Blog Archives

Cold Smoking with Seasoned

Seasoned is a Midlands based cookery school run by Clare Tetley. Not only does she run a business providing  fabulous day courses throughout Derbyshire & Shropshire she has a brownie recipe to die for. I met Clare back in September 2010 when I started my business and we have worked on various projects over the last year. As Hubs has dabbled with smoking food in the past, he helped Clare road test a food smoking course that is now available through Seasoned. Both Hubs & I believe smoking has the amazing ability to transform a food. I certainly believe a bacon sarnie tastes even better if the bacon is smoked.

Essentially there are two ways of smoking food. Smoking food at home doesn’t require lots of expensive equipment. Read the rest of this entry

Midlands festive food & gift events

Many thanks to Claire from for letting me use this image.

November and December is a great time in the Midlands for food and craft fairs. Perfect for discovering new producers and picking up some gifts along the way. As a few people have asked me about what happening locally in the next few months I thought I would dedicate a blog post to it. If you know of any events I’ve missed please let me know.


Thursday 18th November – Thursday 23rd DecemberBirmingham Christmas Craft Fair & Frankfurt Christmas Market 10am – 9pm. Around Victoria Square and New Street along with Chamberlain and Centenary Squares. It is now the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the UK. 

Friday 19th November – Sunday 21st November Chatsworth Christmas Market 10am – 5pm. Stalls are located on Lodge Hill, leading up to the Stables, and admission is free.

Saturday 20th November – Sunday 21st November Fabulous Places Christmas Market 10am – 4pm. Round House, Pride Park, Derby. £1 entry, free for under 16’s and Derbyshire Card holders. I went to this last year and can highly recommend it.

Saturday 20th NovemberFood Gusto Christmas Fair 9.30am – 4pm. Packington Memorial Hall. LE65 1WH

Saturday 20th November – Northfield Farm Christmas Fair 9am – 4pm. Oakham LE15 7QF

Wednesday 24th November – Sunday 28th NovemberBBC Good Food Show 9am – 6pm. NEC Birmingham. Keep and eye out for the wonderful Gower Cottage Brownies and Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies there.

Thursday 25th November Christmas House Party 9.30am – 5pm. Rudd Moncrieff, Nr. Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 3AZ. Festive food workshops, Inspiring floral demonstrations, Stylish Gift Wrapping,and Christmas shopping

Friday 26th November – Tutbury Festival of Christmas begins at 5.30pm

Saturday 27th November – Art Market 9am – 5pm. Market Square, Burton on Trent. Featuring local artists and foundation degree students.

Saturday 27th November – Sunday 28th NovemberChristmas Craft Fair 11am – 3pm. Kedleston Hall, nr Derby. Enterance £1. Free bus service from Derby bus station every hour leaving at 10:30,11:30,12:30 & 13:30. Return bus service from Kedleston Hall leaving at 12:00,13:00,14:00,15:00 & 16:00.

Saturday 27th November Rockafellas Christmas Fair 11am – 3pm. Rockafellas, St Nicholas Place, Leicester LE1 4LD

Saturday 27th November Artists and Makers Christmas Craft Fair 10am – 4pm Melbourne Leisure Centre, DE73 8GF

Saturday 27th November SoURCE Christmas Fair 10am – 4pm Moseley Exchange, Birmingham B13 8JP

Sunday 28th November Seasonal Sundays Entertainment from 12 noon. Ferrers Centre, nr Ashby de la Zouch LE65 1RU

Saturday 4th December Christmas Craft Fayre 11am – 4pm. Rosliston Forestry Centre. Free entrance. There is a superb garden centre opposite. It’s small, but full of the most beautiful plants and the staff are very knowledgeable.

Saturday 4th December – Saturday 5th December Christmas Market 10am – 5pm (last admittion 4.30 pm). Sudbury Hall. No additional charges. 

Saturday 4th December – Saturday 5th December Christmas Food Fair 9.30am – 4.30pm. Baslow Village Hall, DE45 12P

Friday 10th December – Saturday 11th December Festive Gift Fair 11am – 6pm. QUAD, Derby.

