Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I'm Just Crackers About Cheese!"

"What's wrong with Wensleydale?"

Nothing, especially with cranberries!

Wensleydale is a cheese from the Yorkshire town of Hawes. The cheese is made from ewe, or cow's milk. Here is a lil history blurb from another site:

"Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region, who had settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep's milk. During the 1300s cows' milk began to be used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes' milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture, and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of "Government Cheddar". Even after rationing ceased in 1954, cheese making did not return to pre-war levels."

8 oz. self-raising flour
3 oz. butter
1/2 c. milk
handful of dried cranberries
150 gr. pkg of Wensleydale with cranberries
egg wash, or milk
sprinkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 220 deg. c (gas mark 7. Make a sandy mixture of the flour and butter with a fork. Don't handle with hands too much and melt the butter. Mix in the dried cranberries. Add the milk and form a ball for dough. Roll out onto a floured board to 1/2 thick, cut into rounds. Place on a greased, or lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, or milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter, or clotted cream.

Take the "Last Train To Wensleydale" to try these out.

Thanks to Wallace for the cute quotes about his beloved cheese.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Out of the Foggage

Fordhall Farm is managed by Ben and Charlotte Hollins, they live and work there as tenants. They took this venture over from their father Arthur Hollins who started in 1920's. The farm is located just outside Market Drayton.

Like the sign says, the farm is owned by many people that bought shares to keep the farm alive.

The farm is certified organic and follows the principles of permaculture. Soil management is the key for a farm, proper soil health negates use of chemicals. They raise the animals as near to natural conditions as possible. The animals mature more slowly than more modern methods. The animals live a happy life and that leads to a better product.

If you can't make it to the farm and walk the guided trail, here are some links to learn the finer details:

I bought some sausages at the farm store and made special bangers and mash with the chestnuts I bought in Market Drayton.

Bangers and Potato/Roasted Chestnut Mash w/ Brandy Gravy

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Just Offal

Here we have haggis stuffed in a carved turnip. We didn't forget the neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) both served chappit(mashed), they can also be served "bashed". Traditional Scottish haggis consists of sheep stomach stuffed with offal- such as a boiled mix of liver, heart, lungs. This is also mixed with rolled oats.

The inspiration for placing my haggis in a carved turnip comes from reading the origins Halloween. At least I got this blog done before Thanksgiving. It turns out Halloween started in Scotland and Ireland with making lanterns out of a turnip, or swede. It is when the custom reached the Americas that it evolve into the use of pumpkins. At the end of a good night of keeping spooks at bay, one could fill their turnip with haggis.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

...And so starts the address of the haggis at Burns Night. Robert Burns - 25 January 1759 to 21 July 1796- was a poet and lyrists and well regarded and celebrated to this day. Robert Burns Night has a tradtional dinner of:

Cock-a-leekie soup

Haggis warm reeking, rich wi' Champit Tatties,

Bashed Neeps

Tyspy Laird (sherry trifle)

or Oatcakes and Cheese

A Tassie o' Coffee

We didn't pair our haggis with a wee dram as Robert Burns Night dictates, but we had a beer pairing- Tha's Niver Seen Owt Like It!

Hear All, See All, Sey Nowt! ;-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Black Pudding

Black Pudding- A sausage made with blood (usually pig), that is heated with a filler (usually meat, fat, suet, bread, sweet potato, barley and oatmeal) when it cools it congeals into the product we know and love. In North America it is called blood sausage. My friend Lucie probably knows it as similar to Blutwurst. In the United Kingdom, black pudding is usually a part of full English brekkie.

At The Pound, Leebotwood I made a starter similar to this one. My home version has the addition of parsnip in the mash and a lightly dressed cress salad.

Black Pudding with Whole-Grain Mustard Mash, Grilled Apple and Poached Egg

In Market Drayton I found some interesting beers with pairing suggestions. The pairing suggestion on this particular bottle says Black Pudding Bhuna. I didn't make bhuna, but being that it is black pudding I thought- good 'nuff. :-)

An interesting note here- The Barnsley Brewery is owned and run by the people that own the original Market Drayton gingerbread recipe, they took it with them when they moved to Yorkshire from Market Drayton. Hmmmmm.....Be that way!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!!!

Market Drayton

I will quote the words of the official Shropshire tourist website quite a bit in this particular blog. I hope you don't mind.

I went to Market Drayton on a Saturday and the market was running, just not at full capacity. I bought some nice chestnuts at the market, that will feature in an up-coming blog. I didn't make it to view the canal, but hope to in the near future.

"A Saxon settlement referred to as Draitune in the Domesday Book and granted its market charter by Henry III, it has been home to one of the liveliest street markets ever since."

"The town also has some rather beautiful architecture. You'll find half timbered and red brick buildings in the town centre and the skyline is dominated by the beautiful 14th century church which is built from local sandstone."

"Every Wednesday Cheshire Street, the main road through the town, is closed off to allow local stallholders to set up and sell their wares. You'll find everything from clothing and electrical goods to linens and products for pets. There is also much local, fresh produce that is ideal to liven up your dinner plate."

"The town's most famous son, Clive of India, even gave the French a culinary lesson. His "little pies" won the Guinness Best Pub Food Award. The French in Pezenas wolf down 150,000 a year.

