Archive for the ‘British Food’ Category

UK Food Festivals in August

Saturday, August 9th, 2014
Pin It

As a nation of food lovers, it’s no surprise that there are few things more appealing to us Brits than a food festival. Whether it’s a modest local event with a few stalls or a more extravagant affair with live kitchens and entertainment, a British food festival is a fantastic day out for young and old alike. To whet your appetite for the many food festivals taking place this summer, we’ve compiled a shortlist of our favourites.

Oxfordshire Chilli Festival, 16th August

Chillis at a food festival

Via Flickr

If you’re into spicy food then one food festival you don’t want to miss this summer is the Oxfordshire Chilli Festival. Located in the historic market town of Abingdon, this festival promises to be a fun and unique day out for all the family! Follow the Chilli Trail around this beautiful Oxfordshire town and discover stalls from the best chilli products on offer in the UK. There’s also set to be chilli cook-offs, and one for the brave- a chilli eating competition. For a food festival with a difference, the Oxfordshire Chilli Festival is sure to get your taste-buds tingling!

BBC Good Food Festival, 23rd- 25th August

Churros at a food festival

Via Flickr

This August bank holiday weekend, Hampton Court Palace is hosting the very first BBC Good Food Festival. This festival is sure to be a real treat for foodies, promising artisan produce and street food, along with family entertainment including cookery lessons for kids, chocolate kitchens and a maze! You can also watch some top chefs cooking live on the Summer Kitchen stage, with demonstrations from the likes of Gregg Wallace, Shelina Permalloo and Lisa Faulkner to name just a few. Throw in some live music and book signings for good measure, and visitors are sure to have a fantastic weekend.

Newlyn Fish Festival, 25th August

Fish food festival

Via Flickr

The annual Newlyn Fish Festival is taking place for the 25th time this August and promises to be a fabulous celebration of Cornish seafood. Newlyn is one of Cornwall’s oldest and most distinctive fishing ports and is the perfect place to explore the incredible seafood culture that Cornwall has to offer. The festival itself offers a great variety of things to keep you entertained including a fish auction, Great Cornish Fish Off, fish display and plenty of cooking demonstrations. In addition, there’s also live music and entry is free for children under 16!

If you’re heading to a food festival this summer and need somewhere to stay, then look no further than our wide range of holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland. We now have over 5,000 self catering cottages to choose from!

Pin It
Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes’ Summer Strawberry Recipes

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Pin It

I think it’s fair to say that summer is well and truly here. There’s been a bit of sunshine, it seems like everybody’s had a couple of BBQs and Wimbledon has not long started. Now for me one of the best things about a good British summer is the strawberries; you just can’t beat them, and whilst many people choose to stick to the classic combination of strawberries and cream, it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to get a bit more creative. That’s why, we’ve come up with some of our favourite summer strawberry recipes, so take a look and see if there’s anything that you fancy having a crack at.

Strawberry Jam

There’s nothing quite like a good batch of strawberry jam, whether it’s to go on top of a couple of slices of toast, finish off a home-made Victoria Sponge or crown off a scone as part of the perfect cream tea.  This easy recipe should take you less than an hour to make and you’ll end up with enough jam to fill up 4 or 5 400ml jars.

strawberry jam

via. Flickr


  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 kg of strawberries
  • 500g of jam sugar (high in pectin)


  1. First of all sterilize your jam jars. To do this you can either immerse them in boiling water or put them in the oven for ten minutes at 100°c.
  2. Cut your vanilla pod in half lengthways and then scrape out the seeds.
  3. Add the vanilla seeds, sugar and strawberries to a large pan and crush them together using a potato masher.
  4. Put the pan on to a medium-high heat and bring the mixture to the boil.
  5. Simmer it for 5 minutes before turning the heat off.
  6. Skim any foam off the top of the jam and then leave it to cool before decanting into the jam jars.
  7. Seal them and put them in the fridge.

Strawberry Cheesecake

If you’re after a hassle free, yet decadent dessert then this strawberry cheesecake is just the thing for you; after all, it only takes just over an hour to make! The strawberries contrast delightfully with the creamy topping of the cake, and if you want you can always add a touch of the home-made jam from the above recipe as a coulis topping!

strawberry cheesecake

via. Flickr


  • 250g of digestive biscuits
  • 100g of melted butter
  • 600g of cream cheese
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 1 medium sized pot of double cream (around 300 ml)
  • Punnet of fresh strawberries


  1. Crush the digestive biscuits until they are crumbs and then add the melted butter. Mix them together and then use the mixture to line the bottom of your tin. Put in the fridge for an hour to set.
  2. Cut your vanilla pod in half lengthways and then scrape out the seeds.
  3. Beat the vanilla seeds, cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Then mix in the double cream.
  4. Spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base and smooth out.
  5. Leave in the fridge overnight and top with the fresh strawberries before serving.

Eton Mess

If you’re after a proper British dessert to make the most of the strawberry season then you really can’t beat Eton Mess! After all, it’s traditionally served during an annual match of cricket between Eton and Harrow; you can’t get more quintessentially British than that! What’s even better, the recipe shouldn’t take you more than twenty minutes!

via. Flickr

via. Flickr


  • 400 ml of double cream
  • 500g of fresh strawberries
  • 3 ready made meringue nests
  • A few sprigs of mint


  1. Take half of the strawberries and blend them until they form a smooth purée.
  2. Set aside a couple of strawberries and roughly chop the remaining ones.
  3. Crush the meringue nests into rough chunks.
  4. Whip the double cream until peaks start to form, then stir in the strawberry purée and pieces of meringue.
  5. Serve the mixture up in bowls and garnish with a sprig of mint and the remaining strawberries.

So there we have it, some great summer recipes to make the most of beautiful British strawberries, and remember to make the most of them as before you know it the season will be over. Also, be sure to let us know if any of you have a crack at one of the recipes, either via Twitter or Facebook- we’d love to know how you get on!

Pin It
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.

Perfect Picnic Spots in the UK

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
Pin It

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!

Pin It
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
Pin It

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.

Pin It

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
Pin It

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.

Pin It

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.