Archive for the ‘British Food’ Category

Perfect Picnic Spots in the UK

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
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There really isn’t anything better when it’s warm than packing up a picnic and heading outside to dine alfresco. The blog writing team here at the Sykes office love it so much that we head outside to eat our lunch whenever possible! Now, whilst the park we head to is lovely for our alfresco lunching needs, it isn’t quite like the following places, and now we can’t stop thinking about packing up our blankets and some tasty picnic food and heading to one of these destinations.

Top Withens – Haworth

Top Withens in Haworth

Image via Flickr

One for the literature lovers is Top Withens (or Withins) in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Whilst its appearance doesn’t match the description of the house in the book, many believe that the abandoned farm at Top Withens was the inspiration for the farmhouse in Wuthering Heights. The derelict ruins of the farmhouse and the rolling countryside views created by the high position of Top Withens make it the perfect place to roll out your picnic blanket and dine alfresco. Who knows, it may even inspire you to write a future classic piece of literature, too!

Devil’s Dyke – Suffolk

Devils Dyke in Suffolk

Image via Flickr

Devil’s Dyke located in the South Downs National Park is not only the UK’s longest, deepest and widest dry valley, it is also a glorious location for a spot of outside dining from a picnic basket. Owned by the National Trust, Devil’s Dyke is not only a stunning location but it also plays host to a variety of events throughout the year; from guided walks to heritage open days, so you can really make a day of it!

Glenkiln Sculpture Park – Dumfries

Glenkiln Sculpture Park in Dumfries

Image via Flickr

If you’re looking to really get away from it all on your picnic, then Glenkiln Sculpture Park is certainly the place to do so. Despite many of the sculptures being removed for safe-keeping, there are still some stunning things to see due to the walking route running alongside Glenkiln Reservoir; giving you a beautiful waterside view that is just perfect when enjoying your picnic.

Barafundle Beach – Pembrokeshire

Barafundle Beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Image via Flickr

Often, the idea of having sandy sandwiches and trying to fend off hungry seagulls somewhat dulls the appeal of picnicking on the beach. However, with a stunning beach like the one located at Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire, the chances are that you won’t want to leave to get food elsewhere, so a picnic may be a necessity. Looking at photographs of this beach with its almost white sand and stunning blue water, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was on the coast of an exotic island and in fact has been voted many times as one of the best beaches in both Britain and the world!

Feeling inspired?

Teddy Bears Picnic

Image via Flickr

If you’ve been inspired to pack up a picnic this picnic week then we’d love to hear about it! Let us know via twitter or facebook where your favourite place is to lay out a blanket and indulge in some snacking in the great outdoors!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Simple Picnic Recipes

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
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As we advance into the peak summer months the weather is slowly but surely improving and in no time at all we will find ourselves digging out the plastic cutlery, wicker basket and picnic blanket ready to enjoy a light summer lunch at the park or along the coast. The humble British picnic is a summer icon and with sandwiches, cocktail sausages and salad easy to get your hands on this effortless lunch is easily thrown together, however if you’re looking to liven up your picnic blanket this year then why not take a look at our simple picnic recipes? Easy to make and delicious to taste these straightforward recipes are sure to impress your friends and family this summer!

Potato Salad

A favourite here in the UK, potato salad is delightful on its own or as an accompaniment to a larger meal. Ideal for a summer’s picnic it can be taken from the fridge and served at room temperature later during the day. The following recipe serves four and will take around 30 minutes to prepare.

Simple Potato Salad

Picture via Flickr.


450g Jersey Royal potatoes

50ml Chicken stock (hot)

3 tbsp. Mayonnaise

2 tbsp. Crème fraiche

4 Spring onions

2 tbsp. Chopped parsley (flat-leaf)


  1. Cook the potatoes in lightly salter water until tender; this takes around 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and slice into rounds, chunks or quarters; whichever you feel will look best.
  3. Place the cooked and sliced potatoes into a bowl with the hot chicken stock. Stir together and then leave to cool until lukewarm.
  4. Finally chop the spring onions, add to the potatoes along with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, parsley and a light seasoning of salt and pepper.
  5. Gently mix together and leave to cool.

Quiche Lorraine

A quiche Lorraine offers a wonderful alternative to the usually sandwich and is very impressive when made from scratch. This appetizing recipe will cut nicely into eight slices and will take around an hour to prepare.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.


500g Ready to roll shortcrust pastry

3 eggs (lightly beaten)

85g medium cheddar (cut into small cubes)

200g Smokes streaky bacon (chopped)

285ml double cream

Flour for dusting


  1. Dust your work surface with flour and Roll out the pastry until it is about as thick as a £1 coin. Lift the rolled pastry into your tin, press pastry into the sides and trim the excess from the edges. Tip: if you leave the pastry to soften at room temperature in will not crack when rolling.
  2. Chill the pasty in the fridge for 30 minutes. Whilst the pastry case is cooling you can chop the cheese and bacon and lightly beat the eggs.
  3. Preheat your over to 200C/gas mark 6. Cover the pastry case with backing paper and weigh down with backing beans to stop the pasty rising. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides are crisp.  Remove from the over and take away the baking paper and beans before returning the pastry case to the over for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a pan and fry the bacon until golden, scatter over the pastry case along with the cheese cubes.
  5. Mix the beaten eggs and cream together before carefully pouring into the pastry case. Return to the over for a further 30 minutes until set.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.


Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are an easy dish to make and can be eaten hot or cold making them ideal for a family picnic. Children of all ages love grabbing the chicken legs with their hands and not having to worry about a knife or fork and with a packet of wet wipes on hand there is no need to worry about sticky figures! The following recipe cooks 12 drumsticks and takes an hour to prepare.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.


12 Chicken drumsticks

3 cloves of garlic

2 lemons

4 tbsp. Mixed herbs

Black pepper


  1. Place the 12 chicken drumsticks into an oven proof dish and squeeze the juice of 2 lemons over them.
  2. Crush 2 garlic cloves and add to the chicken along with the black pepper and mixed herbs. Tip: if you are making your drumsticks in advance we would advise marinating the chicken in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and cool the chicken through; this should take around 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I hope you find these three simple recipes useful on your next family picnic. If you have any special picnic ideas you would like to share with us and the Sykes Cottages community then please feel free to connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.


By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

The Best of British Cheese

Sunday, June 1st, 2014
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From the humble Cheddar to the majestic Stilton, Britain is famed for its wide selection of delicious cheese products. As the French look on with jealousy, British cheese makers continue to strengthen our cheese heritage with a vast range of traditional and modern flavours. Travelling through Britain’s various regions you’ll find that the taste, texture and smell of cheese varies but the exceptional quality remains. If you’re in search of a new addition to your cheese board or a secret ingredient for your cheese sauce, then keep reading as Sykes Cottages gives you a guide to the best of British cheeses.

Blacksticks Blue

Blacksticks Blue from Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses

Blacksticks Blue from Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses

Described as the daddy of all blue cheeses, Blacksticks Blue is a multi-award winning blue cheese from Lancashire produced by the good people at Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses. This unique, blue veined cheese has its own distinctive amber hue and the extremely creamy flavour is the perfect accompaniment to a thick slice of bread or salty cracker. Ideal for cooking, this scrumptious cheese is also a firm favourite with chefs and wonderful when stirred into hot mash potato!


Caboc supplied by International

Caboc supplied by International Cheese

The oldest cheese in Scotland, Caboc is made using a double cream and is coated with toasted oatmeal. This unique cheese is extremely creamy with a slight sour note finished off beautifully with its chewy, nutty edge. This cheese is completely different to most others you’ll find on your average cheese board, so when serving, we would suggest small slices teamed with a lightly peppered cracker and a glass of single malt Scottish whisky.


Cheese from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company maturing in Gough's Cave

Cheese from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company maturing in Gough’s Cave

The earliest reference to Cheddar cheese in Britain dates back to 1170 and the village of Cheddar has been synonymous with cheese since the 15th century. It’s no wonder then, that Cheddar is home to one of the nation’s most loved cheeses. With their cheeses maturing in cloth for up to 18 months, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company has won several awards over the years and with its new cave matured cheeses, we’re sure it will be winning competitions for years to come.



Picture via Flickr.

This very special blue cheese is made in a brick built dairy located on the northern edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.  Stichelton is one of the very few British blue cheeses which are made using unpasteurised milk; this traditional technique adds to the cheeses sweet and creamy flavour. Instead of piercing the cheese by hand, the cheese makers at Stichelton use a specialised machine which speeds the bluing evenly throughout the cheese giving it a rich, gentle blue note.


Cornish Yarg

Picture via Flickr.

Wrapped in a natural rind of wild nettle leaves, the fresh and creamy Cornish Yarg is extremely popular here in Britain and over at Lynher Dairies they are experts at brushing the nettle leaves onto the cheese in concentric circles. After five weeks of maturing, the cheese takes on a unique mushroom taste which works perfectly in a creamy cheese sauce. The clever cheese makers at Lynher Dairies have even come up with a wild garlic yarg, which uses Ramson leaves instead of the traditional nettle coating; a real talking point for any cheese board!

We hope you have enjoyed our choice of the best cheeses Britain has to offer. For more information on the cheeses mentioned, please follow the appropriate links to their suppliers.


By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

The Perfect Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
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Mums are, for most of us, the most important people in our lives. They’ve looked after us when we’re sick, let us wake them up in the middle of the night after a nightmare and always put us first, often acting as our personal bank along the way. Whilst as we grow up the need to be tucked in and consoled after a nightmare may subside one thing remains; our mums are always there for us. Whilst we can show our gratitude to our mums throughout the year, the perfect day to give her a real treat is Mothering Sunday. We think that allowing mum a lie in whilst you prepare her breakfast is one of the best ways to pamper your mum this Sunday, so take a look at our guide to preparing and making the perfect breakfast in bed.

