Recipe: Lamb chops cooked with dill

turkishAs it’s well-known that I love cooking and cookbooks, and so I am fortunate to be given interesting publications from time to time. Including one called simply Turkish Cookery which can be an inspiring start to finding a new recipe.

There’s only one problem, the 1992 book from Net Turistik has its own style of English to work around. The pictures of the food always look very authentic Turkish food even if the names of the dishes may be lost in translation – how do you fancy an egg dish called woman’s thigh for example?

As you’d expect, there’s a good number of lamb (mutton) dishes and a recipe for ‘meat with bones cut from the loin’ caught my eye as it included pairing the meat with dill. More usually associated with fish, dill is a lovely soft herb and, hoping that this wasn’t simply a mistake, I was interested to see how it went with the new season lamb.

A quick google search revealed that this combination is quite common in other parts of the world including Sweden where lamb, lemon and dill seems popular. So, translating ‘3 salads’ to handfuls of baby spinach, and adding in some potato to make this a one pot dish – I cam up with a whole new recipe.

Lamb with dill

You can see the full recipe at my Farmers’ Choice page here.

Taking a break at Ox Pasture Hall

Time for tea? Always!

A proper afternoon tea. Is there anything quite so daftly English as an afternoon tea? With its tiny sandwiches and cake overload all laid out in a tower of tiers which doesn’t start at the top, or the bottom, but right there in the middle – it is deliciously ridiculous

There’s good reason why Lewis Carroll set the surreal adventures of Alice in Wonderland with a tea right at its heart – yes, there’s always time for tea and, done properly, tea can stop time.

oxpasturehallWe tucked into this example in the cosy lounge of Ox Pasture Hall. It’s a comfortable country inn where the food is plentiful and unpretentious, the service friendly and welcoming.

As the tradition dictates, sandwiches are very definitely NOT butties. These are finger sandwiches designed to be held aloft as one quaffs the beverage and considers the prospects of cakes to follow. Being a good Yorkshire inn, the choice was deliciously thick cuts of beef and mustard, generously spread cream cheese and cucumber (of course) and a strongly cured smoked salmon.

Of course there’s fruit scone with strawberry jam and cream and that top layer housed the first of the lemon related sweet things a sharp lemon drizzle cake with lemon icing

Then the dainties, and plenty of lemon infusion from a bite-size lemon meringue pie and a super light lemon cheesecake before the deeply rich chocolate and nut block and creamy fudge.

Scarborough beach

After all that tea, it was back to reality and stop suspending time to explore. Being a typically English weekend, the weather wasn’t entirely kind but pleasant enough for a stroll along the beach. Despite being hidden away deep in woodland, Ox Pasture Hall is only about a 5 minute drive away from Scarborough’s north bay with its dramatic cliffs and quintessential seaside scene of beach huts.

It’s easy to pass an hour, or two, right there on the front, to be beside the seaside.

beachhutsBut ultimately, it’s time for dinner.

The dining room is a light and comfortable space and settled in for a view over one of the gardens – the Hall has some lovely landscaped grounds and also a courtyard with fountains surrounded by the traditional buildings.

A former country farmhouse surrounded by barns and out-buildings, it has been extended and restored in a very sympathetic way to make a comfortable stay.

It is apparently the only restaurant in Scarborough to have been awarded 2-rosettes, so we were ready to be impressed.

The first arrival at the table was something of a surprise – as an Amuse-bouche should be I guess – but we genuinely weren’t expecting an oversized fish finger in a cup. OK, it was announced as a ‘goujon of cod’ but you get the idea – someone had obviously had a sip from the ‘drink me’ bottle at Alice’s party earlier as it was a giant thing!

Beetroot and orange salad

I started with the beetroot with orange. I’m always a fan of beetroot anyway and this pretty salad was an absolute triumph with the earthiness of a beetroot sorbet holding together the plate which includes an almost overly salty salted beetroot and carpaccio slices of sweeter beets.

