Archive | June, 2011

Jamie’s Italian

22 Jun

In Birmingham overnight for our visit to the BBC Good food show last Friday, Helen and I decided to try out Jamie’s Italian restaurant. It was after 9 pm by the time we had deposited our luggage and ventured out to the Bull Ring.

The first thought when we entered the restaurant was that the place was very busy for a Thursday night and we were told there would be a table available in 10 minutes. We bought a bottle of dry rose wine, sat in the bar area and studied the menu.

True to their word a table was quickly found for us. We had the choice of  a couple of tables and I chose a table near the window as further into the restaurant  it seemed  quite dark.

The waiter was very pleasant. He was  lively and well informed, reeling off the specials available to us. I couldn’t take it all in but as we had already decided on what we were having, I’m afraid his banter fell on deaf ears.

We shared olives on ice, for our starter. They were served with a black olive tapenade and crisp flat bread.  We both love olives and these large green olives were beautiful as was the tapenade.

We had both chosen the Burger Italiano which was made with British beef with fontina cheese, crispy salami, soft lettuce, tomato salsa, dill pickles, chilli and fried onions. We shared sides of Funky chips and crunchy salad.

The food was good. It was hot and tasty and well presented. The waiting staff appeared really well trained and good at their jobs and we both enjoyed the food and the experience.

My only criticism is of the lighting in the restaurant. I like to see what I am eating and although we were sitting by a window, as the darkness failed so did my eyesight.

The Ladies restroom was quite unusually fitted out with Crapper flush toilets and stone sinks and was built on a mezzanine floor up a long staircase.

The restaurant was very big, with three seating areas as well as the bar area and when we were there, appeared to be running like a well oiled clock!

I enjoyed the experience in Birmingham enough to want to visit the Jamie’s Italian in Leeds soon.

Granny Jones’ Yorkshire Parkin

19 Jun

This is my Mother-in-law Elsie’s recipe for Yorkshire Parkin.  Elsie died in 1990 aged  82 and going through an old cookery book of hers recently, I came across this recipe in her own handwriting.


Melt the margarine and golden syrup. Treacle could be used or a mixture of golden syrup or treacle but I used golden syrup as that is what I had in the cupboard. I usually put these in bowl and microwave for about 40 seconds until a runny liquid.

I used plain flour and sifted this with the ginger and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, added the sugar and oatmeal and a beaten egg and approximately quarter of a pint of milk. I used a rounded teaspoon of both the ginger and the bicarb (as much above the spoon as in the spoon)

Mix firmly until a soft dropping consistency is formed.

Pour into a lined tin. Mine is 11ins by 7ins. Perhaps a 9inch square tin would be similar.

Bake in a preheated oven. 150 degrees/ fan 140degrees for approx 1 hour or until the cake begins to leave the edges of the tin.

Check after 50mins on the cooking progress.

Parkin whilst can be eaten straight away seems to be better for keeping and becomes moist and sticky after keeping in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days…. If you can wait that long!!


Please be aware than in the United Kingdom:

Oatmeal is ground grains of oats like coarsely ground flour and can be used to make cookies, biscuits etc.

Porridge oats are rolled (flattened) oats, can also be used in baking but usually used for porridge or muesli.

Prizewinning scones

12 Jun

The requirements for Honley Show which was held this year on 11th June 2011 was

  6 Plain Scones

I have loved to bake scones over the years, for my family and friends, to sell on charity cake stalls, for bowling club food stalls,  for cricket teas and  just for me! These have always been  fruit scones, mainly sultana scones but if when baking I found I had run out of sultanas, occasionally raisin scones or currant scones!

I wasn’t sure when I had seen the brief for the show, whether ‘plain scones’ were actually plain or whether I should add sugar. After looking up various recipes, I decided they were with sugar.  And so I set about baking

My regular recipe for scones is 

1lb Self Raising Flour

1 level teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3 oz sugar

3 oz butter or vegetable spead

1 egg


3 oz sultanas (optional)


Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and add the sugar.

Rub in the butter with the finger tips, lifting each handful of mixture to the top of the bowl and allow to drop back in so as much air as possible is incorporated. Add the dried fruit of choice now.

Beat up the egg in a mug and add milk up to half an inch from the top of the mug. Beat the egg and milk mixture together.

While stirring the dry ingredients in the baking bowl, add the egg and milk mixture. Stir firmly until as much of the mixture as possible is sticking together.