Creating The Perfect Breakfast in Bed

Image via Flickr

Plan your menu in advance; making sure that it involves all of your mum’s favourite breakfast foods. Is your mum a lover of a fry up, or does she prefer to munch on muesli? Once you’ve decided on your mum’s perfect menu, head out and buy the ingredients then make life easy for yourself on Sunday morning by doing any preparation the night before. Once you’ve rustled up your mum’s delicious breakfast, pop it on a tray with a glass of her favourite fruit juice, tea or coffee along with a small vase of flowers before taking it to her to enjoy from the comfort of her duvet. If you want to cook your mum something special but you’re a little stuck for ideas, why not take a look at a couple of our favourite breakfast recipes below?

Vanilla and Cinnamon French Toast

Image via Flickr

To make three slices of French Toast

1 Egg
60ml of Milk
10g of Sugar
A dash of Vanilla Extract
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A knob of butter
3 Slices of Bread (French bread that is thickly cut and a day old will work best)

  1. Whisk the milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
  3. Dip the slices of bread in the egg mixture, then add to frying pan.
  4. Cook each side until they begin to brown.
  5. Serve with maple syrup, bananas and fresh strawberries.

Tomato and Bacon Breakfast Bruschetta

Image via Flickr

To make four Bruschettas

750g Cherry Tomatoes
3 Tablespoons of Oil
1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
4 Slices of nice thick bread
4 Rashers of Bacon

  1. Toss the cherry tomatoes in one tablespoon of the oil and the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper then bake them in a preheated oven at Gas mark 6, 200C for about twenty minutes.
  2. Whilst the tomatoes are baking, brush the bread with the other two tablespoons of oil and place on a baking tray. Put them in the oven during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  3. Cook the bacon to your liking then either cut into pieces to mix with the tomatoes, or leave whole and place on top.
  4. Top the bruschetta with a poached egg to make it a little more filling.

We hope that this post has given you some ideas on how you can treat your mum to the perfect breakfast in bed this Sunday. If you’re a pro at creating a good breakfast, then tweet us and let us know your tips! If you’d like to completely spoil your mum this mother’s day with breakfast in bed in a lovely holiday cottage, it might not be too late! Take a look at our last minute cottages or give us a call on 01244 356666 and we’ll be happy to help.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Some Fantastic Food Festivals Taking Place This Year

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
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Here in the UK we are becoming more and more conscious of what we eat, something that is reflected in both the variety of cooking shows on the TV and also the number of delectable food festivals that are cropping up all over the country. As far as I’m concerned there are few things better than a proper food festival with the classes and demonstrations from famous faces of the foodie world and, of course, the copious culinary delights that you can find, and so for this post we’ve decided to take a look around the country and see which events we think promise to be a bit special this year.

The Pembrokeshire Fish Week

pembrokeshire fish week

Photo Courtesy of Pembrokeshire Fish Week

It may have been perennially underrated however the tide is beginning to turn for British seafood, and with events like the Pembrokeshire Fish Week you can understand why! Running from the 28th of June through to the 6th of July the Fish Week is the perfect way to give the whole family a taste of some of the fantastic foods on offer in Britain’s waters with BBQs, tapas and of course the classic fish and chips. As well as sampling these delicacies, you’ll be able to take part in friendly pub quizzes and watch some of the counties best musicians, and then there’s the chance to try something new with classes in foraging, kayaking, surfing and coasteering!

The Malton Food Lovers Festival


Photo Courtesy of the Malton Food Lovers Festival

Recently the town of Malton in Yorkshire has undergone a culinary revolution and has gained a bit of a reputation for being a little haven for all of the food fanatics out there. The town hosts a famous monthly food market which often features demonstrations from famous chefs and is also the home of TV chef James Martin’s award winning restaurant. Add to this the ever popular Malton Food Lovers Festival that this year runs on the 24th and 25th of May and with patrons such as Jean Christophe Novelli, the BBC’s The Incredible Spice Men and the star of Channel 4′s Simply Italian Michela Chiappa the 2014 edition promises to be bigger and better than ever!

The Great British Food Festival


Photo Courtesy of The Great British Food Festival

This year the Great British Food Festival is taking place at various venues around the country with the opening edition finding its home at the glorious Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. With displays from some of the top local chefs and artisan talks to help you get to grips with skills such as cocktail making and wine tasting you’re guaranteed to walk away knowing more than you did when you arrived. Or if you fancy a challenge you could always enter the Great British Cake Off or the ever popular Men vs Food where you could tuck into delights such as a chilli vodka shot, a foot long chilli sausage or even a refreshing chilli flavoured sorbet!

I hope that this blog will have inspired you to tuck into some fantastic British food! If so don’t forget to take a quick glimpse through our other foodie blog posts where I’m sure you’ll be able to find something else to whet your appetite, from pancakes to Christmas leftovers and much, much more!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.