Philippa James - Lancashire Life's cookery editor
PUBLISHED: 19:35 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:20 20 February 2013
Each month our new Lancashire Life cookery editor Philippa James opens her highly entertaining culinary diary exclusively for you - and serves a delicious dish from her recipe book
WELL, where to begin? I suppose with, 'Hello, Lancashire!' Anyone who knows me will appreciate how absolutely thrilled I am to be taking on this role, particularly with my passion for the county, but equally with my love for writing, meeting people, and my propensity to verbosity...and don't try saying that in a hurry!
April is the start of, what we in the food world call, 'The Silly Season' - the annual round of food events across Lancashire, from tiny village fetes, through to the county shows. I am delighted to be returning to Great Eccleston Show to demonstrate cookery over July 12 and 13. Hopefully I won't be a 'Chef in Boots' as I was last year, when I cooked ankle-deep in mud. But all great fun.
The following weekend will see the return of the Royal Lancashire Show, after its cancellation last year, due to the inclement weather, which ravaged many events. The new venue, at Barton, has been undergoing radical drainage-laying in order that, 'Rain won't stop play!' this year. On Friday, July the 18th, Lancashire Life will be hosting Ladies' Day; this promises to be an excellent opportunity to don summer hats and posh frocks and have a fun.
A few weeks back I was at the Lancashire Food Festival,which was graced by Dave Myers and Simon King, also known as The Hairy Bikers. What a great pair of lads; they produced two delicious dishes of Salmon Pastilla, and Spiced Roasted Guinea Fowl.
As the only lady in the Cookery Theatre, it was apparent that the guys are used to cooking outdoors! I'm just so pleased that the new carpet hadn't gone down in the Mayoral Chambers at Accrington; the lads have an ability to create culinary mayhem (and mess, it has to be said). Dave and Si mingled with the visitors, and producers, and left, much later than they intended, with lots of scrumptious Lancashire goodies to try!
I was discussing with a friend, 'What makes a really good fish pie?' Henry rolled his eyes and said: 'You must try the one at The Inn at Whitewell - it's to die for!'
So, I set off, on a glorious morning, and took to the back lanes that make our part of the world so very special. Does this happen to anyone else, or is it just me?
A diversion, not a soul in site, and you're now in the middle of nowhere? Then passers-by helpfully, and unintentionally, giving you directions but completely the wrong way! I 'fair frittened' at least two farmers, by leaning over stone walls, standing in sheep droppings, asking where the heck Whitewell had disappeared to!
I finally 'landed', and met Jamie Cadman, the chef of some ten years, eight of which have seen him leading the kitchen, at 'The Inn'. I came straight to the point, and asked what was the secret of a great fish pie, and unsurprisingly, Jamie said: 'Good fish, locally sourced. We use Wellgate Fisheries in Clitheroe. Consistency and quality is what we look for from suppliers.'
Among others whom Jamie quoted as regular suppliers were, Butlers and Dewlay cheese makers, (I totally agree, Dewlay's Garstang Blue isn't winning awards for nothing!) and Carefoots Butchers in Longridge.
Jamie is quiet and unassuming but, as we chatted about motorbikes (another of Jamie's passions is fast track bike racing) and his love of working at Whitewell, I managed to pin him down on fish pies! We both agreed that cod can be a little flaky, so he, like me, uses haddock, with leeks, and white wine. As we spoke, a veritable whale-sized dish of his famous pie appeared, and Jamie headed back to what was a very busy, midweek, lunchtime service, in the kitchen.
Philippa James is not just a great cook - she's also great fun. She went to Scarisbrick School and cooked her first duck a l'orange when she was 11 - and she's been in the kitchen ever since. She can be found at food festivals and fairs throughout the North and she's a regular guest with BBC Radio Lancashire. Philippa's cookery school is based at Dark Lane, Mawdesley and she can be contacted through her website www.philippas.co.uk