Local produce, what is it and where is local?

Local mapWhen you are dealing with clients from different parts of the county, or even different parts of the country, where should local be classed as?  I like to use products that are manufactured, produced and sold within a reasonable distance from my base in north Cumbria.  I use Lakeland meat where possible, or meat from the smaller producers that are closer to me.  This may bring the price up, but it means that I can offer ingredients that I can trace back to the source and even visit if I feel necessary.

I have spoken to several people recently, and they have all said, “within the county” when asked what they would class as “local”.  This poses a small predicament; I am based in Brampton in Cumbria, and the furthest part of the county is 70 miles away; is this still local?  If I went 70 miles in the other direction, I would be well in to Scotland; is this local?

Local means different things to different people, so maybe instead of just stating “local”, maybe we should be a little more specific.  I use a supplier in Castle Douglas in Scotland, and they are only 60 miles away from me; close enough for me to go to their office and have a cup of coffee and a chat.  To me, they are local, but if I have a client in Barrow-in-Furness, Castle Douglas is not local to them.  So, maybe we should state that the suppliers are local to us, or that they are just smaller producers that provide a fantastic product.

Buying from local suppliers isn’t just a good idea because of traceability, it also makes environmental sense.  The less something must travel from farm to fork, the less pollution is released into the atmosphere.

This only scratches the surface, and is intended to invoke thought and discussion.  There are other questions we should ask ourselves when ordering from our suppliers.  What about Fair trade?  What about sustainability?  Maybe these are questions for another time…

Valentines day 2017

Valentine’s Day

Not long now until the day.  Although most of us celebrate this day of love, there are some among us that don’t for whatever reason.  Because of this, I thought I would give you a simple recipe that you can easily adjust the quantities for; so whether you want to cook this for a loved one, or just for yourself, enjoy!

But first, some useless facts about Valentine’s Day:


This recipe is quick and easy to make, so there will be plenty of time to show your loved one how much they mean to you.

Stuffed chicken breast, wrapped in pancetta, with green bean salad:
(serves 2)
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
2 tbsp full fat cream cheese
12 slices of pancetta
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper

For the green bean salad:
2 handfuls green beans
¼ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Place each chicken breast between two pieces of cling film and, using a meat mallet, bash out the pieces until about 0.5cm/0.25in thick. Remove the cling film.
  3. Spread one tablespoon of cream cheese over each chicken breast. Season and roll up the chicken to enclose the cheese.
  4. Place six slices of pancetta, side by side, on a chopping board. Place one chicken breast on the pancetta slices and tightly wrap pancetta around the chicken. Repeat with the remaining chicken and pancetta slices.
  5. Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  6. Meanwhile, blanch the green beans for a few minutes in boiling water and then refresh in iced water.
  7. Toss the beans with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Divide the bean salad between two plates.
  9. Top with the cooked chicken and serve at once.

This is an easy meal to make, but if you want to make it easier, get in touch and we can take the hassle away for you.

Check out our Valentines day menu for more inspiration

Burns Night

scot_flag“Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis”

Excerpt taken from  “address to a Haggis” by Robert Burns.  It is, of course, Burns night again on 25th January when we celebrate the famous Scottish poet’s birthday.  It seems to be the one time of year that the whole nation eats Haggis (there is even a vegetarian alternative)

Although I love the traditional Haggis, neeps and tatties, I have taken to eat something different over the last few years; the flying Scotsman.  Still served with neeps and tatties, it is a chicken breast, stuffed with haggis and wrapped in streaky bacon served with a creamy mushroom and whiskey sauce.  But why have haggis at all?  There are some people out there that don’t like haggis, so below is a recipe for a lamb casserole:

Lamb Stew and dumplings

Serves 6
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 Swede, diced
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
olive oil
500g diced stewing lamb, approximately 2cm cubes
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
500ml lamb stock or red wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2oz Beef Suet
4oz Self raising flour


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, and sweat the onion, celery, carrots, and swede.
  2. Add the lamb and continue cooking until browned all over. Add the flour and cook out.
  3. Add the stock or wine and the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, stirring well.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until the lamb is tender. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and make the dumplings.  Top the stew with the dumplings and cook in a moderate oven (180˚C/ gas 4) for 20 mins until the dumplings are cooked.

If you like, you can also add some crumbled black pudding to the mix to add a bit more flavour

If you have any ideas you would like to share, get in touch in the usual ways

Bonfire night and Post Halloween

PumpkinNow that Halloween has passed, bonfire night is looming quickly. One of my favourite things about bonfire night is wrapping up warm with a mug of hot soup while watching the fireworks. With Halloween only a couple of days ago, now is a perfect time to pick up a few reduced price pumpkins from your local greengrocer. Bearing that in mind, I thought I would share this recipe for a Toasty Thai Pumpkin Soup I saw in the “Carlisle Guide” magazine.

