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Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world

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Yorkshire

Grandma’s Classic Chocolate Cake

Grandmas Chocolate Cake Seeing in another Celebration
Grandmas Chocolate Cake Seeing in another Celebration

Check out the recipe over at The Ranting Chef : http://rantingchef.com/category/recipes/english-recipes/

Gingerbread Farm Survives the Wrath of Charlie…

Earlier this week I realised that I had never before made a gingerbread house. This is surprising as I love the sweet yet spicy gingerbread taste and also I am shocked that I have previously not bounced at the opportunity to get creative! The latter I decided to take to the next step by creating not a gingerbread house, but a gingerbread farm (more in keeping with the food tour and my love of farmyard animals).

I asked my friends Charlie and Izzy to accompany me in my quest to help out and to provide ‘festive ambiance’. They turned up on my doorstep one cold winters night dressed in Christmas jumpers and bearing gifts of cake decorations and piping utensils galore!

Izzy took charge of baking and I focused on creating animals and decorating. Charlie helped create festive cheer whilst terrorising the farm and the animals with kitchen appliances…

Festive Jumpers, Smiles and Baking
Festive Jumpers, Smiles and Baking
Izzy tends to the gingerbread whilst Charlie Terrorises her with a Wooden Spoon
Izzy tends to the gingerbread whilst Charlie Terrorises her with a Wooden Spoon
Charlie Silently Terrorising Izzy and the Gingerbread
Charlie Silently Terrorising Izzy and the Gingerbread

Despite the typical male’s best efforts to terrorise the animals at the farm (I must admit, it is rather difficult to resist temptation), no one was harmed during the process (except some of our animals were unfortunately lost in baking due to rapid expansion…).

The Finished Product Under Threat from Kitchen Utensils...
The Finished Product Under Threat from Kitchen Utensils…

A few days later some of the girls came round to do the honours in demolishing the farm along with Champagne in antique tea cups… How festive!

gingerbread and Champagne... Festive!
Gingerbead and Champagne… Festive!

Shepherd’s Pie Sunday… Baaaa Humbug!

Dad Diving In!
Dad Diving In!

This dish encapsulates Yorkshire and all that I have previously described as the perfect heart homemade meal over which the family is brought together. It is always slightly different, it never lasts very long! Living up to its name, this one was made with minced lamb from a whole half (if you can make sense of that!) of a lamb that mum was given not by a Shepherd, but by a local farmer friend. You can never guess what is on the menu over the next few days in the lead up to Christmas.. baaaaa humbug for the poor little lambs, but lucky Crossley family! I will keep you posted!

Dad Waiting in Anticipation for the Bubbling Shepherd's Pie
Dad Waiting in Anticipation for the Bubbling Shepherd’s Pie

Yorkshire Roast: It Can’t Get Much Better!

YES Yorkshire! That's why I came back!
YES Yorkshire! That’s why I came back!

Over the past few months I have trekked every corner of France and Spain in search of exotic European dishes and produce. I certainly found what I was looking for and have many new favourites and flavours to experiment with. However, it was on my first Sunday upon returning to Yorkshire that I realised that wherever I travel and whatever I taste, it can’t get much better than home-cooked Roast Dinner, complete with the essential county-classic Yorkshire Puddings! A plate piled high with tender chicken breast, crispy chicken skin (yes, I am a skin eater!), fluffy and crispy roast potatoes and the veg providing some sweet and crunchy colour to the platter; this is the food that dreams are made of!

Betty’s cheers up a rainy day

After a heat wave in March giving us all false hope of the start of summer, the weather has now taken a turn for the worse. With predictions of the coldest May in 100 years, our plans of picnicking in the park and sipping Pimm’s on patios may well have to make way for hiding away in the warmth of our favourite cafés. One place that always puts a smile on my face, whether rain or shine, is Betty’s Tearooms in Yorkshire.

Betty’s has played a big part in my life, witnessing many a mile stone- from taking afternoon tea with my grandparents as a little girl, to exam results day breakfasts with the girls and mums, all the way through to my 21st Birthday dinner. As well as helping celebrate the good times, Betty’s never fails to cheer me up on a gloomy day. Once a week, after a long busy day at school, my best friend Jessica and I would have two hours to kill before play rehearsals. When the said day had been a bit ‘stressful’ and we were in need of a ‘pick-me-up’, we trotted down the familiar street of Bootham for dinner at the ever-friendly Betty’s. After our favourite of Swiss Alpine Macaroni (their speciality- penne pasta with bacon, potatoes and topped with a generous helping of gruyère cheese- which makes for an incredibly rich and satisfying warmer! Their refreshing homemade lemonade accompanies this perfectly to settle the stomach!) we would leave the art deco building refreshed and ready to play whatever part it was to be that day. However we often got so carried away in our little world of ‘all things nice’ that the walk back would usually consist of a jog and the formulating of an apparently valid excuse for being late…

Right in the heart of York, this almost century-old institution irresistibly combines mouth-watering Swiss food with Yorkshire warmth and hospitality. Adding to its charm, it was also a popular haunt of American and Canadian ‘Bomber Boys’ stationed around York during the war years, and ‘Betty’s Mirror,’ on which many of them engraved their signature with a diamond pen, remains on display to this day.

‘Who is Betty?’ you may ask. Good question… the identity of Betty remains a family mystery to this day. A favourite explanation is the tale of a small girl interrupting the first Board Meeting discussing a possible name for the Tea Rooms. This small bundle of joy was, of course, Betty.

Its huge success manifests itself in the omnipresent queue that wraps around the exterior of the building, rain or shine! Though definitely worth the wait, if you don’t wish to get soaked waiting in the rain, just pop down the street to the just as lovely, if possible even more quaint, Little Betty’s.

Devoted to doing things beautifully, Betty’s is a big part of why I am extremely proud to be a Yorkshire girl!

‘Very enticing’ http://www.bettys.co.uk/bettys_stonegate.aspx

Shepherd’s pie: a ‘pot luck’ family affair

taken from http://www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/yorkshire-dales/landscape.htm
The not-so-gruesome North

Being born and bred in Yorkshire and both parents coming from Lancashire, I certainly have Northern roots. Going to university in Bath, I am constantly subject to ‘Northern banter’, with many people believing that anywhere above the M5 is the ‘gruesome North’! Coal mines, farmers, chips and gravy… negative stereotypes are plentiful. Though one stereotype that I am lucky to claim is true is that of the hearty home cooking. During my schooldays, on bringing friends home for tea (Northern lingo for ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’), the request for mummy Crossley’s shepherd’s pie was to be expected. Its legacy has even spread to Bath and my university friends all love it!

The beauty of this dish is that it is different every time- even if two are made at exactly the same time by the same person with the same ingredients- so there is always a few seconds silence before we give the approval! For me the sloppier and the more gravy the better! It is a great dish for sharing and everyone getting ‘stuck in’, helping themselves and passing plates around giving the mealtime a very relaxed and family ambience. Though beware- it is terribly more-ish and never lasts long! On the rare occasion that there are any leftovers, they are guaranteed to be picked away at and finished before dawn of the following day!

Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, with cottage pie being its beef alternative. However in my family, it is always shepherd’s pie, whatever the chosen meat may be! Onions and carrots are a must and the key to success is the generous amounts of gravy- stock cube and bisto poured over the layer of mince before the buttered mash (must be made creamy using milk!) is carefully layered on top. With or without cheese is a case of personal preference- though we always have one of each to please all! The key: never be sparing with the butter!

*photgraph taken from http://www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/yorkshire-dales/landscape.htm

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