As the series rolled out it was clear he was not only exceptionally talented, he was also funny and charming and responsible for a number of swooning moments in our household (might have been my hormones of course) but either way, it caused much mortified eye-rolling from my daughter. Still, Adam replied to my tweet and we have been “twitter followers” since then. He was a “runner up” in Masterchef (a travesty) and I can’t recall who won. But I have watched with great pleasure his ensuing success. So it was with much (“God, mum you are such an embarrassment”) enthusiasm that we arrived for lunch at the Caxton last week, on a sunny July day when Adam was cooking. I had stayed for work at the …

Gorgeous Gooseberries, pucker up!

Gooseberries always remind me of summer, and not always in a good way – as a very young child I always associated them with prickled fingers and face-pukeringly sour berries, but once  baked in an old-fashioned crumble, with lots of custard, they were, and still are, a joy. My father still grows tonnes of them in his garden in Lincolnshire and so I returned home from a lovely traditional Sunday Lunch at my parents’ house, last weekend with a huge bag of gooseberries and what seems like thousands of redcurrants (more of them later).So what else to do but make jam. This summer the weather has been so glorious, with sun and rain in equal amounts, the gooseberries are actually sweet. Yep, you can actually eat them raw without the inside of your mouth losing all sensation. So if yours are the same, I suggest you reduce the sugar quantity a little in this recipe. Well, I call it a recipe, more of a process really – fruit, sugar, lemon juice,water, heat. That pretty much …

“Bake me like one of your French Girls” – unctuous, sexy, Baked Camembert

Sexy, unctuous, indulgent, calorific loveliness… that is baked camembert. What’s not to love? Today, a simple supper of Baked Camembert and charred Ciabatta, with raw carrot and radish on the side, to cut through the richness and, of course, a large glass of Pinot. Heaven. One cheese was baked in my ceramic baker and the other in the small wooden box that it came in (minus the wrapping of course). There’s no real difference except that the hot ceramic pot keeps the cheese softer for longer, however, as we ate them so fast it wasn’t really an issue…. For the first cheese I sliced a cross in the top rind and pulled it back a little, pushed a couple of crushed cloves of garlic into the cheese and then poured in a large splash of white wine, I seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden, On the other, crushed chilli peppers and black pepper, with rosemary (yes they are rosemary sprigs, not spiders, in the pictures). …

Proper Mushy Peas with Mint Sauce – a Nottinghamshire delicacy. Yes, really!

Mushy Peas are eaten across most of the UK –  the only proper accompaniment to Fish and Chips. But let’s be honest, Nottingham owns the mushy pea. Mushy Peas with mint sauce are as Nottingham as the 700 year old Goose Fair that returns every October (and peas are eaten there still, and in some quantities) and they are eaten as a perfectly acceptable stand-alone snack, Fish and Chips are one thing, but a pot of steaming mushy peas with mint sauce on a cold winter’s day is a small joy unparalleled. The Victoria Market still has a stall (or it least it did until recently) that sold just that – a delicious tub of peas and mint with a plastic (used to be wooden) spoon to eat them with. To love this is to know Nottingham, once of you’ve got this, “aye up mi duck” as a friendly greeting, will not be long behind. Now, I know it is the height of summer (and what a fabulous summer it is so far) but I …

A Lovely Talk on Herbs by Rachel Petheram, but remember to wash your Lemon Balm first..

I popped out of the Kitchen once again, on a balmy July evening, to listen to award-winning herb grower and florist Rachel Petheram speak at the School of Artisan Food on the best way to care for and propagate kitchen garden herbs. This year I have in my garden, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, French tarragon, Lemon Thyme, Thyme, Catmint, Sorrel and Sage and something which tastes wonderful but I can’t remember what it is. You can’t beat cooking with fresh herbs, can you? Rachel talked us through the medicinal properties of many of these herbs and showed us the compact herb garden at the rear of the School’s kitchen. In the middle of this little herb patch was a huge Lovage plant. I had no idea they grew so tall! Someone in the group suggested a little lovage would go a long way in a Bloody Mary. This I must try. Rachel is an engaging speaker and clearly very enthusiastic about her herbs, many of which she uses in floral arrangements …

6 Hour Roasted Pork with best-ever crackling

Slow Roasted Pork, with the best ever crackling! Oh so simple and so luxurious, melt in the mouth meat, with a kick. I served this with bead rolls, homemade coleslaw and a drizzle made from the meat juices left in the roasting dish, fresh chopped red chillies, crushed garlic and a slug of red wine. Mixed together and gently heated to infuse. This beautiful piece of pork was boned shoulder (many recipes suggest bone in is more juicy, but to be honest this couldn’t have been sweeter or juicier and the crackling was to die for). I rubbed the skin (already scored and sliced through by the Butcher) with olive oil, salt and pepper, generous amounts of smoked paprika and probably a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, after massaging this well into the skin and all around the meat, I sprinkled a generous couple of tablespoons of Demerara sugar onto the crackling. Pop in the oven (set at its highest heat  – 230C for me – and then immediately turn it down to 150C) leave to …