Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Nadia Southwood of Flap O Jacks

This month's featured foodie is Nadia from Flap O Jacks, the round flapjack company from Preston, made with love and delicious natural ingredients, I have been lucky enough to sample there lovely flapjacks on several occasions and they are amazing, you can see a blog post here.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication?

I adore everything about Lorraine Pascale,I have all her cookery books, she makes everything so simple and understated.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you?

I only need two words to sum up Lancashire Food ‘wholesome and delicious’

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be?
I have a curiosity for forensics and pathology, so if I wasn’t doing what I do now I’d be a Forensic Scientist.

Which piece of kit could you not do without?
The piece of kit I couldn't do without would have to be our lovely big oven.

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My ultimate dinner guest would be the actor, Ray Winstone. Do you seriously need to ask me why!

What advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I would give my younger self would be have the courage and confidence to be whatever you want to be, don’t follow the crowd, don’t join the rat race, just do whatever makes you happy.

Describe your style in three words
The three words I’d use to describe myself would be witty, motivated and thoughtful.

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase?
My latest foodies gadget purchase was a Nutribullet drinks maker, obviously this was for personal use and nothing to do with flapjacks!

What is your greatest achievement to date?

My greatest achievement to date (besides my two beautiful children) would be having the confidence to become self employed and turning Flap O Jacks into a thriving business and more recently being nominated for the EVA awards (Enterprise Vision Awards).

What is the worst mistake you have made?
The worst mistake I have made is not trusting my gut instinct. Always trust your first gut instincts. If you genuinely feel in your heart that something is wrong, it usually is.

Tell us a secret about yourself? May be something we wouldn’t expect!
I have a cleaning obsession, I’m probably verging on the borders of OCD but I love the smell of Detol in the house.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Strawberry honey and lavender trifles, serendipity in a glass

A couple of weeks ago whilst browsing in TK Maxx I decided to treat myself to a madeleine tin and last weekend I finally got around to attempting to bake with the purchased tin, I researched quite a few recipes and I closely followed the instructions in my chosen recipe carefully buttering and flouring the tin,and deciding to add honey and lavender to the mixture.

Everything turned out fine, well mostly, other than not being able to extricate the madeline's from the tin, the actual sponge was lovely, well flavoured and light. I am not defeated and will try madeline's again but my first attempt left me with a quantity of beautiful sponge cakes that needed using up, so this trifle was born.

This easy fruity delight used the disaster sponges to great effect and ensured no waste, so definitely serendipity in a glass. According to Mr LF a trifle is not a trifle unless it contains jelly, I think this must be a hark back to his child hood so this one does contain a fruit jelly layer, but its optional.

What you need

  • Quantity of sponge cake - crumbled (mine was flavoured with 1 tbsp honey and 1 teaspoon of edible lavender flowers)
  • Splash of sherry or some other suitable alcoholic beverage (mead would be good too), if for children you could use fruit juice
  • Strawberry jelly - cubes, crystals or made from juice and gelatine, I used sparkling fruit juice drink to give the jelly sparkle
  • Chopped fresh strawberries
  • Thick custard - homemade or custard pot
  • Creme fraiche or whipped cream 
  • Fresh fruit or sprinkles to decorate
  • Small quantity of edible lavender flowers for decoration
What you do
  • Take 4 glass tumblers and crumble the sponge cake into the bottom of the glass, splash with alcohol of your choice
  • Top with a small quantity of chopped strawberries
  • Mix up your jelly according to the instructions on the packet, I also make a stronger solution so I know it going to set well and pour into the glass about a third of the way up the glass.
  • Place in the fridge to set fully
  • One set top with custard and cream layers
  • Chill again and then serve topped with a sliced strawberry and strewn with lavender flowers.
Mr LF ate 2 in one sitting, so I am taking that as a recommendation that they are good. Plenty of traditional trifle flavour but with a hint of honey and lavender.

If you fancy having a go at the madeline's (you may have better success than me) then this is the recipe I used and tweaked by adding lavender instead of vanilla.

I am linking up to Credit Crunch Munch which I feel is totally appropriate as Iam using my rejects as the basis of a new recipe. Jointly run by Fab Food for All and Fuss Free Flavours

And to No Waste Food Challenge over at Elizabeths Kitchen 


And lastly recipe of the week over A Mummy Too

Link up your recipe of the week

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Midsummer Madness at Rift & Co, Preston for South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club

June saw our branch of Clandestine Cake Club making a visit to Rift & Co in Preston City Centre for our suitably themed event - Midsummer Madness.

Rift & Co is a cocktail bar that also serves food situated down one of Preston's most historic thoroughfares Mein Spirit Wiend, a narrow alleyway that runs on the line of an ancient burgage plot. 

