Monday, 13 September 2021

Preserves: Pear and Ginger Jam

Last summer a client gave hubbie a bag of pears, which we don't eat as fruit, so I went hunting for a recipe to use them in. This one did the trick - I left out the stem ginger as I don't care for it - but the resulting jam was delicious! The apples I used were windfalls from our own trees. I made a second batch using pears from the reduced rack in the supermarket, and that jar disappeared as fast as the first one. Perhaps we need to add a small pear tree to the garden!

Home-made Pear and Ginger Jam

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Adventures in Cheese: Butlers Blacksticks Blue

 This is one of the yummiest blue cheeses I've tried so far! Made in my home county of Lancashire by Butler's, it's an amazingly flavourful blue cheese, which comes in several formats: a ready to eat wedge, slices for burgers, a creamy brûlée, and pots of cheese shots (which I used to make cauliflower cheese with).  You can even buy an age-your-own version, so you can keep it as long (or as short) as you like, depending on the level of flavour you want from it and how strong your willpower is!

What I really enjoy about Butler's Blacksticks Blue cheese is the creaminess of it, yet the texture isn't wet or sticky like some of the continental blue cheeses I've tried. It goes so well with savoury crackers, but also melts on toast, and as for that cauliflower cheese, that's another post all by itself! 

Plain butter scones - an indulgence!

We all love scones in our household! Normally we make Vegan Scones, but recently I was asked how to make plain butter scones, so here is our standard recipe for them: 454g plain flour 2.5 teaspoons baking bowder 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 114g butter 114g sugar 230ml of buttermilk (or you can use ordinary milk, even it's is starting to just turn sour) Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar in large bowl, cut the butter into small pieces, drop it into the bowl and then rub the butter into the flour mix. It should take around 7-10 minutes depending on the temperature of the butter. The mix should look like big breadcrumbs when it's done, with no big lumps of butter visible. Slowly add the buttermilk or milk mixing as you go (I use a fork for this as it works well), keep adding the liquid until you have a firm dry-ish dough, it shouldn't be wet and sticky. You might find you don't need all the liquid as it depends on the absorbency of your flour. Just use what is needed. Once it's a nice firm dry dough (not so dry as it crumbles up) then lift it out onto a floured flat surface and roll it flat until it's about 1cm thick. Cut into rounds using any handy-sized cutter - if you don't have a cutter then grease the rim of a mug and use that instead. Lay the rounds onto greaseproof paper on a flat baking tray, and then glaze the surface of the rounds. You can use either a beaten egg for this, or the remains of the milk liquid. Pop into the oven on high heat (gas mark 7) or 230C if fan assisted electric oven, 265C if not. Bake for around 15-20 minutes in the centre of the oven. When they are done they will look golden and smell delicious!
To ring the changes (as image above), add 200g of the dried fruit of your choice to the dry mix before adding the liquid. Sultanas, currants, raisins, glacé cherries, dried cranberries and mixed peel all work well. Then continue as for plain butter scones.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Adventures in Cheese: Garstang Blue

Dewlay Garstang Blue cheese, image from
Dewlay Garstang Blue cheese, image from

I'm funny about blue cheeses, some of them I can't eat, others are fine. However, this one, Garstang Blue by Dewlay Cheeses in Lancashire is the best I've tried so far.  It's wonderfully creamy and tasty, slightly tart but not too much so, with a delicious aroma that makes my mouth water just unwrapping it. 

It's a cheese that I enjoyed eating on its own, but that also worked well on Booth's sub rolls with a slice of Booth's smoked German ham, as the combination of flavours was delightful. It also works well as a cheese to flavour a white sauce with - cauliflower cheese with Garstang Blue sauce sounds yummy!

Dewlay Cheesemakers of Garstang are based just outside Garstang in central Lancashire, and have been making cheeses since 1957. Along with Garstang Blue, the range includes Lancashire and Wensleydale, smoked cheese, Garstang White and Nicky Nook blue, as well as flavoured cheeses such as Double Gloucester with chive and onion, Lancashire with chili, chives or garlic, and Wensleydale with cranberries.

In addition to their cheese range, Dewlay also offers (via their webshop) cheese selection and gift boxes, hampers, and their amazing cheese cakes - perfect for a wedding feast or other celebration! 

Dewlay webshop hampers, gift boxes and cheese cakes, image from

Friday, 29 January 2021

Adventures in Cheese: Snowdonia Beechwood Smoked

As a lifelong lover of cheese in all its types, one of my big worries about Brexit has been a possible reduction in the range of cheeses available in the UK. I might be worrying prematurely, so I thought it was time to explore some more of our wonderful British cheeses, starting with Snowdonia's Beechwood naturally smoked mature cheddar. I found this on sale in Booth's supermarket so had to try it and I have to say it's delicious! 

The Snowdonia Cheese Company was formed in 2001, and is based in Llanrwst on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, hence the name. Their range currently includes 12 cheeses and 4 chutneys, which can be purchased individually or in gift packs from their webshop. They also have a page of recipes using their cheeses which is worth checking out - the Smoky Beechwood Fishcakes sound very tempting. 

I admit to having a liking for smoked cheeses, but with some I have found the aroma of smokiness exceeds the taste. With Beechwood smoked cheddar the taste is just as forthcoming as the aroma. It's a firm, tasty cheese in a yellow waxed coating, and is sold by Snowdonia Cheese Company via their website if you can't find it locally. They offer 200g and 2kg options in their webshop where it is described as a, "Mature Cheddar naturally smoked over beech wood chips for a smoky depth of flavour throughout."

The texture is slightly crumbly and definitely creamy. I had mine with olive, tomatoes and home-made crackers for lunch and it was delicious. Snowdonia's other cheeses will be featured in future adventures with cheese here on the blog, but to start with the Beechwood is highly recommended!