Now this is the secret of light scones:  Handle as little as possible.  Unlike when making bread, when you need to stretch the gluten, scones are best if at this stage, less is best, put your hand in the bowl and squeeze on as much of any dry flour mixture to the ball of scones.

Turn out onto a floured surface and roll to half inch or even a bit more. Cut out in whatever shape is  required, round, square or even leave as a whole and mark out sections with a knife.

Put on a baking tray, leaving room for the scones to rise in all directions. Brush with milk, egg or a mixture of the two or not at all if you want a floury top to your scone!

Bake in a hot oven. 200C or 180/190 Fan oven. Not sure about Gas (is that perhaps 7)  for 15 to 2o minutes.

When they are golden brown, check that they are brown underneath. If they are pale on the underside, return to oven and lower the temperature for a further few minutes.

When cool, split and for the fruit variety serve buttered or for the plain variety serve either buttered or with jam and cream.

When making the scones to exhibit, I had all the ingredients weighed and ready.

The scones were made and just in the oven when as I tidied up, I found the sugar still in the weighing scales……Oh dear! 

These actually were still very good, and will freeze and be eaten at a later date with stew, soup, curry or perhaps cut in two and cheese added to each half and grilled.

On another occasion, I will make the sugarless variety with herbs, cheese or spices.

Because the brief for the Honley show required the scones to have sugar, I had to have a second attempt to bake some correctly.

My efforts were all worth while and I was glowing with pride at my achievement beating 9 other bakers to achieve my first prize!!


A tasty mistake!

Unsweetened scone with toasted cheese and plum tomato topping……


Sun Inn, Lightcliffe.

9 Jun

This was posted originally on 9th June 2011 and I believe the Sun Inn has now changed hands. I haven’t eaten there since this time so am unable to recommend this new menu etc

My daughter has been recently (July 2013) and eaten the ‘pie’ which is now served in a dish. The meat was tender but had a biscuit like topping instead of the previous chef’s excellent meat filled pastry.


 9th June 2011

Carvery night-

Two carvery meals for the price of one  


                                                                                                                              Vegetarian Option

I had heard of the famous  ‘Pie Night’ at the Sun Inn at Lightliffe , (154 Wakefield Road, Halifax, Calderdale HX3 8TH) where it is two pie meals for the price of one. My daughter Helen (@BakingAitch to those who follow twitter) had eaten there with friends on a Thursday evening and reported back very favourably.

I was going there on a  Wednesday, so rang ahead to see if there was a theme for the night.

It seems it was ‘Carvery night’, and similarly to ‘Pie night’ the meals were two for one. We were advised to book so as to avoid disappointment of not getting a table.

As we arrived, the car park was very busy but there were a few spaces available and we parked easily

We we greeted cheerily as we entered and shown to our table. During the evening the staff  appeared to be happy in their work and very helpful and available and there was a good atmosphere in the place.

There were five in our party. Four of us wanted the Carvery deal, three of the four Dot, Chris and myself  being meat eaters and the other one, Jane,  a vegetarian. The meat options of the night on the Carvery were beef, turkey and ham and the veggie options were vegetarian sausage or cheese flan or something else which I now can’t remember. These were served with the Carvery vegetables and vegetarian gravy. The fifth person of the party, Carol, had eaten earlier, so chose a child’s portion of scampi and chips and when this was almost ready, we were told, so we could go to the carvery and then all eat together.

I asked if I could have a slice of each of the meats and my plate was almost covered before I added the veg. There were roast potatoes, new  potatoes, green cabbage, red cabbage, swede, carrots, peas and broccoli with a white sauce and then there were Yorkshire puddings and gravy too. The usual sauces were also there,  apple sauce, mustard, horseradish etc.

The meat was absolutely lovely and so tender.  Jane, our vegetarian, chose the cheese tart and said that was lovely too. We had mixed feelings about the veg. Dot must have dug deep into the dish and said hers were hot and the hottest she had had from a Carvery buffet. Mine on the other hand must have come from the top and although were not cold they were not as hot as I would have liked. I suppose that’s the problem with a buffet, food does sit around a while so it isn’t as if its just appeared from the kitchen. All in all we felt it had been a very good meal.

The Carvery is usually £8.50 per person so to get two for this price was a really good deal and I will certainly go there again, perhaps next time sampling a different theme night. The  Pie night sounds good!

