Sunday, 14 June 2009

British Menu

Just back from Lancashire, after a quick trip to Northcote Manor near Blackburn, to taste The Food from Nigel Haworth's Great British Menu recipes, from the addictive regional cookery competition on BBC. Nigel won the main course with Lancashire Hotpot. It looked lovely on the tv, he looked lovely on the tv, and it certainly lived up to its promise. Tender Lonk lamb, served with pickled red cabbage and carrots and leeks.

But I adored his Lancashire cheese ice cream in a teeny poppy-seeded cone, served with a summer fruit bread pudding. For some extraordinary reason this wonderful pudding didn't win. And as much as I also loved the deep-fried Muncaster crab-claw salad, if I were to make one dish it would be the ice cream. So:

Bring the cream and milk (420ml each) to the boil together in a heavy-based pan. Take off the heat immediately. Whisk the egg yolks (10) and caster sugar(180g) together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Then add half the warm milk and cream mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly add the remaining milk and cream mixture, whisking continuously, until smooth. Pour back into a clean pan and cook over a low heat, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the cream cheese (300g) and Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire cheese (150g, grated) to the mixture and blend with a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Churn the cheese ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine according its instructions, or beat by hand, then freeze for 90 minutes. Repeat this process twice. Transfer into a freezable container and chill in the freezer until needed.

Meandering back through the Peak District with the top down, we stopped to walk across the spongy hills, startling a few blissfully nibbling sheep as we went. In the fresh, fresh air, with the sweet smell of spring grass, it was impossible not to wonder what the sheep tasted like, so we stopped at a little village butcher and bought a shoulder, a huge pork pie and three fat pork chops with the bone in. The lamb is in the oven as I write. But the pork chops were a revelation.

I fried lots of white wedged onions in oil in a large roasting pan. Then the chops, the rind salted, and fried them for a bit on one side only. Two tins of cannellini beans, and a quarter of a packet of Knorr Thick White Onion Soup. This used to be a staple of South African cooking, and my sister, Pamela brought over 25 packets of the stuff when she moved here - only to find it in all the shops...Add a little boiling water, about a cup or so, and gently mix it all together without covering the chops too much. Then bake until toasted and crispy - including the beans - for about 20 or 30 minutes. Served with spinach, the chops were melting and heavenly.

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