We have just spent two lovely days in Cartmel in the Lake District and what a treat it was.
I had no idea that Cartmel is such a picturesque village. During our stay it became even more so when we woke up to snow on the first morning – lovely, steady big fluffy flakes which made a deep carpet in no time at all.
This vibrant, unspoilt medieval village has much to offer visitors. As our primary reason for going was eating – no surprises there – we spent the day walking in the fells that gently rise behind the village.
We were there to eat at Simon Rogan’s feted L’Enclume and its sister restaurant Rogan’s.
We also enjoyed pottering around the village buying sticky toffee pudding from the Cartmel Village Shop, from whence it originated, and potted shrimps from Morecambe Bay, where we also walked.
Out of all the lovely shops, my favourite was Cartmel Cheeses whose display of British cheeses was a sight to behold and the knowledge and passion of the staff impressive. Cheeses made by this artisan producer or that; seasonal depending on the grass, fresh goat’s cheeses, soft, hard, ewe’s milk, blue and on and on. They all had a story.
Then I spotted one of my favourites, Doddington Cheese from Wooler, and felt very at home.
Apparently I wouldn’t have tasted Doddington like this one, which I thought unlikely as I buy it every other week, but it transpired that they are in possession of two Doddington cheeses which have been aged for three years and are exclusive to their shop. Jolly good it was too, a cross between mature cheddar and Parmesan, but more like the latter in my view.
Chefs, I am told, use it instead of Parmesan. Doddington is normally aged for 14 months.
So, needless to say, I came home armed with cheeses from every corner of Britain, including my own, and set to, incorporate some of them into new recipes.
Today’s recipe is for double Doddington cheese and spring onion muffins – as the name suggests muffins made with two cheeses from the Doddington dairy.
Muffins are very quick and easy to make. No skill required just a very light hand when mixing the ingredients together.
If eating for breakfast I like to line the tins with pancetta or thin slices of streaky bacon. Ring the changes with the cheeses – anything goes really and omit the spring onions if you like.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Double Doddington Cheese and spring onion muffins
250g (9oz) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
Good pinch of mustard powder
1 tsp salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
60g (2oz) Doddington cheese, grated
60g (2oz) Cuddy's Cave, crumbled or diced small
4 spring onions, chopped
Roughly 2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 large eggs
125ml (4fl oz) natural yoghurt
125ml (4fl oz) milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Butter a 12-hole muffin tin. (The holes of the tin I used are: 7x2.5cm or 3x1in) Alternatively line with paper muffin cases or baking paper squares.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, mustard powder and seasoning. Reserve a little of each cheese, plus a few spring onions and chives for the tops and add the rest to the flour. Stir gently to coat in flour.
3. Lightly beat the eggs with a small whisk or fork, gradually work in the yoghurt and then the milk, beating or mixing until smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and combine the mixtures very, very gently with a large spoon. It is very important not to overwork the mixture and doesn't matter if all the flour isn't fully incorporated.
4. Spoon into the tins or cases, sprinkle the tops with the reserved cheese, onion and chives and cook for 15-18 minutes until well risen, golden brown and bubbling. Leave in the tins to firm up for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Up to a day in advance measure and mix together the dry ingredients, prepare the cheeses and spring onions, mix the milk mixture but don't amalgamate the three components until just before cooking.
Pubs and hotels had open fires burning in their bars – much appreciated after a seven-mile walk