Archive for the ‘British Food’ Category

Sykes’ Guide to a Family Barbecue

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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Well summer is finally just around the corner! We were lucky enough to have a bit of good weather over the bank holiday and for me, it seemed to signal one thing – the start of the Barbecue season! Now you can’t beat a proper barbie in the back garden; good food, good company and a little bit of sunshine, it’s quite the mix! So we’ve come up with some handy hints and tips for the next time you have all the family round, take a look and see what you think!

Getting Prepped

Now you don’t need me to tell you that the most important part of any barbecue is the food, but with the right preparation it can reach a whole new level. First things first, make sure that any frozen meats that you’re thinking of using are fully defrosted before you put them on the barbie – you’d be surprised at how many people think they can defrost their food and cook it at the same time!

Next we’ve got marinades. These are really important for meats like chicken or fish that have a tendency to dry out when being barbecued, as they’ll keep them nice and juicy whilst giving an extra bit of flavour. You can either buy your marinades pre-made at the supermarket, or there are plenty of recipes available online if you fancy making them yourself.

Fire up the Barbie


Why not fire up the Barbie in a Sykes holiday cottage?

Then we’ve got the actual cooking. One of the most common mistakes made when barbecuing food is throwing the food on before the barbie is ready for it. Make sure that you light it up well in advance so that there is plenty of time for it to reach the necessary temperature – normally a barbecue isn’t ready until the coals have stopped smoking and are covered in a fine layer of white ash. You can also throw a couple of sprigs of rosemary onto the coals at this point to add an extra layer of flavour!

You should also make sure that the grill is properly oiled before you start to put the food on, after all, you don’t want it sticking to the barbecue! If you want to get that lovely, crispy and caramelised finish, make sure that you hold back from poking and prodding the food too much. You should only flip the food a couple of times as doing it any more will encourage the juices to escape and the meat to dry out.

Time to Tuck in!

Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour! If you’re serving up burgers, make sure that you put out a variety of buns, relishes and toppings so that everybody can customise theirs to their heart’s content! If you want to save yourself a bit of effort down the line, you could always give everyone paper plates and cut down on the washing up that needs to be done at the end of the evening!

So there you go, some hints and tips from the Sykes team on hosting the perfect family BBQ! Hopefully we’ll have another cracking summer this year and we’ll be able to get out and enjoy some proper al fresco dining. But if you really want to make the most of the summer have a look here and find yourself a holiday cottage complete with a stunning garden where you can rustle up a feast for the family!

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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.

A Day of Traditional British Food

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
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For today’s instalment of the Sykes Cottages blog, we’ve decided to delve into the world of great British food. For some reason our neighbours over on the continent seem to look down on our cuisine, so here at Sykes we’ve decided to try and come up with a selection of traditional British dishes that we think best showcases our grub. We’ve picked out three, one for each of breakfast, lunch and dinner, in order to make up a menu for the perfect day of British nosh; why don’t you take a look and see what you think.


Smoked fish, rice, curry powder and hard boiled eggs, doesn’t exactly sound like your typical breakfast dish now does it? Well that’s exactly what kedgeree is! Starting off life on the Indian subcontinent as the rice and lentil dish of Khichari, it quickly became a favourite of the British living in colonial India. Over the years they gradually added ingredients that were a bit more familiar to the British palate and the name was eventually Anglicised into the kedgeree that we know today. The dish was so popular with those serving in the Raj that it was brought back when they returned home and became a breakfast staple in Victorian Britain.

Welsh Rarebit

For lunch we’re heading over to Wales and the classic dish of Welsh Rarebit. Although the name might suggest otherwise to the unknowing, there isn’t actually any rabbit present in the dish. Instead, a proper Rarebit is made up of a savoury, cheese-based sauce and toasted bread. Various additional ingredients are often added to the sauce to give that little bit extra, from mustard to cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce to paprika and even a bit of beer!


Now we couldn’t really write a piece about classic British dishes without taking a trip north of the border for a spot of haggis! This archetypal Scottish dish is mainly reserved for special occasions such as Burns Night (where it even has a poem read for it), although in recent times it has seen something of a renaissance that has put it back on the everyday dining table. Made using minced sheep’s pluck (I wouldn’t read too much into this if I were you!) packed into casing, a haggis is normally either simmered or cooked in an oven until piping hot and served up with “neeps and tatties”. However, if you’re looking to try out something different you’ll want to take a look at this collection of recipes.

