The Ultimate Christmas Cheeseboard

Squidbeak have long flown the flag for the wonderful Courtyard Dairy in Settle. Andy and Kathy Swinscoe opened their specialist cheese shop in 2012 and have since picked up every cheese award going: Best Cheese Retailer at the 2013 British Cheese Awards; Cheesemonger of the Year at the World Cheese Awards 2013 oh and more.

Now they are stocking up on their Christmas cheeses. Have a browse of their website where Andy explains how to put together a memorable Christmas cheeseboard.

StOswald lgeYou could take his suggestions for a British and Irish cheeseboard with Old Winchester: a Cheddar/Gouda cross made in the New Forest; Killeen, a goats’ milk cheese from Ireland and the soft, Brie-like St Oswald from the Cotswolds, For blue, Andy suggests Cote Hill  Blue from Lincolnshire and Anster from Anstruther in Fife, to go with the Christmas cake.

My choice would be a beautiful Vacherin Mont D’Or, the fabulous, runny cheese that comes in a spruce bark box and is only available in winter; Richard III Wensleydale  or a buttery Lancashire like Mrs Kirkham’s. For blue, I’ll be going for the nutty, unpasteurised Stichelton.

The Courtyard Dairy are offering 10% discount to all Squidbeak readers for orders placed before 8th December. And for anyone spending more than £25 they will include free chutney and crackers.

When ordering, write on the Special Instructions: SQUIDBEAK SUBSCRIBER.


Homemade pork sausages with lentils

Home made sausage with fennel seeds and green lentils edited 2-1Everyone loves a sausage but most ready-made sausages contain wheat and other cereals which can be a problem for some people. Make them yourself and you can leave out the cereals and keep the fat content down by choosing lean mince.

Serves 4


For the sausages

  • 500g minced pork
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

 For the lentils

  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 150g potato, finely diced
  • 100g celery
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 240g canned green lentils, drained
  • 1 tsp smoked garlic oil


Mix together the pork, wine, fennel seeds, rosemary and season well with salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture into 8 and roll each into a sausage shape 8cm long and 3cm in diameter.

Wrap tightly in a piece of foil and twist the ends as you would a sweet.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Poach the sausages in the boiling water for 3 minutes.Leave to cool and remove the foil. The poaching ensures the sausages hold together.

Pour 2 tbsp of oil into a frying pan and cook the sausages until golden on all sides.

Place 1 tbsp oil in a pan and sweat the carrots, potatoes and celery until soft.

Add a little water to the pan, add the cherry tomatoes, cover with a lid and continue to cook for five minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the lentils and lay the sausages on top. Cook gently for another five minutes making sure everything is piping hot.


Baked plums with elderberry honey and almond crackle

Another lovely but simple dish from our recipe writer Joan Ransley who made this after visiting and collecting plums at the Church Orchard, Addingham. You can read more about the orchard in Joan’s article in the Yorkshire Post.

If you can’t get hold of elderberries you can substitute blueberries.

Baked plums

Serves 6


6 large plums, cut in half stone removed

2 tbsp runny honey

Berries from 1-2 elderberry droops, washed

2-3 tbsp almond crackle*


Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. Place the plums cut side up on a baking tray or bun tin. Place the honey in a small bowl. Remove the elderberries from their stalks and place in a metal sieve or tea strainer. Crush the berries with a metal spoon and allow the juice to drip into the honey. Stir the honey and elderberry juice together well and dribble over the tray of cut plums. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and cook the plums until they are soft and their juice bubbles from the skins. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with crushed almond crackle* (see recipe below). Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt.

To make almond crackle….


80g almonds

150g caster sugar


Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and roast in a hot oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Place 3 tablespoons of water and the caster sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and swirl together. It is important not to stir the sugar and water.

Gently heat the sugar and water until they reach a simmer – continue to swirl every now and then.

Simmer for about 10 minutes until the solution begins to change to a golden colour.