Saturday 11th December – Sunday 12th December Christmas Craft & Gift Show 11am – 6pm. Calke Abbey. Free event (normal admission charges for Calke Abbey apply)

Sunday12th December Seasonal Sundays Entertainment from 12 noon. Ferrers Centre, nr Ashby de la Zouch LE65 1RU

Sunday 19th DecemberChristmas Fine Food Fair 11am – 6pm. Free event (normal admission charges for Calke Abbey apply) I’m waiting to hear back from the National Trust to check this event is still going ahead because it has disappeared from the website.

Sunday 19th December Seasonal Sundays Entertainment from 12 noon. Ferrers Centre, nr Ashby de la Zouch LE65 1RU

As far as I’m aware all these events are running. Please confirm with venue before visiting.

Asparagus – how do you eat yours?

I believe that British asparagus heralds a fresh new year of delicious fruit & vegetables. Gone is the season of roots & onions, in come the luscious greens, purples…and various other colours if our veg  plot is anything to go by. Once asparagus is here I know I won’t have to wait long until the strawberries begin to appear. Asparagus, along with strawberries, are in the same list as purple sprouting broccoli and raspberries in that we try to only eat them when they are in season – 1) we appreciate it more and 2) I find it tastes better, especially when you can pick them from your garden or have a fantastic grower & supplier on your doorstep. With asparagus there is a significant difference in taste from freshly picked variants to others that have been hanging around for a few days. Freshly picked asparagus has a surprisingly sweet taste that soon diminishes once picked. Just in the way peas do.

According to Wikipedia:

Asparagus is low in calories, contains no cholesterol and is very low in sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.

Who would have thought you could cram so much good stuff into a humble green (or sometimes white) vegetable?

Now, I will openly admit I’m not a huge fan of asparagus; I can take it or leave it. Hubs however, along with his parents, are obsessed with it. Father-in-Law is attempting to grow it and this year we are growing the curious sounding Asparagus Peas.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been waiting for asparagus to appear. After buying a ludicrously priced bunch of Litchfield asparagus a few weeks ago, which was frankly old and woody, we were glad to be tipped off that Scaddows Farm had some of their home-grown asparagus in stock. This is the second year we have bought asparagus from them and I can say it’s the best we’ve found. Scaddows is also great for the PYO part of the farm that opens in June and continues late into the season. Aside from the asparagus it’s berry-lover and preserver heaven!

Although the asparagus season is short we make up for it by eating it in as many ways possible:

So, how do you eat your asparagus?

Derbyshire Fidgety Pie

This pie has been in the planning for a while. To celebrate British Food Fortnight I knew I wanted to bake a traditional Derbyshire dish, ideally savory and with pasty. Inspiration came from the most random of places – the latest East Midlands National Trust newsletter. In the newsletter it mentioned the traditional Derbyshire Fidgety Pie. Not a pie I had heard of before, but gave me more of a challenge to try it. Another reason for wanting to use pastry was so I could use my Made in England rolling pin. I don’t use it as much as my wooden or marble rolling pin as it is quite delicate, but I love it!

Hubby’s family originate from South Derbyshire where this pie has its roots. There are various variations of this pie throughout the Midlands, where they are usually called Fidget Pie. Some with cider, some with ham, some with gammon along with some additional ingredients.

This pie is a traditional dish served to people working in the field through harvest. Essentially it is the Midland’s version of the Cornish Pasty as it is a portable, filling meal. It is thought to have got its name from the fact it traditionally was fitched (5-sided) in shape. The key vegetables in a fidgety pie is apples and onions which are plentiful during the harvest and of course these vegetables go well with pork. This version should have raisins in it, but I left them out as I don’t like them in savory dishes. Given this ingredient not being used it still made a surprisingly hearty & flavoursome dish.

Rather than baking a pie with both pastry on the top and bottom (trying to make it slightly kinder to the hips!) I baked it in aMason Cash pie dish (made in Derbyshire). In keeping with the South Derbyshire theme I also used smoked bacon from the best butchers around – Chantry Farm Shop in Kings Newton near Melbourne. If your ever near I beg you to pop in. Their meat is second to none and well worth the trip. Hubby & I really enjoyed the pie and I was surprised as to how tasty it was. Perfect for these Autumnal evenings.

