Manchester Tart


In October I was back in the North of England seeing family and friends. I normally fly into Manchester airport then for logistical reasons take a taxi to my final destination. On this occasion I had time to spare and decided to take the longer, slower route, by rail.

The train went from Manchester airport then into the city itself passing via Piccadilly Station then on through Deansgate before leaving the city and moving towards my destination via Wigan and Preston. There tend to be few residential buildings close to noisy railways for obvious reasons, and I found myself instead watching the large Victorian industrial buildings go by as I looked out of the windows of the train.


Piccadilly is the principal railway station in Manchester. It was inaugurated in 1842.

Some houses are of course built near to the railway lines, my father for example was brought up in just such a house. Not only was it close to the railway, but the railway sidings themselves in the town of Colne…….

……… Being in and around Manchester, however briefly, reminded me of the Manchester Tart. Not only was it a staple pudding from the school dinners of my youth, but it is also a pudding that my Spanish father-in-law often talks about. Many moons ago, my father and mother-in-law went on a trip to England and were fortunate enough to sample this simple but delicious pudding.

For the full article and to read the recipe please click here.


Black Pudding & Bacon Toasted Sandwich


In previous articles you will have seen me make reference to my Collins Contemporary Dictionary from 1959. I use it not only as a reference work, but also a baseline against which I measure the changes to the English language. One of the areas that I look at each year are the new words that officially enter the English language and therefore are included in the new versions of their dictionaries.

This year there are a couple of obvious ones. I guess the addition of the word “brexit” comes as no surprise to anyone, nor indeed the word “trumpism”! Unfortunately the word processor I use marks both words in red, as words that are not in its dictionary.  Obviously the changes have not percolated down to my computer yet! Perhaps I can catch you out with the word “jomo” which means the joy of missing out? Or how about the “snowflake generation” which is defined as “the young adults of the 2010’s, viewed as being less resilient than previous generations”? The word, or indeed words I wanted to focus in on today though are “dude food”………

………. So, not only do these sandwiches have tasty black pudding, they also filled with streaky bacon and cheddar cheese…… a real feast of forbidden fatty fruits! Perhaps not something you ought to be eating every day, but it is good to let one’s hair down from time to time and get one’s teeth into a flavoursome savoury treat…….

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.

Apple and Caramel Crumble


This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Halloween is not originally an American custom. I say this particularly for non Anglo-Saxons, the majority in fact of my readers. Halloween in fact comes from the Old World and has probably been around in some form or other for thousands of years. Historians point to Dumha na nGiall), a passage tomb in Ireland built around 3,000 BC that is aligned to the sunrise on the 31st of October. They also mention links to the old Celtic festival of Samhain that again was celebrated on the 31st of October.

If further proof were necessary, the origins of the word Halloween go back to Old English, a language in use more than 500 years before Columbus’s outing to the New World…………….

………… All these Halloween celebrations had me thinking back to my youth and how we used to celebrate Halloween. The one custom I remember well was Apple Bobbing. How many of you have heard of, or even better tried apple bobbing?……..

………. We had some friends over a couple of weeks back, an ex work colleague, her husband and son Elías, who I think deserves a special mention. Not only is he a reader of these articles, but to the best of my knowledge is the youngest reader! Thanks Elías.

We drove across the hills to a botanical trail in the next village, Almonacid de la Sierra. The route is engaging,  with educational information on the flora as well as the odd bit of rope climbing up the steeper banks or quaint wooden bridges over the occasional ditch. Weather-wise it was also interesting with banks of fog pushed up from the valley alternating with clear blue skies and sunshine. The main Ebro valley below is prone to heavy fogs at this time of year. Here we are much higher up and are generally affected little. There are times however when the winds can push the fog up here into the mountains……..

2016 11 07 Botanical Route of Almonacid

All the walking of course gave us an appetite, luckily we had a meal prepared which included an apple crumble. As you will have seen from the title above, the article this week is about apple crumble……..

To read the article in full and to see the recipe please click here.

Chocolate Spread Biscuit Plait


We are now well into autumn with winter just round the corner. To be honest with you, I used to hate autumn and winter. I am an outdoor sort of guy and used to hate winter as the cold and wetter weather tended to hinder any outdoor activities. I used to hate autumn as it was the herald of winter!

As I now tend a fairly large allotment, orchard and gardens I find I no longer hate winter. With all the pruning and clearing I have to do to make ready for the next year I tend to find that I actually run out of time. Spring arrives before I am ready to welcome it! As for autumn, I have started to enjoy the wild autumn harvest. I am currently collecting edible chestnuts and the mushroom season should be starting relatively soon.

What I haven’t managed to accept is the changing of the clocks in autumn, and I know I am not the only one who prefers to enjoy a little more light in the evenings after a day of toil. The Balearic Islands here in Spain were strongly against moving the clocks back, but eventually were forced to do so by the Spanish government. I understand there were also similar sentiments on the Mediterranean coast.

Of course we are told that moving the clocks back and forwards in autumn and spring saves money. I have often wondered if this is in fact the case. The first country to adopt the practice was Germany during the first World War. Things have changed in a hundred years, and in a world that never sleeps are there really any savings?

Well…… I have just read a study by the Spanish IDAE which is the the Institute for Diversification and Saving (Ahorro in Spanish) of Energy. They state that Spanish households save 90 Million Euros due to the changing of the clocks………….

………..So, what about the recipe for this week…… well there are quite a few recipes out there for a rolled then plaited stuffed bread. In the region where I live there is also a traditional sweet plaited pastry. These plaits might be all the rage at the moment, but they are not necessarily something new.

Looking for something that little bit different, what I have for you today is a plait made from biscuit dough. The dough in question is quick and easy to make and requires no resting. This plait can in fact be made and baked quickly and easily……

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.