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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Every cook will tell they have a perfect no-fail recipe for something or other. Yorkshire puddings, choux pastry or grannies secret sponge cake. Paul Gray is the master baker at Bettys Tearooms, that delightful Harrogate institution, and he is no exception. But concerning our seasonal favourite the Christmas pud, he could well be right. The secret to a perfect pudding is all in the fruit, explains Paul. Avoid using those dried sultanas found at the back of the cupboard. Buy only the freshest, best quality fruit. Moist, plump and shinny. Sound familiar? Yum. Plan in advance, have all of the ingredients to hand. Be sure to soak the fruits in a quality brandy for at least 24 hours before making the pudding. Have the orange and lemon slightly warmed. Do not use eggs straight from the fridge, they must be at room temperature. This will prevent them from separating when used. The following recipe yields 1 pudding which will serve 6-8 people. To produce Bettys Traditional Christmas Pudding take 230g (8oz) of raisins, 50g (1 1/4oz) of currants, 75g (2 1/2oz) of sultanas, 50g (1 3/4oz) of glace cherries, 15g (1/2oz) of flaked almonds, 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) of a quality brandy (never cooking brandy or spirit) the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon, the freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 an orange and 1/2 a lemon, 50g (1 3/4oz) of vegetable suet, 30g (1oz) of wholemeal breadcrumbs, 50g (1 3/4oz) of plain white flour, 90g (3oz) of light brown sugar, 2g (1/2tsp) of mixed spice, 1g (1/4tsp) each of ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, 5g (1tsp) of salt and 2 medium eggs, beaten. The day before, place all the dried fruits and flaked almonds in a bowl. Pour over the brandy and add the lemon and orange zest and juice. Mix together lightly. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight. Put all the remaining ingredients and the pre-soaked fruit in a large mixing bowl. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon, so as not to break up the fruit. Place a small disc of baking parchment in the base of a 1 1/2pt pudding basin and then fill it with the mixture. Smooth the top down evenly. Place another, larger disc of parchment on top. Cover the basin with foil and seal tightly. Stand the filled pudding basin on a strip of foil long enough to make a handle (to help you lift the pudding out of the pan once it is steamed). Place the basin on top of a trivet in a deep-sided pan. Pour hot water into the pan, so it comes halfway up the pudding basin. Place a lid on the pan and bring back to the boil. Lower the heat and keep the water at a steady simmer. Steam the pudding for 5 hours. Check the level of water in the saucepan during cooking and top up if necessary. Remove the pudding from the pan and allow it to cool completely. Remove the foil. Wrap the pudding basin in a piece of greaseproof and a layer of foil. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month to mature. The longer the better. On Christmas Day, steam the pud for 2 hours in a pan of water, as before. Warm some brandy in a ladle until it ignites and pour over the pudding to flambé.

You can purchase Bettys Traditional Christmas Puddings and Classic Christmas Hampers at


Following a recent conversation with an officer from Northumbria Police concerning my communication with you (Mary Richard of Gaia) of October 16th, 2009, and with reference to the subsequent unassociated acts of vandalism to your premises, I feel that a number of important points need to be made.

Firstly, I must apologize if you feel that the e-mail sent to you on October 16th was in any way threatening or aggressive. You can also be assured that I have at no point undertaken any acts of revenge or vandalism against yourself or your business. I have openly broadcast my views on this matter to yourself, other Market Street traders and the local authority. Indeed, the e mail sent to you and others was also forwarded to the Hexham Courant and was published by them, verbatim, in their October 30th edition. Indeed, I also expressed my concerns and opinions to a Mrs Chapman in a telephone conversation on October 27th. This dialogue also touched on how the matter could be resolved.

However, I should remind you that it is yourself who has acted illegally in this matter, attaching  flag poles and banners to buildings in contravention of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservations Areas) Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, not I.

I am in possession of a letter from Mr Stewart, the Senior Monitoring and Enforcement Officer, which states that (he) “has received complaints from both local residents and traders…” relating to this issue. Therefore I am not the only Market Street resident to have made a complaint over this issue. Also some traders within the town also appear to be unhappy with these instillations.

If the vandalism of your property is associated with this problem then I would imagine that one of these other complainants could be responsible.

If you had approached us prior to these banners being installed we could, in our own case, have avoided this issue entirely. If the flag had simply been fixed to the bracket immediately to the right of the one currently being used, the offending banner would not have been visible from within the property.

Please be assured that I will express my opinions if I feel it appropriate to do so, I shall complain to the regulatory authority if I feel it appropriate to do so, I will object to something if I think it is wrong, but I would not resort to underhand petty vandalism as an act of small minded revenge.

