Best of British – the Grand Final!

We’ve had some fabulous entries for the Best of British.  Karen over at Lavender and Lovage has been running the contest for October – from Dorset and while we wait for her roundup and winners (we have two prizes this month, thanks to Dorchester Chocolates) I thought it was worth announcing the grand final.

Rather than picking any one region, this month I am making it VERY easy for you by inviting you to enter your Best of British recipe from wherever you chose in the country.  Just tell us in the Blog what makes it special and where it is from. You can also enter ANY of your previous Best of British entries by linking them up in the Linky on London-Unattached so that I don’t miss you out!!!!

Recipes entered will be judged by Brian Turner, a great advocate of British Food who you might have seen on appearances on Ready Steady Cook and other TV shows. And the prize is an amazing £300 of Amazon vouchers! So Get Cooking!!!

Best of British

Oh and, if you are worried about weight gain, well do check out my posts on The 5-2 diet. I’ve even got some traditional British recipes for you to try!

Best of British – London

A London Food Feast

This month I hosted Best of British from my own blog and rather enjoyed the diversity of clever ideas and recipes you all sent in. Karen from Lavender and Lovage who has given us a great insight into the history of ‘London’ Bath Buns with a recipe dating back to the Great Exhibition!
London-Buns-Be-Ro-9-600x450

Fiona Burns is Karen’s sister and she’s sent in a fascinating history of the Jewish community in London, along with a recipe for salt beef to use in a sandwich.  I have to admit, I have a secret yearning to try making salt beef, but I’ve never been quite sure how much I’d manage to use!
salt-beef-sandwich

We had the most magnificent pigeon pie from Jill at Lapin D’Or – as she said, a London icon – and of course pies are something we associate with London too.

pigeonpieserved-lapindor

In fact though our only pie and mash entry was a really interesting pie and mash cupcake from Caroline Bakes.  I keep thinking what a fabulous party dish these would make – rather like those mini yorkshire puddings you see sometimes!

Barfi 1 - choclette

A couple of Indian influenced entries next – with Choclette’s Blackberry, Coconut and Rose Barfi looking so scrummy I could quite easily see myself getting carried away…(and yes I know those indian places round the back of Euston on Drummond Street – they do produce fantastic indian sweets!)

pumpkin curry

Chris produced a rather fabulous Pumpkin Curry using every imaginable indian spice and promising us something RED HOT.  Well, I will just have to try for myself won’t I?

Neither would look out of place on Brick Lane or Drummond Street.

Spicy Peach Pit Panna Cotta

Janine’s Peach Pit Pannacotta also reflects what I think a lot of people understand by London food.

fish and chips

For many of us our earliest experiences of ‘London Food’ are from visits to London as children where we try new strange food from overseas – be that a curry on Brick Lane, Italian food in Soho, or Asian food in Chinatown.  And London is a great cultural melting pot.  Eventually food becomes so ingrained in local culture that most people forget the origin.  My own entry of Fish and Chips is something we see as quintessentially British but which actually has Jewish origins. Over at Galina’s blog there was an altogether more historic fish dish of Sea Bream stuffed with Faro, an ancient Roman grain, which Galina has titled ‘Ave Londinium’.  And, that’s very much what I was hoping for by challenging bloggers to show their idea of historical and multicultural London in food.

sea bream

I did very nearly make a pea and ham soup, but I doubt it would have been anywhere near as wonderful looking as this split pea and ham hock soup from Amanda at feed 5 fast 2, who like me and Karen is doing the 5:2 diet and writing up some of her recipes for us all to enjoy.  I do remember my mum describing the peasouper fogs in London, it’s something she told me we simply can’t imagine today.

bThis soup does though, for me, conjure up foggy London streets with a warm fire waiting at home (and inadvertently adding to the smog!)