We had a great time drinking cocktails and mocktails and munching on a fabulous range of cakes, we were made so very welcome by the team at Rift & Co with complimentary coffee and tea and sectioning off an area of the bar specifically for us.

We loved the funky urban vibe of the bar and the vintage style furnishings and browsed the cocktail and food menus, planning future visits.

So on to our cakes, our bakers didn't let us down and once again we had a fabulous selection of cakes. Ranging from a Mother Ruin Cake to  Blue Sea Cake and Chocoloate Malt. All equally delicious.

Rift & Co has a website here and it is a must visit if you are in town, cheers to our next event...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Apricot upside down cake, a gorgeous fruity delight.

A few days ago whilst I was on leave from work I was wondering around my local market and I spotted some gorgeous fresh ripe apricots glinting at me in the sunshine, I only ever buy apricots when they are in peak season and that's right now folks.

Blushed with pink and slightly tender to the touch these were just about perfect, its way to early for any English apricots (I you can find any at all) and these are Spanish but they just cried out to be baked with. Its many many years since I last baked an upside down cake and that was the classic pineapple with glace cherries but this version is different, firstly it uses fresh fruit and secondly it features my new favourite spice "mahlab".

Mahlab is a middle eastern spice which I thought would marry well with the apricots, a perfect addition to the afternoon tea table in my humble opinion.

What you need
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 whole ripe apricots
  • 1 cup plain flour - gluten free blend works beautifully
  • 1/2 cup sugar - granulated
  • 1/4 cup fine polenta
  • 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal (not cornflour)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt mixed with a little skimmed milk until consistency of double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of mahlab spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
23 cm cake tin, loose bottomed - well oiled ( I brushed on oil) on base and sides

What you do

  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Cut each apricot in half and remove the stone
  • In your cake tin, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on the base of the tin, place the halved apricots face down on the sugar
  • Now to make the sponge - in a large bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, mahlab and baking powder
  • In a smaller bowl combine the yogurt and milk, eggs, melted butter, oil and vanilla
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold until blended. Do not over mix
  • Pour the mixture over the apricots and spread out evenly
  • Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or so until golden, well risen and testing cooked when you insert a cocktail stick
  • Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes and then run a pallet knife round the tin, place a plate or serving on top of your tin and invert to remove from tin.
  • Ta dah ! upside down cake, the cake can be served warm, cool or cold. 
  • If you like serve with cream, yogurt or creme fraiche

We are linking up to Simple and in Season this month hosted by Ren Behan, as we are using lovely seasonal Apricots.


And #RecipeoftheWeek over at A Mummy Too

                                          Link up your recipe of the week

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cranberry and citrus cookies and an 80th birthday cake.

Recently at my weekly yoga class we held an informal 80th birthday party for a lady who attend regularly and is a great advert for the benefits of yoga, amazingly enough she had just returned from a month long tour of New Zealand too, so I for one will be carrying out practising yoga as long as I can.

As part of the birthday celebration my contribution was a lemon meringue birthday, which I was pretty proud of (the base recipe being a Fiona Cairns recipe from The Birthday Cake Book), as our yoga class is a quaint country church hall I couldn't adore the cake with candles through fear of setting off the fire alarm, so I resorted to raiding the garden for suitable edible greenery and flowers. I plumped for the fragrant yellow day lily and freshly picked lemon balm leaves.

As the birthday cake was topped with blousey meringues I had a couple of egg yolks left over so I came up with this recipe which is takes it inspiration from several sources, a Gino D'Acampo recipe for sultana cookies from Italian Baking and a lemon drizzle biscuit from Biscuit by Miranda Gore Brown.

What you need
  • 85g butter - softened (needs to be very soft)
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks - left over from the meringue making
  • Couple of drops of Fiori di Silica essence (from Bakery Bits)
  • 175g plain flour - I used gluten free
  • 50g fine cornmeal
  • 85g dried cranberries - drained after being soaked in warm water for 20 minutes or so
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Mix all the ingredients except the cranberries in a mixer , until you have a course dough
  • Add the cranberries to the mix and just incorporate until the mix comes together
  • Take walnut sized lumps of dough and roll into balls, place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and flatten slightly
  • The mixture makes approximately 18 - 20 cookies
  • Bake for 15 -20 minutes until golden 
  • Cool on tray for a few minutes before carefully removing o a wire rack to cool fully
  • Store in an airtight tin
We are linking up this month to Simply Eggcellent , the theme this month being anything goes created and hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. As this is recipe that uses egg yolks after making meringues.

