If you love food – exchanging recipes, tasting one another’s attempts in the kitchen and creating weird and (hopefully) wonderful dishes of our own – you’re in the right place. With regular blogs from an awarding winning chef – slaving over a hot stove just got a little bit more exciting…

Frances’ Gingerbread Loaf Cake

Ginger Cake
This is an incredibly easy cake to make and is wonderfully moist and smells and tastes delicious. It can be enjoyed as a teatime treat or served with whipped cream, custard or ice cream as a lovely pud!

Lyles Pencil Tin
Once you’ve finished with your tins of treacle, I like to re-use them as to store pens, pencils and any thing else you have sitting around your desk.

Gingerbread Loaf Cake

225g (8oz) Self Raising Flour
225g (8oz) Black Treacle (or half black and half golden syrup if you prefer)
225g (8oz) Butter
225g (8oz) Demerara Sugar
1/4 Pint Milk
2 Eggs, Beaten
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Mixed Spice

Warm the milk, sugar, butter and treacle in a pan over a moderate heat until the butter has melted. Cool slightly then sift in the dry ingredients, add the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Pour into a lined and greased loaf tin and bake in a pre-heated oven, 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 40-60 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Enjoy straight away or store in an airtight tin for several days to mature in flavour before eating.

Fish and Chips

Carl Wiezak
The heat from the fish and chips, not to mention the healthy dollop of mushy peas had travelled through three layers of paper and was now warming my legs. Armed with only a wooden fork, the heat level soon disappeared as I eagerly tucked in. A few minutes later I remembered I hadn’t just popped into Pete’s Chippy for fish and chips – but inspiration – inspiration to tell you all about this delicious meal and its 150th anniversary.

It really is an uncomplicated dish – a hunk of golden brown fish served with thickly cut strips of deep-fried potatoes sprinkled with salt and vinegar. And its wonderful simplicity has secured its placed over time, as an icon of British food culture.

As I feast I find myself contemplating where this dish came from? Throughout time, its origins seem to have become a little cloudy…

Some say that a young businessman by the name of John Lees started selling fish and chips from a wooden hut in a marketplace in Mossley, near Manchester in around 1860. He then moved to a small building and (legend has it) he hung a sign in the window that read ‘This is the first fish and chip shop in the world.’

The Malin family in London might have had something to say about that however – a family of rug weavers they (for some reason) started frying chips in their home in 1860. Then thirteen-year-old Joseph Malin had the idea of combining them with fried fish and selling them to the poor on the streets of the East End.

But, if we were to look at fish and chips separately, their origins can be traced back even further. In Oliver Twist, published serially from 1837- 1839, Charles Dickens wrote about ‘Fried Fish Warehouses’ where fried fish was served with bread or baked potatoes.

And the birth of the chip can be followed all the way back to 17th century Europe, where in very cold weather, when the rivers were frozen over and fish were hard to come by, housewives were said to cut potatoes into the shape of fish and then fry them in the same fashion.

However as I sit contentedly, feeling rather full and staring at my empty fish and chip paper – I can’t help thinking how truly impressive it is that this fabulously simple dish has stood such a test of time. So no matter whether it’s 150 years or a few more – I think we should all raise our wooden forks and say ‘Happy Anniversary’ to this great British favourite.

fish and chip facts