It has been said that chefs Greg Wanless Nico Duhil produce the type of French cuisine you would usually expect to find only in France. Authentic, classical and above all mouth-watering. You should be forgiven then for expressing surprise, when you come across their culinary skills in rural Northumberland. But discover them you may, at the Bouchon Bistrot located in the English market town of Hexham. The menu is simple and rustic, the ambiance full of character and the service knowledgeable. More farmhouse than Michelin, Bouchon Bistrot recently gained an enviable boost, being one of only two French restaurants to be competing in Gordon Ramsays continuing search for ‘Britain’s Best Local Restaurant’. They won their first round defeating The French Table, Surry, and are currently third on the leader board. So they could well make it through the semi-finals depending on how the remaining restaurants score in their rounds.

Cookery writer and broadcaster Delia Smith has been credited with causing a 25 percent increase in the sales of bottled stout, the strong, almost black beer made from roasted malted barley. Her latest book, Delia’s Happy Christmas, which was published in October of this year, included a recipe for a traditional Christmas pudding. Delia lists 2½ fluid ounces of stout in the recipe, and recommends doubling this if another of the ingredients, barley wine, is not available. Waitrose has seen a huge growth in stout sales over recent weeks, with a massive 40 percent growth across its stores. The chain specifically accredits this rise to the ‘Delia effect’, as the company also stocks the new book. This is not the first time that Delia Smith has been responsible for a serge in product demand. She has previously been accredited with improving cranberry sales by 200 percent and those of fresh eggs by 10 percent. A small Lancashire company once received a huge boost when Delia described its omelette pan as a ‘little gem’. Sales rocketed from just 200 a year to over 90,000 in 4 months. Indeed, Delia has proven so successful at product marketing that the ‘Delia Effect’ was officially entered into the Collins Dictionary in 2001.

The robust flavours of beetroot and goats cheese blend well in this dish which makes an excellent vegetarian main course, light lunch or a side dish with beef steak. To produce take 500g of beetroot, a 100g of goat’s cheese, 200ml of whipping cream, 50g of unsalted butter, 1 tbsp of horseradish sauce, 3tbsp of fresh breadcrumbs, a sprig of fresh rosemary, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Preheat an oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Scrub, top and tail the beetroot. Bring a pan of seasoned water to the boil. Add the beetroot and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Remove the skins and cut into centimetre thick slices. Rub the inside of a shallow baking dish a little of the butter. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper. Cut the goats cheese into centimetre wide rounds. Layer the prepared dish with the beetroot and goats cheese. Season, Add the Rosemary sprig. Whisk the horseradish into the cream. Pour the mixture over the beetroot and cheese. Sprinkle over with the fresh breadcrumbs. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with watercress and warm crusty bread.

A member of the brassica family, kale is a variety of hardy cabbage with a dark green colouring, curly leaves and no heart. Cooked and eaten as a vegetable it is commonly grown across Britain, It is a flavoursome and nutritionally rich vegetable. Highly versatile, it makes an excellent substitute for cavolo nero in Italian dishes or pak choi in Oriental cooking. Also known as ‘colewort’. In Scotland the word kale is often applied to mean any type of cabbage. Latin name brassica oleracea acephala.

Cavolo Nero A classic and versatile Italian leaf vegetable similar to the traditional cabbage and member of the  brassica family. It has a deep green colouring and tapered leaves similar to kale. Commonly grown in southern Italy, it works especially well shredded in soups or simply sautéed in olive oil together with garlic and chilli. Often used in salads or as an accompaniment to various meats. Sometimes referred to as black cabbage it is an essential ingredient in the classic Tuscan soup ribollita, which is traditionally left  for 24 hours before serving, allowing the flavours to develop as the soup naturally thickens. An excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and K as well as fibre. For an easy Italian soup sauté fine diced onion, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil together with a little butter. Add chopped tomatoes, precooked cannellini beans and stock. Simmer until tender. Add some shredded cavolo nero and simmer for a few minuets. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Receive an uber-luxe all expenses paid weekend trip for two to London, the highlight of which will without doubt be lunch at Anton Mosimann’s private dining club, Mosimann’s. Experience the luxury of Belgravia’s Montblanc Room and enjoy the opportunity to talk puddings with Michelin Stared chef Anton Mosimann when he joins you after your lunch. And if this is not enough, see your winning creation produced by Gu and stocked in Waitrose stores across the country. To enter simply dream up your perfect pudding, write a mouth watering description, produce the recipe and enter.

The festive season is upon us and the usual crop of celebrity cookbooks are beginning to appear on the shelves. Among them is the latest offering from Gordon Ramsay, entitled Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen. Gordon has selected dishes from the worlds most popular cuisines, adding his own trademark twists along the way. From the exotic through to simply classical he has featured countries such as America, China, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. Dishes such as a pan-fried mullet with saffron pilaf with a tarator sauce, a fruit salad with sticky star anise syrup and pan-fried scallops with a leek vinaigrette are included, each easy to produce at home. “I hope they will inspire you to try something new…” Said Gordon about his new offering. “Enjoy.” Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen is published by Quadrille at £20.