Lucy - foraged blackberry bread and butter pudding

We had another lovely looking pudding from Lucy at Intothesky  who went foraging for blackberries to make this blackberry bread and butter pudding

Treacle Tart

And Camilla from Fab Food For All made this great Treacle Tart - which really made me reminiscent of my childhood.  Golden Syrup just seems to be so English!

Claire The 'Idle Hour' Burger

The Idle Hour Burger – a re-creation of the burger served at one of my favourite pubs in Barnes came all the way from South Africa courtesy of Claire at Underthebluegumtree who has entered some fabulous recipes for Best of British!

Omelette-Arnold-Bennett (Janice)

Janice meanwhile chose to go VERY upmarket and produced an Omelette Arnold Bennet a dish which originated in the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel!

London-Porter-Steak-with-Garlic-and-Rosemary-Wedges-and-Sauce-Aji_jacqueline

Jacqueline’s Porter Steak pays tribute to Smithfields and great British Beef.  And, makes me feel hungry every time I look at the photo!

The Strapple Cake (mother Hen)

For Mother Hen, London means afternoon tea!  Something I can’t dispute.  And she’s created this rather fabulous ‘Strapple Cake’ (with strawberries and apples) specially for us.  A lovely first time entry into Best of British!

I asked my fellow blogger over at By Invitation Wine Blog to pick this month’s winner.  Why?  Well, he seldom cooks but he does love eating!  And he knows London very well.  His favourite entry was the Blackberry bread and butter pudding from Into the Sky, so, Lucy, congratulations we will be contacting you to get your postal details to pass on to New World Appliances

I’ve really enjoyed reading your entries and seeing what everyone made of last month’s challenging challenge!  For October, we are off to Dorset to  Karen and her Sister’s place as the planned host had a family crisis. I’m really grateful to Karen for stepping in at the last minute – you can read about Best of British Dorset here.

Best of British Master

Best of British – Scotland

Where DID July go?

Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen was so good at posting up the summary for Best of British – Scotland.  And, while that was happening, I was desperately trying to get all my work up to date in case I needed to get out of London during the Olympics (I live about 200 yards from Earls Court, which is one of the venues).  And then the Olympics started…and nothing much changed!  So I am still here and gradually getting back to normal again.

So, thank you to Janice for her lovely write up and to New World Appliances for sponsoring Best of British Blogger challenge.

What I’m really enjoying about the challenge is that everyone is writing their own memories of the area.  So, Jill from Lapin D’Or has told us about her time cooking at a shooting lodge and Jaqueline, a Scottish lass currently living in Hong Kong has told us a bit about the weather!

I did read them all as they were sent in, but as I am SO late in doing the roundup I’m not going to write too much other than to mention that we had a couple of late entries that somehow got missed (as well as one from Cornwall last month.  Karen’s agreed they will all go into the draw for Yorkshire, this month’s best of British Challenge – my apologies, it’s generally because I’m forwarding mail from the Best of British email account and getting confused!  So without further ado here’s our taste of Scotland!  What a FEAST!!!

Now the first one to catch my eye was Caroline from Caroline Makes  who sent in Tunnock Teacakes.  Why?  Because when I was little and visiting my Great Aunties,Tunnock Teacakes were always on the table for High Tea.  Don’t they look delicious!

And, for that matter we also had Griddle Cakes, not just at tea time but sometimes as a treat for breakfast too!  If you want to check how to make them, pop over to Karen’s place – Lavender and Lovage (our host for this month’s Best of British Challenge!)

Tattie Scones from Jac at Tinned Tomatoes sound so moreish and comforting.  Perfect for a cold winter’s morning!

I was amazed (again) at Claire at Under the Blue Gum Tree who sent in this fantastic pork and haggis meatloaf.

Apart from anything else, she’s from South Africa…and Haggis is something that anyone from outside Scotland can be quite cautious about!