So there you have it, the perfect selection of dishes for you to rustle up in order to celebrate some of the best British grub. We’d love to know if you decided to try and put together any of the dishes, just make sure that you send us a picture over Facebook or Twitter so that we can have a little nosey!


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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.

Best Bread Baking Courses

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Freshly baked bread is one of life’s little luxuries. From the whole house being filled with the warming doughy scent to slathering some butter or jam on a slice of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, there is nothing better! If you’re a bread fan who is in the mood to learn a new skill on your next UK cottage holiday, why not mix both together and book yourself on a bread baking course whilst you’re away? If this sounds like the perfect holiday activity then read on as we look at four of the best bread baking courses around.

The Thoughtful Bread Company, Bath

If you’re in Bath and fancy getting stuck in to some bread making, The Thoughtful Bread Company is the place to go! Join the company’s founder, Duncan Glendinning, on one of their fantastic baking courses to learn all the skills you need to bake your own perfect loaf from scratch! Their introduction to bread baking course takes both beginners and amateurs on a baking journey through three recipes that are created entirely by hand. You can see more information about their bakery courses on their website.

The Epsom Bakehouse, Epsom

Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn the basics, or a seasoned baker looking to expand your repertoire to include Italian breads or sourdough, The Epsom Bakehouse has something perfect for you! Classes last for roughly four hours and include a light lunch, plus you get to take the bread you make home – perfect for sharing (or keeping to yourself!) For dates and times of upcoming courses visit The Epsom Bakehouse website.

River Cottage, Devon

With courses running throughout the year, River Cottage is the place to visit if you’d like to increase your culinary knowledge when on holiday in Devon. During the full-day bread making course at River Cottage, you will not only learn the basics of bread making but also be able to indulge in your own freshly made pizza during your lunch break. Yum! See more about this bread making course on the River Cottage website.

The Bakehouse, West Yorkshire

The Bakehouse operates as a workers’ cooperative and aims to provide Real Bread whilst providing food to the community in an ethical way. Not only this, but if you’re holidaying in West Yorkshire and fancy working on your kneading skills, The Bakehouse is the ideal location. With a choice of Basic Bread Making or Simply Sourdough, you will be able to work on existing skills or create entirely new ones! Find out more about the cooperative on their website or find course dates here.

Book a UK Self Catering Holiday

Norbury self catering holiday lodge, Peak District

Image of the kitchen in Norbury, near Alton Towers in the Peak District.

After all that kneading, proving and eating, you’ll probably want somewhere comfortable to rest your head and enjoy your baked goods! Our selection of lovely holiday cottages across the UK are perfect resting places for weary bakers who need a good night’s sleep before waking up and indulging in a toasted slab of homemade bread. Plus, all of our properties have fully stocked kitchens so you can practice your new skills from the comfort of your holiday cottage. Visit the Sykes Cottages website to browse our selection of holiday properties across the UK and Ireland.

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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.

Mother’s Day Recipes

Thursday, March 12th, 2015
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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if like me you’ve left planning to the last minute, you’ll be starting to feel the pressure of finding your mum the perfect gift. I’ve searched high and low for the ideal present but keep coming up short; longing for the days where a hand crafted card or painting would pass as an acceptable offering. Unfortunately I’m no longer eight years old and those types of gifts just don’t cut it with my mum, but I’m still able to make her something homemade that will bring a big smile to her face – food!

This Mother’s Day, I’ll be heading to the kitchen to make my mum and family some of her favourite treats. If you plan on cooking for your mum this year but need a little inspiration, keep reading as we list three of our favourite Mother’s Day recipes!

Eggs Benedict

Whether you live at home with your mum or you turn up early to cook her a surprise breakfast in bed, you can never go wrong with eggs. Try something different this year with an indulgent helping of Eggs Benedict; this recipe takes 10-30 minutes and will serve 3-6 people.


  • 6 large eggs
  • 12 slices of pancetta
  • 3 English muffins
  • 6 tbsp of hollandaise sauce


  1. Cut the English muffins in half and lightly toast whilst grilling the pancetta until crispy.
  2. Once toasted, butter the muffins and leave to one side. Remove the pancetta from the grill and keep warm whilst you poach the eggs.
  3. Poach the eggs in boiling water and heat the hollandaise sauce.
  4. Assemble the Eggs Benedict by placing a slice of pancetta onto the buttered half muffin and then top with a poached egg. Finish with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce and place under the grill for 30 seconds (keep your eye on this, you want the heat to glaze the surface of the hollandaise, not burn it).