                                              simply eggcellent - June 2015

We are linking up to Treat Petite this month - the theme being Lets Get Fruity ! created and co hosted by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, as the resultant cookie is very fresh and fruity.



And also to Bake of the Week over at Casa Costello , which is a challenge for all things baking....

                                                Link up your baking posts from the last week

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Rhubarb and Almond Cake

Please forgive me for being so remiss, over the last couple of weeks what with work, WI centenary  celebrations, the garden and many many other things I haven't posted any recipes to the blog.

Naughty naughty me, instead of baking and cooking I have been needle felting, bead netting and more gardening and this has somewhat distracted me from the job in hand. Whilst gardening I noticed that our rhubarb bed was again producing huge crops of rhubarb, we have a couple of varieties hence the slightly greener rhubarb in the picture.

This cake is light and deliciously almondy and has the benefit of being gluten free, you need to be a patient baker as it does take quite a while to bake particularly if you rhubarb is quite sappy but the results are well worth it. Its amazing served with creme fraiche or yogurt but lovely on its own too.

What you need
  • 150g butter - softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs - free range
  • 200g ground almonds
  • Couple of drops panettone essence (I use Bakery Bits)
  • Couple of  drops of Almond essence
  • 100g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 sticks rhubarb, chopped into 2cm lengths
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
180c oven - pre heated
22 cm spring form cake pan - oil sprayed and base lined

What you do

  • Cream the butter, sugar and essences until pale and fluffy, I used my trusty Kitchenaid mixer. Whisk in the eggs and add the flour/almonds a little at a time with the eggs if it looks in danger of curdling.
  • Add the rest of the flour/almonds to the bowl and mix until well incorporated.
  • Spoon approximately half the cake mixture into your prepared cake and spread to the edges, arrange roughly half of the chopped rhubarb on to the mixture, staying away from the edge of the tin. Sprinkle over a little caster sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Top with the remaining cake mixture and spread to cover the rhubarb, now arrange the rest of the chopped rhubarb on the top in attractive pattern, again keeping away from the edge (this to prevent sticking to the tin), sprinkle with flaked almonds and another 1 tbsp of caster sugar.
  • Bake for 6o minutes until golden and well risen, now cover with baking paper and bake for another 15-30 minutes (may be even a little longer as this depends on the moisture level in your rhubarb) until cooked in the middle.
  • Cool initially in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack, the cake is quite delicate so be prudent and ensure very loose before removing from tin.

I'm linking up to Bake of the Week at Casa Costello, a linky for all things baked !

                                                   Casa Costello

Monday, 1 June 2015

Lee Birtwistle - All Fired Up - Wood fired Pizza

Lee Birtwistle

Everyone loves fresh real pizza and its this love for authentic tasty food that led to a second career for Lee this month's featured foodie, driven by a passion to set his own mobile wood fired pizza company. You will find Lee at farmers markets, events and food fairs using fresh handmade dough to create wonderful pizza fesh from his mobile wood oven. 

Passionate about local seasonal food, Lee will create a special for the occasion using the best local produce, black pudding, Lancashire cheeses and fresh local vegetables have all featured on his pizzas.

You can also book Lee to cater for your event, he is on Facebook and twitter.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
The Naked Chef – Jamie Oliver

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Bold and independent tastes

If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
Pro Snowboarder (too old I know)

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My Pizza peel which I handmade out of oak. I can fire four fully topped 10 inch pizzas into the oven with it

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
James Martin …. I love Saturday Morning Kitchen

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Don’t worry so much

Describe your style in three words
Authentic rustic and fresh

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
Info-red Temp Gauge

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
My Kids

What is the worst mistake you have made ?

When I went to pick my pizza oven up I'd been dealing with two companies and was insistent that I'd settled for the company in Worcester so not being too long a drive I took my boy on an overnight adventure with me. We got to Worcester plugged to post code in the sat nav……It was actually the company near Ipswich. Truly was an overnight adventure. We laugh about it now honestly. We cried that night when we finally got to bed at 3 am.

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
My love of food began when I toured the world with my now wife back in 1994!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Lancashire Food loves.....

As we go out and about in Lancashire (and sometimes a little further too !) we come across great places to eat and or products to buy, we are also in the fortunate position that sometimes we are also sent or given products to try, so we have decided that every so often we will write a post about some great things we have come across.

The selection will be pretty random and will cover all sorts of different things, so here goes, let us know what you think in the comments and whether you would like to see more of this type of post its a bit like instagram but in words and pictures.

A few weeks ago we were kindly sent a selection St Helen's Goat Milks and cheeses to sample and very pleased with them we were too, I made several recipes with the mature goats cheese and was very impressed with the flavour being mature but not overtly goaty like a lot of the mature goat cheeses can be. We particularly enjoyed the goats butter as well which has a mild creamy flavour and worked well in cake baking as well as spread liberally on fresh home-made bread.