Rack of lamb cuts

For my main course I went for the lamb and enjoyed two cuts off a rack of lamb which were cooked good and rare. The potato layered with shredded lamb was an interesting accompaniment as an intense contrast and the cubes of seasonal swede was a welcome vegetable too.

Himself took advantage of the pork options with a crumbly ham hock to start with the substantial belly pork, cabbage and mash going down a teat as well.

cheeseUnsurprisingly after all those cakes, a sweet seemed out of the question and so we shared the smaller of the chessboards on offer with three cheeses and chutneys – a smoked cheddar, a remarkable goats cheese and a smoked Wensleydale with apple sliced into the finest of circles.

It was a satisfying and interesting meal in a friendly and comfortable environment. If we’re ever that side of North Yorkshire again, it’ll definitely be on the itinerary.

Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel is at Lady Edith’s Drive, Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire. YO12 5TD.



* Our overnight stay at the hall with dinner, tea and breakfast was provided free of charge for review purposes. Please note that I only ever accept such invitations on the understanding that I can write a true reflection of my opinion of the place for the review which is never provided to the venue for copy approval. The Sunday night offer we were treated to costs from £200. 

Recipe: BBQ garlic and rosemary lamb with vegetable skewer

BBQIt is BBQ season. No really, it is. Despite the Bank Holiday weather, those hazy evenings are nearly upon us. If you don’t mind the occasional gust of wind, you could be braving the odd BBQ right now.

(Our neighbours probably think we’re a bit crazy as well – extreme barbqeuing is not unknown here)

When you do eventually light the coals or purchase the gas, this is a tried and tested recipe that I’ve done for Farmer’s Choice with gives the meat some extra flavour.

Read it in full here.

@Red Onion, Glasgow

Interesting to see that this family restaurant has been voted into the shortlist of this year’s Glasgow Restaurant Awards by online users of Here’s what I found when I visited a couple of months ago……….

I generally to find menus with a bit of everything a bit of a worry. Curries with Italian or Chinese with burgers. Does it mean the venue is suffering an identity crisis? Or is it simply trying to cater for all tastes?

This restaurant from chef/patron, John Quigley offers all of the above but actually seems to manage to keep a coherent sense of belonging with the styling being as much about hearty fayre as any particular cuisine.

Our choice of starters epitomises what I’m getting at – tempura prawns with dipping sauce and then chicken liver parfait with oatcakes.

Of the two, the liver was probably the best bet. The prawns were succulent but tempura’s light as gossamer batter doesn’t travel easily out of a Japanese restaurant and this attempt did have something of the chip shop about it.

Again a choice between more exotic and traditional for the main courses but here the quality of the produce and the high standards of the cooking were more evident.

Well presented

My main of  slow cooked lamb korma with roti. Fell apart , soft delicious. Beautifully presented. This was the sort of a dish that graces a glossy magazine, not that my hastily arranged snap does it justice. It was one of those dishes that qualifies as memorable in my taste directory.

His duck with sweet potato was well-cooked and, well, sweet with crispy onions complementing.
Unfortunately, desert of frozen raspberries with hot white chocolate sauce was a disappointing failure and, based on the strength of this one experience only (which to be fair isn’t the ideal situation to base anything much on),  any repeat visit will lead to avoidance the deserts and sticking with the desert wine.

The promised hot white chocolate wasn’t… hot, and the frozen raspberries not….. frozen so it all ended up being luke warm gloopy mess, the texture of which could be found on the pavement outside takeaways up and down the country on a Sunday morning. With added sugar.

Not hot, not frozen

Despite the puds, overall we enjoyed the food and the bustling city centre atmosphere complete with some of Scotland’s most energetic waiting staff running up and down three flights of stairs to our mezzanine seating area.

Verdict: Thoughtful and well cooked meat dishes on a convivial atmosphere.

Red Onion Restaurant is at  257 West Campbell Street, Glasgow, G2 4TT – TEL: 0141 221 6000 EMAIL:

@ City Inn, Leeds

More often than not when dining in a hotel, I’m the one, with a table for one. That person you’ll spot in the corner, eating with a good book or more often in my case, a Blackberry and Twitter!