At this point pour over the tray of cooled almonds and allow the sugar solution to set a little before placing the tray of almonds in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.

Remove almonds from the freezer when the sugar is solid and brittle.

Crush the almonds and hardened sugar into shards and use to scatter over puddings, in crumbles or just to nibble. A really useful addition to lots of sweet things.




Yorkshire’s Sweet Tooth


Yorkshire has always had an exceedingly sweet tooth. The love affair probably dates from when sugar stopped being an expensive luxury reserved for the gentry; probably from 1660 when John Taylor set up his sugar refinery in Skeldergate, York and dentists started rubbing their hands.

Mackintosh’s in Halifax made Quality Street and Toffee. Liquorice Allsorts and Pontefract Cakes came out of Bassett’s in Sheffield,  York had Terry’s and their famous Chocolate Orange while Rowntree’s invented the Kit Kat. Little Maxon’s in Sheffield remain the family firm, independently making their mint humbugs and Jesmona Black Bullets, Yorkshire has given Britain an historic conveyor belt of household names.

Yorkshire manufacturers made world-beating breakthroughs in the development of toffee, chocolates and boiled sweets and at Rowntrees, in enlightened management before foreign regimes took over.  Today, Nestlé Rowntree stamp out six million Kit Kats from the Haxby Road site. It is Britain’s biggest confectionery exporter, but the sad truth is Rowntree is just a name now albeit with a history worth remembering.

It was the maverick Mary Tuke, aged 30 and scandalously unmarried from an influential Quaker family, who started it all. In the 18th century she ran a grocer’s shop in York without a license from the Merchant Adventurers. It took seven years before they finally allowed her to trade legitimately. Her descendants began manufacturing cocoa and chocolate until another Quaker, Henry Isaac Rowntree acquired the company. When he faced financial difficulties, he brought in his brother Joseph to help sort things out.



Joseph Rowntree in old age


Joseph brought in a French pastille maker to produce fruit gums and pastilles and it was these, not chocolate, that proved to be the turning point for the business. Only later did Joseph purchase state of the art equipment from Holland to begin producing a purer form of cocoa and raising enough funds to build a large factory on Haxby Road.


Rowntree’s Cocoa Works, Haxby Road

There they developed countless new lines that grew into household names. The first chocolate selection box for the mass market was Black Magic, followed by Dairy Box along with Aero, Kit Kat and Smarties.

For Joseph Rowntree, whose Quaker principles meant he was as concerned with people as much as product. He introduced medical and dental care for his workers, he instituted the first ever company suggestion scheme, offered cookery lessons, singing classes, a book club and an angling club, though works outings were abandoned  when everyone got drunk in Whitby on the first trip. At New Earswick he built a model village with green spaces, a folk hall and sunny, well-built houses with gardens for working people, and he created one of the world’s first pension schemes on which many of today’s systems are based,

At much the same time, Joseph Terry was setting himself up in competition with Rowntree’s. Since 1767 he had been producing candied citron, jujubes, mint cakes and coltsfoot rock at a site on Bootham. In 1823 he moved to St Helen’s Square and there laid the foundations for the famous company.


Terry’s Chocolate Works on Bishopthorpe Road

In the 1930s Terry’s built their factory, the Chocolate Works, a red brick, art deco building on 170 acres on Bishopthorpe Road. They named themselves Terry’s of York, acquired their own cocoa plantation in the Venezuelan Andes (using a cocoa palm as their logo) and developed Neapolitans, All Gold and Terry’s Chocolate Orange; and like Rowntree initiated insurance, pension schemes, convalescent and social clubs and holidays with pay.

The 1960s brought massive changes for Terry’s. It is a story of takeover and merger, by  United Biscuits and eventually Kraft who closed the Chocolate Works, moved production to Europe and made 300 workers redundant.