For many years I have been a subscriber to Country Living Magazine and I a always pleased to see Lancashire venues and producers being featured, in last months magazine there was an offer alongside an article on Gazegill Organics for their Moo box. Gazegill Organics is a organic farmstead in the stunning hill country of Lancashire and one of the only places in the county which supplies raw milk and cheeses. I have previously bought meats and cheese from the farm at Clitheroe Food Festival and they also regularly stand some of the other farmers market in Lancashire, so snapped up the opportunity to buy the Moo box at a discounted price and what amazing value it was.

The moo box contains raw milk, cream, 4 types of cheese, 12 sausages, beef olives, 4 x minced beef, 4 x diced steak, braising steak and a huge roasting joint, fabulous value and fabulous quality meats.

The box filled the freezer and will be feeding us for quite sometime, it has fabulous flavour and comes highly recommended.


The Bees Country Kitchen is another recent discovery for us, a great addition to the Chorley food scene, every day the talented team create hearty wholesome food on their funky market stall. Great prices abound and so you can enjoy their delicious food at home they also have a "pantry" or kits ready for you to whip up a wholesome treat. I have tried the brownies and the Tuscan bean soup and both where a great success. You can find them on Chorley market and also at various pop occasions including Crafty Vintage, they also provide an outside catering service too.



Beyond Bread  - London - on a recent trip to the big smoke (that's London for those not in the know) we popped in to the lovely friendly Beyond Bread in Fitzrovia for a quick coffee and cake before catching our train home. This totally Gluten free bakery is a great find and the breads and cakes delicious.



Mahlab- a recent spice discovery for us, used a lot in Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cookery, this pale cream coloured spice has a bright cherry almond flavour, with a citrussy edge, I am looking forward to baking with this once the sun comes out. I purchased mine from Steenbergs.

                                           Mahlab Specialist Arabic Spice - 45g


Ayni Chocolate discovered at BOB (Best of Britannia) when it was hosted in Preston City centre recently, this local paleo chocolatier hales from Lancashire and is very allergy friendly, gluten, diary, nut, egg, grain, sesame seed, soy and refined sugar free this is chocolate for all, available mail order.


We also paid a visit to the foodie capital of Cumbria - Cartmel, home to L'Enclume Simon Rogan's flagship restaurant, we weren't however dining there. We were in the area to visit the Holker Hall Garden Festival and decided to make an overnight of it and we weren't disappointed. We booked into Broughton House B and B situated in the stunning Cartmel Valley, which comes very highly recommended its more like stopping at a friends than staying in a B and B and the Cate made us so so welcome, the breakfast was excellent.


Eating at the Cavendish Arms - Cartmel for our evening meal and very good it was too (book just in case), this traditional pub situated in the village centre served some delicious dishes and the prices were very reasonable.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Beef and leek pan haggerty

I have been meaning to write about Pan Haggerty for a while, this northern dish is a cross between a cottage pie and a hot pot. Frugal, delicious and warming its a great recipe popular with all the family, pan haggerty comes in several varieties including a vegetarian version of just potatoes, onions and cheese.

This recipe came about as I wanted to use the last of the leeks from the garden, so I set about creating a twist on this classic Northumberland dish. Its an easy dish and showcases simple wholesome ingredients.

What you need
  • Minced beef - suitable quantity for number of people you are feeding
  • Leeks - cleaned and finely chopped
  • Beef stock - I used Essential Cuisine
  • Thyme - fresh freshly picked
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cornflour or gravy thickener
  • Brown sauce 
  • White potatoes - peeled and finely sliced
  • Cheddar cheese - grated
  • A little rapeseed oil
What you do

  • Heat a little oil in frying pan and fry off the minced beef until coloured , break up the mince in to small pieces, once well coloured then add the leeks to the pan.
  • Continue to cook with the beef and leeks until the leeks are softened, add some of the freshly picked thyme, brown sauce and beef stock to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir and simmer for 10 minutes or so then thicken the gravy to your desired consistency and allow to cool whilst you prepare your potatoes.
  • Slice the potatoes very finely and start the dish by placing a layer of potatoes in the bottom of your dish, then pour on  a layer of the mince leek mixture.
  • Then sprinkle with a little grated cheese, then another layer of potatoes, continue with mince, cheese and finish with another layer of potatoes and a sprinkling of cheese.
  • Pre heat your oven to 180c
  • Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or so until the potatoes are soft, remove the foil and bake until golden and slightly crispy on top.
  • Serve with a green vegetables

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