Using Local Lancashire Ingredients

fruit and veg

I am a big believer in using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. It is something that I try to do at home and is also something I look for when I am eating out at a restaurant. Not only does buying local ingredients support local businesses, the quality of the produce is so much better than buying processed and manufactured alternatives. The meats are fresher and the fruit and vegetables are in season and taste so much better.

lancs map

I am lucky in terms of the location where I live. I live in a semi-rural village in Lancashire, just across from the coastal towns of Fleetwood and Morecambe and at a mid-point between Blackpool and Lancaster. This means my village is surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other side by farmland. Both are fantastic sources of delicious ingredients.

The coastal location means there is a fresh supply of fish and seafood available and I usually shop at a seafood shop on the docks at Fleetwood.

Two of the best cheese manufacturers in the company are located within driving distance of my home; Dewlay and Butler’s. They both produce delicious ranges of cheese from their farm factories. These are sold directly from their own shops, local farm shops and many other retailers locally. My personal favourite is Lancashire crumbly.

Pork, beef, chicken and lamb are all available from local sources and sold in local butchers. There is also one of the biggest game hatcheries in the country, Hi-Fly, just one mile from my house and there are even ostrich farms in the surrounding area. 

The area in which I live is fantastic for anyone who enjoys farmers markets as these are held regularly in many locations in the local area. Not only are these a good place to buy the produce that is raised and grown locally, it is also a great place to sample foods created using locally sourced produce. This includes everything from pies to chutneys. Similarly, there are amazing farm shops in Lancashire and there are events that cater to food lovers throughout the year.

 

 

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5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

Image result for french cheese

France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside.  However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses.  In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups.  To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time.  However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.

Brie

brie

This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named.  The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour.  Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.  Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.

Camembert

camembert

Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk.  Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture.  In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.

Munster

munster

This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced.  This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars.  There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.

Roquefort

Roquefort_Cheese_Grenoble

The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.  This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola.  Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green.  Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour.  In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.

Langres 

langres

Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese. 

RECIPE: Savoury Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Often, people associate pancakes with desserts. However, they are also fantastic as a savoury dish. There are many different fillings you can add to a pancake, but cheese, ham and mushroom is a great combination. Here is how to make savoury pancakes with a cheese, bacon and mushroom filling.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes, and will serve six people if you each have two savoury pancakes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Filling Ingredients

  • 2 x 180g tubs of soft cheese
  • 8 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 4 oz/ 100g chopped button mushrooms
  • Black pepper

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

How to Make the Savoury Filling 

  1. Make the savoury filling before starting to make your crepes.
  2. Cook the rashers of smoked bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat. 
  3. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan in which the bacon was cooked and fry until brown.
  5. Add the two tubs of soft cheese and turn down to a low heat.
  6. Season with black pepper and stir mixture.
  7. Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces before returning to the pan.
  8. Stir well for even distribution.
  9. Keep the filling on a low heat while making the pancakes. 

Cooking Pancakes

  1. Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  2. Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  3. Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  4. Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  5. Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.
  6. To serve, lie a pancake on a plate and add some of the filling in a line down the centre of the pancake. 
  7. Fold the pancake over the top of the filling and then roll.

RECIPE: Easy Cheese Sauce

cheese sauce

A cheese sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. You will need to learn how to make this if you want to make cauliflower cheese, fish pie, and many pasta dishes. There is just one more ingredient in this than in a simple white sauce, so it is not complicated to follow. Here is how to make an easy cheese sauce.

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce

  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make a Cheese Sauce

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  3. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  4. Cook for two minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  6. Season with the salt and white pepper.
  7. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

TIPS

  • Cheese- I use mature cheddar cheese as it has a good consistency and the perfect flavour for a sauce. Good alternatives are gruyere or Gouda. 

8 Ways to Use Blue Cheese

blue cheese

Blue cheese is one of those ingredients that some people love and other people hate. I am certainly in the category of people who love blue cheese. While it is often eaten alone, I think this is an extremely versatile ingredient that you can use in many different ways. Depending on the variety you choose, it can add many different flavours, from creamy to tangy. Here are some of my favourite ways to use blue cheese.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken– Similar to a Kiev, stuffing a chicken breast with blue cheese before baking it in the oven means you add a delicious and creamy flavour to what is sometimes a rather bland meat. When you cut into the breast, the melted blue cheese oozes out onto the plate.

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts– This may seem an unusual combination but it absolutely delicious. Poach halved and cored pears in a poaching liquor of your choice and then place on a baking tray. Add chopped walnuts and crumbled blue cheese to the top before baking in the oven.

Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce– A combination of two of my favourite things, steak with blue cheese sauce is a classic. I make it in the pan I have cooked the steak in while the meat is resting using the steak juices, double cream, crumbled blue cheese, and ground black pepper.

Blue Cheese Soufflé– If you are a fan of cheese soufflé, then you probably love a blue cheese soufflé. It has a deeper flavour and you simply switch the regular cheese you use for blue cheese.

Blue Cheese and Crackers– Cheese with crackers is the perfect snacks when you are in the house alone and haven’t got the time to make a large meal. This is also delicious with a glass of red wine in the evenings.

Blue Cheese Dip– A perfect addition to a simple lunch and great to use on a buffet. Blending some blue cheese into mayonnaise with a little black pepper is delicious. Serve it with breadsticks, crudités or any other dipping foods. This is also good for serving with a salad.

Potato Leek and Blue Cheese Soup– A soup is a warming dish that is perfect for the colder months. Potato and leek is one of the simplest soups to make and adding blue cheese gives it an extra depth of flavour. Add either croutons, cream or crispy bacon to the top.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad– Crumbling blue cheese and walnuts over a basic salad makes an otherwise boring dish more interesting. The cheese adds a creamy texture and flavour to complement the crisp textures and flavours of the salad ingredients. The walnuts add crunch and a flavour that works well with the cheese. You can use any salad ingredients you like. I usually use salad leaves, chopped cucumber, sliced red onion, and cherry tomatoes.

Do you have any favourite dishes that use blue cheese?