Indeed, Robert Clive was something of an entrepreneur and adventurer. He is rumored to have run a protection racket amongst the local shopkeepers and it is also claimed that he climbed the church tower. In later life he went on to defeat the French and thus secured the spice routes for the British empire. It is believed that he is responsible for bringing ginger spice to the town."

Here is a link to find out more about Clive of India:

"Market Drayton is the home of Gingerbread which has been baked in the town for the last 200 years. Not content with rum in their secret recipe, decadent Draytonians dunk it in port. It is reputed to have curiously restorative powers."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Can you smell that smell?

Everyone knew when I was portioning (notice how I didn't say cutting) the cheese for the cheese platter on the menu, during prep at The Clive. The rather common (in more ways than one) jokes fumed daily. Hahaha, very funny....I am not a member of clergy and I bathe and change my socks everyday! I guess though; in this case, in a way, I dealt it. Those that ordered the cheese plate for third course were glad someone took responsibility for it.

Stinking Bishop is a washed-rind cheese made from the pasteurised milk of Gloucester cattle. The soft textured cheese was voted Britian's smelliest. To make sure all the bacterial beasties developed properly in enough moisture, the cheese is salted later in the process.

Stinking Bishop Cheese Filled Potato Pancakes

In this recipe I created, pear sauce was used for a side with the potato panckes. This sauce was a wink (through watering eyes) to the fact that this cheese is plunged into perry (pear cider) in the process of creating it.

For the pear sauce:

6 med. pears- peeled and cored
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
zest of half a lemon

Boil this down and make soft, blend smooth. Set aside.

For the potato pancakes:

4 lrg. potatoes cooked, mashed and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.
1/4 c. pancetta lardons, fried
1 egg
1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 lb. Stinking Bishop cheese, portioned into four pieces
flour to coat
canola oil to fry

Mix the flour and egg into the potato mash, stir in the lardons. Divide the potato mixture evenly to make four pancakes. Flour your hands and form the pancakes with a indentation in the center for the cheese. Form over the cheese and make smooth and flat all around. Roll in flour, fry in the canola oil until golden. Drain on paper towels and repeat until all four pancakes are done. Serve.

My dish was made complete with wilted kale. Take a look at how good it is for you besides being tasty it balanced the flavours and colours of this plate. The nutritional value as worded by another website:

"Kale is loaded with nutrients and compounds that aid in warding off other diseases and ailments as well. For example, kale is packed with beta-carotene, an important nutrient for good vision. Several studies link an increase in vitamin A and beta-carotene in one’s diet with a decrease in developing cataracts. Kale is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is good for cold prevention, as well as a reduced risk of colon cancer. Finally, kale is rich in minerals, such as iron, manganese, calcium and potassium."

....The smell of it surrounds you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All The Fun Is At The Top....

Blackpool located in Lancashire, England is named for the pools of discoloured water in the Irish sea from water being discharged over a peat bog. Dublin across the way means the same thing "blackpool" in Irish Gaelic.

Blackpool tower opened in 1894 and is probably the most iconic seaside feature in Britian. In 1894 it was only 6 pence to enter. The tower is modeled after the Eiffel tower and reaches 158m (518ft 9 inches) providing excellent views. It is the home of a ballroom and a few episodes of Strictly Come Dancing were recorded here.

There are 3 piers on the Golden Mile. Each pier has it's share of amusement rides and games, treats, shops.

I saw several vintage looking trams running the golden mile.

My favourite part was strolling the beach, as the tide was out. All the interesting people along the way were entertaining. I saw all kinds of shells, birds and a common sight of donkeys used for riding the kiddies on the sand.

At night the attraction quickly becomes The Illuminations! Every year the switch-on is done by ceremony with celebs pulling the switch.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Make Yourself Comfortable

An Autumnal food- Fidget Pie makes one think of childhood when your mom probably said, "Oh, stop your fidgeting!" Well, my mom said it to me on several occasions. This also makes a mind wonder to why this pie is called such a peculiar name. Well, it seems that it is named the way it is due to the way the pie was traditionally prepared with five sides, thus it was "fitched". This pie was served to workers during harvest time.

Shropshire Fidget Pie differs from Huntington Fidget Pie, as the former contains potatoes. While I wouldn't buy a Huntington pie a return ticket to it's origins....I'm in Shropshire and also potatoes are good-that is the kind I made. I have seen differing recipes as far as the use of bacon, or gammon.

3 Medium Potatoes, cubed in rather lrg. pieces
2 Onions, sliced
2 Cooking apples, peeled, cored cubed
3 Slices Sweetcure gammon, de-rinded and cut into cubes
2 Teaspoon sugar
100 gr. shredded mature cheddar cheese (the stronger the flavour the better, otherwise why bother, right?)
Salt and black pepper
dash of worchestershire sauce
225 Gram Shortcrust pastry (make your own!)
egg wash

Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas 4. Par cook the potatoes. In a separate pot par cook the apples with most of the sugar. Lightly carmelise the onions slowly in a skillet with a sprinkling of remaining sugar. In a lrg. bowl toss the filling ingredients together, being careful not to mash the potatoes. Line a pie plate with pastry, pour in filling. Top with more pastry, seal edges, make a steam whole and egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3 for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown.

Please notice the return of Physalis berries on the side of the pie. They make a very good chutney!