Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Where have all the dishes gone?


In the three months I have been back in my native North East of England, I have discovered and re-discovered so many dishes that come from this area. The North East is literally teeming with great local recipes that, rather tragically, have fallen from people's minds. Being a passionate lad, I'm a great believer in finding good in everything, especially food and the history behind it. Lets face it, classic dishes don't just happen by accident. Somebody has put it together, tested it and tried it and at some point it has been incredibly popular. Just how do great local dishes get forgotten about? Is it anything to do with the over-complication of today's cuisine, the multitude of choice, fast and ready food or is it simply plain ignorance and a lack of will to want to know? I guess it is any of these and more, but I for one will not give up in my efforts to re-establish these great local dishes.

I cannot think of one place I can go to in the area to sample any of the dishes that are, or were, common to the area. Pan haggerty, a simple food of layered potatoes, onions and cheese that I ate most weeks as a child. Cockle and mussel soup. Newcastle pudding, a steamed bread and lemon dessert similar to the famous bread and butter pudding but better. Bacon floddies for breakfast. Singing hinnies for tea. So many that are so good, yet we don't eat them any more. It makes me want to cry.

By far and away the best 'Geordie' dish is a traditional leek pudding. Now leeks are a big thing up here, with leek growing competitions the 2nd biggest contest after the Newcastle v Sunderland derby. Monster leeks are carried into pubs and community centres all over this great piece of land and it is more than a way of life. Never let these traditions die, as simplicity of life is the key to happiness. With this amazing vegetable, we decided many moons ago to cover them in a suet suit and steam them to silky softness. I love them and have ate a million of them over the years.

Here is my version of a true classic, which has it's mild onion flavour lifted somewhat with the addition of cheese, mustard and cream. I bake mine rather than steam them. Nothing wrong with steaming, it will give you a spongier and more melting sensation, but I prefer the crustiness that baking brings out. Also, 2 hours steaming or 30 minutes baking? Let your stomach answer that one for you. Serve it with a beef and ale stew, Newcastle Brown Ale of course. The food of champions. Champion man!

Northumbrian leek pudding
To serve two

100g self raising flour
50g shredded suet (beef or vegetable)
one large or two small leeks
50g butter
100ml double cream
50g strong cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C, GM4 and butter two individual ovenproof pudding moulds.
2 - Mix the flour and suet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine with enough water to make a stiff paste.
3 - Slice the leeks length ways, wash thoroughly and finely shred.
4 - Soften the leeks in butter until just coloured. Stir in the cream, grated cheese and mustard powder and combine, ensuring a sloppy mixture.
5 - Roll out the pastry to approximately one cm thick and divide into two. Line the pudding moulds and trim the excess pastry. Roll back out again and cut out two `lids' for the puddings.
6 - Pile the leek mixture into the puddings until ¾ full and top with the pastry discs. Dab the edges with water and seal. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to see this blog here - saw you on Masterchef and came here via the link on Digital Spy forums - thought your food looked terrific on Monday - hoping you do well on Friday so we'll see you go further

Ceci

Sue form Down South said...

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, which my 16 year old son was desperate for me to find (and cook!)
We loved your style of cooking on Masterchef and will certainly be reading your blog in the future, in the hope that you will initiate us into the delights of more wonderful North East classic dishes!
Good luck for Friday!

Kate.Kingsley said...

Guess what I'll be making this weekend?

Thanks for posting this recipe ~ I haven't been able to stop thinking about leek pudding since I saw Masterchef earlier in the week.

Really pleased that you got through (thoroughly deserved!) and as Tynesiders ourselves me & the other half will be rooting for you on Friday. Best of luck!

Best wishes
Kate

Hannah said...

I will be making this this weekend David - can't wait to try it! Routing for you to go through on Friday!!!

Hannah
xxx

Anonymous said...

Your cooking stood out head and shoulders above the others, for me. Good luck on Masterchef. I used to teach at Cleadon Park School, so this brings back memories of some wonderful North east food!

Andy hall said...

Good luck Little Bro on the telly and what not. I hope you can get me a copy to gander over here!

Even if you don't win your still tops in my world mate!

Get stuck in!

Love

Andy XXX.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck for the neet brother in law. Got the timer record set, can't wait.

love Mx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe for Leek pudding I too saw it on the night and thought it looked luscious - great that you got through to semi finals - Got fingers crossed for the rest next week - Anne ( Corrie)

Anonymous said...

David, I tried your leek pie today and it was delish!
BUT, in your recipe, did you mean to roll the pastry out to one cm thick?
I rolled it much thinner - I thought one cm to be too thick, espcially in a small pudding basin.

Bridget said...

Pan haggerty - who would have thought that we were doing our own version of it for a number of years now, without knowing what it really was. We just call them cheesy tatties and we take some foil, a bit of olive oil and butter and mix thinly sliced tatties and onions together and put that in the foil then a bit of cheese in the middle and on top, with a bit more butter and oil. Then close up the foil into a sausage sort of parcel and throw it on the bbq (indirect heat) for about 45 min I think. There you have it, "cheesy tatties" a la Bridget and Art, up here in sunny Forfar (where another great national dish comes from - the Bridie!).

Anonymous said...

Vegetarian/Vegan. Don't be put off by the cream. I used soya milk instead and it was still fantastic. But don't throw a full 100ml into the mixture at once. I found that it took a bit less to get that sloppy mixture. Let's have more veggie recipes David.
expat Pat

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Mrs G said...

I have had a craving for Leek Pudding since seeing it MGL.

All I can say is thank you - it was utterly divine!

Flaming Nora said...

Thank you so much for the authentic recipe, will try it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

The leek pudding episode of masterchef aired today here in western australia after watching it i was tempted to find the recipe to make it myself. Thankyou for posting it as now i can have a go at making it. I'm an aussie but my dad is from the uk and your recipes reminded me of some of the dishes he would make when i was younger so thankyou and i look forward to trying some of your other recipes. I hope everything worked out well for you after your win david

Cheers Keke

Kate Johnson said...

I'm a southerner by birth, and (mostly not very happily) resident in Australia since 1969, but the two years in my twenties that I spent in Northumberland are among my happiest memories. I've only just found your blog, as I was looking for a recipe for leek pudding (baked version). I've been ill and I'm hankering for the simple foods I used to get in Newcastle and Seghill. All the best to you! Love, Kate.