Store cupboard lunch,(plus a carrot & an onion)

7 Jun


A medium onion

A large carrot

Tin of chopped plum tomatoes

Mixed herbs

Optional extras.. Tin of mixed beans

or Tin of Red beans & half tsp chilli powder

or half tin of corned beef

or  cooked sausages or choritzo


Chop an onion finely and fry gently in tablespoon of oil. Turn to low and cover to retain moisture. This way, by retaining the moisture less oil is used (for the health conscious.)

When the onion is soft, add a large grated carrot and a tin of chopped plum tomatoes. Also add a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs . If the mixture is too dry for your taste, add a little water and then if still too dry, add a little more.

I simmered this for 20 mins.  During this time I boiled some whole wheat pasta twirls and they were ready simultaneously.

For a vegetarian menu a tin of mixed beans could be added or a tin of red beans & half a teaspoon of chilli powder to make chilli beans & sauce.

But for myself this time, a few minutes before serving, I added half a tin of cubed corned beef . I did not stir so as not to break up the pieces but returned the lid to heat the mixture through. Of course the whole mixture could be stirred up to make a meaty sauce.

It was really easy and tasty and I have some left for lunch tomorrow too!

Well it was for tomorrow. Finding myself in a hurry to get out to babysit so my Daughter can go and fulfil her duties as a guideleader, I quickly added a few shakes of chilli powder and I have scoffed the lot.  All gone now!    Mmmm! I enjoyed that!!

‘Hoarding’ is my middle name!

5 Jun

December 1963  

  5th June 2011                                                

I once had a neighbour who said “If I haven’t used it for 6 months, I don’t need it, so it can go in the bin”

Sadly this has never been my motto. I can lay my hands on a mini dress from 1973, a maxi dress from 1976 and  I still have a coat in my wardrobe which I bought aged 17 and if I tell you that this was 1963  you will realise that I probably have a problem!

Really I suppose I keep these for the memories they hold and these clothes along with my Grandma’s honeymoon nightie from 1924 (which is a hand sewn, cotton, up to the neck and down to the ground affair) is the least of my daughter’s worries.  Helen many a time has tried to chivvy me along to get rid of my hoardings, telling me that she doesn’t want all of this to clear out when I am pushing up the daisies…. Actually she didn’t say it so nicely, it was more “When you die ”

I have clothes in various sizes, waiting for me to be that size again… I used to have larger clothes from a time before I lost some weight but unfortunately I now fit the larger sized clothes and its smaller clothes, awaiting my shrinkage.

I have drawings and cards my children Helen and Richard have produced 30 yrs ago, cards my husband David has sent me.  A bag of old greetings cards a friend thought my be useful to my crafting,  (these really ought to go!),  a box of really old piano music which came from my mother-in law’s when she passed on in 1990 and then there’s the piano.

Perhaps this should to too. Will anyone ever play it again?  So far I haven’t showed Evie what it is. The lid stays shut. Perhaps when she is a bit older I will let her into the secret but at 27months old, I think her plink plonking would drive me mad!

I have things which I would never get rid of .  Old photographs (about 5 big toy boxes full),  tucked away in the back of the wardrobe. I have paintings done by a school day’s boyfriend, (who is actually now a famous illustrator and cartoonist,  so these certainly are not going anywhere).  I have love-letters from this time too which I haven’t looked at for years but they can go when I go!!

I have old cookery books too and old cookery implements (This may be another blog on another occasion!)

Books, childho0d games, a Fisher price garage, Star Wars paraphernalia, music cassettes, videos, old cutlery, 2 old printers, an old computer, an airing cupboard full of old towels and old bedding,  an exercise bike ( will I ever use it?,” You are joking!”)

It really should tell me something, when every cupboard in the house is bulging, every drawer filled to capacity and absolutely no space left in the wardrobe even though I always feel I have nothing to wear!

Why do I do it?  Why is it so hard to let go?

It must stem from the worry of not having enough, in case money became tight, although my childhood was reasonably affluent. My parents had a busy pub in Ripon, ‘The St Wilfrid’s Hotel’.  Ripon was a thriving garrison city and there was  plenty of custom in the pub, so when I was little I always had everything I needed.  I even had a pony (which I didn’t really want, but Dad wanted me to have one).

I have made a start on clearance. I have  clothes in a bag, in my car boot, supposedly on its way to a charity shop.

Its been there a month……

There is really no hope for me, is there?