For more wonderful breakfast recipes to share with your mum check out our previous blog post ‘The Perfect Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed’

Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

Not only do these cupcakes sound amazing but they taste incredible; delicately topped with a shiny raspberry, they are sure to impress your mum this Sunday. The recipe below takes around an hour (plus extra time for cooling) and will serve 12.


For the cupcakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 95g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 120ml butter milk
  • 80ml vegetable oil

For the icing

  • 420g icing sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 165g thick raspberry jam
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Raspberries for decoration


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4) and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and vegetable oil together until you achieve a smooth mixture.
  4. Pour half of the egg mixture into the flour mixture along with half the butter milk – gently stir together. Repeat this step with the remaining egg mixture and butter milk. Do not over mix; you don’t want the cake mix to be too thick.
  5. Fill the cupcake cases with the cake mix (about half way) and bake for 15-20 minutes. Test the cupcakes are ready by inserting a toothpick – if it comes out clean you’re good to go.
  6. Leave the cupcakes to completely cool before frosting; this can take up to an hour.
  7. For the icing, beat the softened butter for around 5 minutes until smooth and pale.
  8. Whilst continuously mixing add the icing sugar, double cream, vanilla extract and salt to the butter. Beat at a high speed for around 1 minute.
  9. Add the raspberry jam to the mixture and beat for a further 2 minutes until thick and creamy. If the mixture is too thin simply add more icing sugar.
  10. Decorate your cooled cupcakes with the raspberry icing and fresh raspberries before serving.


Celebrate in style this Mother’s Day by treating your dear old mum to this fabulous cocktail. This recipe takes around ten minutes to prepare and will serve up to four people.


  • 240ml vodka
  • 90ml cranberry juice
  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp triple sec
  • Ice
  • 1 lime for decoration


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice, vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and triple sec. Shake for around 30 seconds before straining into a Martini glass.
  2. Decorate the glass with a slice of lemon before serving.

And there you have it, three of our favourite recipes to treat your mum with this Mother’s Day. If you’re not a fan of cooking then why not treat your mum to an afternoon tea at one of these fantastic team rooms instead?

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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.

Ten Facts about Pancakes

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
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It’s here, it’s here! After a bit of a false start when one of the Sykes team thought Pancake Day was last week (there was an upsetting moment of realisation and then a lot of consoling…) Shrove Tuesday is really here and of course we can’t let one of the tastiest days of the year go by without a blog post. We’re serving up a stack of pancake facts, drizzling them with mouthwatering images and spreading some topping ideas.

Ten Flippin’ Good Pancake Facts

  1. Pancakes were originally created as a way to use up the leftover fatty and rich foods before the beginning of lent.
  2. In Britain we use an estimated 55 million eggs on Pancake Day, which is around 22 million more than usual.
  3. The number of pancakes tossed in the quickest time is 349 tosses in 2 minutes. The accolade is held by Dean Gould of Suffolk.
  4. On average, we each eat two pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in Britain. This totals a huge 117 million pancakes consumed in Britain.
  5. In France, you would often make a wish whilst flipping the pancake during cooking whilst holding a coin in the other hand.
  6. It seems that Shakespeare was quite a fan of pancakes, as they feature in his plays. Most notably Act 1 Scene 2 of As You Like It. To flip or not to flip… that is the question.
  7. Supposedly, before baking soda was created, cooks used to use freshly fallen snow as an ingredient in pancakes to ensure they were soft and fluffy.
  8. The largest stack of pancakes was 76cm tall and was created by a pile of 60 pancakes. This broke the world record in 2012.
  9. Russian Andrei Smirnov once ate 73 pancakes in one hour.
  10. The highest pancake toss recorded reached 329cm high.

Eggcellent Topping Suggestions

We seem to be quite a traditional bunch here at Sykes Cottages, as a quick ask around the team revealed that the majority of us stick to the typical lemon and sugar on our pancakes (although a few of us did say that it has to be Nutella, yum!) In order to spread some inspiration, we thought sharing a couple of alternative toppings would be a good idea to get your creative juices flowing. Plus, they each sound flipping good if you ask me…

If you have a sweet tooth why not try banana and honey, fruit and whipped cream or the ultimate winter warmer of fried apples, cinnamon and honey.

If savoury is more your thing, why not treat yourself to an American brunch style pancake by having it with crispy bacon and fried eggs or fully indulge with scrambled eggs and salmon.

So, when it comes to pancakes… how do you eat yours? Tweet us and let us know!

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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.