Kippers with oatckas

My own entry was something I was determined to use, I made oatcakes to go with some fabulous Scottish kippers sent to me by DelishFish, a lovely scottish fish merchant who is based in Petershead and send the freshest imaginable fish down south to people like me!  Now, people are shy of kippers because they can be just a little smelly in a fishy sort of way, but, they are a great breakfast…and if you really don’t like the smell simply poach them in the bag!

Chocolate Scottish Shortbread

I love homemade shortbread.  I do sometimes make my own, but I’ve never ever tried Chocolate Shortbread, so I was intrigued by Janine’s entry and I am sure I’ll be having a go soon!

Tablet

I also love tablet.  It’s a peculiar Scottish sweet, something a bit like hard fudge.  And now I have two recipes to try – scottish tablet from Ros at the More than Occasional Baker and  secondly from Hungry Hinny who made a rather different but pretty raspberry tablet.  Personally I don’t care if it’s not traditional, the raspberries look REALLY gorgeous!

As I mentioned, Jill at Lapin D’or told us all about her cooking exploits in Scotland and also sent it two great recipes for Skirlie (an oaty savoury side dish) and Selkirk Bannock.

sliced bannock

Scottish mum brought us a traditional Scottish Oatcake recipe, cooking them properly on a Griddle (something I am too much of a coward to do myself).  I love oatcakes and if, like me you cheat and make them in the oven, they are really easy to do.  I am sure the griddle version makes a better version though, these look very neat and would be delicious with cheese, but also as a side dish

Traditional Scottish Oatcakes

Recipes using oats are quite widespread in Scotland because it’s a grain that is better suited to the climate than wheat.  Of course, everyone’s favourite is Cranachan, and Janice made a divine looking iced Cranachan

Iced-Cranachan-from-the-side

while Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog made her very own version of cranachan including white chocolate!

Had we been having high tea we would have had a great feast with all the wonderful cakes and bakes .  How about Jacqueline’s Scottish Raspberry and Pinenut Bake,

Best of British - Scottish Raspberry and Pine Nut Bake

Or these lovely Treacle Scones and Parlies from Caroline at Cake Crumbs and cooking.

Treacle Scones

Parlies

There’s  Whisky and Honey Cake came from Gloria at Canela Kitchen who made this stunning looking cake

Whisky and Honey Cake

And Scottish Whisky Cake from Chris Halfmann at Cooking around the world, who was the lucky winner of last month’s £50 Amazon Voucher.

Scottish Whisky Cake

This month’s challenge is well in progress now, but you’ve still got a couple of weeks to think up and make your Yorkshire Best of British.  For more ideas and a bit about food from Yorkshire, why not check out Karen’s lovely post explaining all about BEST OF BRITISH Yorkshire!

Incidentally, the monthly prize is a random draw.  But at the end of the event we will be judging ALL the entries for a grand prize of £300 in amazon vouchers.  So, enter every month for your best chance of winning!

This Week in Food

1. Chips, fries or rosti – what’s the best way to do potatoes? You might’ve heard this week that workers at the Olympic site in Straford have successfully overturned a ‘chip ban’ being enforced by McDonalds, which didn’t allow any other caterers on the site to sell chips (unless they were being served with fish). What caught our eye was the Guardian’s breakdown of all things potato including chip shop vs chicken shop chips, what constitutes a ‘fry’ and how it’s best to eat them, and what makes a good roasty. Mmm.

2. We know the past few weeks have been a complete wash-out, but we’re holding on to the hope that we’ll see a proper summer before autumn’s here. We’re keeping hold of Rose Prince’s barbecue recipes just in case! If it’s a traditional American slow-cooked barbecue meal you’re after, pulled pork is our favourite.

3. Now, we love bacon as much as the next person – maybe even more on a Saturday morning, in a roll with ketchup and a cup of tea on the side – but we have to agree with the Guardian that the baconalia trend might’ve gone too far now. Bacon toothpaste? Bacon sundae?! A meat bar has even opened at Shaka Zulu in London, serving bacon-related cocktails. We love smelling bacon sizzling in the morning, but not so sure we’d light a bacon candle.