The landmark Chocolate Works is yet to be developed into flats and offices. The shop in St Helen’s Square is now a bar named Harker’s, though a replica of the shop can be found in the Castle Museum – a reminder of the glories of this pioneering Yorkshire giant.

By the mid-80s Rowntree’s was also facing takeover. A hostile approach by the Swiss multi-national Nestlé led to vigorous protests. Opponents even traveled to Switzerland to protest at the Nestlé headquarters. The takeover went ahead anyway.

Nestlé was and remains, the world’s biggest and most powerful food multi-national. It also stands condemned in some countries for its marketing of infant formula in the developing world where access to clean water is limited. A British boycott of Nescafé has been in place for many years supported by bodies as august as Save the Children and the Women’s Institute. There is little doubt where Joseph Rowntree would have stood.

For more information on Rowntree’s www.rowntreesociety

York Cocoa House

For all that some have christened it the Chocolate City, York has been slow to celebrate its chocolate history, but in 2011 Sophie Jewett, a true chocolate enthusiast, opened the York Cocoa House in Blake Street and made it a place to learn, buy, eat and celebrate all things chocolate.


Food Historian Dr Annie Gray at the opening of York Cocoa House


A self-taught chocolatier, Sophie gave up her day job to set up this great littler enterprise. A café, workshop, shop and much more. Sign up for dinners, chocolate tastings, workshops or masterclasses. Every day between 10am and 4pm there is an opportunity for you or your kids to make a chocolate lolly. You can book a group visit for a chocolate birthday party, a hen party or a corporate day.

If you want something more serious Sophie offers a 15 week course to learn tempering, ganache, chocolate decorating and much more. Join all 15 or pick out the sessions you fancy or you could do it all in a week on her Chocolate Apprenticeship.

If you just want to eat rather than make, there is a pleasant little café where everything on the menu – sweet or savoury – contains chocolate. The rarebit is made with chocolate stout, the hummous, with chilli and white chocolate and naturally there is every kind of hot chocolate and deliciously indulgent chocolate cakes – our favourite, the salted caramel chocolate torte

Take home some handmade truffles with flavours that range from vanilla, orange, chilli and even Yorkshire blue cheese, which is surprisingly good.

In King’s Square, York’s Chocolate Story is a more commercial attraction taking visitors through the history of chocolate, how it’s made and best of all, how it tastes.

Michelin out today

PernThe UK Michelin Guide is out today and the big news for Yorkshire is the Star at Harome winning back its star. We’ve always rated them and we’re glad to see them back in the Michelin club.  Congratulations to Andrew Pern and his team.

All the rest of the Michelin starred restaurants in Yorkshire have retained their gongs, that’s the Pipe and Glass, South Dalton, the Box Tree in Ilkley, the Black Swan at Oldstead, the Old Vicarage, Sheffield, the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill.

As well as stars, Michelin also award Bib Gourmands for a decent meal under £30 and this year have given one to our long time favourite, Le Langhe in York.

If you want to study the full list go to Elizabeth Auerbach’s brilliant site for all things Michelin

Congratulations to all star holders and to all the other fabulous Yorkshire restaurants and chefs who didn’t get a star. To be honest, we don’t care, we know that all the places on Squidbeak are worth a detour.

The Good Food Guide in Yorkshire

GFG coverThe Good Food Guide’s out today, now under the auspices of Waitrose, so you should be able to pick up a copy in your local store.

Yorkshire restaurants as ever gets a good show with more than 65 entries and top marks going to the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, the Box Tree at Ilkley and Van Zeller’s in Harrogate with an impressive 6/10. The Burlington at Devonshire Arms comes in a touch lower at 5/10 presumably because new chef Adam Smith is still finding his feet.

Other 5’s include the Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough, the Star Inn at Harome, Samuel’s at Swinton Park, Vennell’s in Masham, the Pipe & Glass at South Dalton, and Le Langhe and Melton’s both in York.