Please remember to be safe when you are at any firework event.  Our emergency services are already stretched, please don’t make it worse for them.

Toasty Thai Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (for 6 servings):

  • ½ Kg Pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons of Sunflower oil
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 1 bashed lemongrass
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Red Thai curry paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • Lime juice and sugar to season
  • 1 sliced red chilli (optional)
  • Pumpkin seeds to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 200°. Throw the pumpkin, seasoning, and half the sunflower oil into a roasting tin and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Whilst the pumpkin is roasting, toss the rest of the oil, lemongrass, ginger and onion into a pan and soften for 10 minutes. Once softened, stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute, before adding the now roasted pumpkin, 350ml of the coconut milk and all the stock.
  3. Simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes before fishing out the lemongrass.
  4. Allow to cool and blend until smooth.
  5. Return to the heat and warm through whilst seasoning with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar.
  6. Drizzle with the remaining coconut milk, scatter with chopped chilli and pumpkin seeds and serve

If you have any other bonfire night favourites, let us know what they are in the comments below

Stress free Christmas? It can be

starry-christmas-tree-gold-2400pxChristmas.  Are we all looking forward to it?  Yes, I just used the ‘C’ word.  For some people, Christmas can be a dirty word; the stress and worry can be too much for some people, leaving them too tired to enjoy the festive period.  Below are a few of my tips for reducing stress during this time:

  1. Plan ahead – I know this sounds obvious, but plan everything; even the smallest things.  Write a list for all of your jobs and tick them off once you have done them.
  2. Make ahead and freeze – If you like to make your own mince pies, sausage rolls etc, there is no shame in making them in October and freezing them.  Just make sure everything is fully defrosted before you cook them.
  3. Prep ahead – Prep all your veg and potatoes a few days ahead of the big day.  I even stuff the chicken (we don’t have turkey) and make the pigs in blankets the day before.  This way, all you have to do is cook it.
  4. Use ready prepared – There is no shame in this.  If cooking stresses you out, then why not use ready prepared veg, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, even sauces.  Don’t add to the stress any more than you have to.  You could even hire your own Personal Chef to help with all the prep work!

However you cope with the festive time, try not to stress too much.  Just remember that you also have to enjoy the fruits of your loabour as well as everyone else.  If you can’t handle the stress because of the food prep, just remember that there is always some else that can lend a helping hand.

If you have any handy tips that you would like to share, please add them in the comments below


Welcome to Autumn

Autumn can be a fantastic time of year when it comes to the culinary harvest, and it also lends itself to the typical “comfort” food.  Why not speak to your greengrocer about what they have in season and try something different with it?

Personally, I love the soft fruit that is in season at the moment and I thought I would share a recipe that combines 3 of my favourite foods; plums, almonds and crumble (recipe taken from the BBC website).

As well as this recipe, why try the Sloe Gin recipe on our facebook page.  The used sloes will be good for Sloe port around Christmas

Plum and Almond crumble slice

Plum crumble sliceIngredients:
250g pack butter (this must be very cold)
225g caster sugar
300g ground almond
140g plain flour, plus 25g/1oz
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
approx 6 plums, stoned and cut into sixths
50g flaked almonds


  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin with baking paper. Put the butter, sugar and ground almonds into a food processor, then pulse until the mixture resembles very rough breadcrumbs. Spoon out half the mix into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 140g flour into the mix in the processor and whizz until it just forms a dough. Tip into the tin and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden. Leave to cool for 10 mins.
  3. To make the filling, put the remaining butter and the sugar and almond mix back into the processor, saving a few tbsp for the topping. Add the eggs, the 25g flour, cinnamon and baking powder and whizz to a soft batter. Spread over the base.
  4. Top with the plum pieces and a little extra caster sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 20 mins, then sprinkle with the remaining crumble mix and flaked almonds. Cook for another 20 mins or until golden. Leave to cool in the tin before slicing.

To find out what is in season, I use www.eattheseasons.co.uk.  To find out what is in season, head over to this site, to possibly try some new ingredients.  Why not step out of your comfort zone and pick something you haven’t used before and make something completely different?  Let me know how you get on.

Next time, we will be looking forward to Christmas with some tips on reducing stress around the festive time

Keep a look on our facebook page for other tips and recipes