4. A new survey has revealed that a whopping 30 percent of meat-eaters wouldn’t consider dating a vegetarian, possibly because vegetarians and vegans have developed an undeserved reputation for being fussy eaters. However it seems that vegetarians are much less bothered about their prospective partner’s food choices – so maybe not!

This Week in Food

1. We’ve all seen (and probably bought) pre-prepared spice mixes from the supermarket, but have you tried making your own? You can customise the blends to suit your own flavours, or even add and omit ingredients altogether if you’d like! Our favourite that we’ve tried from this E-Cookbook list is a very cinnamon-y cinnamon sugar, made with a dash of hard brown sugar too so it caramelises under the grill. Let us know what your favourite combination is!

2. How do you store your recipes? We spotted this story on The Guardian’s blog this week and it got us thinking about how we can better organise our hoards of clippings and books. Do you have folders, boxes, or a colour-coding system? We’d love to hear your organisational tips!

3. A team of scientists at Leatherhead Food Research have put together the world’s healthiest meal – the ‘supermeal’. The meal includes a range of meals and snacks, all with a host of health benefits such as Omega 3-rich fish, chicken for lean protein and leafy greens to keep carbohydrates in check. The Daily Mail published the whole superfood feast: 4. A New York restaurant has created an extravagant pizza costing a whopping $1,000! The pizza is the creation of Nino Selimaj, owner of Nino’s Bellissima Pizza in Manhattan and is topped with two varieties of caviar (Beluga and Black Russian Royal Sevruga), lobster, crème fraiche, salmon roll, chives and wasabi paste. Mr Selimaj says that the eatery sells around one pizza per week, and that the toppings provide great value for money. We’re not so sure – we’re happy with our homemade veggie supreme on this occasion!

5. A variety of traditional ‘forgotten foods’ – including Grimsby smoked haddock, raw-blood black pudding and Morecombe Bay shrimps – are being revived as part of a campaign by Slow Food UK and Booths supermarket. Locally-grown products have been overshadowed by cheaper varieties, with only a few producers still labouring over the lesser-loved foods, but the Slow Food movement wants to get these fantastic products back into the public eye. A range of ‘forgotten foods’ will be available in Booths’ 28 supermarkets across Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

Best of British – Cornwall

Pasty Wars and More!

What a fabulous set of entries for Best of British Cornwall.  Our host for the month, Choclette at ChocLogBlog produced some unusual and gorgeous looking Cornish Splits – yeasted buns that she served a bit like scones with jam and cream.  Now, true to her name she managed to adapt the recipe to include a bit of chocolate – and not just on the strawberries.  The fat for the buns was a mixture of butter and white chocolate – how yummy does that sound!!!  The recipe is here on her blog if you want to try for yourself

Cornish Splits

We had quite a range of cornish pasty recipes.  My own recipe was my mother’s and while I was quite pleased with the result, Karen at Lavender and Lovage produced a rather more authentic Cornish Pasty with the pretty side crimp I can’t quite manage to do yet!

Annies Cornish Pasties

These lovely pasties from The Hungry Hinny LOOK like the traditional ones, but are a veggie version.  And, so delicious looking that I suspect they are the the sort of veggie dish that would work for a meat eater like Vegetarian Cornish Pasties

And, Chris’s version from his blog, Cooking Around the World  has Guinness and Rosemary – sounds really tasty!

Our final (not quite a pasty) came from Susan at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate – She produced this lovely Cornish Pastie Pie!

Cornish Pastie Pie

Now, after all those pasties, you’ll be pleased to know we DID find some more fabulous dishes from Cornwall.

I love this Stargazy Pie, which has come all the way from Cornwall via South Africa courtesy of Under The Blue Gum Tree, who has adapted a Mark Hix recipe. I find sardines poking their head through the pastry slightly freaky…but this version with prawns just looks rather elegant to me.