Congratulations to all the new entries: The Buck Inn at Maunby, the Broadfield Ale House in Sheffield, the Grapes at Slingsby, the Park at Sutton on Forest where Adam Jackson popped up after serving time at the Black Swan at Oldstead and York’s big new opening, the Star Inn the City. Special congratulations to the Spiced Pear at Holmfirth where Tim Bilton and his team also picked up the Readers’ Restaurant of the Year award for the north east.

If you think these scores sound on the low side, think again. Only three restaurants in this year’s guide scored a perfect 10/10 L’Enclume, The Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Four restaurants score 9/10  and a handful 8/10 and 7/10.

A score of 6/10 according to the Guide means: ‘exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement’.

While 5/10 means: ‘exact cooking techniques and a degree of ambition; showing balance and depth of flavour in dishes’.

So if you agree or disagree with these entries and their scores, have found somewhere good or better, let them know. The GFG hold great store by readers’ responses. To do so, log on to, and tell them what you think. But make sure you tell us first.

Good Food Guide’s Top Pubs

Pipe and GlassOnly one Yorkshire restaurant has made into the ‘Top 50′, in the new 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide out on Monday and that’s the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. Our congratulations to Frances Atkins.

Today, the guide listed for the first time their ‘Top 50′ pubs. Number one is not in Yorkshire, but the Freemason’s Arms is not far away,  just over the border in Wiswell, Lancashire. Second is the Hand and Flowers in Bucks and third is the Red Lion at East Chisenbury, Wiltshire. Yorkshire did OK though with five pubs on the list. Yorkshire and nearby counties are rated as follows:

6          The Pipe and Glass at South Dalton [picture]

14       The Star Inn at Harome

20       The Broad Chare, Newcastle

31       The White Hart, Lydgate, Oldham

32       The General Tarleton, Knaresborough

36       The Bay Horse, Hurworth on Tees

41       The Star at Sancton

42      The Black Swan at Oldstead


Edible Couture

TWe thought you’d like to see this amazing edible sculpture made especially for this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor race meeting in York.

Ebor Meeting vege lady and jockey for Jennifer Middleton. pic aug 20 2014Royal Opera House set designer Caitlin Jones, fashion graduate Charlotte Miles, milliner Hannah Wyatt and Jennifer Middleton from LemonZest PR have created the figures made entirely out of fruit, veg, with herbs and flowers supplied by Alison Dodds from the wonderful Herbs Unlimited near Thirsk.


We love the savoy and red cabbage skirt, the radish necklace and  Yorkshire pudding hat and handbag, which were baked by the team at York Racecourse Hospitality to showcase Yorkshire produce. Clever lot.


York Food Festival



Ticket’s are now on sale for Yorkshire’s biggest food festival.

The York Food Festival runs from 19 September for ten days. This year’s theme is ‘good food in diverse locations’, these include dinner in the Treasurers House, a St Emillion lunch in the Mansion House, a wine tasting with the Three Wine Men – Olly Smith, Oz Clarke, and Tim Atkins -  in the grounds of York Minster.  Sister Agatha and Sister Ann will cook at the Bar Convent and you can learn about harvesting and preserving on a tour of Middlethorpe Hall’s garden.

There’s loads of stuff to see and do and eat. If you haven’t explored York’s glorious historic pubs, then you need to join the Festival ale trail. The Taste Trail is a way of sampling the food of local suppliers.  Dine at my Table takes you into the homes of talented cooks like Becky Spink former head chef at Ottolenghi or Les Bons Vivants the French inspired supper club.

There are cookery sessions, at the York Cooking Rooms, the Mansion House, the Castle Museum and the Guildhall, or you can sit back and let the chefs do the work at demos. throughout the Festival. Our plan is to pick out the best street food at the enormous Festival market in Parliament Street, hunt down the Champagne tent and settle in for an indulgent lunch. Study the website and book your tickets now.



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