Now, you can truly say that this pie has been Made in England.

Derbyshire Fidgety Pie
Makes 2 individual pies

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g butter
cold water
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small/medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored and finely sliced
4 rashers of bacon
400ml beef stock
1 egg

1) First get started on the pastry. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2) Add the chilled water a small amount at a time and mix with a knife until you have a good dough. Roll into a ball, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 min.

3) Preheat oven to 190oc. Fry off the bacon. At the bottom of each individual pie dish line with a layer of half of the sliced potatoes, then all the onions and apple. Sprinkle with black pepper and thyme then layer with the bacon and the rest of the potato. Pour over the beef stock (200ml per pie dish).

4) Roll out the pastry until around 5mm thick. Top the pie with pastry and trim to fit. Make 2 slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape then brush with egg.

5) Bake for 20min until pastry is golden and filling is cooked. Traditionally it is served on its own, but would go well with a side of vegetables.

Celebrating British Food – Bakewell Tart

Summer made a brief appearance here in the UK over the weekend; basking the ground in glorious autumnal sunshine. Hey it was short lived, but at least it brought us some cheer.

We spent Sunday at Kedleston Hall on the outskirts of Derby, walking around the grounds and eating picnic on the lawn. It was packed out with people taking advantage of the beautiful weather, The Duchess exhibition and the fact they were giving free puddings away in the restaurant as part of their British Food Fortnight events.


This is why I love Britain, in particular Derbyshire not only do we have awe inspiring scenery but fantastic food. 20th September till 5th October is British Food Fortnight and the lovely Antonia @ Food, Glorious Food is hosting a British Food Fortnight Challenge. As soon as I heard about the challenge there was one thing I knew I had to make, Bakewell Tart. Possibly one of the most famous cakes in Derbyshire.

Now there is lots of myths surrounding Bakewell Pudding/Tart. Don’t let Mr Kipling make you believe a Cherry Bakewell is traditional. The Bakewell Pudding is believed to have begun in a pub in Bakewell when an inexperienced chef in the kitchen was meant to make a strawberry tart, but made something very different. The Bakewell Pudding is a tart made with puff pastry shell, layer of jam and eggy custard topping and an alleged “secret ingredient” (No I’ve never been able to work the ingredient out). The Bakewell Tart however has evolved from the Bakewell Pudding and is made with a sweet shortcrust base, layer of jam and a rich almond sponge topping. My original intentions were to make a Bakewell pudding, but decided a Bakewell Tart was more picnic friendly.


Bakewell Tart is one of my favourite cakes and I believe a perfect Bakewell tart should have a thin, but supporting layer of pastry, thick layer of raspberry jam and a deep, dense, moist frangipane sponge. A dry, tasteless Cherry Bakewell it ain’t!

I admit I’m not too confident with pastry, but with the help of my trusty KitchenAid I’m getting there. I was really pleased with how the pastry and the overall tart worked out. For me it was the perfect Bakewell Tart, and trust me in my lifetime I’ve eaten my fair share!


Bakewell Tart
Serves 8-10


125g plain flour
75g unsalted butter, cold and diced
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp cold water
1 egg white


100g raspberry jam
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
25g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
30g flaked almonds

1)In a large bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar then rub in butter until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and water until you have a smooth dough. Flatten into a disk, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 45 min.

2)On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 3mm thick then line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry. Lightly prick the base with a fork and chill for 30 min.

3) Preheat the oven to 180oc (160oc fan). Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans then bake for 20min until pastry is a light golden colour. Remove the beans and parchment, brush the inside of the pastry shell with egg white and bake for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min

4) While the pastry is cooling beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and almond extract. Stir in the flour and ground almonds until well combined.

5) Spread the jam generously over the pastry base then pour frangipane mix on top of the jam. Level out with a pallet knife. Sprinkle with sliced almonds then bake for 35-40 until risen and golden.

6) Allow to cool in tin before eating.

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