Janice from FarmersGirl Kitchen,  our Host for this Month’s Scottish ‘Best of British’ Challenge has made a kedgeree with Mackerel that she thinks probably got a lot of exercise and swam round from Cornwall to the West Coast of Scotland;) .  Well, regardless, it’s a great Cornish (and Scottish) ingredient and this is a fabulous kedgeree recipe I’m sure you’ll want to try!

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree

Karen from Lavender and Lovage also sent us a recipe to use Davidstow Cheddar – a nutty and rather gorgeous Cornish Cheddar that works well on cheeseboard but is also great for using in recipes like this Cheese and Potato Pie.  Real comfort food for a chilly summer evening!

Now, on to dessert!  Cornwall is famous for it’s clotted cream, so parhaps it’s not suprising that we had this lovely Cornish ‘tiramisu’ with Clotted Cream from Chris at Cooking around the World

Tiramisu

And Janine from Janine Bakes managed to combine our Best of British Challenge with the Jubilee Celebrations with this lovely Jubilee Celebration Cake using Strawberries and Clotted Cream.

Jubilee Strawberry and Clotted Cream Cake

Beth, from Jam and Clotted Cream was bound to produce something fantastic…and this Honey Cake using honey from a local Cornish producer really does look gorgeous.  I envy her family and friends who got to eat it!

Honey Cake

We had a Golden Entry from the aptly titled Lapin D’Or Blog in the form of these lovely Saffron buns.  There are a lot of saffron cake recipes in Cornwall, and this one looks really beautiful, a pretty pale yellow spiced bun!

Saffron Buns

Finally, our winner (chosen at random, but really rather gorgeous!) was The More Than Occasional Baker who sent in these lovely clotted cream and strawberry tarts and cookies!

Clotted Cream and Strawberry Tarts and Cookies

This Week in Food

Hello and welcome to this week’s round-up of our favourite recent foodie news! Have you seen any interesting stories, or tried anything exciting recipes this week? Let us know in the comments!

1. A new survey by charity LEAF (Linking Environment and Food) has revealed that fewer than half of young adults in the UK don’t know that butter comes from dairy cows, and a third weren’t aware that eggs came from hens. Truly shocking! Two thousand people were questioned as part of the research, and other findings include that more than 30% don’t know where bacon comes from, and 7% linked milk with wheat. The findings highlight just how removed young people are becoming from where their food is sourced from – this calls for a trip to the farm and an allotment!

2. We’re all familiar with a quick tinned tomato soup lunch, but what about trying the perfect homemade recipe? The Guardian’s Felicity Cloake has shared her secrets for what she says is the very best tomato soup recipe, and perfect as a year-round meal. Whether you prefer tinned, roasted or fresh tomatoes and whichever seasonings you fancy, tomato soup makes a tasty, healthy and portable meal that can be served hot or cold (depending on the weather!).

3. Our sister brand Belling’s brand ambassador, chef Brian Turner, has created a selection of tasty Father’s Day recipes to help you celebrate all things Dad this weekend. An alternative to the usual Sunday roast, Brian suggests either saffron-roasted salmon (with warm cannellini bean salad, roasted vine tomatoes and orange and basil sauce), a classic tuna salad nicoise or minted lamb cakes. How are you planning to celebrate this weekend?

4. Tasty gooseberries – part of the same fruity family as the well-loved current – are in season at the moment, and we’ll be making the most out of them with a variety of delicious recipes! We like the look of this gooseberry meringue pie, delicately flavoured with elderflower, and this unusual gooseberry syllabub pavlova. The pavlova meringues can even be made ahead, saving on time later!

5. Monday marks the start of National Picnic Week, so we’ve been hunting for the very best picnic recipes. These chocolate slices, a variation of typical refrigerator cake, make excellent picnic treats while this tortano bread with ham and mushrooms will be hearty and filling picnic fuel.  The Guardian compiled this list of speedy picnic recipes a few years ago, and it’s one of our favourites to refer to now.