Travelling around a lot means the solo meal has lost all the awkwardness and fear I once felt in booking a table and eating alone.

But while the experience maybe commonplace, having company for a meal – that breaking of companionable bread – is definitely preferable, fulfilling a social need which improves any dish.

So I was delighted to take up the invitation to try out the Leeds City Inn’s spring menu with a guest on a recent stopover.

The City Inn has a couple of in-built assets which make it a good destination for a special meal out 1. the attractive waterside location and 2. the impressive Sky bar with its panoramic city views.

We took our seats at a table over looking the water and had a good look at the menu.

It’s been created by Group Executive Chef Scott Macdonald and is an interesting mix of traditional and adventurous – so that’s how we did it. I went for adventurous while Himself stayed traditional, kicking off with a prawn cocktail.

The retro dish, served as tradition demands in a glass, was well-received but I found my adventurous choice of marinated tuna just a little too challenging with a lot of mayo and an overly strong fish for my personal taste.

For the mains I plumped for the halibut and was frankly taken aback by the powerful salsa verde. On first taste it was the epitome of mint. I had to go back and try it again. And oh, again. I’m still not entirely sure what all the component parts might have been but it was a perfect foil for the beautifully cooked king of fish even if it did leave me feeling like a Masterchef judge umming and aahhing and pretentiously considering little tastes for far longer than was necessary.

Playing it trad again, Himself tucked into a selection lamb cuts – rump, belly and kidney. Quite an unusual mixture with the strength of flavour of the meat complemented by the sweet difference and texture of the kidney.

Puds was the rhubarb. Well it had to be really given the location’s proximity to the rhubarb triangle. The chef has given a lovely twist to the Yorkshire favourite with a trio of desserts which worked together – a punchy crumble with ginger, a light trifle and the best ice-cream I’ve had this year – rhubarb ripple parfait.

It was a lovely meal in a relaxing setting with unfussy service and certainly a good place to savour some food with big and powerful flavours.

The City Inn is at Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Aproach, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 4BR 0113 241 1000.

(Disclosure: The meal was provided free of charge for purposes of sampling and review).

Bloggers have chef James Martin licked at #LLF

If you could lick this TV chef, what do you think he would taste like?

Chef James Martin drawing a lobster for @CultureVulture
Chef James Martin drawing a lobster for @CultureVulture

That was the question (from the intrepid Katie of LeedsGrub) which rounded off today’s “bloggers conference”, held to launch the Leeds Loves Food festival in the city.

The organisers took a refreshingly different approach to letting people know about this festival, inviting prominent Yorkshire bloggers along for interviews and access.

It was a fun session – and one which resulted in a different set of questions than those which might be expected from journalists at a bog-standard press conference.

Here’s a flavour;

Q. How do you define being a celebrity?

A. Said he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity – that’s a term others apply and then revealed the difficulty he has with TV presenting due to his dyslexia: “It’s not like we are trained for it, like a presenter’s job. I’m as dyslexic as hell so reading the autocue is a nightmare.”

Q: Food hell and heaven?

A: Heaven is smoked haddock while hell is horseradish. Apparently he hates the stuff.

Q: I asked him what can be done to promote Yorkshire’s food reputation.

A: “We are renowned for great ingredients, some of the best in the world, so all we can do is really show people what they have on their doorstep. I don’t want to go to Thailand and cook a tree rat, I want people to understand what’s on their doorsteps. Everything has its time and now British food is having its time.”

During the session he also recommended some local suppliers – Betty’s, Trenchers Fish and Chips in Whitby and ‘the best lamb in the world’ from Skipton’s Colin Robinson.

Being a high-profile petrolhead, he also answered some car related points which you view on my Qik stream.

But the food was the point of the appearance andJames left the blog gathering and headed off to cook some of that local lamb for 1,100 people.

Which just leaves the question of chef tastiness – so, for the record, Mr Martin tastes of sweat, Christian Dior and mackeral – so he said.

Note: No chefs were subjected to unwanted licking during this blog conference.

Bloggers preparing to grill chef Martin
Bloggers preparing to grill chef Martin