Monthly Archives: May 2010

Food Fairs

Sunshine, classic English rolling countryside and a wealth of fabulous food – what better way to spend your weekend?

Kedleston HallYes, last Sunday, we managed to escape the children for a day (don’t worry they weren’t left unattended!) and visit the Derbyshire Food & Drink Festival, held in the grounds of the National Trust’s Kedleston Hall.

For those of you yet to experience the joys of a food fair, I would highly recommend it. There was a huge range of local producers, selling many tempting things. We chose a small selection of finger food for our picnic – beautifully tranquil and warm by the river – and a few treats (we could have bought much more!) to take home. We finished the day with a wander through the scented bluebell woods. Bliss!

Click here for details of food festivals near you.

After sampling all of our purchases, my overall favourite was damson gin, but the small bottle is going down far too fast. So I am going to give our very own Dairy Diary fruity gin a try now I have been inspired by its sweet and subtle taste. Perfect with a splash of cava or tonic; or simply on its own with ice.

Dairy Diary Address BookWin a Dairy Diary Address & Reminder Book
Fancy a treat? For your chance to win visit the Dairy Diary website. Good luck.

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Fruity Gin

Try the sweet and subtle taste of fruity gin with a splash of cava or tonic; or simply on its own with ice.

Fruity Gin56 calories per 25ml shot
0g fat of which 0g is saturated
Serves 34
Time 45 mins plus infusing time
Suitable for vegetarians

Blueberries 450g (1lb)
or Kumquats 450g (1lb), sliced and pips removed
or Plums 500g (1lb 2oz), halved stoned and sliced
Gin 600ml (1 pint)
Soft light brown muscovado sugar 150g (5oz)
Glass jar and bottles
Muslin for straining scalded, cooled and then wrung out well

1 Choose which fruit you would like to use and then put inside a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

2 Pour gin into the jar, add muscovado sugar, stir well until the sugar is dissolved and then cover with lid and store in a cool, dark airy cupboard for 3-4 months, stirring weekly until sugar is completely dissolved.

3 When the gin has developed a good, fruity flavour, strain it through muslin, discard fruit and then pour into clean bottles for storing.

4 Store gin for at least 1 month before drinking. Serve fruity gin in shot glasses, well chilled and poured over ice cubes. The ginwill keep for several years.

Instead of the fruits suggested, try using sloes, to make sloe gin. You will need 500g (1lb 2oz). Sloes are in season in autumn.

This is a Dairy Diary recipe.

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Wonderful weekend weather

Did you enjoy the fabulous weather over the weekend? Many people did, evidenced by the shortage of barbeque fuel in some shops!

Well, following the best weekend of the year to date, it may be unrealistic to expect the same for the bank holiday weekend.

But, if it does turn out to be a pleasant weekend, what better way to enjoy it than to get out and enjoy your garden. This weekend we will definitely try the Peppers in a Pot mini-project from Seasonal Garden Ideas. And enjoy a leisurely barbeque with friends – fingers-crossed!

Are you lucky enough to have tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week? I am envious. If you haven’t got tickets the bad news is that the show is sold out. But you can follow the show on BBC – here’s the schedule.

Around Britain Dairy CookbookFancy winning a copy of the fabulous Around Britain Dairy Cookbook? Simply click here to enter. Good luck.

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Peppers in Pots

Aubergines and sweet peppers can be grown outdoors in a sunny, sheltered site – choose a south-facing position and put out when all danger of frost is past – you should have the makings of a ratatouille on your own doorstep!

Buy container-grown young plants in May or June for cropping in August and September. Potting up the small plants will take an hour or so.

Peppers in PotsPlants required
One each of the following: aubergine ‘Short Tom’; hot pepper ‘Hungarian Wax’; sweet pepper ‘Earliest Sweet Red’. If you can’t find these varieties, look for others labelled as suitable for growing outdoors in containers.

Equipment required
Three terracotta pots (use plastic or ceramic if you prefer).Soil-based potting compost.Broken crocks for drainage.Trowel.Bamboo canes for support if needed.Potassium-rich liquid fertiliser.

1 Line each of the three pots with broken crocks for drainage. Half-fill with compost, then check the level of the rootball in each pot by sitting the small plants, still in their original containers, into the pots. The rootball should sit about 4cm (1½in) below the rim of the pot. Adjust the level of the compost accordingly.

2 Plant the aubergine and peppers, one to a pot, firm in well, then top up with compost. Water thoroughly.

3 Place the plants in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot, away from strong winds and draughts. Water regularly, but don’t allow the compost to become sodden. Support with bamboo canes and soft string if the stems start to bend over.

4 When the fruits start to appear, water every week with a liquid potassium-rich fertiliser (such as that recommended for tomatoes).

5 Don’t allow the plants to produce too many fruits – they won’t develop to a good size. For plants grown in pots of the size shown here, four or five is the maximum. Once the plant has this number developing, pinch out any further flowers – this will encourage the remaining fruits to grow larger.

Tip Red peppers are not a separate variety – they are green peppers allowed to remain on the stem until they ripen to a deep red colour. For use in the kitchen, pick them green – the weather in the UK may not be warm enough for outdoor peppers to ripen to red.

Note Check the plant labels carefully when buying young aubergine and pepper plants – new varieties are always coming on the market, many of them bred especially for outdoor and container growing. Your rate of success will be much higher if you choose the right variety in the first place.

Aftercare No particular aftercare is required. You will need to buy new young plants every year.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas. Now available at

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Dairy Book of Home Cookery

Over the years we have had so many requests for the original cookbook, the Dairy Book of Home Cookery, I am amazed.

Its popularity is unwavering and its fans passionate.

One of our consumers said:

‘A treasure. A friend of mine’s mum had an old version of this book when I was at school (a long time ago). When my husband and I moved into our first flat, there were two cookery books on my kitchen shelf. Delia’s original “Complete Cookery Course” and the Dairy Book of Home Cookery.’

The recipes are clear and simple – and unlike many cookery books these days, all the basics are there, pancakes, white sauce, the stuff your mum used to make. The information sections are also first class. My husband (a chef) takes my copy into work to show his trainees where all the cuts of meat come from, as the illustrations in this book are far superior to most industrial tomes. My daughter is only 12. But when she leaves home, she’s taking a copy of this with her – but not mine!’

I’ve even heard of someone buying her ex-husband a copy when they divorced!

This ‘cookery treasure’ is now an astonishing £2.99 (plus P&P) on the website. Snap it up while stocks last, and look out for the brand new fully updated version next year.

Try this Shepherd’s Pie, just one of the treasured recipes in the  Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

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Shepherd’s Pie

A treasured recipe from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery. Wonderful comfort food.

Shepherd's PieServes 4
Preparation 15 mins
Cooking 1¾ hrs
Suitable for freezing

450g (1lb) minced lamb
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
300ml (½ pint) lamb
1 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
680g (1½lb) potatoes, peeled and chopped
25g (1oz) butter
3 tbsp milk

1 Dry fry lamb in a non-stick pan until browned. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually blend in stock, tomato purée, herbs and season to taste.

3 Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and boils. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

4 Turn mince into a 1.1 litre (2 pint) ovenproof dish.

5 Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender.

6 Drain well, mash with butter and milk.

7 Cover mince mixture with potato. Bake at 190°C (375°F) Mark 5 for 1¼ hrs.

Recipe taken from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

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