Happy Yorkshire Day fellow food lovers!
I’m not entirely sure how or when this day began or even why, but I’m willing to embrace anything if it gives me the excuse to tuck into a plate of local produce. Last week I received a parcel of dairy-related goodies from the excellent team at Wensleydale Creamery – prompting my search for a traditional Yorkshire recipe using cheese.
Without losing all reason and ending up in a world of cheese and chive Yorkshire puddings, the options are rather limited. I love experimenting with flavours as much as the next girl, but sometimes you can’t beat the basic elements of life – cheese, bread and – of course – beer. Plus, I’m married to a Welshman. Can you see where this is going?
I’m going to start by coming clean – I absolutely love gooseberries. Every summer I get excited about seeing them on the supermarket shelves and can’t wait to grab the small crop from my local pick your own.
But it appears that I’m alone in my devotion to the prickly berry from even pricklier bushes. It’s true that they can’t be eaten raw and require some level of cooking. But the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and the reward is more than worth it.
With just a little sugar and half an hour of your time, the tart gooseberry develops a floral, nostalgic flavour that can’t be found elsewhere. They make a beautiful amethyst coloured jam that is delicious atop a plain scone. There’s something about their flavour and aroma that conjures up notions of Victorian ladies in white cotton gloves, gossiping about the comings and goings of Ms Simmons over a cream tea. Indeed, we have been eating them since at least the medieval era.
I’m always impatient for the arrival of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. The bright pink stems act as a colourful, sharp antidote to a winter full of earthy root vegetables and irony kale. Grown as a medicinal plant by ancient Chinese cultures, this tart vegetable didn’t become popular in Britain until the 1800’s. By the early 20th century, the forced rhubarb industry was thriving. The Yorkshire Triangle sat at the centre of all things rhubarb.
Rhubarb makes a simple and healthy pudding when poached with orange juice and honey, but this savoury alternative is a great way of using up a few leftover stems. Team the salsa with pork chops or griddled halloumi as part of the main meal, or serve alongside salty nachos for a group of friends.
I can smell violets from the next room. One whiff of their heady floral scent and I’m back in my Nan’s living room circa 1986. Sucking on Palma Violets, while Perry Mason gets busy clearing a hapless but innocent defendant in court. All is well with the world.